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1/19/2011

Gaming and me (part 1)

It all started when I was about 6 years old. My now-dead uncle bought me my NES with Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt. At the time, gaming was just another toy for me, just like the hot-wheels cars and action figures. But the magic started to appear in the SNES era (which was brought to me by the same uncle, now that I think of it). At first, my SNES gaming was pretty random with titles like “Turn and Burn” and Zelda. I loved Zelda but the game was just so hard for me at the time. It took me a lot of time to find out how to get out of Hyrule Castle. A classmate who’s still my friend once asked me to lend him my Zelda and I did, when he gave it back to me, the cartridge had a save-file with the name “Wampa” on it. He named his Link like that and finished the game with the help of his brother (help I’ve never been able to get because I’m an only child). From there on, he started to use the name “Wampa” as his nick for all things gaming. We’re still friends and we’re still gamers, the save file is still on the Zelda cartridge and I’m really happy for that.

After 2 or 3 years owning a SNES I finally got the chance to try the game Killer Instinct and everything about it was so perfect for me that it just hooked me up and I decided to actually become as good as possible in the game. This wasn’t my first fighting game. I also owned a copy of Mortal Kombat II but that one was there just for the fatalities and the blood. The real fighting experience was at Killer Instinct. I remember using Cinder as my main character at first, then I moved on to Sabrewulf because I discovered a few combos with him. And as I started to understand the game and becoming good at it by playing friends and the AI at higher difficulties I finally started to main Jago and Spinal which for me were impossible to use when I first got the game. I was so proud of this that when the N64 and the PSX came out I barely paid any attention to them. In fact there’s a tale about a peculiar trip to Margarita Island where I’ve always traveled with my family on holidays and vacations. 

There were arcade places everywhere and I remember playing at almost all of them until at one place called “PlayAventura” I met a bunch of people of about my age (some older) who were playing Mortal Kombat 3 Ultimate. The way they played and talked about the techniques and abilities in the game got my attention pretty quickly and I decided to stop being a shy kid and go talk to them. I was very lucky because they were all friendly. I remember this guy named Oscar who decided to become my teacher in the game and started to train me with Robot Smoke (My main character in the game even now). The trip was going to be pretty long, about one month so I asked my dad to take me to that arcade every night to play with those kids. So every day was like this: wake up, breakfast, beach, come home, shower, lunch, go to the arcade, play, dinner, play, come home, sleep. 

I remember that after 5 or so days one of the employees at the arcade lowered the required coins at the MK3U machine for us to one (It usually required 3) so we could play much more. That is probably one of the best experiences in my life. The first time I actually got to hang out with gamers like me and play people on a good fighting game. I got pretty good at MK3U really fast. I even started to use other characters like Reptile, Striker and Kabal. My master Oscar was very proud of me and sometime he called me “pequeño saltamontes”. Those were great times. After that trip, the group never really got together again. I saw some of the guys a few times but never like in Margarita. One day like 3 or 4 years after the MK3U trip I got a phone call from one of the guys named Alejandro who told me Oscar died on a car accident. I was very sad because of this and since we never knew where he lived or anything, we could never go to his funeral. We still remember him to this day as a great MK3U player and a great person overall.

            The years went by and I owned my N64 with a copy of Mortal Kombat Trilogy among other games. Of course MKT was my most played game with KI on the SNES (yes I still played my SNES) until the great Banjo-Kazooie and Ocarina of Time arrived. That was the first time in my life I became hooked by Adventure games. I played them for hours and hours. My grades in school got really low and I was barely sleeping. My parents were really worried but since I’m an only child, there was really nothing else for me to have fun with. At the time my entire family was separated because of a fight between my parents and some aunts and uncles so I could never see my cousins and my class mates didn’t get along with me. Now days I understand that the problem was with me. I was extremely shy and had problems to speak to people. Only the Wampa guy and about 3 or 4 other boys were my friends but they liked to spend their free time playing soccer and hanging around with the girls at the time and I was never good at that. I was like 13 years old and the situation was like this until I was about 16.            

            So, to be honest. The only thing in the world that stopped me from a pretty bad depressed state was gaming. I remember my parents talking about the family problem almost every day, my mom was really sad about it and my dad angry and avoiding contact with my uncles and aunts. The only way to drag my attention away from that was by just walking around Hyrule in OoT or just doing random things in the world in Banjo-Kazooie. There were other games, but the most influential were those two. I got to the point where I finished both games so many times that I just wandered around the worlds doing random stuff and self-imposed challenges like speed-runs, beating bosses with deku sticks and things like that. It was great fun.

            When I reached my 4th year of high-school, my family started to solve their problems and things there started to look good. But my grades weren’t. I remember that my hype for Banjo-Tooie, Perfect Dark and Majora’s Mask was so insane that I literally didn’t think of anything else. There was even this girl I really liked from my classroom but since she was the most beautiful and popular I knew by default that she would never pay attention to someone like me so I just shielded myself behind gaming.

            When the PS2 came out. I asked my dad for one and he said he wanted to see my grades first. I was doing so bad at school that I knew he would never buy the console for me at launch so I just gave up about it after a few tries and just kept gaming on my N64. Until at another trip to Margarita at another arcade place I saw a Dead or Alive 2 machine and clearly remember watching two guys using Jann-Lee and Leifang playing it. I just fell in love with the game. I looked up the name on the internet (probably gamespot) and learned there were 2 versions of it: one for the dreamcast and one for the PS2. I immediately decided I had to buy both consoles. TO PLAY THE SAME GAME. When I finally graduated from high school my dad gave me a PS2 that Christmas with DOA2 Hardcore, Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2. And with some money I was saving I managed to buy a pre-owned Dreamcast with DOA2, Soul Calibur and Sonic Adventure.

            I was finally starting to play modern things, DOA2 was my new god. My main character was Jann-Lee at first and then I started playing a bit of Leifang, Hayabusa and Ein. Since my attitude in the first college I got into changed I made a lot of friends who just loved to go to my place and play DOA2 and Soul Calibur with me, and God am I grateful for that. I also joined a gaming online community which doesn’t exist now and posted a lot there. That was my first experience in an internet forum. The community was really great and we talked about almost everything. My English was polished there and I’ll always be grateful to the guys I knew there who are still my friends to this day. I’ve always wanted to organize a trip to the States to meet them. One of the members called “Hitman” once posted a really long article in a console wars thread. The Gamecube and the Xbox had been just released and of course, I already had my eye on the Xbox because of DoA3. But buying a new system was definitely no go at the time. To be honest I wasn’t completely sure about buying the Xbox at all since I already had the PS2 and Dreamcast and at the time I wasn’t an all-console gamer like I am now. But the article this guy posted showed small previews and screenshots of Xbox games like Dead or Alive 3, Halo, Morrowind, Knights of the Old Republic, Fable, etc. And he just convinced me. I decided to start saving money in any way I could to buy my Xbox until a few months later I managed to do it.

            When I went to a local store to get my system I had enough money for the Xbox and 2 games of my choice. Since I didn’t drive at the time, I went with my parents. Like everybody else I asked for DOA3 and Halo but they didn’t have them at the time. The employee told me the games were going to arrive about a week later and recommended me a few other titles. I had decided not to buy the console that day but my mom told me she would pay for a game so I could take the console that day and then they would take me to the store again the week after to get Halo and DOA3. I saw the games they had and one got my attention: Panzer Dragoon Orta. I immediately remembered the guys at the forum talking about it so I decided to take the Xbox with it.

1 comentario:

  1. I wrote this a few months ago but never actually finished it, now I just found it and will work on updating the story of how gaming and I became one (as gay as that sounds). I will post the rest soon.

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