Some of my fondest gaming memories are centred around playing couch co-op with my brother on the NES . I still have to pay the bastard back for pressing Pause and unpause on the 2nd controller on Mario 3 every time I jumped over a pit, and we both have a Battletoads rivalry that will never be settled. But today Iím not focusing on the NES, Iím going to fast forward to my highschool years and talk about when I first started gaming with friends.
The year was 1994. It was the year of the Playstation and the N64, and I was lucky enough to have friends who had both systems. Having stupidly sold my NES for a mere £20 with my collection of 12 games Iíd pretty much left myself little to no outlet for gaming other than a few PC games, so having friends who I could hang out and play games helped keep me sane through my generic teenage angst.
I remember getting my arse handed to me repeatedly on Tekken 2 & 3 playing 8 man team battles, because my mate had a PS1 and I didnít, so when I didnít see him, he was practicing and I was at the same level of noob amateur. I relish the memories of the bizarre mech game LAPD Future Cop which I could never beat him at, because he was insanely good at it. Oh, and Crash Team Racing! Chaos, bowling balls, the ugabuga invincibility mask, and my other friend who used to dominate people on battle mode because he was looking where you were on split screen as well as concentrating on what he was doing. The PS1 was the SNES of my spotty adolescent years.
One of my other friends had an N64. Although itíd only be years later when I would play a got of these games properly, due to me just not having the money to buy consoles at the time, due to me and my brotherís mutual obsession with comics. But Iíll always remember him asking me, ďDo you want to play the new Zelda?Ē I didnít play as much of the N64 as I did the PS1, mainly because there just wasnít as many games as the mammoth PS1 library. But Iíll always fondly recall corridor crawling and shooting friends in Goldeneye and avoiding red shells Mario Kart 64
It was one of the first times I realised it was acceptable to be geeky and how cool it could be to just hang out with friends. Iíve never liked sports, Iím pretty unfit and I find playing sports to be pretty boring with little reward. But games was something I could be competitive at with friends and rivals and have a sense of accomplishment and winning that I never cold get with playing sports. Years later we would grow apart due to everyone getting jobs and girlfriends but me, and due to a fission driven between us by a girl. But despite all of that I really miss couch co-op and the instant reaction of swearing friends who try to sabotage you by unplugging your controller or pausing and unpausing at critical moments to kill you.
Iíve never really took to online gaming. Thereís probably a lot of arguments to be made in favour of it, but Iíve always been intimidated by all of the stories of sweary, racist, homophobic 12 year olds who like nothing better than to shoot you dead and teabag you. I know that not everyone who plays online is like that, but I canít really shake that fear. Maybe I just need to find the right game to start with and the right people to play with.