Here's a fascinating statistic for you: 90% of our childhood videogaming experiences are clouded by nostalgia and sentimental value, without any regard for specifics in plot and/or gameplay details.
Surprised? You should be; that statistic is entirely made up. However, that statement does hold some weight. If I think back to my videogaming experiences as a wee lad, I recognize that most, if not all, of them are bolstered by time, and not by actual solid gameplay that I can actively recall. I remember them and think, "hey yeah, those were AWESOME games", without even taking into consideration the fact that I had forgotten every single aspect of them except for titles, box art, and/or premises.
A bevy of games bought on impulse and nostalgia via Virtual Console are ample enough evidence of that.
Even great games with a solid story and breakthrough mechanics can fall victim to the Nostalgia Troll. It takes a little nudging and reminding of certain games to jog my memory and help me remember, but on the fly, I probably couldn't describe ten NES, SNES, and Genesis games in detail without falling back on good old Wikipedia. This rings especially true with my Genesis collection: out of dozens of quality games I'd played and enjoyed on that console, I could probably only describe five or six in explicit detail without a cheat sheet, two of which are only due to the fact that I'd looked them up on Youtube weeks prior to this post. Why is that?
It's what I call the "SEEEEHH-GAAAAH" Effect.
Any gamer old enough to drink should hear "SEEEHH-GAAAH" and automatically be reminded of one thing, and one thing only:
This was literally the very first
thing I heard after unpacking my Sega Genesis that fateful Christmas Day and powering it on to play Sonic the Hedgehog, and I'm sure most of you can relate as well. I happily played Sonic 1, along with 2, 3, and the Knuckles "expansion" (which all start off with the same intro soundbyte) , and successfully kicked Dr. Robotnik's ass in all of them. While I'd be unable to give anyone a step-by-step walkthough off the top of my head, there are still specific moments that stick in my head to this day. The wallclimbing and vibrant graphics of Sonic and Knuckles, the casino level in Sonic 2, and the drowning theme that made me shit myself and suffer a heart attack at age 10, I remember all of that.
OH GOD PLZ ILL DO ANYTHING JUST STOP THIS MUSIC
Other first party Sega games didn't follow this example, and had their own little take on the Sega intro, which may be why it still takes a Youtube search to remember all the other great Genesis games I'd played. Vectorman might have been a much much cooler, better game than Sonic, but it didn't have "SEEEHHH-GAAAH", and in my brainspace, it might have suffered as a result.
The "SEEEHHH-GAAAH" Effect could also be known as The Konami Effect, or The Capcom Effect.
I can all but guarantee that anyone born in 1990 or earlier could hear both of those intros, and instantly remember the first 16-bit Konami and/or Capcom game, or ANY 16-bit Konami and Capcom game for that matter, they'd played in surprisingly specific detail and scope.
I hear the Konami theme, I'm reminded of Turtles in Time, and Capcom? Street Fighter 2 Turbo, of course. I could tell you endless memories about both, but frankly, what 90's gamer can't? Those were two seminal games of the 16-bit generation, and anyone could tell you their memories of both. But how about some more obscure games?
I played a helluva lot of SNES games in my time, so many that I couldn't tell you half of them. Two games I remember in meticulous detail though? Tiny Toons Adventures: Buster Busts Loose, and Aladdin. I could tell anyone right now exactly how both played out, the exact level progression of each, and the precise gameplay details of both without so much as a glance at Wikipedia. I didn't even own
both of them; one was a rental from Blockbuster, the other borrowed from a cousin. And the kicker?
Not to be confused with the Jenna Jameson classic of the same name.
Tiny Toons is a Konami game, and Aladdin was developed by Capcom. The very first things heard from both were the Konami and Capcom intros, respectively, and for whatever reason, those sounds and resultant memories have never left me. In fact, while I hear the two intros and am reminded of the bigger, more classic games, the absolute first games that pop in my head are Tiny Toons and Aladdin, followed closely by lesser known titles like Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Sparkster, and The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse.
Now don't get me wrong, there are still games out there from the 8-, 16-, or 32-bit era that remain special and true to my heart without any fancy jingle or musical intro, but having that little appetizer at the beginning doesn't hurt the memorability of a game at all, especially regarding more obscure great games that have a greater chance of being lost in oblivion. There are so many quality games these days so easily forgotten and discarded in a matter of years, even months
; perhaps some endearing start-up music is all games need these days. It might sound simple, but one thing's for sure: thanks to The "SEEEHHH-GAAAH" Effect, whenever I hear the Konami music, I can clearly see in my head Buster Bunny drop-kicking Montana Max in the face, and my life is better for it.