Have you ever had that great feeling when you finished a game? You know the feeling when you're playing a videogame and every part of your body just feels very very good and you're just happy? Of course you have, we all felt like that at some point, right? Maybe you felt it when you first booted up a game or maybe when you did something awesome like finally beat a boss or found a cool secret. Yeah, that feeling. That feeling is awesome.
The first time I felt that feeling was when I got my Dreamcast, December 3rd 1999. A packaged was delivered to my family home and I got to open in in the living-room even though it wasn't the 24th yet (Sweden celebrate the 24th, not the 25th) and inside was a Dreamcast with the standard Chu Chu Rocket game that came with each console, but there was also a copy of the first Sonic Adventure. This game changed how I looked at videogames.
I had seen screenshots from Sonic Adventure the year before, we hadn't moved to Kalmar yet and had slow dial-up, a website called SDC or something had early screenshots from the next Sonic game, at this point I hadn't even heard of the Dreamcast. I thought this was some new CGI-movie like Toy Story because THOSE GRAPHICS ARE LIFE-LIKE! Feels pretty stupid now that I look back at the same screenshots, but man was it cool when I realized those screenshots were from a actual game, and that game was lying on my living-room table.
The feeling came back when I finished Sonic Adventure the first time, it came back when I played Shenmue the first time, when I finally got my hands on Sonic Adventure 2, when I first played Luigi's Mansion and the latest I remember where this feeling came to me was probably when I first played The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and I'm not even sure if I felt it then. That would be 9 years ago and I was 11 at the time. Since then, the feeling never came back.
I just figured that I had grown up and gotten used to videogames, maybe that was why I didn't feel as enchanted any more. As late as last month I was discussing this feeling with a few friends, they said they hadn't lost the feeling at all and that it just came down to finding the right game. I brushed it off as them not understanding what I was talking about, mixing it up with something else. As far as I knew I had basically matured away from falling down the rabbit-hole of the videogame world.
At this point you should be asking, 'where is he going with this?', if you're not, then please ask that question. Where I'm going with this is my experience exactly one hour ago from writing these words. Going back all the way to where we started, 1999, Sega Dreamcast and Sonic Adventure. My first wonder filled experience of a videogame came from this game, this clunky-by-todays-standards game that people these days shake off as 'one of those bad 3D Sonic games'.
And that's fine, it's indeed not a perfect game by any means, the controls are wonky, the camera is useless, the gameplay is uneven and stupid at times (That fishing) and the voice-acting is as cheesy and badly directed as the original Resident Evil. But that doesn't matter at this point in time, Sonic Adventure was the coolest thing ever. Four years later Sega re-released Sonic Adventure on Nintendo Gamecube, it was called Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, because Sega had dibs on stupid long names before Square-Enix had, and was, quite frankly, worse than the original version.
SADX tried to update the graphics, which was a uneven execution, the new models had more polygons, but the shiny textures and other features just clashed with the style of the game, some glitches were fixed while even more were added and the controls were somehow even more annoying to maneuver, possibly since the game was not designed for the Gamecube controller. It was a mess. But you know what? I played the crap out of it anyway.
A few years later SADX was ported to PC, this port was even worse, being a half-assed PC port that somehow removed the added shaders of the Gamecube versions, I'm not even sure how messing that up should be possible, but they did. And I played the crap out of it anyway. These three versions of Sonic Adventure might have had more time put into them from my hands than the entire Super Nintendo library, and that library is pretty damn good. Yet the feeling of joy and wonder never returned, I played the same game, I did the same things... But it didn't work. It was fun, but it was just another fun game. I might as well play something else.
Enter 2010, Sega re-released SADX (again) on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network as part of their first Dreamcast Collection. Being the person I am I bought it and began playing it again. I finished every character story in a day then left it be. My interest in my favourite Sonic game had finally died and I had no reason of playing it any more. I admitted to its bad ageing, I admitted to how silly and bad the game was at times and I just didn't care. I brought out my other Sonic games and played them, most had aged better.
However, recently a thought came to me. I had played Sonic Adventure for almost thirteen years, on four different systems, and I had never even bothered collecting all the 130 emblems in the game. The emblems, in case you've not played Sonic Adventure, is something you get from doing different things in the game, finishing missions, finding them as collectables or even raising the virtual pet 'Chao' and having it race in a time-consuming minigame.
I wondered as to why I hadn't done this, I'd finished the game at least 50 times, yet I had not even tried 100% completion on it? I could not understand this at all and, as people who follow me on twitter know by this point, I began replaying Sonic Adventure once more. I had fun at times, I was yelling more than I had ever yelled at times and I almost fell asleep gathering enough gorillas to make my Chao reach Lv. 70 in Power. But after three days of constant playing of Sonic Adventure I got the 130th Emblem. I had finally done everything I could do in Sonic Adventure, I turned to my TweetDeck and wrote these following words...
"I DID IT! I FUCKING DID IT! I GOT ALL 130 EMBLEMS IN SONIC ADVENTURE! ... 13 Damn Years. And finally. I'm done."
Then it came to me. The feeling I spoke of at the beginning of this text. For the first time in at least 9 years, I felt like I did when I was 8 years old and as I'm writing this, I still am. It took a badly aged, sloppily playtested product of the late 90s that maybe should be best left alone, but it got me back what I had been searching for. And if I never get this feeling again, at least I can say I ended it where I started it. Sonic Adventure is probably the most important videogame in the story of my life and it's not even my favourite Dreamcast game.
Do you have a game like this? Or am I just rambling out of joy?