[This is yet another instance where I have very little time on my hands, but I want to keep with my daily postings. Thursday Throwbacks will be a nostalgia trip where I bring you all back in time with me to one of my favorite video game memories from my life, or maybe a retro review. or really anything that turns the proverbial clock back a few years and give you a glimpse of where I've come from.]
If you were to peer into my gaming world for just a second, you'd probably assume that I'm a very diverse gamer. I own something from almost every genre of gaming, including all the major consoles and a gaming PC. However, I wasn't always this way, and until very recently, I was a very limited gamer!
I suppose to tell you how far I've come, I have to also tell you where I got stuck. As any of my regular readers may recall, my first video game of all time was Gran Turismo 2. I enjoyed this series almost exclusively for a few years, dipping in and out into the shooter genre with games like Unreal Tournament and Metal Arms: Glitch in the System. I didn't own much, but I didn't need much either. However, I was about to hit a gaming rut that would last the majority of my life as a teenager: The day I got my Xbox.
I remember when I got my original Xbox, the only game I owned on it was Halo 2. I had played Halo PC before that...But Halo 2 really sucked me in to the Halo universe...And kept me pinned there for the next 4 years. I played Halo 2 ALL the time. I would play the campaign over and over trying to see just how good I could get at it, all the while honing my skills for the day I knew was coming: When I could finally play online.
I was so desperate to get online, in fact, that I looked up how to bridge your internet connection, so I connected to Xbox Live using a dial up internet connection! True story! While I could only use temporary "free" accounts on my then-Xbox 360, I would relish the laggy gaming sessions with my friends, enjoying every bit of the experience, regardless of how bad it was.
I also went to many LAN parties, and toted my console over to every friend I knew who had a broadband connection. Some of my fondest memories are of a couple of friends and I, all playing Xbox Live for the first time together, on a single console, displayed on a very small and very crappy Standard Definition TV. It was glorious, and by the time I did finally get on Xbox Live...I was a hardcore Halo-head.
This trend of Halo-only continued for a very, very long time. While I owned an Xbox 360 through high school, one of the only games I owned at the time on the console was Halo 3. I played it almost exclusively, and developed close friendships with many of my halo-mates over Xbox Live. I wasn't that popular in school (This was BEFORE gaming got "cool"), and my life pretty much centered around playing Halo, and going to school and talking to my few gamer friends about
During this period of time, I think I purchased maybe 2-3 other games. The reason I don't remember them is, well, because it probably got blocked out because of...You guessed it...Halo. However, one game came along and decided it was going to break down my Halo Wall...And that was Call of Duty 4.
Now, I didn't get all hyped up about this game like everyone else seemed to. I'd never played a CoD title in my life, and I didn't really give too much of a crap about it as a series. I was the one member of my group that kept iterating: "I'm happy with Halo. I don't care about Duty Calls 4 or whatever it is!". Despite my pestering peers, I managed to resist CoD4 for about a year after it came out. Finally, though, I broke down. I saw the Xbox version at Gamestop for 15 bucks used (It was a sale or something), and I bought it.
I didn't even play the campaign, but it didn't matter. I was hopping in with my buds who had been playing the game for years...And I was just getting torn apart. After years upon years of tactics built around being able to take a few hits to my shields, I was getting ripped apart in a game that was all about reflexes and getting the first shot. After a few days of trying to like it...I just put it in its box and called it. It stayed on my shelf for the next year, totally untouched.
But something began to happen that year...I was getting tired of Halo. I was enjoying playing the game...But I'd grown a bit bored of it. It was the same thing every day and it felt like gaming autopilot. I found myself not really wanting to get online, and at the same time, not knowing what else to do. Then I remembered Call of Duty...I thought about how much I'd hated it the first time, but I thought to myself that I'd never bothered playing the campaign and getting a feel for the game before going online. I figured "What the hell...Might be fun!", dusted it off, and put it in the game tray. I booted up campaign...And my afternoon was GONE...
I ended up really loving the campaign, and after I'd gotten the controls down, I headed into multiplayer once again. This time, I was doing much better and was really enjoying the change in pace. A few of my friends still played CoD4, and I started gaming with them more often. Sure enough, I'd developed a taste for the game, and I suddenly had diversity in my gaming world for the first time in years.
This was but the first step of many. After realizing as a matured human being that there were other games besides Halo in the world, I began to branch out and re-discover my gaming past. I eventually got a PS3, and rekindled my love of the Ratchet and Clank
series with Future: Tools of Destruction.
I got interested in the Killzone series. I started gaming on my PC more, and gained a real respect for the system with my purchase of the Orange Box, one of which becoming one of my most beloved game experiences of all time (It's the one that fibs to you about delicious baked goods). I still kept playing Halo, but I had much more going on my my gaming world than I had before.
It wasn't until about a year ago that I breached the final wall, so to speak. While talking to my girlfriend one day, she started mentioning how much she wanted to get a Wii. I had played the system once or twice before, but I specifically remember not knowing much at ALL about it. For you see, I'd never seriously played a single Nintendo title in my entire life! I think I might have played Super Mario Bros. at some point, and maybe Mario 64...But I was largely unfamiliar with the Nintendo spectrum of gaming. But the more we talked about it, the more into the idea I was. I'd recently started playing more platformers like Super Meat Boy and LIMBO...And I decided to go half-and-half with her on a Wii and a few games.
Now, to be fair, this wasn't some great gaming revelation or anything to me...But it sure was significant. I'll be honest, I don't play our Wii much these days, but I really appreciate what it did for me as far as appreciating different kinds of games. We got 4 games for our system: New Super Mario Bros. Wii
, Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption,
and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
While I've probably only played a few hours of each of these titles, they've given me some very needed perspective on a side of gaming I was totally unfamiliar with. While it's not something I enjoy playing every day, games like Super Mario Galaxy are REALLY fun, just in a different kind of way than I'm used to. Metroid Prime is a totally bizarre kind of platformer/shooter that showed me that FPSs don't all have to fit in the same mold to be fun. The Wii really let me gain a little insight into the mind of a different kind of Hardcore gamer.
While I don't tend to vary my gaming habits much from day to day, I do like to say that I'm a fairly experienced gamer, and not in just a single genre or franchise. It's not like I play every type of game every day, but I have a lot of appreciation and can enjoy a large variety of games thanks to how my gaming tastes have evolved. It took me a while to get here, and I was pretty stuck in my ways for a long time, but I'm very thankful that I broke my mold and found this whole new world that's both strange and wonderful.
So thank you to everything, from Call of Duty to Metroid to Ratchet and Clank to Mario...To all these games that made me realize that variety is the spice of a gamer's life. Halo will always have a special place in my heart...But I don't want to know what my gaming world would look like if I was still just sitting at my Xbox, unaware of just how good gaming could get.
Thanks for reading everyone!