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bbain's blog

Bbain's Jukebox: Happiness
6:14 AM on 07.10.2014
GaymerX brings out the worst in the Dtoid community
9:33 PM on 04.14.2014
The hunt for the missing NES game
3:29 PM on 01.25.2014
bbain's 2013 gaming awards
3:29 PM on 01.08.2014
PAX Avatar Adoption: Please adopt me!
5:55 PM on 08.17.2013
Growing up with a PlayStation
8:49 AM on 02.25.2013

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My name's Ben. I'm pretty quiet but really easy to get along with. I've been playing video games since I was a little kid, watching my brother play the NES and sometimes playing with him. The first game I ever beat was Super Mario RPG, and that's when I developed a love for video games.

I was the Friday recapper for the Cblog Recaps team for 3 years!

I was on an episode of the Secret Moon Base Podcast! You can listen to me talk about video game bosses with the gang!

Games that I thoroughly enjoy:
Katamari Damacy
Shadow of the Colossus
EarthBound and Mother 3
Cave Story
Demon's Souls and Dark Souls
Persona 3 and 4
Team Fortress 2
Super Mario RPG
Tokyo Jungle
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
Mega Man Legends
Super Meat Boy
Bit.Trip series
Beyond Good & Evil
Dragon Quest VIII
Final Fantasy IV, VI, VII and IX
Mega Man 2
Majora's Mask
Super Mario Sunshine
WarioWare series
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Endless Ocean: Blue World
Mister Mosquito

My Backlog

Other things that I thoroughly enjoy:
Sweet potatoes
Studio Ghibli films
Eels (the band... and the animal too)
Cowboy Bebop
Kill la Kill
Jurassic Park
Spaghetti westerns
Crossword puzzles
Green tea
Giant squids
Player Profile
PSN ID:bbbain
Steam ID:bbainn
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6:14 AM on 07.10.2014

Hello everyone! If you've been following my presence here on the site, you've probably noticed that I really enjoy video game soundtracks. I talk about them a lot, and these days I actually tend to listen to video game music more than any other kind of music. I've always wanted to write a blog about my favorite video game music, but there's just too much to talk about in one blog, so I'm going to try starting a new series instead. I hope to post these with some regularity, maybe a new one every two weeks or so? I'm also going to keep them small, I'm thinking five songs per blog, to keep the series going longer and because you probably don't want to spend all day listening to my selections. Each post will have a different emotion or theme that each of the five tracks share in common, and I may revisit certain themes if I need to.

This week's theme is happiness! These are songs that make me smile; songs which I could imagine listening to on a bright, sunny day. What are some of your favorite happy songs?

The Wonderful Star's Walk is Wonderful
Katamari Damacy

The Katamari games are pretty much the epitome of happiness for me! Everything from the bright colors, the crazy art style, the upbeat music and even the gameplay just makes me smile! I love just about the entirety of the OSTs from the Katamari games, and yet there's still one song that I love above all the rest. The Wonderful Star's Walk is Wonderful is the tune that plays on your home planet and while you're viewing the collection in the original Katamari Damacy. I spent a LOT of time browsing the collection, partly because I got to listen to this song on repeat. If I had to pick one song to describe myself, it would probably be this one (in fact, AlphaDeus used this as inspiration when he wrote my song for the Destructoid Community Album!).

Bit.Trip Core

The Bit.Trip games are really great at portraying emotions through music. Core and Runner both sound pretty happy, but the music that makes me smile the most is found in Control, the final level of Bit.Trip Core. It's interesting because Core was by far the hardest Bit.Trip game for me, and the final level, gameplay-wise, was the most frustrating. But I could never be too angry with the game because the music is just so freaking happy! Even as I'm messing up left and right, on the brink of failure, I still can't stop smiling. I'm including the song found on the game's official soundtrack here, because it's shorter and easier for the casual person to listen to, but if you want to hear the music in all of it's usual glory, it's best to look up a gameplay video for Control. The game's sound effects, which aren't found on the OST, actually add a lot to the music!

Your Affection
Persona 4

If Persona 3's prominent emotion was gloominess, as indicated by the soundtrack and the generous use of the color blue throughout the game's art, then Persona 4's prominent emotion was definitely happiness! It's a much brighter game, using the color yellow as its main theme in the artwork, and with a more upbeat, pop-inspired soundtrack. It may seem strange, considering the game's story revolves around MURDER, but the meat of the game is much more focused on friendship, so the happy theme actually works quite well. There are a lot of tracks I could have included here, but I chose Your Affection for a few reasons. The songs plays while you're wandering around Inaba, but only on clear, sunny days, so it was surely intended to portray happiness. My favorite part of the song is the first twenty seconds. I don't know enough about music to go into techniques or instruments that they used to convey certain emotions, but I just feel that the first twenty seconds sounds like something that would play as you step out of your house into a beautiful, sunny day!

Descendant of Shinobi
Final Fantasy VII

This song is also known as Yuffie's theme, so as you can probably guess, it plays during many important scenes involving Yuffie, who just so happens to be my favorite character in FF7. It's kind of similar to Eiko's theme from FF9, which I suppose is fitting because they're both young girls, even though their personalities are vastly different. I prefer Yuffie's theme over Eiko's though, mostly because Yuffie is a much cooler character. Both songs immediately make me want to bob my head in a jolly manner, with a big ol' smile on my face!

Toroko's Theme
Cave Story

Toroko's theme is also kind of similar to Yuffie's theme, they're both very cute and bouncy. This song is sort of hidden in the game; you can hear it playing on the title screen, but only if you can manage to beat the Sanctuary (aka Hell) in under 5 minutes. It's an interesting song, because if you listen to it without having played the game, it's pretty much just a happy, innocent little tune, befitting a happy, innocent little character like Toroko. But if you've played the game, and know what happens to Toroko, the song becomes incredibly bittersweet. Poor Toroko... Her theme song still makes me happy regardless, which I'm sure is what she would have wanted anyway!

The articles that Destructoid has run recently about GaymerX have made me kind of sad and worried about the current community. The articles themselves are great, mind you. The staff is clearly welcoming of people from all walks of life. It's the comments that make me worried; full of blatant ignorance, vitriol, and unhelpful apathy. The few positive comments are like an oasis in a desert of hate, and they're usually from the same few users (most notably Pixielated and crackedbat). I feel like even the lighthearted gay jokes would be welcome at this point (offensive though they may be to some), but even those are few and far between. And maybe I'm just remembering things incorrectly, but I feel like it didn't always used to be like this around the site.

I remember a time when Jim Sterling would consistently post articles with completely unrelated homoerotic header images (and some that were clearly straight up gay porn, cropped just enough to make it not pornographic). The comment sections would either have some fun with it or sometimes even ignore the images entirely, as if they were just a normal part of the site. Anyone who complained about the images would get a mouthful from the site's regulars, mocking their sensitivity. I'll admit that I was a bit unsure about the images at first, thinking they would just lead to comments full of homophobia, but that very rarely happened.

I also remember reading articles such as Pixielated's first promoted blog or Chad Concelmo's farewell post about Final Fantasy VI, where the comment sections were brimming with positivity and open-mindedness (with a relatively minor amount of sourpusses). Those articles made me feel very good about the Dtoid community! In fact, they made me feel like Destructoid's environment had become something like the idealized version of the world that many of the comments on GaymerX articles tend to bring up, a place where no one cares one way or the other about your sexuality, you're welcome no matter who you are.

Destructoid is not a website like GayGamer, where the primary focus is on LGBT issues as they pertain to video games. It's a website where the primary focus is on video games, yet any related topic is welcome, including topics of an LGBT nature. That was one of the reasons why I fell in love with this place; I actually felt welcome here! I hate to think of new members reading the comments on articles like the ones about GaymerX and coming to the conclusion that Destructoid is not a place where they'll be welcome

Now, maybe it just has something to do with the GaymerX convention specifically. After all, there's apparently something about a gay-oriented video gaming convention that many people can't seem to wrap their minds around. But even articles about the convention from a few years ago had MUCH more positive receptions than they do now. Maybe if we saw another article like the ones by Pixielated and Chad, we'd get a more positive reaction from the community. I'm not really sure, because we haven't seen an article like that in a while.

Anyway, to get to the point, I've been trying to think of ways to create a more welcome atmosphere around Destructoid. I might try to think of some LGBT-centric blogs to write about, and I'll definitely try to post more positive comments on articles about LGBT topics. Admittedly, said articles are not very common, which is fine, but I hope the ones we get in the future can harbor a more positive atmosphere than the ones we've seen recently.

I'm confident that the part of the community that frequents the C-blogs are a lot friendlier and more welcoming than your average front page commenter, so I hope that everyone reading this can agree with these sentiments and maybe try to help the situation in their own way. And I understand that LGBT issues are probably not very important to some, and that's fine too. As long as you're not actively trying to harbor a negative attitude, then we can surely get along.

What do you guys think? Has anyone else noticed this shift in attitudes surrounding these topics? Maybe you're tired of hearing about all this sexism/racism/homophobia stuff, but after reading some of the comments from the aforementioned articles, surely you can see that there is still a problem. And this is exactly why these topics are continually brought up, because we clearly have not yet reached a state of universal acceptance. Maybe one day...

Something really cool happened this week, and while it might not be the most exciting story to some, it was still very exciting for me.

So, growing up, my family had several gaming consoles that were apparently given to my dad as gifts from a coworker. We had an NES, SNES and a Genesis, along with quite a few games for each console. I played them almost daily, mostly with my brother. Then, in 1996 (I was about 8 at the time), the N64 was released, and my brother and I both really wanted to try it out, except our parents wouldn't buy it for us. My brother decided to buy it himself, and in order to get the money to pay for it, he decided to sell all of our consoles and games to a pawn shop. He ended up trading our huge collection of NES, SNES and Genesis games for an N64 and one game to go along with it: GoldenEye. I'm sure it was not the best deal.

While GoldenEye was indeed a very fun game, I immediately started to miss all of our old games. Once I started to earn my own money, I made it my goal to buy the old consoles again and try to find all the games we had for it. I never ended up getting another Genesis (it was my least favorite of the three), but I did get an NES and SNES, and have been steadily building up a collection of games for both. I found most of the games that I remembered playing as a kid, including the Mario games, the Mega Man games, Zelda, Blaster Master, Marble Madness, Ironsword, Bubble Bobble, etc.

But there was one game that I remembered playing which I could never remember the name of. I vaguely remembered some platforming mechanics and item pick-ups, and a screen showing a map of the world. I also had a very clear memory of being really bad at the game, and trying to make up passwords in the password screen to see if I could get further. I somehow managed to input an acceptable password and jump ahead to the middle of the game. I ran to tell my brother and sister what I'd done, but I don't think either of them really cared.

That's pretty much all I could remember about the game, but for some reason I really wanted to figure out what the game was. Neither of my siblings knew which game I was talking about. It was like a part of my childhood was missing since I couldn't remember anything about a game I spent a lot of time playing. I tried looking through a list of every NES game, hoping one of the titles would jog my memory. At one point a few years ago, after looking at some screenshots of random NES games, I grew convinced the game had been Little Samson. That would have been incredible, since the game is worth a ridiculous amount of money these days, but after playing it for a bit on an emulator, I decided that it wasn't the one (although Little Samson is a really awesome game!).

Close, but no cigar.

Then, just this week, Hamza posted a video of a compilation of every NES title screen in alphabetical order. I watched a bit of it just for the heck of it, and made it to the C titles, and laughed when I saw a game titled Clash at Demonhead ("It's that band from Scott Pilgrim!"). Then it played some music from the game, which sounded oddly familiar. I watched a bit more of the video, then stopped and went back to listen to the Clash at Demonhead song again. I thought, "No, it couldn't be..." but decided to look up some gameplay videos just in case. The music, the enemies, the pick-ups, everything brought back memories. "This is it! This is that one game I played as a kid! I finally figured out what it was!"

Those wonky-eyed enemies! I remember!

It was a really fantastic feeling to finally be able to solve a mystery that had been on my mind for years, even if it was a relatively unimportant mystery like a video game. It was also really cool that music was the thing that triggered the memory. I'd heard the title before while reading and watching Scott Pilgrim, but the title of the game was not as strong of a reminder as the music. It just goes to show how powerful and important music can be!

Needless to say, I'm currently in the process of tracking down a copy of Clash at Demonhead to play it again. I'm not sure if it'll even be a good game, but it's definitely something that I need to have for my collection!

Photo Photo Photo

3:29 PM on 01.08.2014

Hello, everyone! There have been so many Best of 2013 blogs already (which is awesome!), and I'd like to throw my own list into the mix, even though it's a little late. I also thought I'd add a few extra awards at the end just for fun. So, without further ado, here are my favorite games of 2013!

Top 10 games of the year:

10. Killer is Dead

When I head that Suda51 was making a new game with the assassin series in mind, I got really excited! Killer7 and No More Heroes were my favorite Suda51 games, and this one definitely brought back memories of those games. The bizarre plot was very reminiscent of Killer7, and the over-the-top boss fights were as amazing as the ones from No Mores Heroes. I wasn't really a fan of the gigolo missions (was anyone?), but that's OK; they're easily avoidable anyway. I played Killer is Dead primarily for the crazy story and boss fights, and I was not disappointed by either!

9. Runner 2

AKA that Bit.Trip game with the really long name. Bit.Trip Runner was always my favorite game out of the series, so I was really happy that it got a sequel! Runner 2 is set in an alternate universe from the other Bit.Trip games, and it definitely feels very different in tone. The Bit.Trip team got really silly with this game, adding in weird new characters like a pickle guy and an inverted merman, giving the characters alternate costumes and dance moves, and adding in voice narration (by none other than Charles Martinet!). The fantastic rhythmic gameplay from Bit.Trip Runner is still there, just with an added layer of silliness thrown in for good measure!

8. Rayman Legends

Rayman Origins was by far my favorite platformer from the last few years, so of course I had to play the sequel. While I think I prefer the first game overall, Legends is still a solid game which added several cool features. I really enjoyed the daily/weekly challenges and leaderboards, although the challenge levels could have used some more variety. The best new feature was the musical levels, where the game suddenly became a rhythm platformer, as you raced along to hilarious tunes. I wouldn't mind seeing more levels like those in the future!

7. Antichamber

Antichamber is all about mind games. The game will play tricks on you, and you'll keep falling for them again and again until you finally try something new or unexpected. You'll have to throw away everything you thought you knew about video games as you try and figure out the rules of this game's world. Unfortunately, I haven't finished it yet, but even so, Antichamber has left quite an impression on me!

6. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

For how many hours I've spent this year playing New Leaf, I had to put it on my list somewhere. While it's not really too different from the other games in the series, I do believe it's the best one yet. This time around, not only can you customize your house, you can also customize your entire town! You can add landmarks and new buildings, and you sort of have a say in which neighbors stay or go. Traveling to other towns and inviting people over is easier than ever, although I do think there are still a few kinks to work out as far as the online portion goes. The Animal Crossing formula has always been addictive and fun, and Nintendo keeps perfecting it to make it even better.

5. Tomb Raider

I've always been a fan of the Tomb Raider series, although a lot of the more recent entries haven't really been so great. I think a reboot is just what the series needed, even though the new game seems to be straying away from it's predecessors in some major ways. While I could have done without a lot of the shooting gameplay and QTEs, everything else in the game was simply fantastic! The jumping and climbing mechanics are the best in the Tomb Raider franchise, the island setting was gorgeous, the new direction for Lara's character was brilliant, and while I didn't care for shooting down hordes of enemies, the bow was still really fun to use! While it's sort of sad to see the Tomb Raider franchise go in a completely different direction, at least it still remains an enjoyable game.

4. Papers, Please

By far the most unique game I played this year, Papers, Please seems to be impossible to define in terms of genre. The gameplay involves poring over passports and other documents, searching for discrepancies, and deciding who can cross the border into the country of Arstotzka and who gets turned away. Somehow, they took this seemingly tedious gameplay idea and turned it into a very compelling video game! You'll have to race the clock to get through as many people as you can while minimizing mistakes, so that you can afford to feed your family. I'm still not sure how the developer turned this idea into such a fun game, but kudos to them! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go cry some more over all the people whose lives I ruined by refusing them entry into Arstotzka...

3. Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy satisfied my itch this year for tough-as-nails platformers/roguelikes. It's a genre that's really been thriving lately in the indie game scene (Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV, Spelunky, Binding of Isaac, etc.), and I just can't get enough of it! I'll find myself dying over and over again, and yet I never get discouraged, and eventually I'll overcome obstacles which at first seemed impossible. It's a wonderful feeling when you finally succeed! Rogue Legacy is especially interesting, though, thanks to the ancestry and traits mechanics. All of the different traits and classes help to keep gameplay interesting, whether the world is black and white due to colorblindness, the text is all scrambled due to dyslexia, or everything is upside down due to vertigo (never pick vertigo!). Of course, when you finally get the perfect combination of class and traits and then die way too soon, it can feel pretty terrible, since you might never get that combination again. I'll always miss my gay Hokage warrior with ADHD...

2. Guacamelee

Like Rogue Legacy, Guacamelee satisfied my other indie game itch for metroidvanias. Guacamelee was perfect in just about every way. It had engaging combat with awesome wrestling moves, excellent level design, challenging platforming, a nice dose of humor, fantastic music and more, all wrapped up in a charming Mexican luchador theme. I honestly can't think of anything they could have done to improve it!

Game of the year: Ni no Kuni

I love a good JRPG, and Ni no Kuni took everything I love about JRPGs and put it all together into one great game. They replaced the traditional turn-based combat with a more action-oriented combat system which I actually really liked. I could see the combat working really well for a Pokemon game, probably because the familiars in Ni no Kuni are very similar to Pokemon. The game is filled with your typical JRPG quests, lots of grinding, endearing characters, fantastic music, and plenty of hours of gameplay. Plus they had Studio Ghibli help out with the art direction, so the game is absolutely gorgeous! It may have a few flaws (too many tutorials, poor AI for team members), but it's pretty darn close to being the perfect JRPG!

Bonus awards:

Best game to finally release on a system I own: Spelunky

I waited very patiently for Spelunky to release on PSN, which it finally did this year. I already knew I was going to love it, having played the original on the PC, and I also knew I was going to become addicted to it. I've played well over 500 rounds this year already, having only beaten the game three times so far. I still haven't beaten Hell, though, so that's my current goal!

Best game that I didn't play until this year: Nier

Why didn't I play this game sooner?! Everything from the art direction, the music, the characters, the locations, the combat... it was such a fantastic little game, and I quickly fell in love with it. It's too bad it wasn't very well received, I think it definitely deserves more attention!

Runners-Up: Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, La-Mulana

Most addictive game: Animal Crossing: New Leaf

I've played it almost every day since I got it. Still plan on playing it for months to come. I may or may not need an intervention...

Runners-Up: Spelunky, Rogue Legacy

Best luchador: Juan Aguacate from Guacamelee

There were actually a lot of luchadors this year, which is great, because luchadors are awesome! Juan is an easy choice for the best luchador, being the playable character in a fantastic luchador-themed game. He also has the best mask.

Runners-Up: Hawlucha from Pokemon X/Y, El Luchador from Rayman Legends

Best beard: Wilson from Don't Starve

Seriously, that thing is magnificent! And it gets bonus points because you get to watch it as it grows!

Runner-Up: Joel from The Last of Us

Game of the year for every year: Dark Souls

It's still the best game of the last generation. I just hope they don't screw up the sequel...

Most anticipated 2014 release: Persona 5

Oh god, it's going to be so good! I can't wait! :D

Runner-Up: Dark Souls 2
Photo Photo Photo

Every year at PAX, Dtoiders from around the world hang out and play video games together. It's a wonderful experience, but not every Dtoider is able to make it out and join in on the fun. This is where the Destructoid Avatar Adoption Program comes in. Through this program, some lucky Dtoiders may be able to enjoy the awesomeness that is PAX vicariously through their avatars, so long as they beg and plead for one of the Destructoid PAX-goers to take their avatar along with them. Last year, I ended up going to PAX myself and took PK493's avatar along with me. You can check out our crazy adventures here! This year, however, I unfortunately won't be able to make it out to Seattle to party with all my Dtoid friends.

Pictured: Some lovely avatars who have been adopted!

So, without further ado, I present my application for the Destructoid Avatar Adoption Program.

Somebody please adopt my avatar for PAX Prime! I won't be able to see my friends or any cool games this year and it's killing me, but if someone were to take my humble avatar along for the trip, it will surely ease some of the pain I will experience by not being there myself.

If you didn't already know, my avatar is Balrog from Cave Story, and he's sure to bring joy and smiles to everyone's faces with his big, happy grin! He may even score you some points with some of the indie developers, if you plan to hang out at the Indie Megabooth (which you should, because it's amazing)!

Balrog enjoys crashing through rooftops, shouting his favorite catchphrase ("Huzzah!" which is a much better catchphrase than the one that silly Kool-Aid guy says!), and being a toaster (or a bar of soap or something). He is a loyal friend, a dangerous enemy, and an all-around adorable being. Please don't let him down by making him stay here on the boring internets while everyone else is having fun at PAX!

So please, I beg you, adopt my avatar and take him with you on your trip to PAX! And be sure to take lots of lovely photographs, so that your adventures will be remembered for years to come!
Photo Photo

With the PlayStation 4 on the horizon, Sony's consoles are on everyone's minds lately. The recent Twitter hashtag, #playstationmemories, got me thinking about my own time spent with the consoles. I've owned PlayStations 1 through 3, so a fair amount of my gaming time has been spent on Sony consoles. Each console has affected my taste in games in various ways, but the original PlayStation has probably been the most influential to me, since it was one of the main consoles I used growing up. The following games are the ones that I have the fondest memories of, the games which may have helped shape what kinds of games I like to play today. For reference, I was about 7 when the PlayStation was released, so these games were probably played between the ages of 7 and 12.

Spyro the Dragon

The original Spyro was by far my favorite video game growing up. The 10-year-old me thought it was just so cool to play as a dragon. I remember I rented the game first and thought it was the best thing ever, but the rental version was scratched and it would freeze whenever you got into the hot air balloon to travel to the second world. Then I got it for Christmas later that year, and was so freaking excited that I would finally be able to see the rest of the game! It really was a beautiful game for its time. Everything in the game was rendered in 3D, and the worlds were so colorful and magical. Even the music was unique. I liked Spyro so much at the time, that it even influenced my very first screen name when my family finally got AOL. I chose the name Spyro06 (not sure where the 06 came from... it was probably just a random number that I had to choose because Spyro was taken). I played the sequel, Ripto's Rage, when it came out later, but wasn't as enthralled by it. My interest in Spyro has since diminished, and the first game remains the only one that I really enjoyed.

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider might have been the very first PlayStation game I ever played. I remember my brother's friend had a PlayStation before us, and that was the first time I'd even heard of the console before. He brought it over to our house one day to show us Tomb Raider. It's possible that this was the first 3D video game I'd ever seen. Obviously, I was blown away by the experience. Being able to fully navigate 3D environments in a video game was crazy to me at the time. Even the game's visuals, which have aged quite horribly, were absolutely beautiful to me back then. I became completely immersed in the intricate caverns and ruins. I remember literally falling out of my chair the first time I encountered the T-rex, and shrieking and mashing the swim button the first time I encountered a crocodile underwater. I also remember my mom watching me play one day, and making some remark about how I was playing as a sexy girl, and how she thought she knew now why I had been playing Tomb Raider so much lately. I think she might have missed the mark a bit there...


When my parents finally bought me my own PlayStation, the first game they got for it was Rayman, instead of Tomb Raider like I had asked for. I was fairly disappointed at first. The character on the cover looked so bizarre. Why doesn't he have limbs? And what's with his hair? When I started playing the game, I realized that it wasn't 3D like Tomb Raider had been, and I was even more disappointed. It wasn't what I wanted at all! But since it was the only PlayStation game I had for the time being, I kept playing it anyway. Eventually I came to the realization that, my god, this game was incredibly fun! The characters and the worlds were so imaginative and colorful. Even though it was 2D, it was by far the most beautiful 2D game I'd ever seen. It was also extremely challenging! I wasn't even able to get past Band Land, the second world, without my brother's help. Also, I had way too much fun pressing the one button which made Rayman make a weird face and stick his tongue out. It didn't really do anything, except occasionally surprise an enemy into running away, but it always made me laugh. In retrospect, I'm really glad my parents decided to go with Rayman as my first PlayStation game!

Metal Gear Solid

My brother decided to rent Metal Gear Solid one day, a game which didn't look too interesting to me, but I tried playing it anyway. I was absolutely terrible at it. I don't think I could even figure out how to get through the first room and make it onto the elevator. My brother was good at it though, so instead of playing it myself, I opted to just watch him play it. It was a good thing, then, that Metal Gear Solid was just as entertaining to watch as it was to play. I became captivated by the serious story and the characters, even though I didn't really understand what all was going on. I remember the Cyborg Ninja scared the shit out of me, and I freaked out when Sniper Wolf shot Meryl. And the fight against Psycho Mantis blew my mind! For some reason I couldn't comprehend the moving controller and the Hideo blackout screen, it seemed like the game had a mind of its own. I guess I was kind of a dumb kid. I watched my brother play the game all the way to the end, and it was amazing. I didn't actually play the game myself until several years later, and the experience was just as amazing then!

Bushido Blade

Bushido Blade was another game that my brother decided to rent, which I probably would have never played otherwise. I'm actually not even sure why I liked it so much as a kid, since it's really nothing like the types of games I liked to play. In case you haven't played it, Bushido Blade is a samurai-style fighting game with no health bars. You fight until someone is mortally injured, which could happen after a single well-aimed strike. If your limbs sustain serious injuries, your character will be crippled, forcing them to limp or crawl around the arena. Even today, I still think the mechanics of this game are brilliant, and lead into some very tense, almost realistic duels. I'm kind of surprised my younger self appreciated it so much, but I played it a ton with my brother and friends, where we'd fight and run around the map trying to discover all of the various areas you could fight in. I even bought it as a birthday present for one of my friends, but I don't think he appreciated it quite as much as I did...

Mega Man Legends

I had been a pretty big fan of the Mega Man games on the NES and SNES, so when I saw there was a 3D Mega Man game for the PlayStation, of course I had to try it out. What I found in Mega Man Legends was unlike any other Mega Man game I'd ever played, but it was very special in its own way. The game was humorous, and at times pretty dark, and there were so many little details that brought life to the island of Kattelox. If you got in the way of a vehicle, it would knock you off the road. If you kicked a vending machine, you might get a free drink. If you helped the Servbots with their money problems in some sidequests, they'd eventually open up a hamburger shop in town. I felt like I was constantly discovering new things to do or find in this game. Not to mention, the Bonne family and their Servbots are some of my favorite video game characters ever! Tron, Teisel and Bon are the kind of villains you feel sorry for, and wish you could help out. The romantic tension between Tron and Mega Man always made me smile. And of course, the Servbots are just about the most adorable little minions you'll ever encounter! Mega Man Legends is still one of my favorite games to this day, and it still makes me sad that it's not considered profitable enough to release any more sequels for it. At least I'll always have the first two games and Tron's spin-off to cherish.


I rented Tomba on a whim one day, most likely because of the colorfully exciting cover art that couldn't be ignored on the shelf. I was not disappointed! Tomba encapsulates the kind of super happy, whimsical attitude of video games that I still enjoy to this day. There was just something about jumping around as a wild pink-haired boy, tackling pigs and birds and other enemies into submission that made me laugh with childlike joy. It reminds me of the same kind of feeling I get playing games like Katamari Damacy or Rhythm Heaven Fever, some of my favorite games of all time. Tomba also had a unique quest system built into the platformer genre, and an interesting, though admittedly confusing, mechanic where you could jump between foreground and background. That mechanic caused me to get stuck in the game as a kid, because I never realized that you could enter doorways that looked like they were part of the background. I had to return the game without ever having beaten it, which I was upset about. I eventually picked it up again a few years ago after a bout of nostalgia, and was finally able to beat it. I'm glad I got around to doing that, because it was a lovely game the entire way through.

Ape Escape

I'm pretty sure I never rented or owned Ape Escape (until recently). I must have played it at a friend's house or something, but I certainly remember being very intrigued by the game. A game centered around capturing rogue monkeys was such a bizarre idea, but it worked. Those damn monkeys were so quick and crafty, you had to be very skilled and persistent to capture some of them! It helped that the world of the game was so charming and fun to explore. I had way too much fun running around with the dinosaurs and swimming around with the huge fish in the jungle levels. The game also appealed to the collector side of me, as I wanted to catch every last monkey and read about them in the info menu! Unfortunately, I don't think I ever managed to do so...

Crash Team Racing

I did play the Crash Bandicoot games when I was a kid (well, at least the first one), but for some reason I enjoyed the racing game way more than the main games. Maybe it was because I was really bad at Mario Kart 64, but relatively good at Crash Team Racing. So while my friends would destroy me in Mario Kart, I could turn around and wreck them in Crash Team Racing! I always played as either Pura, the cute little tiger cub, or Polar, the cute polar bear (I like cute things... shut up). I still remember almost all of the tracks, with the Hot Air Skyway standing out the most in my mind. It was like the equivalent of Rainbow Road. When we'd get tired of racing, the battle arenas were just as much fun. I think it definitely stood its own as one of the better mascot-themed racing games.

Twisted Metal 2

Twisted Metal was another one of my brother's rental choices. I think he rented the first game and then ended up buying the second game. It took me a while to warm up to Twisted Metal, but eventually it became one of my favorite multiplayer games to play with my friends. It was pretty violent, but since it was mainly violence against vehicles, it didn't seem so bad in my mind. I remember my brother and I took turns attempting to beat the game with every character to try to see their endings, which were all pretty horrific yet humorous at the same time. When we encountered Dark Tooth for the first time, we both freaked out and panicked trying to defeat him. My favorite vehicle to play as was always Thumper, because it looked really sleek and its special fire attack seemed to be very effective. I also had way too much fun destroying all of the various landmarks found throughout the game. You could destroy the Eiffel Tower and use it as a bridge, blast your way into a museum and shoot up the Mona Lisa, or blast the dress off of the Statue of Liberty, revealing an unflattering bikini! I'm not too crazy about the Twisted Metal series these days, but I sure played the hell out of it when I was younger!

Final Fantasy IX and VII

Final Fantasy IX was one of the last PlayStation games I played before moving on to the PS2. I'm not sure why I didn't check out VII or VIII before it, because we already owned IV for the SNES and I loved that game. For some reason, though, none of the other Final Fantasy games really caught my attention until I was looking at the cover for IX while trying to decide what game to rent next. I distinctly remember seeing Vivi on the cover and thinking I really liked his design, and since I'd already played a Final Fantasy game before, I decided to see what had become of the series. I never expected to become so goddamn obsessed with that game! I couldn't put it down until I'd beaten it, and after I beat it I kept playing to try and discover all of the endgame stuff, searching for every item and secret that I could possibly find, locating and defeating Ozma, etc. I put a ridiculous number of hours into that game, and after I'd finished it, I started up a new file and played it all again! I was hooked. After finally losing steam with IX, I discovered that my cousin was in possession of VII, only his mom wouldn't let him play it because the huge sword on the cover looked too violent. So they let me borrow it, and I soon became just as obsessed with VII as I had been with IX! I'm not sure which game I spent more time with, but I'm sure I spent a disgusting number of hours between the two of them. Surprisingly though, I never felt inclined to play VIII or anything released after IX. I'm not exactly sure why, maybe the character designs just weren't doing it for me. Regardless, VII and IX remain two of my favorite video games ever.

I played a lot more PlayStation games than just the ones listed here, but these were the games that meant the most to me. What were some of your favorite PS1 games growing up?
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