Resident Evil 2 | The Game That Defines Hundstrasse

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One of the best things about this game is how it uses sound design to develop great atmosphere. Add +10 creepy points to this piece. 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Things are about to get a little spooky. Don’t panic, but stay on your toes.

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

The era of 3D gaming brought with it a wave of creepy, suspenseful horror games. Today’s game is considered an early high-water mark for the genre, and here to talk about it is the always-awesome Luke from Hundstrasse! This guy does so many cool things, and is well-respected by myself and the rest of our blogging community! He also has a thing for creepy games. So, once you get done, sneak over to Hundstrasse for more awesomeness!

No need to fear, the next chapter of The Games That Define Us is here!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Luke @ Hundstrasse

Twitter: @Hundstrasse

For survival…

Game: Resident Evil 2
System: Playstation 1
Release Date: January 21, 1998

1P Start

By today’s standards the emotional content of Resident Evil 2 is clunky and melodramatic, but at the time I had never experienced anything like it in a game; even the word ‘game’ didn’t seem sufficient to describe such an immersive experience.

Spring Yard Zone, Act 2; Sonic runs forward, slows, and at the last moment turns backwards to gracefully freefall into the first halfpipe. As the ground gently curves under him those distinctive red sneakers glide over the polished Spring Yard floor, his legs moving forward whilst momentum drags him backward, up the vertical wall and then into the cool night air. His feet still moving, stare set in grim determination, a true athlete at the peak of his game… game… my favourite moment from that well worn game cartridge, a moment I’d watched countless times play out in the demo cycle through store windows and one where I still feel my own stomach tense slightly as our quilled buddy steps over the precipice. This moment I’d fleshed out in my mind, transposed the 2D graphics in to 3D architecture, an Escher-esque metropolis of bright lights, marble walkways, and gently creaking moving platforms.

… but nonetheless a game; a reality made up of bloops and dings. Get from the start of the level to the end, destroy the enemies, hit the bumpers, watch the score tick up in the top corner of the screen, make a mistake, loose a life, continue? Three acts in a zone, seven zone in the game. Best time, high score… game…

Up until I was thirteen or fourteen this experience defined games for me; levels, score, bosses, get from the left hand side of the level to the right hand side. This all changed one idle weekend when I borrowed my Uncle’s Playstation for the weekend along with a copy of Resident Evil 2.

The were parted by an inescapable destiny. This is just the beginning of their worst nightmare.

The opening cinematic plays; for our two protagonists, Leon and Claire, the slow realisation that the city is all wrong crystallises far too late. They’re already deep in the urban sprawl, the inhabitants merely walking shells of their former occupants, emotionless, unthinking, and, like a hidden current, ready to drag them into oblivion. The car crashes, the tanker explodes and they have been parted.

… and then the player is alone, standing next to the flaming wreckage, the first of the monsters staggering toward them. No points, no power-ups, no health bar, just a character thrown in to a scenario. A world presented for exploration without the interruption of stages and levels, just a seamless story with the player firmly immersed and invested. My young mind’s concept of what a game was had suddenly been shattered; it didn’t fit what I knew a game to be. There was only one goal; keep moving, survive, and escape.

As I ventured further into the city I discovered the famous Raccoon City Police Station but also that this was an experience that made me ‘feel’. Fear and apprehension upon opening every door, sadness as the cinematic loss of Ada, and relief in those first few piano notes of the simple sanctuary theme. By today’s standards the emotional content of Resident Evil 2 is clunky and melodramatic, but at the time I had never experienced anything like it in a game; even the word ‘game’ didn’t seem sufficient to describe what I felt was an immersive Romero inspired experience.

A few months later, that Christmas, I was gifted my own Playstation and copy of Resident Evil 2 – the same copy that still sits in the game drawer under my TV ready to be played at a moment’s notice.

I played it relentlessly, beginning a new scenario as soon as I finished the last, intent on exploring corner of this experience, of Leon & Claire’s story of survival. I discovered that it was a story with more shades than ‘Sonic is good’ and ‘Robotnik is bad’. I found Ada Wong who falls in love with Leon despite her ulterior mission; The blinkered determination of Annette Birkin, a scientist, a mother, and a wife; William Birkin’s genius and insanity; Claire’s quest to find her brother coupled with her compassionate care of Sherry; and of course Brian Irons’ depraved mind. Different characters with different drives interwoven to create an overall plot more complicated than kill bad guys, score points, reach the finish line.

It wasn’t just the plot that was engrossing. Visually the pre-rendered backgrounds provided an unprecedented level of detail to the surroundings and brought the world of Raccoon City to life in a way that I had never experienced before. I spent my time carefully studying these scenes looking for interesting details or clues to the events that had transpired. Even now I have certain areas in this fictitious world that are special to me: The sanctuary of quiet reflection that is the darkroom with glass cabinets of photography equipment and warm red-light glow from the developing area; The secret view out of the RPD front gate with its sense of the abandoned city outside and highlighting the perceived safety of the police station; The fingerprint room, only accessible in the B-scenario, filled with half finished monstrosities.

Despite the obvious horror, this world was surprisingly attractive and full of mystery. At the time I joked that given vast sums of money I would commission the building of a detailed recreation of the Raccoon City Police Station. The joke stemmed from a truth that I often day-dreamed about being in that world and walking the halls of the police station. I had a folder where I collected magazine cuttings about Resident Evil 2, kept my treasured Prima strategy guide, and stored painstakingly transcribed copies of in-game documents. It’s difficult to describe any of this without it sounding like a borderline unhealthy obsession, but this is a piece about the ‘Games that Define Us’, and Resident Evil 2 changed my outlook on interactive media.

I’ll always have time for fast paced, high score racking, power-up guzzling gaming, but it was Leon and Claire that showed me a way to step into another world and I revel in any game that manages to recreate the sense of wonder that I first felt in Raccoon City.

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WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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Final Fantasy VII | The Game That Defines Games With Coffee

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TGTDU Logo - Copy

Audio

This game’s music though. 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Warning: coffee jokes incoming.

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Day 12 of The Games That Define Us features something a little different. Originally this was going to be a DLC post, but through good contingency planning I was given the opportunity to promote one DLC piece into the November parade! This was the natural pick, as it was written by a super-cool blogger and is on one of the most important games ever made.

No need for jitters, Ryan from Games With Coffee is here! This wonderful, highly caffeinated writer is always fun because of his unique and quirky personality. You’ll love his blog, so you should absolutely be following. In fact, after you get done reading this amazing piece, you should grab a piping-hot cup of java and savor these recent pieces!

We hope this chapter of The Games That Define Us gives you the jolt you need to make it through the day!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Ryan @ Games With Coffee

Twitter: @GameswCoffee

For the Coolest Dude In the Universe

Game: Final Fantasy VII
System: Playstation 1
Release Date: January 31, 1997

1P Start

Had Final Fantasy VII not been released in 1997 and had I not rented it in November of that year, I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today. However, I’m glad that it came into my life when it did, I’m glad that it’s affected me in a such a positive and uplifting way and I’m especially glad to say that it’s a game that has defined who I am as a person

This story starts in 1997, on a cold November Friday night. On that night, 21 years ago, I first started playing a game that would change my life forever.

In the late 90’s, the town that I grew up in was in thze midst of a vast residential expansion, with the suburban sprawl ever creeping northward into the farmlands. With more fertile land being cleared and more homes being built, there was a growing need for retail space. So in 1996, nary a ten minute walk from my home, a brand new strip mall had opened up. It had the necessities that a growing neighborhood community needed, like a grocery store, convenience stores, some fast food joints and other small retailers. What made it different, special even, was that it had an independent video rental store called Ambassador Video, similar to the now defunct Blockbuster, where an enormous selection of movies, music and video games were available to rent. Now, this video store was replaced by a sports bar sometime in the early-2000’s, but at the time when it was open, it was the place to be at for a kid.

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So back to how I started this: on a cold Friday night in November of 1997. My parents let my younger brother and I rent a video game as a reward for doing well in school that week. The two of us argued for a few minutes about which game we were going to take home, before settling on Final Fantasy VII. The moment we got home, we booted it up and were blown away at how amazing it looked.

The first thing about FFVII that differentiated it from games that I played previously was how it started. No tutorial level, no sitting down with the King and him explaining your quest and no cheerful, happy and colourful environment. I was instead thrust into the action in a dark, gritty metropolis, my character jumping off of a train and beating down soldiers armed with machine guns with his giant sword. Following a man with a gun for an arm up the stairs leading to the surface, the spiky-haired individual spoke to a group of three people, huddled in front of a large metal door. The one in the headband asked for his name. His response, in a cool, collected tone:

“…Cloud.”

And it was all it took for ten year old me to declare that he was the coolest dude in the universe.

Over the course of that glorious seven day rental period, I never made it out of Midgar. It wasn’t because I was slow at playing the game; far from it. You see, prior to playing Final Fantasy VII, I was without a Memory Card – the device necessary to save virtually every game in the PlayStation library. So, each day I would start the game anew, regardless of if my party died or the amount of daylight I had left to play. Every time I restarted, I continued to fall deeper in love with the characters, the story and the setting. Neither the “scarier” parts of the story, such as facing JENOVA’s headless body in the Shinra Building with the eerie “Who Are You” track playing alongside that high-pitched buzzing that only Cloud could hear, nor the mature subject matter I couldn’t understand at the time (Think Honey Bee Inn in Sector 6), could dissuade me from playing the game. On the last day of my rental period and noticing that I had restarted the game yet again, my dad asked me why I kept starting the game from the beginning? Once I told him about the Memory Card, he and my mom bought one that same day. And so, with Memory Card in hand and eventually my own copy of the game, I continued playing and delving deeper into the game.

Prior to my discovery of Final Fantasy VII, I was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) in the second grade. From that point onward, until at least high school, my life was centered around Ritalin, counselors and therapists of all kinds; speech and behavioral, among others. The combination was not only driving down my grades, but they were driving away my classmates as well. I had episodes where I became dark and paranoid of others (thanks to the meds) and I would lash out at anyone and everyone, drawing the ire of bullies who started picking on me for things I had no control over. The kids my age eventually knew full well to either stay away from or mock and belittle the weird and nerdy whitewashed Guyanese kid with the odd, easy-to-make-fun-of last name and behaviour problems. So I turned to the older kids instead, thinking I could be accepted into their group. For a time, I thought I found some actual friends until I learned eventually that they were only using me for their enjoyment, as they played cruel pranks and tricked me into doing things I shouldn’t be doing at that young of an age. Due to all of the above, I started having severe self-esteem issues, something that I’m battling with to this day. I believed whole-heartedly that I deserved what happened to me and that I was a terrible person, which of course was far from the truth. It was here, at this low point of my life, that Cloud Strife, Ex-SOLDIER First Class came into my life and as I experienced his story, I discovered that he and I were similar in many ways.

From that November night onward, I saw that Cloud was everything I wasn’t: strong, cool and confident. He was the kind of man I wanted to grow up to become and I felt so inspired by him. It was in those days, especially between the sixth and seventh grades (arguably the worst of times for me), that I started wishing I was someone else. That I could be Cloud. I used to draw the Buster Sword – Cloud’s iconic weapon – on every surface I could find. I remember that I once had an assignment in sixth grade where we we had to draw the things that define us and tell others who we are. Suffice to say, I put things representative of Final Fantasy VII on this document, like the Buster Sword, Materia and the Meteor from the cover. I would have drew Cloud himself, but (at the time) I was a terrible artist, so it was those three. Seeing the sword on the page was something that greatly worried my teachers; they didn’t understand that this was from a video game that I really loved. So, they brought my parents in for a parent-teacher conference and discussed the problem, believing that I was a violent individual because I drew weaponry. In hindsight, I could’ve tried drawing Super Mario or something to show that gaming was what I was about, but I went with what my heart was telling me; that Final Fantasy VII defined me.

So, combining what I said above with the fact that my grades were terrible, my mom was convinced that gaming was the culprit behind me not doing well in school. Thusly, she confiscated my controllers and hid them around the house with the hope that I would “concentrate” on my schoolwork. I was only allowed to play briefly on the weekends (or whenever I was lucky to find them during the week, but that usually resulted in my mom yelling at me before she re-hid the controllers in a new location). I understood that my mom’s heart was in the right place, but truthfully, I hated school. I was thoroughly disinterested thanks to a combination of my “affliction,” the lack of confidence in me from the educators and my low self-worth, but to a mother – unfamiliar with technology and concerned for her son’s education and general well-being – it was video games that were the main reason. And so, I was only allowed to play Final Fantasy VII roughly one weekend at a time for a whole year, wherein I reached the end of the first third of the story and observed the surprise of my eleven-year old life.

I seem to recall that it was a cold Saturday night, similar to that November of ‘97, when I finally finished the Temple of the Ancients portion of the game alongside my younger brother, who was watching me play. It was here that the game dropped the subtleties and showed major glimpses of Cloud’s true, Sephiroth-influenced persona. He started acting erratic in the deepest parts of the temple, where Sephiroth explained his master plan and I was more than a little worried. ‘What was happening?’ was a thought that was going through my mind during that entire experience, especially when my hero was laughing ominously and saying to “Deliver the Black Materia,” and “Call the Meteor.” Following the Demon Wall boss and Cait Sith’s subsequent sacrifice, the object of our quest – The Black Materia – was finally in our possession… only for Cloud to willingly give it to Sephiroth without any resistance. I was shocked! I couldn’t believe that he did that, or understand why he did it in the first place! From there, more things about Cloud’s true nature beheld itself to me: firstly, beating up Aerith after giving away the Black Materia for supposedly no reason. Next was the dream sequence after he was knocked out, with Aerith ominously telling him of her intentions at the City of the Ancients and Sephiroth saying to Cloud at the end that the two of them must stop her from whatever she’s planning. And finally, reaching the aforementioned City of the Ancients, the location of one of the most iconic scenes in gaming history.

My team, consisting of Cloud, Barrett and Tifa, arrived at the city and we proceeded to search for Aerith before Sephiroth could catch up with her. We ended up finding no trace of her, so Cloud and the gang decided to sleep in a nearby house and strategize for the next day. In the middle of the night, Cloud awakens abruptly, telling Tifa that Aerith is indeed here… and so was Sephiroth. At this point, my brother and I were on the edge of our seat, wondering what was going to happen next. Eventually, we found Aerith, safe and sound and I thought here that things would only look up from here. Cloud went up to the platform where Aerith was praying alone. He approached her, only for a high-pitched whine to go off – JENOVA’s calling card. Cloud started to having a fit and I could do nothing. I couldn’t force him back, I couldn’t force him to sheathe his massive blade. He regained control at the very last second, right before he was about to bring his sword down on the flower girl’s head and I was chewing my nails off in stress. I didn’t want to press Circle to continue on with the story… but I did.

And then Aerith died, killed in cold blood by Sephiroth. He descended from the heavens, impaled the Masamune into the vulnerable woman and then revealed a startling truth to my hero; that Cloud was a puppet. I was floored by that revelation, so much so that I immediately died by JENOVA LIFE’s hands/tentacles/whatever – I basically didn’t even put up a fight. My hero wasn’t a hero after all; he gave Sephiroth the Black Materia, he couldn’t save Aerith and he let his nemesis get away scot-free. I didn’t play the game again for a week; partly again because of my mom and partly because I was in shock at what happened in the story. My disappointment only grew when I learned of the full truth at the Northern Crater. Cloud wasn’t really ‘Cloud,’ at all.

He was being led on and manipulated by Sephiroth, in a way similar to when I was led on by those older kids when I was young. To me, it was horrifying to see that the person that I idolized wasn’t who he really was and that he was so easily duped into doing his nemesis’ bidding. He was indeed a puppet; an experimental Sephiroth clone constructed through a combination of injected JENOVA cells, Tifa’s memories of the past and the persona of Zack Fair, the First Class SOLDIER who was really there in Nibelheim all those years ago. All of the memories Cloud had, from joining SOLDIER, to the Nibelheim incident, were falsified and manufactured and it messed him up terribly. It culminated in the fraud handing over the key to their destruction to Sephiroth and I all I could think of was “Dick move, Cloud.”

Fast forward to Mideel, where Tifa and the gang found Cloud, who was catatonic due to Mako poisoning. He washed up on the shores of the sleepy little island town days after Meteor was summoned. I wasn’t sure if I wanted anything to do with him at that point, because he was such a fake, but I was also curious as to what happened next. I was glad that I did as after the Ultimate Weapon fight and Mideel’s subsequent destruction, I learned the truth, both of the events in the Nibelheim incident and the truth about the real Cloud.

The reason why Cloud wanted to be in SOLDIER was to be noticed by others, particularly by Tifa. Growing up, Cloud was always alone; he had no friends growing up and was always picked on for being different from the others. After the incident involving Tifa and Cloud falling off Mount Nibel, which happened after Tifa’s mother passed away, he thought himself weak and that he could never belong, both because he never liked his fellow peers and because he couldn’t save Tifa. At the same time, he was always looking to prove himself in the eyes of the villagers who looked down on him and to Tifa, whom he harboured a major crush for. In essence, the true Cloud was exactly like me. I was also alone, was picked on for being so weird and different and had very little friends growing up. I considered myself a weakling and, in my self-loathing, disliked the people around me for treating me so badly and not caring about me. At the same time, I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to be recognized and to not be defined by my grades or my behaviour, but by my character.

After that sequence, Cloud was redeemed in my eyes. Though he never made it into SOLDIER and had considered himself a weakling up until the Nibelheim incident, that same “weakling” took on and fought off the greatest and most powerful swordsman the world had ever seen, before being subjected to brutal experiments that included having alien matter injected into his body. He was catatonic now at two points of his life before recovering and regaining his sanity. He went on to defeat his nemesis again, for the second time. And in the end, he saved the world with his companions. At the end of the journey, I realized then and there that Cloud Strife wasn’t cool because he was strong and tough, but that he was cool because he survived the ordeals of his past and rose above it. He showed that I could do the same; that I could rise above being made fun of, that I could rise above my ADHD, my behavioural problems, my struggling grades and my own weakness and he showed me that I could be a better person.

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Final Fantasy VII did more than just get my life back in order, it also brought me closer to my younger brother. Though he and I played it at the same time, beyond the game we weren’t very close. I actually resented him at a couple points in my life; he was the favourite child between the two of us, probably because he was the model student while I was the perennial screw-up. However, once he started band class and I discovered I had a knack for whistling, we started bonding over the music of the game and we discovered that we had a lot more in common than we thought. Now, the two of us talk about gaming and music on a near daily basis, especially Final Fantasy VII, what with the remake coming out. I even treated him to tickets for the Final Fantasy “Distant Worlds” concert, which will remain as one of my fondest memories of our brotherhood. The best part of that night was when we both collectively freaked out as Nobuo Uematsu – the legend who composed the songs we bonded over – joined the choir on stage for the orchestral rendition of “One Winged Angel!” It was all we could talk about on our ride home on the subway.

It has taken a while and there were some bumps on the road, but I think I’m now at a point where the past doesn’t bother me as much as it did before. Though I also have to give credit to my wife, Usha, for helping me get to this point as well. She has been the Tifa to my Cloud since we started dating in our teens and I wouldn’t have been who I am today without her guidance and support. In the same way that Tifa helped Cloud break out of his shell and spurred on his fighting spirit when he was at his lowest point, my wife has encouraged me to develop my talents, both in my engineering field and my writing hobby. She pushed me creatively and inspired me to work towards my goals, even if they seemed daunting in my eyes.

Finally, I should like to end this by sharing something that Iiago (Mr. Backlog), one of the collaborators of this wonderful project, recently said: “It’s funny, I realised that my enduring love of the game was greatly affected by my life at the time in ways I hadn’t really appreciated until I wrote this article. But that’s life isn’t it? It’s not just seeing/doing/meeting something great, it’s the context of the time and place.” Writing this piece out, reliving the memories – bad and good – and juxtaposing it with my present self has made me realize that his words ring true. Had Final Fantasy VII not been released in 1997 and had I not rented it in November of that year, I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today. However, I’m glad that it came into my life when it did, I’m glad that it’s affected me in a such a positive and uplifting way and I’m especially glad to say that it’s a game that has defined who I am as a person. I want to thank Matt from Normal Happenings for setting up and allowing me to jump on this amazing collaboration filled to the brim with such wonderful and talented writers. I want to thank those very same writers for being such an inspirational bunch. And I want to thank you, dear reader, for taking the time to read my story. Be sure to check out the the other works my fellow cohorts have written; they are truly an all-star cast of bloggers, each with a story of their own to tell of a game that has defined them.

My name is Ryan. I’m an engineer, a writer, a husband, a father, a friend, a brother, a gamer, a coffee addict and an individual who still experiences some lingering symptoms of ADHD. Final Fantasy VII is the game that defines me and Cloud Strife, the former SOLDIER First Class and fellow former weakling, is the character from that game that has helped me become the man I am today.

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

patreon

This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
become_a_patron_button

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Soundtrack of Hell | Daily Inkling

Write a blog post inspired by today’s Daily Inkling:

Soundtrack of Hell

Difficulty Level:
Normal

Suddenly only one song exists in the entire world, and you have to listen to it over and over again — in supermarkets, car radios, restaurants, etc. The only good news is you get to pick the song. What song do you choose, and why?

Continue reading “Soundtrack of Hell | Daily Inkling”

Crash Bandicoot | The Game That Defines The Gaming Diaries

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TGTDU Logo - Copy

Audio

These N-Sane Trilogy remixes of the original soundtrack are seriously on-point. Here is a collection of some of my favorites!

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Wow, we’ve really been getting through these! It’s Day 11 of The Games That Define Us! 

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Today we’ve been graced with on of my favorite bloggers, The Gaming Dairies! If you’ve never discovered their personal and creative recollections of gaming, you are really missing out. After reading today’s amazing piece on a game that I have tons of childhood memories with, you should check out these pieces:

Please enjoy this fantastic next entry in The Games That Define Us! 

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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The Gaming Diaries @ The Gaming Diaries

Twitter: @thegamingdiary

For AGOOGAHBOOGAH!

Game: Crash Bandicoot
System: Playstation 1
Release Date: September 9, 1996

1P Start

Childhood and Crash Bandicoot go hand in hand for me. When I think of happy childhood memories some of the best I can think of are my gaming time and Crash.

Let’s journey back to the 90s. I was beginning my gaming journey and this came at the time of the two most exciting gaming consoles for me, the Game Boy and the PlayStation. To be honest, if people guessed the console that the game I was talking about was on it would be pretty split between the two, maybe verging to the Game Boy. However, I’m taking you back to the PlayStation and one of the games that has stuck with me and stayed in my heart and mind all this time.

This game was released on the 9th of September 1996. Back when Bill Clinton was US President and John Major was the UK Prime Minister. Back in the year where Independence Day was one of the highest grossing films, along with films such as 101 Dalmatians, Mission: Impossible, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Nutty Professor. In the UK music charts the Spice Girls were on a roll with Wannabe having held the number one spot from the 27th July to the 7th September. So by the 9th September we were on our way to a new number one which was Flava by Peter Andre and I don’t think I’m the only one who wouldn’t be able to remember that one versus Wannabe. So do you wannabe in the know as to what game made me? Sure if you have read any overall posts or the title to this you may have a clue but hey I can introduce it. That game is Crash Bandicoot.

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I have written about Crash Bandicoot on my blog recently, and the nostalgia of playing the games again for the first time with the release of the N-sane Trilogy. I had written about the best and worst of Crash Bandicoot, again inspired by the N-sane Trilogy. These posts included things that have stuck with me all this time but are not all I want to talk about.

Why is this the game that I come back to when I think of games that mean the world to me? Why this is a game that is permanently entwined with my childhood?

crash1

I came to the PlayStation late in terms of owning it, the PS2 had been released and I got a second hand PlayStation. I had played on a PlayStation at various friends houses so I had wonderful memories of taking turns at levels in games or finding some random games in their selections. I was drawn towards Crash Bandicoot every time I saw it. There was something magical about this game to me. Here was a game that you play as a running, jumping, spinning, box smashing, Wumpa fruit collecting Bandicoot in jeans and trainers who gets chased by boulders and rides wild hogs as well as just running/jumping for the sake of it but it encaptured a little bit of something and everything that I wanted in a game even though I didn’t know it when I first played it. I played some levels over and over at friends houses, which may be why even today I remember some very well. I seem to recall trying to unlock the relics for friends that were struggling with some of them. As much as I wanted to try every level through properly my first experiences, I think, were a random mix of levels, I may have eventually got my own save within one friends memory card but I’m not sure. Remember memory cards? A save was a big thing back then.

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Then when the PS2 came out, I got my second hand PlayStation. So what game was top of my list to buy? Well it just had to be Crash Bandicoot and its sequels, as well as a very popular Dragon franchise. As much as I had probably played most of Crash Bandicoot, if not all of it, I was so excited to start again. This game just hadn’t grown old. I couldn’t wait to just jump back in and have my proper first attempt as I was playing it through from the beginning all by myself. Get Crash on the go and collect all the gems and relics and go through his platforming adventures. Even though I fell in love with other games on the PS1, be it the Spyro games or the Tony Hawk games or whatever, I was always drawn back to my plucky Bandicoot pal, my go to mate, the game that I could play no matter what. I dread to think how many saves I had for Crash over the years as I know I played it from beginning to end time after time. And yes I mean the three original Crash games when I say that! It was just that game. That one that no matter what you could replay it and still enjoy it like it was the first time.

Childhood and Crash Bandicoot go hand in hand for me. When I think of happy childhood memories some of the best I can think of are my gaming time and Crash.

Playing Crash Bandicoot as a child has definitely influenced some of my loves in games. I still love platformers, even if they can frustrate me for hours, and I am willing to try, try, try again with them. I will play them through again from the beginning at times after finishing them. There was a magic about Crash, a magic that sparked something in me that still exists as a gaming love now. If that isn’t special then I don’t know what else is. It is the game that if anyone asks me what my favourite games are it will always be mentioned, no matter what amazing games are to come this will still be up there for me. It is a game that it didn’t matter when I played it that just made things better, be it forgetting the bullies, forgetting the bad things or just an average day got better. It is a game that comforted me when I needed it.

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy_20170707141608

Crash became a friend that I could rely on and he is still there today, somewhere in my heart, reminding me of happy days and the way that games were changing which was exciting to see as a child. Now games have come and gone, got more realistic, longer, more advanced, whatever you want to say about them. However, even now the games that I look to most fondly include this one and I was so excited for the release of the N-sane Trilogy on Xbox One and Switch this year.

Thank you Crash Bandicoot for making my childhood, for giving me happy times, for teaching me that games can be ridiculously hard (though I seem to have forgotten that from the original game but I’m definitely learning it from trying the remasters) but you can always get there in the end.

adventure map


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Pokemon Red and Blue | The Game That Defines Murr

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Audio

Pokemon + Chillstep = Perfect

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

We’ve hit double digits, folks — it’s Day 10 of The Games That Define Us! 

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

We’ve been blessed with both members of the double-act Geek. Sleep. Rinse. Repeat for this collaboration! Today, amazing writer (and new father) Murr is going back in time to the halcyon days many of us experienced — walking around with out Game Boys catching Pokemon. After you get done here, you should definitely check out Murr’s domain over on G.S.R.R., the Geekly Reviews!

Gotta catch all pieces of The Games That Define Us, especially this one! Enjoy!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Murr @ Geek. Sleep. Rinse. Repeat.

Twitter: @Murr_GSRR

For Missingno

Game: Pokemon Red and Blue
System: Game Boy
Release Date: October 5, 1999 (E.U. …
yikes, that’s way later than everyone else… )

1P Start

Pokemon Red & Blue changed the world for everyone, but it certainly reminds me of one of the greatest times of my life when growing up. It was one of the most magical journeys of discovery I’d ever taken.

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Pokemon, it’s the fad that isn’t going away. Sure the popularity and craze isn’t the same heights it was years ago, but you’d be foolish to think that it will ever stop selling millions of copies each new iteration.

I was introduced to Pokemon all those years ago by a neighbour who used to live across the road from me. He was a four years younger than me, but growing up, we’d always hang out after school and do standard stuff kids would do back then. Build dens, ride bikes and occasionally play computer games, either on his SNES or my Master System. I would eventually get a SNES and with it the ‘Super Gameboy’ which allowed you to play Gameboy games on the SNES. Ultimately it was sort of irrelevant before Pokemon, but I digress.

So my neighbour comes home from wherever it was he went with his parents one day, and he comes running over to mine with his Gameboy and this brand new unopened game. It was Pokemon Blue. Genuinely, I had not heard of this game at all. The TV Show hadn’t hit Sky One yet in the UK, or if it had, it hadn’t taken off yet. Pokemon cards weren’t big — it was just the early stages of this phenomenon in the UK. I can’t remember exactly how the conversation went all those years back, but it ended up with us digging out the Super Gameboy I owned, sitting in-front of my SNES and playing Pokemon Blue. So to start with I hand the SNES controller over to my neighbour as it’s his game after all. The process starts, the now classic introduction to Professor Oak takes place, along with the silly opening mistake of trying to leave Pallet Town without going to Oak’s lab first. All of this was occurring, and each line of text we read captured our imaginations more and more.

As it was back then, you’d always have to beg the parents if you could have a sleepover, and after hours of not moving from the TV while we were progressing further into Kanto, I do the deed of pleading with my parents, and then my neighbour pleading with his parents if he can stay over the night. They give the green light and we’re good to go. As the night progressed I selfishly ask if I can play and take control. I didn’t relinquish the controller then until the sun began to rise. Each day after school he’d come over and I’d again take control and end up playing the game for him. Four years his senior, I had the right to, right?

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In the end, I knew I had to beg my mum if I could have Pokemon Red. She had already bought it for me for Christmas (I was to find this out years later) and she was actually worried I was ruining the game by playing my neighbour’s version so much — after so much begging and pleading, she gave me my copy of Red early and this is where my journey began.

To this day, no journey has stuck with me more. Of course I’ve played some incredible games that will stay with me forever, but Pokemon Red was something entirely different. It became a sort of way of life for me. With every stupid thing kids believed in, like making wishes when seeing a shooting star or throwing pennies into wells, every wish I’d make was “I wish Pokemon were real.”

As we’re all aware, Pokemon certainly took off in a huge way. I know there are so many people out there that claim to be the biggest fans of such games, and now especially I can completely appreciate that there will be many people that adore Pokemon much more than I do now. But I legitimately think back in the Gen 1 days that I was the biggest Pokemon fan going and I sincerely mean that. As the TV show began to take off, I’d record all the episodes in the morning including the Pokerap. After school I’d come home an re-watch the episodes that I’d already seen in the morning, and then would sit there with a pen and paper and write down the names of the Pokemon featuring in the episode. When the Pokerap would come on, I’d pause it, rewind it, replay it and again write down all the names of the Pokemon trying to build up my own Pokedex of the 150 Pokemon. As I said, the craze was taking off, but the names of all the Pokemon were yet to be discovered, and while yes there was Internet, it was a more wondrous time of discovering these things naturally via other sources.

It got so crazy that my neighbour and I made our own Pokemon RPG in which I would draw out routes and towns and mark encounters with Pokemon on them. I’d created Pokemon player cards with circles representing health points which we’d colour in with pencil when taking damage (so they could be marked out when a potion was used and health was regained). I made cards for the Pokemon that you bumped into in wild encounters so again their damage could be marked down, and if you caught them, you’d attain that Pokemon card and it’d be part of your party. It got so deep, I’d worked out the system for experience gained from battles and leveling up. I’d use dice to give damage from moves and the higher the level the Pokemon you battled, the more the multiplier of damage would be. We loved it — we’d sit there with Pokemon on the TV playing this while playing link player battles and trades with our versions of Red & Blue. There was such a good competitive rivalry there between us.

As the craze continued to take over the world, my collection ever increased. Any magazine that even had a mention of Pokemon in it, my parents would buy for me. When the N64 came out, before any Pokemon game was even announced we were in dreamworld at just how amazing the Pokemon N64 game was going to be. While we didn’t end up getting that dream 3D RPG, we did get Pokemon Stadium that took us to another level of competition with our teams being uploaded to proper 3D visuals. The merchandise was taking over my bedroom, posters and cutouts all over the walls. Figures and plushies everywhere. Magazines piled up.

I can always remember in one of the daily newspapers Sky One included a blue poster with a picture of each of the 150 Pokemon on it in their Pokedex order with their name. This poster lived on the wall next to my head in bed and it was like a ritual every night before hitting the light off to stare at it and memorise more of them in their Pokedex order. That poster lived there for years. Other posters came and went, but that stayed there for as long as I can remember — oh how I wish I still had it.

I even started to get into theories about Pokemon after studying the guides so much. Like shouldn’t the evolution of Venonat be Butterfree, and Caterpie -> Metapod -> Venomoth based purely on their designs. And of course the infamous Cubone and Kangaskhan relation and theory, and the Clefable and Gengar connections. It was all I’d think about. I’d have notebooks full of drawings and scribbles about these silly theories and myths. The TV show would help fuel these notebooks of silliness with some of their unique Pokemon featuring in episodes like the huge Dragonite that came to the lighthouse and of course the infamous Ho-oH appearance in the very first episode.

While the craze continued to grow, so did the amount of Pokemon related stuff I’d carry around. Naturally I’d need my Gameboy with my copy of Red, I’d carry my Pokedex around with me, my folder full of Pokemon cards. I’d keep all this in a case designed to carry the Gameboy and a few games — this case was an official Pokemon one of course. On the front cover of one of the many magazines I had was a blurb of text about how Pokemon had taken over the world. I cut this paragraph out and kept it with me in that carry case at all times. So strange I know, but the impact of this paragraph of text reflected how important I felt that Pokemon had become. I actually have the cutout paragraph on the wall in my office today. This is the paragraph:

While I would go on to enjoy all the Pokemon games after Red & Blue, It was these games that of course started it all. I can’t explain how much these games mean to me. They’ve impacted me even now in my 30s. As silly as it sounds when abroad and seeing wildlife unique to that country or setting, I still think of it as seeing rare Pokemon in their region. Like in Mauritius, seeing sea turtles and octopi, I was just thinking of it as seeing them as Pokemon in their natural habitat and sort of like ‘ticking them off’ a check list having seen them. So strange I know for a 30+ year old to think like that.

I became a father in October of this year, and I’m already getting excited about when my son is old enough to appreciate the Build-A-Bear Workshop in our mall, taking him there and getting him his own Pokemon — I’m hoping he takes after his father and picks Charmander. I shall do my best to encourage and influence him to become the fire type fan that I was and still am, to be honest. In a few days, the Switch will be getting its first Pokemon title, and in terms of nostalgia I can’t wait to get a copy of Pokemon Let’s Go and retrace all those steps that I’m so familiar with in new beautiful presented visuals.

Pokemon Red & Blue changed the world for everyone, but it certainly reminds me of one of the greatest times of my life when growing up. It was one of the most magical journeys of discovery I’d ever taken. It captivated my imagination so much and still does to this day.

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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NiGHTS into Dreams | The Game That Defines HideNGoShauna

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I believe this is one of the most underrated soundtrack in video game history. Stay and listen a while?

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Happy Friday, and welcome to Day 9 of The Games That Define Us! 

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Today we’re graced with Shauna from HideNGoShauna! This brilliant writer has a whimsical spirit and writing style, and her game choice couldn’t be more appropriate. I’d like to spotlight a series she did recently: Japan memories. She spent three weeks there, and chronicled each day. Travel blogs always get my attention, so to see one of my favorite bloggers crafting one so adeptly was a major treat! I recommend you block off an hour of your life, start at Day 1, and work your way forward in time.

That is, after reading today’s amazing piece of course! We hope you enjoy today’s dreamy entry of The Games That Define Us! 

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Shauna @ HideNGoShauna

Twitter: @HideNGoShauna

For Claris and Elliot

Game: NiGHTS into Dreams
System: Sega Saturn
Release Date: July 5, 1996

1P Start

The unique creatures, lovely soundtrack, and overall magic of the game really made an impression on me. I remember drawing my own renditions of the worlds in my sketchbook. To this day it’s still one of the most uniquely creative games I’ve played.

In my earliest years, I grew up watching my Dad play video games, and eventually playing them with him. We would sit together on the lumpy futon in the den, peering up at the tiny television. Sonic was one of the first games I remember, along with Mortal Kombat, Ghouls & Ghosts, and a few other favorite Genesis titles.

And Altered Beast of course. WIIIISE FWOM YOUR GWAVE!!!

As I grew, Dad stayed by my side as a guide to the exciting world of video games. Dad was firmly a Sega fan; he believed that Nintendo, while fun, was always a step behind Sega as far as technology and graphics were concerned. As such, instead of having a GameBoy like my friends, I had a Game Gear (which Dad reminded me had colour display several years before Nintendo) and instead of N64 we got a Sega Saturn.

One result of the Sega-mania of my upbringing was that, while I occasionally felt like I was missing out on the popular games my friends were playing (Pokémon, Donkey Kong Country, and Super Mario 64, mainly) on the other hand my consoles were a source of wonder to my friends, and I soon came to love that I had my own special set of magical worlds to peruse.

Occasionally friends would come over to play video games with me at my house and wouldn’t want to leave.

Sega Saturn had a really awesome diversity of games. We would visit our local Cash Converters (used goods) store and eventually amassed a good stack of titles. Some of my favorites were Astal, Bug, Clockwork Knight, Shining the Holy Arc, Sonic R, and Tomb Raider.

Dad would play Virtua Fighter 2 with me often; I only learned many years later that he was letting me win on occasion — as such I feel a bit embarrassed now of all the smack-talk I used to give him after delivering a K.O.

I had a teeny crush on Lion…

Playing the Saturn was the first time I really felt like “I’m a gamer. This is my console.” I was old enough to start beating levels on my own (okay, I did ask Dad for help from time to time) and the Saturn was a precious possession to me. Heck, the thing was even my first CD player, and I delighted in changing the pitch, tone, and speed of my AQUA: Aquarium album with the Saturn.

The game that stands out the most from this time though has to be NiGHTS into Dreams.

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NiGHTS Into Dreams came bundled with a “3D Control Pad” controller that was innovative for its time.

The fantasy stages and bosses in NiD were so creative and strange. The main character, NiGHTS, is an androgynous, elfish being that can fly in a beautiful, acrobatic way.

The entire mechanics of gameplay felt different than anything I’d controlled before, designed to be used with the 3D Control Pad. You could make NiGHTS fly in any direction, forming giant loops to suck up gems and executing sudden turns as you pleased.

The unique creatures, lovely soundtrack, and overall magic of the game really made an impression on me. I remember drawing my own renditions of NiD-like worlds in my sketchbook. To this day it’s still one of the most uniquely creative games I’ve played.

I enjoyed the landscapes in NiD so much that I would often linger on purpose without hitting the checkpoints, forcing NiGHTS to transform into one of the two human characters whose dreams he inhabits. As such, I had the opportunity to walk and run on the ground and get a better look at some of the interesting designs in the game, but before long the egg-clock, bane of my existence, would begin to chase me with its terrifying searchlight.

I hated that clock with a passion. If it caught you in its bright ray, you would “wake up” and fail the stage. As a child I strongly wished that there was an alternate game mode where I could explore the fascinating worlds at leisure without that cursed clock dogging me.

I’ve always had a penchant for baddies, and Reala, NiGHTS’ rival, intrigued me. He was like the evil twin of NiGHTS.

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I was stoked when a new NiD game was announced for Nintendo Wii some years ago, but it really didn’t capture the magic of the original. I’m not particularly fond of the altered version of NiGHTS that was presented; in the original game NiGHTS doesn’t really speak, whereas the posh female voice in the new game really throws me for a loop (a loop, get it? Like how NiGHTS uses loops to collect energy gems? … )

I’ve often thought that NiGHTS would be fun to cosplay, and that I’d like to design the costume someday — I was so excited when I saw a cosplayer at the Edmonton Expo last year wearing her own handmade NiGHTS costume! I should have gotten a picture with her, ah well. She told me that the headpiece was a pain in the butt to craft, and I totally believe that!

NiD, for me, is a reminder of my happy childhood, a special time when I had nowhere important to be, nothing particular to do, and seemingly all the time in the world to play games on my beanbag chair in my tiny, cozy room. It is one of those magical games that can remind us how video games can be an interactive art form, a format for creativity where dreams can become reality.

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

patreon

This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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