20 Years of Play

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See that new thing? That thing is trying to compete with Nintendo. Surely it’ll go the way Sega is going: out. CDs have loading times! That controller is just so weird… who’d use geometric figures instead of classic ABXY? There’s no Mario in there!

But Final Fantasy VII is on it.

At the start of that generation I had chosen to go with Nintendo and it’s new 64 bit console. A local shop had imported a Japanese N64 with Mario 64, and charged a few bucks for a few minutes of glorious 3D gaming – the epitome of incredible: colorful, smooth and played like a dream. I had a great time with the N64: Blast Corps, Star Fox 64, GoldenEye, Mischief Makers and many more. But I’d left the Super Nintendo era in love with RPGs, and above all, with Final Fantasy. I craved more. And the next one, it was revealed, wasn’t coming to the black console with the polygonal logo.

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One day I received a call from my cousin, who is around my age and also a gamer. He had a friend’s Playstation (blasphemy!) for the weekend. With Final Fantasy VII. He wasn’t really into RPGs so he asked me if I wanted to take a look at it. Long story short: I came back home with that Playstation, since my cousin wasn’t gonna play FFVII at all, so he decided to let me have it for the weekend. By Sunday night I returned the gray not-so-blasphemous-anymore console having reached disc 2 of FFVII (past the whole Cloud-in-the-lifestream part)  and with a single goal in mind: I had to get that grey box.  I don’t remember exactly WHEN I got one. Christmas? Birthday? Randomly? But I got one. With Final Fantasy VII. I played the heck out of it. You know the drill: all characters 9999HP and 999MP, all Summons, Chocobos that could cross any terrain, Weapons lying at my feet. The whole package. Once. Twice. Thrice. Many more times – I was young and had more free time than I do now.

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My second game was Alundra, a Zelda-like 2D (“aren’t all games 3D now?”) that was incredible yet for some reason not as known. It had a great story, and dungeons that were challenging and a lot of fun. It was also a long game! While all future Final Fantasies were bought from the states, became very popular around here to “mod” your console to play copied discs – a reality in third world countries where games went for over $100 and these copies went for less than $5. I found a Castlevania game (like those from the Nintendo days! Yay!) called Symphony of the Night and I wasn’t ready for how good it was. Later I would get this odd game, whose name reminded me of a game I’d played years before on the NES, called Metal Gear Solid. Gran Turismo (“The real driving simulator“) inspired a love for racing games that would last across generations. Chrono Cross, spiritual sequel to one of the best SNES RPGs of all time, still rests in its well earned spot in my collection.

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When the Playstation 2 was announced, news of Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid entries for it followed so getting one was a logical choice. After some sucky moments in my life I took a trip to the states to clear my head, and took the opportunity to buy a PS2 there. My first game was Zone of the Enders (yes, for the MGS2 demo). I managed to rent The Bouncer before leaving and got a taste of what SquareEnix could do with the power of this console. Gran Turismo 3 was the most time I’ve ever dedicated to a racing game in my life. Grand Theft Auto III blew me away, making me an instant fan of the franchise. Kingdom Hearts also saw its first light in this generation, sporting its weird but ultimately awesome mix of Final Fantasy and Disney. MGS3: Snake Eater is still one of the best games ever made. And who could forget the weird but addictive Katamary Damacy?!

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Playstation 3 was an interesting beast. I got one for almost $900 in a local store, only to have it break (YLOD) 13 months after purchase. Sony “authorized” repair centers had never seen one before. At that time I’d already experienced the sublime Metal Gear Solid 4, though my first game was actually Folklore, and afterwards, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. My second PS3, brought from the states, stopped reading Bluray discs right before Uncharted 3 came out – I still have it, use it to play downloaded games. By that time Uncharted 2 had blown everyone’s mind away, still considered today one of the best games ever made. My 3rd and final PS3 (a slim which came bundled with U3) is still in my living room today. The came Demon’s Souls (and its sequels), GTAIV & V, the FFXIII trilogy, and others to join in the fun.

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I got a Playstation 4 this year as a birthday present from my mom, and I got Infamous: Second Son with it. In this short time I’ve had the fortune of playing Destiny, Watch Dogs (birthday gift), Child of Light (also a gift) and more recently, GTAV. And I’m not counting what Playstation Plus has allowed me to play in any of the consoles! I have spent most of my time in Final Fantasy XIV (which I have for PC) but I’ve given some time to the black slanted console. Coming titles like Bloodborne, Uncharted 4, Final Fantasy XV and others light the way.

It surprises me that 20 years have passed. Sometimes one doesn’t really give it much thought. 20 years of great games and fantastic memories, incredible stories and experiences that define us as gamers. 20 years of excitement for what’s to come, and to remember what is behind us in our path. Bring on the future.

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