The first part of our “meet the writers” series, Richard tells us what his favourite game of all time is.
Retro gaming isn’t really my thing at all. In fact I haven’t touched a PS2 controller in five years, so saying my favourite game of all time is from the Sega Megadrive is really saying something. I haven’t played Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for a good 9 years to be honest with you, but for me the memories and feelings that the game gave me whilst I played it are more important than anything any current generation can provide.
Sonic was introduced to me when my Granddad came back from a car boot sale one day, Megadrive in hand and a pile of games to complement it. There were good ones and bad ones, some memorable and some not so much, but the one that drew my attention time and time again was Sonic. Some of you reading this may never have played on a Sega Megadrive, or even a Sonic game, so this may be a tad difficult to understand, so let me explain. The Sega Megadrive was a glorious console; the controllers had “Turbo” buttons that did absolutely nothing, and blowing in the cartridge slot would make games magically function. But the main feature of the Sega Megadrive that made gaming sessions so memorable was that there was no saving. Each time you played a game you were embarking on a journey that could be filled with happiness or sorrow; it would be an arduous marathon of button mashing and tactics written down on a piece of worn down paper stuck to the side of the TV, and when it came to bed time, no matter how far you were from defeating the last boss then that was it. Well at least that’s what it was like for me.
Whenever my brother and I stayed over at our granddads house we would sit and play our lesser favourite games – such as ‘Altered Beast’ – to pass the time, but what we were really waiting for was the morning. Many mornings we told ourselves that today is the day we beat Sonic the Hedgehog. That day never came, but that feeling of hope that we may one day reach the end was what drew us in to play time and time again. Of course we never knew how long the game actually lasted; we may never have been anywhere near close to the end or we could have been one level away, but who cares? That’s not the reason we played Sonic.
The game play is timeless, fast paced, nerve wracking and most of all fun. Whizzing through loop the loops or flying through the air not knowing what comes next is an exhilarating feeling, something that I have yet to experience again in any other game. With each level brings a radically redesigned landscape, a lovely hillside, toxic waste factory or a casino. But it wouldn’t have been the same without my brother, even though I always had to be Tails because I was younger, that feeling of knowing that someone else is battling alongside you makes it all the more entertaining. Watching your brother drown in acid whilst you escape unscathed is one of the best gaming moments I have ever experienced. Layouts of levels and button presses were engraved into my brain so that I could defeat levels quickly without problems, but there were times when you just couldn’t prepare, when the fast pacing running and jumping all catches up to you. The sound of gold rings spilling onto the floor still haunts my dreams, that point when the fluid motion you have built up through a level, all those coins you have collected are gone. In retrospect it was really bloody annoying, but I loved it all the same and I still enjoy thinking about the times sat in the spare bedroom staring at a 15” CRT for hours on end, because as a gamer those were some of the best days of my childhood.
So that’s it, my favourite game. It wasn’t because of the HD graphics or the online multiplayer it was the feeling of setting off on a journey through a game that I didn’t know the outcome of, but I knew that whatever happened in the end I would jump on a big yellow button and set free the wildlife that for some reason Dr. Eggman thought it would be a good idea to lock up. Because those bunnies are just so evil!