The above, though you would not recognise it to read it, is a visual representation of the Sonic the Hedgehog (invincibility) theme music. This is an important sound for me, and, though it is not a sound I actually make out loud (unlike the Mario theme, which I will sing or whistle at the drop of a hat), it is often going through my head.
So I was going to write an extension of my last footnote in this post, but then I listened to a lot of sonic music, trying to find the theme I was after, and then it seemed like a good idea to talk about videogame music.
Then I had a great big shitfight with my family and maybe now I’ll do something else.
This is the first videogame I remember playing. I must have played it on several different machines, because I clearly remember playing it in bright green text on a black background, bright orange text on a 8″ monitor, and on our TV, on the Sega Super Control Station 7000:
That sticker, under the IO in station, says $599.00c, which is an absolutely incredible amount, given that this was bought in probably 1985 or something. I have absolutely no idea how my dad managed to afford it. But I do know that now, it is mine, and no-one will take it from me unless they are prepared to give a whole bunch of money!
The SCS is basically unheard of, as a console, so a little history: it was released at about the same time as the Master System, and had basically the same internal hardware, but it came with a GWBASIC compiler built in, so you could use it to program things. Castle Adventure was never one of the games that we had code for, because it wasn’t ever released, but we had a book of 1001 BASIC games, where we’d type in the code, line by line, and make ourselves some games to play.
We also got to learn to program at the same time, though I then forgot all of it and had to re-learn it later.
Castle Adventure, as games go, is pretty shit. You are trapped in the castle, it is full of treasure and monsters, and you need to get out.
Sometimes there’s a hole in the wall in the north east corner, and if you can walk all the way to the front of the castle without the game crashing, for some reason, you win.
Most of the time there is not.
You fight people by pressing the arrow key towards them. However, the key-resend time of the keyboard is usually slower than the clock speed of your computer, so the snake (almost always the first enemy you encounter) will pretty much kill you. The ogre in the throne room will always kill you. This is pretty much unavoidable. This is why I never finished that game.
But it was my first game, as far as I remember. Certainly my first PC game.
We bought a Master System when I was in junior school. I’m not sure what year it was, but we bought it from some friends of ours, and they used the money to buy a Mega Drive. Damnit!
But we had Sonic, and a bunch of other stuff. Sonic is the only one that counts, though.
The decision to buy the Master System was fateful. It was the first time an object contributed to my identity in any way I was aware of – because, see, I had a Sega system, which meant that Sonic was cool, and Mario was a dumb game. Also, that the SNES was rubbish, etc etc.
I played SNES intermittently at friends houses, but I didn’t own one personally until well after they were dead (2002 or something? I found one in Cash Converters for $35 bucks. I still have it, but I don’t know if it works anymore), which meant that I missed out on, basically, the flower of videogame experience, as it happened. The SNES was not a better machine than the Mega Drive, in terms of hardware (well, from memory – I am pretty sure that Sonic 2 on MegaDrive was designed to show off how damn fast their processor was. Can you imagine it, showing processor speed by how fast your main character moves on screen? Madness), but the sheer number of developers pumping out amazing games for it means that, still, to this day, there’s more games on the SNES that I want to play than on any other system.
I should look into a SNES emulator for my DS, actually. That’d be shit hot.
But I missed out on CRPGs in the meantime – all we played were platformers. There might have been a couple of top-down action games, and a few flight sims (G-LOCK, I think I am thinking of), and a puzzler or two (Fantastic Dizzy Adventures!), but there weren’t any RPGs. There weren’t many on the SMS or the MD, especially compared to the SNES – and since they were the SNES’s genre, I couldn’t really be interested in them.
I am not sure that, if I had been a Nintendo kid, not a Sega kid, that I’d have played RPGs anyway. We certainly had the attention span for it, back then. We hammered away at Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Sonic, etc. There were lots of games we never finished, but we knew the first three levels inside out, man.
Speaking of Alex Kidd, I recently played an emulated copy of it, and it is: astoundingly more easy to play on an emulator. I mean, especially since you can just go and save state, and not die immediately every time you fly near an overhang, and accidentally land on a fish in the water. Goddamn fishes. But I missed a thing and I can’t be bothered finishing it without it – my damn dad sicced a ghost on me! That shit don’t play.
Anyway, so the point is that I didn’t discover my favourite genre until I was in highschool, when I should have been in year 9. Instead of teaching myself the maths I was supposed to catch up on, I would play emulated copies of FF5 and 6, and then my friend Yun brought FF7 to school… And it was on from there.
But I wish I’d been a Nintendo kid, so I could have got my CRPG on earlier.
Short post today, as now I’m gonna go to Heather’s place, get XP set up on her machine, and maaaybe set up that MegaDrive we found the other day!