Random appreciation of important things.
62 Icons of gaming. That's what's up there. 62 Icons of our past, present, and given the current fashion for sequels and often dodgy remakes, future. We love them all, members of the Rodentia and the YakYak community tell WotR how they feel about these incredible imaginary, and not-so imaginary people.
First, Ahchay puts his finger right on what a life in gaming ia all about:
There's no single standout character for me. My life has been shadowed by these images for the last 25 years and I see no sign of that slowing down. Every important thing that has happened in my life has been to the accompaniment of those faces. They've been a cause for celebration during the highs and they've allowed me to survive the lows.
Tomb-raiding Storm-Trooping Pill-Chomping Ghost-Eating Blood-Gulching Wind-Waking Barrel-Throwing Bubble-Bobbling Kung-Fu Monkey-Balling Bomber-Manning Super Mario Bomb Jacking Atari and Sinclairing Mutant Camel Space Invading Fun.
He's a godfather of gaming. The Commodore/Atari double ensures the mad old capitalist a place in our history. Now as for his kid...
Peach & Daisy
Every time Peach & Daisy squeak past me in MK:DD, I want to skin the gloating bitches. Then deep-fry the skins. Mmmmm, crispy-skin peach.
It's amazing how many of the characters trigger a memory of a person or a place. Memories that mean the world to me, but are worthless to anybody else.
For example, Pitfall reminds me of a school friend that I don't see as often as I'd like to these days. The day I bought the game, we spent the evening taking it in turns playing it - trying our hardest to put the other one off so that it would be our turn. It's amazing how many childishly funny and smutty phrases you can fit into a Tarzan-yell.
Probably the first game & tune that made c64 owners wet themselves every time they pushed the space bar on the title screen.
oh and :
Unlimited money: Enter ANDY as a name and 777 as an account number.
I very vaguely remember making up alternate lyrics to the tune of "Star Fleet" after playing the original Hungry Horace. I have no idea whatsoever what they were or why. Or why I am telling you this.
Iconic images from the childhood obsession with Star Wars that I still carry partially to this day. Reminds me mostly of the VCS game that I saved up to buy and played to death. A couple of years later I would take to calling them camels instead.
I remember being about six, and watching a machine going in an old pub. An old chap came up to me and kindly gave me 10p to have a go. He gave me the sage advice that you should shoot the ones at the side first, so that they take longer to descend a level. This was a defining point in my gaming life, as it was when I realised it pays to have a tactic when it comes to blasting baddies.
Space Invaders reminds me of waiting to catch the cross-channel ferry, and wandering over to the Space Invaders cabinet tucked away behind a pillar. It was the first one I'd seen and I was hooked straight away. Taito took the holiday spending money from a 10 year old child that year. I grew up in a small country village that technology left behind, and as a consequence most of my early gaming experiences took place on holiday. My trip to Pisa was memorable for two things. In second place, it was quite an interesting experience to climb the tower. But more importantly, the first Galaxian machine I ever saw was in a little cafe over the road. As they say, travel broadens the mind.
You picked the one that alters his pose from "HELP!" to "I'm hard, me."
One of my mates, aged 24, told me that his mother had asked him:
“What that funny sound was that had been coming from his room for the last ten years”
Made me smile that did.
"He's the hero, right, so why does my mate keeping whupping my ass with him using the annoying sidekick Ken? It makes no sense!?"
I always liked the idea of having the Gamesmaster played by a man who still uses a typewriter and may have never touched a computer in his life.
Why oh why oh why oh why did you pick Dexter Fletcher to replace The Diamond?
I nearly lost it when I missed an episode - a neighbour knocks on the door as the intro sequence starts up, and it's all I can do not to stove their skull in - all because my psychic gland knew the show wouldn't last and so every second of it meant something - it was all we had.
Well....Sugar Daddy, Uncle Clive, Jack Tramiel and Nolan Bushnell...these guys, their companies and products shaped my formative years and guided me towards my current career but there's one sad omission here. I've looked and looked, searched high and low in that image but where is Jay Miner? For that matter, where is the Amiga at the bottom of the picture?
I used to play Sinistar in a grotty Redcar arcade. It had a broken joystick that would constantly pull down and left. Didn't stop it being a classic shooter though and that voice still gives me the willies.
And you're damn right I ran.
Scariest. Game. Ever.
I found a cockpit version of this in an arcade once. I was physically trembling when I climbed out of the cabinet.
Ruined friendships, failed exams, broken thumbs, the little guy has caused quite a toll on everyone over the years. Also plays a part in one of the cruellest deaths in all of videogames - the bomb sandwich.
The only superhero whose remit it is to save the world by blowing it up! One day my 50-year old, technophobe uncle came round when me and my brother were playing it. 10 minutes later, he was enjoying it as much as we were!
I'LL SHOW YOU HOW TO THROW BARRELS YOU FUCKING PRICK!
I first saw this game while on holiday with my parents in Florida. When I got back to school in the autumn I tried to describe it to my friends, but nobody would believe me that there was a game with a button that made you jump instead of fire bullets. 20-odd years on and a whole genre of platform games later...
I still swear to this day that I saw somebody make Mario climb up the elevators rather than ride on them once. It cost me a fair few 10p coins trying it myself and I never did find out how it was done.
Load Manic Miner. Duh duh da da dah duh dah... blipp argh fuck dead! Duh duh da da dah duh dah... blipp argh fuck dead! (and repeat until the big boot appears)
He shops in the Covent Garden Tesco Metro if you fancy stalking him.
I like uncle Clive. he is warm. he make me do a sex-wee
Obsessed with making really tiny and fragile electronic things. Now plays poker on Challenge TV.
Dapper-suited cameo master from Half-life.
When you encounter him in the closing act of Half Life you may find yourself torn between the impulse to knot his tie in a terminal fashion and the urge to hand him a packet of Tunes.
Haven't you noticed the resemblance to Lord Lucan? Shave the moustache off and...
It just felt so right.
Reminds me of when Rare made games, rather than just pushing their launch dates back or copying other people's. Also reminds me of life before Halo, and what it really means to have freetime. Post A-level sessions were monumental. A golden time in my life, when the lead singer from Coldplay hated me and all was well in the world.
A continual source of amusement to us is that he is the spitting image of someone I went to uni with and have been working with for the last ten years. He even does that supercilious beard-stroking look used in this picture, usually while beating me to a pulp at pool.
Jet-Pac is too hard. That is all.
n00b. It's a piece of piss compared to Lunar Jetman
I never had a Spectrum so I didn't play it much in its day. I first played it properly on a 486 PC running at totally the wrong speed. Frantic, but fun. Average game length, around 30 seconds.
Defender's lasers without the utter bastardness. An excellent first introduction to commercial computer gaming.
Parappa The Rapper
Like listening to the works of De La Soul as performed by I R Baboon. And even that combination is unlikely to come up situations like learning Karate from a Onion and taking cooking lessons from a chicken!
"Kick! Punch! It’s all in the mind
If you wanna test me, I’m sure you’ll find
The things I’ll teach ya is sure to beat ya
But nevertheless you’ll get a lesson from teacher
Kick – Punch – Chop - Block
Once more now
Kick – Punch – Chop - Block ...
'kick the tv out the fekin window more like'..."
After completing this game a housemate threatened to grind my bones into dust and scatter them to the four winds if I ever dared to play it in his presence again.
This gentleman made me say for the first time ever 'this game is a load of pretentious shite'. (MGS 2) I have never forgiven him, even though he does smoke tabs.
Prince of Persia
The other platforming hero. Going in a completely different direction than Miyamoto, Jordan Mechner's incredibly acrobatic prince showed that computers were no slouches when it came to action games. Though a lot of the praise for the game is due to the Prince's amazingly realistic animation, the more thoughtful and puzzle-oriented platforming and simplistic but tense and exciting swordfights deserve the true accolades.
Though stumbling in 1999 with the lacklustre Prince of Persia 3D, the Prince reclaimed his platforming crown with 2003's Sands of Time. I think that Sands of Time is the greatest 3D platformer ever made, with its flawlessly executed gameplay, amazing graphics, wonderful soundtrack, and brilliant voice acting. It’s a shame that the just-released Prince of Persia: Warrior Within is so bad, but the Prince's earlier adventures are not to be ignored.
Probably the best side-kick ever. Who else could help you scoop up tar whilst bungee-jumping from Mount Rushmore and (literally) extracting information from vital witnesses. Just be careful that he doesn't eat the evidence. And it also had the second-best video game related cartoon ever (after Earthworm Jim).
Trying to explain to my mum that you had to 'use Max on the cat' was not easy...
The first time I had butterflies in my stomach, was back in summer 1980. I was in the south of France, in a cafe drinking a milk shake. As I glanced across the bar, there she was THE most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She stood tall and proud, with stunning looks, and beautiful curves. I walked over to her and offered her one of my silver coins, and she gracefully accepted.
From that moment, I knew we were made for each other. We played together for hours, in a frenzy of passion and pleasure. But where there's pleasure there is always pain. And this relationship was destined to end as quickly as it started.
I still see her, from time to time. Only now, she stands lonely at the back, in the corner, with no-one to talk to. And although time hasn't dealt her many favours, she's still beautiful to me. We still share some pleasure, although it will never be like that sunny day, in the south of France, 1980.
Oh, and I nearly forgot her name. Defender.
The first thought I had when I saw Defender was how the hell was I going to manage all those buttons and a joystick. My first game was over as soon as it began. After a while I realised that if I didn't shoot the people on the ground, the planet surface didn't disappear as quickly. Then I realised that in most cases Hyperspace=instant death. I got a bit better, but never mastered it properly. That never took away any of the enjoyment. It's probably the game that has commanded the most respect from me - I'm still very aware that it can kick my ass, big time.
My dad took me out on the back of his motorbike for a treat. We stopped off at a greasy spoon and when we stepped through the door there was this assorted crowd of bikers, lorry drivers and ageing men with flat caps huddled around a big box. I rushed over to see what the fuss was about, squeezed through the attending mass and my jaw dropped, and stayed dropped for a good 15 minutes. Then it was my go. I inserted the almost shiny 10p into the slot, took hold of the paddle. It all went so quickly. My game was over and I had scored a big fat zero. I shook my opponents hand and walked away with a huge grin on my face that wasn't to vanish for another couple of decades.
Left, left, dig. Down, right, right, dig. Dig. Dig. Watch out for that falling mass of green blocks . . . AAARRRRGGGGHHHH.
Space Channel 5
Technically it's impossible to sustain an erection whilst playing any other rhythm action game than the obvious. Which is why I can't, and won't play Space Channel 5.
Thank Goat I'm not the only one then.
"Up... up... shoot shoot shoot!"
Super Monkey Ball
If ever there was a game created to show off just what an analogue stick is about then this is it. And it features monkeys trapped in big plastic balls. Don't tell the NSPCA.
I cannot play this game without having an out-of-body experience, where I see myself playing and think "...it's a fucking monkey in a ball!"
I love this game. Although the Expert levels make me want to peel the skin off of my face and rub the raw tissue in a bowl of salt.
The cause of many wasted hours. In many senses of the word.
Jeff had character, still does as it goes, and it felt as if he was 'in it' for us as well as for himself. That was the thing that gave me a first glimpse of computers as something more than just cold silicon. He left himself inside all of his creations and that was part of what made them all so wonderful.
In him everything comes together; The hard work, the true genius, the attention to detail, the ability to look beyond the straight route (literally: to create secret passages), the crazy Japan-feeling, and being able to stay loyal and dedicated after all these these years..
Shig, I salute you
The first videogame I ever played was designed by this man. Donkey Kong Junior. This man deserves credit for single-handedly reviving the gaming industry in North America with Super Mario Brothers. After the Great Crash, Nintendo had a lot of guts to release the NES here. I think its success is due to THE greatest pack-in game ever... SMB. Nobody would have bought the NES if it didn't have good games, and nobody would have been willing to wait for good games while their console gathers dust, so Super Mario Brothers should be given credit for saving the entire industry.
Of course, even though I'd say Super Mario Brothers is the most important game ever, Miyamoto has done a lot more. From Mario 64 to The Legend of Zelda to Pikmin 2, all of his games contain the most important ingredient in a game: fun.
Claude (GTA 3 guy)
This guy changed gaming for me. When I played GTA 3 for the first time I had a peculiar feeling. A feeling mostly unknown to my hands and eyes at that point. It felt good. It was freedom. Play continued into the wee hours, resumed at eyes-opening the next morning and continued to consume days of my life thereafter. The sequels, though great, have both failed to instil that initial feeling that GTA 3 did. Thank you Claude.
This guy’s name was unknown until GTA:SA when Ex-girlfriend Catalina mistakenly calls C.J. saying “Oh Claude, last night was wonderful, you are so beeg…”
I used to well fancy her. Sad bastard....I know.
I have a symbiotic relationship with Bub (and indeed the entire Bubble Bobble cast) which stretches back through a tangled history of just about every console ever made. The relationship may or may not be based on a formative LSD experience.
Bubble Bobble. Up there with the greatest. Brilliant single player, even better in multi-player, genius level design and music that burrows deep inside your brain. It's haunted me more than Eternal Darkness.
I missed out on most of my 1992 Christmas lunch because of this little fucker. Getting games on Christmas day is always lethal...
I've spent some fantastic afternoons playing this with my sister, helping each other with the navigations and puzzle solving. It turned into a two player one player game, if you know what I mean.
Jet Set Willy
The first game I remember playing, and after all these years I can still hum the music. So can my parents.
Manny Calavera, the Man Himself. Grim Fandango is the only game EVER that has made me laugh out loud, scream in anger and cry with bittersweet sadness... all in the same sitting, no less.
Grim Fandango is, in my opinion, the greatest adventure game of all time and one of the handful of games that can be considered a true work of art. Everything, from the fantastic dialogue to the Aztec architecture to the big band meets mariachi music, just blends so fantastically well. Combine that with skeletons that are more human and fleshed-out than anything you'll see on TV, which is somehow considered a more artistic medium than videogames.
But more important to me than all the artistic significance is the memory of Manny holding a misshapen balloon and yelling "Run pigeons, its Robert Frost!" That always cracks me up.
Less a gaming experience, more a blood pressure test - can anyone play Tapper for more than five minutes without feeling their chest walls tightening?
Got me interested in upskirts.
The frustration, while playing the Spectrum version, that when just about identical graphics are XOR'ed over the top of each other it makes them very nearly invisible.
More frustrating was that my mate copied it right smack in the middle of a C90 for me. Used to take me a good twenty minutes of rewinding/fast-forwarding before I could find the fucker.
And then, just when you thought you'd catch a bit of can-can girl thigh the pissing money kept disappearing. How true that would be for the rest of my life.
When I was old enough to start drinking in pubs, one of the first things I noticed was that the bar had a foot rail like the one on the Tapper machine. Well, I was only 15... er, 18. Honest officer.
Lara Croft and Chun Li - tits and mindless violence, what a great mix!
None of the copycats ever seemed to get that it would never have happened if the first game was no good.
Reminds me of cycling the 3 miles to and from Special Reserve down the road in a matter of minutes every evening after school for a week until it was out. Never bloody completed it, but hey the first game to make me fitter.
Mad as Tuesday and as brilliant as sunlight. Thank you Nolan, for you made us all.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Represents the point in time that my childhood gaming obsession was handed down to my son.
I always thought he looked like he was about to cavity-search you with those gloves. Anyway he made me the person I am today. Why would anyone want to be a fat plumber with a moustache?
means more than words can describe. Turned an interest into a hobby into an obsession. Never look back - only forward. Quickly.
The most antisocial human invention ever. My mate got one first and bought it round my house to show me. "Have a go" he said, handing it to me. "I'd best be off now, I've got to get up for work early tomorrow" was the next thing I consciously heard him say. I think those early models gave off some sort of radiation as well, because the hands on the clock had moved on two hours in the space of a couple of minutes.
Had to be banned from the bathroom.
I had the good fortune to go to Greece on holiday shortly after the GB was released in Japan but before it was widely known outside. The tradition had always been that between us me and my mates would buy the latest Game and Watch at the airport on the way out on hols, and that would be the game of the holiday, all of us playing it.
That year I had my (imported) GB, and of course that changed, annual Game and Watch buying became a thing of the past. And on Thassos... we were the only ones they had ever seen who had this unheard-of device, with Mario and Tetris on it.
We walked as Gods amongst them.
The Atari joystick is officially the most uncomfortable gaming device ever. The most satisfaction I ever got from it was smashing it to pieces after buying one that didn't leave me reeling with pain.
From the age of around 10 I don't think I went a day without holding one of these in my hands. Then I discovered other interests - like my Intellivision. Although I haven't used one now for many years, I can still feel the creaking.
Seeing a Pacman cab was the first time I can remember being interested in computer graphics. At weekends I used to go to the Sheldon Heath Social Club with my Granddad, and in the foyer they had a couple of fruities, a Moon Cresta and a Pacman cab. I don't remember actually putting money in the Pacman cab but I used to "play" the attract mode when nobody was around and the big kids had finished playing. When it was in use I just used to gawp at the pretty visuals, and I acted as a cheerleader for whoever was playing in the hope that they'd get to levels I'd never seen before. Later on it was replaced by a Battlezone which I used to play, being a bit older and more confident but I did miss Pacman. To this day I don't think I've properly played on a Pacman cab, I just loved the way it looked back then.
Anyway when we got home from the social club I used to break out the felt tips and draw pictures of Pacman on ruled paper, usually alternative maps and different designs for the ghosts. All this was very precisely done and usually with rulers to make the lines straight, I used to draw the corridors of the map and then colour the entire page in black around them. Must've got through my fair share of black felt tips as I used to obsess over the designs and produced many of them. I think I eventually got fed up of redrawing the ghosts and Pacman on my maps, so I started buying the stickers from the local newsagent and slapping them on my maps instead.
I've never produced any designs for an actual game, but I've worked for Sega, Edge and another couple of minor videogames contracts; and now of course Control so something must've stuck back then. And now I've got the benefit of glorious 3D. COSMIC
Still makes me grin.
one Christmas I was sat at work, idly creating the illusion that I was doing some work and an email came around.
'Anyone into games? we need folks to demonstrate a few machines'
And so it was to be. I essentially got paid to play a Pacman cab for a week straight - and pretty damn good I became too.
until one night my housemate called a house meeting. we all shambled to the table to see why she had called us down.
'There's too much vodka left - we need to deal with this'. and deal with this we did. mindnumbing amounts of vodka and coke flowed through the night and that dark concoction slowly got lighter and lighter as the vodka levels went up and the coke levels dropped.
Alas my poor student frame could take no more and I shambled off to bed with my remaining pint of semi translucent oblivion.
Naturally I woke up with the fuzziest of memories of what transpired the previous night and a throat that felt like I'd just given a blowjob to a cactus. Spying the glass I assumed it to be flat coke and identified it as a hangover cure (as my friend’s emergency doctor, one doctor Harold shipman, advised her) and promptly necked it back in one.
Then the horror - and the aftertaste - hit me.
9am. at work. and by all accounts pretty drunk. I hauled myself over to my station and began work on my high score. And I sucked quite horrifically as it happens. Repeatedly running into blind corners, losing control and occasionally falling off the joystick altogether.
The I get that feeling. someone is watching me closely. I turn around to see who it is only to be greeted by my reflection in the lens of an Anglia News camera. I'm (accidentally) pissed at work, playing my worst game ever and it's being immortalised for broadcast.
I hope they didn't use that footage...
The first game I ever encountered, in a games room in a Swiss hotel. The games room itself was huge (I was 6 years old at the time, so perhaps it wasn't) and not unlike an evil genius' lair from a Bond movie - all glass wall and amazing view over a glacier.
Anyway, there it was - the table version of the game - beeping and gobbling in the middle. Nobody else about, just me and a strange electronic desk. I was mesmerised by it. I just sat and watched the little yellow guy wander round on the demo screens, eating pills and being chased by ghosts. Never played it, but probably the single most important game in my life.
My brother was one of those kids that had an epileptic fit whilst playing our shared SNES. We knew he already had epilepsy before we bought it. It was Mario Kart that did it. Still, I got to keep the snes.
Sometimes, as you crouch above the top of the ventilator grille, listening to the poor sods down below talking about old ghost stories they used to hear around the glow-light, or that they're hoping to get off this godforsaken dust ball soon, or that it's not as much fun as they thought it would be at the Academy, you feel sorry for the buggers.
Then it's <Vommmmm>, <Schickkk>, fall through the destroyed vent and as he goes, "There he is!" he starts to raise his blaster... in slow motion, as your Jedi powers heighten your senses.
So you dismember him and his buddies anyway, and walk away congratulating yourself for successfully chopping the last one in half before the first one had finished hitting the floor.
Something has always bothered me about Stormtroopers you know. What's the point of that armour? I only ask because it doesn't seem to stop any of the following:
1. Laser fire
2. Light sabre attacks
3. Rocks thrown by teddy bears with arms so short you doubt how much leverage they would get.
And that helmet. Surely they can't see very well out of it? And it makes their voices all muffled too.
When I was a kid I used to run around in pants all the time. Nothing ever hurt me. I would have loved a stormtrooper costume but I doubt I would get any benefit out of it.
...and finally, Ely really does sum up this entire article:
I just can't think of trying to comment on any individually really. I look at the picture and see my Past, Present and probably my Future represented by videogame characters. For me it's the whole culture I'm reminded of. The people I've met, the friendships I've forged, the battles I've had, all wrapped up in a single image. Love is too small a word for it. I've being gaming since a child, through my teenage years, young adulthood and hopefully onward into middle and old age.