A few days ago I was digging around in my game collection because I was feeling a bit nostalgic and wanted to look over some of the old games I used to play religiously when I was younger. As you can see in the picture, I tend toward real-time strategy games and fantasy RPGs. Also, I used to be really bad about keeping up with disk cases.
I can’t even begin to relate the number of hours I spent playing through the original StarCraft and Diablo many, many times over. It’s hard to imagine now, but back in the day (even with the lag) those Blizzard games had some of the most reliable (but still a little dangerous) multiplayer around that didn’t depend on something like GameSpy or Kali. (Do those even still exist?) With Diablo and then Diablo II, I’m honestly surprised I ever made it out of grade school; those were some seriously engrossing games.
From there, I discovered Bioware’s early games and, by extension, Planescape: Torment, the most underrated game of all time. I’m embarrassed to admit that, even after all these years, I still haven’t beaten Torment, either Baldur’s Gate game, or either Icewind Dale game. I love the gameplay and the stories and have started and pursued multiple playthroughs, but either life or an in-game bug always seems to get in the way. Maybe I can finally go back and change that one of these days when I have the time.
By the time I made it into high school, there were more console games that actually held my interest. It was a bumpy ride in my relationship with games at this stage; I could never afford a good gaming PC and I never developed any Nintendo nostalgia, so I was free to love whatever games actually appealed to me.
My first real console was my ancient (and still running) Playstation 2. With it came my discovery of the Final Fantasy series, particularly Final Fantasy X (as pictured above), the first game in the franchise that I actually beat. If you’ll all pardon the hokeyness, FFX came into my life at a time when such an engrossing and emotional story actually made an impact. The ideas of isolation, loss, of building a new family out of the people around you who have stuck with you, and of love taking hold even in the darkest of times really spoke to teenage me. Hell, those things still speak to me.
By the time I made it to college I’d been exposed to my friends’ XBoxes and various social games that didn’t really appeal to me. I rediscovered Bioware, though, and Jade Empire quickly became one of my favorite games of all time–it is certainly my favorite game from the original XBox. The underlying mythology, based in part on existing Chinese legends, was endlessly compelling. I couldn’t stop exploring this world and interacting with its inhabitants. After all of the fantasy I had experienced that was Western-based, something in that vein with solid Chinese influences was a nice change. I was never disappointed by this game, and I hate that Bioware has never returned to the property. I once joked with a friend that they might as well figure out a way to connect this world with the Dragon Age one because that might be the only way we would get to see anything else.
What do you think of my old games? I know I don’t have anything particularly ancient or valuable, but these are my treasures that I enjoyed (and still enjoy) playing. Let me know your thoughts on these games or any others you may have enjoyed in the comments below. You may be wondering what sorts of games I play today, and I can say there are still a lot of similarities in terms of genre. I’ll return to this in a later post.
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