It’s one of my favorite 2 hobbies; I’m just not sure why I’m blogging about it. Last week I made a promise to discuss video games this week. So I guess I will. But first, here’s a scenario for why an average non-video game player might want to continue reading. This is going to be a list of some of my favorite games out there, but it is not going to be in a “top ten” fashion. I’m going to give it in a sort of “places to start” manner, for someone who might be bored and looking to pick up another hobby. I’m just going to suggest a favorite hobby of mine. Here’s how to break into the video game world.
Step 1. Do not go out and get a top-of-the-line current generation game console and the latest best-selling games. First, that’s way expensive and a hobby you may or may not ultimately get into shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Second, just like in the movies, 90% of the top selling games out there are part of long standing game franchises. No one would suggest getting into Harry Potter by watching the 4th movie first, likewise to get into videogames it helps to understand the history. I’m not advocating eBay-ing yourself an 8-bit Nintendo system and starting off with the original “Mario Brothers” game. That’s not a bad idea, but that’s so far back that we can still cover “history” and still not have to go that far back. Plus the average smartphone can emulate the original NES and its contemporaries. I’m not (repeat) NOT advocating downloading a NES emulator and finding a site where you can download NES ROMS. Because that would be illegal. Even though it’s free, easy, and something no one gets busted for because millions of people are doing it every day… I’m not advocating it. Even though it would be as easy as going to your phone’s app store and searching for “NES Emulator” and “NES ROMs…” I’m not advocating it. Even though doing the same searches on a laptop or desktop computer will get you the emulator programs and the ability to play those games on your computer… I’m not advocating it.
That would be wrong.
But if you do start with NES (however you do it, I’m not askin’) I’ll say that the “Metal Gear,” “Final Fantasy,” “Legend of Zelda,” and “Metroid” franchises all got their start on the NES. And while it’s not necessary to start that far back, it is kind of good to know how all those franchises begin. And they are some of my favorites.
“Metal Gear,” probably my favorite game franchise. Described as “tactical, strategy, action” the games in the MG series requires a fast thinking and resourceful player. The game provides action movie style action; and while it gives the player the option to use deadly weapons and lethal violence, it rewards players for finding a more peaceful solution via avoiding fights or using non-lethal methods. The story can get a little transparent and preachy sometimes, but I’ll tolerate a strong anti-nuclear weapons message considering the game was made in Japan. It’s understandable. Otherwise the story is as engaging as TV’s 24, and twice as deep. I recommend starting with “Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes” on Nintendo’s Gamecube. It’s a better remake of the first in the “Metal Gear Solid” franchise and contains a synopsis of the story up to that point. Otherwise “Metal Gear Solid” is available on the Playstation and PC.
“Final Fantasy.” Honestly, I don’t really know if someone just getting into gaming will like RPG style games like any of the games in the “Final Fantasy” franchise. But there’s no continuity between stories, so you can jump into the series anywhere. There’s no need to start with the first one. My favorites are 8, 7, 3, then 10 in that order. If you can’t get into any of those, then don’t bother with the rest. They won’t be your “thing” and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a matter of taste and there’s no right or wrong. If you start with Sony’s Playstation (PS1 or PS2) you can find most of these titles. Or go with a standalone game by the same company called “Chrono Cross.” CC is one of my favorite games. A little easier than Final Fantasy to start, but every bit as rewarding.
“Legend of Zelda” and “Metroid.” Nintendo exclusive franchises that don’t really carry much continuity between episodes and are very generally well received games on any of the Nintendo platforms they are on. Some people consider “Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” one of the best and most important games ever made. It’s hard to argue against that.
Of course if I were, I would argue for “Shadows of the Colossus.” Released on the PS2 and recently getting a hi-def remake, SotC is one of the most heart-stoppingly beautiful games ever made. Amazing visuals and graphics, even on a console that is a more than a generation and a half behind cutting edge. And when you get and understand its story… just WOW. Deep and meaningful… and painfully sad. Before playing SotC I wouldn’t have said it was possible to tell such an amazing story with as few words as they use. I was wrong. I’m going thru SotC again right now. And it will be a game I play every so often just to remind me why I love good video games.
And even if you don’t want to buy a gaming console, well you are reading a blog. Chances are you have a computer and games on the PC have a rich history as well. It’s easy to get some older really good or important games for the PC. Go to GOG.COM. That stands for Great Old Games, and you can buy and download classic PC games, tested and ready to go on today’s higher speed machines. Check out the best sellers list on GOG. Some of my favorites on GOG… Fallout, Fallout 2, and Icewind Dale. Oh and a little game called Masters of Orion 2.
I mentioned some good ones, but have already thought of about a thousand more I could recommend. If you want a recommendation of a game or my opinion of a game (if you’ll like it or if it is appropriate for kids) just leave a response for me here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, have a nice day.