Here in the states, we’re in the throes of another turkey day. Happy Thanksgiving! Or, happy Thursday! However you are spending today, I hope you are enjoying it. I, for one, am looking forward to spending a little quality time with family and a lot of quality time with games. (Or…maybe that’s the other way round? Nah. J) If you celebrate this holiday, then you know it’s supposed to be a day during which we take some time to remember and be happy for all the good stuff that we’ve got going on. (As well as eat loads of delicious goodies and watch/play/listen to one sporting event or another. At least that’s what they tell me.) It’s in that vein that I use this space here today to honor a few of the games for which I’m thankful.
Super Mario World, a game through which I discovered bliss.
I played this same so, so much over the course of my formative years. Sure, we can debate now about the negative connotations of Mario and Princess Peach’s relationship, but back then Super Mario World was simply about play — about having fun, listening to great music, and progressing from one stage to the next. From playing it by myself to playing with my siblings and friends, thoughts of Super Mario World awaken feelings of nothing less than pure joy.
The Last Story, a game through which I discovered sorrow.
I have to admit that I was surprised at just how much I connected with the relationship of Zael and his friend Dagran in The Last Story. Without spoiling things, I simply didn’t expect to be as sad as I was at the culmination of their story. Sorrow isn’t a feeling I often associate with games, and as the game neared its conclusion, I kept wishing for that happy ending, but it never arrived.
Mass Effect, a game through which I discovered camaraderie.
Plainly put, the act of befriending and developing feelings for a team in a game was eye-opening. Never before had I put any thought into characters that accompanied me in a game. Then along came Mass Effect, and I found myself worrying about my team’s well-being, curious about their own stories, and missing them when they weren’t around. It’s something I think about now whenever I play a game that allows for team building and relationships.
L. A. Noire, a game through which I discovered anger.
Though it was not without its flaws, L. A. Noire accomplished something that I never thought possible: it made me despise the main character. Oh, things started out really well for me as Cole Phelps, the do-gooder cop who wanted to solve all the crimes. But as his story was revealed throughout the course of game, I came to loathe Cole and the things he had done. And there was nothing I could do about it. I had to play as Cole – he was the main character. Carrying the burden of his scars during the latter half of the game was truly uncomfortable.
Grand Theft Auto IV, a game through which I discovered conflict.
It can’t be helped that GTA IV will forever be judged by its predecessors and successor. For me, everything good about GTA IV came from the story of Niko Bellic and his many choices. Never before had I become so wrapped up in deciding the fate of a single character. I quarreled with myself at nearly every choice I had to make as I tried (and often failed) to determine what I thought we’re the best decisions for Bellic. Having to think like Bellic was the toughest part. Even with having fixed endgames, GTA IV did a good job at making players think they were steering Bellic’s life, and that was enough for me.
Street Fighter II Turbo, a game through which I discovered competitiveness.
I don’t recall being a terribly competitive child. Sure, I liked winning (everybody does), but did I always have to win? I don’t believe so, but I did like knowing that I had done my best to try to win. And just because I didn’t always have to win at Street Fighter II Turbo (my first Street Fighter game), it didn’t mean that the game completely suppressed that desire to do my best. I remain at least a little competitive when it comes to fighting games, but I don’t have to win. I just have to make it extremely hard for the other play to do so.
Super Metroid, a game through which I discovered courage.
In and among all the things that make Super Metroid my most favorite game of all time, I’ll never forget the first time that I witnessed (Spoilers, but c’mon, I know you now) the Metroid, the same one that Samus had saved from the beginning of the game only now fully-grown, save Samus from Mother Brain. The Metroid’s act of courage is still enough to make my eyes misty upon playing. The scene is perfectly heartwrenching and amazing.
For which games are you the most thankful? What games have made the most impact, left the most impressions, and been the most stalwart of companions in your gaming life?