Being a gamer means missing important games from time to time. There are simply too many games released in a given year to keep up with them all, even if you only like a couple of genres. Not that that’s my excuse for getting into games late, though. It just keeps managing to happen for one reason or another, even for games I was excited for pre-release. With that in mind, these are the biggest game series I wound up getting into later than most.
Jak & Daxter
I bought a PS2 a year or so after Jak & Daxter came out, I didn’t even know that the series existed until I saw the sequel in a Kmart one day. I knew who Naughty Dog was, I thought it would be worth trying. It most certainly was too, I loved the game at the time and it remains an old favorite to this day. I eventually decided to see what the first game was like and wound having the reverse experience of everyone who started the series correctly. I went into Jak & Daxter expecting gunplay, free-roaming vehicles and such. What I got instead a was a bright and sunny mascot platformer. It was an excellent platformer and I loved it, but I could help but wonder how the Jak II that I knew came from a game that might as well have been its polar opposite in terms of gameplay and tone. If I had the chance to do it over again, I’d still probably start with Jak II because I’m really not sure if my younger self would have given it a chance after playing the original Jak & Daxter.
Ratchet & Clank
The story of how I got into Ratchet & Clank plays out rather similarly. I got into PS2 without knowing what games would be good for it aside from Kingdom Hearts and was just kinda picking up games that looked cool. Unlike Jak 2, I wasn’t really familiar with Insomniac Games at the time. I’d played the Spyro games when they were new, but wasn’t able to make the connection between Spyro and Ratchet & Clank until much later. Suffice it to say, I took a risk and gave the game a shot. Not only did I enjoy it, but it became a bar against which I measured many of my later games for several years afterward. Unfortunately, the original Ratchet & Clank didn’t really measure up. After the excellence that was Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando, the original felt clunky and slow. I probably would have started with the original instead if given the chance, but only so that I could have enjoyed the sheer amount of improvements found in the sequel that much more.
I originally didn’t play Halo because it was on the original Xbox, the one and only major home console that I’ve never owned. I didn’t have the money for the Xbox, and my high school self wouldn’t have bought one even if he could. I was suffering from some Nintendo/Playstation fanboy-ism at the time and saw Microsoft’s Xbox as little more than an outsider that didn’t belong in gaming at all. (Oh have the times changed!) My stance softened when it came to the Xbox 360 and its games like Mass Effect , BioShock, and Halo 3. The only problem: these were all M-rated games, and I’d never played an M-rated game before. I was of age, but was honestly afraid to take that step. What if I couldn’t handle it and wound up just wasting my money? In the end, I decided that I wanted to keep up with gaming and took the leap by starting with Halo 3. I still hold that game up as my absolute favorite multiplayer experience and wouldn’t trade my initial experience with it for anything. Still, I can’t help but feel like I missed out on something special by missing Halo: CE and Halo 2 during their glory years.
I honestly don’t know how this one happened. I grew up with Super Nintendo, Gameboy, and was a huge Nintendo fan when I was younger. Yet, I had somehow not managed to jump into the world of Metroid. My introduction to the series came not with Super Metroid or even Metroid Prime, but with Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (the one many seem to consider the weakest entry in the series aside from Other M). I even had a friend at the time who took every opportunity to sing the praises of Metroid Prime yet I resisted developing any interest until I saw the trailers for Echoes. I’m kind of a sucker for parallel worlds in just about anything, so I’m guessing that was the hook for me. I picked it up shortly after launch, and now the Metroid series is a personal favorite. Echoes itself is still my personal favorite, goofy ammo system and everything. I think I would have rather started with the original Metroid Prime, but I’m glad that this played out the way it did in every other respect. It gave me a chance to play Super Metroid fresh on my SNES many years after I’d thought I’d played all the best stuff on the platform.
For better or worse, I managed to start all of these series late. Some for stupid reasons, others for not-so-stupid reasons. I think it’s usually best to start at the beginning if possible, but sometimes starting in the middle isn’t so bad. It allows you to have a somewhat different perspective that would otherwise be impossible. Don’t you think?
What are some series you’ve started late? Knowing what you know now, would you have started it from the beginning instead?