Peter Molyneux stole money from his grandmother. Chris Taylor made his hands stink of dirty quarters. I blithely played a "Donkey Kong" rip-off called "Pickaxe Pete" -- and liked it.
These are the essential components of our very first video game memories. Late last week I asked a group of people in and around the video game industry to share with me -- and with you -- their very first, hazy memories of playing a video game. Molyneux, Taylor and a dozen others -- including the Multiplayer team -- offer their first recollections below.
Read on to see how lifelong obsessions with video games begin. Then tell me, what's your first memory of playing a video game?
Brian Allgeier, Creative Director, "Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction"
First Gaming Memory: I was about nine years old and my family was vacationing in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We were at a hotel and my brother had just run full speed into a sliding glass door (Darn invisible collision walls). While my mother tended to his wounds, my Dad entered the room giddy with excitement. He wanted to show me some new amazing thing he had just found. We rushed outside and into a nearby pool hall. In the center of the smoke filled room was a shiny "Pac-Man" arcade cabinet. We played a few quarters and I remember being mesmerized by that yellow pixilated critter gobbling up dots in a neon blue maze. Oddly enough, that was probably the first and last time I ever saw my Dad get excited about a videogame.
Jonathan Blow, Game Designer, "Braid"
First Gaming Memory: "Combat" on the Atari 2600. I was unbeatable on the Tank-Pong levels (bouncing bullets!) I liked "Air-Sea Battle" better, but "Combat" was the canonical 2600 game, and being the pack-in, probably the first game anyone would boot up.
The "Mario Kart" series is undisputedly my second favorite Nintendo franchise ("Smash Bros." wins the top spot), and when I see the opportunity to play the newest game in the series I seize it.
Unfortunately, the newest entry I had an opportunity to seize last night wasn't the much anticipated "Mario Kart Wii." It was a version that most people will never actually get to bring home: "Mario Kart Arcade GP 2."
Haven't heard of it? It is the second in a series of Namco produced full-on, sit-down style "Mario Kart" arcade cabinets. When I heard about the original "Mario Kart Arcade GP," I was convinced that a "Mario Kart" arcade game would never make it stateside. However, on Wednesday, upon wandering into my local Dave & Busters in Times Square, there it was, like a Japanese beacon from the gods, calling out to me to come and play. My time had come for me to spend my hard earned money on some arcade style "Mario Kart"ing. Having never even seen the first in it's full electronic glory, I was pretty shocked to find this fairly rare machine, and I was already to go.
I only had time for a handful of races, but it was long enough to see that the game was simply amazing, and I can only hope that the forth coming Wii version takes note of some of this version's nuances and ends up at least as enjoyable.
Lately, I've been investigating the origins of Achievements -- from some of the toughest ("Call of Duty 4" and "Gears of War") to the absolute easiest ("Avatar: The Last Airbender -- The Burning Earth").
But the one game that got me thinking about how Achievements are chosen in the first place was "Double Dragon." Earlier this year, the classic, quarter-eating brawler made its way onto Xbox 360 consoles. While many a gamer has no doubt conquered the title countless times, could they get all 12 Achievements in the XBLA version?
I'm guessing -- no. There was one in particular that got my attention: "Untouched: Complete mission 1 in a single player game without being hit." It's worth 20 points. And some of the other ones are nothing to sneeze at either. "Hero" requires you to play the entire game without using a continue.
So I decided to ask Razorworks, the U.K.-based developer who ported the game, about how they picked the Achievements.
Last week, two programmers from the company answered my questions via e-mail (and declined to be named for unspecified reasons).
They did tell me that only 8% of people who've bought "Double Dragon" have gotten the "Untouched" Achievement.
Read on for the rest.
It's time to write again about the highly acclaimed "Donkey Kong" rivalry documentary "King of Kong," my favorite topic of the year.
The occasion? MTV Movies editor/reporter/nice-man Josh Horowitz was hanging out with actor Greg Kinnear for some non-gaming-reason and asked him about the "King of Kong" filmmakers' desire to have Kinnear play a lead role in a dramatic remake of the documentary.
Had he heard that they think he'd play a great Steve Wiebe, the soft-spoken up-start schoolteacher who makes a run at the "Donkey Kong" world record held by arcade hero (but "King of Kong" villain) Billy Mitchell?
Kinnear told Josh: "No, but I saw that documentary. I loved it. I thought it was a very cool documentary. If they make that into a movie…I wouldn’t want to play Kong. So that guy [Wiebe] would be better."
I trust Josh will follow through and badger Johnny Depp next about playing Mitchell. Don't let me down, Josh!
Sure, you could go and spend hundreds of dollars on your awesome gaming keyboard, and mouse, but why would you spend more than $13.37 on your mousepad?
While there are much more expensive mousepads in the world, there are very few that are as nostalgic or awesome as the official Pac-Man Mousepads, yours for only $9.99 each (not including shipping and handling).
Namco Bandai’s official merchandise store, Club Namco, offers you the option of having either Pac-Man or Ms. Pac-Man protect your desk surface. Both pads feature a classic screenshot from each respective game on an 8” x 7.5” vynex pad, all for a very reasonable price.
So far, reactions have been mixed over Jeff Minter’s newest opus Space Giraffe, most likely because the game has some flaws that the average gamer might not be able to overlook. You play the game as a giraffe, in space, shooting your way through levels in a manner not entirely unlike Minter’s most famous game, even though the first line in the tutorial clearly states, “This is not Tempest.” While it isn’t exactly the same, it is pretty similar.
Once. Twice. Three Times. Now Four. I just love writing about the "King of Kong" documentary and the rivalry it chronicles between "Donkey Kong" masters Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe.
The film finally comes out this weekend.
On Friday, to celebrate the occasion, I wrote my fourth article about it. This one has me catching up with the filmmakers and finding out who they want to cast in the dramatization of the doc (Johnny Depp and Greg Kinnear, ideally). The filmmakers also tease me with the amazing possibilities of a "King of Kong" all about "Arkanoid."From my article:
...they admit there's a great "Arkanoid" story for them to tackle someday. The top two players in that classic arcade game include a man who's in prison and a Minor League Baseball reporter who claims to have caught more foul balls than anyone else in the world — and wrote a book about it. "It makes sense that a person who understands how to break all those bricks [in 'Arkanoid'] is thinking about angles," ["KoK" director Seth] Gordon said.
So hit the link above to read article #4. And then there's my earlier articles on the film...
(SPOILER NOTE: I strongly recommending seeing the film before reading these stories. I've tried to keep spoilers to a minimum but it's not too hard to figure out who comes out on top in the movie once you start reading my stories)
My other coverage includes a two-parter about the controversy surrounding what's in the film and whether the documentary; the second part includes Billy Mitchell's first interview about the film. My third piece is more recent, and covers a major "DK" high-score event that happened after the documentary's conclusion.
Watch our host Blair and co. get bucked at our Big Buck Hunter Pro competition held at the Black Bear Lodge in New York City.
Previous Vs. Modes had gone so smoothly.
But as I alluded to in the intro to the first round of this latest debate between me and Newsweek's N'Gai Croal, this one was a little rocky.
We planned to talk about what we found so intriguing about recent short games: the "Super Stardust HD"s and "Pac-Man Championship Edition"s of the world.
Somehow, though, we spent time debating my wild theories about making photo-realistic "Pac-Man" games and "Space Invaders" with really, really, really good A.I. What you see at the end of today's round is consternation. Do we pull through and start talking about specific games? Stay tuned Wednesday.
But for today, I invite you to click through and explore this second round, as N'Gai and I debate whether this short-game renaissance is going to die soon and whether games can really go the way of YouTube. Much telling-each-other-we're-wrong ensues. And we still keep the 500-word limit! Wonders never cease.
(All rounds of this, including today's, also appear at N'Gai's "Level Up" blog.)