1992 – Sega Genesis
Christmas of 1992 I received my first Genesis at 3 years old. Earlier that year I played Mortal Kombat for the first time at a cousin’s house who was baby sitting me. How can I remember this at 2 years old? Well I just do. When I got my Genesis for Christmas it came with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and the Genesis was actually faulty. I remember my mom taking it back to Circuit City (RIP) and even going to the customer service counter. Here are 5 games I remember the most from that early age.
1. Sonic the Hedgehog 2
This was the game that came with my Genesis and is, in my opinion, the best Sonic game ever made. I was actually afraid of underwater levels growing up and the Chemical Zone scared the crap out of me towards the end of last stage when Sonic is underwater and has to jump up floating snake platforms. I actually never beat this game until I was older. I honestly couldn’t get past the 6th level which was a real shame.
2. Ecco the Dolphin
Like Sonic I was scared of underwater levels. I never played this game much and couldn’t get very far, honestly I had no idea what to do in the game. When I jumped up high enough I activated a cheat that sucked all the ocean life out of the water and I got so scared I run up to the Genesis and shut it off. It was a gorgeous game and it’s too bad this series hasn’t seen much light lately.
3. Mortal Kombat
This is what made me a gamer. The first video game I ever played. I remember my cousin doing Scorpion’s fatality and it shocked me. This is my favorite video game series of all time and my huge Mortal Kombat collection is proof of that. It was the game that singlehandedly created the ESRB and caused so much controversy.
4. Sega Channel
This isn’t a game but probably the first ever online “store” for a home console. I honestly only had it for about a month before it was cancelled. I remember running around and screaming every time the games changed on Fridays. My elementary school actually had it in the library and I would show up early just to play Aladdin.
5. The Lion King
I only remember this game so much because of how hard it was. My sister actually tried helping me through it and I couldn’t get past the level seen in the screenshot to the right. It was a great looking game and felt like you were playing the Disney classic. I never gave up and tried over and over until I guess I couldn’t take it anymore
1995 – Super Nintendo
3 years later I receive a Super Nintendo for Christmas of 1995. It was a great year and I received Mortal Kombat and Math Blaster along with Cool World and Stunt Race FX that year. I remember being so mad that Mortal Kombat was censored and didn’t have the awesome start up music that the Genesis did. Math Blaster was a fun shooter despite being about math and I just couldn’t understand Cool World at all. Stun Race FX was played to death and the 3D graphics blew my mind.
1. Mortal Kombat
I only remember MK1 for SNES because of how mad I was that there was no blood or fatalities. Nintendo’s censorship kept this fighting classic from showing its true glory. I played it to death anyways and I guess I didn’t care after the initial shock. I think I played this version more than the Genesis one and I actually beat Shang Tsung on the SNES version and not the Genesis one.
2. Stunt Race FX
This was one of the only racers I played on SNES. It was so unique and controlled so well. I spent hours in this game and the challenge mode was a lot of fun. I remember how amazing the graphics were and constantly watched my replays. It doesn’t hold up well today but it was a great memory for me.
3. Booger Man
I only remember this because my mom insisted that I rented it one day. It was strange, gross, and every 5 year old boys best friend. The platforming was great and the humor was unusual for the SNES. Burps, farts, flinging boogers, throwing plungers and jumping poop monsters in sewers. It still holds up today and I’d like to see a remake.
4. Killer Instinct
I actually went over to a friend’s house everyday to play this. It was the closest fighter to Mortal Kombat that was actually good. The combos were crazy, the characters were memorable, and that startup music and announcer was awesome. I used Cinder and Spinal a lot due to their fast paced hits.
5. Mortal Kombat II
I actually was lucky enough to own MK2 on SNES which was superior to the Genesis version. I remember our landlord’s son coming over and performing all these babalities and fatalities and I was so jealous. We still didn’t have a computer or internet yet (it was still dial-up back then) and I wanted to pull these moves off so badly. I do remember playing MK2 more than I ever did the first game which is saying something. I think I only ever beat the game once but on the easiest setting.
1996 – GameBoy
I honestly don’t remember having my original GameBoy for long. I got it for my birthday and got Tetris with it and the only other game I bought for it was Galaga. That’s really all I can say about this console. It was my first handheld and games were expensive for it and you couldn’t rent them so it wound up in the toy box at some point.
1997 – PlayStation
The following year I received a PS1 2 years later and was glad to have it. Christmas of ’97 was a great year as well and I was so happy to finally get the hip new 32-bit system. The old gray PS1 systems were and eye sore but I got 2 wireless controllers for it! Can you believe that? These weren’t DualShock or Analog controllers, but they worked pretty well. I remember getting my first DualShock controller the following year and it was green! What games did I get? Mortal Kombat 3 and a demo of Crash Bandicoot because my parents got ripped off at the pawn shop they bought it at. The guy sold it for the price of the full game but it was just a demo disc! Can you believe that?
1. Syphon Filter (series)
I played all three Syphon Filter games more than any other game on the PS1. My dad got me into it and it was my first third person action shooter that I can remember playing. The story was great, Gabe was a memorable character, and the level design and shooting was so perfect that it made the game infinitely replayable. I have played this game more than any other game I can remember. While SF3 was okay I didn’t play it as much as the first 2.
2. Silent Hill
I actually only played this on accident. I wanted to rent Syphon Filter and forgot the name of the game. This sounded the same so after popping it in I realized it was the wrong game. I had never played such a scary game in my life before. My sister was sitting there watching me and I remember this scene on the right made me turn the game off and had my mom return it. I have yet to actually beat this game because of how hard the puzzles are.
3. Die Hard Trilogy
This wasnt’ exactly a must play for PS1 but it was a fun trilogy of games. You had a first person light gun shooter, a third person shooter where you climbed floors and killed bad guys, and a driving type game that I didn’t actually play much. It was fun, challenging, and for some reason I spent hours in this game.
4. Final Fantasy VIII
I have yet to beat this game to this day. This was the first FF game I had eve played and I was hooked. It loved the story and characters but I remember how disappointed I was in the graphics after seeing the opening scene and getting let down. I never played any other Final Fantasy game on PS1 and didn’t even know FF7 existed until years later.
5. Gran Turismo
This was the first racing sim I ever played and I was hooked. I spent dozens of hours upgrading and tuning my cars and doing 100 lap races all day to earn big bucks. I remember the graphics were awesome and I couldn’t put the game down. It doesn’t hold up too well today like it’s sequel does, but it’s still a memorable game.
1999 – Nintendo 64
I got my 64 late in the system’s life cycle but my PS1 died a year prior. Christmas of ’99 was memorable thanks to that watermelon N64. I received GoldenEye and Top Gear Rally as my first games. Not exactly memorable since I didn’t quite care for either of those two. I do remember needing a memory pak for my controller and never owning an expansion pak until 2 years later. I played the N64 more than the PS1 since I had it longer, but for some reason I played all the crappy games for it and never any of the super popular ones. Can you believe I never played a Mario or Zelda game on the N64? Shocking I know.
1. Mortal Kombat Trilogy
My Mortal Kombat craze continued on the N64. I know the N64 was inferior to the PS1 version because the bosses and various other things were cut. I spent dozens of hours on this game and played it all the way up to getting my PS2 3 years later. I actually bought it for $20 at Funcoland at one point. I performed every -ality several times and played every character until my thumbs bled.
2. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk was my life and blood back in the day. I didn’t get to play THPS1 too much but I played the second game for hours and hours and perfected all my lines and got 100% in every level. I even unlocked all the characters and wound up using the fun cheats in the end. I actually never owned this until years later for PS1. It was a constant rental and I loved it.
3. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
My dad and I actually went through most of this game with a walkthrough trying to get 100% in every level. The level design was ingenious, the enemies were awesome, and the gun play was tight and fun. I spent a lot of time on this game, but it was early on when I first got my 64. I actually never played any of the other Turok games for N64 after this one.
4. Pokemon Stadium
I was into the cards and the show like you wouldn’t believe. I got into fights at school about ripped of trades and even stole Pokemon cards from fellow students. Pokemon Stadium was the next best thing to the trading cards and was so much fun and addictive for a 10 year old kid. The graphics were awesome and had every 1st generation Pokemon. I actually never got around to the second game, and this was the only Pokemon game I played on N64.
5. Excite Bike 64
I rented this game so many times because it was a fantastic racer. The physics were awesome, the courses were perfectly designed, and it was just so much fun. I remember trying to get 100% in every race and almost succeeded.
2002 – PlayStation 2
I actually babysat my two sisters for an entire summer to earn this bad boy. I had my N64 all the way up to this point and I was watching friends play GTA3, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, SSX, and various other games that I cried over. I remember this being a bad memory due to the fact that my dad thought he was saving $100 when the clerk at Funcoland (year before it was GameStop) told him the price dropped to $200 that summer and he’s only saving $20 for buying a used system. Then he made me buy a PS1 game (Syphon Filter 3) instead of a PS2 game for the same price. Since I was much older I have much fonder memories of my PS2 but I can’t list them all here. I will just put the ones I remembered first and really stuck with me.
1. God of War
This isn’t my first PS2 memory but when I played the demo of the Hydra boss on my OPM (RIP) disc I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I actually ran out that day and bought it at K-Mart with my allowance for $50. I was seeing boobs, fantastic combat, a great story, and a new awesome character right before my eyes. It quickly became one of my favorite game series of all time and still is.
2. Shadow of the Colossus
When I got this for my birthday one year I was so excited. I read all about it in OPM and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It was beautiful, sad, and memorable all at the same time. I beat the game twice and wanted more, but knew it wouldn’t come. SotC is still one of my all time favorite games and anyone who hasn’t played it yet is seriously missing out.
3. Grand Theft Auto III
I actually played this before I got a PS2. My neighbor had it and I remember taking turns just screwing around in the game, I don’t think we actually played any of the missions. I remember trying to get planes to take off, killing hookers, and using the cheats. I still haven’t beaten this game to this day but it brings back fond memories.
4. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
Another game I played before I got my own PS2. I stayed up at a neighbor’s house until 7AM playing this game and we were creating levels, beating each other’s scores, and actually completed the entire game in one night. This was towards the end of my Tony Hawk phase when I was into Tech Decks and real skateboarding. This is one of the best games on the PS2 and is perfect.
Another great birthday gift! It was a great final opus for the PS2 and was so beautiful I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I remember reading about it in OPM all the way to release and just had to have it. I completed the game in 40 hours and remember nearly every bit of it still. It’s one of the PS2’s best games.
2003 – GameBoy Advance SP
I used my Christmas money to get this bad boy. I remember how cool it was to have a flip up handheld! It was so sleek and gorgeous and still is to this day. I got the silver one at KB Toys (RIP) and remember it being the very last one being the day after Christmas. It was buried under a bunch of games. Unfortunately, I didn’t have this thing for very long. I only bought a few games for it. The first ever being Dungeons & Dragons: Eye of the Beholder which I just couldn’t understand. I remember buying Sword of Mana and a Spyro game for it as well as Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. That was about it. I didn’t get a chance to play much on this thing.
2004 – PSP
This was the first console I have ever pre-ordered. I saved up my allowance for 6 months to get this bad boy. I remember feeling like this was the future and I was holding some sort of Tron device. I actually got a system that didn’t have a lot of dead pixels and I got the starter pack with it. These packs run for $400+ on eBay because they stopped being produced about 6 months after the PSP was released. It came with a white leather hand strap, a black soft case, a 32MB memory stick pro duo and a cleaning cloth. I got Ridge Racer with it and spent every night playing it. This was before the PlayStation Network was even a thing, before it had RSS features, before comics, and before games could be run off the memory stick.
There were so many great games for this system, but I actually went through 3 of them. The launch one broke in my pocket during driving school. I ordered a screen for $70 and one of my dad’s co-workers fried the motherboard trying to solder it on. I then saved up for a new starter kit. The third one is the one I currently have which is a PSP-3000 which I got on Christmas of 2010. I also remember slowly upgrading the memory sticks as they came down in price. I went from the 32MB to the 512 which was a big deal. It cost me $70. Then the 1GB was acquired for about the same price the following year. I then went to 2GB, 4, then finally 8 which I have now.
1. Ridge Racer
This was my first PSP game I played and it still holds up to this day as one of the best Ridge Racer games. It was fast, looked amazing on the PSP’s LCD screen, and I actually unlocked everything in the game and got 100%. Anyone who owns a PSP and hasn’t played this is missing out on one of the best racers on PSP.
2. God of War: Chains of Olympus
While Ghost of Sparta was better I was stunned to see this game on the PSP. It looked like a PS2 game and ran like a dream. I played the demo a good 5 times and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the full game. I actually have beaten it a good 3-4 times and couldn’t get enough. The controls were smooth, the animation was great and the whole game was just an impressive game on the PSP.
3. DJ Max Portable (Series)
DJ Max is the best rhythm game series on PSP and I enjoyed every single one of them. While they are popular in Korea, Pentavision included English menus on every release. The lesser known Black Square and Clazziquai editions are fun as well featuring popular Korean pop artists. DJ Max Portable 3 was actually the first real release in the US and was just as fantastic. The games were fast paced, the songs were catchy and memorable, and there was a lot to unlock.
4. Pangya: Fantasy Golf
I spent so many hours on this game. It was the only real good golf game besides Hot Shots but I felt it was better. It was a popular MMO in Korea and reaching state side was a shock. Nonetheless it had a cute story and characters and some seriously awesome golf.
5. Coded Arms
Coded Arms was memorable because of how disappointed I was in it. It was the first FPS on PSP and got everything wrong. It had horrible controls and was just down right boring not fun. I wasted $40 on it thinking it was going to be good anyway. Sure it looked great on the system but that’s about it. It spawned a sequel years later on PS3 and PSP that was just as bad if not worse.
2006 – Nintendo DS
The DS was a great system. I actually picked one up with my allowance on eBay for $100. It was the original fat DS and was the Mario Red one and was a great system. This was before the Nintendo eShop and all those fancy features the DSi had. I never actually had the DS for that long and didn’t start playing it again until I owned a 3DS much later. While the DS started off slow it turned out to have an awesome library of games towards the end of its life cycle.
1. Metroid Prime: Hunters
This was the first DS game I had ever played and I wasn’t so sure I liked it. I had never really played a 3D Metroid before and the constant backtracking and lack of direction made me quickly trade the game in. I do remember how great the game looked and playing an FPS on the DS was pretty fun. Maybe one day I will go back and finish it.
2. Trauma Center: Under the Knife
Trauma Center was the first game I played that really showed me just how unique the DS touch screen could be. Not only that but you could perform surgery! It was so cool and got ridiculously hard towards the end of the game and I never actually beat it. I loved the characters and story and I played many of the sequels later on.
3. The World Ends With You
What got me to play this was knowing the Kingdom Hearts team was behind it. While the combat was cumbersome on two screen it had a unique story and some pretty interesting characters. I remember blowing through the game but having a satisfying feeling at the end of it.
4. Kirby: Canvas Curse
This was actually the first Kirby game I had ever played. I remember how fun it was to draw the rainbows all over the place and the gameplay was fairly unique. It was a great rental, but I never got around to finishing it. It was a bit on the easy side, as are all Kirby games, but it helped push the DS into the creative side and showed users how great the touch screen is.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Phantom Hourglass was the first game I played that used every single feature on the DS, even the sleep mode! Closing the screen to copy the map made my eyes light up, and this was the first Zelda game I ever beat. The graphics were charming, the gameplay was great, and the story was actually interesting. It stands as the best portable Zelda game of its time.
2006 – Xbox 360
Christmas of 2006 was glorious because I could finally start playing the next generation! I remember knowing I already had an Xbox 360 and spent my birthday money on games for it ahead of time. I got Gears of War, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, and rented Condemned: Criminal Origins for it ahead of time. The Xbox 360 actually got a RROD twice but was easily fixed and replaced. I currently have my 3rd 360 which is the Slim model.
1. Gears of War
This was the first 360 game I ever played and it changed the way I thought about games. I was so shocked and awed by the visuals and the fast paced and snappy gameplay that I beat the game on the first day. It was my favorite game for the system for the longest time and I actually beat it 4 times, once on PC. Gears of War showed everyone what the next-generation could do and helped boost the Xbox 360 as the dominant console for the longest time.
2. Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
This was another game that completely shocked me graphics wise. The gameplay was so perfect, this was a great Ghost Recon reboot and is still the best one to this day. I beat the game 3 times and couldn’t get enough of the amazing tactical yet fast paced gameplay. Anyone who missed out on this gem should go back and play it.
3. Condemned: Criminal Origins
The third game I actually played on 360. I actually followed this game all the way up to release and is still one of the best 360 games ever made. The game was actually scary and put you on the edge of your seat. The atmosphere was palpable and you inched around every corner waiting for some hobo to sneak up on you. The melee combat was fun, engaging, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Beating it twice helped satiate that craving.
The fourth game I ever played on the 360. It just seemed I actually got the good ones! Prey wasn’t as popular as the other 360 games but it was a classic gem. The campaign was perfectly paced and the gun play was just awesome and fun. I beat the game a good 3 times before finally deciding to move on. The multiplayer wasn’t anything special, but that’s all right.
5. Assassin’s Creed
This was a game I played much later in the 360’s life cycle but I was shocked yet again. The graphics were stunning and still hold up to this day. While the gameplay was repetitive it had a unique atmosphere and went on to be one of this generation’s top franchises.
2007 – Wii
The Wii was probably one of Nintendo’s worst consoles. The motion control based gaming was really shaky and not many developers took advantage of it. The Wii had more shovelware than any other console I can remember. I went out and bought one 6 months after release using money from my first job. By the time I sold it in 2009 I owned only 8 games for it. It had a better library towards the end of its life cycle but the system struggled in keeping steady quality game releases. It may have sold more units than the PS3 or 360 but it sure doesn’t have as strong of a library.
1. Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
Even though I had already played this twice on PS2 it was even better on Wii. The motion controls is exactly what the game needed and this became the best version. The graphics were sharper and the controls were just much better, not to mention new content was added. I actually never got around to beating the game on Wii but it was still one of my first games for it.
2. WarioWare: Smooth Moves
Good ‘ol WarioWare! It was one of the most fun games on Wii and was one of the few that used the Wiimote in a unique way. I played through the whole game several times and my friends and family got a kick out of it. This is probably the best WarioWare game ever made.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess was one of the first Wii games I ever played and I remember how horrible the graphics were even for the Wii. They looked so ugly and muddy and I remember how long and dragged out the game was and how forgettable it was. I wasn’t a big fan of Twilight Princess but I did enjoy it some.
4. No More Heroes
One of the only mature rated games on Wii. It was stylish and so much fun to just swing the Wiimote around! I never got around to the second game (it came out after I sold my Wii) but No More Heroes was one of the best games on the system even if it was repetitive.
5. Super Mario Galaxy
One of my finer Wii moments. The game was actually fascinating to play and the graphics were so good for the Wii. The gameplay was unique and fun and this Mario reboot was so memorable I actually beat it twice. If only other Wii games were the quality of SMG…it’s still one of the top 5 Wii games out there.
2009 – PlayStation 3
I received my PS3 on Christmas from my lovely girlfriend (whom I am still with). What caused me to wait so long was for a big price cut and an increase in games. I thought I’d put the current gen consoles since they are pretty much done and would be appropriate to put games down. I actually never got the fat PS3 but the Slim model. I really wish Sony would have kept the PS2 emulator in the PS3 and the memory card reader. However, I have had no issues with my Slim PS3 like I did the Xbox 360 which is a good sign.
1. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
One of the first PS3 games I played. The graphics were fantastic and the story was really memorable. The cut scenes were a little too long with some running at nearly 45 minutes, but it was really enjoyable. I remember seeing this game being shown off during E3 of 2005 and how amazing the graphics were.
2. Heavenly Sword
This is actually the first PS3 game I ever played. It’s beautiful, graceful, and didn’t get the attention it deserved. I actually wish to go back and replay this one day. I also am bummed there was never any sequel. I loved the combat and despite being short it had some great moments. It really helped show how much more powerful the PS3 is over the 360.
Another PS3 first. I only remember it due to how slow and shallow the whole game was. I was so excited for this game when it came out and played it anyway despite the so-so reviews. It looked great but had a plodding story and combat that made your hands go numb.
While I played this later on in the life cycle it was more memorable than most of the PS3 library. It was only an hour long but it was a magical hour. I as mesmerized by the fantastic visuals eye candy and the touching story. Games like this can only be found on Sony consoles for a reason. You won’t see it on a Nintendo or Microsoft console ever.
5. The Last of Us
While the was played just a couple of weeks ago it was truly memorable. The graphics look almost next-gen and the story between Joel and Ellie is something you won’t forget. Sure the combat is repetitive and needs a little work, but it was fun and tense. It helped give the PS3 that extra 1UP that the Xbox 360 and Wii just didn’t have.
2011 – 3DS
I was such a hater for the 3DS up to its release. My girlfriend got me one for Christmas and I instantly loved it. I can’t really put any games here because the 3DS is still alive and kicking and isn’t dead yet. I actually received the Zelda 3DS which looks amazing and I still have it and play it to this day. While the 3D effects aren’t amazing in every game it’s one of the most innovative things Nintendo has done in a long time.
2012 – PlayStation Vita
The Vita is too new to start putting memories up here but it’s not growing into a great system. There are quite a few awesome games for the Vita and if it continues this way it will soon be as great as the PSP. I do have one fond memory of this system; I got it 2 days before I had to have emergency surgery for an appendectomy. I was so sick that I couldn’t play it for 2 weeks which sucked. I only had Rayman Origins for the longest time (about 2-3 months) but I now have a pretty large Vita library.
2013 – Wii U
My latest and most questionable console. It was an impulse buy from my girlfriend despite my hate for the console and we both kind of regret getting it. It was fun when I first got it, but now it’s just collecting dust with the slow trickle of decent games coming out. Will it suffer the same fate as the Wii or worse? We won’t know for a couple more years. I do wish for the console to do well, but third party developers need to step up their game or we’ll have a Mario and Zelda machine on our hands.
That’s that! While the nostalgia stops after the PS2 era, I will probably have great memories in another 10 years about the current gen consoles and beyond. They just aren’t old enough yet to give you that warm fuzzy feeling and make you pop in an old disc just to remember some locked away thoughts. Thank you for coming with me on this trip down memory lane and I hope it brought back some memories of your own.