It’s no secret that as we age our interests and tastes tend to change as we get older. Your fashion sense changes, the days of 90s leather and sunglasses’ are now exchanged for jeans and a shirt. Those sweeties you liked as a kid like Chewits, no longer seem to interest you instead you opt for a coffee. You boring old goat! Of course, gaming tastes change too. So to answer this question I decided to take you on a journey through some key areas in my life and what games I was into. There were far too many eras to cover and I could have literally turned this topic into a short novel. So for the sake of your sanity (and in a way mine), I’ll take you on a very abridged trip down memory lane.
In the Beginning
Console: Amstrad Computer
Games Tastes: Educational games and watching platformers
I might as well start at the beginning. I think I got into gaming between the ages of 4-6 but as you can imagine my memory isn’t particularly clear for this era. What I do know is my Dad one day brought home an Amstrad computer. This was supposed to be used for work purposes but this unique electronic device also served for other entertainment purposes. My main memories of this era were actually watching games more than playing them.
This included watching my Mother try to totally conquer Rainbow Islands, a classic port of an arcade game that would later down the road become my favourite game of all time. I actually remember her getting very frustrated at the difficulty, what with the game’s one-hit deaths and the rising water if you took too long on a level. I also remember my Dad being very fond of a game called Bad Dudes Vs Dragon Ninja. Another port of a popular arcade game where you run around punching pixelated ninjas and the main character said ‘I’m bad at the end of a level.’ This had one hell of a soundtrack for an Amstrad game and I still kinda hum its addictive opening today. It’s one of the very few video games my Dad was into.
I do have memories of attempting these games myself and just not doing well. I was far too young to understand the goals of the game but I did very much appreciate the spectacle on display and I think I just liked seeing my parents happy for a change. The game I believe I had the most fun with was a title called Fun School which was an educational title designed to teach young people basic math’s skills. You played various mini-games like a train collecting passengers from a platform and you had to solve some basic math’s puzzles. My origins were certainly with the least popular microcomputer on the market but my interests would really explode when a certain Sega console entered our home.
Enter the Sega
Console: Sega Mega Drive
Game Taste: Mostly platformers and action games
After collecting lots of tokens from a petrol station my Dad was able to buy the family a Sega Mega Drive. The console didn’t actually enter our home until sometime after the launch of the system. So when we did get it he also brought home a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog. The Mega Drive is probably the console that defined my gaming childhood.
We didn’t have many games as we mostly rented or I borrowed games from friends at school. The biggest titles for me were games like Streets of Rage 2 which I played to death with my older brother. This also acted as one of my favourite early co-op experiences. Rocket Knight Adventures, a brilliant platformer from Konami where you play as a mouse Knight in rocket-powered armour (I still love this game today). I also loved Castlevania The New Generation (or Bloodlines in America).
Sure our British release censored some of the gore but I received this as a Birthday present and it was one of the only games brought just for me and I was smitten with the early horror design. As a younger person, I was huge into monster stories, so this was right up my alley. What may surprise you, is while I did enjoy the Sonic games I wasn’t as taken with them as the other games mentioned. I actually developed a deeper appreciation for the original Sonic game as I grew older.
The Mega Drive would also be the console that would begin my interest in retro gaming. While my brothers moved onto Playstation, I was basically given the Mega Drive and I kinda adopted it as my own system. So I just stuck with this system long into the Playstation generation. I used to go to a weekly market with my Grandfather with my long saved up pocket money to pick up old used Mega Drive games.
Here I would discover classics like Soliel (Crusader of Centy in America) a Zelda like game that taught me empathy towards my enemies. I also got into retro collections like Williams Arcade Greatest Hits which included classic Midway games like Defender, Sinistar and Joust. Carts like this would start a long affair I developed for the arcade classics I never got to experience first hand at the arcade. It took a very long time before I would adapt to the 3D realm. I was a rather stubborn youngster.
General Tastes: Martial Arts and Pub Quizzes
Now I’m going to fast forward. When I was in sixth form preparing to go to University I actually started to lose interest in gaming. Maybe it was puberty and hormones, but I was much more interested in other things so I took what was probably around a 3-year break from video gaming. During this era I got more invested in other hobbies like Martial Arts, going to pub quizzes with friends and getting into various charity roles. It’s a break that felt necessary for the purposes of growing up. But midway through University, the interest in the hobby came roaring back.
Console: PS2 and Xbox
General Tastes: Action, Adventure and Puzzle Games
Although I wasn’t gaming I still held onto my old systems. One Summer I met back up with some old school friends and one had an original Xbox. The original Xbox 1 if you will. There were four of us so I brought over two of my old controllers and some games I had which had four-player modes and we had some good old wholesome gaming fun.
The two biggest hits were Super Monkey Ball Deluxe and Conflict Global Storm. Super Monkey Ball Deluxe was a collection of the first two Super Monkey Ball games in one title. In this game, you roll around in a ball navigating tricky platform stages as a cute little monkey. It was a nice blend of arcade puzzle action. What stood out for us was the party mini-games which included; Monkey fight where you roll around small levels bashing opponents with giant boxing gloves. Monkey Target where you fly your monkey to a giant target and land it in the right spot. It’s harder than it sounds and requires a lot of skill to get right.
Then there was also Monkey Bowling, which is a simple but entertaining bowling game. These were simple mini-games suitable for gamers of all skill levels. Conflict Global Storm was a third-person military shooter. Where each player has a specific role like one would be a sniper or a demolition expert. This game had a much higher barrier to entry but me and my friends just sorta learned as we went and had a ton of fun going through challenging tactical levels.
From here my interest in the hobby came roaring back. I still mostly stood a generation behind the rest of the world. But I kinda stayed in the hobby ever since. A lot of this era was playing catch up. Playing Xbox and PS2 titles I missed. I never necessarily stuck to a singular taste, opting to try anything I could find cheap. After all, I was a very poor student.
From Console to Handheld
General Tastes: RPG, Horror, Retro
My last big shift would not be so much game genres but my preference in system. After leaving University and going into work I no longer found a lot of time to enjoy console gaming due to work commitments and the extra learning I was doing. It was also this era where I got heavily into podcasting.
I was commuting by train so I listened to an absurd amount of gaming podcasts which rekindled my gaming interest yet again. It was just hard for me to find time to play things. As luck would have it I stumbled across a used PSP, which I ended up becoming quite taken with. I played a few of the console titles like LocoRoco, an excellent puzzle-like game where you play a big blob and has the best opening song ever. I also enjoyed Half-Minute Hero, an utterly brilliant RPG designed for people like me that could not commit a lot of time to RPGs but still loved the genre. But what I spent most of my time with was actually playing PSone games on the system such as the Resident Evil series and Final Fantasy games. Once again returning to my retro roots. Sometime later I went back to consoles but I have always had a fondness for the handheld ever since this moment.
Back to the Present
I could have gone into much more depth on this topic but I decided to just focus on these particular stories. As of today, my interests vary wildly. I am still mostly warm to anything retro-inspired or arcade in design like Rogue-lite or like games. I love discovering games I did not expect to like through LadiesGamers, which I am grateful gives me the chance to review a variety of different titles.
Your gaming tastes will change throughout your life. Whether you decide to stick with the hobby or step away. Enjoy yourself and if you can, enjoy that hobby with other people. My favourite moment in gaming to this day whether playing alone or multiplayer is sharing the experience with other people.
When I was little playing video games, they kinda acted as this fantasy friend I just couldn’t find at the time. I felt so alone. But somehow this weird pixel fantasy world made me feel good. Whisking me away to far off lands where I could help a hero save the day. I’m lucky these days that I no longer feel this way about life. If you do feel alone just know that life has a funny way of surprising you with those good moments when you least expect it. Thank you for reading.