For this Summer article, I wanted to share some of my gaming memories during Summer breaks. This ended up being a bit tougher than I expected. Since a very young age, I haven’t really been on a Summer holiday due to work or study commitments. So I don’t really have a lot of ‘by the pool’ like stories at some fancy resort. But, it was still interesting revisiting some of these old memories. Please enjoy and thank you for reading.
One of my earliest Summer gaming memories was Wonder Boy on the Game Gear. I and my brothers would often play this in the car as we were travelling to our holiday destination. Usually a campsite. Now if you remember the Game Gear you may recall its awful drain on batteries. Required six AA batteries which seemed to last only around 3 hours. My parents got so frustrated with this that they opted for rechargeable batteries which didn’t seem to last long either. Still, Wonder Boy was awesome. A conversion of the arcade game in portable form, you run around levels flinging your hammer at enemies whilst avoiding a nasty one-hit death. Hard as nails, but if it’s the only video game at your disposal you sure as heck make the most of it and that we did. It was at this stage in my life and probably while playing this game that I sadly discovered I couldn’t play portable games in the car as they gave me motion sickness. So Wonder Boy would end my time of playing games whilst travelling as a car passenger. Strangely I was fine on boats, trains and planes.
Holiday with Arcade and SNES
Most Summers when I was younger would be spent with my grandparents on the Isle of Wight. A lovely island in the South of England that would become a much anticipated annual Summer holiday. Living on the South coast of the island I got my first taste of arcade games at the beachside amusements. Discovering classics such as the arcade version of Sonic the Hedgehog, Mortal Kombat and so many more. My grandmother often gave me a bag of 2p coins to use on those coin pusher machines but sometimes I would exchange these to play on the arcade cabinets much to the dismay of the fella in charge of exchanging many 2p coins for 20p ones.
Often I just enjoyed watching other people play the games since I was very young. I didn’t really understand gaming mechanics well at this stage. Some years my grandparents would rent me and my brothers a Super Nintendo console from a local rental store. This was a pretty big deal for us since our only other console experience was with the Sega Mega Drive.
It was like crossing over to the opposing side of the console war. Thanks to my grandparents we were able to enjoy a variety of titles including some niche ones for me like Ghoul Patrol a sequel to the famous Zombies ate my Neighbors (or just Zombies in the UK), The Itchy and Scratchy game and probably my favourite Earth Worm Jim 2. A lot of these games are not remembered fondly now but back when I was a youngling I wasn’t complaining.
Summer Job and the Xbox
University was not cheap so to help pay for the experience my older brother and I would take on a Summer job. We both worked at a private golf course where we would wake up at silly O’clock in order to maintain the course and sandtraps before the dreaded golf club members graced us with their rather grumpy presence. It was on this job I soon learned that wealth clearly doesn’t bring happiness. But back to video games. For six to eight weeks, seven days a week my brother and I woke up, did the job and came home around lunchtime.
After a nap, we would usually indulge in some co-op gaming. My brother didn’t play a lot of video games other than football titles, which I secretly despised but played to make him happy. Every now and then he would surprise me. The two notable games he loved were the original Halo and Baldurs Gate Dark Alliance 1 & 2. The latter was a particular surprise as he never showed any interest in RPGs.
This is probably where my love for dungeon crawlers originated. We played silly amounts of Dark Alliance 1 & 2 and even on completion we would run through again on a new game plus on a harder setting just because. Halo we would even end up completing on Legendary difficulty in co-op and for many years we would still play through the game when we reconnected on holiday breaks. These times have now sadly passed but when I look at these games, it still reminds me of the fond memories of my brother and our time at that work together.
Conventions and Street Pass – 3DS
Summer was also a time to indulge in some conventions. I often went to these with my girlfriend (now upgraded to wife). We would attend comic cons and gaming conventions and spend many hours queuing for things and attempting to find somewhere less expensive to eat than the convention itself. Turns out bringing your packed lunch was the best idea.
When it comes to gaming I had fun experiencing various games for the first time. It was through conventions that I would demo games like Portal 2 on Xbox 360, Tearaway on PS Vita and even try Warframe before it became hugely popular as it is today. But my favourite memory of conventions by far is packing my 3DS in my bag and grabbing all those Streetpasses.
For those new to this, it is where you leave your system in standby mode and walk past someone with a 3DS and you share avatars and usually a nice message. By doing this you could also collect puzzle pieces and even in-game items for some titles on the system. The only trouble is, to begin with, you could only grab 10 street passes at a time. So I was often pulling out the system regularly to collect and accept each StreetPass, which took such a long time.
The battery on the 3DS also sucked. Tedious, but I still did it because it was a neat feature that is sadly absent from the Switch. Eventually, Nintendo would update StreetPass to accept more avatars and just move a lot faster but by this stage, fewer and fewer people were carrying 3DS consoles to conventions. At the last convention, I went to some time ago, I only got a single StreetPass which was kinda sweet but also sad. Times have moved on but the memories remain.
Thank you for reading and be sure to share your Summer gaming memories in the comments below.