Everyone has their first memory with a video game. They also have memories of their first games with each console, usually, and the whole experience of a new console and game is usually quite magical. Discovering a whole new world on new technology isn’t something you forget. In my 27 years of video game experience I had quite a few of these memories and hopefully they won’t slow down any time soon. I’m going to take you on a trip down memory lane from my first experience all the way to my last memorable magical memory and hopefully it will get your traveling down your own memories and nostalgia train,
Sega Genesis – My very first video game memory was Mortal Kombat for the Sega Genesis. I was around three, maybe four years old, and I remember watching my cousin pull off Scorpion’s fatality. I remember the whole thing from the screen going dark to Scorpion pulling off his mask and seeing that bare skull. It was what got me into video games and I realized it was something different over TV as I could do these things in game. Mortal Kombat quickly became my favorite video game of all time and still is to this day.
After I got my own Genesis for Christmas that year I received Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with the system. I also remember my Genesis was problematic and kept freezing during gameplay no matter what my mom did. The old ISA and Q-Tip trick in both the cartridge and slot didn’t work. Different power source, etc. I remember taking it back to Circuit City with her and exchanging it for a new one and that worked perfectly. My Genesis time was limited, as were all my early consoles, as I didn’t get any games hardly ever after the initial console purchase as most were just rentals. Some other game memories were Ecco the Dolphin, Sword of Sodan, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Gynoug, Vectroman, Aladdin, The Lion King, and there were more I just don’t remember them as much.
I also remember getting The Sega Channel. My mom surprised me with it one day and I remember thanking her for all the new games, but she explained to me that it was from the cable company and they updated weekly. I remember when the games would refresh I would keep thanking her for the games. It was short lived as my parents couldn’t afford it for very long.
Super Nintendo – The first game I remember playing was Mortal Kombat as I didn’t have my Genesis anymore. It most likely got pawned to pay bills or broke, I honestly can’t remember. I also had Math Blaster and Stun Race FX with the system, it was used unlike my new Genesis two years prior, and I remember how disappointing Mortal Kombat was. I realized the game was censored, there was no blood code, no fatalities, but I played it to death anyways. That Christmas was magical for me and Math Blaster was also a lot of fun, and I remember Stunt Race FX being incredibly difficult.
Some other memories on the system were Mortal Kombat II, Mortal Kombat 3, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Gargoyles, Boogerman, Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage, Super Mario World. I had this SNES until I traded it with a neighbor for a few PS1 games. Big mistake.
PlayStation – This was the first time I got so excited I couldn’t contain it. My parents bought one used from a pawn shop and it came with a Crash Bandicoot demo disc. They also picked up Mortal Kombat 3. This was one of the best times I had with a system, but sadly I didn’t get to play it more than year before my youngest sister ruined it by putting food inside of it. This was my first 3D game console and I was blown away by the visuals and what the system could do. I even remember trying to burn game rentals and not knowing why it didn’t work.
Some of my fondest memories are Syphon Filter. This was one of the first game I bonded over with my dad. We memorized every level, weapon and enemy placement, and learned to finish the entire game without getting caught in the stealth levels. Same went for Syphon Filter 2. I also had fond memories of Silent Hill. I remember I was trying to rent Syphon Filter a second time and forgot the name and picked up Silent Hill on accident. When my sister and I got to the alley with the skinless dogs we screamed and my mom sent the game back. Spyro 1 and 2 were also huge frequent repeats in the family as well as Crash 1 and 2. I also remember my only brand new PS1 gaming being Mortal Kombat 4 that was picked up at Wal-Mart one day. My first Final Fantasy experience was FF8 and I could never get past the second disc. Gran Turismo also got me into racing simulators and was another game I bonded over with my dad frequently.
Nintendo 64 – I got my first Watermelon Nintendo 64 used from a pawn shop in Christmas of ’99. This was the only system I played the very little games on due to the sheer expense of them even used. My parents picked up Goldeneye: 007 and Top Gear Rally with the system. This was something I wasn’t too excited over. I didn’t have an expansion pack, no memory card, and no second controller. I had never played a first-person shooter before so I was confused on how the game was actually played. Top Gear was fun for awhile, but I picked up Mortal Kombat Trilogy used for $20 somewhere and played the hell out of this game. I also remember Conker’s Bad Fur Day that was quickly returned back to Blockbuster. I also played Glover and Paper Mario quite a bit on here. The only other three games I owned were thanks to a $45 gift card to Funcoland form my grandma the following Christmas. I picked up Quake II, 1080 Snowboarding, and Pokemon Stadium. Stadium was played and rented a lot before and so was Winback.
I didn’t spend too much time with my N64. I had it until the mid-2000’s, but never used it after I got my PS2 in the fall of 2002. It was a great system and for some reason I completely missed most of the popular Mario games and never played a single Zelda game on it.
PlayStation 2 – I had seen the system in action at a friend’s house before, but before that was another younger neighbor. I still had my old N64 and I remember he had Silent Hill 2 and Grand Theft Auto III. I was so jealous and mad. The games looked unreal, incredible, and life-like. I had to have one. I did eventually get to play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 at a friend’s house frequently. I got my PS2 for babysitting my sisters for a whole summer. Fall of 2002 and the system just dropped down to $200. I remember fighting with my dad as he wanted to get one used, but they were only $179 and it wasn’t worth it. He insisted and also wouldn’t let me get a PS2 game. We walked out with a used PS2 $20 cheaper than a new one and Syphon Filter 3 – a PS1 game. I was so mad when I got home, but a neighbor let me borrow Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3.
This is the system I played for the next four years until I got an Xbox 360. I played so many games on this system. My fondest memories were Shadow of the Colossus, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Call of Duty: Finest Hour, Killzone, Jak II, Ratchet & Clank, Bully, Kingdom Hearts, Okami, and many more. I also pre-ordered my first game, Mortal Kombat: Deception, in 2004. I had never been that excited for a game in ages. I also remember playing my first online game. I picked up a PS2 keyboard and network adapter at Best Buy on sale. SOCOM was incredibly addictive and I put dozens of hours into that game. I remember buying it from a school mate for $10.
I did eventually get the fatal disc read error and wound up getting a Slim PS2 a couple years later. I remember being devastated when the system wouldn’t read blue discs and then wouldn’t read anything after that. I didn’t know what to do. We then went to Comp USA and picked up a Slim PS2 for $100 just a few months after it was released. This was also around the time I was heavily reading video game magazines and wanted to play Final Fantasy XI really badly, but the HDD add-on was expensive, and my parents wouldn’t pay the $15 a month for the subscription, and the
GameBoy Advance – I got my first SP during Christmas 2003, the 26th to be precise. My dad gave us $100 each for shopping money and I went to a local KB Toys (RIP) and inside a display case with tons of crap at the bottom was the last SP. A silver one. I slapped down the money and went over to GameStop and picked up the cheapest GBA game I could as I already spent my money: Dungeons & Dragons: Eye of the Beholder. Holy crap was that a mistake. I was stuck with this game for some time until I bought Sword of Mana brand new as well as Spyro: Season of Flame and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. I didn’t like these games all that much, Spyro and Sword of Mana were okay, but my GBA experience was very much mixed. I couldn’t rent GBA games so I was stuck buying them and they were always very expensive. I then sold it to a school mate for $200 and then turned around and bought the Flame Red one that I actually wanted a couple of months later.
PSP – Man was this the most exciting thing ever. This is the first and only video game system I ever pre-ordered. I saved up my allowance for 6 months to pick this baby up. I remember making wallpapers, watching videos, and inhaling every morsel of information leading up to release. I remember not being able to sleep the previous night before the launch day. I also remember being short one whole cent after taxes and instead of running out to my mom (I was 15 at the time) a nice person in line tossed me the penny. I remember picking up that black and white box and just being in pure awe at how futuristic the system looked. Ridge Racer was the game I picked up with the system and it looked so much like the future. That much power in the palm of your hands was fascinating and amazing. I also hacked the thing that week and kept up on the hacking scene ever since.
I don’t have that PSP anymore though. Sadly, the morning I went to my first driving school lesson later that year I put the thing in my front pocket and the jeans stretched too tight and cracked the screen. I was devastated. I did eventually get a new one a few months later, but I also don’t have that system either. I currently have a PSP-3000 which I received from my fiance for Christmas of 2009 and I also have a white PSP-GO. It’s still my favorite handheld system to this date.
Some notable game memories was God of War: Chains of Olympus. A full console God of War experience on the go was just mind-blowing. It was also the only other PSP game I pre-ordered outside of Ridge Racer. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII really showed how much power the system had as well and was an amazing experience. Mortal Kombat Unchained was also great, albeit a flawed and rushed port, Burnout Legends showed just how beautiful the LCD screen looked with high framerate games. Coded Arms was also a lot of fun despite how basic the game is. Playing a first-person shooter on a handheld was both fun and challenging due to the controls. But the best thing I remember is Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror. If you remember I played the crap out of that game on PS1 and I loved this game so much I even wrote my own walkthrough for it and its sequel. It was the first game to show that a shooter can work with the limited controls. I also remember being blown away by Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories despite the game’s many flaws.
Other games of note: Jeanne D’Arc, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, MotorStorm: Arctic Edge, Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops, Gran Turismo, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.
Nintendo DS – A year later I picked up a used red DS on eBay and bought Metroid Prime Hunters. I was a little underwhelmed with this system and later gave up on it until the DSi XL came a couple of years later. I didn’t really get into the DS until much later after I started collecting for the system full-time. The library is vast and underrated and I love it. I got into the DS library after the 3DS was released, but to date I only have a white DSi. I didn’t have too many memories with this system as I rented and bought very few games for it.
Xbox 360 – This was probably the most exciting system I had ever received as a gift, and it was also the last from my parents. I was 16 at the time and I remember knowing I had the system by weighing and measuring the box. I then took my birthday money and bought Gears of War and Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. I remember being so excited and losing sleep leading up to Christmas morning. I received Prey with the system and I also had GameFly send me Condemned: Criminal Origins before hand. I was prepared. It was the first introduction to true next-generation gaming as I didn’t have a gaming PC yet. Gears of War remains one of my favorite and most memorable moments in my whole life. I have played that game over half a dozen times since. It was so polished, and was nearly revolutionary for the third-person shooter genre. I had a lot of fun with the Xbox 360 up until I got a PS3 four years later.
Some other memorable gaming moments was Condemned. I remember watching the reveal gameplay at E3 the previous year and was just taken aback. It was scary, dark, and well polished and looked next-gen. Ghost Recon was also a fantastic reboots and remains my favorite game in the series. I also did my first midnight launch for a game which was for Gears of War 2.
Oblivion was also the first action-RPG I ever played at that scale and sucked me into the series. It was also the first time I did a 12 hour gaming marathon. Guitar Hero II was also at the top of my list for memorable moments as well as Halo 3, Red Dead Redemption, and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2. Those games were fantastic and helped get me further into online multiplayer games. Assassin’s Creed and Borderlands were memorable moments for me, especially Assassin’s Creed II. Fallout 3 was one of the few games I spent almost 100 ours on with an Xbox 360 as well. Batman: Arkham Asylum was also very notable. BioShock would be in my top 5 most memorable gaming moments of all time. That intro is still one of the best in any game period.
Nintendo Wii – This was a magical moment for sure. I was super skeptical with this system and it took me almost a year before buying one. I remember having fun with the system at first and quickly lost interest and got rid of it a year or two later. The most fun I had was Twilight Princess, Resident Evil 4, and Link’s Crossbow Training. I remember WarioWare: Smooth Moves really showed off what the motion controls could do and I had a blast with a few WiiWare games like World of Goo. The light gun games were a hit with me such as Medal of Honor Heroes 2, Ghost Squad, and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. By far the most memorable game for me was No More Heroes. It was one of the few ultra-violent games on the Wii and was a blast to play through.
I remember eventually buying rechargeable battery packs and thinking the online component was sub-part to the Xbox 360. The Wii was never my main system, and after about 6 months I lost faith due the sheer amount of shovelware on the system.
First Gaming Laptop – This was one of the major exciting turning points in my gaming life. For the longest time my family only had a PC purchased in 1998. It was a business/graphical artist PC that was a little underwhelming even for its time. It was used all the way until 2005 when it died for good. It could only play DOS games and when PC gaming really took off into 3D in the early 2000’s my PC was left in the dust. I had to play Unreal Tournament in a 320×240 window to get 60FPS.
I finally purchased an Alienware M17x-R2 with a second generation dual-core Intel i5 CPU and an ATI Radeon HD 5870 and 4GB of RAM. This was also underwhelming even for its time and I mostly screwed myself by not getting a quad-core CPU. The dual-core bottlenecked my GPU like crazy and was already obsolete at purchase. It was a fine laptop, never had any hardware issues for the 8 years I did use it, but it wasn’t upgradeable and it struggled to play DirectX 11 games such as The Witcher 2, Batman: Arkham City, Tomb Raider, and various other games just a couple short years after I got it. It was still exciting though and it allowed me to enjoy the massive backlog I otherwise was unable to play.
PS3 – I received this as a Christmas gift from my fiance and it wound up becoming my main system. By this time the PS3 was knocking it out of the park with exclusives and the Xbox 360 was winding down in that department. I remember picking up Killzone 2, Heavenly Sword, and receiving Metal Gear Solid 4 from my parents that year. While these games were older, they still blew me away and looked miles better than any Xbox 360 launch title. Uncharted was also fun, while not the best in the series, helped me admire the series as a whole.
I mostly played games on that system from then on out. Other great moments was Gran Turismo 5, Killzone 3, Uncharted 2 and 3, Journey, and Mortal Kombat. Oh man, I hadn’t been that excited for an MK game since Deception six years prior. I pre-ordered the collector’s edition and played the hell out of the demo. God of War III was also a game that blew my mind. 60 FPS and it just looked so amazing. That was another midnight launch I attended.
PS Vita – This wasn’t a pre-order as I wasn’t sure how the system was going to be received. After a lot of positive reception and a decent launch line-up I picked one up two days after launch with a 4GB memory card and Rayman Origins. The system was very familiar thanks to the PSP, but not as magical or exciting. The rear touchpad was a hindrance for the system and despite a huge power increase the system was rarely taken advantage in this department outside of PS3 ports.
The system’s library waned and only had a strong two years and minimal first party releases. I remember played Uncharted and Killzone Mercenary and being blown away by the system’s ability to bring console games into handheld form. There weren’t too many games that amazed me, but I still had a lot of fun with it. The many HD ports from the PS3 were a welcome addition despite some framerate issues. Tearaway was one of the only games that made the Vita feel magical, and the Mortal Kombat port was solid despite being and ugly downgrade visually. It was the only Vita game I actually ever pre-ordered.
Nintendo 3DS – I was super skeptical about the 3DS, but after tons of amazing games and the quality surpassing the Vita, my fiance got me one during Christmas of that year. The Zelda: Ocarina of Time system to be exact. I remember the 3D effects were actually quite good and they didn’t make me sick, but in the end most games didn’t use this very well. I had Dead or Alive Dimensions, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, and Zelda: Ocarina of Time. These games were a lot of fun and I had a blast with the system early on.
I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with the 3DS until I got the 3DS XL a few years later and then the 2DS XL. There were so many fun games such as Monster Hunter, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Golf, Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Super Smash Bros., Xenoblade Chronicles 3D.
Nintendo Wii U – This was actually only purchased because of a shopping spree I did at Fry’s Electronics. I was never interested in the Wii U and would never have purchased one otherwise. I picked up the 32GB model with Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Injustice, LEGO City: Undercover, Mario Party 9 and New Super Mario Bros. U. I had a blast with the system at first. Call of Duty felt good and looked great. Injustice was fine and I remember Mario Bros. U was a pain the butt and difficult to play. The gamepad is something I never quite cared for. It was big and bulky and my hands constantly cramped when using it as a standard controller.
Surprisingly, the most enjoyable game was LEGO City. I should have bought a Wii U Pro Controller and never did, but I did have some fun in Nintendo Land with my fiance and sister. After the first couple of weeks with the system I was over it. My fiance picked up Mario Kart 8 at one point and that was about it. I sold it off to pay some debt and this was before Bayonetta 2, The Wonderful 101, and many other end of life Wii U favorites hit the system. I hated the small hard drive space and the price was absurd. I also was sick of all the crappy ports the system had. I used it for more Wii games I think than Wii U. It’s actually the only system I have no desire to repurchase since all games have been ported to Switch.
PS4 – This was something my fiance surprised me with. I was just about to leave for work in the Summer of 2015 and she came over one day with the system in hand. It was such a huge surprise and my fondest memory was coming home from a 14 hour shift from work where I was sent afar to help a team in the same company with an event. It was incredibly hot that day and I ordered a pizza as we could get two meals comped from the company (refunded) by keeping the receipts. I sat back and played Killzone: Shadow Fall that day and it was peaceful and relaxing. I was exhausted, but it was my first weekend with the system.
I later got a PS4 Pro shortly after God of War released and continue to play the PS4 actively to this day. Many other fond memories are Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy, The Last Guardian, Shadow of the Colossus, Mortal Kombat X.
Xbox One – Again, my fiance surprised me with this one as well. I was still on the fence about an Xbox One. It was sitting on the coffee table when I got home from work one night and it came with The Master Chief Collection. I remember spending many weekends on that system, but the PS4 was still my main console until I required a One X, so now the One X is my main system for multi-platform games that don’t end up on PC, and these days, there aren’t many anymore. I love the One X and the original system as well. I also had a One S for a brief period of time. I remember playing Gears of War 4, Halo 5, and one of the most memorable games on that system: Forza Motorsport 5 and 6.
Nintendo Switch – The Switch was a system I was sure was going to fail. I remember the system launching at the beginning of the year, which was odd, and completely missing the 2016 holiday lineup. When I did pick one up during Christmas of that year several months allowed for a large amount of games to show up, but my fondest memory of the system is with Super Mario Odyssey. It made me feel like a kid again experience a revolutionary Mario game. The game was perfect in every way reminded me of how I felt when I first played Mario Galaxy. While I still actively play the Switch today, I collect for it quite a bit as it’s become a very collectable console. With publishers like Limited Run Games, and ones like it, as well as many third part publishers backing the system, this may be Nintendo’s most successful console yet.
Those are just some memories I have had during my first console experiences. With the PS5 and Xbox Series X out now, and impossible to obtain, I’m sure my memories with my PS5 will be quite enjoyable and memorable. I will most likely skip the Series X as I know mostly game on PC these days. It’s sad that dedicated handhelds are gone, but who knows what video games will bring in the next 5 to 10 years.