Have you ever played a game and just sat in absolute awe at something you saw on screen? Has there ever been a video game moment that just stands out in your mind that’s either unforgettable or unbelievable? Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I have seen an amazing evolution in the games and hardware available to home gamers, and as tech got better, so did developers’ imaginations. Over the years, I’ve collected several moments forever embedded in my mind, and here are just a few, ranging from scary to breathtaking to awe-inspiring.
The first of my memorable moments is a scary one… a very scary one. I first purchased the original Resident Evil way back in 1996, took it home, closed all the lights, and started what would later become an iconic adventure. At the time, I heeded no warning that the game was going to freak me out. There were definitely creepy moments at the start, but nothing overly heart-stopping. This, however, all changed in a matter of minutes. Standing at the start of a long dim hallway, with windows on one side and some display cases on another, I knew it was about to get real. Within seconds, a couple of zombie dogs jumped through the windows and attacked me. My heart went berserk as I jumped twenty feet in the air (well maybe not twenty, but you get the point). I was so startled; I could barely kill them before they killed me. In no other part of the game, nor in any other sequel or Resident Evil rip-off since, have I ever reacted in such a way. It’s been twenty years since that night, but it was a moment to remember.
Anyone who has played Zelda: Ocarina of Time knows exactly how beautiful the game really was in its day. Every little detail was breathtaking, and if I weren’t singling out specific instances, I’d say that the entire game was a memorable moment. If I had to pick just one though, it would have to be when Link first takes the Master Sword from the Temple of Time. Examining the sword for a moment, Link moves over and places both hands on the handle. After a short tug, the iconic weapon comes loose from its pedestal and our green-clad hero enters into a whirlwind of light and colour. Emerging as an adult, Link’s adventure was just beginning. I can remember how enthralling it was to travel into the future and marvelled at the changes made to a post-apocalyptic Hyrule. As I finished the game and saw the credits roll by, I realized something often not seen in video games; Miyamoto put his heart and soul into this title. The Time Temple scene was just one of many memorable moments that filled Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a game, which in my opinion is a true work of art.
Ladies and Gentlemen boys and girls, children of all ages, it’s super nostalgia time and I must now discuss a memorable moment from that old-school favourite, the original Nintendo Entertainment System. One of the most anticipated sequels of that generation (for me anyway), had to be Super Mario Bros. 3. The Mario Brothers series of games had always been hugely popular, and back in 1990, the hype was at a fever pitch. As soon as that cartridge was loaded into the console and the power button lit up, I was in absolute platforming heaven. I can remember thinking nothing could make the game better than what I first saw, that was until I discovered that special brown leaf power-up. Instantly transforming into Raccoon Mario, I flew around the colourful world, uncovering secrets way up in the air; as Mario’s new tail waggled back and forth, my grin reached from ear to ear. At the time, I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen and to this day is a great gaming moment from my childhood. Let’s also not forget that Mario 3 was at the centre of The Wizard, the greatest Fred Savage film of all time!
When I was younger, I used to love collecting and reading all of the instruction manuals to my NES games. The intricate drawings of the art were fascinating and exceptionally well-drawn. My favourite (and I am sorry to keep mentioning this series), was the booklet to the original Zelda. Contained in these little manuals of wonder were great drawings of all the enemies and items located within the game. An aspect of the books that I found interesting, was how the drawing done by the artist was placed next to a picture of the way it actually looked in the game. This all may seem like I am going off on a tangent, but I promise there’s a point.
One day when I was in my very early teens, my mother decided it was time to go through my desk and throw away all the “clutter” therewithin. Apparently, all of my NES game booklets were in her cross-hairs, meaning they didn’t have long for this world. She took one look and tossed them all into the garbage, enlisting my brother to help in the process. He knew how much I loved those things and didn’t even think twice before he sacrificed them to the garbage! I almost fainted as I came home to discover my desk draws emptied of their treasured contents. Anger and frustration surrounded me; I didn’t want to talk to either of them. My brother tried to justify it by telling me they kept all my old Nintendo Powers as well as my intricately detailed Map to Zelda; thanks for that bro!
I know they were just dumb instruction manuals, but they were my dumb instruction manuals. It doesn’t really bother me anymore (yes, it does!), but I still carry that devastating memory with me. I know this feature is about memorable moments in video gaming, but this is a very personal memorable moment and I’m sure some of you out there can relate.
Street Fighter II was my jam back in the day, and I played it non-stop (or at least until my quarters ran out). One day, as we were getting ready to go to the arcade, a friend told me about a new fighting game called Mortal Kombat. I wasn’t aware of its existence at the time, but I became intrigued by his bloody description. We got to the local galleria to find a rather large mob huddled around the MK machine. As I was small at the time, I was able to sneak up close to get a nice view. The very first match I witnessed was between the now iconic fighters Sub-Zero and Kano. I had no clue as to what either character could do or who they were for that matter, but it all looked amazing. I watched as Sub-Zero froze Kano in midair and gave him an uppercut, sending blood everywhere. I didn’t think the game could get any better until I saw a finishing move. As the words “Finish Him” appeared on the screen, I watched in amazement as the older kid moved his fingers across the buttons, like an intricate dance that took months to learn and memorize. Out of nowhere, Sub-Zero reached across, grabbed the defeated Kano and tore his head clear off with spinal cord still attached. As blood spewed everywhere, I knew I would never play Street Fighter again. No matter what direction the developers take the MK series, viewing that first match remains one of my most memorable video game moments.
As I mentioned earlier, I have always been a devout Nintendo kid. I had every system released from 1985 on, save for Virtual Boy. I wanted nothing to do with Sega, and couldn’t afford the likes of the Atari Jaguar or SNK Corps Neo Geo. Then, one day, everything changed. Back in the mid to late 90’s, there was a big-box electronic store chain called Incredible Universe. Like the Wiz before it, and Best Buy after, Incredible Universe was your premiere big-box superstore. On one fateful visit, I found myself lured in by giant projection TV’s, its gaming music blasting from its speakers like a siren calling me hither. In front of me, on the biggest TV I had ever seen, was Battle Arena Toshinden, one of the first games released for the then new Sony PlayStation. It was bright and beautiful, with amazing fighters, awesome music and sound, and a 3D fighting environment that was like nothing I had witnessed. I instantly bought a PS One and never looked back. Sure, I will always buy Nintendo, even to this day, but seeing Toshinden for the first time felt nothing short of amazing. I have a love/hate relationship with Sony these days, but that particularly memorable moment was truly magical.
There are countless more memorable moments, too many in fact to mention here. If you don’t mind and are amenable to it, l might just save some for a sequel… In the meantime, I would love to hear which memories are just as near and dear to you. Before I go, however, I’d like to say one last thing. Every time you buy a new game, take it home, unwrap it, and start it up for the first time, how does it make you feel? The anticipation of a new game is something very special, and any true gamer out there knows exactly what I mean.