Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Turning Point

So a few days ago I was emailed by a website called Man Crates asking me to write a post for them.  At first I was a little skeptical because spam emails aren't exactly uncommon to my inbox but after a quick Google search it turned out these guys were on the level.

Before I get into the post itself let me just tell you a little bit about Man Crates because the idea behind what they do is pretty cool.  Man Crates sells wooden crates of various goods that range from video games to stuff in order to prepare yourself for a zombie outbreak.  However when you order from Man Crates they don't just send you a wooden box with the stuff in it, oh no.  They send you an actual wooden crate and a crowbar so that you can go Gordon Freeman when you break that shit open.  It's a cool concept and I think they would make a really good present for someone.

What Man Crates asked me to write was the gaming experience that hooked me into the hobby and made me a life long enthusiast.  This was easy for me, I've kind of already done it once a long LONG time ago back when Identity Gaming first started.  The game that really grabbed me and turned me into an enthusiast is Panzer Dragoon Saga for the Sega Saturn.

Before I received my Sega Saturn I enjoyed playing video games quite a lot.  However almost every game I played during my early youth was some kind of side scrolling platform game.  I had experimented with other genres such as adventure games but I accidentally picked shitty ones like Super Hydlide and it left a bad taste in my mouth.  I don't remember if Super Hydlide was actually all that shitty but I was too young and stupid at the time to have ANY idea what the hell was going on with that game.

Then my father goes and buys me a Sega Saturn and the thing blew my goddamn mind.  The games being in 3D was pretty cool but the thing that really excited me about the system was the number of arcade ports that were available.  I used to love playing games like Fighting Vipers and The House of the Dead at the arcade and now I had this chance to play those titles as much as I wanted and I didn't have to beg my mother for £1 coins all the damn time, it was great.

Then on one birthday I received Panzer Dragoon Saga and my god this game changed my view on EVERYTHING.  Before this, gaming was always something I did for an hour or two at a time before going to find something else to do but Panzer Dragoon had me locked in front of the TV for god knows how long.  This game not only affected my opinion on gaming but had some pretty drastic effects on my life too.

In terms of how it influenced my gaming, Panzer Dragoon Saga was the point in which I realised that games could be so much more than just a little side attraction for me.  They could have interesting stories and immersive worlds and characters that you become genuinely attached to sometimes.  Hell, I remember my first time playing where the main character gets kidnapped and tortured and I had to leave the room because that scene upset me so damn much.

Not only did it have a good story and interesting characters but it also had really fun game play.  It's an RPG with an active time battle system but it was also very strategic and fast paced.  I wasn't just mashing an attack button in order to win, I actually had to stop and think about my gauges, what kind of attack I was going to use, positioning, my dragon type, location of weak spots and all sorts of stuff.  There was so much depth and I loved it.

Thanks to Panzer Dragoon Saga I started exploring other games and other genres looking for equally challenging titles with the same or similar amounts of depth as that and luckily there was a lot on offer.  I was always looking for something to challenge myself after that point.  While I never lost interest in the more simple games Panzer Dragoon taught me not to give up so quickly on the harder stuff like I did with Hydlide.

But Panzer Dragoon Saga also had massive effects on my real life.  The whole game is voiced entirely in Japanese with English subtitles and at that young age I thought the voice acting was the coolest thing ever.  It sparked my interest in Japan and thanks to that I am where I am today.  At school I was never sure what I wanted to study but thinking back to those times in front of my Saturn made me think I wanted to pursue a degree in Japanese language.  I came to realise that there were so many games that never came to the UK and I really wanted to be able to play them.  Of course, I was interested in other stuff like the language itself and the culture of the country but without that initial inspiration from my favourite video game I might have done something very different.

So there you have it, that was the turning point for me however I'm not quite done there. I was also asked to write about what kind of stuff I'd like in a personalized nostalgia crate from the aforementioned Man Crates.

Well considering that I live in Japan some kind of import game crate would be a pretty good idea I think.  A few Famicom/Super Famicom titles mixed along side pot noodles, microwave curry rice and a few cans of melon soda.  For me that sounds like a pretty good night in and if I got to start that off by opening that stuff up with a goddamn crowbar would be the icing on the cake.   

Let's wrap things up with some links.  Don't forget to check out Man Crates

and the second YouTube play through for YouTube I ever did was of Panzer Dragoon Saga, so if you wanna watch me play the game that changed my life forever, you can see that here.

Final disclaimer, I wasn't paid for this post, they just very kindly reached out with the idea and it sounded like fun!

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