Some events in your life seem to seal your destiny for many years to come. One such event took place in my life during the 1980’s when my father surprised my brother and myself by purchasing us the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). We had played it before at a relative’s house, but that does not compare to owning one yourself and playing whenever you want to (or at least when Mom and Dad say it’s ok). The fatherly gesture made that day would spark a love for gaming in me that, 30 years later, has yet to let go. Thinking about the time I’ve spent gaming over those years, I began wondering what was the best time I had and with what console. For me, this was actually a tough choice between my number 1 and 2 spots, so because the choice was so close, we’ll begin with the runner-up.
The NES absolutely made a lasting impression on me, so when some years down the line I had to choose between getting a Sega Genesis (Mega Drive in Europe and Japan) or the new Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) the choice was clear. If the Nintendo was so good, the Super Nintendo must be a mind-blower. Why else would they be brave enough to describe it as “Super”? The car ride home played out like a person finding a new religion. Promises were made to never allow my new SNES’s wires to become tangled or to let dust creep its way into this, the holiest of gaming consoles of my young life. The first game I played was of course Super Mario World and with this, I realized this new console earned its “Super” moniker. Riding Yoshi, acquiring the new cape power-up that let Mario fly, and the expansiveness of Mario’s new world was a dream come true for this young gamer and for the years that followed my SNES was my best friend. Other games followed that further cemented my belief that the SNES was the best thing to happen to the world of video games. Countless hours were spent playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Castlevania IV, Super Metroid, a million other titles that used the word “Super“, and an almost endless list of side-scrolling beat ’em ups. Little did I know, I was basically experiencing a form of puppy love and soon my time with the SNES would come to an end to make way for more a more mature and longer lasting relationship.
The time was September 1995 and I had just turned 12 years old. Seventh grade had just begun and I was reconnecting with friends after summer vacation. One of these friends said I should come to his house that afternoon because he just got a new console that was better than SNES. “Fat chance,” I thought to myself but curiosity got the better of me and that afternoon we walked to his house from school where that day’s lessons continued and I was “schooled” in the ways of the Sony PlayStation. Ridge Racer was the only full game he had along with a demo disc showcasing a few other titles for the system. Regardless of the limited game options, my whole Nintendo-centric world crumbled to dust. Gone were the days of Mario and Link, I wanted these new amazing graphics and the 3D landscapes. Not even a big fan of racing games, I couldn’t put Ridge Racer down, feeling the speed of the cars and the amazing new visuals, I needed to have a PlayStation in my life. Convincing my parents was the next step. How could I talk them into spending a couple hundred dollars plus the cost of new games for no other reason than the fact that I just wanted the damn thing? Well, I couldn’t and I was about to have to make a 12-year-old’s equivalent of a life-altering decision.
Because of my recent birthday, I had some cash and a few Toys-R-Us gift certificates but not enough for the PlayStation. In a Faustian twist, however, I got word of a promotion that Toys-R-Us was running that would give you $100 towards the new Sony PlayStation and all you had to do was trade in 10 SNES games. What was this burgeoning young man to do? My SNES games were my life-blood, my very soul and the Devil himself was tempting me into a trade I was sure would damn me. That day I discovered something about myself. I am a man of self-indulgence and immediate gratification and had the ferryman take me across the River Styx to the gates of Hell itself (my mother took me in our family’s Oldsmobile to Toys-R-Us) to seal the deal. As it turned out, if it was in fact, a deal with the Devil, I found out he holds up his end of the bargain really well.
Exceedingly happy with the choice I made, I set up what I was sure was the culmination of all technology and began a session of gaming that has never really ended some 20 odd years later. Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII, Alundra, Legacy of Kain and many more were the inspiration for countless all night gaming sessions and missed homework assignments. Up to this point, no other system could offer what the PlayStation did, taking these adventures players could go on to new heights. Not just technologically speaking but also in the way of storytelling. With the advent of the Sony PlayStation, games could now convey stories on par with books and television and this may have been because of how many fantastic role-playing games (RPGs) could be found on the system. It is this reason I believe the PlayStation remains my favorite gaming console of all time as RPGs are my absolute favorite genre of video game. True, the SNES had its fair share of amazing RPGs but unfortunately, at that time I was not into that style of game and it was PlayStation that really introduced me to the RPG scene and it’s usually these games that I keep going back to over the years.
Many great consoles have come before and after the PlayStation, but for me, I never had more fun with video games than those years when this amazing, grey rectangle was hooked to the television in my room. Perhaps it’s because at that age I had no other worries than what games I was playing or maybe this is just nostalgia talking, but whatever the case the Sony PlayStation left an impression that has lasted two decades and has yet to let go. Regardless of why this was my favorite console of all time, I’m very happy to have the memories.