I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence as a child. I liked to hide behind my older brother who was more adventurous than me and wasn’t afraid of many things. The same philosophy carried over to the virtual world. While there were plenty of co-op games that we played on our Super Nintendo, I was more content just watching him play games by himself. There were a combination of factors that led to this. Those hurdles prevented me from enjoying something that later on in life would become a big part of it.
The first obstacle was the genre of games that we played. We had an impressive lineup of games that included seven different Mario games, Donkey Kong Country 2, and Mega Man X. The problem with these games is that they represented one of my least favorite genres; platformers. I’m not the best when it comes to platforming games. Something about running from point A to B while the stages get harder put a lot of pressure on me. I was psyched out further with the introduction of 3D platformers. To this day, something about 3D platformers make me feel uneasy. The other issue that I had was the TV. TV screens back then seemed huge to me, and for some reason the sheer size of the screen while paying attention to multiple things felt like too much pressure. It was fine when the controller was not in my hands as I could take time to look at everything and not immediately react. This soon developed into a skill that I would later use when helping my older brother when he was playing something.
The remedy for my discomfort came from two sources. The first source was a little game called Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. This game was different from the other Mario games that we had. Instead of platforming and immediate reaction, this was slow, turned-based, and had a story to it. This was my first introduction to RPGs and made me like the format. I still didn’t play it often since I viewed it as CJ’s game, but I enjoyed watching him play this game over the others since it had a story and the game progressed naturally instead of we are going to this stage now since you beat the last. I loved reading as a child, and having a game that was like an interactive story did the trick for me. I still remember the times where we would hide under my grandma’s kitchen table when fighting bosses and pray that we beat them on our turn.
The second, and most influential moment, came in a small device known as the Game Boy Color. When you have siblings and only one console, it’s hard to find a time when you can play without crying to your mom that your brother is hogging the console. The GBC was not only my first handheld console, but it was MY console. I didn’t have to share it with CJ since he had his own. It had a small screen that was perfect for me to observe everything that was going on, and came with the perfect game for me, Pokémon Red. This little device did more for me than the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 ever did for me. I was able to play games the genre of games that I like that we never got on our home consoles. The Pokémon games that we had for Gameboy kept me entertained and sort of a Poké Maniac to this day. I was even able to finally get in Zelda games thanks to Link’s Awakening and Oracle of Season. There was no way that I was going to play Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask, so I’m glad I was able to enjoy the top down perspective Zelda titles.
So I will say it was a combination of my handheld devices and watching my older brother play games that got me into gaming. Over the years I started to slowly build confidence in myself to play more console games, but I mostly stuck with my handheld and watching CJ on the couch. It wouldn’t be until the GameCube era where I would start playing more console games, and not until we got a PS2 much later in life that I started to really get into console gaming. It is hard to imagine that after all of that, I rarely play any of my handheld consoles as of late and now playing intimidating games like Soulsborne games and Monster Hunter. I still don’t care much for platformers, but I eventually have to finish those Mario games at some point after all these years.
Thanks for reading,