A while back the hashtag #GameStruck4 began trending on Twitter and people are still commenting on it today. Despite thinking long and hard about it, it’s taken me a while to settle on the games that I feel have truly influenced me over the years (hence the mega delay in writing anything about it!)
I think the hardest hurdle to tackle is distinguishing between the games that I love and games that have been influential to me. Of course these two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but sometimes a thing can be great and that’s that. One of my fave games of all time has to be Bayonetta, but I don’t consider it massively influential to me. I just love to go around shooting up angels with a kick-ass witch sometimes! Its influence goes only as far as increasing my love of games.
However, the games that have shaped the gamer I have become are the real ones that I’ve been trying to gather, and narrowing it down to just four is a tough thing to do! Nonetheless, I’ve made a crack at it so here goes…
Super Mario Bros 3
This is a tough call between the original Super Mario and Super Mario 3, but this one wins out purely on the fact I played it for many many more hours. The reason these make my list is because Mario is probably the reason that I’m such an avid gamer today. My first console was the NES and, of course, my first games were Mario. The bright colours, hypnotic music and sharp level design kept me coming back for more. I knew every cheat and workaround to get me to that final world with the best chance of survival. I died. A LOT. But it never deterred me from playing again and again. 1% of me misses the old lives system, 95% says thanks god for saves!
Legend Of Zelda
I tried to pick games from different systems and from different eras of my gaming life, but I just couldn’t choose between Mario and Zelda. It would be like picking between your children (or maybe that’s easier than most parents really let on…)
While Mario opened my eyes to gaming, I have Zelda to thank for my love of RPGs, open-world gaming, and fantasy. I still do in fact! BOTW blew. My. Mind. Me and Link go way back, I almost feel like I know him (and maybe love him a little bit but we’ll leave that for another blog…) I still have a magazine I keep with my NES which gives a full layout of the Zelda map. Pretty much all the other pages have disintegrated but the map remains intact! Despite playing it countless times, I don’t think I ever actually completed it. I always died in dungeon 9… Nonetheless it encouraged me to persevere and I wiled away many a Saturday on this game.
“GO NORTH, WEST, SOUTH, WEST TO THE FOREST OF MAZE”.
The Mass Effect Series
Ok… I know that’s more than one game, but there’s a reason I’ve lumped them together and that’s because of the importance of storytelling and character development that brought this series to life. Even though there is huge controversy over the ending to this series, and we won’t even speak of Andromeda, I still love most things about these games. In fact, I wasn’t really that miffed about the ending either… It just needed a longer, more detailed cutscene and I would’ve been happy.
It’s one of the few modern games I’ve played many times and even developed a system per play through. The first, or “true” play through, I choose the decisions that I prefer, letting characters live or die depending on the flow of the game, then I play through the Paragon choices, then the Renegade, and lastly, I’ve even played through to see what the worst possible ending could be. In a way, that was probably the most fun!
Much like Link, I had a huge investment in Shepard and the entire crew of the Normandy. Being able to get truly immersed in a rich world of characters is a hugely important aspect of gaming to me. Much like with books, if I don’t care about the character, I won’t care about the game. The Witcher has since pipped this game to the top spot of my fave story-led RPGs, but Mass Effect got there first and stole my heart, therefore earning it’s place on the list.
World of Warcraft (most importantly WotLK)
It’s been a long time since I’ve ventured into the dirty depths of the WoW time-stealing hole, in fact I’ve probably been Warcraft clean for about 4 years now (Blessed be…) The main reason this makes my list is because of the importance of community and my other fellow gamers in the big wide world. Yes, I know that there is many a troll and keyboard warrior out there ready to pounce at every given opportunity. It’s why I’ve pretty much steered clear of most PVP games in my life. However, 100 troll’s comments can’t compete with the fast friends I also made in Azeroth.
WoW isn’t a game you can really go alone. It’s downright discouraged even! But once you find a great guild, it’s like having a second online family. WoW broadened my friend circles in ways that I could never have done IRL. I spoke to people from all walks of life, age groups, and countries as if they were right there in my living room both in-game and out of it. Although the game isn’t really a part of my life anymore, many of the people still are. Warcraft even won me a first for my dissertation at uni so it’s even influenced my education!
I also find this sense of community through my local Pokemon Go players. What starts off as a simple game becomes so much more when you start sharing it with others. I’ve now got a bunch more local friends who I can hang out with, all thanks to an app!
I’d love to hear about the games that have made a big impact on you. Maybe it will even give me some more titles to add to the backlog!