Since I was about 6 years old, my number one gift request has been video games. If I got some new games for my birthday, well, that was a pretty good birthday. By that simple definition, one of my best birthdays was when I turned 12. I can't remember exactly what we did for it that year, but you better believe I remember what games I received. After all, it was a very good year.

The first one I opened up from mom and dad was one I had specifically requested, which was X-Wing. That game is a topic for another time, but let me just say that my parents gave me not a game so much as an addiction that would last for many years.

But it's not the only game I received that day. At 12, I had never really had a whole lot of experience with adventure games. I seem to recall playing a version of King's Quest on my uncle's machine and getting tossed into jail fairly quickly with no hope of escape. But otherwise I just hadn't played them much. That was about to change in a big way.

The LucasArts Archives Volume 1 looked like some sort of gaming treasure trove, and it was. It included what appeared to be six games (but was really more like 3 games, 2 demos and some Star Wars screen savers) and completely blew my mind. I didn't exactly get a ton of games growing up, and suddenly I had been thrown six, all in one package! Two Star Wars games! An Indiana Jones game! Some bunny thing and a dog driving a car game! And a... tentacle chasing a nerd, or something game! This was awesome!

I quickly discerned that Rebel Assault wasn't actually Rebel Assault the Game as much as Rebel Assault Levels 1,2 and 12: The Glorified Demo (I still played the hell out of it). Then the actual demo cd wasn't as demo-tastic as I had been led to believe, with the TIE Fighter demo I coveted so much being little more then the opening (albeit awesome) cinematic. And it took awhile (hours), but eventually I did get bored of watching Obi-Wan and Darth Vader fight endlessly across my Windows 3.1 desktop, although not before I watched all of the "Star Wars Script" screen saver for what had to be longer then the actual movie length (And what's worse? I was disappointed when it didn't roll into Empire Strikes Back after it was done).

But none of that could tarnish how awesome a gift this was, because the remaining 3 CDs were undeniably awesome. Nowadays I can't fathom playing multiple games at one time, but back then it was a way of life, and honestly a necessity for enjoyment. This was a time before GameFAQs and the internet being a source of easy answers - adventure games worked because you really had to spend a long time trying to figure out by yourself what on earth to do. Sometimes the solution would only take you a few minutes, other times maybe a couple hours. In the case of a particular Sam n' Max puzzle, it may in fact be months. But the fun was in figuring things out, so that was just part of the game. Having all three of them, however, allowed me to jump in between them. If I couldn't figure out what on earth Indy was supposed to do in Iceland, I'd jump over to Day of the Tentacle. Then, if I couldn't figure out how to get George Washington's wooden teeth, well, I'd take a stroll over to the Stucky's in Sam n' Max. Not only did this limit the frustration that is inherent in any adventure game, but it also gave me a chance to learn things in one game that could help me in others.

The only sad thing for me is that while I love all of these games, and I think they really stand the test of time , I can't go back and play them. I mean, I can, but it's not the same. You'd think 10 years later I'd forget all the puzzles, but you'd be wrong - no matter how hard I try, I cannot forget that I need to steal the hamster so I can put him in the freezer so I can flush him to the future where I can heat him up in the microwave whereby he will then be able to run in the makeshift generator I have created in order to get the time machine working again. I really, really wish I could, but that knowledge will be with me for the rest of my life.

That being said, I think they're fantastic. They were the first games I played that really adhere to what has now become my cornerstone philosophies on modern gameplay; All of these games allowed you to save anywhere, and each of them provided challenges without punishing the player with death. It's a shame adventure games have largely gone the way of dinosaur, because they really did provide engaging environments where you really had to think your way out of a solution rather than shoot it up. But looking back over this set reminds me of how much fun they provided me over such a long time, and I really have to conclude that this was, without doubt, one of the best gifts I ever received.

It also reminds me that I never did play the full retail version of Full Throttle or The Dig. I think it might be time for me to finally do something about that.

Posted by Kevin on 6:53 AM

2 comments:

Colure said...

Man, I guess 12 is just the age you come into video gaming manhood? Or something? ;)

Kevin said...

Something like that. 12-13 was definitely a big paradigm shift for my gaming habits, when I started to spend more time on my PC playing games than on my consoles, mainly cause there just wasn't much happening on the 64.

Granted, as soon as I could buy a Playstation I did, and that began a distinct shift away from PC gaming...

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