Remembering The Good Ol’ Days
Who’s seen Stand By Me? It’s a classic. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about four boys who are all about twelve years old. They go on an adventure together to look for a dead body and along the way they get into all kinds of shenanigans. It doesn’t sound that great, but seriously, it’s a good one. When I watch the movie, it reminds me a lot of my friends and memories from my childhood. At the end of the movie, it shows one of the boys (who is all grown up) typing an article. He concludes the article with this little gem, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” I love that quote. It just brings back a wave of nostalgia.
I will say, pretty much all of my friends that I knew when I was twelve are still my friends today. But unfortunately and predictably, we have all gotten older, have more responsibilities, started families, have full-time jobs, and so on. We still see each other on a fairly regular basis, but we don’t play Xbox every weekend anymore. There are no more sleepovers. No more copious amounts of Doritos and Mountain Dew being consumed. No more staying up all night in the dark talking about our middle school problems or telling jokes and laughing until we cry. Those memories will stick with me forever.
If I had to put a spin on the Stand By Me quote, I think it would be something along the lines of “I never had as much fun later on like the times I stayed up all night playing Halo 2 with my friends when I was twelve.” Or… something like that. It’s a work in progress. But seriously though, I miss those days. Literally no worries or cares in the world. I’ve been thinking a lot about those days lately. I’m 25 years old now! It strangely seems so far away and yet, at times it seems like it was just yesterday. So I thought it would be appropriate to write about some of those amazing memories and childhood video games. So let’s take a trip down Memory Lane.
My first console I ever had was the N64. I still have it and all my old games. It was the coolest thing ever at the time. Pokémon Stadium, Star Fox 64, Mario Kart 64, Super Smash Bros, just to name a few. When I first got the console, I would play it all the time. Literally, every minute I could spare, I would play my N64. That’s when I started to get into trouble because I would try to play it before school, instead of getting ready for the bus. I started to run behind, and that didn’t go over to well with the parents. Eventually though, my dad got hooked on Mario Kart and Star Fox. We would race each other for the Star Cup or watch each other fly through the galaxy taking on Andross’s army. Good times.
I also remember going over to friends’ houses and playing those games all night long. Whether it was a birthday party or a sleepover for the weekend, we always had our N64 for entertainment. Another classic was the old Pokémon games for Gameboy. Yellow, Red, Blue… my friends and I devoted so much of our time (and long car rides) to playing these games and leveling up and fighting our little pocket monsters. Let’s be honest, from time to time I’ll still go back and play those game. Never gets old.
The Big Move
And then it happened. We moved. And it sucked. I hated going to a new school. I remember begging my parents to homeschool me, I hated it so much. This was fourth grade, and at the time I thought I would never find a group of friends like the ones from my old school. It was a bad time. I missed playing Gauntlet with my close friend, or having Super Smash tournaments at birthday parties, or trying over and over again to take a picture of that rare Pokémon in Pokémon Snap. And then BAM! We moved and that was it; no more fun or friends or games. The jig was up; I had had a good run.
Or at least that’s what I thought when I was ten. But, like most things (especially for a fourth grader), things get better over time. I actually started to make new friends pretty quickly and I started to bond with them over video games. A couple years later, I met Karthas in 6th grade in the middle school cafeteria. Our first conversation ever was about GameCube games. We talked about it the whole lunch period. And that’s when the legend of Donoran and Karthas began.
The Holy Grail
During our middle school years, GameCube and Xbox were our consoles of choice. For GameCube, it was Super Smash Bros. Melee, The Legend of Zelda: the Wind Waker, and Medal of Honor. For Xbox, we loved Red Dead Revolver, Jedi Academy, and Battlefront. But the holy grail of video games was Halo 2. Nothing compared. We all hopped on the Halo-train a bit too late when it came to the first Halo game. We played the campaign a lot… like a lot. But we never really got into the multiplayer. However, it was a totally different story with Halo 2.
I still remember the anticipation of waiting for that game to come out, counting down the days, daydreaming about it in class. And when it finally came out, it was well worth the wait! It was an amazing game. We not only played the campaign over and over again, but we spent almost every weekend at my friends house playing multiplayer. Slayer, Capture the Flag, Juggernaut, Oddball, Team Slayer, the list goes on and on, not to mention custom games.
We made up games like Puma Wars and Cops and Robbers, both games required you to drive around in military vehicles (called Warthogs aka Pumas) and run into each other and knock each other out of the vehicles. We also made a game called Piff. The name is irrelevant; the game itself was insane. It was played on one of the smallest maps in the game. You had to find a skull and hold onto it for a total of 5 minutes. However, everyone else had high explosive weapons that launched rockets and grenades. So, as soon as you would find the skull and pick it up, someone would see you and blow you away. And, because of the explosion, the skull would fly across the map and players would have to scramble to try and find it again. It was infuriating but so much fun.
Some other great games that I remember playing were Doom 3, Ghost Recon, and Destroy All Humans. I specifically remember Karthas and I hanging out with a very dear friend of ours and staying up late playing Ghost Recon 2. We would act all serious and tactical during the gameplay, which would make it more intense. After a couple of hours playing that, we would switch it up and play Doom 3 and drink Oreo milkshakes while we talked about our middle school problems, girls, and life in general. My best friends and I had some serious heart-to-heart conversations while we stayed up all throughout the night, sipping Oreo milkshakes, and blowing away demons with an automatic shotgun. I miss having those childhood problems.
High School Years…
High school was all about Xbox 360 and Xbox Live. Halo was still a huge part of our gaming lives. However, we still played a lot of other games. Left 4 Dead and Gears of War are two games that were the most fun I have ever had playing a multiplayer game.
Left 4 Dead
In L4D, there was a game type called Versus. Karthas, his brother, another good friend of ours, and I would be on one team and play against another random group of people online. One team would be the survivors and they would have to run through the entire mission and make it out alive. The other team were the zombies and they had to stop the survivors from making it. It was teamwork at it’s best. It was extremely satisfying when you (as the zombies) would make a plan to ambush the survivors. The zombies all had different special abilities, so it was critical that each person ambushed at the right time using their unique ability. If the timing was off, or someone got killed by a survivor, the whole ambush was ruined. But that rarely happened; we got pretty good at it.
Gears of War
Then there was Gears of War with the game type, Horde mode. This mode was basically playing against computer AI’s and surviving wave after wave of enemy soldiers. You beat the game when you beat level 50, the last and most difficult level. We would always try to take a tactical approach to beating each level. I loved being a sniper in Gears of War; the head shots were so satisfying. Karthas would normally run around with a chainsaw gun, cutting up bad guys left and right. Normally someone else would run around with a rocket launcher or shotgun. We always tried to have specific roles. However, the higher you got in the levels, the less it mattered, because the bad guys were incredibly tough. But we were super effective as a team. Teamwork is a beautiful thing, and we created a lot of masterpieces.
… And Beyond
As I have gotten older, I still play a lot of video games. Steam is incredible and during Steam sales I always buy way more games than I should. We have LAN parties from time to time at KingBlunkers house. This time around though, we play PC games instead of Xbox. In my college days, I played a ton of Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, WoW, and even more Halo. I also own a Xbox One now and still play games on that. But, as stated in the very beginning of the article, life gets busy. Things change and we all get older and have more responsibilities. But no matter what happens in life, I don’t think I will ever forget about the good old days with amazing friends.
I will always love and appreciate video games. From the classics to the latest and greatest. From amazing, unforgettable memories to creating wonderful new ones. So that being said, go out there and create some memories of your own!
Keep on gaming, nerds!