Video Games

Video Games That Made a Mark on My Childhood (Part Four)

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Recently, I got to thinking about the video games that were important to me during my childhood. Those that shaped my daydreams, my imagination, and even my writing style. I was fascinated by many games for various systems, from the Nintendo 64 to the Xbox 360. In this post, I will share the games that shaped my childhood and impacted me so much they are recalled with fondness now.

In Part Four, I am focusing on the Kingdom Hearts games that made an impact on me as a child. Kingdom Hearts games mix Disney and Final Fantasy worlds and characters–a fun combination, to be sure!

Kingdom Hearts I

System: PlayStation 2

Release date: September 17, 2002

This is the game that got me into Kingdom Hearts. I first watched my dad play it when I was a little kid and it gave me nightmares from one particular scene where Sora (the main character) is attacked by a huge dark monster. One of the nice things about this game is that it includes many of the original voice actors for the Disney characters. The three main characters are Sora, Donald, and Goofy. Donald plays a magic-casting role while Goofy is more of a guard with strong emphasis on defense. Most areas allow you to temporarily have a character that fights with you, such as Tarzan or Jack Skellington. In some places, the abilities or appearance of characters changes, which is especially evident in Halloween Town and Neverland.

Final Fantasy characters that appear in this game include Tidus, Wakka, Selphie, Leon, Aerith, Cid, Yuffie, Cloud, Sephiroth, and the Moogles.

The enemies in the game are mainly the Heartless, which are created by hearts taken over by darkness.

The songs from the original Kingdom Hearts still get stuck in my head sometimes. “Simple and Clean” by Hikaru Utada, for instance. I included a clip from Spotify for it below.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

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System: Nintendo DS

Release date: September 29, 2009

This game has a wacky title. Apparently it is supposed to be said this way: “Kingdom Hearts Three Five Eight Days Over Two.” It is played through the perspective of Roxas, a Nobody. Nobodies are the empty shells left behind when a strong-hearted person becomes a Heartless.

Roxas spends his daily life in Organization XIII, and it focuses on his relationship with Axel and Xion. He fights Heartless by day, and by evening he eats Sea-Salt ice cream with his friends.

Apparently the game’s ending is extremely emotional, but I never made it that far because the gameplay is challenging, and I suck at video games honestly.

It’s probably my favorite Kingdom Hearts game.

Kingdom Hearts II

System: PlayStation 2

Release date: March 28, 2006

I loved this game, which takes place a year after the events of Kingdom Hearts I. It had so many cutscenes that it really felt like a fascinating narrative. There was so much character death that it was really an emotional roller coaster, especially if you played Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.

Some new worlds in this game include the Land of Dragons, Beast’s Castle, Port Royal, and Pride Lands. Like in the first game, sometimes additional characters join your party, such as Jack Sparrow, Mulan, and Simba.

Organization XIII is a major factor in this game. This organization is made up of Nobodies, as I mentioned in the previous game.

What’s funny is in both this game and Kingdom Hearts I, Donald is super weak defense and HP-wise, so he gets knocked out near constantly. It feels like you are always traveling with Goofy and Donald’s unconscious body.

The music for this game was great as well, the best song being “Passion” by Utada. (Clip included below.)

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep

System: PSP

Release date: September 7, 2010

Birth by Sleep is set 10 years before the first Kingdom Hearts game, and follows the adventures of Terra, Aqua, and Ventus. There are three scenarios, in which you can play the game the whole way through with each character, with the beginning being the same. To unlock the final chapter, you have to play as each character all the way through. My favorite one was Aqua, and that was the only character I beat the game with along with my siblings. We played Ventus next, but never beat the game. I loved the multiple points of view and the storytelling as well as the game’s setup as a kind of tragedy–kind of like Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.

Conclusion

The Kingdom Hearts series bolstered my imagination as a kid, and I was fascinated by its comic, tragic, and epic moments. Have you played this series? Let me know what you think in the comments!

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Video Games

Video Games That Made a Mark on My Childhood (Part Three)

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Recently, I got to thinking about the video games that were important to me during my childhood. Those that shaped my daydreams, my imagination, and even my writing style. I was fascinated by many games for various systems, from the Nintendo 64 to the Xbox 360. In this post, I will share the games that shaped my childhood and impacted me so much they are recalled with fondness now. This is part three, in which I will focus on Pokémon games.

Pokémon Pinball

System: Game Boy Color

Release date: June 28, 1999

This game was one of the first Pokémon games I ever played. My favorite part was the rumble feature, which was built into the cartridge itself, which required a battery. It is basically a pinball game, but with opportunities to capture Pokémon.

Pokémon Snap

System: Nintendo 64

Release date: July 26, 1999

I think this game was super creative. Who wouldn’t want to be a photographer taking pictures of wild creatures? Professor Oak rates your pics of each Pokémon and determines which is better. Photographs are rated on size, pose, and getting the whole Pokémon in the frame, with bonus points for special poses. The game includes stages such as the river, the beach, a tunnel, etc. It is fun trying to improve your album over time. This game could truly be considered a “cult classic.”

My family now plays the new version of Pokémon Snap for the Nintendo Switch. In some ways it is a better game, but it lacks the nostalgic feel of the original.

Pokémon Yellow Version/Special Pikachu Edition

System: Game Boy Color

Release date: October 19, 1999

This is the first normal Pokémon game I played. Looking at pictures of it online now, I realize how monotone the Pokémon are, but at the time I did not notice the limited color palette and flat Pokémon. The game was revolutionary for its time, but did not age well.

Pokémon Yellow introduced me to Pokémon battles. At first I felt a real connection to my Pokémon and was upset when they fainted in battle. I liked that the Pikachu, my first Pokémon, would follow me around outside of its Pokéball. (Most Pokémon are kept in ball-shaped capturing devices called Pokéballs, and are only released during battle.)

I hated having to share this game with my siblings, because I grew so attached to my Pokémon.

Pokémon FireRed Version

System: Game Boy Advance

Release date: September 9, 2004

This was the first Pokémon game I did not have to share with my siblings and I adored it. I decided I wanted to become the best Pokémon trainer ever and was shocked that my one friend used cheat codes in her Pokémon games. I intended to become the best the old-fashioned way–with hours and hours of gameplay. I managed to get my Charizard (the Pokémon featured on the front of the game) to level 100. That’s the highest level you can reach. I spent hours using the VS Seeker, an item that convinced Pokémon trainers to fight you again and again. I used it in an area that had a bunch of bikers because they were decently high level, but it must have taken ages to get to level 100.

The art style and animation were already great improvements over Pokémon Yellow.

Pokémon Red Rescue Team

System: Game Boy Advance

Release date: September 18, 2006

I loved this game because it went outside the norm of playing to be the best Pokémon trainer you can be. Instead, you are a person who was mysteriously turned into a Pokémon and has developed amnesia. The game decides what Pokémon you will become by asking you a series of amusing questions in a sort of personality quiz. You join a rescue team, undertaking quests and saving lost Pokémon. The combat is still turn-based, but it feels more free-flowing because you can try to get away or throw items or move around. The hardest missions were escort missions, because you had to take a usually weak Pokémon along with you on a mission.

Pokémon Colosseum

System: Gamecube

Release date: March 22, 2004

In this 3D role-playing game, I played as Pokémon Trainer Wes and, alongside my partner Rui, identified and saved Shadow Pokémon. Shadow Pokémon are those whose hearts have been artificially closed and can only use shadow moves. They can only be helped by battling alongside them and growing closer to them, after which they can be purified/healed. That is desirable because in their shadow state they are often disobedient and can go into hyper mode, in which they do not listen and may even hurt themselves in this rampaging state. Another cool aspect of this game is double battles–battling with two Pokémon at once! It’s a super creative game that I loved, and may be my favorite Pokémon game.

Conclusion

I have played many more Pokémon games than just those I mentioned, but these ones were the most impactful. Have you played Pokémon? Share which game in the comments!

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Video Games

Video Games That Made a Mark On My Childhood (Part Two)

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Recently, I got to thinking about the video games that were important to me during my childhood. Those that shaped my daydreams, my imagination, and even my writing style. I was fascinated by many games for various systems, from the Nintendo 64 to the Xbox 360. In this post, I will share the games that shaped my childhood and impacted me so much they are recalled with fondness now. For Part Two, I will focus on Final Fantasy games.

The first Final Fantasy game I played had a mechanic in which you could eat monster meat to transform and gain special powers. I am not sure which game that was, and I barely remember it because I was little, but I thought it was really cool. If you know what game I am referring to, please put the name in the comments.

Final Fantasy III

System: Nintendo DS

Release date: November 14, 2006

Final Fantasy III does not have as remarkable storytelling as some of the other Final Fantasy games, but the gameplay was fun and engaging. Four heroes are chosen as Warriors of Light to defend the world and restore balance. Some fun parts of this game include four old men who think they are the Warriors of Light and who are basically comic relief, as well as a portion of the game you have to play while turned into toads. My favorite character was Refia, a blacksmith’s daughter. I never beat this game, but found the battles challenging and rewarding.

Final Fantasy IV

System: Nintendo DS

Release date: July 22, 2008

I loved this game because it incorporated audio of real voices instead of just having text on the screen. Cecil’s angsty concerns about being on the wrong side and trained as a dark knight are cool. He is like the brooding Byronic hero type, ashamed of his past sins. Tellah is one of my favorite characters, as the Great Sage of Mysidia, capable of using black and white magic. He is short-tempered, and swears revenge after his daughter dies. One of the things notable about this game is that it is unafraid to kill off several main characters. As a child, that shocked me. A challenging thing about the combat is that there are gauges that fill up in real time. When your gauge or an enemy gauge fills up, attacking is possible. That meant that, unlike some Final Fantasy games, I could not look away from this one even for a moment.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift

System: Nintendo DS

Release date: October 25, 2007

This game has an odd title, but it is the one I remember the best. The main character is Luso. He is a high school student who is sucked into a fantasy book, where he meets Cid and a thief known as Adele the Cat. (Did I mention every Final Fantasy game has a character named Cid? It’s one of the quirky things about this series!) I remember I though the character design was so cool, and I even drew all the main characters. What I loved was that Luso became head of a clan and was able to recruit new members of various fantasy races and abilities. I loved growing the clan and having members who could develop their own way and be used in combat. The combat was laid out kind of like a board game with an amount of spaces you could use and turn-based combat. This is the only Final Fantasy game I have officially beaten. The story charmed me, so it is one of my favorites.

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings

System: Nintendo DS

Release date: April 26, 2007

I loved the characters of this game. Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift introduced Vaan and Penelo to me. What was super fun about this game was that you could summon monsters to fight for you. As the game progressed, more monsters became available to summon. You could even summon really strong monsters. The playable characters could also fight. I remember using the stylus a lot with this game. The combat was really hard eventually, so as a kid I ended up giving up. I wonder if I played it now, if I would be able to get through it? Another thing that was great was that Vaan had an airship! I loved that setting.

Final Fantasy XIII

System: Xbox 360

Release date: December 17, 2009

This one is my favorite, though I didn’t play it as a kid. Instead, I watched my dad played it. I was excited by how the main characters were cursed and labeled as enemies of the nation, and had to survive both monsters and the military. All they wanted to do was live like everyone else, but they were constantly hunted. I am playing it with my brother Finch now, and I can’t believe how well the art style and animation have stood the test of time. The storytelling is phenomenal, the characters are so real, and I have fallen in love with this game! It’s not for everyone, but I would totally recommend it to anyone who loves role-playing games!

Conclusion

This is part two of my series of video games that made a mark on my childhood. I intend to make at least two more. I hope you enjoy them! Comment below with a video game that was important to you growing up!

Video Games

Video Games That Made a Mark on My Childhood (Part One)

Recently, I got to thinking about the video games that were important to me during my childhood. Those that shaped my daydreams, my imagination, and even my writing style. I was fascinated by many games for various systems, from the Nintendo 64 to the Xbox 360. In this post, I will share the games that shaped my childhood and impacted me so much they are recalled with fondness now. This is part one, so expect more posts like this one.

The First Game I Remember Playing

Name: Tetris

System: Game Boy Color

Release date: June 14, 1989

I suck at Tetris. In Tetris, blocks of various shapes fall from the top of the screen. The goal is to fill a horizontal line with blocks, after which the line is eliminated, but it is hard because of the different shapes. You lose if the blocks stack up to the top of the screen.

Simple, but more difficult than it sounds. It’s kind of like a puzzle game. And the pieces speed up the longer the game goes on. If you were good enough at it, I bet it could go on for hours. Not very exciting you would think, and yet addicting.

The Aquarium Game

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Name: Fantasy Aquarium

System: Nintendo DS

Release date: November 13, 2007

Fantasy Aquarium is one of those games that stuck with me partially because of how much anxiety and mourning it produced in me at such a young age.

I should explain.

In Fantasy Aquarium, you can raise tanks of various kind of ocean animals somewhat in real time. You heard me, time actually elapses, the fish get hungry, and if you skip a few days or forget to feed them they die. Or they get too old, which happens really fast in the game, and they die. Or if the tank is too dirty for too long, they die.

I would come back to the game after a few days off and it would be a scene of mass extinction.

The most painful experience I had with this game was with my beloved sea horse I named Baby. I loved Baby. I fed Baby whenever she was hungry, I kept her tank clean. One day my little kid self thought, I want Baby to have a friend. She looks lonely.

Now, I should have just gave Baby a harmless seahorse friend.

I did not.

I gave her what I thought was a cute dolphin friend. It never occurred to me that dolphins, being carnivorous, could possibly eat seahorses. But a message flashed across the screen after a few moments, informing me of the beloved sea horse’s ghastly fate.

Eaten. My poor Baby…

My Second Puzzle Game

Name: Dr. Mario 64

System: Nintendo 64

Release date: April 8, 2001

I remember this game from when I was very little. I didn’t play it myself per se, or if I did it was very limited play. It’s actually very similar to Tetris, the difference being the mean-looking germs that you must vanquish with your color-matching skills. I recall that it made me think of germs differently in my imagination, as if they were entities capable of evil intentions. I probably knew they weren’t like that, but it was fun to think of them that way.

A Racing Game

Name: Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

System: Gamecube

Release date: November 7, 2003

Looking up Double Dash!! online now, I see that many people didn’t think it was the best Mario Kart game. In fact, a few critics say it was the worst. But to me, the idea of having two racers controlled by the same player working together to win was revolutionary. This was before the advent of bikes in Mario Kart, which I always play now. But kid me did not mind the limited selection of carts and characters. I thought it was just the greatest thing.

A Poorly Made RPG

Name: Infinite Undiscovery

System: Xbox 360

Release date: September 2, 2008

Infinite Undiscovery was one of those games that roused my imagination. That was chiefly because characters making up the Order of Chains literally chained the moon to the planet. As a kid, that was an intriguing and crazy idea. It took growing up to realize how completely ridiculous that was, to the point of being amusing. I liked the characters. Their names stuck with me despite the melodrama: Capell, Rico, Rucha, Aya, Edward. I didn’t play it myself–my dad did, and I watched.

The Panda Game

Name: National Geographic Panda

System: Nintendo DS

Release date: November 11, 2008

Animal-themed games were popular with me and my siblings, even though as we grew older we abandoned them for more serious gaming. National Geographic Panda was one that really struck me as adorable and fun. I fell in love with the cuddly, frolicking pandas that I could feed and to some extent play with. The stylus was a big part of that game. It kind of was with Fantasy Aquarium, but not as much. That interested me as well. The pandas really responded to what I did with the stylus, cooing and lounging.

A Game With Storytelling that Fascinated Me

Name: Lost Odyssey

System: Xbox 360

Release date: December 6, 2007

This game introduced me to the idea of immortality in a big way. It was another of the ones that my dad played that I watched. Kaim, the main character, is an immortal who has lived 1,000 years, and the video game follows his life. I was enthralled. It made me want to write a book about immortals, which I am almost doing now (not exactly immortals, just super long life span). I have been writing that story for about ten years now, and I remember this video game as one of my inspirations.

A Toys-to-Life Game

Name: Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure

System: Wii

Release date: October 12, 2011

The Skylanders series, and this game in particular, were revolutionary. Toys called Skylanders could be placed on the portal of power–a portal shaped device–to be used in gameplay. It started out with a few Skylanders, but then more were released until there were dozens of playable characters. These characters could be leveled up and you could choose from various paths they could take to develop unique powers. I loved the storytelling in this game, as well as the characters, from the hilarious villain Kaos to the equally hilarious balloonist Flynn. My siblings and I collected a few dozen of these Skylanders and had many hours of fun with them. My favorite was Stealth Elf.

Conclusion

I intend to make this a series of posts on the video games that shaped my childhood. These ones are more miscellaneous. The future ones will focus on series of video games. I hope you enjoy them! Comment below with a video game that was important to you growing up!

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