Friday, 31 July 2009

Pizza = Health

Attributing memories to facets of popular culture is by no means strange behaviour in this age. Undoubtedly we all associate certain emotions and memories with particular books, music, films and of course, games. Throughout my childhood, one genre stuck with me and continues to have a profound effect on me even now. My undying love for the scrolling beat-em-up is what made me cream in my shorts the first time I saw Castle Crashers or the first time I saw the animations of Paul Robertson. These games come from the time that made Capcom and Konami the giants that they are today. They made games that defined my childhood and for that, I will be eternally grateful. Without further ado, I want to share some of my favourite games with you and the memories that are linked to them.

The Simpsons (Arcade) by Konami

Before I became a stereotypical postmodern smart-arse, The Simpsons was pure comedy because Homer was silly and Bart was rad. Whilst this seems like a cheap, obscure cash-in now, back then I cared not about how this game simply didn't fit with the genius of the show's writing. I was young and didn't care. Right on. No matter how snobbish I get though, I cannot repress my love for this game. Just watching the playthrough and listening to the theme tune rendered in just sixteen bits brings back fond memories of the time I spent in the seaside arcades of Tenby. I cared not for seaside trinkets or souveniers. I converted whatever money I was given into fifty pence coins and went hell for leather. My parents were always disappointed that I never had 'much to show' for my time spent on holidays. Shows what they knew.

My love for The Simpsons leads on wonderfully to the next game in this nostalgia trip. I never had Satellite TV, so my only exposure to The Simpsons before it hit BBC2 and Channel 4 was renting the videos from the now sadly departed Clubs Video. Situated just a short walk from my house, Clubs Video was the best place in the world next to Tenby. Not only could I rent Simpsons videos, but I could also get a 20p mix-up and play on their arcade cabinet:

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (Arcade) by Capcom

I had no idea where the hell this game came from. I have since learned that it was based upon a series of comic books created by Mark Schultz. Apparently it had figures, chocolate bars and a TV Series, but my only exposure to the licence was the Capcom arcade game. It took the standard Final Fight template, but mixed it up with vehicle sections and the fact that you could punch a raptor in the face. My love of all things post-apocalyptic could have been subconsciously spawned by this game as watching the playthrough now has me fawning over the decaying cityscapes and Road Warrior character stylings.

Sunset Riders (Arcade) by Konami

My local Leisure Centre was hardly a 'hot spot' for video games, what with it being the kind of place that should be encouraging kids to be more physically active. However, they still saw fit to sell trays of chips stacked to the heavens and have an arcade cabinet nestled between the vending machines. That cabinet just happened to house Sunset Riders.

Just as much of a shooter as it was a brawler, Konami's Sunset riders took a bold direction: moving the scrolling beat-em-up out of the familiar territories of dystopian American cities and licensed properties, and took it into the wild west of our father's youths. Chip-greased buttons and frantic yells as we ran on top of the stampedes were the order of the day and how could I forget "bury me with my money" which possibly made me piss myself twice as hard now as it did then.

Guardian Heroes (Saturn) by Treasure

One of the first pieces I ever bullied Bojack into writing here was his very own love letter to this somewhat forgotten gem. Whilst this came along a lot later in my life and it wasn't housed within an arcade cabinet, it still brings back fond memories. Countless Saturdays were spent watching Bojack beast this game. I would hardly ever play, but we would both stare at a 14 inch portable TV for hours on end, until my head was pounding from the eye strain. I adore this game, not just for it's superb design, but also because it reminds me of good times with one of my brothers.

The game's legacy lives on through The Behemoth's Castle Crashers. Crashers is in many ways a spiritual sequel, taking on Guardian Heroes weapons, levelling and RPG elements and reconfiguring them with a genuine sense of affection. The game featured sublime animation, character design and music and is easily my most sought-after title. As soon as I get my hands on that Saturn, I'll be hunting for this game morning, noon and night.

I'm sure there are games out there that hold special sentiment for all of us. This was but a small selection of mine and barring some sort of backlash for my outpouring of sentimentality, this will be one of many such features.

The Faux Bot


cr0nt said...

Ha, my misspent childhood.

Bojack85 said...

When you get Guardian Heroes can i play it through with you?! One of my all time favs!!!!

Split-Screen said...

Brother, I practically insist on it.

cr0nt said...

You seem to be missing one of the most awesome side-scrollers which is making its HD xbox rebirth in TWO DAYS Turtles in Time reshelled is gonna be freaking awesome.

let's try to get a split-screen 4 way to top the world leaderboards in coop!

Split-Screen said...

I'm gonna be buying it dude, provided that the trail doesn't prove it to be somehow shit. That's two!

cr0nt said...

allegedly a complete remastering of the original - i.e. same game, fancy front-end - so here's hoping!

Maybe not so bad anyway seeing as its just been slashed to 800 MSP - might leave me with money over to buy shadow complex the week after! And I have my lovely MadCatz TE stick to play them on! I <3 life

Split-Screen said...

I know another lad with the TE stick. I was afraid to touch shiny.

cr0nt said...

mine is covered in fingerprints from over-use is a great commodity to have - K will see when he gets to use it!