There’s one thing my Dad always brags about when asked what I was like as a baby, and it’s how I was tech savvy from a young age. I was playing tile-matching puzzler Puzzle Bobble before I was two. I probably wasn’t very good, but still.
I distinctly remember walking into my house to find my Dad gingerly wrapping electrical tape around a Nintendo 64 controller’s wire. He had bought it for me second-hand from a friend – this was my first console. I never owned many games for the N64, but Goldeneye 007, Killer Instinct Gold and Wave Race 64 would endlessly entertain me over the next few years.
I used to visit my older sister regularly, often ending up glued to her PlayStation. The incredibly little-known game Shaolin was like crack-cocaine on a CD-ROM. You could choose the gender of your character and their starting martial arts school. As they grew up, their appearances would differ throughout gameplays. I adored restarting the game to see what the girl would look like as she aged. I’d grimace at my character having to eat monkey brains to recover health, wondering how brains could be “healthy.” It’s still one of my most nostalgia-inducing games to this day, despite how niche it is.
As I grew older and entered secondary school, the typical period of being relentlessly bullied began. I struggled to find much joy in life, but when I did it came from video games. Falling into another world where I could forget about the real world gave me hope. After a particularly rough day of bullying, I met my Mum on a Somerfield car park. In the back of her car sat a game that would ignite a lifelong passion for the RPG genre – Kingdom Hearts.
I spent countless nights tucked into our little conservatory, with a small heater and a glass of elderflower cordial and lemonade. This would be my ritual across Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II and later into another love of mine, the Final Fantasy series. When Kingdom Hearts III released last month, I found myself craving elderflower and lemonade.
Somewhere during the PS2 era, I found a love for rhythm games. Scrunched up plastic dance mats were strewn across the household from the various Dance Dance Revolution games I had received. I was obsessed. While I’d always found myself drawn towards the dance machines at arcades, I never quite expected the rhythm genre to be something that would stick with me. Even now, I regularly dabble in games such as the Project Diva series, Taiko no Tatsujin and Just Dance.
Another second-hand console arrived in my Dad’s house around 2008 – the Xbox 360. Launch title Kameo: Elements of Power gave me a strong female lead that other games I’d been privy to at the time tended to lack. Though the Xbox 360 never particularly catered to the genres I was more interested in, it introduced me to Fable, one of my all-time favourite series. Few games feature quintessential British humour with a decent storyline and gameplay, which is what made Fable just so damn unique. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but it somehow added to the charm.
I got old enough to start buying my own consoles and games and I re-embraced Sony with the purchase of a PlayStation 4. This Christmas, I got a Nintendo Switch from my Mum; reigniting a passion for Nintendo that I had honestly forgotten about. My tastes in games haven’t changed much in the past decade, but I pride myself on being a fan of the niche and underrated.