August 7, 2009 3 Comments
This made me laugh. Particularly panel 9, with the mega-man code. Those damn bubbles hold a special, hate-filled corner of my heart.
See, some of you may not remember, but before the Playstation (yes, the first one, all white, flat and rectangular, with disks that had backs darker than the soul of Sauron) came out, no game system had an on-board memory, and the Playstation was the only one with a memory stick that I can recall. It was revolutionary. Easily managed saved games. Pick and choose what saved games you want to keep and save? You can do it!
Before this renaissance of gaming came along, we were stuck doing one of a couple of things. Some games had enough on-board memory (remember, almost all games were cartridges) to store a small number of games, or you had to use passwords to return to your previous location. I can clearly remember begging my Mom to take me to Blockbuster a couple weekends in a row in the vain hope that the game I rented before was still there, and no-one had got that copy and over-written my game themselves. I can also see in front of me my notebook, it’s metal-wire spine mis-shaped and posing a serious health risk with every turn of a page. The corners of the sheets, bent up weathered with time. This compendium of passwords was a treasure trove of quick access to a return to my happy state of gaming. More than just a libram of mystical key-codes, it was also a walk down my gaming life, in what would be arcane scribbles and cyphered text and shapes. Flipping through it would make no sense to an outsider, the grids with filled bubbles would never be connected to MegaMan 2; the two rows, two columns of jumbled letters and numbers would seem like the writings of a mad-man, not a pre-pubescent boy intent on betting Metroid.
These conventions of games gone past are looked at now with mere nastalgia. The games weren’t better for having them, but it was part of the ambiance. It was a part of what you did. It was the process. In the advent of making games more casual friendly, more “pick-up-and-go” we don’t have the need to jot down 64-character codes so that you can pick up where you left off. In the current society of instant gratification, quick turn-around time, cell-phones, email, text-messaging, and all the other conveniences of modern tech, we lose some of the process that most of us grew up with. Some might say, we lost some of the struggle that made the success of the games rewarding, but that’s for another discussion.