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Gamer XP: Games that make us Part 1

Everyone has a list of games that round them out as a gamer, their game XP. Tells you what games they like and might be into. This is over 20 years of gaming by yours truly. Because there's a lot to unpack, it's more convenient to divide these experiences in parts. If you're feeling like a trip down memory lane, let's look back to times when parents introduced us to pixels.

N64 Days

Believe it or not, one of the first games I ever played was Hexen on the N64. Now you might wonder, what is Hexen? If you don't, know that I was 6 or 7 at the time. For those who do, Hexen is made by IdSoftware, the same company that makes Doom. Talk about a brutal game awakening. It's not all bad though, my brother and I also had Super Mario 64, Cruis'N USA, and Mario Kart 64. Nintendo is probably the reason some of us absolutely love racing and adventure games when you think about it. You're not REAL if you don't power drift. Ok maybe there's Cruis' N USA, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2, Aero Gauge, and Banjo Kazooie. But there are so many more games to talk about.

It was weird to track down Blast Corps. Such an odd concept for a game of the time but so entertaining. Trying to prevent the explosions against time was like playing a game of Hurt Locker.

If you haven't played Star Wars Episode 1: Racer, it's a must. Everyone who has will agree. Star Wars, spaceships, high speed and high stake racing, one of the most memorable games of its era. Never brought it back to Blockbuster. Worth it.

Similarly, Starfox 64 was the first game I beat that wasn't my own. I would borrow it from a friend, trading it for one he wanted. Some might remember how it was to have your friends in your neighborhood and being able to hang out, go visit, have a sleepover. Simpler times.

Simply put, the following are sort of alike Mario Kart 64, but very much their own thing. Snowboard Kids, first and second had an incredible likeness to it. Despite the slightly janky controls, the characters were lovable, the art fairly unique, and the game was more challenging but with a smaller learning curve. Diddy Kong Racing was a killer Kong alternative to Mario, might I almost say better. The levels were amazing, there were multiple different transportation modes, just as many game modes and options. Kong definitely gave Mario a run for his money.

Then there's Beetle Adventure Racing!, Aero Gauge, and Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2. All games had more of a focus on racing and taking shortcuts. They also made me fall in love with high speeds and unique vehicles, New Beetles being an obvious choice.

The In-betweeners

There were a few other games I enjoyed that were on consoles I did not own. After all, one of my favorite games of all time is an Xbox exclusive. For each game, I did my best to get my time's worth every opportunity I could.

Jet Set Radio Future changed my life. Its art style was not only entirely different from games before it, the game was a relentless source of hip hop and fun, the beastly sound track vibed harder than a crab at a rave, the characters were all excellent Player Ones, and the edgy graffiti actually got me interested in the art. It didn't stop there. With its cyberpunk roots, levels with an amazing sense of speed and verticality and a story that didn't try to be what it couldn't, the game was perfect.

Spyro was a fun platformer I could play only on the whim of my friend and it was not his favorite so I never got to play much of it. Sadface.

Tony Hawk Pro Skater however, I got a lot of time with and man, were those games fun. From tricking all over the world to hurting yourself on purpose, and even to cheats and glitches, creativity was your limit.

Similar holds for the critically acclaimed GTA San Andreas, which most of us clearly enjoyed away from would-be concerned parents. Despite the realistic depiction of the America of the time, the fun clearly came from parading and exploring in special vehicles or activating mind-blowing cheat codes. Don't lie, all of us had our way with it.

This last one, I'm not sure if many of you will know, but it was a memorable oldie. I'm truly not sure what made Legacy of Kain memorable aside from the mechanic that split you in two worlds. The lore was pretty cool, I could see the game redone with more style, I would play that.

Just as I would replay some Jazz Jackrabbit 2, Worms, Pinball, Minesweeper, Age of Empires, Age of Mythology, Heroes of Might and Magic. I wish I could say more about them but most of us can agree they were fine games and undeniably introduced many of us to gaming on PC. RIP Windows XP.

This concludes a short list of the games that introduced me to gaming. What games introduced you? Are there games you feel should have been mentioned? Let us know with a comment! There are loads more of consoles and games to cover, so look for Part 2 where we'll cover things like Miniclip and Runescape, and gaming at McDonald's.

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