Tuesday 3 July 2018

Gaming memories: rental games

Today it is time to dive into the past again. In the early nineties, when we got our first gaming consoles (NES, SNES, Megadrive (aka Genesis)) we were plunged down the rabbit hole of video games. While we owned some nice ones, our main supply of games, until the age of PC hit us in 1997, was a local toy store.

Retrospectively, considering the town I grew up in, I should consider myself lucky for having a store closer than Vienna to introduce me into console RPGs, Magic the Gathering, Warhammer and other staples of nerdity.

In general, most games we rented were "for the family", meaning our father would play them and we would watch. This included pearls like Faxanadu, Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, FF Mystic Quest, Landstalker, Dune 2, Metal Marines, and Yoshi´s Island. Therefore we actually started playing the RTS genre right at its first popular milestone of Dune 2. I am still convinced that the Megadrive version was actually the superior version.

Of course, other games like Final Fantasy 6 or Chrono Trigger never made it to us, while others like the "Secret" games even received German translations. Many stories could be told about these and other games, but today I want to write about only three of them.

In the later years of the rental era, I started to play some RPGs for myself, like Lufia II, Shining Force 2 and Phantasy Star IV. Totally not confusing to start in the middle of all these series. Back then, I did not finish any of these games and would only do so many years later. With Lufia, a German version, I was just not able to finish some bridge puzzle close to the end of the game, despite it coming with a guide book by Nintendo. This was a feature a lot of them had, which probably allowed a lot of people to actually finish these games. Megadrive games did not have that feature, and without internet (access) or the right issue of a gaming magazine, an eleven-year-old not fluid in English struggled quite a bit at understanding anything.

In Phantasy Star IV for example I managed approximately half of the game, but did not understand that I needed to disrupt Zios shield with the Psy Wand (used to lower the barrier to his base), only doing 1 damage with every attack to him and getting wiped soon. If I just had known that immediately afterwards I would go to space... Bets are on if I would have understood it with better English skills.

But I would say the crown goes to the awesome tactical RPG Shining Force 2, where I would have had to insert a wooden plank into a hole in a tree in order to get the Achilles Sword that could wound the giant Talos. Without it you just run away from the fight and never get the caravan, a machine that opens up new areas of the map. Also at the halfway point of the game, and I have even less idea how one could figure that out easily by oneself.

Well, these old games were great, but of course far from perfect in regards to userfriendliness. Time to stop rambling until the next episode of gaming memories.

Stay epic!