Recalling childhood days playing video games brings back vivid memories of those wonderful games of decades ago.
As far as I remember, it was a decade ago when I first laid my hand on a gaming console. For many, the best part of their childhood wouldn’t be gaming but for me, it holds a significant meaning. It’s something I relate to whenever I am asked to recall my best childhood moments.
It was in the 90’s when video games and consoles began to proliferate in the Nepali market. I was around 11 years old and it was dusk when I reached home from school. Usually, I would see the TV and I would watch a cartoon, but that day was different. I saw an unfamiliar white box with something attached to it from the top while wires connected it to the television set. A few minutes later, my brother entered the room and told me it was a video game and what was attached to it was a card disk with a number of racing games in it. I still have vivid memories of excitement passing through my body when he mentioned racing games.
In no time we began playing a popular bike racing game of the time “Excite Bike”. As my brother handed me the joystick he gave me instructions on how to play the game. He said, “A player can choose to race solo or play against the computer within a time limit”. At the start of the game, I could choose one of five tracks for a race. I understood I had to qualify for the championship by coming 3rd or above in the race. Since then, I frequently played the game and strived to beat my previous records. Likewise, I made certain I would be the first in a game so I could read a message “It’s a new record”. Reading the congratulatory message always gave me a big thrill and something I always longed for.
In hindsight, the game was only the beginning of my journey to racing games. There were more amazing racing games waiting for me. Following the Excite Bike, I played a couple of racing games but the remarkable one I remember is the Super Mario Kart. Unlike other racing games, Super Mario Kart had amazing graphics, modes and presentation. They are the main reason why I still have a lot of memories of the Mario Kart. Although today the game has been redesigned and available in advanced 3D mode, back then the game was the best graphical game I had played and it happened to be available in the market.
In Super Mario Kart game, a player could take control of one of the eight Mario series characters, all with distinct capabilities. The kart game featured two modes: single player and multi-player. I often shared this game with my close friend, Niraj Rajbanshi. We used to play a multi-player battle mode. In order to be a winner, I remember telling him “a player has to defeat the opponents by destroying balloons which surround each opponent’s kart and further attack with power ups.” The fun part was during the races. We did our best to destroy the other karts and finally the two of us competed for the title.
Back in the day, most kids headed off to a cyber café, not with the intent of using the internet but to play games. And, this takes me to the time when affording Rs. 10 per hour to play Motocross Madness would make my day. Among its several modes of play like Baja, Supercross, Enduro and National levels, my all time favorite was Career. I could earn money and use it to unlock motorbikes of different skins and engines. Just to experience different bikes, I recall spending hours each day at a cyber café. Here, as a gamer, you can explore both the indoor and outdoor areas. Moreover, the game shines in the stunt part. It was so realistic that it was incredibly believable and exhilarating while pulling off a few stunts.
It would be unfair to leave out Road Rash. For 90’s kids, Road Rash was the best bike racing game in those days. The game was so popular that it would be saved in every computer of my school lab. I still remember my classmates and I rushing to the lab during lunch break just to play Road Rash. The game was restricted in the school and uninstalled immediately but the craze overtook us. We used to have a copied version of the game on CD so we could re-install the game in the computer. It was a risk worth taking for a game like Road Rash.
The plot of the game is as a biker one has to compete in illegal races to earn money. The coolest part of the game is on the track you are pitted against other bikers who will attack and kick you off your bike. To counter, you can also extract the opponent’s weapons or use your bare hands to knock them off. You can also get fines from the cops if they catch you.
After a long successful conversation with father, we eventually had our own Personal Computer in the house. The CD from the computer lab helped him a lot to get the Road Rash installed in my PC. I no longer had to break the law in school.
Alongside the Motocross Madness, MotoGP has a similar appeal. With an amazingly pleasing graphics and superb replays, the game was my first ever taste of modern bike racing. With features like real bikes, race tracks and practice season, the racing game also has a versus, arcade and time trial modes. I was invited by my friend to play MotoGP in his newly imported PlayStation. I had heard from acquaintances how realistic the game looks compared to other bike games. Watching my friend riding a Suzuki on the real looking race track compelled me to ask him to pass me the joystick. That was my first experience with MotoGP.
Among the list of bike manufacturers like Yamaha, Honda, and Suzuki, I went for my favorite Honda and took a ride. I didn’t reach anywhere near the top position but thoroughly enjoyed the realism and its graphics, soundtrack and mainly the replays.
The 90’s were brilliant for ardent gamers. Looking back I still get goose bumps and long to go back and enjoy racing against other competitors or playing multiplayer with close friends. Today, the advancement in technology has put it all right there into our mobile phones - sophisticated and fast. But despite the absence of advancement back then, most of the 90’s kids will agree that it was worthwhile, worth spending money at the cybercafé and worth waiting for a turn to play in a friend’s new console.
For many, the best part of their childhood wouldn’t be gaming but for me, it holds a significant meaning. It’s something I relate to whenever I am asked to recall my best childhood moments.