The lights are on
Gaming has been a big part of my life for almost as long as
I can remember. Sometimes it’s been background noise, while other times it’s taken
over everything around me. There have been a few standout games though, that
seemed to have arrived with perfect timing. Here are three of them that spring
Street Fighter IIIt’s difficult to overstate how much of a sensation Street
Fighter II created when it released back in 1991. And what wasn’t to love?
Capcom’s one-on-one fighting game had huge, bizarre characters, and a clever
rock/paper/scissors mechanic that made it accessible for newbies but rewarded
players who took the time to hone their skills. And all of this before the Internet.
I was a freshman in college when a cabinet was installed in
the campus rec center (so old!), and it fundamentally changed my life’s
trajectory. I spent countless hours playing the game with existing friends and
making new ones, to the point where I maybe stopped attending class and
possibly dropped out of school for a while. Perhaps.
The timing couldn’t have been any better. Here I was, in one
of the last moments of my life before the responsibilities of work and family
would take over. I had access to a steady stream of new people to play with,
and the game was still novel enough to where people lined up to check it out.
Online matchmaking has replaced those lines now, and it’s just not the same for
me. I did mention I was old, right?
Super Smash Bros. MeleeAfter college (graduation!), I moved in with some friends. The GameCube
had just come out, and I picked one up along with a copy of Rogue Squadron and
Super Smash Bros. Melee. We were all Star Wars fans, and I assumed that the
bulk of our time would be spent battling the Empire. Nope.
If you’d put Smash Bros. in the console and epoxied the lid
closed, we could have been perfectly happy. Unless someone was sick or out of
town, we spent hours every night for months playing the game. Everyone in the
house was about the same skill level, which made the already enticing gameplay
Over time, we got to know what we were each thinking based
on the characters we picked. Jigglypuff, eh? Mike must be feeling sadistic
right now. Pichu? Ah, Robin just wants to be annoying. Me? I’d usually stick
with Ness (yellow and black costume variant), because he is adorable. Every
night ended with a final match on the Pokémon Stadium map, with only Mario and
Mario-based variants allowed. Don’t ask why. You had to be there.
Animal CrossingNintendo’s village simulator was the last time I’ve played something
that I felt came at the perfect time. I’ve had a blast with more than my share
of games in the years since, but Animal Crossing arrived at an intersection of
my life that isn’t possible to recreate.
I had two different roommates when Animal Crossing came out,
and everyone in the house had wildly different schedules. We all liked each
other, too, which was a bonus. Since our schedules didn’t overlap much, the
game took on a dual role of acting as a communication beacon and social outlet.
I might fire it up at night after work and get a letter from Brenda telling me
that tickets for some show were going on sale. Or I might get some carpet
mailed over as a gift. In return, I’d bury trash in our town and send them
notes leading them there. We honestly did like each other!
Are there any games that stand out to you as being in the
right place at the right time? Let me know about them in the comments!
Email the author Jeff Cork, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.