In a special series of articles, Ellie Zoe takes a look back at her favourite game franchises of all time and also provide a little retrospective on each of them. This first editorial gives you an overview of how important video games are to Ellie and some of her honourable mentions.
As with many others, video games have played a legitimately huge role in my life. I was born in ‘94, around the time that polygonal graphics were hitting the market, and Sony was steamrolling with their Playstation. By the time I was old enough to actually hold and understand a controller, the console had already been out for a few years and had built up an impressive library. At the time, I was more concerned with sitting down and playing the same Crash Bandicoot levels over and over than checking out all of the hot new releases, but once I’d finally gotten my hands on a PS2, I’d gotten a much better idea of how the industry worked.
Whenever I wasn’t beating other kids at Yu-Gi-Oh, break time at school was spent sat discussing all of the best new games, upcoming releases, or more often than not, playing Pokemon. My dad would often take me to the local branch of Choices (a media rental store similar to Blockbuster), to rent classics like Vexx, Bully or whatever the latest Ratchet & Clank game was at the time. There was rarely a moment when games weren’t on my mind in some capacity or another, and many of my fondest memories all relate directly to them.
Over the years, my obsession continued to grow, I had every relevant console, and more or less every major release. Sometimes I’d just buy a game for the sake of buying a game and having something new to play. As you might imagine, I’ve played a lot of different games over the years, and I’ve got fairly good idea of what I like and what I don’t like. I’m going to be 24 at the end of July, and after a few difficult life experiences over the past 12 months I’ve been reminiscing a fair bit and thinking about some of my favourite series from over the years. I’ve come up with a list of what I’d consider my five favourite franchises of all time, and every week I’m going to share exactly what I like, and even dislike about these series, and just what they mean to me. Before we kick the list off proper next week, I think it only fair that I throw out a handful of honourable mentions – starting, with Trials.
Trials, by design, is highly addictive. I’d probably describe it as a motorcycle dexterity game – you’re attempting to navigate these really tricky courses in the fastest time whilst making lots of really precise movements. It’s easy to get frustrated quite quickly if you keep failing, but that’s part of the fun for me. I really enjoy the ridiculous challenge of some of the levels, and once you’ve played enough of the game you’ll begin to realise that being the best you can is less about conscious thought and more about muscle memory. The series also has a dedicated track builder which allows you to play as much user-generated content as you can handle. I was never the greatest at the game, but I did get good enough to win a tournament at Comic-Con one year. The next entry in the series (Trials Rising) has just been announced at E3, and I couldn’t be happier.
Whilst we’re on the subject of muscle memory and games of skill, the Street Fighter series certainly deserves a mention. Street Fighter initially drew me in with the vast array of colourful characters and stages. I didn’t care about combos or frame data at the time, I just wanted to mash some buttons and see some pretty animations. To be honest, I still don’t really care about the technical side of the game, or of any fighter for that matter, but my ability to put up a decent fight and at least understand the core mechanics of the game has increased exponentially.
I had a very hard time deciding between two very different series for the final spot on this list. My initial thought was to go with Halo. I’ve spent countless hours playing Halo and and consuming Halo related media. The majority of my time in secondary school and at home was spent living and breathing Halo. I’d almost choke laughing watching Arby and The Chief, or Red vs Blue, or mucking around in custom game modes and maps on 3 and Reach – but eventually I just stopped caring. I can’t put my finger on exactly why (perhaps Bungie’s departure from the franchise), but suddenly I was no longer interested.
There was however, another series that caught my attention from the beginning and as of today, hasn’t let go; Danganronpa. It’s a sad game, and not for the faint of heart. It’s about teenagers dying. No, really. The idea is that there’s a bunch of students locked in a school, with little recollection of how they got there, and they’re being told to kill each other in order to escape. It’s a visual novel in a similar style to Phoenix Wright, but highly stylised and with graphic execution scenes. Danganronpa came at a time when a lot of games on the market were trying to imitate one another. There were a lot of releases with angry men, and then you’ve just got this wildly different experience, with gore and bright pink blood, and a genuinely interesting story to tell. The plot spans three games and a full anime series – a lot of media to consume, but I’d wholeheartedly recommend it.
The games that we’ll be looking at over the coming weeks have all made the list for a reason. They’ve either had a significant impact on the way I see video games, provided some of my fondest gaming memories, or impressed me beyond belief. The list fluctuates fairly frequently, but I’ve locked in a pretty solid five choices – and I genuinely can’t wait to discuss them.
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