A Death in the Family

Final-Fantasy-IV_GBA_US_ESRBMy mother passed away last night, and here I am writing about a game that was released 20 years ago.¬†Even after sitting with the news for the last 8 hours, I’m still not even sure how to begin processing the onslaught of emotions that I’m sure will be flooding my brain sooner as opposed to later. Our relationship shifted a bit over the last few years, for various reasons that aren’t really all that important. To me its funny how once someone finally passes on, all of the bad stuff that transpired over the course of decades, doesn’t matter, or at least doesn’t have the same weight to it, that it used to. The memories that you have, you want to be positive, and you want to love that person for who they were, not for what they became (if that makes any sense).

That’s what lead me to writing this piece. Of all of the people to get me into video games, my mother was the biggest influence. I had a Nintendo growing up, but I was only about 4 or 5 when the system made it into our living room, so I couldn’t really appreciate what I was seeing at the time. My mom however, took full advantage. The amount of games that she went through, was impressive, even by today’s standards. The fact that a game could control like shit, or be incredibly obtuse, didn’t really sway her one way or another; if she liked the game, she saw it through to the end, even if it meant investing months of time to do it (for the record, Castlevania II, Legacy of the Wizard, and Karnov are all games that fit this list). I’ve been working through an 8-bit backlog so to speak, and I’ll tell you, I don’t even want to touch Karnov.

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to the Final Fantasy IV soundtrack, which is one of my favorite games of all time. I’ve been looking to go through it again for quite some time, but really had no idea why. I’ve finished pretty much every version of the game that’s been released (with the exception of the DS version, which is on my desk as we speak), and with what little time I have available at the moment, I can’t really take the time to go through a 40 hour rpg.

Final Fantasy IV (better known as Final Fantasy II in the U.S. at the time) was the first game my mom and I finished together. When she got bored of the random battles, or the dungeons were taking too long to go through, she would hand off the controller and let me take over. We never really played a game as a team before, and there was a little bit of a rivalry between us, despite being a pretty large discrepancy over who got the most playing time. Since I was about 8 or 9, this meant that my time was limited to weekends, and that was also assuming she wasn’t playing anything at the time.

Anyway, I’m getting off track here.

By finishing this game together, it led us to start playing more cooperative games, Toe-Jam and Earl, Secret of Mana, and Secret of Evermore, just to name a few. It was a pretty amazing time, and those are moments that I’ll never forget. I think it’s probably a little lame that most of my good memories about my mother are gaming related, but that was a common interest that we shared, and so in a moment such as this, I feel it’s appropriate.

Since my vision is getting a little bit blurry, I should probably wrap this up.

Even though the relationship became strained over the last few years, the good memories will always remain. I’ll never forget the time we spent sharing this silly fucking hobby.

Today I’m going to fire up the Super Nintendo and run through this game. I’m sure you’re okay with that.

Rest in Peace Mom.

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An 8-Bit Game a Day: Pocket Edition (NBA Live ’96)

NBA_Live_-96_-_1996_-_Electronic_Arts

I used to be a pretty big sports game fan. These days I don’t really have the time or the money to keep any sort of tabs on where these games are going. When I did spend my hard earned cash on a sports title, it was usually basketball oriented. Back in the day, I was a pretty big fan of the NBA Live series. In fact, I had owned NBA Live ’96 on the Super Nintendo, and had invested many hours into it. However, once I bought a Dreamcast, and discovered the NBA 2K series, my love affair with NBA Live was pretty much finished.

Sports games were usually ported to every type of system that could connect to a screen. So I guess all in all, I shouldn’t have been too surprised the the NBA Live series had made it’s way over to the Game Boy. However, I would’ve been much happier to have learned that this was only a prototype, and not a full fledged game. Unfortunately, this game is very real, and very bad. You have your usual set up, you can choose to play an exhibition game, just the playoffs, or a full season. Since the game is an unmitigated mess, you’ll most likely want to play just an exhibition game, just to see what this thing looks like, and then never speak of it again (like I did).

After playing NBA Live, I feel as though I should avoid Game Boy ports of sports games. However, I just learned that EA’s NHL series had been ported over. My gut instinct is to stay far, far, away, you know, so I don’t catch anything. However, I am just a little curious as to what kind of a train wreck that might be. Stay tuned….