You’ve got one too, right? That first game that you could not stop obsessing over and played over and over and over and over again? Of course you do.
Hello again! This is my first official post here on TAY, so I thought it would be appropriate to write about another special first that I’m sure most of us have: our first video game loves! Now, if you’ve been following my posts, you may have noticed that I enjoy talking about memories and past experiences, such as this one here on Persona 4. I find it absolutely fascinating to look at what exactly shapes our feelings toward certain gaming experiences. Were we just more easily fascinated as children? Are we letting nostalgia blind our judgment of that retro classic? What is it that lets you love that terrible terrible game that nobody could possibly defend objectively?
Those are just a few questions I ask myself when I think about the games I play now vs. those I played then, and today, I’m using it to look at the first video game I ever fell in love with.
How We Met
It was a beautiful summer day in Northern California, with the sun shining bright and hardly a cloud in the sky… so naturally, I was in my family’s basement watching the older kids take turns with the PlayStation. At the time, my only experience actually playing was screwing around with a Sega Genesis that was lying around. I’d causally pick up cartridges and insert them, sometimes roughly just for fun, and poke around its insides, less playing the game and more hoping to see something stupid happen.
(Note to self: edit out all the innuendo from the above paragraph.)
Then one day, we brought home Jade Cocoon. It had a strange case that made it twice as large as the other games, so that it stood out among the rest. Also, they told me it was like Pokémon, a game I had always wanted to try but never could, which had me hooked. They put the game in and then my perception of video games was turned upside down. It was the start of something that would take root deep within me and grow me into the gamer I am now.
That Opening Movie
WHAT?! Did you see that!? What happens next?! Hurry and press X!
Do you ever play a game with an opening movie so awesome that you stop to watch it every time you turn the game on? I do. All the time. Whenever I load my file in Wild Arms, I put the controller down and kick back to some smooth whistling before I get to any wild westing. I do the same for Persona 3 and 4, Chrono Trigger and Cross, and every Final Fantasy, and it’s because of this moment when I first started up Jade Cocoon.
The music and the animation (which would give me a greater appreciation for Studio Ghibli films in the future) had captivated me and set the tone for an epic and painful journey into the unknown against fearsome beasts. The only thing stopping me from pressing New Game right away was a desire to see the opening just one more time. It has that kind of effect on me even to this day.
All I Needed to See
Jade Cocoon begins with you assuming the role of Levant, the village’s designated Cocoon Master, someone who was able to command legions of monsters and minions. Of course, you don’t get to fight with your own monster for a while (except for that dream sequence where you get your flute handed to you and it’s established that Lui is a jerk. Screw you, Lui.), but you do get to visit a few areas in the village and talk to people. I watched with great excitement as they guided Levant about and prepared for the forest, and that was it… I had to turn off the TV.
Unfortunately, my family had to leave, so I didn’t get to see the journey progress very far, but the impact was made. I was obsessed with the game. It was all could think about as I sat down to work through the Sega titles I owned, and when we finally got that PlayStation, the first thought was, “Now I can finally play Jade Cocoon!”
After waiting for so long, I could finally play it to the end! (Minus that so called “Eternal Corridor”, which I never got very far with…) The setting was still magical, the music was captivating, and the monster collecting aspect was able to satisfy that Pokémon itch. Of course, to this day, I’m still not entirely sure what the story was about or what happened, and I never got around to playing the sequel, but it was a really fun ride! So, to answer my question from the beginning of this, I guess it’s safe to say that most of my feelings for this game are rooted in nostalgia, haha!
So, how about you, dear reader? What is your tale of love at first sight, the memory of when you realized there was no turning back in this hobby of ours? What game has captured your heart and remains there still?! I’d love to hear your story!