I can vividly remember tearing through issues of Gamepro and Electronic Gaming Monthly back in 1998 trying to piece together just what this crazy looking game, Metal Gear Solid, was going to be. The images were unlike anything I'd seen before, and the idea of a stealth game seemed like an extremely foreign concept to me. After months of waiting breathlessly, I was thrilled to finally dive in on the day that my pre-ordered copy arrived at the local Babbage's at last. Over the ensuing months, I didn't just play the game; I devoured it - running through it four times in fairly quick succession until I had every last nook, cranny, and terrorist deeply implanted into my brain. The promises of those magazine articles had come to fruition, and everything from the crazy uses of the camera to the seemingly endless cinematics, heavy mature rating, and meta-nature of it all felt absolutely revolutionary to my 13-year-old self.
Dread is a powerful thing. When strong enough it can control our every action or even lead to complete shutdown and inaction. My first time playing Naughty Dog's seminal masterpiece, The Last of Us, four years ago was filled with an ever growing sense of dread and despair. This world was no longer safe for humankind and especially the young child you're trying to protect, who may just be mankind's last chance for survival. Every alley crossed and home searched was just another opportunity for an emotional hammer to be dropped on you until you were completely devastated. I didn't know what was coming, but I knew it wouldn't be kind. Each time that end of the world banjo music started so did my goosebumps.
There's something undeniably magical about every time I step into the well traveled bounty hunter boots of Samus Aran in the SNES Classic Super Metroid. Whether it was the awe of 9 year-old me experiencing the massive world for the first time or the nostalgic joy and appreciation of journeying through Zebes for the 12th or so time 25 years later, I never stop smiling when immersed in this world. That first time playing it, I knew it was something special, but looking back now after over two decades of games that have emulated the perfection crafted by Nintendo, it's still crystal clear why this title changed the gaming world as we know it and launched a thousand Metroidvanias.
Dying 10,000 times in Dark Souls is a gaming rite of passage that I somehow missed out on when it first came out 8 years ago, so I made sure to subject myself to its horrors with the recently released remaster. Despite having never set foot in the world of Dark Souls, there was one place that I was already well aware of thanks to its infamy, Blighttown. I had heard countless stories of how this was the area that broke people either forcing them to quit the game completely or smash a controller in frustration.
My gaming habits over the past year or so have featured two themes pretty heavily: catching up on old games I missed out on and Metroidvanias. Thanks to the recent release of the Castlevania Requiem collection on PS4, I was able to combine those two cherished gaming pastimes by FINALLY playing Symphony of the Night, a surefire Mount Rushmore Metroidvania title.
For almost two months, my Nintendo Switch ruled my gaming life with a string of charming Indies and some nice ports. While these games made for some fun late night adventures, I found myself searching for a gaming experience that felt much more grand and truly epic. As a result, I decided it was finally time to try out the recently released remake of one of the most adored games of all time, Shadow of the Colossus. From the second I lifted my ancient sword to guide me toward the first mammoth beast I was to slay, I knew my wish for something truly remarkable was going to be granted. Each creature was magnificent and the challenges seemed daunting but never insurmountable. Over the course of a week, I felled each increasingly elaborate behemoth while bonding further with my faithful steed, Agro, and growing ever closing to resurrecting the poor maiden no matter the cost.