THE BLOG OF MARK SHIELDS

My Favourite Computer Games Part 4 - #3 and #2



#3
Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, Sonic and Knuckles, and Sonic Adventure (Mega Drive, Dreamcast)
If I was to ask any one of my friends what they’d have thought would’ve been number one I can with almost 100% certainty say they’d have expected a Sonic game at the top. This is because Sonic, like my perpetual eating of burgers, has become a somewhat elegant joke or trope of mine. I grew up on Sonic. I loved the games. I thought the characters cool. And, in the end, they hold some of the greatest childhood memories of mine.

I remember the first time I played Sonic. A Saturday afternoon, at my gran and grandad’s house, my Uncle set up his Mega Drive I with Sonic the Hedgehog. I watched and then was asked to take part. I think my brain hadn’t made the leap to it being a game, and I thought he was a cartoon character, and I refused to play terrified of being responsible for the death of Sonic. That aversion didn’t last long, and when my parents picked up our own Mega Drive and gifted to me on my ninth birthday Sonic 3, I played it to death. And that Christmas I got Sonic and Knuckles, the second part of Sonic 3, and I played them all.

Sonic 2 followed shortly afterwards, and then Sonic 1, and when I got the Dreamcast in 1999 I picked up Sonic Adventure, and the five games cemented the game series as one of my all time favourites. Sonic was for me my Disney.

I made the decision to pull them all the one item otherwise the top ten would be filled with Sonic games.

#2
Sim City 2000, Sim City 3000 and Sim City 4 (Windows)
In 1997 my parents bought my family a Windows 95 Packard Bell. It was a Intel Pentium 166MHz with MMX Technology, no graphics card, and a whopping 2Gb hard drive. I’d later upgrade it with a Voodoo 3 3DFX card and a 12Gb hard drive, and maybe 32mb of RAM. But it was our first computer, and as such it must be remembered for being the place where I discovered Sim City.
Sim City 2000 came in a big box with a jewel case CD inside. I read the manual before playing the game. It might have been the first game my father let me install onto the PC – I remember distinctly playing it not on a computer desk but our coffee table placed in the back room for the PC. I also remember placing a “Small Park” not long after installation and the Blue Screen of Death came up, an error that’d plague me even to this day playing it on Mac OS. If Sim City 2000 was to teach anything, however, is was that strategy and simulation games were the ones I loved.

The scope it gave me was wild – I played with Lego all my childhood too (that’s for another post) and Sim City 2000, despite it’s Americanization, gave me the chance to actually see the life of my creation come together, even as ghostly blue dots that looked like traffic.

The game was deceptively easy though considering. I used to play it a lot, building wild utopias, then trying to build US based cities, like where I’d live for a year. Then I got a demo for Sim City 3000 and it wouldn’t run on my PC.

Once we upgraded to the next Packard Bell, a blue-green 1.2GHz Pentium IV with a 40Gb hard drive and 128Mb RAM it could run 3000, and I found it the same as 2000 but with greener graphics. I’ve played it not as much as 2000, but it was easier and harder.

When Sim City 4 came along we had a PC and I had a Laptop that could run it. It drained my laptop so badly though, and the family PC was being used most of the time by other members, but when I finally got a laptop able to handle it the game was incredible. The game had detailed transportation, gorgeous (but power hungry) graphics, and above all a detailed cityscape and development engine. What when wrong next was they dumbed the series down to basement levels and destroyed the series’ name.

Luckily (unluckily for Connie, I’d imagine) there is a new one come out rather annoyingly titled Sim City and it looks to be as detailed as Sim City 4. So that’s very exciting.

Any guesses as to what #1 is going to be? Find out on friday.