Dork Shelf is getting in the corny Valentine’s Day spirit!
What better way to do that than to send a love note to the game that made us fall in love with games? Here’s what our game contributors would write on a valentine to That One Game that holds a special place in their hearts…
Fire shells are red. Wing shells are blue. Super Mario World, I love you.
The best gaming experiences, much like the best relationships, are those that grab you and pull you in deep. Super Mario World — like Skyrim, Deux Ex, Half-Life 2, BioShock, or any other modern classic — gives you a whole universe to dive into, complete with incredible creatures, surmountable challenges, boundless adventure and a sublime sense of place. Super Mario World was the first title that made me realize that I love games that give me worlds to play in. – Alex Hayter
Though I have known many virtual loves since, the first game to steal my heart was The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System. I was seven and Zelda was new in town. My prepubescent fascination with the game led to many sleepless nights spent wielding an 8-bit sword, exploring the many nooks and crannies of Hyrule. I would sneak out of my room after bedtime to play; anything was possible when I stuck that gold cartridge in. Of course, I was too young and inexperienced to challenge Zelda’s Level 9, but we would meet again years later to finish what we’d started. It wasn’t the same, though.
Over the years, I romanced successive iterations of the series, but none could match the allure I felt for my first love. Zelda took me to another place — a place I lament that I can never go again. – Will Perkins
Let’s roll up to be a single star in sky, Katamari Damacy. Even if the King of all Cosmos shoots lasers at me because I didn’t sufficiently recreate the stars after his alcohol-induced bender destroyed them all. It’s all in the name of love for you, this curious game that should only exist in my wildest, weirdest dreams. You made me love games all over again and showed me that there are more adorable (and equally ludicrous) ways of destroying the world.
Please accept this ever-growing, Katamari-shaped valentine — just, um, watch out for Nessie’s flailing limbs and the pointy part of the Eiffel Tower. – Emily Claire Afan
F-Zero, you mean a lot to me, and there’s no way I can really sugarcoat this. While all my friends were wizards who could find ways to beat me at every turn in Mortal Kombat or watched as I got frustrated playing every RPG ever foisted upon me, you saw me for what I was: Someone with great reflexes, no fear, and an undeniable desire to go fast. In fact, we loved each other so much we might have gone too fast. You never were the most complex game to be around, and that’s just fine. It only makes it worse that I cheated on you for the longest time with NBA Jam.
You were my first true love and I would hop back into your supercharged back seat any day. – Andrew Parker
I had had my trysts and glimmers in my youth (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II), and even early infatuations that would strengthen into lasting friendships (Sonic the Hedgehog 2). But first love? That had to be Final Fantasy VII.
It opened with a heart-pounding introduction into the dank, crumbling metropolis of Midgar, but I didn’t care because I was with heroes who felt powerful, yet flawed. As the world opened up, FFVII showed me the expansive vision and creativity that games never did before then. It wasn’t just about beating up foot soldiers or bonking the evil scientist on the head. You had characters you could care about, and those you could hate – while also feeling sympathy towards them. I cheered for Cloud, guffawed with Cid, teared up for Aeris and crushed hard on Yuffie. I did it all, and felt like a hero. – Jonathan Ore
Loving a Ninja is complicated – you never see him coming and you never know when he’s gone – but that’s also why I’ll always love Shinobi III.
See, my Genesis Ninja wasn’t some nameless sprite shipped to retail without a backstory. He was the hero chosen to lead the fight against the wakeboard army of the nefarious Neo Zeed, and that’s when I first realized a video game could be about something. It may have only been one paragraph’s worth of context, but that was all we needed to save the pixelated world.
Sorry I stole your cartridge, Elliot. You were first, but I was better. – Eric Weiss
When I was a kid, I hung out at my dad’s computer store occasionally. To make sure I didn’t stick my nose in everyone’s business, he’d entertain me with a slew of computer games. Red Baron was my favourite: a World War I flight sim where you could bomb trainyards, hunt zeppelins, and shoot down the great aces in one-on-one combat. As a kid who had no use for realism, I gave myself unlimited ammunition and made myself invincible, so I was the undisputed king of the skies.
I got so sucked into every aspect of the game, from actually playing it to learning about the history to making my own videos, that I went out and bought Dynamix’s next flight sims, Aces of the Pacific and Aces Over Europe, as soon as I saved up the allowance for them. In case you’re wondering: they’re both totally awesome as well. – Wesley Fok
The co-founders of the Toronto Independent Game Jam (TOJam) took a trip down game lane to reflect on their first game loves…
At nine years old, my $3 weekly allowance suddenly became a fortune. – Jim McGinley
The first game that made me OWN the fact I was, indeed, a video game player was Tekken (PlayStation 1). Prior to that, I was just a casual observer at the arcades. But this game made me realize that I could play well enough to kick the butts of our friends, and helped me get over the “I’m too embarrassed to try” issue. It also paved the way for many, MANY hours of quality game time with Jim (McGinley) — we went through three PS1s(!) and I won’t even tell you how many games we owned.
While the types of games I play now are very different from Tekken, my favourites are those that offer the same opportunity to share the gaming experience with someone, whether competitively or collaboratively. – Emilie McGinley
There’s many games that stole hours of my time. But one of them stands out: SimCity.
SimCity stole my heart since its first inception. There was always something magical about watching the simulation churn through its cycles seeing what new structures would appear. – Rob Segal
Our Facebook fans let us know which game was the missing piece of their hearts…
Zelda on NES was the first game I played to the end, but the first I obsessed over was definitely Chrono Trigger. I never wanted it to end. – Hope L Nicholson
I had video games growing up, my dad had an Atari, I had a Sega, but I think the first game I really got intense about was Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. My cousin had a copy and I remember playing it furiously at his house and the total elation I felt when I finally beat him (he was 6 years older than me, it was a big deal).
When I finally got my own PlayStation, he even gave me the game because he knew how much more I liked it than he did. I still play it on XBLA every now and again, and although I can’t play as Anita on that version (console only) and Ken still kicks my ass, I still totally love it. – Danielle D’Ornellas
LoZ: A Link to the Past and the classic Super Mario World for SNES were the first games that truly resonated with me. To this day, they hold a special place in my heart! – Stephanie Warthe
On Twitter, with the hashtag #1stgamelove, we were blown away by your response. Here are just a few of our favourites, but you can check out the whole list here. If you missed out, tell us in the comments below!
— S. E. (@pixiemania) February 13, 2013
#1stgamelove Commander Keen: a young underappreciated genius builds a rocket, goes to space, saves the universe; it spoke to me!
— David S Gallant (@davidsgallant) February 13, 2013
@emilyclaireafan I first beat Karateka on Apple ][e. Also played Wolfenstein, The Bard’s Tale, Galactic Adventures. Love happened somewhere.
— Jeremy LaMont (@Jeremy_LaMont) February 13, 2013