Getting new game consoles as a kid is a strange experience. Aside from the specific games you really want and have been reading about in magazines for months, what exactly you end up playing and ultimately falling in love with often depends on chance. When my mom walked out on my dirty dad and we moved out of the country in 2002, she stole her original PlayStation and a box full of games before dumping them in my lap. Suddenly, they baptized me a player.
Inside this box was a long list of classics. Final Fantasy 7, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Hogs of War, Gex: Deep Cover Gecko, Silent Hill and so many others that elude me all these years later. I come from a relatively poor family with nine siblings and parents who worked all the time, so they would often throw video games at me and expect me to kill time my way. Aside from building up a bit of resentment, this also set me on the path to where I am today. My PS2 was second hand and I bought it from my brother’s stoner best friend for a fraction of the price, while my PS3 came from similar circumstances.
I was not given a freshly sealed package on Christmas morning, but something that looked like it had been stolen from the back of a lorry on the M25. Maybe it was, and who was I to question how this machine ended up here? It was mine, and I want to go through the random selection of games that came with it. Turns out my mom actually has decent taste.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Okay, she can’t win them all, because this first game is a total stinker. Sonic 2006 was bad on all platforms, but the PS3 version somehow takes the cake. Its visuals and performance improved over the Xbox 360, but they traded this for load times so disgusting I could get up and make a cup of tea in the time it takes to transition between menus.
While echoes of Sonic Adventure can be found throughout, this fiendish platformer is broken, unfinished, and feels like a student project someone put together in a couple of weeks rather than something meant to represent a legendary Sonic mascot. mow. What a mess.
Genji: Blade Days
This one is a little better. Known for the “giant enemy crab” meme more than the game itself, Genji: Days of Blade was a competent launch title with gorgeous graphics let down by a painfully slow combat system. It was aiming for historical majesty and ended up feeling boring. The PS2 original is ten times better, and there’s a big reason this series has never been talked about since.
resistance fall of man
Now here’s a hit. Resistance remains a wonderfully distinct project from Insomniac Games. Not only does it keep the creative weapons of Ratchet & Clank, but it also takes a generic alien invasion premise and breathes new life into it with a setting we haven’t seen replicated since. While the sequels would go international on our butts, the first game has us battling it out in the cities of York, Grimsby, Manchester, and Nottingham.
Playing it today just makes me wish our country was being invaded by hostile alien life forms instead of fighting through another year of Tory leadership. There would probably be fewer food banks and more high street stores if the Chimera were in charge, let’s face it.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
My mom is responsible for my love of Naughty Dog, so in a way, she’s also responsible for The Last of Us remake. I’ll talk to her and fix this. To her credit, though, I hadn’t heard of Uncharted when I found it in the game piles next to my used console, and at the time it was a graphical showcase that nothing could compete with.
Today it’s a nightmare filled with dodgy technical decisions and horrible writing, a testament to how far both Naughty Dog and the medium have come. However, in remastered form it’s still a good time, and back then it introduced me to a new kind of game blockbuster.
SingStar Volume 2
Apparently, when I first came out, it was painfully obvious and my family knew about it for a long time. Given that they also bought me SingStar, maybe that was supposed to be a pretty cheeky hint that everything was made of glass. It came with two microphones, so I wasn’t the only one who became a pop sensation in front of the whole family after a pint of Pepsi Max. What a thrill this game was, and my love of karaoke remains.
Turns out this game only made it to Xbox 360 and PC, but I asked for it to be included in the header image because I’m sure I remember it, so I need to include it here somehow. I’m pretty sure I mistook it for Heavenly Sword. Or was it Untold: Legends Dark Kingdom? There was a pretty lady and that’s all I know.
This was the only game I was really excited about, praying I was under the tree so I could get lost in Bethesda’s RPG after hearing so many amazing things about it. I got my wish, and I was too young to realize how awful the PS3 port was too! I would like to mention that before the release of Modern Warfare 2 I played all of my games on a CRT that electrocuted me every time I dared to touch the screen or press one of the buttons. It is a miracle that he is still alive and playing today. Fallout 3 is a classic though, apart from iffy console ports.
Trash. At least it has dragons, I suppose.
Digital games were still scary in 2008, but Jackass remained incredibly popular, and thus Pain was born. This simplistic demonstration of mayhem involved launching some poor guy from a catapult into the middle of a crowded cityscape with the goal of causing as much damage as possible. It was so much fun, and I remember spending so much time with my brother as we tried to get over each other before the day was done. I was never allowed to pick up the DLC though, so who knows if that was any good.
My mom knew I loved JRPGs, with names like Final Fantasy already a common expression in our household. Yeah, I was a cool kid. One Christmas she told me that she had found a game that was ‘like those Final Fantasy games you like’ and it turned out to be Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events for PS2. I still haven’t forgiven that lying bitch.
The folklore was amazing though and remains a rare PS3 exclusive even today that wishes it received more recognition. He adored it as a kid and would play countless JRPGs on the platform that ranged from masterful to mediocre. This one was comfortable, creepy, and the perfect way to call in a new generation.
I’m probably missing a few games that have slipped my mind, but the PS3 remains one of my all-time favorite consoles because it came at a pivotal point in my upbringing. There are so many games from that era that I remember fondly, though my brother used to bring them home after taking them from his friends for a joint. I wouldn’t have been able to play Demon’s Souls any other way, so it was an oddly perfect set of circumstances for a little player like me. I think I’ll have to do all my other childhood consoles now if I can remember enough about them. God, I feel so old, but games are for life, not just for Christmas.
Next: Cyberpunk Edgerunners’ Rebecca Highlights Anime’s Bizarre Obsession With Underage Characters