Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chp 564. My greatest moment in Gaming


I got my first gaming console back in 1991 – A Nintendo Samurai (if I’m not mistaken, it’s called "Nintendo Samurai" only here in India because "Samurai" was the name of the distributor whereas everywhere else it was simply known as "NES" – Nintendo Entertainment System). 

I remember that moment so well because I went through hell trying to carry my Nintendo into Mizoram!

Back in the late 80’s, I had my first experience with video games when dad bought an Atari console. Our family spent sleepless nights playing Space Invaders and Tennis together. And as always, my eldest sister u Lapuii would lose her shit with the controllers and end up breaking the joysticks when they "didn’t behave the way she commanded them" :D 

That was when I fell in love with video games.

Back then, I was packed off to a boarding school in Calcutta - St. Thomas, Khidderpore. It was there that I heard about the next generation of 8-bit video games called Nintendo Samurai. After countless number of “DUE” stamped letters sent to my parents (those days, we could just write “due” on an envelope instead of sticking a stamp, and the receiver pays the postman for the letter, ahhh those good ol’ days), begging my parents for this new gaming console.

I begged and begged and begged.

Finally, when I was supposed to return home from hostel because of summer vacation, my parents finally gave in. They instructed my Marwari local guardian uncle Bhantia to purchase that gaming console for me. When uncle Bhantia came to our hostel to pick me up and told me the news, I was ecstatic!

He took me to AC Market (can’t believe the place still exists even today!) and bought me my first ever Nintendo Samurai. I also bought Super Mario Bros, Contra, Mega Man and Duck Hunt cartridges along with it.


The moment I reached my guardian’s apartment, I assembled the console like crazy. Uncle Bhantia's entire family all packed around me. It was a joint family so there was uncle Bhantia, his wife and 2 kids,  his brother, brother's wife and kids, and his parents. To this day, I still can't imagine how they all managed to live together in that tiny apartment :D But those were some great memories indeed. I still remember how much they too loved playing the games for the first time.

Now the reason why I said I went through hell to get that gaming console into Mizoram was because of this - The next morning was my flight to Mizoram, and uncle Bhantia woke me up, and like an obedient child, I got ready. My suitcase was packed and my Nintendo console was separately packed as a carry-on baggage.

I was just 11 years old then, but I had fair knowledge of what to do at the airport. After security check-in, I was on my own. That was when I faced the problem. The security personnel looked at my gaming console through the x-ray machine and thought it was a bomb! Apparently, they had never seen a gaming console before! I had to assemble my Nintendo Samurai right there at the airport for them to see. After a lot of hesitation and senior officers getting involved, I was finally able to convince them it was not dangerous and I was allowed to carry it through.

And no, the nightmare didn’t end there.

As we flew to Mizoram in the wobbling old Vayudoot towards Tuirial airfield, the 28-seater plane had to turn around and head back to Calcutta due to bad weather! And so back in Cal, uncle Bhantia was still there waiting for me. We headed back to his apartment and the next morning he dropped me at the airport again. And AGAIN, I faced an issue with the airport security. Apparently, the security guards had changed and they asked me to dismantle my gaming console again, and again a few senior officials had to get involved.

That is why I remember that incident so well. You really can’t forget something like that.

Fortunately, my flight was successful the second time and I reached home finally, and all my friends were amazed with my new gaming console. I was like the talk of the town!

Anyway, yeah, to cut a long story short, the gaming industry had greatly evolved since then. After the 8-bit consoles, came the 16-bit ones by SEGA, Nintendo SNES, NEC, NeoGeo etc and suddenly the electronics market was flooded with new gaming consoles everywhere. The graphics quality vastly improved, and very soon I was begging my folks to upgrade me from the NES to an SNES. The Mario Bros franchise too did extremely well, spewing out different sequels. Other favorite games of mine those days were Double Dragon, Heavy Barrel, Ice Climber, Circus Charlie, Excite Bike, Donkey Kong, Adventure Island, TMNT etc to name a few. Even the cartridges evolved from a single game cartridge to 4-in-one to a whooping 9999-in-one! :D

And then it was time for the computer era (aka Rise of the PC Master Race :P ). From simple MS-DOS games like Dave, Prince of Persia, Wolfenstein 3D, Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail that could fit in a single (or a few) floppy disks to present day PC games like the latest Wolfenstein version and Grand Theft Auto whose installation files alone are more than 60 GB in size, we have indeed come a long way since then...

Till today, I have played hundreds of games across different platforms, categories and genres. I’m not going to bore you with all the games I’ve played, but I must admit, I am indeed happy to be working in an industry I am extremely passionate about. From quitting the advertising industry to starting our own mobile gaming company with friends, to getting acquired by a bigger company specializing in celebrity gaming, it had been a most wonderful journey so far.

Just the other day, we were reminiscing and discussing about what our favorite moments in gaming were, and this led me to a deep thought. There are just too many to name for me, ranging from those days I would skip classes in Engineering college just to find the damn Zod runes in Diablo II, to staying up for 3 days straight trying to complete the (then) newly released Age of Mythology, Rise of Nations  & Warcraft III campaigns, or actually staying up the entire night in office under the pretext of completing a project deadline, when in fact it was actually because my tribe was currently at war with another tribe at an MMORPG browser game I was deeply involved in! 

Even now, if we take the computer gaming era aside, the whole gaming industry is still on a steady evolution, moving from normal consoles to motion detection consoles like Wii, PS Move and Kinect, to the rise of the mobile gaming industry that gave a new definition of gaming experience known as "mobile-first games", not to mention new entrants like Oculus Rift guaranteed to take Virtual Reality gaming by storm. So many experiences to choose from...

And then it struck me.

Yes, the best moment in gaming for me is definitely this -


Yup, nothing will ever beat the joy and exhilaration I felt when I discovered the warp zone of Super Mario Bros all on my own! And this was after I had completed the entire Super Mario Bros quest.

Those were the days when there was no such thing as the "internet", so there was no question of going online to look for walkthroughs, cheats and strategy guide. You had to do everything the hard way back then, all on your own.

After playing Super Mario Bros more than a hundred times and even managing to rescue the damn princess from world 8-4 (and all she freaking did was present me with a new quest!), it was such an exciting moment for me when I was replaying the game and accidentally went up the "elevator" on world 1-2 and I didn't die, and so I got curious and went and explored further, only to discover the hidden shortcut!

Of course I was aware of all the "easter eggs" hidden within the game as I discovered many of the secret 1up boxes, coin rooms and coin heavens across different levels. But I never expected the warp zone at all. Later, when I discovered the second warp zone (world 4-2), I was happy, but not as excited as I was when I discovered the first warp zone. And an even bigger rush for me was the realization that I completed world 8-4 without having any knowledge of the warp zones! :)

So I guess that was my favorite moment in gaming. It is a memory that will forever be etched in my head and a moment that made me cherish gaming on a whole new level. So what was your favorite gaming moment and why? Do tell me your story.

Cheers!