One of the highlights of blogging about games and using Twitter is getting to see so many amazing video game collections. I’ve seen some amazing things – modified consoles, import games, rare games, custom controllers…yet I get a tinge of sadness from seeing all these great things.

The reason for that sadness is simple. I used to collect myself and had a pretty decent collection. However, life got in the way. I had to make a decision, either keep the games or start a family and settle down. As much as I love video games, I’d always wanted to be a father and raise a family. So I traded the games, bought a house, got married, had kids…I think a lot of people are reading this right now and nodding. You’ve been there. At some point, everyone is forced to chose between their passion and reality…and most of us pick reality.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never regretted it for a moment. I’ve got what I wanted from that choice and I’m very lucky. Sometimes though…I wonder what would have happened if I’d kept collecting. What would my collection look like now? How big would it be? How many consoles would it encompass?

Thinking about questions like these makes me want to reminisce. Reminiscing is a big part of this blog – as you might have seen, a lot of what I write about is going back to things I’ve messed up with previously and trying to put things right. I’m trying to figure out where I went wrong and learn from these errors. However, I’ve done some things right too and it’s  fun to remember these things.

So, welcome to the first of an occasional series explaining how I became obsessed with video games and the adventures I had along the way…

2002 was a big year for me. I got my A Levels and started University. I met my first girlfriend and some people who went on to be really good friends. Everton actually started playing well, after years of being painful to watch. That’s not why I’m mashing the keyboard though…oh no. 2002 was the year I ‘got’ into video games.

THPS2

I’d always liked video games. However 2002 was the year I really fell in love with them. As a kid, I would spent hours playing games, but I’d never stick at them and complete them…hence why I’m a 34 year old man replaying these old games now. As a teenager, I was more into music, yet I lacked money and patience, hence why I’m a 34 year old man who is looking to listen to old albums again. The Playstation years were rough – no money, no patience and no taste meant I played some awful games during a glory era for games. Still, things had improved towards the end of the Playstation’s lifespan – I really enjoyed WWF Smackdown and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 –  and that was enough for me to get a PS2 for my eighteenth birthday in January 2002.

PES1

As is my way though, I made bad choices. I got two games with my PS2, GTA III (which I’ve explained my issues with before) and WWF Smackdown: Just Bring It. Both games were soon jettisoned for two games that would dominate my life – Pro Evolution Soccer and Extreme Warfare Revenge. Soon, all I was playing was a football game and a wrestling booking simulator.

American Pie

I used to joke that my PS2 was actually a ‘Pro Evo Station’ as that was all I ever played on it. I’m pretty sure that I never removed the Pro Evolution Soccer disc from the PS2, unless it was to watch American Pie (I actually paid £18, I think, for that film on DVD). I had become disillusioned with gaming…I loved Pro Evolution Soccer, but not gaming.

My memory is a little bit fuzzy on how events changed. I think I was lamenting my gaming situation with my circle of friends when we got talking about the Mega Drive. I had loved my Mega Drive as a kid, but the Playstation era had made the old Sega consoles seem uncool. Retro gaming was not a thing in the mid to late 90’s – you either had the latest console or you were late to the party, it was that simple.

Mega Drive II

However, that discussion struck a chord with me and I decided to get another Sega Mega Drive. I picked up a Sega Mega Drive II (my logic was that I had a Sega Mega Drive I as a kid, so I was technically buying a new console) from somewhere…a car boot sale? Gamestation? Cash Converter? I really can’t remember, but I remember loving it. Compared to the boxy Sega Mega Drive I, it was slick and fitted perfectly on my TV unit in my room. I was convinced the sound was better too. I’m sure it was, but I could be wrong!

AB cart

So, what games did I get with it? Well, I got some classics. I picked up Altered Beast for 50p from Cash Converter unboxed and fell in love with it. I know I harp on about it, but it was the daft 80’s retro game I needed after hours of Pro Evolution Soccer. I also got Shadow Dancer boxed for only a few pounds. I put hours into that game, yet stopped at the last boss…until going back to it last year and completing it. I also had Mega Games II, complete with the excellent Golden Axe and Streets of Rage I, two games that I used to play until the early hours of the morning. I’m not 100% sure, but I think I had Sonic 1 too. To be honest though, I think everyone has Sonic 1, regardless of what console they own. I’m actually convinced that it’s illegal to own a Mega Drive without Sonic 1 .It’s just one of those games that everyone has.

Regardless, I had my passion back, I was now up most nights playing 16 bit games from over a decade ago and having a blast. I wasn’t satisfied though…there was another console that I had always wanted. A console that catered to another growing passion of mine….