Though my parents had owned consoles – mostly Pong clone machines and, in the late 80s, an Atari 2600 – I’d never had one that I could truly call my own.
I’d spent the 80s becoming acquainted with video games, in arcades and on 8-bit computers that my friends owned, mostly. I absolutely loved them and couldn’t get enough.
It was through my experiences with arcade games that I became really familiar with Sega; their machines were so impressive from a technical point of view and were always the most attention grabbing – from the motorbike that housed Hang On to the beautifully tactile and immersive After Burner and Space Harrier machines, I was absolutely in awe of them.
These weren’t just games. They were experiences.
When I discovered that those experiences could be played at home via the newly launched Sega Master System, I had to have it.
I became absolutely obsessed with Sega’s home console. I used to drool over the images of it in home catalogues, study the game boxes I saw in shops and lap up every scrap of information I could when I found articles on the games and the console itself in magazines.
It was all I talked about – all I thought about – for months. I must have driven everyone I knew – family and friends – completely nuts with my obsession.
My family weren’t well off by any stretch of the imagination, so it was quite a big deal when they were able to afford the Master System for me for Christmas. It was the only present I could have from my parents that year, so I made sure that other family members who asked me what I wanted were able to get me some games too.
And what a selection I had to go with Hang On, which came built-in with the console. I had Spy Vs Spy and Bank Panic on the cute – and, importantly for my Grandparents, cheap – card format. Bank Panic was a game I’d played and loved at the arcade; Spy vs Spy just looked bloody cool (and was, thankfully!). The final game I received that Christmas was from a close family friend and was a big reason I wanted a Master System so desperately in the first place.
Wonder Boy in Monster Land wasn’t the biggest or flashiest game in the arcade. It was, however, a game I instantly fell in love with. It felt like it had tremendous depth for an arcade game – with shops, equipment that improved your character’s abilities and conversations with town citizens. I only played it a few times in the arcade, but I adored it.
It became the first game I ever reached the end of. To this day, I can still recall the location of many of the game’s secret coin stashes and even hidden doors. The music and sound effects are forever ingrained in my memory.
There’s been an awful lot of consoles and games since that Christmas around thirty years ago, but few have made anywhere near the same impact on me as Sega’s console and that lovely Wonder Boy game (to this day, I still have a real soft spot for it – even though the subsequent game, The Dragon’s Trap, improved on it in almost every way).
What was the first console you owned? The first game that really made an impact on you? What was the first game you completed? Feel free to talk about it in the comments below!
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