Adrenaline-Rush Moments In Gaming
Author :        Date : 15-Mar-09

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A

Just about everyone is familiar with this legendary Konami cheat code, along with the exhilaration after successfully implementation.  For me, this occurred while playing Contra on the NES.

I glance up at the two ready-for-action commandos displayed on the title screen, hoping for some type of manly ‘grunt’ of acknowledgement for my efforts – I am awarded with nothing but silence.  With apprehension I take a quick look down at the crumpled code page from Electronic Gamer straddling my lap.  "Try pressing the ‘Start’ button after the code…" the text lectured back to me.  OK, point made.  I proceed as directed and again wait patiently for what seemed to be an eternity (in reality it was about three seconds) for the magic to now happen.

Yahtzee!!  I see my freedom fighter start off with 30 lives instead of the rather measly, standard allotment of 3!  Time to go dole out some pain and punishment to the heathens!!!

I can vividly remember feeling the extreme rush after getting this code to work the very first time.  This article focuses on just that – extraordinary video gaming moments you just will never forget.

I had the pleasure of growing up during the advent of the video game console and have experienced first hand each new technological breakthrough in this arena. This doesn’t make me an expert – far from it. It just means that I am old.  The following are just a few of my more memorable gaming moments growing up that I remember to this day as though it just happened yesterday evening.  Some describe the pure excitement derived from solving an exceptionally difficult level or discovering a hidden area, while others left their impact simply due to my wonderment at the technological advances.

Here are some of my other adrenaline-rush moments in gaming…

1975 – Atari PONG

A standard December gathering at my Uncle Glenn’s home – not!  A steady stream from Aqualung by Jethro Tull was the replacement for the more traditional, tranquil holiday offerings (much to my Grandmother Alice’s dismay).  The showstopper occurred when he fired up his newly acquired Atari PONG system.  Though I was quite young, I remember being amazed by what I eventually saw on his 19" black and white television screen – PONG.  The adults pretty much monopolized the gaming that evening, but my cousin Rob and I finally got our chance just before we had to leave.  We basically stunk and it was a miracle when we could manage a total of three consecutive volleys.  Still, it was pure joy and heaven for us.

1977 – Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600)

My friend Steve (a.k.a. P-Man) was the first to have access to the new line of cartridge based systems – the Atari 2600.  Drago (another neighborhood crony) and I were pumped about this and itching to play.  Now Steve screwed up somehow on the home front very soon after this acquisition.  He was not allowed to have any of us mates over at all for one entire month – plus the 2600 was off limits to him as well.  Talk about cruel and unusual punishment!  The day finally arrived when ‘our’ sentence was over and we could hunker down and experience this new technology.  We were not disappointed.  The graphics for us were astonishing and when the time counter started to blink in those last 16 seconds of the round – pure adrenaline!

1987 – Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (Nintendo NES)

This classic is either loved or hated by Castlevania fans.   More of an RPG (role playing game) than the standard action-adventure fair the series is known for, tackling this game is not an easy task.  One particularly frustrating section for me was being stuck in front of a death-inviting lake with no where to go.  I starting chucking holy water and just about everything else I had in my sack into that cesspool to no avail.  Trial and error button combinations were then deployed at this despised location.  By a stroke of pure luck I finally issued the ‘Kneel Down’ command at the left hand side of this pool – a magical walkway under the raging current miraculously appeared!  Thank the heavens for this since I was really getting sick of beating through those werewolves and goblins every time ‘Day’ turned into ‘Night’ (which seemed to happen every 4 minutes or so).

1992 – Super Star Wars (Super Nintendo)

This game is extraordinarily difficult, to the point of being frustrating at times.  One poorly timed jump and it was instant death for my Jedi hero.  Thank goodness it contained one of the best Easter Eggs in the history of video games (in my humble opinion) – "The Cave of 99 Free Lukes".  Following the directions as outlined in my Game Informer magazine, I bravely stepped off the specified cliff and furiously cranked on the Left directional button as my Padawan plummeted downward.  At the last moment before it was ‘goodbye Luke’, I spotted the ledge to the secret cave entrance, barely making it to safe ground.  I would not be disappointed.  With proton blaster in hand, I unleashed the weapon’s fury into the blank recesses of this grotto and ‘Free Lukes’ starting appearing everywhere!!  To this very day that is one of the best rushes I have ever had.

1994 – Shock Wave (3DO)

I admit it – I was the first in line at my local Electronics Boutique to buy this system for $699 upon its launch back in 1993.  Not a good move, I know.  But when I first fired up Shock Wave, I was completely blown away!  Yes, FMV (Full Motion Video) had already been introduced in earlier systems, but the Panasonic 3DO did take it to the next level back in the day.  The intro alone was impressive, making me feel like I was the star protagonist in an actual movie.  When my star fighter absorbed its first ‘neon-green proton’ hit, my squad Commander promptly appeared in my HUD (Heads Up Display) and barked at me "This is not a game Lieutenant!!".  At that point I was hooked.  Side note: Does anyone else think that Commander was kind of hot?

1994 – Out of this World (3DO)

Though I did not want to include two 3DO games in this listing, I would be remiss if I did not include this experience in this article.  This classic game is difficult, to say the least.  From the moment the artistic polygon animations were displayed in the intro, I was roped in.  In gaming sessions with my buddies Drago and Cola, we collectively beat through this game until we hit the wall. Our Lester, in prone position, was presented in a domed room and was subjected to an almost instantaneously electrocution.  Almost two hours later, despite all the running, blaster fire, throwing up force fields, etc. we were still getting fried in this room of pain.  Cola’s turn was up and we were prepared for more of the same, except Drago uttered two words in an almost inquisitive voice – "crawl backwards".  Yessss!!  Our Lester finally avoided the lethal charge and was gratefully free to exit from this living hell.  Should we have figured this out earlier?  Probably.  I never did confess to being the sharpest pair of skates on the ice.

1996 – King’s Field (Sony PlayStation)

I admit to being somewhat of a fanboy of this series, but this game truly rocks.  The Playstation has been recently released in the US and King’s Field was one of the first to exploit the true power of this fledgling console.  Upon firing up this FP (First Person) RPG game I was greeted with dark, ominous music that appropriately set the tone for my upcoming adventure.  After a so-so intro the screen fades from black to reveal the brooding island that I have been shipwrecked upon.  I was amazed as I maneuvered my viewpoint to check out my local surroundings.  This was one of my first experiences with FP technology (to this degree) and I have been a fan ever since.  This was truly a treat for all of my senses, right up until the point where I took my first three steps and plunged to my death in the icy cold waters of Melanat.

2001 – Grand Theft Auto III (Sony Playstation 2)

Everyone knows this game so I won’t spend any time prefacing this classic.  Sure, I had run over old ladies with walkers in Road Rash and had my share fair of fun decapitating foes in Mortal Kombat, but this was nothing compared to the mayhem that awaited me in Grand Theft Auto III.  Sniping innocent civilians was a blast, but what I remember most was being astonished by the size of the gaming arena known as Liberty City – it was HUGE and mine to explore (or exploit) as I saw fit.  Thank goodness I enjoy this explorative aspect of video gaming since I frequently found myself completely lost in this sprawling city navigating my ‘Stallion’ without any real type of plan.  (I do admit that my favorite part of this game is still taking off the limbs of pedestrians with my Sniper rifle.)

2006 – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Microsoft Xbox 360)

From the very moment I was able to control my paladin in the dark dungeon recesses at the very onset of this game, pure ecstasy is the only way I can describe it.  Though I rather prefer the surreal atmosphere of its predecessor (Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind) to the "Sound of Music" environment now presented to me, I can’t help but to find myself almost being able to smell the dandelions as I make my way through the foothills of Cyrodiil.  Now this is what Next-Gen is all about!

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