This week, we're asking you to take a trip down memory lane. Specifically, to recall which video game character evokes the most memories. Perhaps it's playing Mario for the first time, or getting lost in the giant open-world sandbox of an RPG with a character of your own creation. Whatever it is, we're interested to hear about it.
As always, while you think about your response, here's the USgamer team to talk about which characters trigger the strongest memories for them.
I experienced Pokémon like everyone else when it first came out - I overleveled my starter, used my Master Ball on Articuno, and generally just messed around. Playing Pokémon Red, I wound up choosing Charmander, while my friend selected Squirtle. As you can imagine, our first ever battle wasn't pretty.
My friend's Squirtle eventually evolved into a Blastoise, and it went on to ritualistically destroy me in every single battle we had. I would carve up Hitmonlee, Ninetails, and whatever else he threw at me, only to get my whole team wiped out by that stupid Blastoise. Electric-types could do some damage, but they usually fell to a single Hydro Pump. Grass-types would get wiped by a Blizzard.
Then, finally, I got my revenge. Our battle was following the usual script when a desperation Ice Beam from Articuno froze Blastoise. In later versions, monsters would be able to thaw out and resume battling; but back in the days of the original Red and Blue, being frozen was a permanent condition. It took a while, but I finally was able to whittle down his Blastoise with repeated Ice Beams and claim victory.
After that, I never lost again. My understanding of Pokémon steadily evolved, and I was eventually able to build up a team strong enough to consistently take him down. But to this day, whenever I see a Blastoise, I think of the monster that could beat my team all by itself.
For anyone who knows my gaming habits, my answer is all too predictable: The character that triggers the strongest memories for me is my main in World of Warcraft. Although I'm not playing it at the moment - I'm awaiting the launch of the new upcoming expansion, Legions, before I re-subscribe - my main character represents more than 10 years of gaming memories that I've experienced while playing Blizzard's seminal MMORPG. From wandering around Elwynn Forest as a newbie to besting some of the game's biggest raid bosses, no other character comes close to triggering the kind of memories that my trusty Priest does when I start thinking about her.
Sure, I get pangs of nostalgia when I think about characters such as Mario, Sonic, and Pac Man, but most of those memories are of a specific time and place - such as playing through the original Super Mario Bros. for the very first time and being blown away by it. What World of Warcraft also triggers are memories of friendships, and, considering I've put thousands of hours into the game over the years, it also represents an almost alternative existence over the last decade. A place where I've spent a lot of time with people experiencing a full emotional spectrum, from weeks of frustration trying to beat specific raids through the ups and downs of challenging guild politics to the joys of getting a best-in-slot item that I'd been repeatedly trying for. Ultimately, the game was a big part of my life, and nothing else can compete with it.
Ah, Princess Toadstool.
What memories! That lost weekend in Paris...
I can fully credit Super Mario Bros. with changing my opinion on video games from "these things are neat" to "these things are my NEW LIFE." And when it comes to RPGs, I had a similar epiphany. While Final Fantasy IV stands as the first RPG I truly understood, it wouldn't be until 1994's Final Fantasy VI that this genre became an obsession of mine. Given the expectations at the time, it was almost impossible to avoid being bowled over by just about everything this ambitious little game did. Mature themes, a huge cast of lovable and distinct characters, an amazing soundtrack, and that unbelievable plot twist: All of these elements combined to create something my 12-year-old mind could barely handle.
Final Fantasy VI did much to teach me that games could do more than be frivolous and cartoony--long before the pointless "Are games art?" question appeared and then wouldn't go away. So, naturally, Final Fantasy VI was all I could think about. And, for whatever reason, this fixation manifested itself through the character of Mog. I'm not sure why I liked him so much--maybe it's because he's on the box, or maybe it's because he's easy to draw--but, from the second I picked him up, Mog would always be a mainstay in my party. And that's why he evokes the strongest gaming memories for me: Seeing his fuzzy little form brings me right back to the mid-90s, when I learned games could be more than silly little diversions. I guess they could still have cartoony little puffballs in them, though.
I guess I was always fated to have a thing for Mega Man X’s crimson Reploid friend, Zero. He was designed by legendary game developer Keiji Inafune to literally be as cool as possible, so here we are.
Even the worst Mega Man games are generally OK, so when I say Mega Man X for the SNES is a paragon, I don’t use the term lightly. It’s the action genre’s perfect storm: Incredible graphics, a legendary soundtrack, and fresh new gameplay ideas that click together as neatly as magnetic puzzle pieces. And at the center of it all is a story featuring a racecar-red robot with a shock of blonde hair. I was 12. Of course I was smitten.
Occasionally, we’re lucky enough to play a game that impacts us so deeply, thinking back on it also helps us remember the friends, events, and even the weather that affected us at the time. I played Mega Man X and met Zero near the end of grade 8. The weather was warm, and I teetered on the edge of summer vacation. To this day, all those memories provide me with happy thoughts whenever I catch the same scent on the air at the beginning of summer. Good stuff.