The story of the first game I played is also the story of the day I learned my first curse word.
My brothers had gotten hold of a rather illegal console, the Family Game, which was very popular in my home country of Argentina.
The game was an 8-bit platformer from Japan with a name we couldn’t decipher. It had very primitive graphics. You played as a pixelated blurb that could generously be described as a goblin. My brothers called him “El duendecito ch*to.”
I startled my mother by screaming I wanted to “Play with Ch*to!!” because I didn’t know that “Ch*to” is a very vulgar slang word that means “dick.”
I was six, or seven years old. I’m thirty-one now, and still very slow at guessing what slang words mean.
The same console gave me my first heroine.
The game was a Japanese beat ‘em up. You fought ninjas. The heroine, my avatar, had a flowing red mane.
This game was important to me, not only because it starred a girl, but because it had an intro that showed you pictures and words.
I solemnly stared at the screen without pushing any button, because I wanted to understand what it was going on.
I couldn’t read what was written, but the game wanted to say something to me. There was a reason we were doing this.
The game was ridiculously hard, though, so I never made it to an ending.
I wish I could give you a screencap, but googling “8 bit red haired ninja” is not as helpful as I want it to be.
During the 16bit era, we were Sega country. I heard rumors of rich kids owning SNES, but never met any—they were always the friend of a friend.
I owned a Sega. This one was mine, not my brothers,’ although they did hijack it often to play Mortal Kombat.
Around this time I became aware of the existence of gaming magazines.
The best ones came from Spain. I had very strong opinions about them.
TodoSega was boring. They always liked all the games, and they wasted too many pages giving “cheats” for the games. I didn’t want to read about combinations of buttons to be pressed. I wanted to know about games. Who you played as, what you were supposed to do.
Hobby Consolas was better. It was a bigger, longer magazine. But I found the writers a little too stuffy and formal. (Later, they would have sections about manga and anime, and they would win back my approval. But these were the early years.)
Then there was Mega Sega, and, yes, this was the good one. This was the one to be read. It was irreverent! It was funny! The letter column was run by a guy who traded insults with the letter writers! It was metal. It was for rebels. It was for me.
(Please keep in mind that at this point in time I was a ten, maybe eleven year old girl with braids and thick glasses, who wore lots of floral dresses and never said “bad words.” Well, except for ch*to, but we’ve covered that before.)
Mega Sega also had a section for RPGs alone.
I wish I could explain this to you in a way that made you see how I felt. The RPG section helped gamers who were stuck with puzzles or battles in games like, say, Shining Force. It spoke to people already in the thick of it.
I had never seen a role playing game, let alone played one. But here they were. The solution to problems in these games involved talking to people. These were games where you were meant to travel in a group of adventurers. There where who’s. There where why’s.
At this point I didn’t worry about how games were made. But I knew there were better, more interesting games that the ones I had access to, and I wanted them in my life.
I learned their names and started hunting for them. Finally, I got my hands on one. Landstalker.
But when I went home to play it, it didn’t work. Was it broken?
Burning with righteous fury, I ran back to the store
It was then I found out that my copy of Landstalker worked only on Megadrive consoles.
My console was a Genesis.