Have you ever known a game so well it's felt hardwired into your brain?

Is there a certain game you can always school on instinct, no matter how long the break?

Now I knew Jim was a hard game, and I knew that the gameplay hadn't been changed at all for this new HD version, so I was expecting to get my arse immediately handed to me and have to learn it all over again. After all, I hadn't played it seriously in over a decade. But none of that happened. Cold, 16-bit instinct kicked in, as did a whole load of razor sharp memories of things I'd forgotten I'd ever known. Very strange things happened to my mind that day, soread click on, sothat I canexplain this curious case further. And then tell me if anything similar has ever happened to you.

Above: Me, calculating the exact blast angle perfectly

There I was, starting New Junk City for the first time in more than ten years. After that gap, Jim should have been all but a new game to me. But then the bassline of that first tune kicked in, and something mighty and ancient stirred, Cthulu-like, in the darkest corner of my brain.

It turned out that I hadn't forgotten my old Earthworm Jim skills. I'd just preserved them for the ageslike some kind of mental secret weapon, sealed away and safeguarded to save future generations.

Every enemy behaviour pattern, every nuance of Jim's running and jumping physics, every tiny detail of the game's collision-detection and every exact angle and distance it's possible to hit a successful whip swing from...They didn't so much come flooding back as materialise instantaneously in my mind, filling my skull withtheir age-old lessons and hard-learned old-school instincts. All this knowledge was just there, sitting in my brain like a troll under a bridge.

Above: Me, calculating the exact powerslide angle perfectly

Maybe it's a thing that happens with older games. They were harder back then and required more precision, so we had to spend afternoon upon afternoon just mastering how to control the damn things, let alone completing them. Maybe that's why my Jim skills are so eternally locked into my brain. It would also explain why I'm masterfully better at the original Super Mario Kart than any version since.

Have you ever had a similar experience? Ever had a long-thought-forgotten game retake command of your brain and senses like this, as if no time had ever passed? Is there any game you know so well that you just can't not be good at it, no matter hard you try? Let me know. I find this phenomenon intriguing and would like to investigate further.


Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.
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