Joe McNeilly, Senior Editor:
My first videogame crush was Jill Simm from 1985’s groundbreaking text adventure A Mind Forever Voyaging on Amiga. I know she was just a simulation fabricated by PRISM to determine the viability of the Plan for Renewed National Purpose, but I couldn’t stop examining her.
There was real magic in the way she always enjoyed trashy romance novels like a smart dirty girl, the way she said, “Ooo-la-la” like a French hooker after I kissed her… and the painting of our honeymoon in Bermuda always set my mind reeling with naughty remembrances of our wedding night and the first time we ever tried… umm, ahem.
Hey! What were we talking about? I still get lost in Jill’s voluptuous typography, the gentle curve of her J, that cute little line that appears on the top of her l’s when she smiles... durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…
Joe's most recent crush: Serena (Halo Wars)
Tyler Nagata, Senior PC Editor:
My first gaming crush began in a multi-user dungeon (MUD) on a bulletin board system (BBS) in Hawaii. If you’ve never played a MUD, imagine an MMO like World of Warcraft with no graphics, just text. She was a sorceress, who I’ll call “Sparkles.” Clearing dungeons and leveling up with my newfound friend infected me with my first case of puppy dog love.
Above: Artist’s representation
After adventuring together for a while, we found out that we had a lot in common. She went to a high school right down the street from mine and liked Magic the Gathering cards. Okay, so maybe we didn’t have that much in common. Her geekiness was still enough to give me butterflies in my tummy when we met for our first date at a nearby mall, where we consumed oily pizza, discussed the pros and cons of using a multi-colored Magic card deck and watched Waterworld with Kevin Costner.
Tyler's most recent crush: Hannah (Fable II)
Mikel Reparaz, Senior PlayStation Editor:
If the words “High atop a craggy cliff…” stir some long-forgotten corner of your memory, then you, like me, might have played a lot of Jordan Mechner’s Karateka back in the ‘80s. As a little kid with an Apple //e and an extremely limited game supply, Karateka was my favorite game from about 1984 to 1988. From the first time I played it, Karateka hooked me with its ridiculously deep-for-the-time gameplay (six
kinds of attack!) and story. In particular, I was captivated by the beautiful kidnappee Princess Mariko, the first realistic woman I’d ever seen in a game.
Above: Mariko suffers the oddly fatherly, go-to-your-room cruelty of the evil warlord Akuma
For 1984, Karateka was a revolution in game-based storytelling. As you worked your way through Akuma’s castle, your progress would be rewarded with glimpses of Mariko responding to your theme music. First she’d raise her head, then she’d stand in defiant anticipation as Akuma sent his best men (and eventually that stupid bird of his) to kill you.
It was the first game that really gave players a reason to care about its characters, and in particular the princess they were tasked with saving. In my case, it made me desperately want to save her.
Now, Karateka’s a pretty short game, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, there are a few traps that will kill you every time – and with just one life, taking a trial-and-error approach means starting a new game every time you fail. So for years, I wondered what amazing things might lie behind, say, the stupid portcullis that cut me in half every time I tried to walk through it.
And while I wondered about that, I also wondered how things might end up for Mariko and the hero. Being six when I started playing, I imagined their future would be a happily ever after that would eventually devolve into arguments over bills and whose turn it was to do the dishes. It was idiotic, but it was still a future I wanted to see.
After years of playing the game off and on, I finally figured out how to get past its traps and trickier enemies, and eventually beat down Akuma himself. I remember slick palms and heart palpitations as I walked nervously toward Mariko. And as I edged nearer, she…
SHE KICKED ME IN THE FACE AND I DIED.
Above: WHAT THE C***ING F***BALLS
It’s impossible to accurately describe the level of rage this caused. After years spent playing my favorite game, my reward for finishing it was a moronic, slapstick death. I felt immensely betrayed. I actually cried, and when I told my parents about it, they of course thought it was hilarious (which it was), and that only made me angrier.
Probably the only thing that kept me from tearing the game disk in half was the realization that maybe walking cautiously toward the captive princess sent the wrong message. To convince her of my intentions, I’d have to run to her (although being hit while running also resulted in instant death). So I put on my best stoic grimace, played through the game again, ran into her arms and was rewarded with a kiss.
It wasn’t the detailed happy ending I’d imagined, but it was better than a kick in the head.
Mikel's most recent crush: Midna (Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess)
Do you remember your first gaming crush? Reminisce in the comments section below… if your story or memory is compelling enough, it could end up in a follow-up feature. Be honest and don’t hold back!
Apr 21, 2009
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