I’ve written elsewhere before, twice, about how much of an impression Jedi Knight made on me as a youth. The first link shares about how growing up when I did, I didn’t have a Star Wars trilogy for my generation and how video games brought me into that world. The second about how the online community for it was unlike anything you’d recognize today in FPS communities. Instead of rehashing on that though, I wanna go back to how I got introduced to this beauty of a game.
Back way back when (1997) my friends I loved to loiter as teenagers do. The local strip mall was filled with the normal fair of shoe stores, grocers, women’s apparel, Target, and a coney island joint… Oh, sorry, you non-Michigan residents would call them diners. Within that dearth of personality there was one golden nugget for us in our midwest suburban sprawl for a short while though that had a bunch of computers and games set up. This was pre-GameStop as we know it. In a landscape where Babbages, GameStop, Funcoland, and EB Games were still in their infancy you used to see a lot more companies struggling to make it in the same space. For us, Egghead Software was our bastion of joy. Two friends and I would go up their and see whatever was installed on the PCs and doof around for a bit. Normally the pestering of the clerk who tired of us tying up their computers for actual paying customers would lead us out the door. Such is the life of pre-adulthood. No money, no hobby, and tons of empowered ‘tude because “you’re not a kid anymore”.
Well one visit in wasn’t like that at all. Popping in by myself as my dad was next door at a neighboring shop I opted to see what was going on today in there. They had two new games set up to play and both would win me over. Age of Empires, and Star Wars Jedi Knight. I remember it having the entire first level open for play at that point and actually spending several tries to get through it. Picking up a blaster, being chased by Rodians down halls for cover, searching for medpacks to get up enough health to face the weird alien dudes coming for me. At this point I had never seen a Star Wars film still, only familiar with the Shadows of the Empire on Nintendo 64. I thought that was cool and this was the same thing, sort of. Controlling with a mouse and keyboard was outside the norm for me and I kept dying. Over. and over. and over. I was enthralled though and wanted to keep exploring this weird space station thing.
The game was a thing of magic. It had live-action cutscenes! I realize they didn’t age well now and probably were awful back then too, having now seen YouTube fan vids with a better production value. For me then though it was just the coolest. Unfortunately I sucked bad at it. The store clerk felt pity on me and came over, chatting up and giving me tips. Then he did this weird thing where a prompt came up and he could just enter cheat codes. My mind was blown that it was that easy on PC games. Then completely sealing the deal on how much I needed this game, he entered the code “deeznuts”. I couldn’t help but think OMG, this is an actual code in the game by the people who made it?! HILARIOUS! Again, I was thirteen at the time. Between that and another code he put in called “yodajammies” it gave me a bunch of force powers and mana so I could wipe the floor with all opposition. Sold. For life.
Eventually I’d convince my dad to get me that game and I spent days of my life on both the single player and multiplayer aspects of it. Eventually I’d learn to not suck and was able to play through it without cheating, mostly from my desire to get better for multiplayer battles. Egghead Software would shut down the next year, but I’d go on to be a PC gamer for the better part of a near-decade from that point on. All because DEEZ NUTS.
What? I was thirteen. That’s comedy gold!