Legacy of Kain (PlayStation)

Today we have a guest writer, James Archer (@LeonBelmontX). James is a self-confessed video game addict who is constantly fighting a never-ending backlog. His favourite series include The Legend of Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, Yakuza, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid and Legacy of Kain. He also writes a blog about his experiences as a gamer who suffers with anxiety.

I can’t even say what intrigued me about Blood Omen on the PS1 when I first picked it off a shelf in a rental shop when I was just starting secondary school. It’s cover art was never anything special in my eyes, and I didn’t know anyone else who had played it. Still, Kain would argue that this was fate, the start of a series of events that lead to my writing this very article.

The game left a lasting impression upon me. Compared to most games I had played at that point, the game was dark, broody and atmospheric. A 2D top-down game – in many ways reminiscent of the classic Legend of Zelda titles – Blood Omen was set in the gloomy world of Nosgoth; a grim, medieval world devoid of any sort of joy or happiness. Townspeople lived in fear of the creatures that stalked the world, cities were ravaged by the plague, and a depressed king let the world slip into ruin at the loss of his only daughter. The game’s protagonist, a nobleman named Kain, was inexplicably murdered whilst travelling and then offered a chance at revenge by a Necromancer named Mortanius. Reborn a vampire, Kain set off on a warpath to enact revenge on those that had organised his assassination.

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Discworld (PS1)

Back in the early days of PlayStation there were huge game cases, tons of horrible early 3D games like Battle Arena Toshinden and Kileak: The DNA Imperative clogging up space at the local rental store. Then there was the weird looking game with magic stuff going on with the cover. There was no YouTube to look up what a game was or how it played. Even if you were big on magazines back then buying one cost the same as renting a game, plus you have no guarantee by looking at your newest GamePro magazine that the cool games you wanted would even be available if you were renting. You were at the whims of Lady Luck if the store carried the game you wanted and it was available. So what you’re left with is a toss of the dice as you judge a book by it’s cover… or in my case of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, a game based on a book’s box art. A wizard riding a chest with feet and the grim reaper, flying away from a planet on a giant turtle’s back in space. Sold.

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Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation)

So let us travel back to 1997. A young Chris can be found drooling over those infamous trailers that made players think games could run looking like a Pixar moviewith nothing but cut scene footage. It took about a month of begging before I finally managed to secure this massive three disc game. Since then it’s stuck with me through my life, giving me probably about seventeen different directions I could share with you how much I fell for this game. Instead I’ll stick with three oddball memories as it’d grow into the classic I’d love for years.

Back in gym class for seventh grade, sitting on the floor with a split in my pants waiting for the day to end (don’t ask) – I was talking to my buddy about video games. Scott was going on about Final Fantasy VII, how awesome it was, how much time he spent on it, etc. He had previously played FF3 on SNES and enjoyed it a lot. The series was mostly foreign to me, having just dabbled in FF2 (SNES) a bit but never taking it too seriously. All the cool places he was talking about… Magic, dragons, crazy guys with silver hair and swords the length of a Buick. I was awe in listening to him talk about it because I knew I wanted to get it already. It was akin to reading reviews for a game you already preordered, eager for any taste of it you can. The TV commercials had won me over and now I just needed to wear my mom down into buying it for me. The final piece of that came into play when I found a coupon in some game magazine at the time to save $10 when buying it at Target, so I knew it was almost mine. Scott then explained to me “Oh dude, it’s so good. I can’t wait til you get it and play it. Just don’t waste your time with the healer chick Aeris, they kill her off at the end of the first disc.” – Done. Just like that. A game I was so eager for, that would eventually go on to be one of my top five favorite games of all time – Spoiled in the eve of me acquiring it and playing it for the first time. One of the most heart-wrenching moments of gaming written off as a random point of data just like “contains 13 towns to visit, fully rendered in 3D!” would be blasted on the back of a game box.

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It’s Squall Good!

In denial and still heartbroken over what I saw as Square’s betrayal of Nintendo, I never really got into Final Fantasy VII. I had also never had the funds before to dabble in video-game-system-polygamy, and I had already opted for a Nintendo 64, for better or worse, with Final Fantasy or without, ’til GameCube do us part. But time heals all wounds and bagging groceries on Camp Pendleton was a fairly lucrative job so I wound up in possession of a PlayStation sometime in the fall of 1999.

The events of my life in 1999-2000 were a perfect storm for falling in love with the angsty, teenage-soap-opera that is Final Fantasy VIII. To recap, it was my senior year of high school so there was a bright light at the end of the tunnel that could lead to almost anywhere, and the possibilities were intoxicating; in order to woo a certain young lady, I had begun watching Dawson’s Creek, then airing season 3, which to this day is a masterful mix of nostalgia, heartache, angst, and wanting, not to mention the best slow-burn love triangle in TV history (seriously, watch it); as a young Mormon guy, I was getting ready to serve a mission, which can involve two years of service in a foreign country. All of this created a fertile field for the story of two star-crossed lovers and their team of teenage diplomats/warriors who crisscross the globe to battle a time-compressing future-wizard and her cronies.

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