Gaming Memories

A common practice while I sit at my desk working throughout the day is to read through the blog sites that I follow here on WordPress. In catching up with today’s blogs, Athena from The AmbiGamingCorner has written another blog post for Dragon Age Month titled – The Interesting Case of Dragon Age: Origins, or Multisensory Experiences and Memory. In the article, Athena discussed the connection between the way that our memories are formed and stored within our minds. Also mentioned within the post was how certain sensory details can trigger memories, such as the song played at your wedding or high school graduation. Simply hearing this combination of notes and sounds can bring with it an array of sensory details as you may remember a certain sight or smell, along with the type of things you were feeling at the time of such memories. The post got me thinking of examples of the feelings and emotions a few brief seconds of audio, whether sound effects or music, can bring forward. I decided shortly thereafter, it may be slightly less-restrictive to wax nostalgic in a separate post rather than leave an enormous collection of scattered thoughts in the comments section. Here are just a few of the games and associated memories/details that arise from hearing a split-second of intro music…

Note: For a more coherent description of what I attempt to say in the above paragraph, check out the original post. If you are not already familiar with Athena’s great blog site I strongly urge you to do so, as it contains a wealth of Dragon Age and Mass Effect knowledge, among other things.

Donkey Kong Country

It takes only a split-second of hearing Kranky Kong turn the gramophone playing the first few notes of the opening sequence of Donkey Kong Country before I come down with nostalgia overload. Immediately, I recall sitting in my neighbor’s living room playing DKC for the first time after school way back in November of 1994. I still remember how the tv/entertainment center was along the east wall or the color of the carpeting as I sat on the floor fixated on this SNES game. I can still vividly see the beige/tan sofa that sat to my right along the living room windows, I even remember the smell of the air freshener used in the house. I still remember staying there for sleepovers and sitting up until the early morning hours playing DKC trying to beat some of the stages like Millstone Mayhem or, god forbid, Minecart Madness. Another track from Donkey Kong Country I’ve mentioned numerous times is Aquatic Ambience, which is used in the underwater levels of the game(a gorilla collecting bananas underwater while riding a swordfish?) and feels almost heart-wrenching upon hearing. It’s one of those pieces of music that has the inexplicable ability to stir something within you, despite not being able to articulate just what it is that makes you feel this way.

Pokemon Red

Another title song that instantly transports me back to the days of my youth. Pokémon Red starts by the dramatic building of tension as the battle music begins, before showing a contest between Gengar and Nidoran, depicted in the black/gray hues of the Game Boy. Nearly anyone who has played a mainline Pokémon game can likely tell you the first time they heard the now-iconic battle theme that ushered millions of kids into what could only be described at the time as “Pokémania”. I’m unable to put my finger on precisely when I was first introduced to the newest phenomenon known as Pokémon in the late 90’s, though I’d wager “how” would be from flipping through issues of Nintendo Power as a kid. Hearing the Pokémon main battle theme to this day, I can still feel the yellow plastic of my Game Boy Color as I would sit and play Pokémon Red the entire way from school. I can still smell the warm spring air or the dust swirled about from beind the car as the final stretch of the drive home was on a dirt road. I remember how I would often sit behind the driver’s seat of the car and the feel of the fabric of the seats, or even the occasional creaking noise from the vinyl upholstery of the dashboard. Hell, I even remember times where I would realize I had been sitting in the car in the driveway for about 20 minutes before moving inside to continue my journey to become Pokémon Master of the Kanto Region…

Banjo-Kazooie

Yes, here we are, I’m talking about Banjo-Kazooie….again. I often feel a tinge of embarrassment when I enthusiastically gush about a game that I loved as a kid, now an adult, but I can’t deny its significance. I remember first seeing the commercial for the game while watching Nickelodeon cartoons(most likely) one summer afternoon before deciding I wanted to play the game more than anything else I could think of. In our local town there was a small store which rented out VHS tapes, video games, along with a small assortment of knicknacks, and I remember my mom finally agreeing to let me rent Banjo-Kazooie from the store. Of course, I was fortunate enough the store also rented out a few Nintendo 64(and Playstation) consoles so I could actually play the game as I didn’t even have an N64 of my own at that point. I still remember the excitement of bringing the game home along with the rental console that was safely housed inside the big plastic, foam-lined briefcase and hurrying back to my bedroom to hook up to my little tv with the one broken antenna. All it takes is to hear the first musical notes(from a banjo, naturally) and I can almost smell the pungent odor of the secondhand smoke that penetrated the rental cases as the lady that ran the store sat behind the counter and smoked cigarettes all day. I have many memories of sitting alone in my bedroom in moments of quiet solitude playing Banjo-Kazooie and would love to dedicate a full-length blog post to expressing, or attempting to, what the game has meant to me over the years…

Thanks for reading!

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