It’s always exciting to get a new console. So many possibilities, so many games, and whether you’ve picked it up at launch or bought it years down the line, you always have that first game you bring home with it. Whilst this is becoming less common with the growth in digital gaming, every system you have had, or will ever have had a first game. So I got to thinking about what the first game I played on each of my consoles was.
A lot of consoles I got as a youngster came a fair bit after they had been released, so the games below are often ones that arrived long after the console launched. I’ve also not included PC for various reasons, not least of which is that we had a few over the years. No handhelds either, as I can’t seem to recall when I got them! At any rate, let’s see how my gaming developed over the years.
NES – Super Mario Bros.
My first console! I received this as a 7th birthday present. I remember this well as I noticed it said something like “Ages 8+” somewhere which made me feel super grown up for being underage. Kids, eh? Anyway, this came bundled with Super Mario Bros. as my first ever console game, and I’ve never looked back.
What can be said about this game that already been said hundreds of times already? From the now iconic graphics to the perfect placed first enemies and blocks that teach you everything you need to know about the game, this is the game that made Mario recognisable. Yes, there had been games featuring Jumpman himself before, but this set the formula for the series. I remember playing this pretty much every chance I got. I finished it more than a few times, and I remember coming across the warp zones and feeling clever for using them (whether or not I found them myself or I heard it on the playground, I don’t know). The fact that you can still play and enjoy this game is a testament to the excellent design of an absolute classic.
Mega Drive – Streets of Rage 2 (I think)
I’m not certain on this one. I thought it may have been Sonic 2 or 3, but my sister suggested it might have been Streets of Rage 2. I went with her thought, as if it’s wrong I can claim it’s someone else’s fault. I’ve mentioned in the past that I like the Streets of Rage series rather a lot, and this is the game that kickstarted that. I didn’t play the original game, which my wife insists is better, until many years later thanks to one of the various Mega Drive collections that did the rounds.
Being another classic, there’s not a huge amount I can say here. My sister and I played this to death. It felt just the right difficulty at the time, and there was plenty of variety in the game. Four quite different characters, lots of different enemies and locations, and the weapons were a lot of fun to play with. I’m very excited for Streets of Rage 4 to finally arrive after all these years of waiting.
PlayStation – Smackdown!
I bought a very cheap second-hand PlayStation from a work colleague specifically for this game having played it at a friend’s house a few times. At the time, I wasn’t really into wrestling, but Smackdown really opened my eyes to another form of entertainment. This was like a fighting game, but with so many more characters and ways to fight a match. Weapons! Victory conditions! Special moves! 4-player action! It was tremendous fun.
Whilst I get a Playstation fairly late in its life, I picked up quite a few games for it, including Time Crisis along with the G-Con light gun, but Smackdown was a game I’d come back to more than a few times. It’s a shame the WWE wrestling games seem to lack the ‘fun’ factor that these early versions seemed to have.
N64 – Pokemon Stadium
Now, Pokemon Stadium isn’t necessarily what I might have picked for my first game for this system (although it was great fun), but there’s a reason why we ended up with it. We got an N64 for Christmas one year, sometime after the console had been released. It was still a popular purchase at the time of year though, so our dad struggled to get one, but get one he did! It was a Pikachu N64. One with the yellow rodent with glowing red cheeks.
Unsurprisingly, Pokemon Stadium was bundled in with it, and we had a fair bit of fun playing the battles and mini-games. If I’m honest, I probably didn’t get as much out of it as I could, but I did eventually get an adaptor that let you connect the Gameboy Pokemon game to Pokemon Stadium and play it through the TV which was pretty neat. It wasn’t a patch on WWF No Mercy though.
Dreamcast – Soul Calibur
This was a Christmas present, and I remember playing a hell of a lot of the demo disc that came with it (why I never ended up buying Ready 2 Rumble I’ll never know). But the game that came with it was Soul Calibur and by god did I play a lot of it! I never played the previous game (in fact, I hadn’t even heard of it at the time) but I was more than happy to be given this to play.
There was so much content and an incredibly varied cast of characters that weren’t simple palette swaps like so many other fighters. I remember spending a fair bit of time on Christmas day playing this and then leaving it running overnight because I didn’t have a VMU to save my game. I went and got one first thing boxing day to save everything and carry on my adventure. I really should try Soul Calibur VI at some point.
PlayStation 2 – The Bouncer
I bought this one from Dixons in town. Now, I remember buying a PlayStation 2, but I don’t really remember why I went The Bouncer as my first game. Maybe it was the (for the time) pretty impressive visuals combined with the fact I like beat ’em up games. Regardless of the reason, I took it home.
It was, as I recall, fine. Other than being quite pretty, nothing really stood out with it. It was a 3D brawler featuring the titular bouncer (who doesn’t look like any bouncer I’ve ever seen) and a couple of allies punching people because reasons. Each character had their own story, though the whole game was incredibly short. I forget the stories themselves but remember there was a 4-player competitive mode which was nice. Honestly, this is one of the most forgettable ‘first games’ I’ve played.
Gamecube – Super Smash Bros. Melee
This is another one I don’t remember buying, but I do remember playing Smash to death! I’m pretty sure it was the first game I picked up for the Gamecube, but I’m not 100%. Anyway, Super Smash Bros. Melee is one of those games that you don’t forget once you’ve played it. 25 characters! Tons of single-player content! Trophies! There’s a reason this one is still popular.
The local play on this was fantastic and easy to pick up and play, but taking on a skilled opponent showed just how much depth there was. For the single player, there was a lot to do as well, with an adventure mode, the All-Star Battle, and more to allow you to unlock more characters. It’s great stuff. Honestly, writing this has me pretty excited for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Xbox 360 – Madden NFL 06
God bless my dad. When it came to Christmas presents he would really go out of his way to get us what we asked for. The year the Xbox 360 came out, he managed to find one in spite of it being one of the more popular purchases that year. Apparently, games were also a bit thin on the ground where he managed to find the system, but he picked me up Madden NFL 06 for me.
I hadn’t played an NFL game since the Mega Drive (I think), but this was around the time the NFL was becoming a bit more popular in the UK so it was pretty cool to have. I enjoyed it well enough for an annualised sports game and was quite glad to have the online options available too. Still, I don’t think this was the game to show off what the machine could do. Sadly, we had a break in a couple of months after getting it, and the console was stolen. I bought a replacement about a year later with Dead Rising as my new first game, which was really quite impressive at the time.
PlayStation 3 – Heavy Rain
It’s unusual for me to buy a second-hand console (in fact I think this is the only time I ever have) but I was very interested in playing Heavy Rain so I looked for the cheapest way to go about doing that. There are plenty of excellent PS3 exclusives, but this is the one that caught my eye as being something quite so different when compared to most other games out there, especially when it came to console gaming.
In spite of its flaws, I really enjoyed it (my wife enjoyed watching too for that matter) thanks to its bonkers story and almost Saw-esque moments. Multiple paths, main characters that can and will die, and the feeling that your decisions matter more than make up for the occasionally wonky writing. In spite of loving Heavy Rain, I only ever played it through once, because the ending I saw was my ending, and going back to get a different one somehow feels wrong to me. I wonder if anyone else does that.
Wii – Wii Sports
Is this a cop-out? Yes. Yes, it is! I actually got this console free with a mobile phone contract (I was due a new one anyway). I can’t remember what game I bought first, but the first game I played on it was, of course, Wii Sports. Regardless of the tech not being quite perfect, it was a hell of a lot of fun.
I played a ton of the boxing for some reason, but bowling was the most popular choice. In fact, it’s one of the few times I’ve seen my mother-in-law play video games. It’s a testament to the accessibility of the system that pretty much anyone could play and have fun. Plus, it’s one of the last times I recall that a basic version of a console came bundled with a proper game. I miss those days.
Xbox One – Killer Instinct
I was torn between this and Forza Motorsport 5, as both came with the console (I was given a code to get the full season 1 roster), but I played Killer Instinct first so I’ll go with that. The Xbox One was, I think, the first console I got on launch day. I spent the evening setting it up and managed to play almost nothing before I needed to get some sleep. Work in the morning and all that. Thankfully, Killer Instinct is a fighting game and you can spend 10 minutes dipping into it easily.
I really enjoyed this. I never really got on with the original arcade game, finding it far too hard to get anywhere thanks to the combo/combo breaker system. This version is much more accessible though. With a (very good) tutorial, an arcade mode, and the standard suite of online options, it seems like there isn’t a huge amount to play with. But it’s free to play, you can pay for characters piecemeal or as a full set, and more content was released (mostly free) over the next couple of years. I had a lot of fun playing this, and when you get it right it looks very impressive.
PlayStation 4 – Until Dawn
Oh, look! Another Sony console that I bought pretty much to play only a couple of games. I don’t know why I keep doing that, but so be it. As an aside, I’m pretty happy with a lot of the PS4 exclusives, so I’m more than a little glad I picked this up. I bought this alongside the very impressive looking Until Dawn as I have a bit of a thing for those narrative driven adventure games.
I loved playing Until Dawn. The teen slasher vibe, the multiple endings, the graphic deaths. This was a great interactive horror movie that was made for horror movie fans. You know when you watch a horror movie and yell at the screen because the characters are doing the stupidest thing? Well if you follow your advice in this game, you’ll probably do alright. Apparently, the team behind this are working on a similar game in an episodic style which I’m very much looking forward to.
Nintendo Switch – Super Mario Odyssey
I couldn’t resist Super Mario Odyssey. The fact that the Switch has so many great games and fantastic ports (Diablo 3 on the go? Yes please!) came second to the fact that there was a glorious looking Mario game to play. I wasn’t a huge fan of Super Mario Galaxy, but Odyssey was wonderful from start to finish.
The fact that there were so many moons to find meant that even playing for a few minutes meant I could find something I hadn’t seen before. Even now, my 5-year-old likes to play it from time to time and finds moons without any help. Whilst some complain of a short main story, or there being too many moons to find, I found this to be a great experience that had me smiling from start to finish.
So how about you? I’m genuinely interested in what games other people started with. Whilst I’m sure I’m not the first person to write a post about this, I’d love to read other peoples’ first games. Let me know below, or write a post yourself and send me a link to it!