Wednesday, December 13, 2017

That One Game....

I think anyone that has been playing video games for a long time will eventually come upon That One Game. What do I mean by That One Game?

What I mean is a game that goes above and beyond being an entertaining experience. A game that actually fulfills a role in your life. I'm talking about a game that helped you through a situation that you may otherwise have not made it through. A game that changed, perhaps even saved, your life.

I was catching up on my YouTube watching a week or so ago and came across this video by ReviewTechUSA where he talks about how the game Halo 3 probably saved his life.

While watching his video I got to thinking about the games that I have played over the years. There are plenty like Skyrim and Kingdoms of Amalur that blew my mind with how good they looked (for their time). Old beat em ups like Double Dragon 2 and Final Fight that get my blood pumped whenever I hear their soundtracks. Final Fantasy 2 for the SNES is pretty much my personal favorite RPG of all time. To this day I'll argue that Tecmo Super Bowl is the greatest football video game ever. And Payday 2 will likely be the closest I'll ever get to committing a major crime. 

But despite all the awesome and cherished memories I have from those games and many more there is only one that holds a specific special place in my heart. A game that didn't really save my life but one that helped me through the darkest time of my life. 

It was January 2004. In the previous 6 months I had basically failed out of college, lived with my mom who had just recently separated from my dad, had lived with my older sister and her family after my mom had moved down there with them, and was back in my home town.

You see my mom was sick. Cancer. Diagnosed in Summer 2003 but I didn't find out about it until Fall 2003. She was living on her own in a large city when I moved in with her to help her out. But I was still in my young and stupid phase (early 20s) and wasn't really there for her. Then she wanted to live with my older sister in another state and since I had nowhere else to go I went with her in Fall 2003.

I still wasn't completely there. Between trying to get over fucking up in college, wanting independence, trying to work at a basic mall job and being young and stupid I was all kinds of fucked up and not much good to anyone. 

She moved back to our home town late 2003 with my dad and little sister. I stayed with my older sister until January 2004 when it became clear she needed someone to be at home with her full time. My dad was working and little sister was still in high school. The rest of the family actually had direction in their lives so who better suited to do it than the family fuck up with nothing going on in his life?

To give you context my home town is a hole in middle of nowhere. Like no traffic lights and the only major chain of anything there now is a Dollar General that was just built there about 6 years ago. Even though I had a car it wasn't in that great of shape and was serving as a storage unit for most of my possessions (we were living in a temporary camper after our family home had been destroyed by storm damage and were trying to get my grandmother's home up to a livable condition) including my consoles so I only had my Gameboy Advance and one game.

I'm not sure when I actually bought it but up until January 2004 I had barely played it. Like I had maybe done 2 gyms. So I figured now was as good a time as any to finish it up.

Once I restarted playing Sapphire again I felt something. I felt like I had something that I could actually accomplish. I was collecting pokemon. I was defeating gym leaders. I was figuring out puzzles. When playing that game I wasn't just a screw up with no direction. I was actually doing something right for once.

It was a bit of a preemptive coping mechanism. 

I remember when it came time to collect the golem pokemon Regirock, Registeel, and Regice. Now let me remind you that I was in a small backwater town that wouldn't get high speed internet until about 2008 and even if it was available at the time I didn't have a pc to look things up with anyway. Meaning that when it came to finding them I had to do it the old fashion way of figuring it out for myself.

Probably the biggest obstacle was translating the 7 sentences that were in Braile into letters in order to get the history behind the golems and the clues needed to find them. Oh and they weren't straight forward either so you still had to figure out exactly what the clues meant.

Finally capturing them was one of my personal biggest gaming achievements ever. And I would need all the help I could get for what was soon to come.

My mom passed away in March 2004.

It hurt. It hurt a lot. In fact it still hurts a lot. There was so much that I didn't get to tell her. So much of me she never got to see because either I was too stupid to show it or just hadn't discovered it yet.

But Pokemon Sapphire kept me together. It gave me something to work towards. It gave me a sense of completion. It kept me sane. 

That's why I was so excited when Sapphire got a remake as Alpha Sapphire a few years ago. It let me replay my favorite entry with better graphics online capability and fine tuned music. And to this day Mudkip will always be my partner pokemon.

I wouldn't say that it saved my life or anything that serious but it certainly did improve my life a lot and helped me when I was in a really dark place. 

For me there is no question that Pokemon Sapphire would be That One Game for me.

What is That One Game for you?