Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Day 276 - "Boo boo (boop boop boop boop) boodoo doo doo boo boo..."

When I was 9 years old, I think my life's ambition was to do nothing more than play, beat and master a video game called "Zillion," an 8-bit game action adventure that appeared on the failed Sega Master System (rival to the original NES). I didn't own the system*, but my aunt who lived across the street from me did, so I had to find all kinds of excuses to go over her apartment - and then, once there, linger/annoy her long enough for her to allow me to play for the remainder of the afternoon. I'm sure Rachael didn't think very highly of me or my social skills at the time, but hey, at least it was a step up from trying to kill her cat.

Zillion was ostensibly not the most brilliantly designed game, even for it's time. Though I remember it did look pretty good in 1988. I remember wanting to explore every inch of the alien planet you landed down on, even though the game only allows you to explore one screen of it before it forces you take an elevator down into the alien base. Those of who us who lingered were at least treated to endless army of drones to blast away.

For the most part, the game consisted of going through a vast underground maze, unlocking room after room as you went along. When you first came into a room, there were several canisters in the room - four of them would contain codes that once deciphered would give you a password to get into the next room. Not exactly the most entertaining hook for a video game, (or, logically speaking, a very intelligent security measure for an advanced alien species) but there were enough little secrets and power-ups that it always kept me coming back for more.

And the music - oh god, the music! Whenever I thought no one was looking - and even sometimes when I knew someone probably was - I would run and jump around as if I was 'J.J.' or 'Champ' (but not 'Apple,' since you know, she was the girl) with whatever I had on me that could serve as the Zillion, firing away at pretend aliens and those code canister things singing the theme the whole time. When I was 'wounded' I would return to my ship and recover, and of course I would sing the ship recovery song. It was exhausting, performing my own soundtrack while also focusing on my mission, and it wasn't as satisfying without actual aliens to fight or a gun that could actually be leveled up two times to be even more powerful. But it didn't matter, since this was only during the brief spans of time in between my sessions of actually playing the game.

Games like Zillion formed the essence of my lifelong love of games that very few people I know share with me. While I may have grown up and found other passions to purse, that 9 year old kid is definitely still inside of me, very eager to come out and play again.

-Matt

Yeah but I'd still rather be playing:


*As my loyal allegiances prevent me from doing so.

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