Time for some more history of yours truly, as inspired by Pike.
Starcraft was the very first PC game I ever played. Before being introduced to it, I was strictly a console gamer, and a Nintendo one at that. Had me an original NES for a while, borrowed from a friend.
Adventure Island? Loved it. Tiger-Heli? An addict. Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu? Shut it, I thought it was fun. Of course, I was somewhere around six years old, so that really isn’t saying much. Throwing rocks at a basketball was equally enjoyable.
A friend of my father gave me my very first gaming system, a nearly mint condition SuperNES that his own kid wasn’t interested in playing anymore. The only game the thing had was NHL ’96, so maybe the guy just hated hockey?
Either way, my little seven year old mind was utterly addicted to this game. My every waking moment was spent designing hockey players with names like “Bigarm Strongman”, crunching various stats to create imaginary hockey players specialized towards defence or offence, and of course, playing the game itself.
I triumphantly led the Calgary Flames to the Stanley cup every week for nearly a year. Go Flames Go!
I got another game for my birthday. Up to this point, I wasn’t aware that other games existed. It came as such a shock when I played Super Strike Eagle, a game where you take control of a nigh invincible fighter and beat the snot out of various third world countries such as Libya and Iraq. This wasn’t hockey at all!
And then I had to have everything. MOAR. MOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRR!
Super Mario Bros. Pilot Wings. Yoshi’s Island. Mariokart. Wing Commander. F Zero. Starfox. Some silly baseball game starring what appeared to be cartoon bobbleheads. Super Battletank. UN Squadron. Donkey Kong. I was utterly blown away by the graphics in Donkey Kong.
What a pretty game.
I was in elementary school, and I spent at least 5 hours gaming every school day. Weekends were closer to twelve.
Then along came the N64. 3D gaming? What the hell is this? Picked up the new F-Zero game and the new Mariokart, and then started to look around for games I had never played before. Styles of games, that is. This whole “you can move in more directions than forwards and backwards” in a game that wasn’t a flight game was downright revolutionary. I mean, sure, I hesitated a little, broadening only a bit at first. Got me the Rogue Squadron game, picked up that Podracer game, then I found me a little game called Vigilante 8.
. . .
Vehicles with weapons that blow the bloody hell out of each other.
A THOUSAND TIMES YES.
I bought the sequel to that game, too. Then proceeded to spend an entire summer, start to finish, upwards of twelve hours per day, on those games (My favorite weapon was the flamethrower).
And would you believe that a game about cars blowing each other up had an excellent story line? No seriously. It was off the wall. A trucker falling in love with an android from the future. A martial arts master from the future turning on her energy tycoon boss, and annihilating his empire in the process. An alien who’s space ship was destroyed in the last game, traveling across the country attempting to collect parts so he can go back home. The serial killer monkey who befriended him. A disco dancer turned mercenary waging a war in Alaska against a stoned guy in an RV.
Shortly after that, I discovered what an RTS game was, in the game Command and Conquer. C&C ’95, for those who remember the computer series. I was hooked. A game that was hard, incredibly rewarding, and featured entire legions of cars blowing each other up. Flame tanks are overpowered. They need to be nerfed. Seriously.
Somewhere around the eighth grade, maybe ninth, a friend of mine showed me Starcraft on something called a “PC”. A “PC” was similar to the computers at school, but could do exciting things, such as turn on.
My initial thoughts are as follows:
“Hmm, this is a lot like C&C. Except it’s prettier. Oooh, two different sides that are actually perfectly balanced? Neat! Holy hell, what is that?! A battlecruiser? Awesome! Hey, what are those bat things? Huh, your battlecruiser just died. Scourge? What the eff is a Scourge?
And then my mind ceased to think. The sheer awesome of the Zerg caused my brain to simply cease to function in a vain effort to save me from babbling incoherently about “awesome possum video awesome living death horde hahahahaha”. Or something like that.
I made the decision that I will have that game. No ifs or buts, Starcraft would be mine.
Except with $55 to my name, I couldn’t afford a computer. So the next best thing. A friend with an e-bay account and access to a credit card.
A month later, I had my second hand copy of Starcraft 64 in hand, went home, and never played another N64 game.
Disdvantages of the N64 version:
- No hotkeys.
- Only able to control 4 groups of units at once.
- Game slowed down horribly when unit count was high.
- Entire story was told with pictures of the characters and a box filled with text. No voice overs, no cut scenes.
- Cheats were unlocked by playing through the missions.
- None of the rebalancing patches of the computer version was present.
- Multiplayer consisted of split screen, resulting in multiplayer being similar to constipation.
Advantages of the N64 version:
- Groups held up to 18 units.
- By forcing me to play through missions to get cheats, I was much better at the game as a result.
- No rebalancing patches means some things were horrendously overpowered. For example, take the Sunken Colony. In today’s Starcraft, it has 300 hitpoints and deals 40 damage. The N64 Sunken Colonies had 500 hitpoints and dealt 45 damage, as well as attacking faster than the computer ones. Combine this with the addition of Lurkers, the N64 Zerg were the best turtle race in the game.
- Multi-player meant that when I challenged my PC SC playing friends to a duel on the N64, I crushed them so completely they refused to play against me after the first time. Something about rushing a Protoss player with Lurkers before he’s had a chance to build a second Gateway was deemed “preposterously unfair”.
When I finally did get a PC, the only PC game I had for nearly two years was Starcraft. Even after I was playing other games such as Neverwinter Nights, Starcraft still consumed hours upon hours, day after day.
I was rather good at the game, and was accused more than once of being a “gosu”, despite my Battlenet record of 0-0-0. Playing on the N64 version for so long had literally forced me to become good at the game (you can’t turn off fog of war until you beat the Terran campaign!).
My build strategy was rather simple. Sunken Colonies, with interspersed Spore colonies, fill in the gaps with Lurkers, then tech up to Guardians and start killing crap.
I was very confused where my base was suddenly attacked by a massive wave of zealots and marines. I was so used to computer players sending waves of mixed units with stealth detection, ranged units, air support, and so forth, the idea of sending a massive wave of one unit was mind boggling.
I watched all those zealots and marines get torn to shreds by invisible lurkers, perplexed at what could cause a thinking human being to do something so silly.
Random side note. Being new to the internet, things like “lol” and “wtf” and “NR20” didn’t make any sense. I played a 2v2 game labelled “NR20” very early in my career. Zerg/Zerg versus Terran/Protoss. My zerg ally told me he was going to tech up to Ultralisks as fast as possible, so I set up a very early Zerg rush and swarmed the Terran player right off the bat. This got a rounding chorus of “WTF” from my opponents and a “LOL” from my ally.
I was so confused.
Starcraft. A part of my Heritage.