Bamidele O. Shangobunmi

Gaming & me

Yep, I'm one of "them." A gamer. The first video game I played was the first video game, Pong, and I haven't gone too long since back then without digging into some good ole' digital interactive entertainment. From about 1982 to 1988 it was all about the incomparable Commodore 64. I had cartridges, floppy disks, and even the loveable cassette tapes! I went through numerous phases with games, of course, but my enduring favorites were the diagonal-scrolling space shooter Zaxxon and the helicopter attack & rescue title Fort Apocalypse (somewhat of a Choplifter knockoff).

Around 1988 I inherited an 8088-based PC from my parents, and the DOS area began. Until I discovered online bulletin board systems, nearly all of the games I got were independent titles that came on 5 1/4" floppies from swap meets. Two notable exceptions were Jetfighter and Grand Prix Circuit, and I'm certain I played those two on my parents' 286 AT systems significantly more than the Surgeon General would recommend.

My favorite games at the end of the 2D era were Apogee's Major Stryker and Epic Megagames' Overkill, both vertical scrolling shooters, and Zone 66, a top-down 360-degree scroller with amazingly fast graphics made possible by highly optimized code written entirely in 32-bit assembly language. I also got lost in Ultima VI: The False Prophet because it came with my very first CD-ROM drive. Later on the 3D side, Rise of the Triad and the hilarious and technically advanced Shadow Warrior kept me entertained for hours before Quake II and eventually Unreal Tournament stole my soul, thanks largely in part to the ability to fight with or against friends & coworkers. Along the way I also participated in a good deal of pre-Internet hosted online gaming on a few local bulletin board systems (BBS) in the first half of the 1990's, including Barren Realms, a bit of The Pit, and a stint of total addiction to Legend Of the Red Dragon.

At the turn of the century, Diablo II stepped on the scene and almost immediately sucked me in to the point where it became my second job. What an evilly addictive concoction! I never played the previous version, but I had gotten previously acclimated to the Blizzard style & quality via Warcraft 2 and Starcraft. With D2, though, I got serious. I mean really serious. Serious enough to have created a mini-site about my exploits in it, much of the content of which I've resurrected for old time's sake:

Learn about Diablo II & me

Around early 2006, after years of prodding & encouragement by close friends, I finally got my first console system since Pong, a used Sony Playstation 2 Slim. Less than 2 years later I stepped up to a PS3 and soon also picked up a Halo Edition XBOX 360. I had been a stalwart PC gamer for almost two decades, but the huge installs and constant hardware upgrade & software/driver patching requirements were a pain in the butt. With the dramatic improvement in multiplayer capabilities of the newer generation consoles, I was finally all but done with PC gaming. Today, now that The Sims 3 is out for consoles, the desktop is a pure work machine.

Games I miss the most

  1. Tribes and Tribes II (either will do). Yeah, the Halo games are nice & all, but nothing to date can compare with the balanced, infinitely replayable fun of Tribes II, or even the original Tribes (Raindance FTW!). Throw in a silly mod pack like Ultra Renegades, complete with rapid-fire mortars, supersonic boost grenades and all, and I'm set.
  2. Freespace 2. I agree with the critics who lauded this as one of the best-executed single-player games of all time. The graphics and mechanics were par for the times, but the depth, drama, and immersiveness of the story and level dynamics were unmatched. Like Unreal, Freespace 2 made use of a non-linear emotional pace including times of nervous calm and completely unexpected plot twists. It also had a significant volume of well-acted voiceover content that would play over your in-game "radio," helping it to feel more like an experience than a game.
  3. Dark Reign. To the game development world I say, "Good luck." Good luck ever creating a real-time strat as fun as the original DR. Gameplay was pretty simple and moderately-paced. In hindsight, really nothing was technically great about it, though I've recently learned that it was the first RTS to factor in terrain height for line-of-site and weapon range & effectiveness. It was just a fun, tremendously replayable package with a sprinkling of unit voiceover humor and the ability to effect mass pwnage.

Games I've played more than a little

There's no way these lists will ever be all-inclusive, but I've done my best for now. Into each & every one of these titles I have invested hours of my life!  I've bolded the entries into which I invested particularly heavily.

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