Monday, 9 September 2013

Gaming Flashbacks #1

For most of us, gaming is a casual interest or pastime. Regardless of how 'hardcore' you may or may not consider yourself, and regardless of how many hours you spend in front of the screen, video games aren't actually that important when it comes right down to it. That's not to say, however, that time spent with them is wasted.

The virtues of our hobby are often argued about but one that seems to get taken for granted is that of nostalgia. Sometimes it might be the games themselves, other times it's incidents or periods in our lives that are associated with them, but being reminded of them, usually by way of a certain sight, sound, or even smell, and often suddenly and unexpectedly, can bring a flood of long-forgotten memories and warm feelings rushing back, and that's exactly what recently happened to me. There I was sitting at home writing a post for this very blog while listening to music on my MP3 player which features many thousands of songs, both game music and 'normal' music, when suddenly a tune started that I hadn't heard since many moons ago in my youth. This happens now and then of course - sometimes the tune is slightly familiar, other times I don't even remember it, but on this occasion I recognised it instantly.

The chiptune in question was from OutRun 3D on the Master System, probably the console for which I retain the most affection, and one which I wrote about shortly after starting this blog here. OutRun is rightly regarded as a classic but this 3D MS version is not really remarkable in any way gameplay-wise. It does, however, feature a new tune - Color Ocean - and it was upon hearing this again, after all these years, that stirred me so. It did remind me of playing the game itself, of course, but it was more a strong flashback to that period in my life generally - a time when life was simple and I wasn't yet burdened with worries and responsibilities. I suppose it's easy to desire a return to such times but the warm, fuzzy feelings were so strong it was actually quite emotional. And all thanks to a plinky-plonky Master System tune I hadn't heard in more than 20 years. It would probably sound ridiculous to a non-gamer, but the game, more specifically this tune for some reason, was merely the catalyst. Those were the days indeed...

Has anyone else experienced a flashback triggered by something game-related? I'm sure anyone who's been playing them long enough either has or will have, and hopefully they will be pleasant! This is the tune that that did it for me which will no doubt sound like, as I said, a plinky-plonky Master System tune, but it's one I'll now always enjoy listening to.



  1. Great post, Simon, Inlove these little personal insights into people's gaming past that really put those games in context. One that came to mind for me is the main theme tune to NHLPA 93 on the Megadrive. Every time I hear that music I am transported back to my best mate' bedroom in the summer of 93, sweltering in the heat (his room was next to the boiler and had safety windows that would only open a crack at one end) ironic that an ice hockey game reminds me of overheating. I never minded the discomfort of the room, mind. It was well worth it for the brilliant company, games, films, TV and music that we shared together. Good times.

  2. Thanks a lot, Marc, I appreciate it :) I must admit, I wasn't sure whether to post this as it probably just sounds like inane blather to most (even more than my usual posts, I mean), so I'm glad you liked it. Your example sounds great as well, I can imagine how you must feel when you hear that tune. It often seems to be music rather than actual graphics or gameplay, doesn't it?

  3. Definitely nice to hear or read someone just gush about their nostalgic memories related to those magical times of 80s and 90s. This isn't gaming related but recently I had a very strong flashback that I haven't had in a long long time. From somewhere came a pleasant smell of certain kind of soap or something and I just immediately remembered my grandmother's old home where I had spend the summers of my youth. I recalled some details of the house and most importantly the warm and cozy atmosphere as sunlight was pouring in. It was a really emotional experience. Back when I used to go there I never played any games since there weren't any consoles of PCs but I did buy games to take home. One of those games was Jazz Jackrabbit 2 which consumed a considerable chunk of my youth for sure. Ahh the times!

  4. Thanks for the comment, MPM64, another great example of the kind of thing I experienced. I guess most of us were happier in our younger days, or at least less-stressed and more able to appreciate seemingly unimportant things. I've had a few smell-induced flashbacks (including one caused by a particular kind of smokey smell which reminded me of my nan and grandad's house (who smoked, obviously) :)

  5. Spot on! Color Ocean is nice track but one of the least remixed/reimagined OutRun franchise tunes :( We store enormous amounts of information related to an event which is buried in archive. Isn't it strange a particular smell triggers these memories & all associated emotions!? As for my fave OutRun tracks: the AM2 Sound Team renditions on Disc 3 of OutRun 20th Anniversary Box :D