My Most-Played Game

One of the things I’ve been studying in my MA is playability – or the science of our addiction to video gaming. I’ll be honest, I have the attention span of a goldfish so I sort of read the books about it without actually taking much info in, but it got me thinking about the one game I have played through constantly throughout my life, finishing it with gold medals on each level multiple times.

Lylatwars came out shortly before my little brother’s birthday when I was about 9, and he got it for his N64 for his birthday. He was 8 and still scared of Turok, so I was usually the one to do the ‘hard’ levels.

The ‘hard’ levels being, of course, Macbeth (get all those damn switches) and the true version of Venom you can only do if you go from that level where that pancake-shaped ship with the skeleton tentacles tries to annihilate you. Also, to be fair, Sector Y with that lunatic robot thing is pretty tricky too.

The N64 was only at our mum’s place, which was a grotty nicotine-stained flat above the hotel which she ran with her partner. She was never, ever around because she was working/getting drunk in the hotel bar, so my brother and I would sit and play the N64 together and most frequently we played Lylatwars while eating whatever newsagent snacks our mum’s partner had brought up for us. I remember the controllers were often sticky with sugar and chocolate.

Througout the years, I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I have saved Corneria and the Lylat System. Even today, I have Lylatwars 3d on my DS and frequently play it on the tube home. I know the levels all by heart, I know when the enemies are going to come and I know when Slippy is going to start being frigging useless (e.g. pretty much all the time). So why do I keep playing it?

I remember when I played Star Fox Zero on the Wii U, and the first level was incredibly similar to the first level of Lylatwars (at least at first) and I nearly cried with nostalgia – I actually thought it was a super clever graphics remake, until I got to the first boss and realised no, it was gonna be a crappy showoff attempt with the half-baked 180 element of the gamepad.

I’m guessing from this that the core reason I keep playing Lylatwars is that I played it so much a a child, and I have some fond memories sitting with my brother and going through each level with him. Honestly, I don’t actually know if Lylatwars is as amazing as I think it is.

In any case, it is most certainly my most played game, and I was wondering, what is your most played game and why? What is the one game that you keep going back to? 


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12 thoughts on “My Most-Played Game

  1. Hey Sarah.
    Back on the Amiga i Used to play Cannon Fodder over and over as well as ChAos EngIne; both of which are absolute classics. These were just so Stylish in presentation (graphical and mUsical) that i couldn’t get enoUgh!

    In my Spectrum days, with presentation (usually) having to be propped up with a healthy dose of imaginatIon, it was games like Star Glider, Carrier Command & Turbo Esprit whiCh offered a level of realism and challenge that held me. Then again, there were plenty of ‘I just have 5 minutes before tea’ games that i would go back to such as Turmoil, Cavemania, EarthshakeR, Quazatron (not to mention all the magazine cover tapes).

    With so much of my childhood free time associated with these games, it’s no wonder i’ve ended Up as a nostalgic collector!

    1. Cannon Fodder? The Chaos Engine? Carrier Command? You have impeccable taste in games, Matt! I used to play Carrier Command all the time on the Atari ST. And as for Cannon Fodder, when that theme tune gets in your head it stays there for eternity! And what can you say about the Bitmap Brothers? Absolute geniuses! Gods, Magic Pockets, Xenon2, and my own personal favourtie: Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe! Absolutely adored that game. Ah, you got me all misty-eyed now, Matt! : ) Do you remember the game Captain Blood for the Atari ST? What the hell was that all about? Strangest game I’ve ever played. I used to play that over and over and I didn’t even know what was going on! Anyway, I’m rambling now, but those games certainly struck a chord with me!

  2. Waaaa! Sorry about all the typos! For some reason doing this on my phone goes all weird! 🙂

  3. After reading this blog post I’m not really convinced the gameplay has much to do with why Lylat Wars is such a special game for you, Sarah. I think it’s that the game transports you to a certain time and a place in your life that means something to you emotionally. I think due to the fact that video games are an interactive experience they have this strange power of emotional time travel. Some memories in our lives persist and I do really feel it is possible to travel back to the times where those memories where formed–emotionally, at least–if we have the right trigger. Video games can often be that trigger because they are unchanged by time. When you play that special game a place in your past in reborn. For you, that flat above the hotel, the furniture, the smell, the room layout, the people, but most of all the feeling.
    It’s a curious thing, isn’t it? I always get it when I think about the ZX Spectrum or Master System. I am transported back to my parents bedroom. The portable television is on a bedside chest, the spectrum on the floor, the pink carpet, the windows looking out onto the back garden, my brother, and the excitement of trying some new spectrum games. And the games that links be back to then? Treasure Island, Feud, Gunfright, and Nether Earth.
    It’s a very bittersweet feeling. Strange and overpowering. But I certainly get where you’re coming from with this post, Sarah.

  4. Interesting post. After reading it, it got me thinking about what is/are my favourite game(s). I have fond memories of playing the tank game on the Combat Cartridge on the Atari 2600 (the system with the wooden finish) which my dad owned. This was the first game I ever played. After getting the ZX Spectrum+3 games I regularly played were THe Dizzy games, Jetpac, Silkworm, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Gauntlet with my cousin.. For all the games I had on the ZX these were the only ones I played… Don’t remember what made me come back over and over again… Possibly the fun. Well that and the puzzles on the Dizzy games.

    Through Master System and Mega Drive The games that I enjoyed playing over and over again were Alex Kidd in miracle world, Sonic 1-3 + & Knuckles, Castle and World of illusion. The first game I ever finished all the way through was a shooter called Mercs which I felt a big ACCOMPLISHMENT. Earthworm Jim then landed and I was hooked on that, playing it constantly even though I completed it over and over time and again. The art work, the humour and the gameplay just seemed to call out to me. I still play it now too!

    The games that followed through several generations of consoles that I became addicted to were Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Donkey Kong Country 1 & 2 (SNES), Final Fantasy VII and VIII all for story and exploration. The places I could go and save in these and others just pulled me in more and more each time I played them.

    Finally the Game I’ve been playing pretty much everyday since it released on the Xbox 360 to then purchase the PS3/PS4/PSVita versions and the PC is Minecraft. I can’t put my “finger on it” but the exploration and creativity the game offers is endless. I guess when it comes down to it Gameplay and story go hand in hand to give the greatest experience that keeps you going back for more..

  5. Yes Yen, the Bitmap Bros games were always outstanding! As for music, when i got Internet access on my Amiga and started downloading MOD files off Aminet i was in audio heaven.

  6. Oh and Captain Blood really was the oddest thing! 🙂

    1. Indeed, Captain Blood stands as the oddest video game I have encountered. Some games you just can’t forget playing and that is one of them–mainly through the sheer weirdness of the game, rather than anything else. I mean, I must have been around ten or eleven when I played it and I had no idea what I was doing. I just remember the flying bits and the odd alien talking parts, so the gameplay wasn’t really all that great, but just the complete and utter originality and peculiarity of the game left an indelible mark on me.

  7. I’m keen to Final Fantasy III (the one originally released on SNES). i played that game endlessly without any urgency to get through the main story unless i was forced to do so to access more areas. Loved the graphics, characters, music and of course, moogles.

  8. My most played game is probably sonic 3 & KNUCKLES on mega drive.

    A Friend of mine introduced me to sonic 1 on the master system in 1991 and i was immediately hooked on the series and made sure the mega drive we brought off my dad’s friend a few years later came with sonic 2. Eventually i got sonic 1 as well and BECame very familiar with the GAMES so i knew most of the levels off by heart so i could take the best route for the most rings (my preferred choice of play) or the quickest route through the GAMEs. The games’ encouragement to explore the levels’ multiple routes created a great sense of curiosity in me to the point i had the levels mapped out in my brain.

    Then sonic 3 was released in 1994. Once the rental store got a copy, i pretty much had it permanently until i received a copy for christmas that year. By then i had sussed out the levels and knew them so intricately, i had plotted the best routes through the levels to grab the most rings, the giant rings, shields, etc. The thing about sonic 3 is that the levels were so much larger than those in the previous games and i loved exploring every level for new routes, hidden rooms, and power-ups.

    The following year, i picked up sonic & knuckles, the second half of the game, lying to my dad about the full price i paid because i knew he would hit the roof, and LEARNT those levels off by heart too. I still love to play through the combined game and take my optimal routes, but with the advent of the internet and level maps, i know there’s no new secrets to discover, which has taken away that sense of exploration awe and wondering if i might stumble upon some as yet unfound secret. I still enjoy the game though.

    I loved the game so much, i mapped out my own unique levels over the years on paper and then in hacked roms.

  9. Hi octavius I’m really glad I have found this blog and before that your YouTube channel . I do relate to both Sarah the real person and the octavius character. I feel bad all the time and I’m thinking of killing myself from time to time. I’m pretty sure I can’t learn this game (life) I will never be able to marry or have children. I will not be able to feel love again or maybe the feeling of being loved. I was abused as a child too by a. Family member happily married and I have taken care of my mother when she was ill at the time I was 18 . Cancer is an awful disease . It doesn’t forgive and you cannot forget. My mother was a sweet lady to good for this world. 6 months before she got the results of the medical exams that said she got cancer . I was playing as a 17 year old dude for the 10th time my favorite game ever . Castlevania symphony of the night . It wasn’t only the music or the amazing art . Was also my mother being around happy , making mom jokes and just being her .She was very young , 47 years old . I feel now with 33 I cannot live more than her . I don’t deserve even the years I have . I have tried to kill myself several times . I only talked about this drunk and nobody cares or remembers afterwards . I’m sober now . I’m not OK . But feels nice I’m not the only one feeling like shit all the time . Realistically speaking, of course I know people suffer too. But reading your blog is cathartic. I feel better . I would probably succeed killing myself before the year I have 47. But I want you to know . Seeing your videos and reading you makes me feel a little better. Have a nice one

  10. The game I’ve played the most? Well, I’ll have been playing this for almost 7 years now, virtually everyday on multiple platforms; Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I never tire of it. I can play as a marauding Orc, smashing the populace to bits with brute force. I can be a sneaky Khajiit, excelling in the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild quests. I could be a Wood Elf, the greatest long distance archer in Tamriel. The play styles are endless. And God! How good is that soundtrack?! Add to the fact, the amount of in game lore that accompanies the experience, and it was one of the most immersive experiences ever. Sometimes, when night falls on the snowy peaks, and the moons rise, I just stop and admire the Northern Lights. I was converted to games consoles over 8 bit micros at the end of the 80s, but seeing all the mods done for Skyrim on PC makes me want to invest in a full on gaming computer, just so I can have even more Skyrim!

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