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Backstory
My world of video games

By Lea Salonga
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:47:00 11/05/2008

Filed Under: Games, Gaming & Lotteries, People, Entertainment (general)

HONG KONG SAR, China ? ?Cinderella? had an event at the APM Mall here. Liz Olin, our new hair and wigs person, noticed that I was playing with my Sony PSP (or PlayStation Portable, for all you non-gamers).

I told her which game I was playing (Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII), and as I was deep into a monster-slaying mission, in a low, threatening whisper, I uttered the words ?Die, die?,? which sent her into a fit of laughter. It didn?t occur to her that I was a gamer. In truth, that doesn?t occur to a lot of other people, either.

It all started with a borrowed Nintendo Game & Watch in the early 1980s. It was a simple black-and-white screen in a dark blue plastic casing and all one had to do was catch the objects thrown in the air. The game?s speed would keep accelerating and once you hit 999 points, the game would start over from the beginning. My brother and I were able to collect quite a few of them, including Octopus and Popeye. We actually still have these pieces, but they probably don?t work anymore. I?d be surprised if, with fresh batteries, they spring back to life.

Today, video games are so much more sophisticated and layered (both in their storytelling, difficulty, graphics, and actual execution), not to mention beautiful. I mean, things have really progressed since the days of Atari?s Pong. Now, there are role-playing games, one-on-one and solo sports games, fantasies, espionage, virtual war. There are also games where you can raise a piata from infancy to maturity, have a road race with strange characters, or head deep into the rainforest on a hunt for treasure.

Find below a list of games that I?ve really liked over the years.


1) The Tomb Raider Series

I first played a Tomb Raider game on my laptop. I was clocking in so many hours playing the game, that I actually got a really bad stiff neck. My mother took me to the hospital for an X-ray. They put a cervical collar around my neck, and I had to take a combo of painkillers and muscle relaxants to give me relief. Did I stop playing? Of course not!

The series places Lara Croft in different interesting situations ? in ancient Egypt or South America. She fights bad guys with guns, knives and her smarts. Her wit is also razor-sharp, and it?s fun just listening to her talk. And oh yeah, she?s hot.

2) Super Mario Bros for the original Nintendo Entertainment Center

I?m such a fan of the original game that I even got the series? theme song as one of my ring tones!

I played this game a lot during the original Broadway run of ?Miss Saigon,? especially late at night after a show. No, the vivid, intensely colored images didn?t always help me wind down, but it was a lot of fun! It didn?t matter that I knew the ending; I just kept playing it. I?ve played a few of the other games in the series, but this one will always remain a sentimental favorite.

3) Final Fantasy X and X-2

These two games go hand in hand. Final Fantasy X got me hooked, and I spent many an early morning trying to figure out how to get certain bonuses, and how to more efficiently eradicate certain monsters ? and there were a lot of monsters, many of them challenging to kill! But, it was the characters and their stories that got to me, and ultimately I enjoyed watching their interaction (including the romance of Tidus and Yuna).

Final Fantasy X-2 continues, with a few new characters and a mystery. Yuna?s former paramour seems to have resurfaced but is he truly the one who owns her heart? If you?ve played this, you know what I?m talking about. But you gotta love that she becomes something of a badass. Although she was a powerful summoner in the first game, I like that there was more to her in the second.

Might be time to start playing these games again?

4) Bioshock

?Welcome to Rapture.?

This is probably my most favorite game, ever. I played this almost every night last year while I was living in New York doing ?Les Miz.? Never mind that it kept me awake at night, because of some disturbing, even violent, imagery. It was just too compelling to put down. I mean, going around an amazingly designed (art deco) city under the sea? Being able to shoot electricity, fire, and even bees from your fingertips? Watching creepy little girls suck the living essence from a corpse, accompanied by a ?Big Daddy??

It?s certainly one of the most gorgeous games I?ve ever played and there?s supposed to be a sequel coming out soon!

5) Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

This is the game currently in my hands ? quite literally, since this is played on a PSP.

If anyone reading this has ever played Final Fantasy VII, then this game is for you. It takes place seven years prior to the events of FF-VII, with SOLDIER 2nd Class Zack on a mission, accompanied by Angeal, his mentor. You will meet The Turks, Sephiroth, Aerith, Yuffie. There are missions to complete, summons to defeat. Crisis Core is also surprisingly beautiful, something unexpected with a portable game.

I?ve never actually played the original FF-VII for the PlayStation 2, but friends who have tell me that it?s truly special. I don?t doubt that for one second.

6) God of War

Actually, this game came free with the unit I bought, the God of War Limited Edition PSP, which has an image of the main character Kratos on the PSP itself!

When playing the game, you?re transported to a world of the mythical Greek gods ? or the movie ?300.? Beautiful temples, fiery steeds blazing through the heavens ? and a hero conflicted, at times good, at other times evil. It?s a compelling game to go through. It?s not very long, as it is graphic-heavy.

7) Viva Piata

This is definitely one of the cutest games on earth. Exclusively for the Xbox 360, there is barely any violence (except when two piatas fight one another), bloodshed (except for the candy inside each piata when it breaks), or anger (unless territory is breached, which does happen once in a while). It?s really just about raising the cutest and most colorful piatas. There are snakes, worms, birds of all kinds, frogs, flies, butterflies. You shelter them, feed them, send them off to parties, dress them up in costumes and create beautiful gardens.

8) SSX, SSX Tricky and SSX 3

I first played this game at my husband?s house when we started dating, and got hooked. It?s a classic snowboarding game with the snowboarders wearing the most flashy gear imaginable. Loud mouths, and even louder attitudes, fantastic skills and rad courses!

9) Burnout 3: Takedown

Road rage, glorified road rage. I play this game only for the pleasure of crashing someone else?s car in a safe environment. It?s my standby when I?ve just had a really bad day, and need to take it out on something without hurting anyone, except my controller and the cars on screen.

10) Ninja Gaiden

I must have played this game a million times, but I don?t tire of it. It follows Ryu Hayabusa, of the Hayabusa ninja clan, and his tireless search for the evil entities that destroyed his village and killed his clansmen. Great graphics and game play make it a favorite of mine. I just started the sequel, but haven?t been able to finish the game because I?m on tour. I?ll see how far I can go when I get back home.



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