This is the first article in a series reflecting upon my history in playing video games. The way I wanted develop these articles is not through individual games or their series, but through the companies that are behind those games. Many games that we play are often the result of a dedicated team that has produced dozens of games throughout the years. What better way for me to write about my game experiences than to summarize them into as logical of a category as their respective companies. The first company I am starting with happens to be one of the oldest, named Codemasters.
Back in the early 90s while sitting in my living room playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES console system, I remember my friend Eric knocking on the door and come rushing in with a large bag that he promptly threw down next to me. He seemed hardly concerned with my efforts at playing the game as I attempted to listen to him about some sort of new console gadget that he wanted me to try. The first thing that came into my mind was a joystick for Duck Hunt, but I was wrong.
He pulled out of the bag what looked to be about the size of another game cartridge. I reluctantly paused Super Mario Bros. as I stared at the new box in his hand that looked rather unremarkable and didn’t excite me one bit. He turned to the NES console lying on the floor, resetting it, which of course reset my game progress from the past hour. However, intrigue quickly spread across my face as he connected the Super Mario Bros. cartridge to the new device, which then plugged into the NES console itself. He had my attention now!
What he brought with him wasn’t another game, but a game assistant of sorts. It was called the Game Genie (previously known as the “Power Pak”). It allowed you to enter in codes that modified the core programming of the game, which gave you the ability to cheat your way through or to enhance the game in various other ways. We quickly discovered that the Game Genie codes we entered usually made the game unplayable, rather than enhancing it. But that was our fault for entering in random codes when the Game Genie codebook that he brought with (that we didn’t read initially) had proper codes included.
This was the beginning of my game experiences with Codemasters (at the time known as “Code Masters”). It all started with games that I twisted to my will using the Game Genie system and then quickly grew to such classic games as the Dizzy series, later on the Colin McRae Rally series, Operation Flashpoint, and many others that are still continuing to see sequels. Codemasters has had a long and rewarding development path that has lead to the extremely fun MMORPG, Lord of the Rings Online, to which I am currently a community manager at the Allakhazam Network.
I used to actually work for Codemasters in a support role through Alchemic Dream, LLC. Until the Alchemic Dream position I hadn’t realized the complete development history behind Codemasters and that I had played so many games created by them. I have since been exploring additional games created by the company and have come to both love and hate a large collection of them. Some of my favorites are DiRT, GRiD, Operation Flashpoint, and Overlord.
As seems to always be the case, there were a few that didn’t excite me so much, such as ArchLord and TP: Fall of Liberty (TP stands for “Turning Point”, btw). TP: Fall of Liberty was a rather typical shooter that sported rather long load times and a storyline that I found a bit hard to follow at times. ArchLord is much of the same in the repetitive department, but goes above and beyond this in duplicating a lot of MMORPG aspects, without the “O”, which stands for “online”. It a single or multiplayer “offline” game, and when things become repetitive in games you can only share with your immediate friends or small groups, it becomes boring fast.
Alongside those that I found less than stellar, they all remain classics, where many are still in my game library today.