One late 2000 morning, I woke up early and went downstairs before anyone else in the house was awake. I ate seven Wagon Wheels and drank a box of semi-skimmed milk for breakfast. When my mum woke up and laid out my school uniform on the sofa, I promptly vomited all over it. In the hazy way that all memories get after many years, I can’t remember exactly if I ate the Wagon Wheels and drank the milk on purpose. I wanted the day off school to play games on my PlayStation on the CRT telly in the front room. Either that, or I was some kind of goblin child with no self-control. Probably both if I’m being honest.
There were three games I wanted to bunk off school to play: Hogs of War, Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes, and Gran Turismo 2. All of these have outstanding intro videos and emerged at the peak of the PlayStation era. In the words of the age-old adage, they just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. First up, Gran Turismo 2, the best of the three, and I apologise in advance for this song being stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
This is an unskippable intro. To skip it is a travesty. I remember bopping out to this with my dad when we played together. When I asked my dad if he remembered what game this song was from, he said instantly: “Gran Turismo 2. I had a Dodge Charger.”
This song is The Cardigans – My Favourite Game, but with a trance 90s’ remix. The US version only had the original track, and I think it’s fascinating that they decided to add some trance to the EU release. I can picture someone in the Sony boardroom saying, “Europeans love techno. The Americans don’t quite get it yet.”
It’s also a pretty strange song for a PlayStation game intro—one that really stands out when you compare it to other fondly remembered intros from the era, like Soul Edge and Wild Arms. Fantastic intros, don’t get me wrong, but there’s nothing quite like The Cardigans and that iconic DUH DUH DUH-NOW, DUH DUH DUH-NOW, dowww, dowww, riff. They repeated this feat with Gran Turismo 3 and British rock band Feeder’s Just A Day. Another banger, to be fair.
Gran Turismo 2 is one of the best games in the series. The jazzy menu music and sounds are a highlight, and the dark aesthetic made the game feel cosy, especially if you were playing at five thirty in the morning before anyone else was awake. There was no DLC or microtransactions, just brilliant roaring sound design that blew the eardrums out of my tiny little ears, and cars, cars, cars. Cars you could earn just by playing the game, even though I was too little to complete some driving tasks and always had to ask my dad to help me. An absolute gem. If you know, you know, and if you know, YouTube a playthrough or emulate the game. It took me back instantly.
Up next is Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes. This was a pretty rudimentary game, even in 2000. I mention it here because it turns out a little boy with plastic army men, of which I had enough to cover the entire living room floor, is gonna love a game where you play as a plastic army man. The politics of the game are also a little dated, with the Green army (the Americans, led by Jack “Happy” Grimm) facing off against the Tan army (the communists, led by General Plastro), but this was 22 years ago. The world was a very different place. Still, a great intro video that parodied military history documentaries and laid the foundations for the sort of intros you’d see in the first Call of Duty games.
Lastly, Hogs of War, one of my all-time favourite games. Rik Mayall’s performance as the British sergeant leading an army of pigs into WW2 is iconic. “Are you in love, private!?” The pig shakes their head. “Then don’t look at me, you’ll give me nightmares!” The late actor actually voiced around half of the characters in the game and it lends this PlayStation classic a sort of timeless quality, despite its dated graphics and gameplay.
There is no doubt that I’m looking back on these games through the grimy window of nostalgia, but the innovation of Gran Turismo 2 and The Cardigans, Army Men’s parody intro, and the incredible voice acting of Rik Mayall in Hogs of War do make you pause for a moment and think—do they really make them like this anymore?
Source: Read Full Article