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My personal "WOW" moment in console gaming. You wouldn't guess. What's yours?

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I had posted this comment elsewhere, it ended up much longer and more detailed in trying to convey the moment so I will paste and share it here as well as well invite all to share their own personal jaw dropping "WOW" moment in console gaming whatever platform or time period that was  😎 
 

It was in answer to basically what was my "WOW" moment in console gaming, I think even those that know me and my long history in it might be surprised but it is my most honest answer - 
Well, see I recall reading so many articles about Sega's new console coming, seeing pictures of the Dreamcast logo, the designs and rendering of the case, reading all the "specs", that was all fine and dandy.
 

Then one day arriving at my local mall I went to the second floor and as I walked off the top of the escalator facing the gaming store I began to approach, as I was getting close enough to make out what was displayed on 2 - 3 15 inch TV's hanging in the store front display I was thinking "Ugh, wtf? WHY are they playing a damn football game ?" I figured it was early in the day, the store was pretty empty, I assumed the manager maybe put to on to "catch the game", I kind of rolled my eyes but then, as I got closer it dawned on me, no, no way, can this be?

Then running up the rest of the way, I confirmed what blew my mind, this was no broadcast game, this was my first time seeing something running in person on the new Dreamcast console by SEGA 😮Yes, from a distance and admittedly maybe because I had zero interest in Football I assumed, if only for a few brief seconds that an actual football game was in progress when in fact it was NFL 2K, I think in demo mode, I only noticed the players movement, some cut scene of interaction on the field and of course the sounds of the crowd and commentary where being amplified outside the display. 
 

It did not matter that I could not care less about football or sports games in general, hell outside of possibly trying the game sometime later on a Dreamcast Demo disc I never even played it, yet for those few seconds I was fooled, I was more impressed than if they had been simply displaying Sonic adventure, in my mind, at that moment at least the Dreamcast realized everything I had heard or read up to that point and I was convinced that not only had Sega made a fantastic debut in the new generation but that it was surely the future of console gaming. And while we all know how things actually would turn out in the long run, that will always be for me my most WOW moment in gaming. 🤷‍♂️

 

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I really liked R.C. Pro-Am for the NES back in the day. So my wow moment was when a friend of mine called, said he had R.C. Pro-Am II, said it was 4-player, said two other friends of mine were also going to play and I found out that the game was an improvement of the prequel in every way. Those were the days.

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Panzer dragoon saga on the Saturn. Seeing on the fly rendering of the dragon changing as you spin around the wing setup feature. Shame the game is so easy it makes virtually no gameplay difference haha. 

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I had a few "wow" moments in my personal history of gaming, but one that stands out is seeing Super Mario Bros 3 on NES for the first time. It was the Japanese version which was imported by a local game shop and set up with a Famicom-to-NES converter on a demo NES in a back corner of the shop. So anyone could walk up to it and try it, and this was a few months before the release of the American version of the game. I tried it myself briefly and watched other people play, and I was blown away by the variety of levels, graphics, music and gameplay. My best friend bought the American version on release day, and we had a blast playing SMB3 on his NES.  :)

 

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Far too many to list at length, but. 

 

Going from an Atari 520STFM to a Sega Mega Drive and playing Revenge Of Shinobi and Strider for the very first time, then Sonic, which made all those awful European ST platform games seem set in treacle... 

 

 

Stepping out of the sewers in PlayStation 3 Oblivion for the very first time, finally a game which felt like the next generation had arrived, similar experience with GTA III on PlayStation 2, finally a game which seemed only possible on the hardware. 

 

 

Dolby 5.1 set up on the classic Xbox, knew i had made the right decision to buy one 😀

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Mine was back in 1987.  I had just received both "The Train" and "Power at Sea," both for Commodore 64.  Not only were the graphics better than most games of the genre.  But, it was the first time I had played games at this point, where the game play was so immersive.  I could not get over the immersive game play and how it felt so life-like.

 

Needless to say, both games kept me glued to the screen, until I eventually beat both games, some time later.

 

Great games then, and I still look fondly at those two games today.  In fact, I still play them both, from time to time...

 

In fact, it's games like these, which made me a huge fan of Accolade, back in the day.

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OP says "console" so I'll stick with that, for microcomputers there would be too many to list since they're my main thing. The first console which really took off in my area was PSX - because we were a poor country and you could stick a match in it and pirate the CDs very cheaply. In 1996 all I wanted was a PC but I couldn't afford it, so instead I first borrowed a PSX from a shop I was working in, then bought it on monthly installments.

 

Literally every game back then was a "wow" moment, because it was the era of transition from 2D to 3D and PSX threw polygons around like threre was no tomorrow. For a brief moment before the 3DFX and assorted took hold on PC it was the king of 3D. My first batch of games (borrowed from the shop, before pirating became popular) was Motor Toon Grand Prix, Ridge Racer and Tekken 2, and I couldn't believe this little grey box can make arcade quality gaming possible in my home.

 

I remained in flux between PCs and consoles and my later "wow" moments on the console side include Jet Set Radio, Shenmue, Skies Of Arcadia, Halo, GTA 3, Ico and, to cap the CRT TV era off, Resident Evil GC remake - probably the most visually beautiful game ever.

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I'm sure I have a bunch I'm not remembering.. but off the top of my head:

  • Seeing a screenshot of Colecovision Donkey Kong in a magazine
  • 2600 Demon Attack
  • Seeing Mario Bros. (not super) running on a Famicom on a display TV in an electronics store in Tokyo
  • Rain in SNES Zelda - Link to the Past
  • PSX Battle Arena Toshinden

 

 

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Fun topic!  Here are my wow moments:

 

- Playing Donkey Kong on CV.  My aunt had one but the rest of the family all had Ataris.  We begged and begged her to play CV every chance we got!

- When Duke Togo gets laid in Golgo 13.  To see such a thing in an NES game blew my middle school mind.  (As for NES, the cut scenes in Ninja Gaiden were also amazing at the time.)

- Altered Beast.  I sold my NES to buy Genesis at launch.  We brought it back to my grandparents' house who had a (old, bulky) big screen tv.  They were nervous about me hooking a video game to it, but they allowed it and it was simply the coolest thing I had ever seen.  We also played Golden Axe and Revenge of Shinobi that day.

- Playing with Mario's face for an hour after turning on Super Mario 64 on Xmas morning

- Ridge Racer V on PS2.  A local game shop had an imported PS2 and you could pay a few bucks to go behind a curtain to play it.  In hindsight, it was all jaggy but it was amazing at the time.

- Speaking of "wow," I played a Tauren Hunter as my first toon and after I left Thunder Bluff and entered the Barrens, I was just amazed to see giant Kodos around.  Very few games have instilled a sense of wonderment like early WoW did for me.

- More recently, the lighting effects on PS5 games like DMC5, MK11, Ratchet & Clank and Resident Evil Village still make my jaw drop.  I expect Horizon Forbidden West to be even more impressive.

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Console wise the wow moments I had were during the SNES lifetime largely.  Sure I remember seeing the DC and Football on a big screen at something like Costco and I had to watch for a second and I realized it wasn't for real because outside of a side glance it still was obvious, even so the next true generation too.

 

What got me was the stark jump in quality the NES to the SNES did.  We had a Genesis in the house, well, not we...brother did.  I didn't bother or care but he had enough games, and the natural progression of what came out pre-SNES really wasn't all that remarkable.  Maybe he had the wrong games, never loved space shooters to push the sprites those do, but he did have platformers, some arcade, the usual and in that first 18-24mo Sega until Sonic came along had a minor push higher in detail, largely from resolution, yet still stuck with largely more plain and drab colors, as did a friend who had a system too.  The music largely had a bit more detail and bass but was tinny and from what I could compare on arcade stuff fell short too.  It just wasn't for me.

 

SNES though, I mean I had an idea from pictures, and thats it... pictures from NP magazine largely or what others had too in EGM basically.  But to finally see what pictures could only take so far, but actually hear... 1991 was a real holy crap wow moment in time.  Mario World not so much to start to be fair, it's largely a more color variant in style of SMB3 and wasn't until I saw transparencies that one captured me more than anything else did.  What did it was the games I got after or played with a friend.  ActRaiser and Gradius III were my first buys post launch, had a friend with F-Zero, later along Christmas came FInal Fight, Super GnG, and Super Castlevania.

 

That wow moment was the utter mixture of things into a concoction of what I only could fairly experience either on an arcade cabinet or really on PC, and I didn't think a console could cut it that well again, and I was wrong.  The copied symphony music on Actraiser was insane, I felt like i was listening to a CD of all things, from a cart?!  Gradius with its big use of colors, large varied sprites, insane tracks, and heavy use of mode7 and others (same could be said for F-Zero too with its mode7 faux 3D tracks.)  You can draw the conclusions out from the others which upped the ante piece by piece.  But then, liek what 18 mo into it, the FX chip dropped, I hadn't done 3D other than a bit on PC and some Future Crew style demoscene stuff, and damn Starfox was amazing, 3D on my TV, and one that ran smooth and played great...not just some demo, and not a heavy sprite scaled pusher like PCs Wing Commander.

 

Since then I've had a few wow moments, but that was the one big and only WOW period over time.  GBA handheld side shocked me almost as much with its Saturn style rendered 3D engines on some games, to the insane level of color, sprite and bg rotation, and the works making it feel like a Pocket Saturn just lacking the optical storage space.  Everything else just never was that jarring and whoa to me, nice incremental leaps sure, just never so night and day.

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For me, it was seeing Ms. Pac-Man on the 2600 for the first time and being completely in awe of just how well it was programmed.  I didn't think the old 2600 could pull off such a feat! 
The game was leaps and bounds above my expectations given how poor Pac-Man was.

 

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Soul Calibur on dreamcast was my biggest one. Wow did that look good, and all it needed was a thrift shop vga monitor.

Sure it looked better than the arcade soul calibur (which looked pretty bad), but even more than that, it looked light years ahead of anything I'd seen at any arcade, PC, or certainly any console.

 

And it's one example of a launch game looking every bit as good as the next round or two of titles, which doesn't happen often. Generally speaking, I think it even managed to look as good as its own sequel(s) 😂

 

I really wouldn't know, though. I never bothered with those sequels, because they weren't instantly the prettiest things I had ever seen, and Soul Calibur was. 

 

 

Edited by Reaperman
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Wavy balloon men in racing games.  

 

Plugging the HD retrovision cable for genesis into a CRT ( I really almost shit my pants )

 

Trying out PSVR for the first time. It was either wipeout or Gran Turismo that took my ViRginity. Will probably never experience that same feeling again. The brain adapts to VR over time (rather quickly actually) much like it does with drugs. VR tolerance sucks cuz it eventually starts looking 2d and boring.

 

 

 

 

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The music in SNES games like Link to the Past, ActRaiser, Drakkhen, Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade's Revenge, Lord of the Rings Vol. 1, etc. It was astonishing to hear video game music that -- at least over TV speakers -- sounded like "real" music, with timbral variation, sophisticated compositions, and a sense of space and ambience.

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4 minutes ago, thegoldenband said:

The music in SNES games like Link to the Past, ActRaiser, Drakkhen, Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade's Revenge, Lord of the Rings Vol. 1, etc. It was astonishing to hear video game music that -- at least over TV speakers -- sounded like "real" music, with timbral variation, sophisticated compositions, and a sense of space and ambience.

A thousand percent on this. it was Super Castlevania for me.

 

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Some ones that stand out for me are:

 

-Level 2 of DKC when the stage goes from dark and rainy to sunny was amazing. Still cool trick to this day.

 

-Hearing an Aerosmith song with vocals coming from my SNES was insane to me at the time.

 

-Seeing the graphics on Shadows of the Empire on N64 

 

- Seeing a picture in a videogame magazine  of a Tekken game for PS2 that had individual blades of grass.

 

- CGI cutscenes in Playstation games BITD. I remember recording a bunch of them to a VHS tape because they blew me a way

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I've been thinking a bit on it, one thing keeps biting at me now and with the other post too old to edit (why??) I do realize there was really one other really big wow moment for me, that point where finally a 3D game met the quality of what I was seeing on the big or small screen.  Again was a situation where pictures never really did it justice in old Nintendo Power, but because of my ties at the time into the industry I could be there and experience it first hand early at the floor of E3 was the Gamecube debut in 2001 months before it would arrive (GBA too...that floor show was the biggest give away in E3 history I think.)  Anyway, you had a few games being teased for the purple beast.  I mean sure Nintendo nailed it with the fluid cartoony like attention to detail with Luigi, that was nice, but by the design of it you still saw some angles to it all, things... same could be said of the fluid advancement of wave race 64 to blue storms water...crazy.

 

But no, it wasn't Nintendo that did it, nah...it was Factor 5, those bloody geniuses.  They were quite proud of themselves throwing a complete/nearly complete copy of Star Wars Rogue Squadron II on the floor on a couple TV and more running away from play for more to see.  That opening render cinematic that was real models, not video, like last generation did.  Sure Dreamcast in a limited sense really raised the bar from between Sonic Advance to the crazy tricks to go higher detail with Lemans and Ferrari, but damn... Star Wars they bragged and then showed off too, used imported ILM CGI models from the later 90s re-releases/remasters of the original trilogy when it went back to the theater.  Seeing that on a big flat screen there digitally fed was better than one could hope for even at home short of using the digital cable or maybe s-video but still in standard def when all said and done.  The floor wasn't using a lame big CRT or a projection panel, it was an early HD flat screen, and you could digitally see the insane detail down to the rivets and blast scorch on the x-wings in that opening bit to the little details flying about and the rest on the stages.  Finally we hit a point where movie and home game merged, easier admittedly doing space ships vs say the angles of Luigi not to diminish that but still.

 

It would take 15 more years until the HDMI external/internal device was made for Gamecube along with Dolphin the emulator for PC etc to see what was shown on the floor so many years earlier...stunning.

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I think there have been several for me, but the most obvious was Sonic Adventure. I wrote about in detail on my blog (in French), so short version:

- my brother had imported a Japanese Dreamcast for like $500

- he waited until my parents were sleeping to hook it up to the TV, so the atmosphere was special

- the box had a picture of the fake president of SEGA on it, the VMU was sold with a weird King Ghidorah figure, everything about this was quite... exotic

- it was an NTSC system and we didn't have the proper cables, so Sonic was basically green

- Sonic Adventure opening is some kind of kaiju destruction scene, and the game starts with a fight against an alien next to police cars!

 

So it made everything look like a fever dream... And until then, I was not used to 60fps framerates, to reverberation effects and such, and some textures were incredibly detailed - I remember the wood planks from the bridge in the first level; you could see the nails!

 

Most subsequent Dreamcast games were very impressive too, like SoulCalibur of course, but also Crazy Taxi. It was incredible to move that freely in a car, while in most racing games you get stuck against the background easily if you don't follow the track. I remember when I talked about the game to PC players, they almost did not believe me such a game was possible on a console (same when I talked about Sonic Adventure to a Half-Life fan).

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When I bought a Neo Geo AES 2 years ago and was extremely surprised to see that the thing feels incredibly cheap and fragile despite its high price. I still love it, though~

Edited by Steven Pendleton
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- Seeing Super Mario World running for the first time at Service Merchandise. Could not believe my adolescent eyes.

- Renting a Genesis and Sonic 2, walked on air all holiday weekend.

- Seeing Commander Keen IV running at Radio Shack. Holy mackerel, smooth scrolling and beautiful graphics on a PC. It was magic!

- Tails Adventure on the Game Gear - what kind of game WAS this? It totally blew my mind that a platform game could also be an adventure game and also be a shooter. I have rejected the concept of genre ever since.

- Playing Doom for the first time. 3D games could have different heights!!

- Seeing Dark Tower on the Vectrex for the first time. Black magic.

- Gran Turismo on the PlayStation. It was entirely unbelievable.

- Pilotwings on the N64. The amazing scope and freedom of movement was unforgettable.

- That the game.com could connect to the internet. I never actually used it, but it was way ahead of its time in that regard.

- Finding out that people were releasing new games for all these old systems. Oystron and SIMIS and John Dondzila’s and Malban’s and Clay Kessler’s Vectrex games were all astonishing to me, and I wanted to be them when I grew up. One of these days I will grow up…

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16 hours ago, Steven Pendleton said:

When I bought a Neo Geo AES 2 years ago and was extremely surprised to see that the thing feels incredibly cheap and fragile despite its high price. I still love it, though~

Not quite the same, but I had a Neo moment when I got my cabinet mid 2016.  One of those childhood unicorns of owning a machine, but something so cool it had its own mini marquees and many games for one quarter to pick from.  To be able after decades to see inside, realize how it's an oversized 90s console, and how it all comes together into some wonderful thing as it does and realizing that FREE PLAY exists at the flip of a digital switch. :D  You really get why they're so damn rugged and how much abuse they can take and not even get a scratch.  Unintentionally overbuilt to last, long beyond abusive drunks and stupid kids.

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Hooking up the Nintendo on the giant 25 inch living room.  tv. (I think the tv was a zenith voyager or aquarius ?) when no one was home.  

 

Playing altered beast on Genesis for the first time. There was a Genesis under the xmas tree like a month before Xmas and I took the Genesis out and rewrapped the gift so I was playing all month and no one knew. I think columns was the other game. The graphics and the getting away with playing it a month before Christmas was really exciting.

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I had a very similar wow moment on the Dreamcast with Virtua Tennis. Blew me away... as I was waiting for the intro FMV to fade away and actually load the game only to realize I was controlling the character onscreen and it was the actual game. 
 

When I played Rockstars Table Tennis on the Xbox 360, it was another wow moment only this time the opposite because I had already been ruined by the Dreamcast and Virtua Tennis. I didn’t think the graphics were nearly as good as Virtua Tennis on an older generation game system but the game itself was great. 

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Some “wow” moment off the top of my head –

 

  1. Playing the Sega Genesis for the first time with the pack in, Altered Beast.  It looked amazing.  The content seemed “above my age,” and it talked.  I had loved games since A2600, but this was the first time I can remember where I was truly wowed.
  2. Miracle Warriors (I played this after I got the Genesis and converter) – the final boss had boobies.  And no bra.   
  3. The opening (maybe attract mode) cinematic for Ys on Turbo Duo.  Mostly the music blew me away.
  4. The sense of speed on FZero GX for Gamecube
  5. Looking around in Dragon Quest 8 and realizing that I could actually travel to any point I can see.   Nothing was just a backdrop.
  6. Seeing Bioshock being played at a friends house.  I didn't like the game much, but the opening bit was impressive enough to convince me to buy a 360 and upgrade to a HD TV
  7. Ni no Kuni – Leaving the “real world” and getting to see the fantasy world for the first time was amazing.
  8. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – watching the opening cinematic, being wowed by the graphics, then it stops… and I realize it’s waiting for me to move because those are actual game graphics.

 

Honorable mention:   The Zelda 2 title screen.  I remember just being amazed by that scene and the music, I’d just sit there, stare, and listen while it stirs up some call to adventure in my lil’ kid soul

 

 

A wow moment that goes in the other direction – playing PS1 and N64 for those first times.  My thought was  “welp, if this ugly, clunky, muddy mess is what console gaming’s gonna be for the next few years, guess it’s time to move to PC for a bit.”


 

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My earliest wow moment which got me into video games in the first place was when I was about five years old, my mom's neighbor had a son who was much than I was.  One day him and his friend were playing a TV Tennis game (Pong clone, for you kids) on a small black & white TV.  I would just watch the square ball bounce around the screen with the phosphorus trail left behind which really fascinated me.  And when they were done, they switch off the game and changed the channel to watch a MASH rerun...I couldn't believe such a thing could run on the same device used for watching television shows.  And that's the beginning of my lifelong obsession with video games and computers.

 

 

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