My story started after my parents came from Andalucia to work in Barcelona, the city where I was born and still live in. As a kid my passion was mainly drawing everything I saw on TV, later the comics I read and lastly the games I played. But my parents never had a special affinity for video games, if any, I would say it was the opposite.
Somehow I managed to convince my parents to buy me a Mega Drive. One of the main reasons why my parents finally did that was because they wanted to avoid me to stay all day long at my neighbour's house playing NES or Master System. I spent countless hours in the arcade rooms hooked on action games. Mostly remember the frenetic ones, House of the Dead, Time Crisis, Aliens Vs. Predator, Metal Slug and Cadillac & Dinosaurs...
As a curious anecdote from my old arcade days, one day while playing House of the Dead 3 cabinet in Salou, my trained skills allowed me to reach the last stage of the game relatively easy. Then I saw how people gathered around me and, soon after this, I got killed by the final monster. At that exact moment I was in the urgent need to find a coin to beat the game and my wallet was empty, so I turned my back to the crowd I saw watching my game five minutes earlier, only to see if somebody could lend me a coin... but sadly everybody was gone and, irremediably, I lost my game.
If I have to look for a starting point when comes to defining the games that marked my life, I should start with Sonic, one of the first games I've ever played on the Mega Drive and also a title I'm emotionally pretty much attached to. The controls were so simple and, at the same time, gameplay was quite deep for me as a child. The SEGA's mascot had (and still keeps) loads of charisma. Sonic original character design seemed very simple but at the same time is really well thought if you think about what SEGA wanted to achieve with him.
Here are other games I loved from that first era:
Jurassic Park: Always been passionate about dinosaurs, long before Jurassic Park was on theaters. In fact I loved movies like The Lost World (1925) or The beast from 20.000 fathoms (1953). Consider myself a hardcore fan of sci-fi movies and horror monsters, but the fascination I had when I saw Jurassic Park was very special, loved how it blended the realistic theme with those stunning visuals (mixing animatronics and digital effects). I couldn't forget to mention both versions of the game, released for Mega Drive and Super Nintendo, they made me feel so close to the movie universe.
Altered Beast. A good friend borrowed it to me and had it at home for enough time to love and hate it in equal measure. The game was insanely hard, but the habilities to transform the main character and their mythology-inspired scenarios really fascinated me.
Gunstar Heroes. Was enthused by its graphics, and the crazyness of each stage, full of shootings and explosions.
Streets of Rage 2: That game offered a lot of possibilities, the recreation of the city was superb, still nowadays it represents an aesthetic reference for me as an artist.
Now after talking about SEGA, cannot foget to say I lived very intensely that era when both, Nintendo and SEGA were dominant and also antagonic rivals. I was quite young to have a more reasoned opinion about the “confrontation”, but the case is that I started as a blind supporter of SEGA, with a mascot full of charisma (and somehow naughty) and those direct "Pirate TV" advertisements. Since the first comparison of what both brands had to offer I quickly made the conclusion that SEGA games were much more dynamic, aggressive and intense, but discovered how wrong I was when I visited a friend's house. He had a Super Nintendo and we spent endless hours playing. So both choices where equally good in the end.
On the SNES I remember devoting hours and hours to Street Fighter II, with its fast fights, detailed scenarios and fighters full of charisma (Ryu and Ken were really easy to control, but Blanka was really my favourite).
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time:
Aside of dinosaurs, I was also a big fan of Ninja Turtles, and loved that game, for me it was the best ever made based on the franchise. The stages were varied, funny and very ingenious, full of quite different characters. My favourite stage, and at the same time the hardest one, was the one that took place in the sewers.
Killer Instinct. Was not my favourite fighter in the system, but I ended up kind of addicted to it for the impressively well designed characters, and the art in general.
After the Mega Drive I got a Game Boy, played Tetris, Dr.Mario, Tennis, and countless hours at Pokemon Red. Also always wanted to have a Game Gear, because of the incredible color screen, luckily I got it later.
Then was when discovered my father's PC and the next few games that would impact my mind like a meteor in Maniac Mansion.
Age of Empires.
Maybe because of my father (who is a teacher and archeologyst), I love ancient civilizations. So the chance to create an empire from the very beginning, managing all the resources and growing my own civilization was an incredibly entertaining. It was so intuitive and simple to play, and at the same time I was overwhelmed by the huge amount of actions my troops could perform at anytime.
Was a brilliant puzzle game, a true classic. Loved the idea of having a myriad of creatures fighting for a common good. Simple and addictive, albeit the design of the characters always seemed quite ugly to me.
With a bold level design, initially looked like a bit monotonous to me, but in the end the labyrinths were so diverse and the brutality was shocking for any teenager of that time.
Aliens vs. Predator.
I'm a die hard fan of the Alien and Predator sagas, so when that game came out I remember I started going everyday to the videoclub to rent it. The developers put a lot of effort into simulate the experience of controlling an Alien, but above all I enjoyed the enormous amount of movements and skills a predator had. Finally I cannot forget the anguish you could perceive in the atmosphere of those so faithfully recreated scenarios.
Now I want to thank, once more, to another good friend of mine who borrowed me a PSOne, thanks to him I got to play great titles like:
Metal Gear Solid.
All the games from this saga put a lot of attention into the details. The pleasure of silently crossing those so well designed environments, with tons of tension while trying to go unnoticed, it was simply incredible. But, above all, I liked how smoothly the story was told.
Final Fantasy VII.
I remember how, at the beginning, I had a bittersweet feeling. But step by step I was getting more and more involved with the story. characters and soundtrack. Truly loved the cinematics.
When it's about racing games I have to admit that I really prefer arcades, but after trying the first Gran Turismo discovered a very deep game, where you could spend days or even weeks to get handle a car. And man, cannot forget those astounding graphics.
It was hard for me to convince my parents to buy me a new home console, so I kept playing at friends houses for many months. With portable systems there was no problem, but it took many years until my parents bought me a Dreamcast, a console that will always have a special place in my heart. When you look at what Dreamcast achieved nowadays you can notice how ahead of its time it was, those innovative peripherals (like the fishing rod), unrivaled 3D graphics for that time, plenty of "pixel-perfect" arcade games, Internet connectivity. I played Shenmue back then and thought that video games had started to grow up and were reaching a more adult era.
I quit playing PC games in late 90s, but recently I came back and really enjoy the diversity and affordability that platforms like Steam or GOG offer. At the moment I can say I am a very balanced player, enjoying the consoles and PC without making a big difference.
Is quite sad that SEGA had to abandon the hardware sector after Dreamcast, I loved that system. Now from that golden era we only have Nintendo as a hardware manufacturer, and when I look back at how they evolved through years, it really surprises me what they achieved with the Wii, a system that really opened video games to whole new segments of the population. Curiously, at the same time, the price we all had to pay for to seeing our parents playing videogames translated into a huge amount of crappy titles that were mercilessly launched, that way flooding the market. Maybe that huge audience moved on to other platforms (like smartphones or other consoles). I'm a bit worried now for Nintendo, the Wii U is not doing as well as they expected, but on the other side I loved playing all the portable systems they released since Game Boy (for me it was like having an arcade in your pocket, you got instant fun at your hand!).
After Dreamcast was released, I got a Playstation 2 around 2005, Shadow of the Colossus is a game that you can feel it has a quite artistic tone while you're playing it, has a very calm pace when you go wandering through the world, and suddenly you feel like you approach those giants without seeing them and start to get excited. Then you find the colossus and enjoy contemplating it as part of the whole scenario. It's not only the overwhelming feeling you have when fighting those gigantic creatures, everything is so well wrapped with that amazing visual style that you feel like the game has some kind of magic, a feeling you cannot describe with words.
Metal Gear Solid 2.
This Metal Gear was the one that impressed me the most, when compared to the previous installments in the series. The dramatic atmosphere that surrounded you, that dark color palette, helped by the story and the claustrophobic feeling that implies to play on a boat.
It's aggresive philosophy and the realistic recreation of the car crashes got all my attention, pure entertainment.
GTA San Andreas.
Recuerdo una época en la que nos juntábamos algunos compañeros en casa de alguien para hacer el burro con el juego. La cantidad de posibilidades que ofrecía para entonces era enorme.
Devil May Cry.
Loved the gothic art style atmosphere, also the gameplay seemed really intuitive and well designed to me.
After the PS2 I bought the XBOX only for House of the Dead III, Panzer Dragoon Orta and Doom III. Also for me Dino Crisis 3 was not a so bad game, as many people said. From Panzer Dragoon Orta I loved the art and character design mixed up with an arcade mechanic. Doom III showed some of the most detailed textures and advanced lighting systems I had seen to that date.
I've always bought consoles for their exclusive games, and played the multi-platform titles on PC. Bought the GameCube for Resident Evil 4, then XBOX 360 played Halo 3 and Dead Rising. A Playstation 3 for God of War, Uncharted and The Last of Us. About the first two, have to admit I love games that take inspirations from ancient civilizations and also their gameplay was really polished), also The Last of Us is for me one of the best games made to date. The way the scenario provide you with the resources you need and how it delivers them to you seems perfect to me. About the game story, I should remark that the character design is excellent, reminded me of Shenmue at times.
In the current generation of consoles I personally wonder if Microsoft had a clear idea of what to do with their system in the future (second hand, Kinect always connected, allowing indies to do self-publishing...). In contrast, from the beginning I saw Sony had much clearer ideas and partnerships with plenty of independent studios in addition of the big publishers, and that's something I'm quite happy to see.
Now with a PS4 I will confess the games I'm most looking forward to are mostly indie titles. One of them is The Witness, because I'm curious about playing what Jonathan Blow comes up with after Braid, and also I'm curious to know more about Tequila Works' Rime. In the more mainstream zone, I want to see a sequel for The Last of Us, and also pray for Shenmue 3 to be released someday in a near future. In general, I'm eager to see the continuous changes in the industry and how this evergrowing ecosystem will evolve during the next years, like the rise of indie games and self-publishing, Free to Play, Virtual Reality, mobile phones and tablets versus portable consoles, etc.
You can get in touch with Dani on Twitter, he is @playerDNG
Interview made by @JesusFabre