It’s been a while since I last talked about gaming within the realms of parenting. My last post on the subject was New Dad Seeks Battle just over two and a half years ago. The New Dad series was written during the first few months of my daughter’s life as I tried to find a balance between regular life, dad life and gaming. It was short lived. This is generally because life with a kid, working and trying to write in my spare time for the site was tough. It was also because, by removing the time to write and edit, I had more time to play games and more time to spend with my family. Over the last two years, the balance has become easier and I’ve been writing more and more. Mostly reviews and opinion pieces but I wanted to return to the dad space because now the game has changed.
A while back I picked up an old PS2 pad for E to play with. The idea was to get in some gaming time that she could be involved with. She enjoyed this for all of 5 minutes always wanting the DS4 I was using. Occasionally I’d let her mash the pad a while then get her occupied on something else for 10 minutes. I played a lot of non-violent games, mostly puzzle games this way. They were never really games she could play though. Yeah, she’s almost 3 now and can work the DS4 to put on Netflix but doesn’t have that coordination for a lot of the games I own. She has taken more interest recently and wanted to play something but I’ve been putting it off. I have no idea what games to let her play; they need to be games she can have some real progression in. She’s past the point of aimlessly mashing the pad. She wants some purpose, some direction.
— The Architect (@nova_47) August 5, 2017
On Tuesday this happened
That’s right, Sonic Mania. E was desperate to play something. She’d plugged her pad into the sofa, something I taught her to do when I bought it for her. Once I’d got on the DS4 she knew she wasn’t doing anything. “It isn’t working. I want yours” she said looking expectantly at me. I bumbled around in my library looking for something she could play. There was nothing that jumped out at me. It was only then I remembered Sonic Mania was a PS Plus game for June. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of something like this before. Side scrollers seem like a great fit, especially ones with a limited move set. PS Plus has certainly earnt it’s money this month.
Then as if by magic
Darius and Tetris make their Genesis and Mega Drive debut in our final 12 title announcements for the Mini.
That’s right, 12!! That brings the total game count to 42!
— SEGA (@SEGA) June 4, 2019
The final list of games for the Mega Drive Mini has been released. I’m excited about this for two reasons. The first is the machine itself and that line up of games. It’s solid, possibly the best line up of all the recent retro consoles. Secondly, the Mega Drive was my first console, I have a lot of love for it. The possibility it could be my daughters makes me happy. I’m not one to feel too nostalgic. It feels different though when I think of my daughter experiencing it for the first time. It isn’t me longing for that experience again, it’s getting to share that with her. She’s considerably younger than I was when I had my first Mega Drive; about 5 years younger. As she’s already playing Sonic Mania and navigating both a kindle and PS4 for kids Netflix it doesn’t seem that much of a stretch. The small form factor of the control and a d-pad and three buttons will make it much easier to use than the DS4 she lumbers about on. Hopefully, an easy to navigate menu to choose games will only make it better.
Apart from a brief thought in a previous New Dad post when the NES mini was announced I’ve never thought to have her start playing games from the past. To be fair I’d never thought she’d be playing games this young. I started playing a console at 8. I’d messed around on a friends NES before but never for more than 5 minutes at a time. When I got mine the Mega Drive had only been out a year. It was new tech. My parents didn’t think to get me an older console and allow me to learn my way up. Quite often now kids of 8 are playing Minecraft and moving around in a 3D space with ease, their playing current(ish) tech. At her age of 3 E won’t be spending a lot of time playing something. So, it needs to be accessible and easy to control. The Mega Drive Mini looks like it’ll provide that and a wealth of different gaming experiences. This isn’t about her learning to game or even pushing it to be her hobby for life, she can make those decisions when she’s able to. This is more about involving her in what I’m doing at a level she can enjoy. She has seen me play and wants to do that.
The new Mega Drive mini might seem an extreme length to go to get her involved. I could buy a Mega Drive collection on PS4, or even games on Steam that she could play through the Steam link. This console though would be a purchase for me too. To have a Mini Mega Drive alongside the other systems that my daughter can see, turn on and operate herself would save me the time to set things up. More importantly, it would give her some freedom, some autonomy considering all the other things she can’t do for herself. I want that for her. To feel confident in herself at being able to set something up and play and the freedom she can have at 6 am rather than having to wake me up.
As I mentioned I will of course also use the machine and whilst this list of games is great there are some notable missing titles from my childhood. Everyone’s list of missing games they love will be different, here are mine:
Desert Strike (or any of the strike games)
Micro Machines 2
Quackshot starring Donald Duck
Not the best games from the console but ones I enjoyed. A few such as Quackshot and Taz-mania would be appropriate for E and build her up from Sonic, side scrollers with a limited move set more complicated than Sonic. Micro Machines would also be a good fit for her taking the action from side-scrolling to a navigating all around a 2D plane. She could see progress with these titles, as she will be able to from some of the games included on the actual Mini. E will be three by the time the console releases so that learning and progression she can make in understanding space will be essential. As will the time we spend together doing something we both love rather than me having to pretend to be a dog, something only she loves.
Will you be picking up a Mega Drive / Genesis Mini and if so what games are missing that you would love to play again?