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Games I Own: Nerf Arena Blast Demo

Posted on 30th Jun 2010 at 10:10 by Joe Martin with 19 comments

Joe Martin
Yes, you read that correctly, the Nerf Arena Blast Demo – i.e. not the full game. It came on a coverdisk for a games magazine years and years ago and is one of three demos that I’ve hung on to without ever bothering to pick up the full game.

Released in 1999, Nerf Arena Blast was one of several forays that Nerf made into the games industry and is essentially just a brightly coloured FPS that swaps out the usual assault rifles and rocket launchers for Nerf blasters. I’ve never played the full game, but the demo featured two levels and gamemodes – one a straight deathmatch, the other a scavenger hunt variant, both against bots.

Nerf Arena wasn’t a fantastic game, at least if the demo is anything to go by, but it’s not as bad as you might expect. It was built on the original Unreal engine, which leant it some smoothness and graphical aplomb. It was also a lot faster and more fun than you’d think – mainly because the lurid neon levels were full of shortcuts, secrets and jump-pads to keep things interesting.

Still, it was by no means a spectacular game and the reason I’ve kept it around for so long isn’t anything to do with the game itself, not really. I’ve not even thought about actually playing it for a decade.

Games I Own: Nerf Arena Blast Demo
Oh my, the graphics haven't aged well

Instead, the reason I’m so attached to Nerf Arena Blast (and specifically the demo) is because of the memories the game conjures for me. To me, Nerf Arena isn’t a game, but a memento that, like an old love letter or champagne cork, is treasured purely for the purposes of indulgent melancholy. The summer of 1999, when the demo came out, was a time I remember fondly for all sorts of vain, personal reasons that are none of anyone’s business and that probably nobody would care about anyway. Suffice it to say that it was a long, hot summer and that my 14 year old self was busy and happy. When I wasn’t busy then I was usually playing the Nerf Arena Demo to pass the time. It was quick to load and easy to play and that’s all it needed to be.

So, while Nerf Arena wasn’t a great game, it was good enough for me at the time. Something about the garish purple and yellow levels highlights the nostalgia and puts all sorts of memories back in my head – like the sun-warmed panels of the massive, rickety desk that I used as a kid. Too big to take with me into any of my subsequent abodes, the desk got left behind when I went to University. I still miss it, occasionally.

Games I Own: Nerf Arena Blast Demo
The later updates really...nerfed...the game

Eventually the season ended and a new year bought new games and new memories with a different tone – Deus Ex came out the following year and I quickly descended into a phase of leather jackets and hating ‘the man’ – but I’ve kept the Nerf Arena Demo since.

All this likely doesn’t mean much - trying to make these memories meaningful to anyone else is a step beyond the remit of even this self-indulgent blog. Still, I do find it interesting how people can end up attaching significance to even the simplest or most unlikely of things. It happens all the time, though maybe I’m a bit more melancholic than most by nature – Gareth’s Vintage Computing article spawned loads of memories about my Father, for example. Suddenly I was a kid again, playing on the Amiga we had back then.

I’d be interested to listen to some of your own nostalgic indulgences, so drop your own memories in the comments below.

19 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
bpdlr 30th June 2010, 11:29 Quote
For me it's Terror From The Deep (XCOM 2). It's one of those memories with music attached, so that I can't hear the music without being back in the game, and I can't play the game without hearing the music. (The music is Biosphere's "Microgravity": www.last.fm/music/Biosphere/Microgravity)
CardJoe 30th June 2010, 11:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bpdlr
For me it's Terror From The Deep (XCOM 2). It's one of those memories with music attached, so that I can't hear the music without being back in the game, and I can't play the game without hearing the music. (The music is Biosphere's "Microgravity": www.last.fm/music/Biosphere/Microgravity)

I couldn't squeeze it into the article, but Nerf Arena always makes me start humming Bad Religion's 'I Love My Computer'. It was my theme of the summer back then.
[PUNK] crompers 30th June 2010, 12:08 Quote
sounds to me like a young lady is involved somewhere here, i have to say being less secretive would have made a better post ;)
CardJoe 30th June 2010, 12:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [PUNK
crompers]sounds to me like a young lady is involved

I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT

Sifter3000 30th June 2010, 12:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [PUNK
crompers]sounds to me like a young lady is involved somewhere here, i have to say being less secretive would have made a better post ;)

It's not Reader's Wives :p
mi1ez 30th June 2010, 13:00 Quote
I still have return fire. great fun, great soundtrack, and i think it may be a friend of mine's from 15 years ago...
TrickOn 30th June 2010, 13:39 Quote
I understand exactly what you mean about nerf arena.
It started my love affair with FPSes and online gaming...
Good times :)
mighty_pirate 30th June 2010, 13:39 Quote
"Suffice it to say that it was a long, hot summer and that my 14 year old self was busy and happy."

In YOUR end-o! ;)

One of my PURELY nostalgic games is 'Captain Blood'.
I had it on the Amiga 1200 & lost the instruction book the day I got it. I played that game for hours not knowing what the goal was, or what I was doing. Just blindly flying around the galaxy, surfing over planet surfaces, ocassionally finding weird aliens, talking rubbish on a keyboard with symbols I didn't understand & then either kissing or eating them, depending on my mood.
Oddly that's an overblown & extravagant simile for year of my life to follow.
[PUNK] crompers 30th June 2010, 14:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sifter3000
It's not Reader's Wives :p

to be fair, "reader's 14 year old girlfriends" is probably not suitable for the bit-tech (or any) audience
The boy 4rm oz 30th June 2010, 15:16 Quote
I actually had this game back in the day, rocking out on an Intel Pentium 2 and 128MB of RAM with integrated graphics lol.
Bauul 30th June 2010, 15:26 Quote
Ewww, 14 year old Joe love...

Or, by mentioning Bad Religion's I Love My Computer, are you insinuating it was something else you discovered...
barndoor101 30th June 2010, 16:43 Quote
Quote:
my 14 year old self was busy and happy

TMI
wgy 30th June 2010, 17:00 Quote
NO FREAKING WAY!

ok, so the other day i was being all nostalgic, remembering my fondest gaming moments... this demo was one of them. this article really is so close to my own fond memory, its as if i had written it myself!

I too, owned the demo, but never the full copy. it was so much fun, i hope i can download it somewhere!

Another would be Sid Meiers: Alpha centurai sessions on my brothers PC, listening to Foo fighters.
pbryanw 30th June 2010, 18:31 Quote
It was the winter of 1999 and I was on the first year of my Computer Science degree. I hated the course, it really wasn't want I wanted to do with my life but instead of doing the sensible thing, and quitting, I stuck my head in the sand and retreated into computer games.

It was around the same time that I found I could use my ageing PC to play Snes and Megadrive games. So, instead of going to lessons I set about completing a succession of JRPGS: FFIII, FFVI, Shining Force, Return to Mana, Phantasy Star III & IV. Anything I could get my hands on from the internet.

It all culminated in me getting kicked out of University but, on the other hand, I ended up with some great gaming memories which still linger to this day. But, I wouldn't recommend this route :)
perplekks45 30th June 2010, 19:40 Quote
Fatal Racing.
Death Rally.
Transport Tycoon. Now OpenTTD.

Those were the days! ;)
Altron 30th June 2010, 20:05 Quote
For me, it has to be Rush 2049 on Nintendo 64.

It was a car racing game. Had it on N64, played it so much. There was a huge amount of content - probably about 20 cars, and you could change engines/trans/suspension/frame/wheels/tires/paintjob on any of them. There were about 15 tracks, broken down into a regular circuit race, a "stunt mode" where wings came out of your car and the goal was to go off a crazy jump and do as many different kinds of spins and flips as possible, and a "battle mode" where you raced in an arena with roof-mounted guns, and at one point you even can unlock some kind of secret bonus challenge mode where you have to drive through an obstacle course in under a certain amount of time.

there were so many cool gameplay elements. The tracks were all interesting. Most took place in a mixture of urban and rural areas, so there would be stretches through narrow city streets, and stretches through sweeping countryside freeways. They went all out on adding interesting little tidbits. There were "triggers" you could activate by driving over that would open up a door into a shortcut or use to get into a secret area, both of which were plentiful. Not in a game-breaking way, but you could easily spend hours exploring the same track in Practice mode, trying to find all of these hidden rooms and crazy jumps. When I say shortcut, I don't mean a basic wall opening up and you drive in and out... it's things like drivig over an underground lava pit before being thrown at a windmill. There were pads on the track that would speed you up (again, not gamebreaking since they were always on a straightaway and everyone used them). There were plenty of jumps. There were gold and silver coins you could collect to unlock new cars, and you had to get them with really fancy driving because you'd need to go over a jump, land on a ledge, drive along it, then turn the car on its side to fit through a narrow passageway or something along those lines to get the coin.

The gameplay mechanics were abnormal, but in a good way. It was set up so that you almost never had to use the brakes. Worse came to worse, you might have to let go of the accelerator for a couple seconds to make a tight turn. May sound noob-ish, but it made taking the correct line through the turns very important.

I played it so much with my brother, and got so good at it. Can't rememeber the year, but it was probably around that time.
TreeDude 30th June 2010, 20:26 Quote
The summer of 1999 I was playing Pokemon Yellow and Zelda: A Link to the Past DX on my GBC. I put way too many hours of my life into those games. My soundtrack? Everclear: So Much for the Afterglow (I was also 14 at the time).

The summer of 2000 was much better because I had my Dreamcast and a gf. Too many memories to list form that summer.
Altron 30th June 2010, 20:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeDude
The summer of 1999 I was playing Pokemon Yellow and Zelda: A Link to the Past DX on my GBC. I put way too many hours of my life into those games. My soundtrack? Everclear: So Much for the Afterglow (I was also 14 at the time).

The summer of 2000 was much better because I had my Dreamcast and a gf. Too many memories to list form that summer.


Haha, did anyone else listen to the same couple CDs while gaming during their youth?

I had like five CDs, and I had my Rio SP-90 on my desk with the power adapter and wired into my speakers, and I played Puddle of Mudd - Blurry, Five For Fighting - America Town, U2 - All that you can't leave behind, ATC - Around the world, and a mix CD that my uncle burned me for hundreds of hours of Starcraft, Diablo, Half Life, and RTCW.

I can't listen to some of those songs without thinking about those games. I heard Puddle of Mudd on the radio for the first time in years last weekend, and all I could think of was Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
pimonserry 1st July 2010, 00:51 Quote
I've got the full game btw.

IT'S STILL AWESOME.

I played it (works flawlessly on Win7) the other day, when I found it.

And yes, I had some quite intense childhood memories come back when I played it.
(nothing repressed, tyvm) :|
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