Headshot photo credit: John Ashby (@gryphonbristol)
Welcome to Grand Thrash Auto, a series in which we have some of our favourite artists talk about their favourite games. This week we’re talking to Svalbard‘s Serena Cherry ahead of the release of her debut solo album under the Noctule moniker. The project boasts blistering black metal inspired by the frozen landscape and rich lore of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Here we learn what Cherry loves about Skyrim, and gain some insight into some of her other favourite games.
Since I was a young kid, gaming was always my preferred method of home entertainment. TV just didn’t hold my attention in the same way that being a pixelated blue hedgehog did. But not being from the flashiest of families, we were always a few consoles behind. While school classmates were getting endlessly frustrated with Crash Bandicoot on the PS1, I was… getting endlessly frustrated with the hang glider level on Sonic The Hedgehog 2 for the Sega Master System.
The day we finally got a PlayStation is still burned into my brain with a glow of happiness. Unlike the previous side-scrolling platformers I was used to, the PlayStation allowed me to access fully-formed worlds and explore them in multiple ways. I had never felt so immersed or inspired when I walked into the world of Final Fantasy for the first time. Finally, someone had taken the fantastical imagery of my daydreams and transformed it into a place I could access via my transparent green DualShock controller. It’s no exaggeration to say that when I found RPGs, I found a bit of myself.
So without further ado, here are my Top Five Games.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
A game so inspiring I wrote a whole album about it! The great thing about Skyrim is its flaws make me love it even more. The clunky hand-to-hand combat, the amount it glitches, the annoying character that is Lydia… somehow the flaws of Skyrim always manage to stay on the humorous side of annoying. Even when it gets it wrong, it gets it right. I like that it’s not a perfect game. I love that it is one of the best. The soundtrack is emotionally rousing, the stories are immersive and dark, the dungeons are never so challenging that you want to give up. It is a world so huge, a world packed with fun little side quests designed to divert you off the beaten path. You can play this game for years and still be taken to unexpected places with it. An easy number one for me!
Just thinking about Pokémon Blue makes me want to buy some triple A batteries, fire up the GameBoy and walk into Professor Oak’s lab again. Only I know that if I do this, I will be greeted by the most daunting decision of all time… which starter Pokémon to pick. I’ve played this game so many times but that choice never gets any easier! Pokémon Blue has such a special place in my heart. Like many ’90s kids, I was obsessed with Pokémon (and am still a fan now!) so being able to hang out in Kanto and walk into those gyms, visit those Poké centres, get lost that long grass… it’s super effective at filling my heart with joy.
Final Fantasy VII
Is there anything more beautiful than a Final Fantasy game? Oh how I wished to look like those spellbinding female characters! Oh how I wished to compose music as captivating as the soundtrack! Final Fantasy VII has moments which still give me goosebumps, no matter how often I replay it. It’s not just a game that you play, it’s a world that you feel and fall in love with.
Yes. Yes is always the answer should anyone ask me: “fancy a game of Worms?” I am never not in the mood to throw explosive sheep at my friends! The original will always be my favourite because it’s restricted choice of weaponry forced the player to find more inventive ways of destroying their opponent. Then there’s the landscapes! I adored those original battlefields, littered with anything from sweets to structural debris. Every game of Worms is different – it’s tactical, it’s social and of course, you can create a Team of Worms and name them after your favourite death metal bands!
Alex Kidd In Miracle World
In my eyes, still one of the least forgiving platformers ever to grace home consoles. Alex Kidd required hours of trial and error, figuring out the patterns of the Janken boss fights. And yet it was so rewarding. Those rare occasions when a ghost didn’t get you, when your motorbike didn’t plunge into a row of spikes, when you lived to see another glorious level of torturous 8-bit platforming! I have only completed this game once and that’s still one of my greatest achievements.
Psycho Fox (Sega Master System), Parappa The Rapper (PS1), Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 (PC), Spyro Reignited (PS4), Bubble Bobble (SNES)
Wretched Abyss is out via Church Road Records on 28th May. Order here.
Words: Serena Cherry