Let me set the scene for you. It's 1993 and new recruits are lining up to go to battle. An ominous hill covered in gravestones is seen in the near distance and you’re winning the war (at least that's what the scoreboard currently states). Before the Medal of Honors and Call of Duties were upsetting the more sensitive out there, there was another war-based shooter getting the media upset, and even a banning in Germany.
Cannon Fodder was one of the biggest games of my junior gaming life (I rate everything before I owned an N64 as junior). Not only was it ridiculously addictive, a birthday present from my older brother and a damn good reason to stay up all night with a couple of my mates, but it also gave me my first taste of compassion for a videogame character.
Don't get me wrong: Mr Threepwood did a great job of making me laugh, and boy did I want to help him become a pirate. But the emotion behind that was nothing compared to that of losing Jools and Jops hours into the game. Jools and Jops were your very first recruits in Sensible Software's military combat game. Manage to get them through a mission and they'd earn themselves promotions. Soon enough, though, the goal didn't just stick to completing a mission, but seeing helping a soldier attain the highest rank possible.
Suddenly, it mattered if someone was shot down in the line of duty. Instead of just accepting his loss and recruiting the next piece of, er, Cannon Fodder, I would quit and load my last save to ensure my highest-ranked soldier would continue through. I still remember fondly the day my best friend suggested we both try to get the original two soldiers through the war without resorting to resetting their death with a load. I cancelled my current playthrough and started anew.
Hours later and many missions in, my game freezes. No amount of reloading would allow my Amiga to successfully read the disc, and after proving to my mate that Jools and Jops were both still alive and well, he loaned me his disc (and thus save), which also had the two alive and well, although the other two soldiers in my squadron were nowhere to be seen. Sadly, I lost Jops in my travels. I was a little too careless. Was it a helicopter overhead? A shell from a passing tank? Or maybe an exploding sheep in the later Scottish levels? I don't remember. But the one thing I do remember, the thing I will always be proud of and the thing no one can take away from me: Jools went home a war hero. War has never been so much fun.