Even those who would accept everything Nintendo ever did - regardless that Nintendo rarely put a foot wrong in those days.
The fanboys. The zealots. The hardcore. Those were the names we used to mock them.
I always thought I would take every game as I found it. That I wouldn't pre-judge based upon a company's track record. After all, games companies were faceless. The days were gone where you could feel an emotional draw towards your favourite one-person development team.
As yet, we stand on the eve of the fourth and final proper Uncharted game, I find myself realising something odd: I've never not liked a Naughty Dog game. In fact, I might even be at a point where I would be excited about a new Naughty Dog game before I knew anything about it.
Could it be that, after all these years, I'm a fan of a games company?
Thinking about it, like everyone I probably considered myself something of a fan of Ultimate Play The Game, back in the Spectrum days.
There are only so many times a company can make a game you love before you join the cult.
They started to lose me somewhat when they became Rare - I never got along with Battletoads - but usually, a Rare game was reason to pay attention.
As history records, Rare went a bit funny after Perfect Dark, and managed to squander all that goodwill - yet there's no denying that the company utterly owned the 80s home computer scene.
But... man... Naughty Dog... Crash Bandicoot was a solid start for them, but I loved the Jak & Daxter games. I mean, really loved them. One of my most dramatic gaming traumas occurred when my daughter wiped my Jak II save files. I've rarely felt such a loss.
And the weird thing about the Jak games is that I bought into the world and characters. I don't know how Naughty Dog did it, but they somehow made me engage emotionally with a cartoon-y 3D platformer. I cared what happened. I wanted to stay in that world.
When I played the first Ratchet & Clank I went into it expecting more of the same - not realising that, despite graphical similarities, it wasn't the work of the same team. Suffice to say, it has taken until the recent PS4 remaining of R&C to warm to that series. At the time, it felt like a betrayal.
When I played the first Uncharted, I didn't expect much.
I picked up the pad, not knowing it was from the people who had made my beloved Jak & Daxter.
I was braced for a wannabe Tomb Raider rip-off. And that's exactly what it was... but it was something more. It did something no other game had ever managed to get me to do.
I actually cared about the characters.
How? It's hard to put it into words, because it's so precise and subconscious. Yet there are little moments throughout the Uncharted games where that genius shines through. In the first game the turning point came for me in the submarine, which Nathan Drake stumbles across on a tropical island. As he steps through the doorways of the listing, rusting, hulk, he braces himself against the doorframe.
It's so subtle, yet what it does is huge: it makes Nathan Drake feel real. He's not disengaged from his world; he's a part of it. And so we become a part of it, and become a part of what he's experiencing, physically and emotionally.
In any other medium, Drake would be unremarkable. He's the heroic archetype. Likewise Sully - every bit the typical sidekick. And yet in video games those characters remain a revelation. The relationships between them, and their world, and by extension the player, is why those games work.
Through writing that was by turns warm, funny, playful - and dramatic when it counted - I came to genuinely like Drake and Sully.
How ironic is that the Tomb Raider series is now as influenced by Uncharted as Uncharted was by Tomb Raider? And yet Lara Croft somehow remains an aloof, untouchable, superhero. By isolating her from other human characters it isolates her from us. You can make her shiver in cold temperatures all you like, but it's finding her warmth and humanity that would really make us love her.
Naughty Dog refined their storytelling across the Uncharted series, and took it to whole new heights in The Last of Us.
An altogether heavier, more serious, world and story, all of it is in service to building the player's connection with Joel and Ellie.
Yet it does it without ever once being melodramatic, by avoiding obvious cliches.
A man haunted by the death of his daughter. A girl who was born into a brutal world - who we later learn in the sublime Left Behind mini adventure, has suffered loss of her own. Each fight a futile battle against the connection they feel for one another. When they finally realise that it's hopeless to resist, the choices that are made are brutal. Selfish, and yet so, so human.
Hardly ever does the game drag you into a cutscene. Their interaction, their relationship, is constructed through action, through character-building. It's a repeat of the two-character trick that Uncharted has used, but a wholly different sort of relationship.
When (SPOILER) Joel falls from a balcony onto a metal bar, it's traumatic for the player. Because their emotional vulnerability was so well sculpted, so I came to believe their physical vulnerability. I'd never once been shocked by anything in a game. Never had anything close to an emotional outburst, beyond frustration. Yet when Joel was impaled on that spike... I cried out. I didn't want him to die.
Can you imagine that happening with any other character? You just hit 'CONTINUE' when Master Chief dies. If Joel had carked it in that hospital, I knew he would've been gone from the game, and my life, and Ellie's life. I didn't want either of us to be without him.
Suffice to say, my expectations for Uncharted 4 are wholly through the roof. It can only disappoint, and Naughty Dog only have themselves to blame - for being the unchallenged masters of video game characterisation and storytelling.
- THE GREAT DIFFICULTY MODE DEBATE: ANOTHER STORM IN A TEACUP? - BY MR BIFFO
- WE ASKED THESE STAR WARS ACTORS WHETHER THEY'D EVER SMUGGLED A POSSUM INSIDE THEIR COSTUMES - AND NOT A SINGLE ONE REPLIED
- WE ASKED THESE VETERAN GAME DESIGNERS WHETHER THEY'D EVER GIVEN BIRTH TO A LIVING MINIATURE VERSION OF THEMSELVES - AND NOT A SINGLE ONE REPLIED