My Life's Story: in video game consoles

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I wasn’t that kid. I knew I was getting my N64 for Christmas. But, hey, since the world is supposed to end and all, I figured today would be a good day to wax nostalgic about video games – and my awkwardly vivid memories of each and every console I’ve ever owned.

Age 3: Commodore 64: though not a console, it had a ton of games and was the first electronic gaming system we had in our household. It was Christmas eve, I think. The whole family waited for dad to unveil his big secret. The door to my parents bedroom was closed while my mother, my sister, and I sat on the couch listening to Christmas music, with the lights off, admiring the Christmas tree. Then the door opened. My dad had attempted to load a floppy diskette (yes, we said that back when they really were floppy) that would display a “fireworks show” on the screen. I don’t think it worked correctly. But there it was. The family computer. And so began my journey.

Age 7: Nintendo Entertainment System: a random day, towards the end of summer – my dad pulled up out front of the house. I don’t remember why. He never parked there, we didn’t have two cars, but for some reason, he couldn’t park in the drive way. This I remember. Why, I don’t know. I walked out to the sidewalk, where he proceeded to pop the trunk, and unveil the NES he had purchased at a yard sale for $35. The Genesis already existed and SuperNES was close, but I was thrilled, and would have this for at least a year, maybe longer, before I would get the Super Nintendo.

Age 9-ish: Super Nintendo Entertainment System: I had no idea this was coming. I had played my neighbor’s, I had wanted one, I certainly didn’t want the Sega Genesis – the controller was clunky and ugly. Then I unwrapped this mysterious box to find an SNES with Super Mario World and Mario Paint packed in. What a deluxe package that was. A mouse, two controllers, the mouse pad – this thing had it all! There is no doubt that the Super Nintendo was my console of choice for about the next ten years.

Age 10-ish: Odyssey 2: Talk about late to the party on this one. It may surprise some of you to find out I was raised a church going lad. I was part of a church program which rewarded kids for memorizing bible verses. In exchange you received “shares.” You could later redeem these shares for prizes. Occasionally, there would even be an auction. One year I won an Odyssey 2 console and a few games. I knew it would be bad, but I was in for a surprise. At that age, I couldn’t appreciate it – my days of playing the neighbor’s Atari days were far behind me, and I had no interest in going back.

Age 10-ish: Game Boy: I had the original. Okay, not the original original. But it was the clear “Play It Loud” Game Boy. I only ever owned about 5 games for it, used it mostly when the family traveled – in the car, or at a friend’s house. It was great, but when I had to choose between a game for the SNES and a game for the Game Boy, the choice was obvious. Metroid II was my game of choice, with a little Killer Instinct later in its life-span!

Age 11: Virtual Boy: the console had already launched and flopped. But I was SO interested in what it could do, I had to have it. When the price plummeted, I picked one up at a Sears or a JCPenney. I maxed out my game collection at Mario Tennis, Vertical Force, Jack Bros., and 3 Tetris.

Age 12: Nintendo 64: My dad pre-ordered this at a Toys’R’Us. We had a slip saying we could pick it up on December 23rd. We lived about an hour away from where we’d have to pick it up, and happened to be in town the Saturday before (December 21st). We stopped in and they gave us the last N64 in stock. I don’t know why I remember all of this. I had to wait until Christmas day to play it. I had Super Mario 64, the 2nd game I would get was Killer Instinct Gold.

The sad part: all of the above consoles were sold off when I reached about 16, so that I could have enough money to impress a girl. I didn’t think I would miss them, I was heavy in to PC gaming. Little did I know I’d spend way more money than I ever got for the whole collection trying to rebuild it. I kept the NES, though. I can glance at it right now, the same one my dad brought back from that yard sale, over 20 years ago. Moving on.

Age 17: Sega Genesis: I bought one because I thought my sister would be moving home after college, and she had a hankering for Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine – a Dr. Mario type puzzle game. I thought it would be fun to play on my breaks from college when we would both be home. It turned out that she would move out of the state, and the console I bought off of eBay had a bad controller port – so it was basically useless. I think the only game I bought was Cyborg Justice, and I believe it still sits in my parents attic (game and console!).

Age 16: PlayStation: This was short lived. I think bought one, but must have been able to sell it after finding I only enjoyed playing it with friends. I think Jet Moto and Warhawk were the only games I had for it. This is such a blip in my history, I almost wonder if I borrowed it from someone.

Age 18: Sega Dreamcast – it was past it’s prime, but a friend at college had modded his to play SNES and NES games from a boot disc. I needed this in my life, so I bought one and did the same, until one day when the laser stopped reading CD-R discs. Then I sold it. I did have a small collection of games, including Virtua Tennis, Marvel vs. Capcom, and The Ring.

Age 20: Gamecube: I was so excited for Metroid Prime I had to buy the Gamecube. The controller was a pain, the game was confusing, and as with anything you buy on eBay, my controller drifted to the left! Luckily, it was a special edition black Gamecube with a “Heiniken” logo on it. I sold it on eBay not long after I got it, without ever finishing Metroid Prime.

Age 21: PlayStation (again): I bought a PlayStation so that I could mod it and play the elusive “Thrillkill.” I vaguely remember doing this with my first PlayStation, and wanted to show people that I was able to download the unreleased game. I got a slightly newer model which didn’t support hacks like the Goldfinger device I had used. I think I still have the Goldfinger at home, but the PS3 was flipped within days, and I gave up on that idea.

Age 22: The Xbox 360. A friend of mine purchased the 360 and had a party showing it off. It was beautiful. The dashboard, with it’s brilliant colors and beautiful “blade” interface – it was more computer than console, but had a controller that fit beautifully in hand and games that weren’t coming to my beloved PC. It was time to come back to console gaming, in a big way. Still the crown jewel of my contemporary gaming set up, I’m on my 4th 360 (for various reasons) and still go back to games like the first Gears of War and Cloning Clyde to remember what turned me on to this thing in the first place.

Age 22: The original Xbox. I had one of those crazy ideas that I wanted to play same games from my childhood and remembered a college friend who had modded an Xbox. I picked one up on eBay for about $30 and had it soft-modded within 30 minutes of unboxing it, and I had the ability to play console classics and was an early adopter of the true original: XBMC. These days, it’s mostly used for random Fuzion Frenzy pickup games!

Age 24: The Wii. I had bought and sold a few, already – no intention of keeping them. At one point I would sell one that I rarely used, then buy another one because girls love Mario Kart. I probably play Super Mario All-Stars Anniversary the most. Why it wasn’t All Stars + World is still beyond me. Greed, I guess. I modded this, too – I tried to use it for game backups, but the hard drive I had didn’t work very well. I installed stuff off of the Homebrew Channel – but honestly, I never use any of it. It’s used for Mario Kart, Mario Party, and the Check Mii Out channel for the most part!

I can’t believe you find this so interesting you’re still reading! I’m flattered, genuinely! Modding for me wasn’t about “piracy” of games (with the exception of emulation of classic games – which I understand, is no excuse – and I openly admit that was why I had purchase my Xbox and Dreamcast, but not the PlayStation or the Wii). It was more of an excuse to see and play things that weren’t available to me, and, as always, the fun of just hacking the device – like rooting an Android or jailbreaking an iPad. My other consoles are completely un-modded, as I like being a part of their online services, and don’t want to play the “one step ahead” games!

Age 25: The Virtual Boy (again): This time I was sucked in by it, and I actually ended up buying a 2nd Virtual Boy just for some of the games it included. I believe I have finally completed the collection of American games, and am only about 4 games away from completing my Japanese collection. This one is just on my “collector’s” list, but I was pleased to beat Insmouse No Yakata just the other week.

Age 24: PlayStation 3. I bought a 20GB “Phat” when I got a great deal on eBay. Heavenly Sword impressed me more than any other game PS3 game, even to date. Eventually it failed. It still sits in a box, hoping for some kind of repair treatment in the future. I picked up a slim on sale, but nowadays it’s almost exclusively for BluRay Discs.

Age 27-28 – backtracking & going forward. Feeling an unparalleled urge for my childhood, and having a job decent enough to let me go a little wild on eBay, I picked up a vintage Play it Loud Gameboy, not one but TWO Atari 2600’s, and many more Virtual Boy games for my collection. I was also a Kickstarter Backer for the Ouya, and have a Wii U!

If you read this far, I certainly hope you comment, perhaps even tell your own story! I don’t know what else the future holds for me… I’m tempted to get a Sega CD thrown together, just to play classics like Wing Commander. I don’t know what all the future holds for me, but games will be there. It’s a hobby, it’s a passion. Say whatever you want about them, and me – some people can remember every detail of every car they ever owned… I remember the day I unboxed Star Fox 64 from it’s big fat box with the Rumble Pak inside.