Friday, November 1, 2013

A brief history of wasted money

Is it strange that I sat in front of my television for quite some time last night mentally arranging my new consoles?

A chronicle of Chamberlain's consoles.

Intellivision - belonged to my Uncle and I would always pester him to play it when we visited my Grandparents. Berzerk is the game I remember the most. Also my Grandfather saying that I could not play with it because his toe hurt. I believed him because I was a child and Grandpa says is absolutely true.

Atari 2600 - My father brought home a 2600 and a pile of games unannounced. I know now that it was either in middle of or just on the cusp of the great crash. Games were cheap and I did not have the discerning taste I do now (irony intentional).  Cosmic Ark, Adventure, Star Master, Combat, E.T.; these are the games of my formative years.

Mac - I remember when my Dad brought his first Fat Mac home and made the mistake of showing by brother and I Dark Castle and Shufflepuck. He also made the mistake of not password protecting the thing so we would wake up as early as we could to play. I don't know if we every finished that game...

NES - The NES was a Christmas present. I remember emerging from the house when winter was over and trying to brag to my neighbor that we got one. It didn't work because he had one, too. I also remember the very moment that I beat Super Mario Bros for the first time, finding the wand in Zelda by chance and understanding even as a child that the underwater section of TMNT was bullshit.

Turbo Grafx-16 - I don't remember why this was purchased prior to the SNES but I am glad that it was, if for not other reason that I got to play the Bonk games. It was eventually sold to help pay for an SNES.

SNES - I was in high school by the time the SNES came out. My parents went out and got it without telling us so when I came home one day to find my mother playing Super Mario World it was quite a surprise. Equally surprising was her not giving up her turn when she was done. The SNES stayed at home when I left for college so I never actually owned my own. All my games stayed home with by brother who kept them in mint condition along with a copy of ChronoTrigger that he sold for Texas dollars years later. This was also my first intro to online gaming - the X Band and Killer Instinct. It was terrible but I didn't know any better.

3DO - Yup, I owned one. Paid $500 for it, too, and that is in 1994 dollars. (note: 788.64 in today's dollars). This was done just because I was going away to school and fuck anyone who told me I was wasting my money. They were right, of course, but the system did have arcade perfect versions of Samurai Shodown and Super Street Fighter II Turbo. Once I found an adapter to use SNES controllers on it those games rarely left the system.

Playstation - My first job was at the Blockbuster a few miles from school. This provided me with ample free movies and, more importantly, free game rentals. I actually rented a two systems over Christmas break and played system linked Doom and Tekken for about two weeks straight. When I bought it and brought it back to my room the first game I played was Street Fighter Alpha and I had no one to play it with. Just like everyone else I played Final Fantasy VII and then bought VIII and IX out of blind faith. I also owned an original copy of Symphony of the Night that I sold years later because I needed the cash.

N64 - Waited in line at Best Buy for this one and bought no games because of the Blockbuster thing. Secret time - my store got the demo units in prior to the systems release date. I took one home after close one night, played it for hours, then brought it back the next morning before the store opened. My favorite version of Doom ever is still Doom 64. Another secret - I never bought either of the Zelda games. Shame on me, I suppose.

Dreamcast - This was the first system I ever pre-ordered. Again, I rented an import prior to its release and played the crap out of House of the Dead III. The only game that came home at release was Soul Calibur but it was worth it. Owning a Dreamcast, especially towards the end of its run, was like belonging to an exclusive club. We just knew that what we had on our hands was really, really cool. Skies and Arcadia and Grandia III were proof enough of that. Online play again became import - I had a second phone line installed so I could play Phantasy Star Online and not tie up the line.

PS2 - By this time I was working at an Electronics Boutique. My manager was not always on the up and up so I got to take mine home a day early. The first game I showed to anyone was Star Wars Starfighter to which my father replied 'Impressive. Most Impressive.' in a reasonable Vader voice. Silent Hill 2, Ico, God of War(s), numerous terrible JRPGs; there are far too many games to mention.

Gamecube - The GCN marks my final moments of love for Nintendo. The PS2 was there for its exclusives and multiplatform games. The Gamecube was there for RE:Make and Eternal Darkness, and eventually Resident Evil 4. Oh, and Ikaruga. Note - never finished Ikaruga, even after buying it on XBLA.

Xbox - I passed on the Xbox at launch out of misplaced loyalty to Sony and Nintendo.  When it became clear that it was the place to go for cross system titles I had to have one. It was paid for with trade ins, namely my N64 and Dreamcast. Blood money. A few years later I won one at a Mechassault tournament and then was given one by the company that same week. I gave both of those away just in time for my Xbox to die. This is a trend that would be repeated.

Xbox 360 - Reserved but obtained late because I was running a store and I oversold my launch allocation. Of the two previous next gen systems the 360 got the vast majority of the work. Not surprisingly I am current on my fourth unit. I have no regrets and in spite of what I know about the new systems the Xbox One will still end up being my main. For now. Unless the stupid game registration comes back. Then fuck 'em.

Playstation 3 - I still have mt launch 60 gig. It is a wonderful obelisk to excess and complexity and it will see use long after the 360 is moved aside as my guilty pleasure JRPGs just seem to keep coming out for it. The poor thing sits idle for months at at time, something that I am afraid will happen to the Playstation 4 as well. I have mentioned that I really want to make the PS4 my new home but I do not think I will be able to do it. The pull of the achievement metagame is just too strong.

The word of PC gaming was left out because I have embraced and retreated from it several times. Right now I am in full abandon it mode and that is after discovering Path of Exile. Eventually I will be back, but not until the sheen of my other new hardware wares off.

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