Alan Smithee

Ahh…The Not-So-Old Days

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Little did Jill know, Barry always wanted a big piece of her Jill sandwich right in his mouth, like delicious roast beef.

Continuing on from my post yesterday, I had stopped right after I blathered on about my affinity for the SNES.

It was a great time to be a gamer when the SNES was around but was also one of the worst times due to the birth of what we now know as ‘fanboyism’. For anyone out there that was around during those years, you know precisely what I’m talking about. Everybody else will just have to think of the battle between the PS3 and the Xbox 360 for an example.

These ultra-fanatics just simply refuse that a system that they have and a lot of times spent “good money on” is not the system best suited to fulfill their every gaming dream. I guess this is a perfect place to jump into my rant about the N64.

Originally ‘Project Reality’, the ‘Ultra 64’, and finally given the uninspired Nintendo 64 was the answer to the Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation, Panasonic 3D0, and Atari’s Jaguar. Lucky for me, I was finally at an age where I had a regular job and was able to purchase big ticket items like all of these without parental help or consent.

I put my very own N64 on layaway along with a copy of Mario 64, perhaps the best game to grace the N64’s library. It took me weeks to fully snag all of the stars in the game and I relished it the entire time. For some reason, it was the addition of the analog stick and the full transition to 3D gaming that made my time with Mario 64 a magical time.

It’s true that there were many many other games that came out on this system that were great, such as: Conker’s Bad Fur Day, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Perfect Dark, and Goldeneye (which I hear is coming to the XBLA). Sadly, the only reason that I picked up a N64 was that I bought all of the hype that there was going to be Robotech: Crystal Dreams and Final Fantasy VII were coming to the system. Unfortunately for me, they didn’t.

And with that, Mario 64 remains one of few games that I own for my N64. This generation of Nintendo hardware began the painful process of realizing that I had perhaps grown out of being a Nintendo fan…I have yet to fully recover from the heartbreak of buying that system and am still very wary of picking up hardware that bares the Nintendo logo. It’s not that the build quality isn’t good, but to simply put it, outside of 1st party games, they don’t have the same quality in game that they had for 5-6 years when they set the industry.

Moving on, my next purchase would have to be the love of my life when it comes to gaming outside of the SNES…the Sony PlayStation. I think that I bought more games for this system in its lifespan than any other game system to date; it was that solid of a system.

In fact, I still play games from its library on my PS3. For me, the PlayStation was the turning point of modern gaming; It had it all, great games, an extensive library, and affordable pricing (for the hardware as well as software). I think that one of the PlayStation’s greatest strengths lies in its ability to get me playing game genres that I had been neglecting in the years before I owned it. What more can I really say? The PlayStation was in fact the first console to ever surpass the 100,000,000 sold record, the numbers don’t lie…Sony was here to stay.

The best series to come from the days of the PS1 would have to be Metal Gear Solid. It was the return of Solid Snake, the same action hero that I fell in love with from the NES version of Metal Gear, with story intact and in full gorgeous 3D and excellent gameplay. I have no doubt that Hideo Kojima making this game for the PS1 singlehandedly made the Stealth-Action genre what it is today.

While I was giving so much love to my PlayStation, I kept my eyes open for other systems that needed to be rescued from various stores’ bargain bins. In my travels, I found a Sega Saturn, a Sega Genesis, and a Nintendo Virtual Boy for about $20 bucks each. All opinions aside I can understand why the Virtual Boy died a slow painful death, but don’t anyone tell you that either the Saturn or the Genesis are inferior systems. Too bad I only own a few games for each and wouldn’t feel right talking about them ad-nauseum because I really never did develop much love for either of the Sega systems.

I can however, talk about a Sega console that still gives me a boner to break out and play games on…the first of the “128-bit” gaming systems; the Sega Dreamcast. Crazy name and wonky controller aside, this system was quality.

I enjoyed this system more than anyone I knew and was shocked and apalled to see how quickly Sega gave up on this system. Sure there are tons of ports of fighting games and arcade games, but c’mon Sega, the only more original content wouldn’t have killed you. But sure enough, you supported your Japanese market much more than your North American market.

Next out of the breech was Sony’s response to the Dreamcast, the long delayed/awaited Playstation 2 (wow, real original name there Sony…). I was one of the lucky few who got to avoid the delay in production and was able to walk home with my system the night it came out. Though, now I look at it as being unlucky…you see, I had to put it all on a credit card and was one of the first to get the ‘disc read error’ message that plagued the system throughout its life.

To give you an idea how stoked for the system’s launch I was, I told a few of my professors that I was going to miss class for a couple of days because I would be home in my man-cave playing games instead of being in class.

The PS2 was and still is a phenomenal success due to its 140 million units sold record (a record that is still climbing). It also doesn’t hurt that with each PS2 sold came with a built-in DVD player.

This system came out during the great VHS to DVD format change and finally made DVD viewing cheap for plenty of people who used to have separate systems for watching movies and playing games. It was also the first home console to have backwards compatibility with all PS1 games, with the hope that all of the games you bought wouldn’t just sit there collecting dust.

I have the second highest number of games for this system (out of all my others) at about 74 titles. I’d note a specific game for this console but since it’s so recent, it’s hard for me to look back with rose-tinted glasses. Or in other words, it’s not quite old enough of a system for me to reminisce about it yet.

The final system I’ll blab about today is Microsoft’s first foray into the console gaming market. With a virtually unstoppable bankroll, Microsoft’s Xbox blasted onto the scene with games and graphics to put the PS2 to shame.

The system, though aesthetically unpleasing, hot, and heavy, never gained much of an audience in venues outside of the US and Europe (read that as “Japan didn’t like it”). I personally never got much use out of this system except for a few games like the Halo series and a few other choice titles like Amped. It quickly became the system that I would pick games up for if they came out on multiple platforms. Not only that, but MS was the first company to have an online service that worked, and worked well.

Since the architecture of the Xbox resembled that of a decently powered PC at the time, games were quite easy to program compared to the proprietary tools and development kits being offered by the PlayStation 2 (which if you think about it, it’s funny how the same thing is being said with the newest batch of consoles).

So, that catches us up to the current batch of game systems (PS3, Wii, and Xbox 360) but I won’t be rambling about these systems yet…it’s still much too recent and ongoing to see how history treats this generation. One day though, we will all know how it all went and on that day, you’d better believe I’ll have something to say about them. Thanks for reading, we’ll see you then.

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