: Rants & Raves : Eric H. :
Pong. My earliest memory of me playing a video game. Such a simple game with simple controls, yet it provided me with hours of fun and enjoyment. It would be several years later that I would finally get a video game system of my own, until that time I had to partake of games in arcades and my relatives consoles. What was my first system? What system took my love of games to another level? Take a journey with me if you will down this pixel highway.
Right around the time I was discovering Pong, my father did have a "system" of sorts, I call it that because I remember it more for the games I played on it than the simple programs I entered into it. It was a Texas Instruments computer. I have no idea what the model number of it was, but you would plug it into the TV, and either make programs or play play games on it. Parsac. Hunt the Wumpus. Two of my favorite games, also, the only ones I remember. My cousins had the same unit and they had more games for it that I would try on it... still, Parsac was my favorite, it was a Defender clone. I would also make programs that would flash different colors on the screen. I know what your thinking... pretty high tech shit.
In the early 80's, I got my first "handheld". Tomytronic's Pac-Man. Oh, how I loved that game. I still have that unit to this day and the last time I checked, it still worked. I should buy 4 "C" batteries, plug them in, turn it on and let the waves of nostalgia wash over me. I'm smiling just thinking about it. A friend and I would compete and see who could get the highest score(you couldn't pause this thing either, you had to play straight through). Like the pros on the full sized cabinet Pac-Man, I developed a pattern of which way I would go as to avoid the ghosts from killing me. Top 5 system ever. Some cousins also had the small "handheld" cabinet versions of Galaga and Centipede that I played.
Over the years, again, mostly on relatives systems I would play the home versions of Defender, Joust, Centipede, Frogger on the Atari systems. I don't ever recall asking for an Atari from my parents, but I'm sure if I were to ask them, they would say I did. Mostly though, most of my early memories consist of me, my brothers and friends going to Circus Circus and just plugging token after token into arcade cabinets, eating pizza and driving bumper cars. The coolest thing about that place was that they would give you a certain number of tokens based on the grades on your report card. Free games!!! I remember some time after I moved away, I decided to make a return trip to that temple of fun only to find out they closed. I remember leaning on my car and just staring at that empty place thinking, "How could they?" The times they were a changing.
What else would my first system be? Technically, I believe my brother got it for his birthday... I think... yes it was. The Nintendo Entertainment System. Oh the glorious hours upon hours that was put into that and it's games. EVERYBODY had this thing. I couldn't go to a friend's house, a relatives house without seeing this thing. The games. Holy crap, the games!! Contra, Metal Gear, Super Mario Bros, Bionic Commando, Cobra Triangle, Blaster Master, Mega Man, Excitebike, Mike Tyson's Punch Out.. should I keep going? The list is so expansive. The fun was endless.. and sometimes were the screaming fits. These games were hard. Brutally so sometimes. I've gone back and played some of these games.... at least tried to. What the hell?! I can't. Bionic Commando? Yeah right. Cobra Triangle? I haven't even gone back to that one, couldn't get very far back in the day with it.
Awwwww yeah!!! My first official handheld!! People call it "The Brick". I call it "Awesome". Great games, but the one to rule them all? Tetris. With a link cable. That is all.
Nintendo 64? No thank you. Horrible controller. Outrageous game prices. $80 for Super Mario 64. I actually laughed out loud, no way was I paying that. Skipped the entire system.
Here it is. The system and the brand name that would change the landscape of gaming forever. I rented the Playstation from Blockbuster one fateful night shortly after it's release. I got home, hooked it up, and turned it on. The chime and the title screen(basic as it was)hypnotized me. I was sold. I had to own this system. Some of the games I rented that night? NFL Gameday. ESPN (Downhill?) Sports. Battle Arena Toshinden. Loved them all. I was blown away by the fact I could play video games on a disc without a computer... weird.. but true.
I finally purchased my own PS from a co-worker for a hell of a deal. The system, extra controller and 4 games for $400... seeing as how the system launched for $299... I was in buyer heaven. Warhawk. Twisted Metal..... and for the life of me I can't remember the other two games I got in that deal. I'm sure it didn't matter because after a couple of days all I was doing was playing Twisted Metal. The hours I sunk into that game alone didn't even compare to the time spent playing that with a friend. He would always choose Specter because of his cheap ass go through walls missile. I hated that thing. My go to character was Warthog. An armored vehicle that fired three missiles in a straight line. There was nothing more satisfying than hitting my friend from distance with those things... they actually took skill compared to his homing missile and they were POWERFUL. Goodnight.
So many games. So many fond memories. The all night gaming sessions with family and friends. The Playstation brought me and people together that I would only see on a semi-regular basis to a regular basis. Online gaming is a blast, but for me, all being in the same room trying to break the best run in Cool Boarders or Rally Cross... that's something online gaming will never be able to capture.
I know I've rambled on and this has gotten a little long. I tend to do that when thinking back. I'm just about done here, I've reached the end of my pixel highway. In 2000, when the Playstation 2 launched, I waited in the rain on a cold October night for one. While I still played fairly often, it wasn't anything compared to the Playstation 1. We were all "growing up". We had "serious" jobs to go to. Sometimes my PS2 would grow quite the layer of dust in between gaming sessions.
Now with the PS3 and the Xbox, my gaming time has jumped up quite a bit again(it helps I don't have a girlfriend to answer to((sad face))thanks to the ability to connect and play with friends. While we don't compete directly with each other as we would have back in the day, we still like to bust each others balls(or lack thereof)over just about anything.
You know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.
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