April 22, 2013
I spent yesterday at work daydreaming about my third favorite subject: video games (Numbers 1 and 2 were bacon and anger) and I was stunned to realize just how much time I’ve wasted with games since I was a wee little kid.
I was an active kid. I loved to run around outside and play. And then Dad bought home an original Atari 2600:
That was it for me being skinny. I remember the night he was setting it up – he warned Mr. B and I not to touch anything. I touched the pong controller (the one with the round knob) (Mr. BTR Says: This is not the last time Keyes will be attracted to a round knob, nudge nudge wink wink.) and got yelled at. I got over it. Especially with my favorite game of all time, Yar’s Revenge to play. Not only had I discovered my crack at a young age, I was mainlining it!
After the Atari broke (DON’T BLAME ME!) for some reason Dad tried something different:
Studio 2. More like Number 2 if you know what I mean. This was Atari’s main competition at the time. How could they lose? THEY HAD A FRICKING “GAME” CALLED BIORHYTHM FOR GODS SAKE. Part of the “TV Mystic Series” (nice touch) You entered your birthday and other biographical info via the keypad, and the TV screen filled up with various squiggles. Woopee. Seconds of endless fun! The thing on the right side is allegedly bowling. *Shudder* We sent a guy to the moon but fat kids had to play biorhythm without a controller even in their living rooms. I blame Jimmy Carter.
After that abomination, we upgraded big time. No, we didn’t have ColecoVision – one of the great regrets of my overly pampered life. We had something better: Intellivision!
This was the last of the video game consoles that had wood paneling. A minor thing but it really reflects an aesthetic, the manufacturers designed these to be put in the middle of the family room to be enjoyed by all, not just by some withdrawn pimply slacker yakking on his headset to his pals about he just pw3d that noob or whatever they yammer about today. Anyway, I got so addicted to Astrosmash (a Space Invaders/Asteroids ripoff) that I actually faked sick days in school to stay home and play. The controllers were kind of cool looking but clunky, and you had to put overlays over the keypads to get the right control commands, and they got ripped and crumpled awful fast. Only one odd thing though – did you ever see a system that shipped with a bundled cartridge game as lame as “Poker and Blackjack”?
And I still spent HOURS playing this. You know what was kind of cool though? The douchy-looking dealer’s eyes would shift back and forth while shuffling as if he was going to do something shady. Nice touch!
Still, we were so solidly an Intellivision house, that we stayed loyal customers a few years later:
Snazzy redesign eh? What was SOOOOOOOOO cool about this one was that it had an add on: INTELLIVOICE. It was I believe the first voice synthesis module for a console. You could actually hear voices in the game instead of the boinks and bleeps and bloops previously featured. And Intellivision took this awesomeness and wasted it on an absolutely piece of ass game called “Space Spartans” which was so thrilling that I tossed it aside to play Biorhythm on our old Studio 2 that I dug out of the closet (that really happened) But read this http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node=Space%20Spartans – I think if they remade this game today properly, it could be HUGE.
I2 (as us cool kids called it) had one superstar game: ATLANTIS!
You had to defend two domed (and doomed!) cities from increasingly hard waves of spaceships using only 2 guns (those red blotches at the sides) and one shuttle that only had 90 seconds of life before it either crashed or had to refuel. This was another one I played over and over.
And after that, nothing for a long while. Atari came out with their ill-fated “E.T.” game which singlehandedly tanked the video game industry in North America for around a decade. And I was forced to get out and breathe fresh air for a few years. I look back and call them the dark times. But I was able to whine and pester my parents into righting my world by getting me one of those newfangled Nintendos!
I had my electronic high back. AS IT SHOULD BE. The original Legend of Zelda was so cool!!!!!!!!!!! It came in a gold cartridge that actually had a battery in it that allowed you to save your progress (FINALLY!) And they don’t look like much now, but the graphics and gameplay were a light year jump ahead of even the best Intellivision game. I would play games while laying on my bed, I’d play for so long I’d wear a big dent down the middle of the mattress.
When this got played out, I stepped up in class:
This was the first game system that I paid for myself. I had to slice a LOT of bologna to pay for this (and yes, I worked at a deli, get your mind out of the gutter. I didn’t love games THAT much !)
This system was ok, but I wasn’t feeling it really. I do remember one stupid comment I made back in the day “Look at these graphics, why bother getting them any better, this is all you need.” FAIL! As soon as I got a chance, I ditched this old and busted system for the new hotness:
Disks? No more cartridges? NO WAY! I played Final Fantasy 7 until my fingers cramped up. This one was really my first fantasy RPG and I gorged myself on it. This was the first (and still only) game I actually went and purchased one of those thick strategy guides for, to help me find every single stupid potion and treasure hidden around the world map. I spent hours and hours breeding my chocobo to get a golden one. It’s not as pathetic as it sounds, I swear…………ok, actually yeah it is as pathetic as it sounds.
I purchased PS2 specifically to be able to play this game. I never advanced the missions at all. I did what any other junior psychopath did with this game: I would get a hooker (in the game) go do the er…transaction, and afterwards, bludgeon her with a baseball bat and take the money back. I also loved to play the Kobayashi Maru scenario in the game: I’d gun down a cop, jack a cop car and run. The challenge was seeing how long I’d last with 5 wanted stars and the entire police force shooting to kill. If I went into an alley heavily armed with a cop car to block the way, I could hold out quite a while.
Now we’re getting back to familiar territory. I went to a friend’s house, and we played his Xbox, and I saw a game where one soldier had a freaking CHAINSAW GUN and was using it to eviscerate monsters. SOLD!
I sh*t you not, I burned out that Xbox and purchased and new one, where I discovered the joys of blowing up people army style:
And I played THIS one until I got Red Rings of Death (NOT the STD) (RROD to the uninitiated). Now maybe Microsoft makes a shoddy, unsturdy product but I’m hooked. Which brings me to my new sexy baby:
And that’s currently where I’m at. Happily playing away. I’m planning on adding to the legacy by getting a Kinect in the next few months. Sharks gotta keep swimming you know!
So I look back on my life, as measured just by all the video game systems that have come and gone, and I have to tell you, I spent a LOT of hours alone, staring blankly at a TV screen.
I DON’T REGRET A THING!