Archive for December 2010

25 Games of Christmas: Part 5

December 24, 2010

Now we approach the final 5 games of the 25 games of Christmas.  This has been a really fun thing to write.  I enjoy waxing nostalgia on video games and Christmas, so these series of posts fit me like a glove.  These last 5 games are games that probably have the strongest tie to Christmas for me.  They are titles that, when mentioned, instantly remind of Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  Rotting my brain at great cost to my parents and Santa Clause.

5. Twisted Metal

The year I got my Playstaton was the year I would finally catch up on all the games I had read about and missed out on.  Twisted Metal was definitely at the top of that list.  I can remember being enamored by the oddly shaped box and the crazy looking flame-headed clown on the cover.  I had to have this crazy looking game.  I kinda knew what I was getting into prior to playing it and I loved playing the battle mode in Mario Kart, so I was pretty stoked to get it from my brother that year.  The game seemed perfectly fit for a Christmas present for an 11 year old boy.  Stupid over the top characters? Check. Corny metal soundtrack? Check. Meaningless carnage and destruction? Check. And best of all, the game even had some Chistmas themed levels!  This game provided the bulk of the multi-player fun with my friend down the street that Christmas break.  Looking back though, I probably should have just asked for Twisted Metal 2 since it was about the same price at the time.

4: Vectorman

Vectorman was a rare occurrence when I didn’t know much about the game I was asking for Christmas.  I still wanted it more than any other game that year.  Something about the modern looking green robot hero and the shiny cardboard box at the Sears display case really attracted me.  You can really see the excitement on my face on our video tape of that Christmas Eve.  I couldn’t hardly contain myself to finally open this game, and find out what Vectorman was all about.  Turns out what Vectorman was all about, isn’t all that memorable.  The game was a good looking, decent action game.  I think the coolest thing about it for me at the time was that the final boss was inside a giant tornado.

3. Super Mario Bros./Duckhunt

Now we’re reaching back, way back.  All the way back to the beginning when this little obsession of mine started.  I don’t remember much about my first encounter with a video game.  What I do remember is images, pieces of a moment in time.  I can remember our old wood panel, 13 channel 80’s television hooked up on the hearth that morning.  We had the new NES hooked up on the floor beside as me and my brother (possibly my sister) marveled at this new Mario thing.  I can also remember the start up display before each level having a picture of little Mario with the flower power colors of red and white.  Something that we all know as simple impossible, but for many years after I searched for a way to play that game that would validate my odd memory of it.  I don’t have much to say about Mario besides the fact that this was the game that started it all for me (and many other children of the 80s).

2. Wii Sports

For one Christmas Eve, I lived a Nintendo commercial.  I was so pumped about this new motion controller technology that I pretty much bored everyone who came in my path with information on the Wii.  That included my family and by Christmas Eve, I had them in quite a fervor to play this new fangled contraction as well.  Immediately after opening presents, we tore open the Wii box and hooked it up to the television.  There aren’t many Christmas’ that are as memorable as this one.  We spent many hours bowling, boxing and playing golf with the weirdest gaming console I had ever come in contact with.  I also had to drag the console to whatever other Christmas gathering I was going to that year, so that others could experience in the sheer bliss that was playing Wii Sports for the first time.  I played so much Wii sports in the little span of time that I could go the rest of my life without ever touching it again.

1: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

This is the granddaddy of all Christmas presents.  I was hyped up for Ocarina of Time about 3 Christmases before I finally got it.  I can remember in the Spring I told my mom that the only thing I wanted for my birthday that year was a promise that she would get me The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for Christmas that year after it came out.  She said no and that I was crazy.  That didn’t stop her from pre-ordering me the game from Electronics Boutique.  I was so psyched to finally play Ocarina of Time.  I had followed this game for years up to this point, the hype meter was completely off the chart.  A few days before Christmas break that year a friend of mine found the manual for the game at the gym in school.  She gave it to me because she knew what a complete and utter nerd I was.  I spent the better part of the next week pouring over the manual and taking in every scrap of information about the game.  I was fully prepared for everything the game threw at me the moment I hit the power button.  This game was such a monumental event for me, I hooked my Nintendo 64 on the TV downstairs so my whole family could watch.  This magnificent game had to be witnessed by all in my young mind.  I can remember my dad watching me play on Christmas day and looking slightly annoyed.  He asked me what this game was about, what was I doing in it.  I told him that I was an elf named Link and I had to save the world from the evil Ganon and free Princess Zelda.  He then asked me why I was running around this small village.  I told him that I had to complete this series of things for this woman in town to get a bottle.  He then asked me what getting a bottle had to do with saving the world.  I didn’t have an answer for him them but I think if he asked me now I would reply with “EVERYTHING”.

And that concludes my long exhaustive list on how freaking spoiled rotten I was as a child.  I used to be sort of ashamed of this face, but now I embrace it and wouldn’t have replaced it for anyone else’ childhood.  I hope anyone that is reading this has a very Merry Christmas and that its filled with things that truly spoil you as well.


25 Games of Christmas: Part 4

December 17, 2010

Continuing on with the fascinating world of Christmas nostalgia!

10: Battletoads

This game came on a Christmas so long ago I barely remember it.  What I do remember is wondering what a Battletoad was and that my mom thought it looked cool.  I also remember telling my friends I school at got it for Christmas with a certain swagger in my voice.  Why? Because this game was badass that’s why!  You play as huge musclebound toads who’s body parts get 10 times bigger when they deliver their final blow to their enemies.  What a brutal game too.  I have never to this day beaten the jet bike part.  A few years ago I popped it back in and played it all night, determined to finally see the end of that level.  I got further than I had as a child but I still couldn’t beat it.  Battletoads still haunts me to this day.

9: Super Mario 64

I was so psyched to play this game prior to Christmas.  So psyched in fact, that I rented an N64 twice before Santa had a chance to bring me one of my own.  I was completely enthralled with my first romp in a 3-D adventure.  It wasn’t long after I got it for Christmas that I had the game beat with all 120 stars, only a few days after returning to school.  I already had half the game memorized by that point, but it didn’t deter my love for this game.  It was probably one of the most communal games I’ve ever played.  Everyone in the 6th grade got it for Christmas and they were all scrambling trying to beat it and to talk to other kids about how awesome it was.

8: Final Fantasy XII

Final Fantasy XII was more like a debilitating addiction, rather than a game for me.  After playing this game, I knew I would never play World of Warcraft or most games like it.  I knew that I would give up all semblance of a normal life and get completed sucked into the “One more quest…” lifestyle.  I got this game when I really didn’t have any access to my PS2.  I had just moved back to NC and it was being held along with some other stuff for me to come and get when I had the chance.  I was very anxious to get it and bury myself deep into Ivalice.  I actually played this game while I was jobless and would play it for 8 hours straight some days.  Its a game I could probably never pick up again because it sucked up so much of my time in the winter I was a complete bum.

7: Metal Gear Solid

I never played the original Metal Gear outside of a few minutes on some emulator somewhere.  It didn’t do much for me in that short time but that didn’t stop me from hyping the holy hell out of Metal Gear Solid. I must have played the demo that came with OPM a hundred times.  It was a really short demo too, but I had to explore every nook and cranny of the world they presented me.  I think the main appeal for me was that it felt like an action movie I could play.  This was the first time for me where games weren’t abstract worlds and characters.  This seemed like a graphically believable world and characters (for the time).  And yes I realize the humor in me saying that the world and characters in the Metal Gear Solid series are anything resembling believable.

6: Metal Gear Solid 2

See post above.  Only difference here is that I had a solid idea of what to expect from this game.  Only to be double crossed by Hideo Kojima by having to play as Raiden the whole time.  Raiden didn’t bother me as much as he did most, but I did think it was kind of weird that I wasn’t playing as Snake.  I can remember before this game came out I would play the demo just to hear the theme from Metal Gear Solid 2.  That theme was crazy epic.

25 Games of Christmas: Part 3

December 15, 2010

Here’s Part 3 as the exciting 25 games of Christmas continues on!

15: Rocket Knight Adventures

I don’t recall why I asked for this game for Christmas.  Perhaps I was cruising through my brother’s issues of Gamepro and EGM and thought it looked pretty cool.  I was all about the mascot platformers at the time.  I remember exclaiming “This will be the first game I play!” after opening this Konami Gem.  The game made quite an impression on me and I still listen to the soundtrack to this day.

14: Rock Band

I got Rock Band the same year I got my Xbox 360.  It’s a Christmas tradition in my family to open our presents to each other on Christmas Eve.  This was the close to perfect game for this occasion.  We had a few hiccups getting it started after I moved the Xbox while the disc was spinning like an idiot.  But after a few dabs of toothpaste on the disc we were rocking out to the 8 or so songs that were unlocked at beginning.  I will never listen to Mississippi Queen again.

13: Wizards and Warriors II: Ironsword

I don’t ever remember asking for this game but I do remember opening the box on Christmas Eve.  It was my first thought, even at my young age, that my mom picked this game out purely for the fact that Fabio was shirtless on the cover.  But this game was certainly right up my alley with chivalrous knights, distant mystical lands and evil wizard that need defeating.  I only ever got past the giant frog who wanted the golden fly once.  I could never find that damn golden fly, probably cause the game was kind of an 8-bit mess.  I had fun with it at the time though.

12. Shenmue

I was completely mesmerized by the coverage of Shenmue prior to Christmas.  Everything I read seemed to indicate that Sega was creating a living breathing world with Shenmue.  I can remember being wowed by the fact that you could look through every drawer in Ryo’s house.  Even if there wasn’t anything of interest in them, it was cool that they were there.  When I finally got to play the game, I thought it was awesome that the game took place in the 80’s around Christmas time.  Since it was Christmas time for me, I was totally down to play a ton of Shenmue for the rest of my Christmas break.

11: Mass Effect

I owned Mass Effect before I ever got my Xbox 360.  Some generous friends gifted me some Gamestop gift cards and I picked this up as soon as I had a chance.  I got a lot of games that Christmas, but this one was definitely the one that I sunk the most time in.  I can remember running the batteries dead in my Xbox controller playing this game and thinking that the controllers batteries don’t last long.  But no, I just played Mass Effect an assload in the span of 2 days and ran those batteries dead son!


The 25 Games of Christmas: Part 2

December 9, 2010

I didn’t say in the earlier post, but this list is no particular order.  It’s just games that I have a distinctly Christmas memory for.

20: Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire

This game was a complete mess.  Even with the shine of a brand new console (the N64 in this case) I started to notice it’s flaws after playing it for only a few days.  I can remember being at a friends ( the same friend who convinced me to get this game) house on Christmas Eve for his Christmas party.  He had rented the game despite the fact that he was getting it the next day for Christmas.  I was pretty wowed by the whole thing, especially the speeder level.  The next night a few of my aunts, uncles and cousins came over to the house for Christmas.  I demonstrated the worse game playing in history while just about my entire family watching while trying to pilot the jetpack through the canyons.  It was a nightmare.  Eventually my cousin took the controller and finished it the first try.  I’m pretty positive he was cheating somehow.

19: Sonic Spinball

Another not so great game on this list.  Yeah I had some pretty off tastes back in the day, but I was a young child seduced by the corporate hype machine.  I received this game from my brother the year it came out.  I can remember looking at the back and was shocked that 16 players could play this game.  The video tape we have of that Christmas Eve went something like this.  Me:  Hey! Look up to 16 players can play this game!

My Bro: Probably one at a time idiot.

Me: Sad face

I can also remember this kid on the bus getting it for Christmas too, and he wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box.  I felt sort of ashamed to be associated with him in that way.

18: Dragon Quest VIII

Dragon Quest VIII was one of the few games I got for the Christmas of 2005.  It was the year I was living in Florida and going to school, so basic necessities were needed for Christmas and not frivolous games.  But I think I made the right decision in choosing this game because it was packed with so much game, that it might as well been a few games.  I spent just about my entire short break sitting on my parents living room floor playing it all night like I was 10 years old again.  I probably neglected a few visitation with friends that year because of this game.

17: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Now for a great game! A recent game as well.  I received Uncharted 2 last year for Christmas and I couldn’t have been happier.  I know that it’s kinda weird to have a nostalgic feeling about a game that came out last year, but everytime I play that opening cat burglar like sequence I think of Christmas.  I can also remember trying to sneak away from building a gingerbread house with my girlfriend to get in some more time with the game which was probably my favorite of last year.

16: Sonic 3D Blast

Yep, another Sonic game.  I was rocking the Genesis hard back then, but this entry is different.  I never got Sonic 3D Blast for Christmas and still don’t really own it outside of different Sega Collections.  I rented this game back in 96 in late December.  It was one of the last Genesis games to hold me over til I got my Nintendo 64 on the 25th.  I can remember trying to tell my friend how cool it was on the phone.  He had already had a N64 and wasn’t to impressed with the fake 3D when he was deep into Super Mario 64.  The Diamond Dust Zone music to this game might as well be a freaking Christmas carol to me at this point.

The 25 Games of Christmas! Part One

December 7, 2010

This is a little series I thought of to tell the stories of games that remind me of Christmas.  They’re not necessarily games I got for Christmas, just ones that bring back that warm nostalgic Christmas feeling.

25: Kirby’s Dream Land

First entry comes out sucking…..I mean swinging!  Kirby’s Dream Land was the highlight of one Christmas morning when I received a bunch of other Game Boy games along with more Batman toys than one child should own.  I remember really liking the music and the simplistic nature of the game.  The game was mad easy and was actually one of the first games I can remember beating.  That credits tune still brings the image of Kirby, the size of a hot air balloon, floating off into the green Game Boy sunset.

24: Super Scope Six

That’s right, the game that was packed in with the giant Super Scope Six.  It’s one of the only things I remember of a Christmas Eve when my brother received a Super Nintendo.  Actually I also remember flipping out because I wanted Super Nintendo as well but didn’t get one.  Our old VHS camcorder caught all my humility as I screamed “I better be getting a Sega Genesis for my birthday!”.  Quite embarrassing.  I’m not sure why Super Scope Six stands out in my mind rather than Super Mario World.  I guess Super Scope Six held my imagination more because it was a big damn gun.  Either way the game wasn’t all that great and the Super Scope Six is regarded as kind of a joke.

23: Donkey Kong Land

Another hot Game Boy title!  Donkey Kong Land was a conversion of Donkey Kong Country to be played on the Game Boy.  As mentioned above, I didn’t own a Super Nintendo, so this was the closest I could get to playing, what I considered, a great new Donkey Kong game.  I remember spending most of Christmas break on the couch by the brightest lamp in the house so I could see what the hell was going on.  Crappy Game Boy screen aside, I thought Donkey Kong Land was an ok game but I never thought it was as good as the game it was trying to emulate.

22. Donkey Kong 64

I cannot stand this game anymore.  It wasn’t always this way.  I got this game the same year I received my Dreamcast and it certainly held it’s own in the fight for my attention the few days that were left in Christmas break that year.  I can remember roaming around the jungles and the desert as Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong and having a blast with this collect-a-thon.  But after realizing that I would have to play those same levels a near countless amount of times to get most of the stuff for all the other characters, I pretty much gave up on it.  This is the game that soured me on games of it’s ilk, even to this day.  But for those few fleeting Christmas days I certainly had a lot of fun with it.

21: Mega Man X4

1997 was the year I came into the Playstation age.  With this coming of age also came my first Final Fantasy game, which was Final Fantasy VII.  That was a game I didn’t really get into until the next summer, so it doesn’t really remind me of Christmas.  But this other game I got the same year sure does.  I was a huge fan of Mega Man back in the NES days and since I missed all his entries on the Super NES, I was super psyched to get right back in the saddle with Mega Man X4.  I can remember being completely blown away by the music, it definitely lived up to the high expectations I had coming from the NES games.  It was also the last high point before the decidedly less than stellar sequels were released.

15 More

December 2, 2010

My gamerscore is currently at 19975.  I’ve been trying to grind out some achievement in old Guitar Hero games to boost myself over 20000 these past few days.  I know 20000 isn’t anywhere near a high number as far as gamerscores go, but I feel its a milestone for me nonetheless.  I was actually hoping finishing the Saboteur would push me over the edge but the 700 points I wrestled from its grasp just weren’t quite enough.

Speaking of the Saboteur, here’s my mini-review of that game.  Any parts with driving were terrible, any parts with shooting were ok.  Despite it’s glaring flaws, it was definitely worth the 4 dollars I paid for it.

I have also been gearing up for Christmas these past couple of weeks too.  Spending my bank account into the ground on presents for my family and friends always brings a smile to my face.  But while I dodge potential overdraft fees I’m also getting pretty excited at the potential games I’ll receiving!  I know, I sound like a small child.  But I can’t help it!  Jolly old St. Nick is bringing me a bounty and I can’t wait!