Monday, August 6, 2007

Rampage! MarioKart! Pitfall! Oh my!

I vaguely remember the first video game that I played. It was on an old Commodore 64. It sucked – maybe at the time it was OK. I remember when our family upgraded to an Atari. It was pretty neat. We had pong – it had those little “wheelie” type controllers. For those of you that don’t know, pong is not an amazing game – but the fact that we had a controller instead of a keyboard, like on the Commodore 64 – that made it amazing.

Next came the Atari 2600. Upgrades galore! I remember that we had a bunch of little cartridge games for this fine piece of machinery. There were games like “Asteroids” and “Centipede” that relied on a single screen. You would be at the bottom – and you just had to move from side to side and shoot at the things as they came down. Then came an amazing game – one that I think of fondly whenever I look at games today. “Pitfall.” It was, at least to me, revolutionary. The character is this Indiana Jones looking dude – and basically you just run, jump and swing over various types of pits – trying to gather gold, or some type of treasure. Playing this game gave me such hope that there were exciting things out there. I never fathomed the future of gaming and what it would become…

As I grew older Nintendo was introduced as were Gameboy and Intellivision (I’m still not sure how that one worked?). My family never had Sega, or Sega Genesis, or Atari Jaguar, I had to head over to other houses to play games like Sonic the Hedgehog. The jump between Atari 2600 and Nintendo was huge. The characters and the movement were so fluid. The boards were longer and more challenging. Games like “Contra” (and yes I still remember the code – up up down down left right left right B A start – or select start if you were playing 2 player) were fantastic. In retrospect the violence in that game was mild, but at the time, it was a war game unlike any other. And then there were the sports games – “NHL ‘94” is the one that I remember most fondly. Although you couldn’t have fist fights (you could in the ’95 version) the movement was so smooth. Then there were the accessories, like the track pad, the gun for “Duckhunt” and countless other things.

I have run the gamut since then, buying a Playstation in college – spending countless hours on “PaRappa the Rappa” and on “FIFA ’98.” I had SNES and N64. “Goldeneye,” “MarioKart,” and “WCW/NWO Revenge” were some pretty amazing games for N64. I think, actually, that I haven’t played any games as good as those. I bought a PS2 when it came out…sadly Amy sold all my other systems after she realized I had it. So, all those brilliant games listed above are now out of my possession.

So why am I writing this? Well – over the past couple of months I have been contemplating an upgrade. The choices – in case you don’t know – are XBOX 360, PS3 and the Wii. All have their very distinct pros and cons. I won’t bore you with all that I have contemplated…hell, it bores me. There are so many different factors. “Gamers” could tell you more. I guess I should note that I am not a “gamer.” I enjoy video games, but I enjoy them VERY casually. So that is something that has factored into my decision.

I have decided to get a Wii. Like I said, there are pros and cons to all the new systems, but this is the direction I am leaning. The biggest con I am finding with the Wii is availability. Before I left for San Diego last week I saw them in many stores around here. Now that I am back, there are none! Natch. I have been told my numerous stores that they are expecting them this week…so I just keep calling and doing the rounds.

What about you? Did you play video games? Do you still play them? What is/was your favorite game? A friend recently lent me some fantastic games for PS2 – “God Of War” and “God of War II.” It is just amazing to see how far these things have come in my lifetime. I can only assume that when my kids play video games (which they will do in moderation) that they will resemble the 3D Holographic “chess game” in Star Wars…or perhaps even more progressed. If you had the money, the time, or the gumption – what would you get and why? I am always curious to hear what other people are thinking.

Oh – and I’ll end with this – because it’s important. Some of you may know that I was very against the Wii for a long time. I was sad and disappointed that the Wii was not using HD technology, among other things. However, when we were in San Diego, Conor and I saw some company that was doing a promo for a new Wii exclusive Godzilla game…so after that there was no turning back for me. Oh man – remember “Rampage”? The arcade version was SOOO GOOD! Let’s hear your video game thoughts and stories.

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