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A Look Back at 15+ Years of Gaming, Part 2

After buying the Playstation, I concentrated on games for the next 3 years.  I decided to really delve into the Resident Evil series, as I bought Resident Evil: Directors Cut and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.  These games enhanced my love for the series with the captivating story, plot holes or not.  I bought a lot of games for my Playstation and my Nintendo 64 through out this time period.  There were some games, like Mortal Kombat 4, and Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero; that I rented on both systems before I made my purchase.  Even though I own both iterations of these games now, but at the time, I wanted the one that played the best.  I ended up getting MK 4 on N64, and Mythologies on PSX; mainly because these versions played the best in my opinion.  During this time, I expanded my collection by at least 150 games, largely in part to the fact that I started slowly buying classic stuff that I missed out on in yesteryear.  I played a lot of fighting games during this time, like the newer Street Fighters and Capcom Vs. games.  I also played a lot of racing games on the N64 and put many hours into Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, probably the best Star Wars flight game for consoles at the time.   

One of my favorite things I did during this period was an experiment involving video games for a science class.  I chose to do an experiment called “Human Intelligence While Playing Video Games”.  The game that I chose to use in the experiment was Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire.  I chose this game because it is relatively long, about 2 hours, and there were hidden Challenge points in all of the levels, as well as extra lives, and weapons.  To do this correctly, I played through the game a total of 10 times to get an average time for my test subjects to go through the game.  I also made sure I got all extra lives and Challenge points in each level.  My goal was to see how many people of varying age groups could get through the game, getting as much of the hidden stuff in 2 hours.  I had each person go through 2 test runs which allowed me to track how much they remembered and how far they got with each test run.  Because of this project, I can blow through Shadows of the Empire in less than 2 hours, getting all Challenge points in all levels.

In 2000, I had just graduated high school and I was kind of bored with the games that I currently owned, and I was kind of disappointed in the games that were being released at the time.  The Dreamcast had just been released and by that time, a new Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil game on the Dreamcast.  I was shopping in Wal-Mart one day, trying to find a game that I wanted, and we looked at the Dreamcast section, and I said, “I want to play Code Veronica, I should buy a Dreamcast.”  My friend was like, “Dude, that’s $200, and we are getting ready to go to Indiana, so you need the money.”  Then I remembered the pawn shop where I bought my Playstation.  We bolted to the pawn shop, and they had 3 different Dreamcast systems.  The one I bought came with 2 controllers for $130 which was cheaper than marked.  I then went to Toys R Us and bought an RF switch (because my TV did not have AV at the time), Mortal Kombat Gold, and Resident Evil: Code Veronica.  My friend was like, “I can’t believe you JUST spent that money on a Dreamcast on a whim, that’s crazy.”  I really liked my Dreamcast at the time, and I still do.  I bought awesome games like Marvel Vs. Capcom and Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, Soul Calibur, and a game that I thought was excellent, Sword of the Berserk: Gut’s Rage.

A few months later, the Playstation 2 released, and at the time, I refused to pay $300 for it since I had a Dreamcast, N64, and Playstation; plus all of my classic systems.  A friend got one on launch day, and he loved it, but I wasn’t impressed with the game line up.  January rolled around and the amount of systems available was still scarce.  The same friend that was with me when I bought the Dreamcast was with me when we went into K-Mart.  They had a big sign on the door that said “We have Playstation 2’s.”  I was like “so”, but we went to electronics anyway, and asked the clerk about it.  They told me that they got 120 in on Wednesday, had 60 left on Thursday, and had 30 left on Friday.  So they had 30, but I decided against it.  We were walking to the front of the store when I pulled my check book out of my pocket and looked at the balance.  I had more than enough my account for the system, but no games or DVD’s at the time.  I turned around, went back to electronics, and bought it.  I didn’t buy a game for another week when I bought TimeSplitters, the only thing that really caught my attention until Onimusha came out.  I loved Onimusha, probably because it was so similar to Resident Evil, except for the fact that it was swords and demons, and in feudal Japan.  I also enjoyed Grand Theft Auto 3, all of the Mortal Kombat games, and Contra: Shattered Soldier.

Also in 2001, I bought a Gamecube, the one system of this current generation that I was really excited about since I have always been a Nintendo fan.  I reserved the Gamecube at Sam Goody, putting $50 down, $48 for the system and a dollar each on 2 games.  I arrived at Sam Goody on November 18th at 12:40 p.m., 10 minutes after they opened, and bought my system with Luigi’s Mansion and Star Wars: Rogue Leader.  I ended up getting Pikmin the following Christmas, and I have to say that it is one of the best, most innovative games that I have ever played.  There are so many games on my Cube that I like, I was really excited about all the Zelda titles, and the Resident Evil remake.  In my opinion, that is the best looking game of the generation; it was absolutely amazing what Capcom did with this game on the Gamecube.  I also really like Spider-Man 2 on the Cube more than any other system.  I’m not sure why, I just felt that it played better on the Cube.

As time went by, the more I saw about the Xbox, the more I wanted it.  Halo looked good, they had announced Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Doom 3, they had a Buffy The Vampire Slayer game that wasn’t available elsewhere, and they had Genma Onimusha, a longer, harder version of Onimusha Warlords.  I bought an Xbox and picked up Halo with it.  I thought Halo was really good, but I didn’t get into it as much as I did Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I picked up that game and didn’t put it down until I finished it.  It was a basic beat’em up, but I am a huge Buffy fan and thought that this game was excellent.  I also spent loads of time with Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis and Return to Castle Wolfenstein.  Wolfenstein was attractive because the original Wolfenstein 3-D was unlockable. 

Later in the year, I bought a Game Boy Advance, mainly so I could play The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the go.  The main reason I got an Advance was because of all the classic games that they were releasing, I really wanted to play these games on the go since they were so much fun.  I traded my regular Advance for an SP when it came out, and then I traded that SP for my NES Classic GBA SP in June of 2004.  Again, I thought that was an awesome collector’s item, and the release of the Legend of Zelda from the NES days got me really excited.  Another highlight on the Advance was Mario Vs. Donkey Kong.  This was one of the most solid platformers that I had played in a long time.  If you look at most of my collection, you will see that most of them are re-releases of classic titles instead of newer games.

During this same time period, I was buying a lot of retro systems.  The first thing that I bought was a Sega Saturn from eBay.  Actually, a majority of my older systems came from eBay, and I never paid over $120 for any system, most of the coming with at least 10 games.  I then got a Panasonic 3DO with 7 games, then an Atari Jaguar with CD attachment and 14 games, then I got another Genesis, with a 32X and Sega CD with 65 games.  This was the gem because I only payed $110 for everything, including shipping.  Later on, I bought an Atari 2600 and a Nintendo Virtual Boy, both with games.  Around the time that I bought my Gamecube, I bought a Genesis from Gamestop, and a bunch of games from a friend.  My girlfriend at the time got mad at me for spending money on video games, and said that I was addicted to video games.  She was a very selfish person and wanted me to spend all of my time and money with her, so I looked at her and told her that if she thought I was addicted to video games, she could ******* leave and not come back.  Just because I’m a gamer and collector of all things gaming doesn’t mean that I am addicted to them; I do other things and am interested in other things besides video games. 

I bought a Nintendo DS at launch in November of 2004, and was so excited about it coming out.  At first I was excited about Mario 64 on the go, and then as I read more on the features of the DS, the touch screen sounded awesome, and the online play sounded even better.  I have been enjoying all of my DS games because even though the franchise might be familiar, the new play mechanics give it a new feeling.  Even Tetris DS feels a little different, and the new play modes surrounding the Touch Screen are really nice.  I think that Trauma Center: Under the Knife is one of the best titles that use all of the features of the DS, but my favorite DS game has to be Mario 64, even though it is essentially the same as the N64 version, the extra features and play options make it an even better game than it already is.

My standard rule for buying systems is there needs to 5 announced games that I am interested in before I buy it.  For a long time, there were not 5 games that I wanted, the one I was really interested in was Infected.  Then they announced Mortal Kombat Deception: Unchained, then Midway Arcade with Mortal Kombat 1 thru 3 (I cheated here and counted this as 2 since I am such an MK nut) and then they announced Capcom Classics which included the original Street Fighter, something that I have never played.  So when I had some extra money, I bought a PSP and Burnout Legends.  I bought Burnout Legends because that was the only thing out at the time that I was interested in playing.  I must say I am kind of disappointed in the PSP.  Most of the games that I wanted have turned out bad (Midway Arcade has terrible load time, glitches, and control problems), and Infected isn’t as good as I was hoping.  However, Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max is another game that I would like to have.  After playing it, it is really good, something that I fully intend on owning once the price drops a little bit.

I also have an X-box 360.  I had decided no on this system as well because of the price and the lack of games that I wanted.  But just like the PS 2, opportunity knocked, and I bought a 360 the day after Christmas.  I was working at Gamestop that day, and somebody came in and said that he got a 360 for Xmas, but he already had one, so he returned it Toys R Us.  I decided that if I wait for a price drop, the Revolution would be out and I would have to wait longer, so I jumped in the car and bought the system.  It took me 2 weeks to finally buy a game.  After playing 3 different games, I decided on Call of Duty 2.  That game absolutely blew me away with its realism and playability.

Looking back, I must say that I am proud of my collection, and would not do anything different.  One of the coolest things about being a game collector is that you get to see how technology changes from generation to generation.  It was also interesting to see how the games themselves change.  Watching games go from sprites and pixels to fully 3D models, watching control schemes change is something, that when trying to tell verbally, doesn’t have the same impact as being apart of it.  Also watching the controversy surrounding games grow is unsettling for us serious gamers.  Every entertainment medium has gone through these growing pains, but it feels like games are getting it worse since they are interactive.

Given everything that we have seen in the past, I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

A Look Back at 15+ Years of Gaming

I just turned 24 years old on the 6th of February. 24 is somewhat of a boring age, I can already drink and vote, it's just another year that signifies that I am getting older and soon I'll be one of those old men who start every sentence with "Back in my day..."

However, when I get to tell people about things back in my day, I get to talk about video games, how they began, what was popular, and how they changed as time went by.

I started gaming when I was 8 when I got the NES. I know, I got a bit of a late start considering most people my age started playing at 5 or before; but I wasn't really exposed to games until I started having sleep overs at friends houses. My best friend throughout Elementary school had an NES as did my cousin, and after I played Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt, I was hooked. I remember getting the NES for Christmas and was extremely surprised that I got one considering my parents weren't thrilled about the idea of getting me a system. I got the NES Action Set that included 2 controllers, the gray Zapper, and the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt cartridge. Those games along with Donkey Kong Classics Collection were the only games that I had to a long time, but my collection (even though I didn't consider it a collection at the time) would grow with classics like Zelda 1 and 2, Double Dragon, and Mario 2 and 3.

I still remember the first time my NES started flashing at me when I turned it on. I had just gotten Mario 3 and was getting ready to play it for the first time when I started having that problem. I freaked out and yelled for my mom to come fix, but she didn't know what to do. That's when I called my friend and asked him, and he told me to blow in the cartridge. I was like "What?", and he said that it would work, and sure enough it worked, even though it was really a flaw with the NES hardware, I was just happy that my NES was working.

The next system that I wanted was an SNES. I again had played it at my friends house and had to have one, mainly for Mario Kart at the time. I asked my parents to get it for Christmas and at first they said no, they didn't want to buy me another system when they had just bought one a few years earlier. I tried everything to convince them and nothing seemed to work. I never gave up and showed them the commercial (the one with the 3 blondes dressed up in a female version of Mario's overalls that was mimicking a car commercial) for an SNES for $139.99 that came with Super Mario World and a free copy of Mario All-Stars. They finally said that they would think about it, so I waited patiently, well I snooped through the present as Christmas drew near, I saw a box that might have been big enough but I wasn't sure; I even looked in a notebook that had all of the christmas gift ideas in it, and it was listed in there but there were no check marks or any identifier saying that I was getting one.

So finally on Christmas morning '93 (again I was late to the party) I got my SNES along with Mario Kart and F-Zero. WIth my SNES, I was in a position to buy more games for myself then I was with the NES. I was working every Friday at my Grandfather's gas station to earn some money, and a majority of it went to games. I actually remember buying classics like Super Street Figher II and NBA JAM T.E. and buying Mortal Kombat II (the game that turned me on to the series and is the reason I am such a huge fan today) when I was only 12 even though it had an MA-17 sticker on the box.

At this point, I had enough exposure to Sega to realize that I was a Nintendo loyalist (not being aware of the term fanboy at the time) and has decided that I would never own a Genesis, or any other non-Nintendo system that hit the market. What a hypocrite I turned out to be. Before I ventured into unexplored areas, I saved up for a Nintendo 64, the first system that I bought with my own hard earned cash. I had first read about it in 94, and was stoked to enter the 3D gaming world, 2 years later after multiple delays. I told my parents about it and they said that they would not buy me another video game system, they said that since I had an NES, SNES, and GameBoy that I did not need anymore. So I struck a deal with my parents, if I saved enough money for the N64, then they would buy me my first game. I think they agreed because they thought that I would never be able to save the money.

At this time, I also sold my NES for $75. My dad had a friend who had one for his kids until it got stolen, and since I didn't play my games very much, I agreed to sell it, and since the N64 was coming out I didn't miss it. The N64 was the first time I got to experience the joy of reservations. I reserved my N64 and copy of Mario 64 at Software Etc., and never slept sounder until the N64 was in my possesstion.

I remember that September 29, 1996 was a Sunday, but Gamestop had them on the 27, and I was working that day. My mom picked me up from the gas station and took me to the mall. I walked into Software Etc., put my hands on the counter and said "I want my Nintendo 64". They had is bagged up and ready with my copy of Mario 64, and sure enough, my mom kept her end of the agreement, she paid for Mario 64. I went home an played Mario 64 all night long. My parents were impressed that I had enough money for the system, but what they failed to realize is that I had enough to pay for Mortal Kombat Trilogy a month later. I would have to say that my N64 is probably my favorite system, it was the first I bought with my own money, and it had awesome games: Mario 64, Shadows of the Empire (I based a science project around that game), Ocarina of Time, and countless others; oh and the best FPS shooter layout before dual analogs were standard, especially Turok's default setup.

About 6 month's later, I had the opportunity to buy back my NES with all of my original games, for $60! I made $15 dollars profit on that system 10 years after its release! That action made me realize that I was going to be a collector of all things video games.

Later in 97, I wanted a Playstation (when I became that hypocrite that I talked about earlier). I mainly wanted it for Alien Trilogy. You are probably thinking "Why?, It was better in the PC." That's true a friend had it on the PC and I liked it, but my PC was a turd and couldn't run it, so a Playstation was the only choice that I could afford. I bought my first used system from a pawn shop when I bought the Playstation for $110.00 with 2 controllers, they were $199.99 new. It still works to this day. I later expanded my collection on PSX (what it was called at the time) by getting Doom, Crypt Killer, Marvel Super Heroes, and Nightmare Creatures. But, the game that truly justified my purchase was Resident Evil 2. I first played it at a friends the day after it came out. We played for hours, marveling in it's awesomeness, and the next day I bought it myself. It came out in January, and thank God for snow closing school so I could beat all 4 scenarios in a week. Resident Evil 2 got me started in the whole survival horror craze and is the main reason that I am such an RE nut today.


The Future of Mortal Kombat is upon us!

Game Informer's latest issue has this picture and some info on the next installment in the Mortal Kombat series, entitled Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.  I am extremely happy that there is something official from Midway.  Mortal Kombat is one of my all-time favorite series of all time, and to see its continuation is definitely a good thing.  Some real quick info on the game is below.

60+ characters (Motaro is not in the pic, but I kind of hope they put him in to keep the story between his race and Goro's race, the Shokan).

Improved air combat.


All new konquest mode that plays like MK: Shaolin Monks.

Kustom Fatalities - Each character will have a pre-set of around 20 moves in which to dispatch their opponent.

Release is expected in October 2006 release on PS2 and Xbox.

All of those features sound great, with the exception of one, create-a-character.  Throughout MK's history, every character has had their own distinct back story and unique relationship with other characters, and the addition of create a character takes away that distinctness.  Creating a character to go through the tournament would be pointless because they would have no story to tell at the end except for some generic your character save/destroyed the world ending.  I am truly hoping that the creat a character is only used in multiplayer, either offline or online.

pic hosted at

I got a 360!!

I had determined at launch that I was going to wait for the Xbox 360.  My usual rule is there must be at least 5 games announced for a system that I want, and without having a full 5, I decided that Bill Gates did not need my money.

After playing Call of Duty 2, I decided that if I got enough cash for Christmas I would get one, if I could find one that is.  I ended up getting enough cash at Christmas to afford a 360, but the more I thought about it the more I thought I could wait and I could use the money for something else.

I still work at my local Gamestop from time to time, and I decided to help out the day after Christmas.  A friend of one of my coworkers came into the store and said that he got a 360 for Christmas, but he returned it since he already owned one.  I asked what store and he said Toys R Us.  I called the store to make sure it was still there, and it was, so I asked if they could hold it for me.  They said no, but the guy on the phone was like nobody knows its here so you shouldn't have a problem getting it if you want it.

I ran out of Gamestop and drove to Toys R Us, which is only 2 minutes from Gamestop.  I walked to the service desk and asked for it.  After 5 minutes, the manager brought it from the security area and brought it to the counter so I could pay for it.  At that time I noticed 2 guys eyeballing the 360 hard.  As the manager walked back to the security area he heard one of the guys say that the person that returned the 360 was his cousin and that he would have paid his cousin for it.  The manager walks back over to me and tells me what he heard.  I tried not to laugh out loud, but I thought it was too damn funny not to.  Luckily the guys didn't see me laugh as they left the store. 

What changed my mind on the 360 was that the opportunity actually presented itself.  Originally I thought that I would have to wait until February or March since that it was every major retailer had said, but a 360 practically materialized right in front of me and I felt that I could not pass up the opportunity.

So far I am pleased with my purchase.  I have not actually bought a game yet, but I have spent lots of time with Condemned and Perfect Dark and Call of Duty 2 since Gamestop has the employee checkout privilege, now I just need to decide on which one to get.

The Overall State of Gaming, Part 1

Video Games, the best and fastest growing entertainment medium in the world. Grossing more money per year than Hollywood and stealing viewers away from primetime television. Video games are sky rocketing, but at what cost. This commentary is a 2 part series (duh, look at the title). By cost, I mean publicity (part 1), and the consumers wallet (part 2).

First, publicity. Games get all kinds of publicity. They are studied by psychologists, evaluated by the government, they have movies made about them, and they make national headlines. Most everybody who reads this knows the positive side to gaming and knows that games are just that, games. There are thousands of mature gamers out there who will not mimic what they see in any video game. Unfortunately, there are some who enact what they see.

Advocates against video games sight studies that say their is a defined link between playing violent video games and carrying out the same violent actions in real life. These people say that the Columbine incident occurred because the shooters played Doom, and had built a level in Doom of their entire town, including the school. Is that Doom's fault? No. There were multiple interviews and articles written about these 2 kids that stated they were bullied at school and that their parents were totally clueless about the bullying.**

**(Sidenote, I am NOT trying to offend anybody with these comments about the Columbine tragedy, I am using this to make a point).

What I am trying to say is that these studies don't take into account any personal trauma that the child may be experiencing or have experienced. Most studies that try to disprove the link between video game violence and real violence take these factors into consideration. They sight that in cases where there is aggression after being exposed to a violent video game is because of some other issue, for instance bullying at school, problems at home (i.e. neglect, abuse, lack of communication and involvement from parents). The case that took place in Tennessee I believe, where a child (somewhere around the age of 10 I think) shot at a moving vehicle killing the driver. The child, the parents, and Jack Thompson said that GTA inspired him to commit this crime because he had played the game. This cannot be the case. First, where were the parents? They should have known that their child had played GTA, and they should have taken the time to explain that those actions are not acceptable in the real world. Second, why did the child have access to the gun in the first place? Again, something that the parents should have addressed with the child.
Parents need to be more involved with their children. Parents are the number 1 role model for their children, and if parents do not show any interest in their child, if they do not try to instill some type of values in the child, then the child will feel neglected and will not know how to differentiate between right and wrong. Parents also need to know what their kid is involved in. I'm sure that other people that belong to this community that are my age had their parents hang out with them, monitor what they were doing and what they were watching or playing, and making sure that their child was taught what was acceptable in the world and what wasn't; basically the difference between real and make believe. If their are any parents such as myself, or soon to be parents, in this community, please take time out of your busy schedule to be involved with your child.

Onto the 'Hot Coffee' mod in GTA:San Andreas. What the hell is Rockstar thinking? Putting code like this into the game is just asking for trouble. Do they not care that they are hurting the industry that they work in? While many posts have been started on this topic, many posters don't seem to grasp the severity of this issue. This hurts the industry in many ways. First, kiss the ESRB good-bye. What if what Jack Thompson said is true, what if the ESRB and ESA looked the other way on the code since the ESRB is currently industry regulated. An AO rating would mean less money coming into the industry because retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, and probably others would not sell the game. In a roundabout way, the ESRB would not get paid as much, and they wouldn't want that. Regardless of the truth of that statement, the ESRB failed parents, and in turn failed to do the job it promised it would do for the government. Remember your history folks, the video game industry put the ESRB in place to make the government happy, and it has worked for 12 years with no major problems. Now the ESRB has failed to accurately rate a game, regardless of the fact that the code can only be accessed by a cheat device or mod, it is proven to be in every version of the game. It is possible that every game, violent in nature or not, will be gone over with a fine tooth comb to check for anything hidden of this magnitude. Second, this is terrible for the image of the video game industry. I don⿿t think it⿿s the sex that will hurt the industry⿿s image. It helped fuel the fire that video games breed irresponsibility. The industry⿿s self- policing system missed this part of the game when giving out a rating, and Rockstar lied about it being there from the initial release of the game. It makes the industry look like it needs a babysitter.

While I feel this issue is being blown out of proportion, I mean the TV and movie industry get away with a lot worse than this at times and no regulation is being talked about in Washington D.C; there are going to be industry altering consequences. I believe it was Jack Thompson that said that once a mistake is made, it will bring down the entire industry. As much as it makes me sick to my stomach to say this, he is probably right. First, there is going to be federal legislation passed that will prohibit the sale of video games with an M or above rating to minors. This will pass because it is a proven fact that not all stores comply with the ESRB ratings. Second, like I said earlier, you can kiss the ESRB good-bye, at least as we know it now. There will probably be a major overhaul of this system, and while I don⿿t know specifics on how it works now, you can bet that it won⿿t be completely industry regulated anymore. I said the following in a thread about this topic.

"I know it seems like video games are being picked on, but its bound to happen when video games are now the top entertainment medium, out grossing movies and taking away viewers from primetime TV. Movies, TV, and Music had this issue to, although I don't think it was ever this bad. This is sort of a growing pain that the industry has to go through. Since attention is diverted, the other mediums are getting away with a lot because the government thought they were under control.

How the industry, both developers and consumers, handles itself through this period will define the character of the industry."

If the video game industry wants to be taken seriously, they need to respond to this controversy appropriately to prove that it is a solid, meaningful form of entertainment.