Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the Ghosts of Christmas Past

I've been soooo busy these past few days, running around, taking care of the usual Christmas-related concerns, that I've been neglecting my housework.

It snowed a lot over the weekend, and I think the lion's share of Winnipeg's snowfall ended up in my front yard. Rather than wait for our friendly neighbourhood Postie to leave me a snotty letter like he did last year (or the 10-year old papergirl to leave accidental snow angels on my lawn), I figured I'd better tackle it immediately.

It IS Christmas, after all!...

(...and I'm waiting for a few Christmas gifts I bought on eBay to arrive!)

So, armed only with my shovel and fortified with a big mug of coffee-laced rum, I attacked the encroaching fluffy white mass. And by "fluffy", I mean "packed as hard as concrete".

Realizing that finesse and a logical approach would get me nowhere, I gulped down the mug of rum, let out a gutteral battle-cry that scared the neighbour's kids (and would put a Klingon to shame), and did my best impression of a bulldozer.

I was done in five minutes, including the time it took to recover from my accidental pole-vault when, charging at full speed, I hit the seam between sidewalk blocks with the shovel...

Congratulating myself on a job well done, I headed inside to tackle my dishes.

I put the kettle on again for some coffee, and set upon the mountain of dishes on my counter. An hour later, I was done and in the clear!

I decided to reward myself with some "video game time".

I headed into the living room, sat down on the couch, and fired up the console that was hooked up to the TV - my good ol' Sega Genesis!

I'd dragged the Genesis, Sega CD, and 32X out a few weeks ago, when my brother paid me a visit. We were on a nostalgia kick and, me having just bought a few rare games for the unit, fired it up.


Ghost of Christmas Past, Part One


Brad and I received our Genesis for Christmas back in 1990, and it saw near constant gameplay over the next few years, edging out its predecessors - our venerable Sega Master System and Nintendo Entertainment System...

I played with the unit for a few hours, reliving my late teenage years (and early twenties) and grumbling how "they don't make 'em like this anymore"! I thought back to the mid-90s, when the Sega 32X add-on had just been released. The game to have, the "killer app", was Virtua Fighter.

Ahh, Virtua Fighter... In the arcades barely a year when it was released for the 32X. It wasn't a bad port (apart from the audio), but never really got the recognition it deserved, much like the 32X itself.

Now, I know you're not really wondering why, but I'm going to tell you anyway.

See, around the time the 32X was released, Sega was rushing to put the finishing touches on their next-gen game system, the Sega Saturn. That's right, Sega released a game system (32X) knowing full well it was about to release another new system shortly thereafter.

The 32X, it was envisioned, was to be a modular upgrade to the Sega Genesis and Sega CD, theoretically enabling the installed Genesis/Sega CD userbase to upgrade to the Sega Saturn by using their existing hardware and without shelling out a pile of money for a new console. Sounds fair, doesn't it?

Too bad it didn't happen that way.

Nope, Sega gave us all a big "Fuck You" next Christmas when it was revealed that no, the Sega Saturn and games would be incompatible with the old Genesis/Sega CD/32X combo, and vice versa. Thanks a fucking lot, Sega!


Ghost of Christmas Past, Part Two


Christmas 1994 - what should be under the tree, but a brand new Sega Saturn? (with pack-in game Virtua Fighter to boot!)

Our parents had asked Brad and I what we wanted for Christmas. Now, I'd already been working full-time for a few years and as such had pretty much everything I wanted, but I thought of my brother and what he wanted. And he wanted a Saturn.

"Good choice," I thought. At the time, the Saturn's only REAL competition was the new offering from Sony, the Playstation. Not wanting to take a chance on an unproven console from a company that were relative newcomers to the North American console market, and with Nintendo's new console delayed another year, as dyed-in-the-wool-yet-masochistic Sega fans, we went with the name we knew. (Of course, we all know which company won that console battle!)

Brad and I spent a lot of happy days playing on our Saturn, which was one of the last Christmas presents we shared, as I moved out not a year later.


--


In the nearly thirteen years or so since that happy scene, I've grown up (somewhat), found meaningful employment, loved and lost, bought a house, and have amassed a rather large collection of video games and consoles both domestic and imported, including the Playstation, Nintendo 64, PC Engine/Turbografx-16, Sega Dreamcast, Playstation 2, etc, and the hitherto unknown (on these shores) Bandai Wonderswan. I even bought a couple of Sega Saturns (one import, one domestic). I've had a lot of fun over the years, collecting games & hunting down rarities, and playing games that I never thought I'd play.

But you know what?

They'll never hold the same memories as did the ones that were under the tree on Christmas morning. No mad dash to the nearest TV, no furious gaming sessions while Mom and Dad get the place ready for Christmas dinner... nothing will ever recapture that magic. That is, until I have kids of my own...

I want to dedicate this update to my brother Brad, to the good times we've had, and to those long-forgotten and long-obsolete gifts all of us have received over the years - the Ghosts of Christmas Past.

Merry Christmas from C&S!

-CJ

3 comments:

Fat Arse said...

I have similar memories of the Xmas excitement I experienced when my folks got us 6 kids our first computer game in 1976 - PONG. Unfortunately, I proved to be so coordinately challenged that I was soon being beaten by my younger brothers with regularity. Scarred by their taunts, I gave up 'gaming' forever and took up reading. To this day I fondly remember that Xmas for the anticipation and promise it held - and now every time I pick up a book I think of PONG.

Conceited Jerk said...

I fondly remember Pong as well. I received an Atari 2600 for Christmas in the late 70's, and one of the first games I bought was the fancifully named "Video Olympics", which, for those of you not in the know, was 99 different variations of Pong.

Joy!

cherenkov said...

"charging at full speed, I hit the seam between sidewalk blocks with the shovel..."

I hate it when that happens. Oooof.

Merry X-mas.

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