I have been a gamer since I was a kid — 4 years old, I think. Back then, playing video games indoors was on the day-to-day; if it wasn’t my Game Boy, it was my Super Nintendo or the Sega Genesis at my friend’s house. That isn’t to say I didn’t play outside; I loved playing outside. But there were times where the great outdoors could not match the immersion of shooting “Donkey Kong” through the jungle via canonized barrels.
Including my PlayStation 3, 3DS XL, PlayStation Vita, Wii and my gaming laptop, the older parts of my collection includes my Game Boy Advance (original and SP), PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2 (I swear I’m not a Sony head), original Xbox and my Super Nintendo. I had a Nintendo 64 at one point but my brother traded it.
We don’t talk about it much.
There are plenty of reasons why I balk at giving up the older stuff. Questions from my folks about donating or selling the Super Nintendo and Xbox earn a fervent “no” from me each time. Part of it is childhood memories, but also some of those games aren’t finished, or there are still more things to do even when it is done.
Here’s why I can’t get rid of these particular consoles.
No. 4 – Original Xbox
One of the best memories I have about the console has to do with “Halo 2.” My buddy Kurt and I were carousing through a quite literally explosive final level. Space station was going down, the creepy aliens were on our tail, and floating drones called Sentinels were not happy we were there. We’re running through the station, picking off aliens and keeping a running tally of how many Sentinels we’ve killed.
These kind of moments were easy to make, since nearly everyone on the block had an Xbox. Along with “Halo,”I could dive into the “X-Men Legends” series. There was nothing better than controlling my favorite superhero team from dank caverns to New York City, completely in control of their powers and abilities. And cameos by Iron Man and Deadpool were just the icing on the cake.
Lastly, there was “Jet Set Radio Future.” There was something about rollerblading upside down to graffiti a building while a DJ mixed Japanese pop that just made me happy. Including the storytelling, the game didn’t ease up on the energy, which was easy to feed off of.
No. 3 – PlayStation Portable
Although it often seemed as if Sony either forgot it had made a console or treated it like that one chore you couldn’t be bothered with, there was a lot of love for the old PSP. It was the handheld for the everyman — fighting, strategy, role-playing — nearly every genre imaginable was on it, and it gave developers an excuse to throw a few obscure games its way (“Zettai Hero Project”comes to mind).
The Portable had a lot of titles that I enjoyed, from “MegaMan: Maverick Hunter X” to “Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.” It was also the first system for which I imported a game from Japan. Based on the Bleach anime, “Bleach: Heat the Soul 4″ was a 3-D fighting game with tons of characters from the series and a fun mission mode that went through the plot of the show up to that year. I still play it and my other games for the system today. The PSP serves as a reminder of what happens when game makers step in to support a device that was neglected by its own creators.
No. 2 – Game Boy Advance SP
What‘s not to love about this one? OK, yeah, not having a headphone jack was a bad thing. That and the dim backlight on an already dim screen. Despite all that, I still keep mine around. I dip back into games such as “Yoshi’s Island” every once in a while, with “PokemonLeafGreen” still unfinished. I also have a collection of “Final Fantasy” games, and the fourth iteration is the only one I have ever saw to the end. I’ve got a ways to go with those still.
Like the PSP, there was a little of something for everyone. For those who loved insane 2-D shooters, “Gunstar Super Heroes” fit the bill nicely. The “Metroid” games were instant classics, with “Fusion” being one of the scariest non-horror games I had ever played. Imagine going through a dark, crippled space station with just a few minor powers, being hunted by a mindless clone who has all of your powers. To this day, I remember how panicky I got when I was discovered. Games (and moments) like these still have me playing the SP today.
#1 – Super Nintendo
I could go on for another three pages about why I hold this musty old system in such high regard. Many fun games, the addictive nature of such and the fact that it was my first ever game system instantly spring to mind. Up until I had the console, my time with it was limited to either store demos or brief plays at a friend’s house.
When my brother and I finally got one for Christmas with “Donkey Kong Country,” there was no stopping our two player tag team. But even after he stopped playing, I kept going, and the collection increased. From “DKC,” I went to “Donkey Kong Country 3.” “Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” — an impossibly hard game (at the time) that made me fall in love with the movie all over again — arrived later.
Then there was “Bugs Bunny Rabbit Rampage,” an offbeat title that perfectly matched the titular rabbit’s swagger and adaptability to the hilarity around him. “F-Zero” welcomed me and my brother into the arcade-style racing genre, with wacky characters and speeds of 500 miles-per-hour with traps all around the tracks. Hearing the theme song on the first stage still gets me hyped to this day. And blowing on those old cartridges still drums up some good memories.
Honorable Mention: The Nintendo 64. For the long hours spent at a friend’s house doing four-player “Goldeneye 64″
If you have an old game console lying around, plug it in. Go ahead. Grab a buddy and spend a couple hours going through some old games. It’s fun, right? That’s why I bother to keep these old systems around. Sometimes it’s just good to take a few steps back and dabble with gaming history a bit, just to see how far games have come in such a long time.
But most importantly, it’s a reminder as to how wild and inventive some of those old games were, and why they were so much fun to play. And if you’ve enjoyed games your whole life, going back ought to be a reminder of what made you love gaming in the first place.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @legendpenguin