“The following is a contributor post by the Mail Order Ninja Mage.”
When I was younger my parents were gamers, and so we would often get the gaming console they had just moved on from. When the NES came out, we three brothers got the Atari in the room my younger brother and I shared, when SNES came out we got the NES. The console generations carried on like this for the entire time I lived at the house. We could still play the console that adorned the living room entertainment system, but it was always more stringent and controlled on the amount of time we could play.
It was with this in mind that I, as a gutsy 17 year old who thought he deserved the world, headed into the holiday season of 1999 with one goal in mind–I wanted my very own console. Sure, we had received wonderful gaming gifts before, but they were usually games tied to a system we already owned. One year we did receive as a combination gift the Sega CD and a game for each of us, but we had to share it and ultimately it went on the Genesis which was still in the living room at the time. No, what I was after was my very own console for my newly claimed room that I had all to myself since my older brother had moved out.
My house flipped between Sega and Nintendo often, so though I was mostly a soldier for Nintendo in the playground battles of the Console Wars, I played both frequently. The Dreamcast was new and shiny, and even had a new fangled internet port built directly into the system. I wanted it badly, but I had a lot of obstacles in my way. First of all, my family didn’t usually buy extravagant gifts. Bikes, video games, bigger playsets–these were the types of things we got for Christmas–not a gaming system that cost $200. Thus started a Christmas Story level campaign of hype for my parents. I begged, I pleaded, and I promised that I would accept only that as my Christmas present.
Christmas rolled around and I knew there was no way I was getting a Dreamcast, until I opened it up. Now as a super cool 17 year old I’m sure I felt like I was nonchalant and cool about it, but looking back I FREAKED OUT. Maybe not N64 kid levels, but as close to that as a teenager dare get. My parents didn’t have enough money to buy me a game for it also, so they rented a game called Psychic Force 2012 for me. I had no idea what this thing was, and I really didn’t care, as I rushed to my bedroom and plugged it up to my TV.
I would soon discover Psychic Force 2012 was a fighting game, where, instead of being confined to a 2D level like Street Fighter, you flew around in a sphere firing off attacks at other psychic warriors. I had no second controller, so I had to be satisfied playing against the AI by myself on this strange fighting game. This game is probably a throwaway game for a lot of people–I haven’t played it in ages, so I can’t tell you now if it was good–I just remember being enthralled for the entire day. My parents let me play as long as I wanted that day, and I took full advantage of it, playing into the wee hours of the night. To this day I often think of the game, even for a time there where I couldn’t recall the game’s name or find the game on the internet, I still would constantly recall it fondly.
This Christmas was so incredibly memorable because of the wonderful gift my parents gave me, and because it would be my last Christmas living under their roof. Once I turned 18 the next year I moved out with my brother, and the holidays were never the same again. That Christmas was the last with my parents where I felt the sheer joy of a child receiving something there was no way I could afford on my own, and it was the very first console I owned completely. I didn’t share it with my brothers, it wasn’t a Game Boy that everyone had, it was mine alone and I took it with me when I left.
I went on to have some amazing memories with that Dreamcast, even though its life was cut short. Phantasy Star Online especially owned my time for a while, and the novelty of connecting online through a console was truly ahead of its time.
There have been many special Christmas days before and since, and because gaming is such a passion of mine, I have many Christmas holidays filled with wonderful memories that involve family and game. Regardless though the march of time, and the wonderful gift my father worked hard to afford, cemented that Christmas in my memory as one of the best gaming gifts I would ever receive.
The Mail Order Ninja Mage loves video games across every console: an assassin of fanboy nonsense. He also really loves martial arts and pizza, though that is of no consequence here. To read more of his random word soup, or to view daily(ish) photo mode screenshots from his favorite games, visit him at Home Button.
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