My first exposure to video games was during the end of the second generation of home consoles (1977 – 1983) and the middle of the golden age of arcade gaming (1978 – 1986). Thanks to the second crash of the video game industry video computer systems were relatively cheap between 1983 and 1985. It was a great time to be a nerdy little kid.
Officially, the Coleco Telestar Colortron was my very first video game console (I’m pretty sure I was about 7 or 8 years old). Truth be told, it was really my Dad’s. I’m not sure when he bought it but I do remember it occasionally hooked up to our color JC Penny television; but only if we first disconnected our top-loading VHS player (with wired remote). Can you imagine not having your console plugged into a dedicated input all the time? There were only four games – tennis, hockey, handball, and jai alai – which were all just simple variations of Pong.
Next up was the Commodore 64 – the machine that would truly impress upon me the importance of video games. I’m sure it was considered the family computer but, based solely on the hours I spent in front of it, the computer sure felt like mine. My elementary school friends and I used to swap and trade games, copy them, and amass our collections. Soon we owned two or three cases of 5-1/4” floppy discs; some loaded with as many games as they could hold. Spanning only three of four of these discs (a total of maybe 2MB) we had copies of nearly every Golden Age of Arcade port. Other game discs included Kickstart 2, Archon, California Games, Gyruss, Karate Champ, Wizard, and many, many more. It was eventually handed down to my sister and me after our Dad bought his Commodore Colt; a 4.77 Mhz Intel 8088 with ten times more RAM than the C64.
Finally, for Christmas 1990, we got a Nintendo from my grandparents. Many happy hours were spent hunkered down in my parent’s basement; conquering seemingly endless armies of 8-bit foes. I became absorbed after some friends lent me back-issues of Nintendo Power Magazine and a Funcoland had opened nearby. Notable games (besides the Super Mario series) include Ninja Gaiden 2, Metal Gear, Contra, Battletoads, and The Immortal.
Remember when consoles used to come with two controllers and a game? I purchased the SNES for myself sometime around 1996; but didn’t own it for very long because it was quickly replaced by the games I was buying for my new Apple Performa and, eventually, the Sony PlayStation. Notable games include Super Mario World and Chrono Trigger.
The Apple Performa 631CD – my very first personal computer – purchased shortly before High School graduation (1995) and financed through my very first line of credit. My main reason for buying the computer was my interest in graphic design. I became aware of the computer’s awesome gaming potential after a teacher introduced me to Myst. Notable games include Lemmings, Star Wars Rebel Assault, The Dig, Sam & Max Hit the Road, and Wolfenstein 3D.
I was working at Target in December 1994 when Sony released the PlayStation. As soon as I saw the in-store demo unit I knew I had to have one; but $300 was a steep price to pay – especially considering it wasn’t bundled with any game! I waited patiently, but ended up buying a SNES at a newly reduced $129 price instead. Once I actually rented a unit, about two years later, I fully committed to owning one. Notable games include Final Fantasy VIII, Metal Gear: Solid, Need for Speed 2, Metal of Honor, Syphon Filter, and Bust-a-Move.
After Sony won me over with their original console I actually found myself standing in line to purchase a PlayStation 2 (PS2) the day it came out. This was right around the same time I became acquainted with eBay; which meant there was always a steady stream of games running through our home. As fast as I could beat (or grow tired of) a certain game I was selling it and buying another online. Notable games include Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, Final Fantasy X, SOCOM, Frequency, DOA2, and the SSX series.
I ended up buying an XBox only so I could modify it to work just like an Apple TV (using XBMC); so I purchased very few actual XBox games. My few notables were Halo and Fable; but I also owned multiple software ROMs for emulating a ridiculous number of Atari, NES, SNES games and early Arcade titles (I had over 5,200). Looking back, it’s actually pretty funny that I mostly used the XBox to play old classics and stream pirated movies.
I never did buy one of the current-generation consoles but do intend to purchase a PS3 very soon. I already own Metal Gear Solid 4 and will absolutely buy the Uncharted trilogy. Any other recommendations?