It’s been one heck of a run.
I started this website as a free blog back in 2008, while working as a writer for a website called Games Are Evil. I did it as a supplement to my writing there, in order to gain more experience and to have a platform to talk about whatever I wanted.
As time passed, this site took on many forms. Sometimes I wrote reviews. Other times, I wrote about video game-related business decisions or moves that I didn’t think too highly of and criticized them. Other pieces were about retro games, or about personal memories of games and their effects on me as a person. I even wrote about a few pieces about video game sales analysis here.
Behind the scenes, I went through a lot of changes in the last seven years. I chased a dream to maybe one day land a legitimate job in the video game industry– perhaps as a writer, or maybe as a sales analyst. I never caught up to that dream, and I dismissed it for good in 2013. I did realize a few goals, though. I was exceptionally fortunate to have attended E3 for three consecutive years (2011-13), thanks to the KMart Gamer project and to Nate from Popzara Press. I also was thrilled to have been able to contribute work to Retroware, the site that I tie in with my return to and renewed love of retro games– and the site that I was (and remain) such a fan of.
After seven years, this is Consoleation’s last entry. I’m sad that I’ve been forced to come to this decision, but I no longer have the spare time or energy to update the website. There have been a lot of recent changes in my personal life that have conspired to bring about the end much faster than I had anticipated. I’ve also deactivated my Facebook and Twitter social media accounts; I may start them anew at some point down the road, but I not only no longer have time for them… but they were being used more as a venting tool than what I honestly intended them to be.
So, what now?
Well, now that I’ve taken this step back, I’m using what free time I have for other things. Honestly, I’ve been working a lot, so my downtime has largely been used resting and recovering… but I’ve been spending a bit more time playing video games instead of reacting to (or complaining about) them. I’m not completely shutting the door on returning to social media or to writing, but if I do decide to come back… it’ll be a fresh start with the proper perspective, renewed energy, and sharper focus.
This site will remain open until February 1st, when the domain registration expires.
I could not have taken this amazing ride without those of you who read and reacted to my work. I was never a popular or very successful writer, but I was often energized by knowing that someone out there was checking out my work. That made all of the time and effort worthwhile for so long. I’m also grateful to all who inspired me over these last seven years– from fellow writers to legitimate sales analysts to video content creators who encouraged me to try some time in front of the camera. I sincerely thank each and every person who took the time to check out this site or anything that I wrote or shared on social media; it always meant a lot to me, even when I knew that I was complaining more than I was sharing at times.
Until the next time, friends…
This is something that I never wanted to write, but it’s become necessary to do so.
Late in August, I was forced to make the difficult decision to give up on getting my Associate’s Degree. It was not what I wanted to do, believe me. I was getting close to getting my degree and moving on to a four-year school, where I would finish my teaching degree and get a job as an educator. Instead, thanks to some administrative roadblocks, I had to abandon this path.
With a college degree out of the question, I had to get back into the workforce in order to start pulling my own weight.
As many of you know, that landed me back in video game retail… something that I have a lot of experience with. It’s not a fun job. It’s exhausting work, with eight hours of constant standing and moving around and the barrage of customer questions that wear a person out on the mental end. Then, of course, there’s the “other” stuff… the myriad of constant marketing changes, receiving and putting away hundreds of pounds of shipments every day, more than one hundred price changes to tag every week, and a never-ending list of store demands and expectations on a corporate level.
When I started the job back in early September, I thought that I could manage a balance between work and doing what I always did, in terms of content creation and being active on social media. I thought that I’d adjust to the rigors and stresses of the job after a few weeks.
I was wrong.
After RetroWorld Expo, things quickly much more difficult at work. My days now consist of getting up, going to the store, working my eight hours, coming home, eating my one meal for the day, perhaps getting a bit of gaming time in, and going to bed. I don’t have the drive or the energy to do anything else. Even shooting weekly videos– something that I thought would be easy, given that I don’t do massive editing jobs before posting them– have become less of a priority. My days off are spent recovering my strength for the next work day; in fact, I often don’t get out of bed until the afternoon.
I’m sad about how things have turned out. I miss chatting people up on Twitter. I miss writing about stuff. I miss having the time and energy to dedicate to things that I hold so dearly. Unfortunately, life is what it is, and content creation never paid any of the bills. My job does, and thus it has to take priority over everything else.
So… for now, at least, I no longer can make any commitments to writing or to shooting new videos. That’s not to say that new content won’t be made; however, anything new won’t be on any kind of schedule. New videos may not be weekly as they’ve been in the past, and any new written content will be very sporadic– if any happens at all.
It sucks. I’ve been depressed about the inevitability of this announcement for some time now. There’s so much that I wanted to do, in terms of content creation, and I missed my window of opportunity to do so. I now regret those days over the summer that I decided to laze around instead of being productive. I honestly didn’t think that my life would change so drastically in such a short time.
I have developed an ever greater amount of respect and admiration for anyone who manages to write, to shoot and edit videos, or any other kind of content creation while balancing a job. It’s an exceptionally difficult undertaking, and I now understand (more than ever) why some content creators took risks in turning to Patreon or other methods of financial support in order to dedicate the time and energy needed to be successful without burning out on lack of time or focus.
I want to thank all of you who have taken time to check out my work over the years. I had a great run, between writing for 15 years and having a couple of years of video creation under my belt. I was exceptionally fortunate to have people follow me in social media and on this website, and who subscribed to my little YouTube channel. I was also exceptionally fortunate to have the opportunity to create content for so many years… especially thanks to my family, who supported my desire to forge a career path in teaching and who afforded me the chance to focus on school, on writing, and on making videos over the last few years. Without them, this day would have come a lot sooner.
And now, I have a bed to climb into and four hours of sleep to get before my next shift.
I didn’t have any experience with the NES 30 years ago. In fact, I didn’t even know what an NES was.
In 1985, I was still very much an arcade rat. I was making weekly pilgrimages to the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside, in order to hang out in the arcades there. When I wasn’t at an arcade, my video game experiences were fueled by VIC-20 ports. I went on to get a Commodore 64 in 1986, and didn’t get an NES until 1990.
My first NES experiences were through friends. Most notably, my friend Chris (whom I visited out near Worcester, MA every summer during high school) and his friends introduced me to the NES back in 1988. I played games like RBI Baseball, Track & Field, Top Gun, Contra, and Ninja Gaiden while I visited, and I was green with envy when it came time for me to go back home. Another friend of mine, Kevin, also had an NES; he lived closer to me and we rented games for his console pretty often. I watched him beat Batman and Castlevania II, and we played Vindicators and Tecmo Bowl together.
While I had plenty of VIC-20 and Commodore 64 games to play, there was something about NES games that seemed to be better. Maybe it was the controller. Maybe it was the immediacy of cartridges, which was cooler than waiting a couple of minutes for games to load off of my VIC-20 cassette drive or my 1541 Disk Drive for my C64. Maybe it was Nintendo’s own games, which I couldn’t play on my C64– titles like Super Mario Bros. and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!— that made me long for my own system.
When the JCPenney Christmas catalog arrived at my paternal grandmother’s house during the Fall of 1990, I decided that an NES console was going to be my big holiday wish that year. When my grandmother saw me eyeing the console on page 461, she asked me about it and why I wanted it. I put together a presentation of sorts, running down reasons why the NES was better than my Commodore 64. I talked about how much I played games for it while visited friends like Chris and Kevin, and how much better that I thought the games were. She said that she’d consider it, and the next few weeks were spent anxiously waiting.
I didn’t sleep well at all after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. When I awoke the next morning, there were four gifts under the tree. I tried to be reserved about it, but I was more excited inside than I had been in years. The first gift was an NES Action Set. It was exactly what I had wanted. I was finally going to be on the same page with my friends, and I could play NES games on my own instead of waiting to visit someone else. The second gift was a Jeopardy! 25th Anniversary Edition game for the NES; this gift was meaningful because my grandmother and I used to watch Jeopardy! every weeknight… and now I could play my own game and test my trivia knowledge. The third gift was Super C; after talking about my experience playing Contra, it was really cool that my grandmother remembered it when gift-hunting. The final gift was Super Mario Bros. 3… one of the best games of all time and one game that I never expected to own, let alone see under the tree on this day.
This Christmas will mark 25 years since I got my NES. My interest in console video games grew for many years after, stretching beyond Nintendo to include SEGA, Sony, and Microsoft… but the NES has always had a special place in my heart. The games still appeal to me to this very day. The feel of the NES controller in my hands remains natural. Many of the games trigger happy memories when I play them; I can recall reading magazine articles about them or my first experiences with them.
Perhaps the biggest reason that the NES will resonate with me until my dying day is because it came from my grandmother, whom I will always love as a second mother. I lost her to cancer back in 1996, and still struggle with the loss today. She gave me asylum from the difficulties of life when I needed it. She provided for me when my mom– who did all she could as a single parent of three– struggled. She appreciated my love of video games from a young age, with the proviso that I worked hard in school. Perhaps my motivations weren’t what they should have been, but my grades were at least in part due to my grandmother’s influence. Playing games like Jeopardy! 25th Anniversary or PGA Tour Golf II (for the Genesis) always reminded me of time that my grandmother and I spent together, watching game shows or golf on television.
As I reflect on the 30th anniversary of the NES release here in the United States, I think about many things. I think about my friends in high school, who gave me the chance to play games for it when I couldn’t afford to get one myself. I think about renting games with my friend Kevin, and how I used to refer to his issues of Nintendo Power in order to help him beat those games in a weekend. I think about an all-nighter I pulled at another friend’s house, trying (and failing) to beat Ninja Gaiden– a game that I still haven’t beaten to this very day. I think about the joy and excitement I felt on that Christmas morning in 1990, when I finally had an NES of my own.
I might have been a bit late to the NES party, but the console and its games have given me a lifetime’s worth of memories… and I consider it to be my favorite console of all time.
I think it’s safe to say that RetroWorld Expo was a success.
While there are certainly things that could have gone a little bit smoother (as is always the case when running an event like this), I can’t count the number of people who came up to me at the Retroware booth and commented on how they were having a great time and how it’s great to have a convention close to where they live. Vendors had a great day, content creators got face-to-face time with their fans, and attendees enjoyed themselves. The organizers deserve a lot of credit for putting this thing together. There were many simultaneously moving pieces, and yet things were very much under control.
RetroWorld Expo was a meaningful and memorable experience for me. It’s hard for me to find the right words when expressing how special it was to meet so many people that I have admired for years and who have been personal inspirations: Billy and Jay from The Game Chasers, Alpha Omega Sin, Mike from Living in 8 Bits, Norm “The Gaming Historian” Caruso, Pixel Dan Eardley, Eric “Let’s GET!!” Lappe, James “Epic Game Music” Ronald (who was subjected to my driving), Banjo Guy Ollie, Joey “Roo” DeSena, and John D. & Lance from Retroware. I somehow managed to refrain from being That Annoying Fanboy Guy when meeting everyone, although that meant not getting many pictures taken. My only regret was not taking the opportunity to thank them for what they’ve done and continue to do, and for inspiring me to follow my heart and create my own retro-related content. So… if any of you are reading this, THANK YOU.
As for my own experience, my day started at 6am. The drive to Wallingford, CT from here was about an hour, so between pulling my butt out of bed and putting gas in the truck, I finally arrived at about 7:30am. I got to help set up the consoles in the Arcade Room, and there were a lot of them! I also changed my first coin-op cabinet marquee, which I actually screwed up at first (but fixed it quickly enough). Once 10am rolled around and people started coming in, I took my spot at the Retroware booth. I was grateful that all of my loose NES manuals found new homes. I sold about half of them, and the other half were divided among the Retroware crew and panel guests after the show ended. I saw a few familiar faces while at the Retroware booth, plus I met lots of new faces who are as passionate about retro video games as I am.
Some of the most memorable images in my head from RetroWorld Expo are of interactions between fans and content creators. Billy and Jay took time for every fan– young and old. They took tons of pictures, signed a ton a stuff, and it was easy to see how excited fans were to meet them. Norm was the same way. During their respective panels, all of the content creators genuinely had a great time taking questions from fans. I laughed a lot during the panel with The Game Chasers and Alpha Omega Sin. I learned a lot from The Gaming Historian’s panel, as he did a live episode and shared information on Ristar. Pixel Dan’s panel was powered by his engaging personality and genuine love of what he does; the audience in attendance was equally as passionate about toys, and I think that Dan noticed that. These were, to me, great examples to follow if I was to gain a fan following and perhaps have panels or booths of my own. It’s not just other content creators who inspire and drive me… but it’s the fans who read, watch, and respond to my work.
I was grateful to be part of the Retroware panel. One of my bucket list items was to be part of a convention panel, and I had a blast with this one. I got to field a few questions (along with other panelists) and helped to promote Retroware’s initiative to bring on a few more writers. During the panel, we got to see a couple of funny videos that were edited by Eric Lappe. One of these was in the vein of The Game Chasers, and the crowd was in stitches for a lot of it. We also got a sneak peek at the next episode of The Video Game Years, and John D. planted the seed for a possible continuation of the series– if enough money can be raised. The panel room was full, and it was neat to see and hear so many questions being asked. It builds morale and confidence for all of us who work on content for the site to see such a response.
Once the panels wrapped up, I got a chance to check out the vendors. Here’s what I came away with:
I did pay a considerable amount for the pair of PlayStation 2 RPGs, but most of the other games were pretty good deals. The copy of Blast Chamber was factory sealed for $5, for example… I scored that deal because I bought a few other PlayStation games at the same time. It might be tough to see in the photo, but I also bought a copy of Batman Forever: The Arcade Game. That game ran $40, and I blame Game Informer and this Replay video for my interest in it. Finally, I was psyched to find a copy of Wing Commander for the SEGA CD. Although I didn’t find Wing Commander III or Wing Commander IV for the PlayStation, this was a nice consolation prize as I haven’t played this version before.
Now begins the wait for next year’s show. After such a great turnout for the first year, RetroWorld Expo organizers have their work cut out for them to make 2016 bigger and better. For now, though, they’ve earned a bit of a rest… and I have enough memories and mental imagery from this year’s event to last me for at least another 12 months.
In fact, some of these memories will last a lifetime. Or, at least, the rest of my lifetime.
After months of planning, organization, and promotion, the inaugural RetroWorld Expo event is just a few days away. It’s a huge deal for Southern New England– especially in the Greater Hartford, CT / Springfield, MA area. Video game expos and shows rarely happen around these parts. Boston gets PAX East every year… and that’s about it. Sure, there are events that include video games, such as ConnectiCon… but RetroWorld Expo puts video games front and center. What’s more, the event’s organizers are well-known in video gaming circles.
Whether you’ve already bought your tickets and made your plans for October 3rd, or if you’re still considering making the trip to the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, CT… here are some things to keep in mind about the show:
Mind the weather: After a long period of sunny and mild weather, we’ll be in the middle of a rainy, raw period on the day of the show. If you’re traveling, keep this in mind. Make sure those windshield wipers are in good shape and watch for possible ponding and puddles on highways. Travel time might be a bit longer than GPS indicates. It might also be wise to bring a raincoat, umbrella, or hooded sweatshirt if you’re going to be an early arrival.
Plan your day: RetroWorld Expo will have a lot of things going on. Open console gaming and arcade play will be available, video game vendors will be manning booths filled with games and other goodies, and tabletop gaming will be active for much of the day. Some attractions have a tighter schedule, though. There are eight panels (that run about an hour each) and five video game tournaments (that are slated to run between 90-120 minutes each), and each of these has a specific time slot. You can check the schedule to start planning which events you’d like to attend. (I’ll be part of the Retroware panel at 3:00pm.)
Know your surroundings: While finding your way around the Oakdale Theater will be a bit easier than navigating a larger convention center, it’s still a good idea to have a map and know which vendors and exhibitors are where. RetroWorld Expo is debuting with close to 70 booths, in addition to the Arcade and the Tabletop Gaming areas. It’s certainly possible to visit every booth if you’re going to be at the show all day, but you may want to circle specific booths that you know you’re going to want to visit (like the Retroware booth, for example… PLUG PLUG!). Having a map is also good for circling which booths that you might want to revisit before leaving.
Don’t forget to bring those games: Whether you’re looking to trade games in towards other ones for your collection, or whether you’re crazy like me and just want to give away some doubles to fellow video game fans and good homes (that’s my giveaway bag, above), be sure to bring unwanted games or titles that you want to trade with you to RetroWorld Expo. Multiple video game vendors will be on hand to see what you’ve got and work out trade-ins with you, and those unwanted games might just be enough to make that rare game you’ve been looking for just a bit more affordable. It’s also worth bringing some doubles or perhaps an extra console to get autographed, if you’re a fan of The Game Chasers, The Gaming Historian, Alpha Omega Sin, Pixel Dan, Joey “Roo” DeSena, and other panel guests.
Collector apps are helpful: If you’re coming to RetroWorld Expo to do some game hunting, it’s not a bad idea to either bring a listed of wanted games or to use a smartphone or tablet app that tracks your collection and/or wanted games. Collection apps are a great way to track what you have in your video game library and to keep a running list of games that you’re on the lookout for. The photo above is taken from PureGaming.org‘s PS1 Collector app, and highlights just some of the games that I’m looking to add to my collection at some point. Collection apps also help you to see at a glance which titles that you own and can be helpful against buying duplicates and triplicates of games.
Come for the games, stay for the music: Some of the biggest attractions at RetroWorld Expo are the musical acts. In fact, they get to close the event! The World is Square, Epic Game Music (photo shown above), and On Being Human will each get turns in the RWX spotlight… and they’re too good to miss. So, when the booths shut down, don’t start heading for your cars– stick around and watch some talented musicians do what they do best, as they marry video games and music so very well.
I’m certainly looking forward to this. It’s been a long time coming, and I know that the folks behind the scenes have worked incredibly hard to put a huge event like RWX together. I’m going to get a chance to meet many people who have been inspirational to me as a content creator, and I’m honored to have a chance to represent a website that I’ve been a fan of for years.
If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, there’s still time. I strongly recommend buying them in advance; while there will be tickets available at the door, it will take longer for you to get inside. Tickets are being sold through Eventjoy, and there are iOS and Android apps which allow you to carry paperless tickets for convenience. Fear not if you decide to be impulsive and make the trip last-minute, though; despite the wait, it’ll be well worth your time.
I sincerely hope to see you on Saturday, October 3rd… and I hope this primer helps get you ready for what will be a memorable day of music, fun, and video games.
This week’s video is the realization of an episode idea that I’ve head for awhile– and with the impending release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, I felt it was time to move from idea to reality.
The original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater release was something that I really looked forward to back in 1999 after having spent literally dozens of hours playing the demo. The staff at my FuncoLand store heard me talk about the game constantly, and I always tried to gun for the highest score whether I was at home or at the store. THPS did so much right, at least in my eyes. It was easy to learn, it was addictive to play, and the two-minute run limit made the game perfect for quick gameplay sessions before work or before bed. It wasn’t engrossing like an adventure game or an RPG, although it was easy to lose an hour or two flying through the Career Mode and trying to unlock the hidden extras.
That short-spurt style also probably added to why I wound up favoring Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 over Chrono Cross back in 2000. I was working as a tech support representative for an ISP back then, and my free time was very limited… so I didn’t have the time to invest in a huge game like Chrono Cross. In fact, I still haven’t invested a lot of time into Chrono Cross after 15 years of owning the game… and that’s in stark contrast to having played through the Career Mode in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 more than a few times.
My dislike of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 does stem greatly from the move to an open-world style, which is something that I’ve always not cared for. THPS4 is an obvious nod to Grand Theft Auto III in its design (for worse or for better), and is a severe departure from the short-spurt style of the previous three games in the series. I really had to force myself to finish a playthrough, and it’s one of the last times I can remember doing such a thing (unless I was playing a game for review purposes). Life’s too short to spend forcing yourself to play through a game that you don’t care for. Granted, the Underground games that followed also employed the same open-world design… but the new narratives gave me just enough motivation to play through them. It wasn’t until American Wasteland in 2005 that I simply gave up on the need to finish the games and just allowed myself to enjoy what I could. American Wasteland, Project 8, and Proving Ground all remain unfinished today.
About Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5:
I get that trashing the game is kind of en vogue, but I’m not going to do that. Although Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD had its problems, I think that a new game in the series– rather than a remake– gives Robomodo more room to bring its vision of what THPS should be to life, instead of doing its best to emulate Neversoft’s best efforts.
Honestly, I never considered THPS HD to be a bad game… or, at least, as bad as some players made it out to be. It was definitely different, and certainly not perfect, but I still had a blast with the base product. If I had fun with it, I consider the game to be successful. Contrast that with, say, Mindjack. Mindjack was a detestable experience for me and was never once anywhere close to fun. Mindjack is the textbook definition of a bad game. Just look what it did to Angry Joe.
I’ll hold off on making judgment calls until after I play THPS5. Personally, I’m excited that we’re getting another game in the series, especially after the gutting of Neversoft a few years back. I’m hoping to get similar feelings to the ones I had in 1999-2001. Hope is always a good thing.
Street Sk8er love:
I mentioned Street Sk8er in this week’s video, and the above video review talks a bit about my experience with it. I played the heck out of Street Sk8er for awhile, and I still pop it into the PlayStation every now and again. It’s very much an arcade experience at home, minus the bells and whistles that a coin-op machine like Top Skater has. It’s deceptively difficult to meet the score requirements for early stages in the game, so there’s a bit of a difficulty curve. Players are ultimately rewarded by progressively more flashy tricks and stunts, which leads to higher scores.
Much like we saw later with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, the licensed punk/rock soundtrack in Street Sk8er really adds to the overall experience. Unlike THPS, though, the soundtrack can be accessed by popping the disc into a disc player. I used to listen to the soundtrack on the way to work quite often. Earlier games in the PlayStation library, such as Ridge Racer, Air Combat, and Tokyo Highway Battle, also had playable soundtracks right off of the disc– and I do still listen to these soundtracks in my car every now and then.
Other news and notes:
So far, the new retail job has not interfered with video production, so I don’t expect any lapse in weekly video content. Hours will be increasing starting in October, however, so we’ll see how that plays out. I haven’t had a lot of gaming time recently, and what little of it there’s been has been spent on modern gaming. Madden 16 (now patched) and NHL 16 for the PS4 are getting the lion’s share of my attention, and I just picked up Diablo III on the PS4 for cheap this week.
There’s nothing in terms of written content on the immediate horizon. I have a topic in mind for my next Hit The Pass piece, and my next Retroware piece will likely come after RetroWorld Expo. I do want to write up something about iOS game collecting apps, though I’m not sure if I want to do one big piece about all of them or a series of pieces featuring one at a time. That project will depend on available time, and would either go on Retroware or here.
Speaking of RetroWorld Expo, it’s fast-approaching. I’ll be shooting another promo video later this week to talk about it and summarize what’s going to be happening. It’s an event that shouldn’t be missed, though… I can definitely tell you that. Tickets are still available, and they’re just $25 for the entire day… which spans from 10AM through 11PM. (The full schedule is here.)
That’s all for this week. Thanks for watching and reading!
Today, September 9th, marks a pair of significant video game-related anniversaries. In honor of this special day, I’d like to share my thoughts about both.
Happy 20th anniversary, Sony PlayStation!
I talked about this over at Retroware, but the PlayStation is such a special console for me that I wanted to say a few words about it here.
On this day 20 years ago, I was more excited about getting the PlayStation than anything else that had transpired in my 23 years to that point. The last year or so of my life had been really difficult; I had been laid off from my long distance operator job in 1994, wound up moving back in with my paternal grandmother after nearly 3 years of successful independence, lost my girlfriend (who I thought I was going to marry before this sequence of events unfolded), crashed my car, and had been collecting unemployment until early in 1995. Being excited about the PlayStation really dragged me out of the mental funk that I had been in, which is something that I desperately needed.
Despite the launch day adventure that I had (which you can find out about in the video), I’ve been a huge fan of the PlayStation over these last 20 years– even when younger gaming fans are quick to point out that the games are “ugly” and don’t hold up well today. I was lucky enough to experience the PlayStation in its heyday, when it was cutting-edge and the graphics looked impressive for the time. I don’t compare PlayStation games to what we have today; it would be an unfair and rather ridiculous comparison to make. I reflect on what I thought of the games when they were new… when they were more relevant, instead of pieces of history.
I also think back to what was happening in my life throughout the PlayStation’s run. It was the worst of times for me, and it was the best of times. The worst of times included losing my paternal grandmother to cancer in 1996 and hitting rock bottom in my life soon after, but the best of times soon followed as I landed my first job in video game retail with FuncoLand in 1998 and wound up getting married a year later. There were a lot of ups and downs, but my PlayStation was always there to provide me with amusement, escape, and distraction when I needed it.
Adding PlayStation games to my Retro Library has been a big focus for me this year, and I’ve been largely successful. I now own more than 300 games, and am thrilled to be playing those games on original PlayStation hardware instead of PlayStation 2 emulation. There are still some games that I’m hoping to add before the year is out– perhaps during RetroWorld Expo next month– but even if I didn’t find anything else, I’m grateful to have achieved one of my goals for 2015 by expanding my PlayStation collection.
Happy 16th anniversary, SEGA Dreamcast!
On September 9th, 1999, at around 1:00am, I picked up my SEGA Dreamcast and the assortment of launch games and accessories that I’d preordered and paid off over the course of that summer. Between store credit and cash, I wound up spending more than $700 on the Dreamcast launch and didn’t even get a chance to really enjoy it for awhile. The reason? I had been promoted to Store Manager for FuncoLand and worked both the midnight launch for the Dreamcast and an opening shift at my store on launch day. As I drove home with my new console and games, I knew that I had just enough time to set it up and maybe get a game of NFL Blitz 2000 in before having to turn in for the night. My fiancee was already in bed when I got back to our apartment, so I quietly hooked everything up and played for about an hour before going to bed.
The launch of the Dreamcast was amazing. There were so many quality games available that I couldn’t narrow down what I really wanted… so I bought as many as I could. NFL Blitz 2000, Hydro Thunder, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, Soul Calibur, Sonic Adventure, AirForce Delta, NFL 2K, and CART Flag to Flag were all launch day purchases, with Tokyo Xtreme Racer and House of the Dead 2 added not long after. To this day, I’ve never been more “all in” on a console launch than I was with the Dreamcast.
More strong games followed. Virtua Tennis, Crazy Taxi, Zombie Revenge, NBA Showtime, SEGA Bass Fishing, Tee Off, Sword of the Berserk, WWF Royal Rumble, Shenmue, Skies of Arcadia, Sports Jam, and other titles all found their way into my console between 1999 and 2000. Although I still spent time with my PlayStation, I spent more with the Dreamcast; it felt “next generation” and offered a great mix of arcade and original games that I really enjoyed.
Admittedly, I’m still bitter about the premature death of the Dreamcast platform. After spending all of that money and believing that SEGA had really straightened itself out after the Saturn and 32X messes, I was let down when SEGA pulled the plug in late January of 2001. I was angry. I recall swearing at my computer screen while I was convalescing from bout with a nasty respiratory virus. I was emotional on the Gamespot message boards. It was irrational to feel betrayed, but that’s how I felt. That anger and that feeling of betrayal led me to toss my entire Dreamcast collection into bags and drive it over to my favorite local independent video game store, where I traded it all in and wound up buying a PlayStation 2 with the store credit.
My anger with SEGA did ease in late 2001 and into 2002, thanks to the company’s decent support of the Gamecube. Super Monkey Ball, Beach Spikers, and ports of the Sonic Adventure games made me think less about how cheated I felt and more about how SEGA might still be great… even as a third-party publisher. It was also mind-blowing to see a Sonic game on a Nintendo console.
I do have some regrets about trading in all of my Dreamcast gear. At the same time, without having acted so rashly, I might have been even later to the PlayStation 2 party– and to the writing opportunities that owning a PS2 afforded to me. Everything wound up working out for the best in the end, and some day I hope to get another Dreamcast for my Retro Library to recapture some of those amazing gaming memories and moments that dotted 16 months of my life.
The PlayStation and the Dreamcast comprise two of my top five video game platforms of all time, along with the NES, the SNES, and the PlayStation 2, so it’s with genuine and sincere emotion that I honor both of these platforms today. They provided me with hundreds (and even thousands) of hours of enjoyment and excitement, and I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to own them both during their respective heights of popularity.