Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Checkpoints Roasting on a Backlog Fire

Video games are synonymous with my Christmas holiday. The vast majority of joyous, childhood memories involve waking up to a new console I had yearned for all year or big new release title that I watched the launch trailer for over and over again. Wish lists for the holidays are always easy to fill with triple A titles dropping in November or a game from my backlog that has recently dropped to a more affordable price. December becomes the month in which I plan which titles I will dedicate my time to going into the new year.

There have been a ton of happy Christmas memories, but a few of those times really stood out:

Ocarina of Time was teased throughout 1998 and it was getting to be one of the most anticipated games of the year. I made sure to place every hint known to man to my mother that she knew this was the biggest gift she could possibly give me. Sure enough, Christmas morning, there it was under the tree in all its golden splendor. I remember staying up late, running around in awe at the new 3D world, experiencing the fear when facing Gohma for the first time, and the joy of slicing chickens and running for my life. It made an already perfect game even more memorable.

Dramatic Re-Enactment of my Surprise/Joy (And classic internet video)
The Gamecube was Nintendo's latest achievement in 2001 and one I set my eye on after witnessing the slew of advertising. They even sent tiny promotional discs to my house to watch on the computer, and I remember replaying the videos of F-Zero and Mario over and over again, while marveling at the newly shrunken discs that would soon encapsulate some of my favorite games. The console itself was a blast, and releasing Smash Brothers Melee that December alongside the console just heightened the anticipation and payoff.

Even as recent as last year I was dying to get into the next generation of consoles. I jokingly mentioned the Xbox One to my then girlfriend, passing it off as something I would invest in with gift cards from Christmas. To my surprise, she took the initiative, purchasing the package with Assassin's Creed: Unity. It was a huge gift, that held a lot more meaning behind it than fulfilling a want in my life. That girlfriend is now my wife, and we constantly joke that she got me a next-gen console and I in turn got her an engagement ring.

Is my wife is trying to tell me to leave her alone for a few months...?

I could go on and on with the number of Christmas gifts that shaped my gaming library; Final Fantasy IX, Pokemon: Gold, Black Ops 2. There is an unmatched feeling when getting a gift like that from the holidays. Call it the spirit of Christmas, the general selflessness of giving, or the season's overall impact; but receiving a game as a gift holds a special feeling you just do not get from picking up a pre-order in the store...besides the obvious downsize in your bank account after making the purchase.

Every title was a distinct memory, every console a lasting appreciation, and no matter the gift it always brought a childish sense of bliss. As another Christmas passes, I find myself with three new big titles to complete, and a lot less time on my hands, but one thing remains; the giddy feeling of opening that rectangular shape of a present and knowing there is a new world to explore or challenge to complete is far from fleeting.

Which games or consoles do you remember begging for at Christmas and which ones really stuck with you?

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