Here I am, back again, stubbornly refusing to let this blog die, yet not allowing it the conditions needed to live and thrive. On that cheerful note, if I only make one post a year, it should be the one that comes gift-wrapped with a bow on top. Literally. It's another specimen of that unpopular genre of "my Christmas haul
" reports (what, no Christmas 2014 report? Ohhh, I see -- transitioning over to this blog from the last
was a New Year's 2015 resolution. My starting it was the biggest gift in this field! 8) The big challenge for me is getting the holiday loot written up before the holiday itself is but a hazy, distant memory -- now a month and a week hence. February is a fine time to discuss Christmas matters, now who wants to join me in a rousing round of carols? (both of my kids shoot their hands up.
It's helpful to have a games collector on your gift list because you are never in the "what to get for the man who has everything" scenario: if his Atari 2600 collection is 100%, get him Colecovision carts! And when all else fails, when you can't find any more games for cheap, load the stocking up with game swag! Here you see a nice mix of games, a console, accessories and ... swag. I'm a big fan of the Commodore 64 t-shirt!
Here it is, the main mass of loot. It is, as you can see, substantial. Plenty of games, plenty of not-games, everything of some interest to one such as I even if it's terrible. (Indeed, I think that in their way, terrible games are often quite a bit more interesting than excellent ones. But surely I've shared my theory of the "interesting failure" (vs. the "boring success") before?)
Many is the time I've been given some kind of video game-themed snack, candies and treats. (I recall last year we saw a Super Mario Maker treat kit, which saw you mixing the ingredients to DIY, a nice thematic dovetailing.) To the great disappointment of my kids (who are immediately like "Hurray, let's dig in!") I never, though, wind up eating these, understanding that they are not being sold on their nutritional value or delicious flavour, but rather the expensive mascot licensed to appear on the bag. The big "Kirby candy" question really is "What powers do I gain when I eat it?" (The small question is: what's that flavour closest to Kirby's head? It looks like... a glass of water. What's that taste like, in candy form? The refreshing flavour of club soda... in candy form!)
The days of the Tiger LCD handhelds are once again with us, it seems, no matter how we might have hoped to shake them off. I once played an iPod Touch game a decade or so ago that boasted a similar premise to this item, having implemented simple game engines for a dozen basic game types (scroll up, scroll right, maze, platform, artillery... you get the picture) and a hundred sprite primitives that looked a lot like the glyphs emblazoning this package. None of it was any fun, but there were so many ways to mix it up! Something something quality, something something quantity. And is that a knockoff Atari logo in the top right or just a puff of afterburner flame?
The concept of Tetris is sufficiently potent that it can in many regards be exported whole cloth into the real world (fittingly, since it is inspired by physical sets of pentomino blocks traditionally used to play games in Russia.) Here the premise is reversed somewhat, with the goal being to successfully remove blocks from a complete wall rather than the opposite. I suspect that this is a mix of two great things that are both somehow less great together, but you've got to give Hasbro the credit for the hustle.
Quite a bit less fun than simply playing the games, but nonetheless hours of endless entertainment for a limited understanding of "entertainment". I never actually watched this as a kid despite falling in the right age range -- perhaps the timing didn't quite work out, but even so I suspect I understood instinctively that you could not take the Mushroom Kingdom's basic ingredients and come up with palatable passive entertainment without stretching a little. (Now the Mario Bros. movie... that one, it stretched too far. It's a delicate balance!)
You know that sticky brown crud that gets in the cracks when your friends don't wash their hands before playing your video games after eating? Why not cut out the middleman and just make the joysticks out of chocolate?! Sure they're less responsive, but probably still good enough to win an occasional round of Mario Kart. I believe that my mother-in-law has acquired some game controller silicone baking molds. I'll probably be showing off a new batch of these every year, but nonetheless... yum!
After Christmas, often my family goes on a little holiday just out of town and we find that the suburbs there offer more goods of interest to us in their less-picked-over-by-hungry-urban-hipsters thrift stores. So in addition to my enormous haul of secondhand video games acquired as gifts, there's often a second wave of more games acquired at rock-bottom prices. (I'm not entirely as indiscriminate a collector as the pictures show -- While everybody loves Spyro, as the recent remaster demonstrates, Dora the Explorer isn't my bag... but I have two little girls. Still no sports games, though! Please, I have standards!)
Also, I made an interesting literary discovery...
Apparently around the turn of the century, Lyrick Publishing oversaw series of books based on Humongous Entertainment characters, also including Putt Putt and Freddi Fish. That's a new one for my books-based-on-video-games file!
Though you can't tell to look at this post (or, ahem, my wife's question about all the Steam Winter Sale charges on our latest credit card bill), I'd have to posit that 2018 was the year I lost momentum collecting games (a lot of this simply has to do with the rhythms of the secondhand market in response to the ebb and flow of new generations of hardware hitting stores), and instead started inadvertently accumulating consoles! With the exception of the final week the PlayStation 2 was in stores I never owned a bought-new video game machine -- instead, I acquire them when my friends are done with them. I live in 2019 but the bleeding edge of my entertainment life is grounded circa 2007. Until I get a machine, I don't collect games for that machine -- which is probably a mistake on some level, I've missed out on some smoking deals on games I can't play yet -- but Every time I take the plunge and buy into a new hardware ecosystem, within six months someone else has given me one or thrown one in as a bonus perk to an unrelated purchase. So in one year I'll go from eg. having no PlayStation 3s to owning four of them, somehow. (Then I start to get picky about wanting one that will play discs from all three PlayStation generations, so I can access the widest slice of my games collection with the minimum of machines set up.)
I acquire this hardware when the iron is hot but I don't always have the time to get it up and running -- content in the awareness that if free time emerges, I have all the physical goods required in order to go on that adventure. The holidays give me the time off from work (and the need to entertain two kids all day long for weeks on end) motivating actually taking this gear out of the box and getting it set up. So despite all these games and goodies, my main gaming memory of Christmas 2018 is having my first Xbox 360 Kinect experience (the hot new advance of 2010!) and evaluating the relative merits of the WiiU (2012) vs. the Wii (some solid improvements.) So despite my estimate of permanently being about 12 years out of step with the gaming world, this year I leapt forward to being only ... seven years behind. It's a curious thing to have your first experience with the hot new trend take place only after it has already been retired and discontinued, but then... I'm a curious guy. And these paragraph are a hefty digression.
Thanks for hanging in there, confused subscribers who had forgotten I'd ever haunted their RSS reader! See you again next year! (Just kidding, I need to make at least one more Star Wars computer art post in 2019 8)