Sunday, 24 January 2016

Christmas 2015!

Sometime around September or October, my partner rolled in with a surprise "realia" find at a thrift store: "design-your-own" wrapping paper with a video game theme! This was coincidentally a product she had previously researched independently, and so she knew that this pricey extravagance could be made-to-order for $15 a roll, with markings indicating that this particular set had been part of a batch of 15, no doubt commissioned by some high-rolling games store that overestimated its customers' appetites for in-store gift-wrapping. (She picked them up for $1.50 a roll, a 90% savings!)
It features a repeating pattern of wintery, Nintendo-y, or both-y icons according to a system of of 4 rows by 5 columns, beginning from the bottom:
Bell (Christmassy, I guess -- not Mario-ish), Bob-omb Christmas tree decoration, Chain Chomp Christmas tree decoration... two spaces, then repeating.
Starman, two spaces, Blooper squid, space
Wintry snowflake, Mushroom, Koopa shell, Triforce, a Christmassy wrapped gift (wrapped, perhaps, in this very paper?)
Christmas tree -- emerging from a Mario Bros.-style pipe!, Mario-faced snowman, Yoshi egg, Raccoon leaf, Smash Bros. logo
Needless to say, this paper ended up being used to distinguish Christmas presents for me from all others under the tree, so as to aid my enthusiastically helpful but functionally illiterate little kid in disbursing the gifts to the appropriate parties.

I did intend for this wrapping paper to be blogged before it was used, but while I have a lot to talk about (eg. this blog has 23 published posts, and 38 drafts in progress, to say nothing of all the lingering business -- 53 further drafts! -- from videogamecomicads which will eventually bear fruit here), my opportunities to actually do the talking are few and far between... I've been prioritizing hyping and explaining computer art from my surprisingly revived '90s computer art crew Mistigris, because few things are as sad as worthwhile creations that no one ever finds out about. But it has given me a backlog of somewhat tragicomical proportions here.

All right, the goodies! First up, a motorized Super Mario toothbrush that made my kid fall in love with oral hygiene all over again! (Seriously, she makes me talk to her in a Mario voice every night while we clean her teeth. "It's-a me, a-Mario! Open-a yo mouth-a, please!")

Then I was a little confused -- is this an Amiibo? We don't have a WiiU to plug it into! But no, it is merely an articulated action figure (or: a doll) of her beloved friendly dinosaur Yoshi. (Relatedly, she received a considerably larger toy T-Rex she proclaimed a medium-size Yoshi, suitable for her to actually ride upon.)

Then there were some game-y household goods. These were all sourced from Thinkgeek, aka "We Eat Nintendo's Lunch" (tm), courtesy of my kind and loving partner who lacked the patience to allow me to fully unpack my own presents at my own pace, so for purposes of photodocumentation, they are not represented in their original packaging (or indeed at all, in the case of the Warp Pipe mug -- which is exactly what it sounds like), but there was a set of generation-winner joystick Christmas Tree ornaments (2600, NES, Genesis, PS1)

And so nobody would be left out, for our new baby, a Pac-Man diaper. ("TOUCH SCREEN TO START"? Well, some Pac- clone, perhaps for a mobile device, and doubtlessly similar to this garment in being destined to be filled with excrement.)
That Pac-Man item was for babies, and this one is for fully-grown man-babies. And now, here's something for the ladies! Who wants to snuggle under this blanket? We can take turns eating and being eaten by ghosts... (Wha... what do you mean GAME OVER? I'm still there in the corner!)
All right, if you're still here then you're in for the long haul. So here's the Second Act: Granny's Holiday Bomb. My partner curated a few tasteful game-related materials but conspicuously no actual games. Granny (which is to say, my kids' granny -- my mother-in-law) doesn't exercise such restraint, and the goods she encounters at endless rounds of flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales are less sly nods to the history of gaming and more cold hard and angular chunks of actual gaming history as one might exhume from a garbage dump in New Mexico.
Apologies for the grain: for some reason my camera appears to be stuck on some setting where it takes giant, hugely lossy photos. But here's what it depicts: Video game cartridges: Q-Bert for the Atari 2600 and Donkey Kong for the ColecoVision (its killer app! Oh yes, and look next to the cart: an actual ColecoVision! All I need now is... its power cord) plus a Nintendo DS compilation "Retro Atari Classics" (with some hilariously lukewarm reviews on Mobygames: "Retro Atari Classics is the sort of game that's unpleasing to every possible audience"); discs for some Wii games ranging from the sublime (Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart) to the esoteric (Wii Music, Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympics -- which gives me a chance to play through a local historical event I actually protested and boycotted) to... well, also there is Jumper.

Throw in a few books (An N64 strategy guide grab bag, Press Start To Play -- a game-related SF anthology with its own promotional hyperfiction, and one of Jeff Rovin's envy-inducing trailblazing strategy guides, this one for the NES) and cap it off with a couple of boxed PC games (the Duke Nukem Plutonium Pak necessarily pales next to an unopened copy of Delphine Software's Out Of This World) and the coup de grace, a Baby Mario-shaped stylus for the 3DS. (I do not own a 3DS, also Yoshi's Story scarred me to the extent that I would rather not be reminded of Baby Mario... but there it is.) All that plus a Merlin device, a contemporary of Simon who hasn't quite enjoyed his peer's longevity.

Any way you slice it, that's enough gameinalia to choke a horse! Thank goodness Christmas comes but once a year or I'd assuredly be crowded out of my house by all this splendid and well-intentioned stuff in complete harmony with my interests and nostalgia and totally opposed to my leading any kind of sustainable family lifestyle.

OK, phew, we got Christmas out of the way. Now I believe I probably had several posts concerning textmode artwork to share with you?