Thursday, 28 April 2016

Happy birthday to me -- 2016 edition

Greetings, fair readers! I had a birthday this month! It, uh, was several weeks ago. There has been a lot going on. That said, I received (and, er, gave myself) several gamely presents, so read on!
I'd been petrified of acquiring any 7th-generation systems for my collection because: why on earth would someone divest themselves of such a sweet machine if there wasn't something defective about it? Of course, these concerns linger for all platforms (chawesome, an NES! Hey, nothing happens when I plug it in but this blue blinking...) but the more sophisticated the systems become, the more complicated the problems (and their fixes) become. In short, I didn't want to shell out real cash in large quantities to become the proud owner of a Red Ring of Death. But we acquired a Wii under sad but unsuspicious circumstances (striking teachers needed to buy groceries, didn't WANT to sell, but NEEDED to... we only found out after we bought or we would probably have just loaned them some cash) and were given a working Xbox360 from a friend... now on the occasion of my birthday, now that its successor is well established in the market, I completed my suite of major 7th-gen consoles with a PlayStation 3. And, OK, better pick up some games for it also. (Although I hear it can go far used merely as a home media centre -- or at least as a Blu-Ray player 8) These look, by and large, like modern RPGs, meaning that I probably have several hundred hours of play ahead of me, in the event that I break both legs and am laid up for six months sometime, and decide not to further any of my numerous writing projects. Titles include: Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Soul Calibur IV, Tales of Xillia 2, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.

Also we here see some "Pixelcraft" squares (colourful magnetic rectangles, first I mistook it for a DIY Tetris kit... boy am I glad we only paid second-hand price for these) and ""Super Mario Checkers". What makes checkers Super-Mario-ized, you ask? The red checkers have Mario's face on them, while the black ones... are green, and have Luigi's face on them. I, um, do not know how to play checkers. I expect that even the peppy Nintendo brand cannot blow that much wind into its sails.

That was a good start. Then we encountered a collection-liquidating garage sale that rang my price threshold of $5 repeatedly. What kind of weirdo ends up with Xbox 360, Wii AND PS3 games? Presumably they own all three machines. Just how rich were you? I own them all, but only because I'm picking them up just as everyone else is tossing them out. What's your excuse? Games included: PS3 -- Beowulf, Infamous 1-2, Metal Gear Solid 4, Uncharted 1-3; Xbox 360 -- Avatar, Prince of Persia - The Forgotten Sands, Red Dead Redemption, GTA4, and the Mass Effect series; and for the Wii, Sims 2 Pets, Playground, and a Cooking Mama title my daughter and I have already gotten good mileage out of.

On the way home I also popped by a thrift store (where I once, long ago, found a Panasonic 3DO) and acquired a 2008 Dragon's Lair comic book and the Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective board game... which I'm presuming ICOM's early interactive video series was adapted from. (Also: my daughter saw the Sonic comic book in the drug store checkout and threatened to melt down if we did not purchase it... as a gift to me, her game-loving dad. Aww. SIX DOLLARS? Yes, I just paid more for a comic than I would pay for the game it was based on. Doy!) Not pictured: my eldest was enamoured of a set of dice at the garage sale, which were not for sale separately, so we also picked up a complete Mahjongg set (with dice) for $1. (Now I can pretend I'm playing Brodie Lockard's Shanghai in real life!)

One more acquisition: I saw the brand name go by as my wife was flicking through her buy&sell community and I said "back that page up! ... please." I'd never seen Neo Geo anything in the wild and thought, hey, it's my birthday... why not strike while the iron is hot? As large as my collection is, my instincts are often to let a deal go by and then regret it for weeks and months. None of that during birthday month! So: this is not a real Neo-Geo, the X is legacy clone hardware officially authorized by SNK. It's a weird little setup, a handheld machine that docks with a giant empty Neo-Geo-shaped shell for purposes of, I don't know, historical re-enactment. It can take in power and output A/V to big screens through the shell, and it can have an arcade-style attached (here included). It plays Neo-Geo games, but not in their original format -- rather, exclusively sold on proprietory SD cards. Anyhow, this machine comes with 20 of the Neo Geo's legendarily arcade-worthy games baked in, and I thought it might liven things up at my annual birthday vintage gaming party (however genuinely vintage the hardware may or may not be, it offers more play, if less nostalgia, than my Atari Flashback.)

So really, this post is just an excuse for me to talk up my upcoming vintage video gaming party, coming up on Saturday May 14th. I have ... a pile of vintage gaming hardware. Some of the piles are complete (power and A/V cords are an eternal hassle: I should actually make a have/want list somewhere here and keep it up to date, so if some altruistic reader cares to gift me with a joystick, light gun or multitap for my ad hoc museum here, or trade for a chunk of my eternal duplicate surplus, it can be something that would genuinely expand my offerings on tap), and some of those piles even have substantial game libraries associated with them. Anyhow, twice a year, I bring them out of retirement tubs in the basement and set up the machines with the fondest memories associated with them for my guests to use as time machines to temporarily revisit simpler times for a few hours. My bias is toward generation-winners and systems I have plenty of games with (plus: systems that play more than one generation of games!) so while I do own a Sega Master System, since I'm not made of outlets and TV sets I leave it in storage in favour of the N64 that gets a lot of mileage. This time around I hope to live the dream and make good on a longstanding aspiration to project games on the side of my house after sundown with the assistance of a Very Long Extension Cord. We'll see! It runs from early afternoon until ... late, so if you'd like to check it out, you will have to figure out where I live. (Asking me is the preferred avenue to that information, showing up unexpectedly is always a little creepy.)

Much, much more soon -- my textmode video game art archives are coming out of my nose I'm so backed up, but April has been busy -- it took me over three weeks to share my birthday haul with you. Stay tuned!