CHIMING IN!: Kinda Funny Gamescast EP 80 (Part 2) “Being Excited About Video Games”

CHIMING IN! is (or may be) a new feature here at Cheap Boss Attack, in which I link to a video, podcast, or written discussion about certain topics and provide my own thoughts on the matter. Sure, it’s a bit like letting others do the work for me, but I’m doing it because I’m inspired by their content — I’m not looking to thrive off of it.

For starters, I’m a huge fan of Kinda Funny. I try to catch Colin & Greg Live on Twitch as often as possible, as well as being active in both the Kinda Funny Best Friends Facebook group and forum, and I’ve probably watched every video they’ve uploaded to both of their YouTube channels. I’ve even had one of my questions read live on their weekly PlayStation podcast, PS I Love You XOXO, and helped start a Kinda Funny Best Friends WoW Guild (though, admittedly, I haven’t had time to play there much) over on Area-52.

Their insight is what drove me to buy a Vita, which has quickly become one of my favorite consoles, and I love how everything just feels like 4 (sometimes 5) best friends shooting the shit around a table.

While watching the latest episodes of Kinda Funny’s Gamescast, part 2’s discussion in regards to being excited about video games sparked so many great memories. Hearing Tim’s enthusiasm about Prince of Persia, and Greg’s story about finally getting his best friend in to gaming via NCAA, reminded me of some of my own memorable moments growing up and how that doesn’t truly happen much anymore.

zelda

I feel like I’ve told this story hundreds of times already, but I was four years old when the original Legend of Zelda released in February 1986. My babysitter at the time was obsessed with the game, and since their house had just one TV, her son and I had the option of going outside or parking our asses on the couch and watching her play. I always chose the latter.

I was four, so my imagination ran wild with excitement as I watched her traverse this open world in search of monsters, treasure, and golden cheese wedge things. I remember being confused when she bought the “blue ring” and Link’s tunic turned white, and being utterly terrified the moment Ganon’s music hit when she entered the game’s 9th dungeon.

I fell in love with a game I had never played, humming its overworld theme in my bed, using loose pieces of change as pretend enemies, and having a wooden sword of my own.

I begged my parents for the game for nearly a month, and finally, when all hope felt lost, I woke up on Easter morning and found its beautiful golden box in a wicker basket surrounded by tacky green plastic grass.

Little did they know this gesture would forever change my life. The Legend of Zelda is still my favorite game of all time, and I doubt I’ll ever be that excited again.

mk2

Oddly enough, the first time I ever played Mortal Kombat was also the first time I had ever gone to church. A friend and neighbor attended a church that planned an overnight stay at a local arcade. The best part? All cabinets were free to play from 7pm that night until 7am the next morning. Seriously, if you want me to go to church in the future, this is how you do it.

During my stay, I remember walking by the Mortal Kombat cabinet and watching people get their heads ripped off, punched off, or immolated to death, and as a weird kid obsessed with horror films at age 11, I was instantly drawn to it. I mainly spectated until the cabinet was free and I could get my ass whooped by the AI in private.

Mortal Kombat was a big deal for me, as it catered to my love of fighting games and gore, but the release of Mortal Kombat 2 was the stuff of legends. Mortal Friday, as it was called, couldn’t have come fast enough. To give you an idea of how deranged and obsessed I was, during my great grandmother’s funeral I read a SNES vs Genesis comparison article about Mortal Kombat 2, and proceeded to draw a picture of Sub-Zero on a piece of scrap paper.

What did I do with it? I slipped it in my great grandmother’s coffin. What in the fuck was wrong with me? Why did I think she needed to be buried with this childlike drawing of the Lin Kuei’s murderous leader?

Since I was 11, lived pretty far from the mall, and knew I had no way of driving myself to a game store after school, I had to plan ahead. I rode my bike down to the local video store (where I occasionally helped out at their POG station, in exchange for store credit) and asked if they were getting in copies to rent.

I explained my situation to Kathy, the owner (who has since turned the building in to a thriving snowball stand), who then offered to buy me a copy from her distributor if I paid her for it. She did the same thing months earlier when I couldn’t find a VHS copy of Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter. Hell of a woman, that Kathy.

I probably overpaid for it, but that wasn’t the point. I had Mortal Kombat 2 on the SNES the day it released and I was able to play it as soon as I got home from school. I then proceeded to play that game nearly every day for a year, absolutely destroying my friends and local kids in the neighborhood. It’s still my favorite in the series for obvious nostalgic reasons.

soulreaver

I was an early adopter of Sony’s PlayStation, and the first game that my friends and I obsessed over was Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. Zelda with vampires? Sure, why not.

After spending many sleepless nights scouring the map for new weapons, spells, and boss fights, we finally toppled the big evil and decided to sit atop our throne to rule the world forever. Oh, come on. You didn’t expect a vampire to be the good guy, did you?

I remember picking up a video game magazine, probably GamePro, and stumbling across an article detailing the game’s sequel, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. The thought of playing someone other than Kain was depressing at first, but I loved the art style of the game’s new half-vampire hero, Raziel.

I made it a point to thumb through every gaming magazine at the local Giant supermarket in hopes of uncovering new information. Then one day I hit the motherload — I found a demo disc with a playable version of Soul Reaver (along with Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo, and Medieval, I think?).

I remember heading home, popping the disc in, and playing the demo over and over again. The shift from the original game’s top-down sprite-based format to a fully 3D action game was mesmerizing, and I was in awe of the way Raziel would lower his mask, hurl weapons in to enemies across the room, and spread his wings to glide over chasms.

I must have spent at least 30 hours in total playing a mere demo, just to dull the sting of waiting for its actual release. I even changed my AOL screen name to the super edgy 90’s leetspeak spelling SoULReeVoR. Yep. That’s me. Mom, I’m sorry. I’m better now, I promise!

warzone

It’s safe to say I was obsessed with professional wrestling growing up. I had the toys, went to live shows, was glued to the TV every week for Monday Night Raw, and flocked to whatever friend’s house had that month’s big PPV.

Although I’d been in to it well before the Attitude Era, that was when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, and The Undertaker turned the industry on its ass (by blatantly copying ECW) and brought it back to the mainstream in a big way.

When news broke that Acclaim Sports was not only bringing WWF’s first 3D wrestling game, Warzone, to PlayStation and N64, but that it also featured a mode that allowed you to create your own wrestlers, it immediately shot to the top of my must-buy list. However, the game was still months and months away from release.

My parents had just subscribed to AOL, and thanks to the newfound magic of the internet I was able to find and download short video clips uploaded by Warzone’s beta testers. At the time, the game looked incredible. My mind was blown at the thought of 3D renderings of my favorite superstars, especially watching them saunter to the ring to their actual entrance music (not the MIDI files I was used to on the SNES with Royal Rumble).

I’d download videos of Mosh and Thrasher beating up created wrestlers, laughing as the testers struggled to grasp the game’s awful command system — something I’d come to understand months later. I had my doubts the game would be fun, but as a wrestling fanatic, I had to have it.

It released in July of 1998, and since I was about to enter my senior year of high school, I thankfully had a job and could buy it myself (instead of waiting for the holiday season). I remember going to Toys R’ Us and paying off the game in full the day they opened pre-orders, which was months in advance.

The day it released, though, my dad was working on my car at his shop and my mom was nice enough to stop at the mall on the way home so I didn’t have to wait. She’s so awesome.

My friends and I played the game religiously, despite all of us loathing its controls. We’d take turns creating wrestlers, landing finishers, and playing through Warzone’s lackluster career mode. My character was The Law; a man dressed like a cop with a clown mask on, who was given The Rock’s moveset. I was so cool in 1998 that whenever I’d hit the Rock Bottom finisher, I’d say “you’re busted!” to my friends or the AI opponent. That’s actually pretty embarrassing.

ps2console

During my teenage years, I had transitioned from a diehard Nintendo fan to finding a new home on Sony’s PlayStation platform. As I grew up, I became more fond of things like heavy metal, horror films, and the storytelling aspect of RPGs, which were all seemingly absent on Nintendo’s N64.

As a now rabid PlayStation fan, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the PS2. So much so, in fact, that the import game store I worked at in Glen Burnie, Maryland allowed me to purchase a Japanese PS2 for nearly $900 in March of 2000. Yes, I paid a ridiculous amount of money for a Japanese PS2 a mere 6-months ahead of its North American launch. I had a job, one bill, and I was apparently ready to start making poor life decisions at the ripe age of 19.

I had a lot of fun with it, playing games like Tekken Tag Tournament, The Bouncer, Kessen, and Ridge Racer V well ahead of their English releases, but I was still intent on buying a North American PS2 in October.

Like many of you who bought a PS2 at launch, I camped out for mine. For 12 hours. In the rain. My friend Erik and I were 4th and 5th in line outside of our local Wal-Mart, which, at the time, wasn’t a 24-hour establishment. When the store finally shut the lights off, a group of us outside unplugged their vending machines, piled up a few milk crates, and hooked up a small CRT TV with a Sega Dreamcast. We passed the time playing UFC, Soul Calibur, Ready 2 Rumble, and Sonic Adventure. Some of us even had pizza delivered.

When the doors opened and we all rushed back to the electronics department, Erik and I were fortunate enough to work at the same video game store. We only needed the PS2 console, not the games, so we got what we needed and got the fuck out before chaos ensued and we entered life-threatening territory.

We had stayed up nearly 24 hours between working and camping out for our consoles, so needless to say we were insanely tired for our own store’s PS2 launch. The place was a madhouse, with customers packed asses-to-elbows wanting to buy games, controllers, and memory cards. We were mindless drones, zombies devoid of life and sleep, trying to keep up with the demand on the other side of the counter.

Things slowed down around mid-shift, and thankfully our boss let us both go home early to get some rest. I like to think he was being nice, but I bet he felt obligated since two of our friends had camped out with us just to buy him two PS2’s to sell at our store instead. Either way, we were grateful.

Of course I just went home and played Smuggler’s Run instead. Fuck sleep. I had a PS2.

What about you folks? Care to share any of your fond memories of when you were overly excited about a video game? Sound off in the comments!

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