Saturday, December 14, 2019

12 Days of Christmas Day 2 - Console Games

When I was growing up, the best Christmas present a kid could ask for (and reasonably expect to get) was a video game system. I was about six or seven when I got my first, an Atari 2600.

I don't know for sure that the console was a Christmas gift, though I'm almost certain that my first game was Missile Command.

I didn't understand the Cold War reference at the time, but I've since become very interested in all the nuclear-era events from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Chernobyl disaster. 

A short time later, Nintendo consoles made their way into the homes of my friends and neighbors. Sure enough, my mom got one for me at Toys R' Us (or possibly Child World)  and it was under my tree Christmas morning of 1988. Looking back, it seemed like everyone had a Nintendo and yet I have this faint memory of my mom going to several different stores for games or the NES itself because they were such hot sellers that stores couldn't keep them in stock this time of year.

I remember having so much fun playing The Legend of Zelda one Christmas that I really didn't want to leave to visit my Grandma. Some of my other favorite games included Dragon Warrior, Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3 (I didn't love the original) and Tetris.

It's pretty cool that gamers are still playing Tetris competitively.  

One of the few sports games I played on the NES was Tecmo Bowl. Everyone knows that Bo Jackson was virtually unstoppable in that game. However, it always bothered me that the first Tecmo Bowl didn't include every NFL team.

Once the Super Nintendo hit stores my mother bought one for me as a Christmas gift. Of all the game systems I've had in my life I think I enjoyed SNES the most. I had (and still have) a box full of SNES games, but my favorites include Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Tecmo Super Bowl III.

This was the first sports game I played long enough to accumulate a season's worth of stats. It was a lot of fun seeing the standings, stat leaders, and injury reports though every game week. My go-to team was of course the Packers, and it was a blast watching Brett Favre throw 80-yard touchdown passes to Sterling Sharpe. The running game was a struggle though, and I almost always lost to my neighbor Darin and his damn Dallas Cowboys. 

By the end of the 1990s I had stopped keeping up with current video games. I never asked for a Nintendo 64 and didn't have any interest in a Game Boy (my nephews had one and I couldn't stand the black & white screen.) The last console my mom ever bought me was a Playstation. When PS2 was released, the price far exceeded my interest in it - though I briefly considered buying a used console simply so that I could play 24.

The next console I owned was a GameCube, which my girlfriend bought for me (I think it was a birthday present though.) We had some fun playing Tiger Woods PGA Tour and SSX Tricky but I never finished the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker because I couldn't figure out the stupid seagull flight. 

Anyway.. a couple years after my wife and I got married she gifted me a Nintendo Wii. I had a handful of games (including a new Sim City) but I struggled to navigate the wireless controls for pretty much anything other than Wii sports. The only game I truly enjoyed was one that didn't require me to hold the control:

As soon as I saw the track list for this game I ran right out and grabbed it off the shelf at Target. Before my daughter was born I used to come home from work every night, head right for the game room (which became her bedroom less than a year later) and play Guitar Hero until dinner time. I wouldn't even change out of my work clothes, I'd just discard my tie and rock out. For some reason I was a lot more comfortable using the "lefty flip."

The main reason I bought this game was for the awesome international acts, including one of my favorites - a Swedish band called Kent

This game also featured a killer track from an Italian band called Negramaro, which I highly recommend even if you're not fluent in Italian (I'm not). It's also where I heard a song that sort of sounded like Smashing Pumpkins - and the band name looked like Smashing Pumpkins from across the room - but it was actually my introduction to Silversun Pickups

[Side note: my best friend came over one time and he had never played Guitar Hero before, but he was an actual bassist in an actual touring band. He schooled my ass!]

Last year, my wife brought this whole thing full-circle with a Christmas gift I had wanted since its release:

Unfortunately the TV in my room is an analog (well, it was before it finally died) and so I still haven't been able to play this. I'm hoping to get a new TV this Christmas so I can play video games again.

Have you ever received a video game console as a Christmas gift? Do you have any favorite video games from old systems like Atarti, NES, SNES, or PlayStation? 

Thanks for reading!



  1. I loved PlayStation. The original. I still play it. For SNES my favorites were The Tick, Kyle Petty's No Fear Racing (A rare game that was recalled due to licensing issues) and an off-road game who's name I can't remember now. For PlayStation my favorites are Vigilante 8 and Vigilante 8 2nd Offence. I consider those both in my top 5 all time. Need for Speed Hot of the very, very few games my dad played with me, and I think the only game all 4 of my family members have played. Jarret and Labonte Stock Car Racing- which is actually sports cars, very poorly named- is the toughest game I've ever played, yet it's also one of my favorites. It's so much of a challenge I actually kept my own personal statistics on pen and paper. The Hot Wheels game was pretty good too...

    For Xbox my favorites are both Star Wars Battlefront games and Simpsons Road Rage. (I have that on PlayStation as well, I think. May be PS2. I have PS2 but don't really use it in maybe once a decade). I have not gotten another system since Xbox in 2004.

    I did get PlayStation for Christmas, in either 1997 or 1998, I don't recall. We do have our old Atari but it got damaged in a flood, none of the games survived. I remember playing Duck Hunt at my uncle's house, my first experience with console games.

  2. I think I had all of the consoles you mentioned--I'm even old enough to have enjoyed Atari for a while. And I think the SNES was my favorite too. Wind Waker had its tough moments but it's my favorite 3D Zelda, though I think I still love Link to the Past the most, and it's even more fun now that you can play a randomized version!

  3. All started with getting an original NES as a kid in either 1987 or 1988 as a 7 or 8 year old. Happy to say that very same system sits working in my basement today, and just a couple months ago, my son (who is 9) finished the original Final Fantasy (though most are great). The NES is hooked up and working. It sits right beside my SNES (original from 93/94), Playstation 2, Wii, and Switch. Yeah - love the video games still, now waiting for when I have the time to play them like I use to....

  4. I worked in a toy store 1986-1992 and when Nintendo first came out our store didn't get any systems until the second batch of systems was shipped to stores. The owners of our chain were notorious for not ordering hot toys or waiting to see how they sold everywhere else before committing to them. Sometimes they would just wait too long to order stuff so like the Nintendo systems we would get a later shipment from the manufacturers. I also seem to recall the most basic Nintendo system (just the console with two controllers) was a minimum $100 when first released.

  5. Atari and NES all the way! Man, miss playing them...I still collect NES cartridges though. Thanks for the awesome walk down memory lane.

  6. I had a ColecoVision, an Atari 2600, NES, SNES, PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4, N64, Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii, Genesis.. lol

    Not all of them were Christmas gifts..

  7. Hot Shots basketball for the win! HE'S ON FIIIIIIIIIIIRE!

  8. Oh man, this post brought back a lot of fun memories. My younger brother still has a collection of consoles and games, mostly NES.

    Favorite game for the NES might be something like the original Baseball game, Slalom, or RC Pro-Am.

    Favorite game for Sega Genesis would have to be one of the NHL games. Maybe '94.

  9. For Super Nintendo, two games stood above all others to me growing up...Donkey Kong Country and Ken Griffey Jr Baseball. Man I wasted SO many hours playing those two games as a kid.

  10. I got an original NES for Christmas. I haven't played video games for a long time as my most "current" system was a PS2. After Dreamcast went away I lost interest in video games. Long live, the Sega Dreamcast....

  11. Can't remember if they were birthday or Christmas gifts... but my parents bought me an Atari 2600, an NES, an a Sega Genesis. After that I'm pretty sure I purchased my own game systems (PS1, Dreamcast, PS2, and a PS4). The exceptions would be my ex-girlfriend hooked me up with a PS3 and my brother's family bought me a Nintendo Wii.

    Favorite Atari 2600 Games: Pitfall & Yar's Revenge
    Favorite NES Games: Master Blaster, Tecmo Bowl, and Kid Icarus
    Favorite Genesis Games: NHL 94 & Road Rash

  12. Getting a NES for Christmas was a highlight of my childhood! Another Christmas, I got a Sega Genesis. I'm still a bit of a retro gamer, and play lots of NES and SNES on emulation. Just played some Mega Man 3 today.

  13. I still have my Atari 2600 and about 50 games, including Missile Command. I haven't hooked it up in maybe 10 years, but maybe I should now...