The long journey of how I went from hating Sony Playstation to becoming a brand loyalist

I make it no secret that I love the Sony Playstation family of consumer video game products. I currently have, in some form or another, every single home console they have ever released. I have already decided I wish to pre-order a PS5 and pick it up on launch day as the excitement of doing so has boiled up to epic proportions.

I hadn’t always been this way. There was a time when I actively hated Playstation. To the point I swore even if I ever did buy one of their machines I would make sure I only bought it used, second hand not from a re-seller like GameStop to guarantee that Sony didn’t get a single penny of my hard earned money. Settle in this is a long road.

But where did that level of animosity come from? How bad did it get? And more importantly, when did it subside being replaced with a new-found passion for the same product line?

I was so anti-Playstation I went out of my way to get an HD-DVD player for everyone I could because I desperately wanted that format to beat Blu Ray Disc. Only reason was because BRD benefited Playstation. Let me be clear. I lost friends, actual friends, over my utter hatred for Playstation. It was a mess. Of course, so was I but that’s a story for another day.

To understand my transformation you have to go back to the very beginning.

The Early Years- Atari clones to Nintendo

My first game console was nothing special. It was just a Coleco Gemini. Basically a knock off Atari 2600 VCS that was made by Coleco. No it was NOT a Coleco Vision with the Atari adapter it could ONLY play Atari 2600 games but it looked nothing like an Atari.

Here is a picture from Google of what the monstrosity looked like.

Coleco

What this did was introduced me to the world of gaming right away without a notion of brand loyalty. I knew I had an Atari. I knew it played Atari games. I was too young to understand what it actually was or how it came into existence. I didn’t learn that until years later.

Around this time my cousins got a home computer, it was one of those Apple II computers. I have no idea which specific model it was, I didn’t know enough about computers then and my faded memories are not useful.

All I do know is they played really lousy edutainment games because that was all they could get for free basically.

In an effort to condense the rest let me hit some of the highlights. In 1988 we picked up a Nintendo Entertainment System as a family.

I had to share this with my sisters. Of course I had a fondness for Nintendo games but I grew to despise the hardware as mine was like most, never worked as intended. That fueled my disdain for that product line.

The Sega Years

Then in 1994 at age 12 my parents gave me a brand new Sega Genesis Model 2 bundled with Sonic 2 for my birthday. It was the best day ever. I was so happy to have a console that just, worked. I also noticed, quickly, how it had more in common with those old Atari consoles than Nintendo.

At least in terms of aesthetic design, placement of the cartridges even the design of the carts them selves. Not to mention the revelation that the controller ports were the same making them interchangeable.

Yes I tried playing MK2 on my Sega using an actual Atari 2600 joystick. In case you are calling BS because of the above mentioned Gemini.

We got rid of that thing early on shortly after getting the Nintendo and I had picked up a used Atari from a Goodwill store around 1992 or 1993. Anyways I quickly connected Atari and Sega in my mind which facilitated this bond of emotions tying them to my early childhood development.

This is only compounded by my fascination with X-Men which had a strong presence on Sega consoles on top of my absolute love of video arcades. Sega, like Atari before it, had this big arcade following on it so I equated them with the video arcade experience.

Now this is where things get dicey. I was enamored by the luster of the Nintendo 64 so I bought one on launch day. However, I ended up taking it back and using the cash refund to buy a broken drum set and an SNES with a shoe box of games from a pawn shop.

What this did was it reintroduced me to the world of Nintendo while keeping me firmly locked in the 16-bit era slightly longer than most others.

This put me in a weird position where I truly wanted to think the Genesis was better than the SNES but I started falling into the trap of believing the lies the SNES was superior. Later I came to the conclusion they are absolute equals with each having strengths and weaknesses.

Where does Sony fit in all this? As a brand I was loyal to Sony. I had a Walk Man, a Disc Man, a Sony surround sound system, XPlode amplifier and speakers in my car, the works. Even a Trinitron TV. I was all in. Except for one area. Playstation. Now that I have set the stage let me dig into how it turned into a deep hatred.

The hatred begins

Once I realized my passion was for arcade games I started to notice a shift in focus in the gaming magazines. While I was longing for a 32X add on for my Genesis to bring me even more arcade ports to my home and begging my parents to sell my baby sister to buy me a Neo Geo to have arcade perfect ports in the home, the magazines were bragging about this new fangled Playstation.

My first reaction to the name was revulsion. It sounded like a jungle gym or attraction at the county fair. Not a serious game console. This revulsion was exacerbated by my discovery that Nintendo’s success was partially credited to its mascot, Mario, and Sega’s likewise to its mascot, Sonic.

I didn’t see a break out mascot on Playstation and seeing how Atari, Colecovision, Intellivision, Neo Geo, and others had all failed I decided in my teenage mind it had to be the lack of a mascot on those platforms. Never mind the strong mascot of Bonk on TG16 having no impact one way or another, I just figured it was a fact and accepted it.

Then there were the games. Sega and Nintendo had games I knew. Mortal Kombat. Mega Man. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, etc. Playstation had, weird games like PO’d, Wipe out and Ridge Racer. Yawn. And that’s just the ones I knew about or can remember off the top of my head.

Then there was the Saturn. Despite my longing for a 32X I still accepted the Saturn was out there and fully expected it to put that Sony machine in its place. After all it would have the strong arcade ports, the mascot games and the recognizable characters like Sonic how could it fail?

Well it didn’t take me long after I bought a Sega Saturn to learn had been duped. Sure it had arcade ports but of lackluster games for the most part. The mascot games sucked, Sonic 3D Blast was a damn Genesis game with CD audio added. No thanks.

And as for the recognizable characters, Shinobi, Vectorman and Ecco the Dolphin were replaced with Bug, Clockwork Knight and Panzer Dragoon. Some quality games slipped in there and Shinobi did get, a game, on the console.

It just wasn’t the same. But I didn’t see all that as a kid. I saw Sony actively bullying Sega into going out of business basically. The day I saw a Sega title sitting on the store shelf in a PS2 package, I cringed. I lost my love for Sega and this compounded my hatred of Sony’s Playstation brand. In my mind Sony killed Sega, and Atari too, and were making it impossible for other companies to step in. I had no choice but to declare my loyalty to Nintendo and dig in.

The shift to Nintendo fanboy

But wait, let’s back it up a second. You see the Dreamcast was discontinued in 2001 basically. I bought my N64 and PS1 on the exact same day, Sept. 7, 2000. Why? Because it was my 18th birthday and I had a paycheck I earned from my very real job at the time. No more saving up allowance or mowing grass for old people.

I was in control of my gaming destiny. So I did buy myself a Playstation 1. But I did it begrudgingly and ensured I had a Nintendo the same day to stave off any chance I would convert. After all PS1 was mostly still 90s X games crap like Tony Hawks and lame Indiana Jones knock off Tomb Raider.

I wasn’t happy to lose Sega in favor of Nintendo but I made the most if it with the absolutely amazing Super Mario 64. There was one more hitch. I bought my stupid N64 late 2000. Roughly 1 year later the Big N had replaced it with the GameCube, or as it was known in the gaming community the Purple Lunchbox.

I fell for it. I sold my PS1 and N64 and took home a Nintendo GameCube. This was, of course, following a couple of years just doubling down on my 16 bit Sega and Nintendo machines I never let go of.

Thus my love of retro stuff was born and it was growing all the time. I kept feeding it. At first it was slow. I grabbed a few retro games for my newly acquired Game Boy Advance. I started with the Super Mario Advance series, a very retro Super Nintendo homage series of games.

Then I picked up Sonic Advance, Altered Beast, Gun Star Super Heroes, Mario Kart Super Circuit and then Metroid Fusion. By this time I was also getting deeper into the world of emulation. This was the time I discovered a passion for retro games that quickly turned into an obsession.

It was this time when my hatred for Playstation was at it’s peak. I despised them because they represented new ideas. New game play concepts and new ways of gaming. I wanted things to be the way they were before.

I doubled down on my Nintendo collecting. I concentrated on amassing a sizable GameCube library, over 60 games at it’s peak. This was a way for me to really cement my connection to retro games.

Even if I bought a new Nintendo game I made sure it had ties to the old stuff. I bought Mario Party, Smash Bros., Zelda, Metroid and Mario Sunshine. I even picked upo Star Fox Adventures and then I loaded up on all the compilations I could from Mega Man to Sonic and Midway down to Namco Museum.

All this time I was telling myself Nintendo represented the good in the world and Sony represented all the evil in the world. I literally convinced myself Sony was evil. Playstation was for sinners and if you were a good Christian you had to play Nintendo games. Between this, blaming Sony for the death of Sega and Atari and my continuing to embrace the 8-bit and 16-bit retro period I saw no merit to the Playstation.

What really fueled my hatred above all else was the anti-Nintendo attitude Playstation gamers held. This was compounded by the anti-Sega attitude die hard Nintendo loyalists harbored. I was an outside.

I grew up with Atari first then Sega so to Nintendo fans I was a poser. I was a Johnny come lately. Which was false. I always had an NES and then an SNES before getting my N64 and Game Cube. I just devoted more time and energy to Sega because, to me at least, they had better games.

How Blu Ray blinded me to the truth

Then things took a turn for the worse. Nintendo released the Wii at the same time Sony was pushing Blu Ray. I had been an audio file and a video file my whole life. I knew quality when I saw it.

I knew the glorious high bit rate 1080p picture quality stored on those 25GB Blu Ray discs produced a vastly superior, not slightly but truly noticeably improved product than the HD-DVD.

Somehow my twisted hatred for Sony was so thorough by this point I adopted HD-DVD and ranted constantly how stupid Blu Ray was and how anyone who bought into it was a sheep being blinded by the Sony marketing machine.

I succeeded in converting one friend to an Xbox gamer as a result, a mistake I now regret as he has become a fanboy of that brand at the expense of Nintendo loyalty.

My other friends continued to hound me to abandon the sinking Nintendo ship and join the Playstation party wagon. I found myself really hearing the hypocrisy and idiocy in my arguments for why the Wii was not just a good system but actually better than PS3 in every way.

Of course I had no problem tearing down the Windows in a Box the PC faithful were buying especially to Nintendo and Playstation gamers, at least we could rally behind that cause.

Something changed.

Remember when I told you I bought a PS1 in 2000. I did so for one game. Final Fantasy 7. That game was enough for me to put aside all the negativity I had towards Playstation and just admit that one game was great.

I eventually conceded sure the Playstation has some good games but it wasn’t the point. The evil was in everything else so I carried on the fight.

In 2009 I woke up one day and noticed my Wii was sitting there in the midst of a stack of games I was determined to use to prove it was just as good, if not better than the PS3.

Reality hit me.

Every. Single. Game. was a PS2 port! All my friends laughed at me for constantly getting excited for this “NEW” game I got on Wii they were quick to say yeah dude we played that already, years ago on Playstation. Around the time I was desperately trying to enjoy Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance on Wii, even convincing myself the game was fun because of not despite the motion controls I had a real revelation.

The tide begins to turn

I was at a friends how and I casually picked up his Xbox 360 controller and started playing Crackdown. My god I was actually having fun playing a video game again! I realized I spent so much energy crusading for Nintendo, which was weird considering I stared out disliking them, instead of just enjoying the games.

The realization was the Wii didn’t have games I enjoyed. I hated the games it had. I hated the motion controls. I hated the Virtual Console charging me money for games I already owned. I was beginning to turn on Nintendo. So I did the unthinkable. Disillusioned I sold my Wii.

This was the time I briefly, from 2010 to 2013, became a die hard PC only gamer. I dug into the world of emulation, combined it with the ever increasing piracy trap of torrents and eventually found myself throwing perfectly good money away at upgrading computers to play a game I could just stick into a console and play without all that hassle.

In 2013 I decided to give Playstation a second chance. I had finally gotten over my hatred. I was convinced I missed out on two full console generations of great games out of a stubborn belief that Nintendo would die if I didn’t convert people from the cult of Playstation to the benevolent society of Nintendo. I was a dupe. No, I was a dope.

I grabbed a PS2 in a trade deal. I took it home picked up a few games I was told were supposed to be good and, my eyes were opened. All those wonderful worlds I missed out on. But the real revelation was this, Playstation WAS Nintendo.

The best of Sega and the best of Nintendo, minus Mario and Zelda, was on Playstation. All those great retro games I grew up with and fell in love with, Final Fantasy, Mega Man, Contra, Double Dragon, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Castlevania and the list goes on and on.

Those franchises didn’t die like I had assumed since they were not on the Nintendo console. They were alive and well on Playstation. IN fact many were getting their best entries on the Sony platforms.

Once I discovered the depth of the origins of Playstation being tied to Nintendo I realized the original PS1 was the true successor to the Super Nintendo.

Nostalgia kicks in, discovery begins

I just missed it. Looking back nostalgia began to swell up but this time for Playstation. Not the games I grew up with but the games I missed in the franchises I grew up with. Oh sure I also discovered Mass Effect, God of War Jak and Dexter and even Elder Scrolls along the way the real treasure was discovering the hidden gems that actually felt like Nintendo games. All the Sega, Konami and Capcom games I missed out on.

All those Final Fantasy sequels I ignored in exchange for Crystal Chronicles. Then, things kept improving with Kingdom Hearts and Katamari Damacy.

By this time I shed my hatred for Sony and replaced it with a new found appreciation for how they actually saved not destroyed the traditional gaming I was fond of. I realized all those retro games I loved, those classic fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter were STILL fun on Playstation while non existent on Nintendo.

I learned that Sony consistently released the same Super NES inspired controller with minor improvements year after year whereas Nintendo were the ones trying to get me to fall for the odd shaped trident on the N64 that mostly hurt my hands.

Nintendo were the ones trying to convince me gaming wasn’t fun anymore because it was too complicated and I needed to “get back to basics” with overly simplified motion controls based on an obvious throw back to their NES days as a covert way to trick gamers into thinking the glory days of the NES had returned.

It was Sony all a long

What I realized was Sony had preserved the retro gaming I grew up with and allowed it to grow into the modern gaming we have today by naturally evolving with the industry and society. It was Nintendo trying to reinvent the wheel every couple of years in the hopes that people would remember how fun they were and come back.

Instead of seeing how much Nintendo failed to embrace its root they were the ones facilitating unwanted changes on the very people who clung to their brand because it was supposed to be familiar. But it wasn’t.

You had some retro stuff like Mario Kart and Smash Bros. hanging around but even Zelda, Metroid, Kirby, DK and Mario get entirely reinvented every single generation. Sure they throw a familiar New Super Mario game or a Donkey Kong Country Returns to keep you coming back with an NES Remix or Super Mario Maker as a way to trick you into thinking their library has more depth than it really does.

None of this is to say Nintendo doesn’t try new things or they deserve the hate to be shifted to them. What I realized was while Nintendo always had merits I took for granted and over inflated, Playstation likewise had its own merits I was too blind to see.

Once I bought that PS2 it was mere weeks before I bought me a PS3. Less than a year later I had a PS4 and I never looked back. To this day I have logged more hours and had more fun rediscovering games I missed on Playstation than I ever did with Nintendo.

In the end I now see Nintendo and Sony are more alike than they are different. While I can see the good, and not so good, in both, I have come to appreciate that each one brings something special to the table.

They both deserve the praise and admiration they receive from the gaming community as a whole as well as their respective devotees.

Count me as a Playstation, Nintendo, Sega and PC gamer or just call me a gamer in general and I will put those silly fanboy school yard fights in the past, where they belong, while I anxiously wait for the Playstation 5 to whisk me off to new heights of fantastic gaming experiences. In the meantime I will continue to enjoy both the PS4 and Nintendo Switch for what each one offers me. Stay Cool.

A list of every PS1 Greatest Hits title

I wanted to share a list of the Playstation 1 Greatest Hits titles. I compared multiple lists and this is the most complete one I could find. Enjoy.

I will be compiling a few more lists for reference. I hate how Wikipedia and GameFaqs make it difficult to copy/paste these types of things. I hope someone can find this useful.

007: The World is not Enough
007: Tomorrow Never Dies
1Xtreme
2Xtreme
A Bug’s Life
Activision Classics
Air Combat
Alien Trilogy
Andretti Racing
Ape Escape
Army Men 3D
Army Men: Air Attack
Asteroids
Battle Arena Toshinden
Casper
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Chrono Cross
Cool Boarders 2
Cool Boarders 3
Cool Boarders 4
Crash Bandicoot 1
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
Crash Bash
Crash Team Racing
Croc: Legend of the Gobbos
Dance Dance Revolution Konami Mix
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX
Destruction Derby 1
Destruction Derby 2
Die Hard Trilogy
Digimon Rumble Arena
Digimon World 1
Digimon World 3
Dino Crisis
Disney’s Tarzan
Doom
Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22
Driver 1
Driver 2
Duke Nukem: Time to Kill
Dukes of Hazzard: Racing for Home
Fighting Force
Final Fantasy 7
Final Fantasy 8
Final Fantasy 9
Final Fantasy Anthology
Final Fantasy Chronicles
Final Fantasy Origins
Final Fantasy Tactics
Formula 1
Frogger 1
Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge
Gran Turismo 1
Gran Turismo 2
Grand Theft Auto 1
Grand Theft Auto 2
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Hot Wheels: Turbo Racing
Jeremy McGrath SuperCross ’98
Jet Moto 1
Jet Moto 2
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Legend of Dragoon
Loaded
Madden NFL 98
Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX
Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor: Underground
Mega Man 8
Mega Man Legends
Mega Man X4
Metal Gear Solid
Monopoly
Monsters, Inc. Scream Team
Mortal Kombat 4
Mortal Kombat Trilogy
Namco Museum Volume 1
Namco Museum Volume 3
NASCAR 98
NASCAR 99
Need for Speed 1
Need for Speed 2
Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit
Need for Speed: High Stakes
NFL Blitz
NFL Blitz 2000
NFL GameDay
NFL GameDay 97
NHL 98
NHL FaceOff
NHL FaceOff ’97
Nuclear Strike
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
Pac-Man World
Parasite Eve
Rayman
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
Reel Fishing
Resident Evil 1
Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 3
Ridge Racer
Road Rash
Road Rash 3D
Rocket Power: Team Rocket Rescue
Rugrats: Search for Reptar
Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase
Silent Hill
Sim City 2000
Sled Storm
Soul Blade
Soviet Strike
Spider-Man
Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro
SpongeBob SquarePants: SuperSponge
Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!
Spyro the Dragon
Spyro: Year of the Dragon
Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire
Star Wars: Dark Forces
Street Fighter Alpha 3
Stuart Little 2
Syphon Filter 1
Syphon Filter 2
Syphon Filter 3
Tekken 1
Tekken 2
Tekken 3
Ten Pin Alley
Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Test Drive 4
Test Drive 5
Test Drive Off-Road
Tetris Plus
The Lost World: Jurassic Park – Special Edition
TNN Motorsports Hardcore 4×4
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
Tomb Raider 1
Tomb Raider 2
Tomb Raider 3
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4
Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear
Triple Play 2001
Triple Play 98
Twisted Metal 1
Twisted Metal 2
Twisted Metal 3
Twisted Metal 4
Vagrant Story
Vigilante 8
Vigilante 8: Second Offense
Warhawk
WCW Nitro
WCW vs. the World
Wheel of Fortune
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: 2nd Edition
Wipeout
WWF SmackDown!
WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role
WWF War Zone
WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game
X-Men: Mutant Academy
Xenogears

Pokemon blues

The first time I heard about Pokemon was through a trading card magazine I used to get in the mail back in the late 90’s. If I am not mistaken it was a one off done by the folks at either Toy Fair, Wizard or one of those other hobby magazines I used to subscribe to in the days before the dominance of the web.

What I remember reading about was not the Game Boy game, but rather the exciting new trading card game taking the country by storm. The country, at that time, meant Japan, and the article was about how it was getting ready to invade the states. Invade was not strong enough of a word. Pokemon completely changed everything.

I had a friend who opened up a trading card shop in the early part of the decade during the rise of the Magic the Gathering craze. Magic was a great game and all, but me, I was more into Star Wars CCG. That’s Customizable Card Game for the uninitiated.

One thing he told me, at the time, was card games come and go. He believed Magic had longevity because of the cross over between D&D fans. I was more skeptical. See, I bought Marvel OverPower, Star Wars CCG and Spell Fire (the D&D game) so maybe I was a little biased. However, neither of us expected Pokemon to stick around longer than a few seasons, the card game that is. At the time there wasn’t a video game or cartoon in the states just yet. The oncoming storm was brewing, we just weren’t fully prepared for it.

I remember right after my younger sister started showing me her Pokemon cards my first reaction was to roll my eyes. I already started getting into Dragon Ball Z TCG and the Digimon cartoon was starting to pique my interest. I thought Digimon was so much better than Pokemon, it would only be a matter of time before it supplanted Pokemon and the ‘Pikachu and Pals’ craze would fade into obscurity.

It was around the time I picked up a Game Boy Pocket that I got my first taste of the Pokemon video game. A friend at school sold me his Yellow Pocket so he could buy a Green Game Boy Color. He gave me two games with it, Wario Land, Super Mario Land 3, and Pokemon Blue. Needless to say I didn’t even insert the pokecart into my machine. I traded it to Software Etc., the game store in our mall before it turned into a Game Stop. That was it, no more Pokemon for me. I bought an N64 earlier in the year, along with a PS1. I started to realize there were Pokemon games showing up on the N64 and then, seemingly out of the blue a movie gets announced.

I continued to resist. I was too old to get into that crap. I was 16 when it came out and I had already upgraded to Playstation and Mortal Kombat, I wasn’t even spending much time playing Sonic or Mario games at this time in my life. Pokemon was certainly, I thought at the time, beneath me. Especially with my younger sister, six years below my age, being so into it. Of course she didn’t have a Game Boy, for  her it was a card game.

One day I came home from work. I worked at the buffet in the casino. I discovered all my tip money I had been saving up was missing, around $40 or so. By the end of the day I discovered my sister and one of her friends had taken my money and spent it. They played games at the arcade, rented movies at the video store, bought a pizza and to top it all off they brought home a few packs of those silly Pokemon trading cards. I was furious. At this point I had enough. I made her and her friend sell their Pokemon cards to pay me back the money they stole. I wasn’t going to be too harsh on my ten year old sister, so I ended up taking her and her friend out to the buffet for supper to say no hard feelings, but I insisted they sell those damn cards to pay me back. I learned in the trading card business how quickly a hot card can rise in value and then plummet so I knew we had a narrow window to sell them for cash. She ended up paying me back every penny, and I washed my hands of that fifthly game for good. Or so I thought.

The years would go by and I would continue to resist. Every time a new game came out I grew increasingly hostile towards Nintendo. They never released those stupid things one at a time. They always came out in pairs along with some console tie in or spin off, which meant they were devoting a lot of resources to that game not making games I would have bought. This resentment carried into my interactions with fans online. I instantly attacked, berated and dismissed the opinions of anyone over the age of 7 that talked about Pokemon. I was really harsh. I really hated that game.

Things began to soften up a little bit once I got a Game Cube in 2004. I purchased a copy of Super Smash Bros. Melee and quickly learned Pikachu was a pretty good character to win matches. I chalked it up to him being the most recognizable character in the franchise so I never really let it lure me into trying the games. It wouldn’t be until 2010 when I downloaded the Pokemon Blue rom for GB and played it on my Windows PC before I ever game a proper Pokemon game a chance. If this is the part in the story you were expecting me to say, wow, what was I missing out on all these years, wrong. All it did was confirm my suspicions.

The game was just a watered down, RPG knock-off with the most obnoxious collect-a-thon mechanic at the entire heart of the game. Not something like a RareWare platformer where the core game play was at least fun. It wouldn’t be until Pokemon Go before I would give a video game in the franchise a serious chance. This time it was for work. I was working at a newspaper at the time of the games launch. Of course all the other media outlets were doing stories on people walking into traffic or walking off a cliff or similar stories. I decided to write safety guide and how to column for the newspaper where I worked. I order to be informed, I downloaded the app and tried it out.

Now you are thinking a-ha! Finally that sour puss converted once he saw the true light! Wrong again. I ended up keeping the app installed for a little over 2 years, but only to let me nieces and nephews walk around catching Pokemon and hatching eggs. Eventually I lost interest and walked away.

Now why am I writing an article about how I missed out on the Pokemon craze if I continue to have disdain for the video games and cartoons? After all, at this point if nothing has converted me nothing will right? Wrong. Or slightly incorrect. You see I have converted, sort of. Recently the collector in me- especially the kid who was big into collecting trading cards in the 90’s- has started to have a desire to get back into collecting trading cards. Again as a window to bond with my sisters kids I thought I might give collecting the cards another go round. Not that I want to look for rare or valuable cards though. I thought maybe I will pick up a few packs and see what kind of a set I can get going.

Along the way I sampled the anime when it came to Netflix. I even tried out some of the other games, including Coliseum on Game Cube. The only one I ever enjoyed even slightly was the original Blue. I liked the e-Reader stuff and have considered collecting Pokemon-e  but I suspect that would be cost prohibitive at this point. These days I play the Blue Rom on my laptop and wonder what it would have been like had I discovered this franchise 2 years earlier in life, or maybe not had the negative experiences to associate with it. Needless to say my Pokemon blues today manifest in the form of a what-if scenario I will play in my mind. At least once in a blue moon, as they say.

The Dark Web podcast episode 3- (SH*THOLE EPISODE) Nintendo Labo, R-rated horror movies on the decline?

https://thespiderslair.podbean.com/e/the-dark-web-podcast-episode-3-shthole-episode-nintendo-labo-r-rated-horror-movies-on-the-decline/

This R-Rated examination of the decline of hard-r rated horror movies. Also a look at how Donald Trump has made it okay to say shithole in the news now. A brief but energetic rant about the Nintendo Labo crap coming from Nintendo, and a look at the passing of the world-famous singer of the Irish band, The Cranberries. It’s a shorter episode packed with lots of thoughts in rapid succession. Oh I also talked about the recent Cracked video layoffs.

The Dark Web TV Episode 2- UNBOXING STUFF, Go-Bots combiner team and more

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In this episode I introduce a new soda product I recently discovered. I start things off with my first ever unboxing. For the What’s Streaming segment I mentioned two YouTube channels that are interested to me. They were Biographics from the people who make TodayIFoundOut, and MetalJesusRocks crew. In the Retro Showcase I showed off my original Go-Bots combiner team, Puzzler. The Dark Web TV is a news/talk show done in a similar format to a typical news broadcast but modified for the YouTube audience. This show is a companion piece to The Dark Web podcast. New videos are set to stream each week. Follow The Spiders Lair: Twitter: @phatrat1982 Facebook: @thespiderslairblog Podcast: http://thespiderslair.podbean.com/feed/ iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/t… Website: http://www.thespiderslair.com Please like and share.

The story of a home brew part 2: A case study of one game that did it right

The Immortal John Hancock, a prominent YouTube gamer, posted a thread on June 3, 2016, to a Nintendo collectors’ forum asking for a programmer for a potential project. Antoine Fantys was the programmer that answered that call.

From his early days as a programmer fiddling around with BASIC on his Commodore 64, Fantys wanted to be a programmer.

“I came across a Commodore 64. The beauty about this machine was that you could learn BASIC programming and program simple games directly on the computer.” he said.

“I ended up learning BASIC and coding my first games on a retro platforms, which included text adventures and a horse racing game of all things.” he added.

His interest in retro games began with his NES games on a Game Boy Advance, which later developed into full blown passion once he discovered YouTube.

“I found footage of the first Super Mario Bros. on the NES. Finding out about Super Mario Bros. and all those games of yesteryear sparked my interest in retro gaming, and especially the NES” he said.

When Hancock made the call asking for a programmer, he jumped at the opportunity. It was his chance to do something for the community, and make a name for himself while honing his programming skills. He reached out to Hancock via that forum and they two went to work.

“The game was John’s idea. I believe the game was a favorite of his. It’s based on an old 1981 Stern/Konami arcade game called ‘Turtles.'” he said.

He knew right away it was a project he wanted in on.

“As soon as I saw the video of the game John sent me, I knew I would like to work on this game because such arcade games are fun and easy to port on a console like the NES.” he said.

Fantys got his start on the NES doing, in his words “crappy rom hacks.” From there his interest grew. He found his way onto a Nintendo fan site that had a home brew section and he began learning the programming language of the NES.

For the most part, he works alone. He will occasionally bring on help with the music, in this case he did it all.

Once the game was finish John Hancock shared the story to his YouTube channel. From there John Riggs took the game and turned it into a charity work for an gaming expo he was a part of. With the help of prominent YouTubers, Fantys was able to get his name, and work, to a wider audience.

When it comes to ROMS and the home brew scene. Fantys tends to play it safe. He doesn’t make his roms he owns available, choosing to just sell carts if he can. He indicated he would consider using a form of DRM if it was a work he owned the rights to, yet he did claim he often sells the rights to his games.

This is where the gaming community and the home brew scene can come together. While I believe it to be okay to download roms of games nobody is profiting off, of course except the re-sellers making cash on second hand merchandise, I think original games have a right to be protected. On the other hand, when it comes to games like Pac-Man, Mega Man, Mario, Zelda, etc., then the user should make a attempt to purchase, or obtain, a legal copy before pirating. In this case I tend to favor supporting the Nintendo eShop, the PSN, Xbox Live Arcade and Steam. It sucks paying money for a ROM of a game you already owned at some point in time, yet you do have to remember once you sell the physical cart you sold your rights to the program on that rom. Also owning physical carts does not automatically give you the right to the program stored on the carts rom chips.

All things considered Fantys took a game someone else already made, an arcade game, and ported it, at the request of a collector in the industry, and made it available as a clone to those who were interested in obtaining that version. Since the game in question is based on someone else’s property, it stands to reason the gamer who does wish to play the game would be better served tracking down a legit copy, or playing it on MAME if they have no other option. The real need to play a ROM of a port of an arcade game to the NES, decades later, seems kind of counter intuitive. Is it scummy, shady or illegal what Fantys and Hancock have done? I don’t think so. They made it very clear every step of the way it was a clone of an arcade game, they made it very clear they were making it available to collectors who wanted physical copies, and it was done as a labor of love to the community of home brew gamers, programmers, collectors, and retro gamers in general. All in all this is how you do a retro/homebrew based on existing works the right away.

Now if they called it Turtles, basically recreated the original game in its entirety line byline and tried to sell it a their own without recognizing the original rights owners, that would be a different story entirely. Kudos to Fantys and Hancock for creating a project that was done out of passion for the scene, the community and the love of retro games. While it is easy to get caught up in who owns the rights to what, which degree of piracy counts as infringement and where the line should be drawn, at the end of the day all that really matters is gamers get to enjoy the works of programmers who enjoy making games for others to enjoy. It’s the circle of gaming.

Be sure to check out his YouTube video discussing the game Here

 

 

 

The story of a home brew that redefined what it means to be a home brew: Part 1 the morality of home brews.

A kid turns on a small, square shaped tube television set his parents kept in the basement for some reason. Hooked up to the TV is a square, mostly gray box. Inside the box is a tiny little rectangular piece of plastic that holds some computer program inside a ROM chip. The kid turns the TV to channel 3, pushes the piece of plastic down into the slider, closes the lid hits the power button with fingers crossed the game turns on this time glitch free. If everything lined up perfectly, the cart was cleaned, the console was dust free, the stars aligned just right, the game would begin. If not, the ritual of blowing into the cart, wiping the spit/grime of with a Q-tip, then jiggling the cart in, shaking it, pushing reset 25 times, etc., would commence in hopes things would find a way to get to work.

Everyone that was a Nintendo gamer in the 1980’s went through a similar ritual at least more than once in his or her life. The reality was the NES, as fondly was we try to remember it, was actually a terrible product. It required constant maintenance, care, cleaning, the cords were fragile and easy to bend, the controllers, while sturdy, were made of a very hard plastic that could crack or break if not taken care of properly. It had sharp edges that dug into kids hands, the console it self was sharp edges that if you weren’t careful could stub a toe on or hit an elbow or in some cases just jam a finger trying to shove the stupid cart into the machine. While any game would legitimately have GOOD memories of the games they played, when they in fact worked, more often than not we tend to push aside the negative memories we really have of the NES and allow blind nostalgia take us on a trip down memory lane.

One of the reasons we forget is, aside from a small subset of eccentric collectors, most gamers don’t actually play their old NES games on physical NES systems anymore. In fact, even a growing number of those who do play using PHYSICAL carts, do so on either refurbished consoles with extra money put into keeping the machine working, or in those increasing cases, play on a clone console that actually, compatibility issues aside, works better in many cases. The need to own a physical cart is even supplanted, but still satisfied by those who purchase a FLASH cart and load it up with ROMS. The point is there are a lot of different ways to enjoy an old NES game, playing the original cart on original hardware worry free is not the number one way of doing so. Despite that there remains a retro and home brew gaming scene who prey on the customers who have desires to relive, a false version of their childhood. These people are not all predators, some are but most are just coders who have fond memories of the NES and want to share their games with others. The problem is some of them take it a step too far, going as far as implementing copy protections on games they didn’t actually create, they really just took someone else’s design and made a port, calling it their own work and preventing others from playing the games the way most gamers actually DO play NES games, on a emulator minus all the hassle of tracking down all the satanic little emblems you need to make your retro machine work. Hyperbole aside, I have never in my life had a good experience picking up a USEd NES cart, inserting it into an original NES and it just worked. Not even when I was a kid and the machine was fairly new. We would rent games from the video store and I would spend the first half an hour or so just fighting the stupid thing to get it to work. You only had a game for the weekend if you were lucky or 1 night if it was a new release, so every second you spent twisting and tugging on carts was precious sec onds you would have been playing, what could have ended up being a shitty LJN game.

If you put aside the fact that most people don’t game on physical hardware, then why is it scummy for a programmer to charge money for a ROM they programmed? They put in the work and time after all? Honestly, it’s not scummy to charge for your time or work. It is, however pretty shady if the work you did was merely just porting a game some other creative person actually thought up and created decades back. If all you are doing is copying someone else’s work I, personally, think you have no right to sell it to the general public. If you want to sell your work to a collector, the physical cartridge, the art work, the case, etc., fine by all rights, but when a programmer, or coder, ports a game from another system, or just hacks a rom and calls it their own, to me that is kind of shady.

At the very least, if you can get permission from the original programmer, or their blessing then by all means do so. Sometimes copyrights are infringed but they can be done so in certain contexts without repercussions. My stance has always been respect the copy rights of those who do the actual creative work, not the pirates who stand to profit off other peoples work yet claim it as their own.

I do understand as a new programmer, especially one unwilling to actually go to college and get a job in the industry, starting out you need to get experience somewhere and porting other games to a new platform, or writing a clone program is certainly a very TRUE and legit way of honing your skills. However, make sure you let people know your CLONE is just that. I am okay with clones existing and if you want to sell a clone game by all rights you should be able to do that, as long as your clone is at least somewhat original or at the very least going to a good cause.

I did some digging into the behind the scenes development of a few different clone games, some home brew games and some rom hacks. There are cases of games like Battle Kid where the game is truly original the programmer has every right to brag about what his or her team accomplished. Games like Pier Solar are cornerstones of the home brew and aftermarket industry. Then you have the 150 thousand Super Mario Bros and Sonic 1 rip offs that just alter the sprites, rearrange the levels and try to pass it off as something original.

All of this has to have some middle ground. While I certainly do not in any way begrudge a programmer cutting his or her teethe on doing a rom hack or a home brew that is basically a clone of another game, there needs to be some honor in doing it. First, you should make sure people are fully aware it is a CLONE and do your best to reference the original game, if you CAN give credit to the original programmer, and better still if you can at least make an effort to reach and and get said programmers blessing more than anything great fantastic.

There are examples of some scummy home brew hacks who profit off other people’s work, I won’t list them you can dig up the dirt your self, google home brew. There is one hack in particular who just did a straight port of a certain PC game to a long dead nobody cared about console, I won’t say more than that except it’s not even a clone he did it entirely as a straight port. This, to me, is a gray area closer to don’t even bother. Now if it’s an open source game go ahead.

Then there is the example I want to highlight if you are still reading. This is a two-part story, part one set the stage, which is all the opinion above. Keep in mind my opinions are just that, my opinions and are meant to get people thinking. There is no need to attack me, argue with me, or hate me for getting people to think. If you disagree, share that, explain, in a civilized way, why you disagree and maybe I will listen to what you have to say. I often make claims not as my own but just to get people to really think about things so they can defend their stance.

That being said, I do think home brew games are fantastic, and when they do get a physical release for the collectors to enjoy, I am all for that. I think roms should ALWAYS be dumped at some point, minus copy protection because one, if nobody is copy protecting Mario or Zelda games, games Nintendo still profits off, then they shouldn’t be copy protecting their own roms. Two, I believe that roms should always be available for preservation purposes even of new games. The reason, the collectors who WILL pay for the game are not going to download a rom and those who WILL download the rom were NEVER going to pay for the physical cart in the first place. If you want to hold the rom until you know the collectors who want carts all have it and then dump it, DRM free at a later date, fair enough, do that. But holding a rom hostage, especially when its not a 100 percent original work, is shady at the very least. Holding roms hostage when it’s a rom hack or a prototype is 100 percent scummy, UNLESS you are the actual copy right holder and you just don’t want your failures made public, that is your right.

So when is it okay to charge for a rom and when should you limit the audience of your game? In the case of Battle Kid, that is an easy answer. If the game is 100 percent original and you did the work, then preventing people from stealing your work is your right. I also agree that Nintendo has a right to prevent you from playing Super Mario Bros. on your PC, support them buy a 3DS if you can’t stomach the Wii U, and download the rom from their virtual console. If a game was released by a company that no longer exists, and the only people who profit are re-sellers of used copies, then by all rights pirate that game all day long if you so desire. It’s technically illegal but it’s close enough to fair use you should be able to justify it.

What about when a programmer takes an existing game, say Pac-Man, and ports it to a system it never had an official release, say the Channel F, as an example? Should this person have a right to copy protect THAT rom? No, because it’s not their work. They have a right to burn the rom to physical carts and sell those to all of the collectors that are willing to pay a price for it, but copy protecting that rom is wrong and should not be tolerated. However, come on if you aren’t buying a physical copy why would you want to play an inferior port if there is no historical context? As bad as it is I do re-play the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man from time to time, because it has historical value and I had it as a kid, there is nostalgia. Nobody had Pac-Man on their TG-16, it was never ported officially to that, so if a rom hacker makes a port of that game and sells it, that is fine for a CART but wrong, in my opinion, to sell a ROM. Even releasing the ROM to Steam is wrong, not to mention that is actually illegal no question.

But what if its a clone. Not a true port but a game made to resemble another game? KC Munchkin was considered a Pac-Man clone. While I disagree with the courts decision to pull it from shelves, the fact remains it was pretty much a clone. However, there is historical context there and nostalgia. What about porting PC games to non-PC systems, or would it be okay to port Super Mario Bros. not a rom, not an emulation but a re-programmed straight port, or clone even if you will, a la, Giana Sister, to a PC? I think even this is acceptable to do, but not to profit off.

Here is where I draw the line. A truly original work that is your own, charge money for it protect your copy right until your death and leave it in your will to someone you love. If it’s just a labor of love, a practice, a port of someone else’s work to a system that didn’t already have that game, if you want to sell the physical cart to collectors fine but let the rom go to those who will download it do so. I mean as a gamer myself I don’t download rom hacks or games that didn’t exist anyways, like I said I need historical context or else I have no interest in playing Mortal Kombat on a SNES, I would be better playing the actual arcade port on PS3 or the rom on MAME.

Check back for part 2 as I investigate an outlier I think did it right, but did leave room for error.

 

Dr. Mario: A look back at an iconic game

For most people who had a Game Boy throughout the 90’s, Tetris was all the rage. The game was all about stacking falling blacks into patterns to clear the screen. I didn’t get my Game Boy until 1998, in the form of a Game Boy Pocket. And yes, Tetris was the first game I picked up to play on the wonderful little device. Yet there is one more puzzle game that I think deserves even more recognition that good old Tetris. Of course I am talking about Dr. Mario.

My first exposure to the game was in the form of a goofy TV commercial with that witch doctor song as the backdrop. I was pretty young at the time, probably seven or eight, so I didn’t know it was actually a real song. I just thought it was made up for that commercial. It wouldn’t be until seeing the iconic story of first love, My Girl, before I learned it was a real song. That’s besides the point.

Since I didn’t have a Game Boy I played the NES version. Now if you think that made it any easier you would be wrong. See we were pretty poor so the spare TV I had set up in my bedroom that we used to hook the NES up to was one of those old little tube sets with the rabbit ears and the UHF/VHS channel dials on the front. It also didn’t have coaxial inputs, we had to use one of those adapters with the y shaped prongs, you know which ones I mean if you had an Atari or similar console. Anyways the real issue was, it was an old TV which meant it was black and white. Now this was the same TV that brought me the magical wonder of the Atari in all it’s glory, so I was pretty used to playing games with no color. My first experience with Super Mario Bros. in fact was on that black and white set. So let me tell you the fact I got good enough to beat level 20 playing on a black and white TV should tell you how dedicated I was to that game. Oh, and it was a 3-day rental so I had to learn the game and get good at it in a very short time span. I instantly fell in love with that game.

Dr. Mario, for those that don’t know, is a puzzle game where the goal is to line up multi colored pills to match colored viruses. It sounds easy but if you take the colors out it’s much harder. This was back in the NES days when I still flipped through the manuals to read the story. I forget what it was but the fact it actually had some sort of narrative to justify Mario throwing pills into a jar was really cool to me. I kind of miss the days where you really had to use your imagination to flesh out the story for our video games. I kind of get sick of playing interactive movies. Not that I think modern games all suck, but still there is something special about a simple game with a straightforward objective, in this case clear the screen of colored viruses.

One thing I enjoyed about the game was the animations the viruses made. The way they danced around the petri dish in rhythm with the music. Or the way they would fall down kicking and screaming when you killed one of the viruses in the bottle. The game was pure magic. I even picked up the Game Boy version a few years later. I didn’t play it much. I wouldn’t actually play a handheld version again until I got the Classic NES edition for the GBA.

I also loved the music in this game. Like many puzzle games you really didn’t have very many tracks to chose from. But the few you did were still really great. I preferred the slower, angrier track to the happy up beat circus sounding music.

This isn’t so much a review of the game as just a trip down memory lane. I would spend hours playing this game. I had a few other versions over the years too. I bought Tetris/Dr. Mario for the Super NES during it’s heyday. I skipped the N64 Dr. Mario but I did have the Classic NES one on GBA. I also played Dr. Luigi on Wii U and there was a Dr. Mario On Wii but I think it was online only and I skipped that one too. I try to stick to the NES as my preferred way to enjoy this classic puzzle game starring my favorite video game character by far.

 

 

Getting to know famed video game collector The Immortal John Hancock

When I started getting really into video games I went all in. At the height of my collection I had hundreds of games spanning dozens of consoles. I couldn’t begin to list all of the games I had, but I can tell you the systems I had games for. When I sold off my collection to help pay for college I had an Atari 2600, 5200, Sega Master System, NES, SNES, Genesis, Sega CD, 32X, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS1, PS2, N64, Game Cube, Game Boy, GBA, DS, DS Lite and even a Sega Nomad.
Well none of that amounts to much compared to a “super collector” that goes by the name: The Immortal John Hancock. A middle-aged family man, Hancock hosts a Youtube channel where he talks about his massive collection. How massive is his collection? For starters it was large enough to be featured in a January 2004 article in the Tips N Tricks magazine. Hancock’s collection consists of 26 complete sets. That is, he owns every single retail game released for 26 different systems. Still not impressed? The man has been collecting since the 1970’s.
How does a person find the time to collect all that stuff? It didn’t happen all at once.
“My mother was a collector. I used to go to flea markets with her as a kid. I began collecting carts, comics and figures. The collection evolved into games which I found much more satisfying.” he said.
His first game console he had as a kid was a Radio Shack TV scoreboard. He described it as basically a Pong clone.
As someone who also had a Radio Shack pong system myself as a kid, I find it refreshing to know many of us can still go back to our roots. In fact one of my only 2 true retro consoles remaining is a Sears Super Pong. My other retro console that sits in a box, a dusty old Intellivision 2 with Intellivoice Voice Synthesis Module. What’s interesting about Mr. Hancock is he started by seeking out unique Pong systems.
“I always have had a fondness for collecting pong consoles.  Mostly due to them being forgotten by others.  I just picked them up along the way due to being very affordable.” he said.
As a family man he enjoys sharing his collection with his wife and kids.
“My game collecting is something that I can share with my kids.  I always try to remember balance.   More strengthens my bond with my kids.” he said.
He also enjoys the support of his wife in his endeavor.
“My wife does not collect but she supports my hobby and I return the favor by not having it affect our relationship in a negative way.”
he added.
So what games do his kids enjoy? Well probably the same ones we all did when we were kids.
He said, “My kids love Nintendo and playing on games like Smash Bros or Mario Kart on the Wii U.  ARMS on the Switch is also a favorite.  Hard to say if they like video games the way I like them, but I can see them carrying on the mantle of at least playing video games with others.”
In recent years he has stated one of his goals is to some day see his games in a museum. Preservation has become more of a focus of his in the last 10 years. He is currently building a new game room onto his house to showcase his collection to his Youtube followers. His internet fame has begun to get him and his wife noticed. He said he gets noticed more at shows or conventions, and it hasn’t had any negative impact on his life to date.
A no regrets kind of guy, he has stated he doesn’t give much thought to his legacy after he is gone. He prefers to just do his best to be as good a person as he can.
“[I] ry to do my best as a human being whatever I do each and every day.   Teaching, talking, and interacting with others each day gives an opportunity to make a difference.” he said.
Speaking of teaching, aside from being a public figure on Youtube, he is also a school teacher. We all had that one school teacher that stood out for us. For me, when I was in grade school I had a teacher that would keep me after school to teach me BASIC programming on the classroom’s Apple II computer. At the end of the school year, I was able to demonstrate my programming ability to the class by showing off the program I had written. It was a monochrome bit map recreation of the Death Star from Star Wars. It was programmed line by line. It sort was sort of animated but not much. To me it was just really cool to have a teacher that recognized my potential outside of the classroom to give me that opportunity. Mr. Hancock has demonstrated that himself by using his video games to teach his students.
“I offer my kids experiences playing classic gaming at the end of the year. This last year my students got to play the original Oregon Trail.” he said.
He also shared he gives considerable thought to his students who has also impacted his own life.
His true goal is preservation. He wants to tell the story of gaming history and keep an objective outlook on the early days of video games. He shares his collection through his own channel, The Immortal John Hancock, and with his friend MetalJesusRocks, who helped launch his channel, and his friend Drunken Master Paul, also on Youtube, who helped give him the nickname that has become a part of his branding.
As I look back on the games I gave up in order to fund my college education I find solace knowing there are people out there that aren’t chasing down the rare games just to horde them, you have people like The Immortal John Hancock, and others, actively trying to preserve video game history. I can’t even begin to imaging ever building my collection back up to where it was so I can at least tell people about this interesting man whose videos often remind me of all the fun I had chasing down those rare video games. Maybe someday I will get back into it, for now I will gladly keep an eye on my subscription feed for a new video from The Immortal John Hancock. You can find John Hancock on Twitter and Facebook.

Remembering DOS games

Every PC gamer worth their salt ought to have a memorable story of booting a game up on good old DOS. My first experience with DOS, that I can remember, was trying to load up this Pac-Man clone game on an old Apple II. I know Apple DOS was not the same as Microsoft but it was similar. I remember spending what felt like hours, but was probably only 20 minutes, typing and retyping commands to get the game configured and working. I don’t even remember what the game was called just it was running on my cousin’s old Apple II computer (and it was old at the time, this was early 90’s.) My first experience with MS DOS, the DOS most PC gamers think of when they hear the words DOS, was at a friends house. He was showing me his IBM clone PC with Windows 3.1. It was so much fancier than my cousins crappy Apple II. He showed me a game called Duke Nukem. I spent a few minutes playing the game. I think by the time I beat the first level I told him, yeah it’s, okay I guess but it’s no Sonic the Hedgehog. He agreed then showed me a game I knew my beloved Genesis didn’t have, Dungeons and Dragon’s Eye of the Beholder II Legend of Darkmoon. I can’t say I was blown away, but I was very impressed.

I was so hooked on playing PC games on my friends IBM-clone (that’s what we called them back then, we didn’t just say PC because there were dozens of types of PC’s back then.) I told him, dude you are so lucky to have this I want a computer so bad. He shrugged, then replied. No way dude, I’d trade it for a Sega Genesis straight across. I think what he envied about the Genesis was how the games just plugged into a cart slot and were ready to go. That was fine but what I envied about his machine was the complexity of the games verses the simplicity of console games. I wasn’t converted into a PC gamer overnight, but I was starting to see them in a different light.

It would be a few more years before I finally got my first PC of my own. Unfortunately it was just a decade’s old Atari 8-bit my dad found at a Goodwill store for a few bucks. Oh don’t get me wrong I was SO delighted just to have a computer I went whole hog into that machine. I became so obsessed my dad showed me the film WarGames to see what computers were like when that thing was still relevant. I was so excited. The problem was, I already had an Atari 2600 and this stupid thing really didn’t play games more advanced than what I was already getting there, for the most part. Oh well it was still a nice entry point for me, in 1996. By the summer of 1997 I would get my second old PC, a Commodore 64. This was at least a little closer in quality of games as the NES and there was a lot more variety in terms of products supported so I had a blast getting to know my retro computers. Finally I picked up a 486 PC clone, I honestly can’t remember the brand, in late 1998. It was a full on DOS machine. I started scrambling to grab any floppy disk that said DOS compatible at the thrift stores as I could. I quickly learned that having no experience prior with DOS, no instruction manual, and no clue what the hell I was doing, I ended up junking the thing out of frustration as I never could get even a single game to load up. Remember I didn’t have the internet yet, and our high school was just starting to get computers in the library, not even in the class rooms yet. So it would be another 2 years before I finally got my first, real, PC.

My great-grandmother passed away sometime in 1999 and her daughter, my grandma Frankie, used some of her inheritance money to buy my mom, and her kids (us) a computer. It was a Compaq Presario running Windows 98 SE. It had a modem built in! Oh and a CD-ROM! I was so excited to finally be working with a real computer, and it was actually current at the time we got it. I remember the specs even ingrained in my brain as I scrambled frantically to find games that would run, DOS or Windows I didn’t care. It was a 533 Mhz Pentium with 64 whopping Mega Bytes of SD RAM. It had a Soundblast compatible sound card, several new fangled USB ports, and a built-in modem for networking.

The first thing I did was go online and search download DOS games. I found a website that hosted all sorts of games for download. I grabbed both Duke Nukem games and Duke 3D, Wolfenstein, Jazz Jackrabbit, Eye of the Beholder Legend of Darkmoon, and a ton of others. I went nuts installing DOS games all day long. I started learning all the disk commands, fdisk especially, and going through all the settings trying to get each game configured perfectly. I also started buying new games on CD at K-Mart and Target. We didn’t have a Walmart yet so those were my choices. I would grab all sorts of those random 150 games packs with a ton of crap on them. We got You Don’t Know Jack, Myst, Who Wants to Beat Up A Millionaire, Doom, Quake, Unreal, Alone in the Dark, and several Star Wars games ranging from various X-Wing and Tie fighter games, Dark Forces, Force Commander, and plenty of others. By mid-2000 I was hooked I was a full fledged PC gamer. This didn’t mean I gave up console gaming entirely, I still had my trusty SNES/Genesis tag teaming it up in my bedroom, my newly acquired PS1 and N64 consoles I grabbed on my 18th birthday, and the aging NES sitting in my sisters room as she liked to play old Mario games still. The one PC game I enjoyed the most at that time was MechWarrior 2. I was so thrilled to finally be able to play that game on high settings for once.

By the time I finally got fully invested in PC gaming I started to realize I was in over my head. I was getting error messages all day long about this game not being compatible, this driver crashing something or other, or some blue screen of death kicking me out of my zone. The problem was I didn’t have a dedicated graphics card, not enough RAM for most games and was running on aging hardware with each passing month. I did buy a nice little Radeon graphics card, upped the RAM to 256MB from that paltry 64 it came with. I then replaced the CD-ROM with a CD Burner in hopes I could get more out of that machine. It was all in vein as none of the games I was buying at the time were able to run on this now outdated machine. So I finally used my own money for once to buy my own desktop PC. This was in 2003. I bought my own Compaq, this time I got one with 1Ghz CPU, 512MB ram stock expanded to 1GB and bought another Radeon GPU this one a little more expensive than the previous, and topped it off with a DVD-Burner because I felt I needed to be state of the art. Or as state of the art as my wallet would allow. The problem is that DVD burner changed my priorities. With DSL internet, a larger hard drive (the original Compaq my mom bought had a 20GB drive I expanded with a 10GB slave drive) Mine came with a 80 GB drive I replaced with a 200 GB drive and stuck a 100 GB drive in the slave slot. I was shifting from games to movie downloading. I had a DVD burner so that meant I could download entire movies, burn them to a DVD and, hope the copyright police never found out what I was doing. I never sold movies but I did eventually discover the legality was not as gray as I was lead to believe and stopped cold turkey once I got my first copyright notice from my cable company. I was shocked into walking away.

Getting back to games. I didn’t really stick with DOS for too long. I dabbled in it off and on in the 90’s, grabbed a few DOS games off the internet in 2000 and 2001, then migrated to Windows games before giving up on PC gaming for the most part. I still game on the PC today, but it’s far less than I used to. I stick to the ease of use I get from PS4 and Nintendo and save my PC for games I either can’t get on a console (like Guild Wars) or games where the console experience is so lacking it’s not worth it (like the Sims or Sim City) The rest of my PC gaming is done through emulators. Unlike some PC gamers, I don’t really look back on the DOS era with rose tinted glasses. I remember a few games fondly enough, but the whole experience was such a mess I gladly traded performance and graphics for the simplicity of consoles.