It arrived! It finally arrived! 😀
Deliveries were a little delayed this week, but this most lovely package graced our doorstep yesterday. After the most minor of delays, we tore (carefully) into the box and started setting up the system. This slim PS3 is so skinny compared to our original beast! And my husband’s on cloud nine! As we were setting things up, he almost cooed at the screen as the network loaded, whispering sweet nothings about how much he missed gaming…or maybe he was just trying to remember his PSN login stuff — the look on his face was the same in either case. After the system was ready to go and he sent out the prerequisite “I’m back!” message to all his friends, it was time for some Assassin’s Creed 3, which he’s simply been dying to play. Game in and…loading, loading, loading…omfg…LOADING STILL! (Oh modern games with your crazy-ass load times! I grrrrr but *heart* you still.) In the meantime, for me, welcoming our newest system brought back all sorts of memories, mostly Christmases and birthdays where game systems and games were received. I started reminiscing and the following conservation resulted, which I inadvertently and much to my husband’s dismay-turned-tolerance formulated into an “interview” about his early gaming experiences.
cary: What’s the first video game that you remember playing?
bryan: It was in an arcade, I think, an arcade in the mall. At that point arcades mostly had pinball, skee ball, and only a few games. Star Castle…I think it was Star Castle.
c: I’ve never heard of Star Castle — what kind of game was it?
b: Kind of like Asteroids meets Yar’s Revenge…
c: And now you’re gonna have to explain Yar’s Revenge.
b: Uh, you never played Yar’s Revenge?
c: I don’t think so. I mean, we’re talking arcade games and I didn’t go to arcades that much.
b: In Yar’s Revenge, you played as a little bug thing that would go in and eat spheres that were spinning around central objects, I don’t remember what they were. And then you had back off enough so you could shoot missiles into the openings and blow up the spheres. Star Castle was sorta like that, only it had these little lines that spun around a central target, and you had to shoot away the lines in order to blow up the ship.
c: So am I picturing something like Tempest…?
b: [He goes to the computer and brings up the following video]
From YouTube user Classic Game Room
c: Okay, so it’s not like Tempest at all! But it looks like fun.
b: Yeah, and [reading from Wikipedia] “Star Castle became a basis for the popular Atari 2600 game Yar’s Revenge.”
c: So it came out in…
b: 1980, according to Wikpedia. It had black and white graphics with a color overlay — very cool for the times.
c: How often did you go to the arcade back then?
b: Maybe once a week or a couple times a months. Like I said, it was in a local mall. On Sundays, after church with my grandparents, we’d usually stop at the mall for lunch. I’d go the arcade really to play pinball, and I eventually discovered the video games.
c: On the very rare occasions I went to my local mall’s arcade, it didn’t have any pinball machines that I remember. It was all video games, claw games, and stuff like that.
b: Yeah. My arcade had that stuff too, plus games like you’d find at a carnival, like target shooting. Not many video games in comparison. Star Castle, Space Invaders, and a couple others.
c: Was it still 25 cents to play?
b: Oh yeah. Actually, I think it was even cheaper because you played with tokens. So 25 cents got you one one token, but I think $1 got you five tokens. So the more money you put out, the more tokens you got.
c: And you generally went to the arcade by yourself? This was before the roving gangs of children swarmed arcades?
b: Well, for awhile I went to the mall arcade; but then another one opened closer to where we lived. It was 1983 or 1984, and it was a little mom-and-pop arcade in a nearby shopping center. My friends and I started playing new games like Tempest, Robotron, Zaxxon…
c: Stupid Zaxxon. I played that on the Atari. No, wait….not the Atari, the computer.
b: Oh, I wasted a lot of quarters on Zaxxon.
c: I wasted alot of time on Zaxxon!
b: But we also had a Chuck E. Cheese. And this was when Chuck E. Cheese would allow all night lock-ins where your parents would play a flat rate, and you’d get pizza, soda, and a bag full of token so you could play all night!
c: Sounds like a recipe for something…? Disaster? Disastrous fun?
b: Yeah. So there were plenty of places for me to play games. And then during the summers I’d go to my aunt and uncle’s house and they lived near a warehouse that opened up as a arcade. It had a lot more games: Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Centipede, Donkey Kong. We’d all go there to play.
c: Even your aunt and uncle?
b: Yeah, my aunt loved playing Ms. Pac-Man.
c: I can totally see her playing that game! So your family was okay with arcades and games, so naturally they bought you an Atari?
b: Uh, I think I got one maybe a year or so after it was released, the Atari 2600. I mean, they knew how much money I spent at the arcade and I thought we could save money by playing at home. My secret tactic was to push for it using the money angle! And it worked, eventually.
c: As long as it worked!
b: Yeah, and they knew I was really into games. I didn’t just play the games and have video game t-shirts, I had stuff like the Buckman and Garcia “Pac-Man Fever” album! [laughs]
c: Ohhh, if only you still had that….!
b: Maybe I could just “Do the Donkey Kong” instead?
c: Oh man….no , that’s alright, really. What was the first game you got for the Atari?
b: Probably Space Invaders. I remember being excited about hearing that it was going to be ported to the Atari. It was the primary game that I wanted for the system. There were others though, Missile Command, Pitfall!…we used to be really competitive about Pitfall! My friends and I would spend whole weekends just trying to get all the treasures. But other games kept us busy too, Joust, Robotron, Defender..
From YouTube user zomb3belair
c: Ugh…I was so bad at Defender.
b: The hours and hours we put into Defender…
c: We had Defender for the Atari and I was horrible at it. That ship…it was all about controlling that ship. Just like the “slippery-ness” that made Mario fall off ledges, I could never stop that ship at the right moments…
b: But you didn’t have to stop the ship because you could go into hyperspace.
c: I know! I really just sucked at it.
b: It was the first game I played that had hyperspace…though there was a early Star Wars arcade game…
c: Yeah, way back then….
b: It was sorta of a 3D vector graphics sit-down machine thing and you had a steering wheel control with buttons to shoot, and you fought with tie fighters and tried to make your way down the trench to destroy the Death Star.
c: Yeah, and…oh…looks like Assassin’s Creed is finally up. You ready to play?
He didn’t answer, controller already in hand, AC3 in motion. I sighed and smiled, glad that the gaming balance had been restored to our universe.