Thursday, January 2, 2014

I Need Some Real World Friends

     I often ironically (and sometimes unironically) throw the #GloriousPCGamingMasterRace tag around in my communications, and for good reason. I'm damn proud of being a PC Gamer. Games publishers like to give me broken titles, put intrusive DRM in my games, and deny me sequels to franchises I love, but I get such satisfaction out of playing on a system I built myself with my own money and my own effort, and having those games run twice as fast and look leagues better than their console counterparts. I like extending the time that a game is worth being played by hours and hours by adding mods and custom content to it. I like being able to play a game from 15 years ago, then quit out and play a game released just last month without changing machines.

     And yet, I still have a modicum of respect for games consoles. Well, OK, let me clarify.

     It's a running joke amongst the die-hard PC gaming crowd that "Nintendo makes the finest peasant-boxes around." And it's true. We like that Nintendo isn't afraid to innovate, to make new and bizarre things that sometimes frankly fall flat on their faces (Virtual Boy, Wii U) right out of the gate, or things that catch fire and leave everything else in the dust. Like the Wii, which ended up outselling both of its more powerful counterparts. Either way, Nintendo doesn't make underpowered computers that do the same thing my PC does, but weaker and with more restrictions.

     One other thing that Nintendo does that we respect is that it brings people together in the physical space. This is something that Microsoft tried to do with the Kinect, with laughable results. Let's face it, nobody likes the Kinect. Even now that it (allegedly) works, it's still a joke amongst the core gamer crowd. You get a Wii with Smash Brothers or an N64 with Mario Kart in a room, and you'll have a riot on your hands, and possibly some ended friendships depending on who gets the blue shell.

     I still have my Nintendo 64. I was briefly a console gamer, with three in a row Nintendo systems of the NES, SNES, and N64. I bought mine back when Wal-Mart still had layaway, and got the bundle with the "Atomic Purple" controller and Pokemon Stadium. The N64 was the birthplace of Smash Brothers, the point where Mario Kart and Mario Party really took off, and the home of Goldeneye. I've gone on record as saying the N64 was the last really great games console (even though if I'm pressed, I'll admit the Wii had more to offer) because I believe games consoles are built to do one thing better than PC, and that's catering to a crowd of real-life, in-person people-people.

     It used to be ritual that I would have friends over, and we'd all play Perfect Dark, the spiritual sequel to Goldeneye, with a crowd of MeatSims (dumb-as-bricks AI opponents). Hours would just vanish, and we'd all be hoarse from shouting. Even as recent as '09, 13 years after the console had been released, I had a hoard of drunk people in my apartment, playing Mario Kart until the sun came up.

     I still have the old soldier, and it still works. Still have a handful of games for it. Now I just need some willing participants to play it with me. Guess that means real-world friends again. For now, I'll leave you with the single-most beautiful piece of music ever composed, from one of the finest titles on the last great games console.

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