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DJ / 12 Years Ago

I love video games. I have ever since my first experiences with my friend's Atari 2600 back in the early 80's. I remember going to mall with my mom and hanging out in the arcade watching people play Super Mario Bros. and Paperboy while she shopped. The real beginning, however, is when my friend, Joel, and I discovered the game Castlevania at the local convenience store. Many days after school we would head over there and see how far we could get in that game. We loved it; it was the best game ever.

Around that time we met a new friend, Mat. Mat had the most amazing invention of all time, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), or just Nintendo for short. He even had Castelvania for the Nintendo. Soon, Joel and I were at Mat's house frequently and he also occasionally spent the night at my house. I vividly remember the first time he spent the night and brought over his Nintendo. That night, after Mat and Joel had fallen asleep, I beat level 1-4 on Super Mario Bros. for the first time. It was quite an accomplishment for me and I was very proud. At that moment, there was no turning back - I was hooked. Within the next few months I acquired my own NES and games. Eventually, I had over 50 games for the NES.

Now, during this time my friend, Mitch, has a Sega Master System with the game, Phantasy Star. Phantasy Star was the most amazingly awesome game that I had ever seen at that point. Like with Mat, I would spend time at his house playing that game or he would bring his Sega to my house and we play there. The Master System was a forgettable machine for me with the exception of that single game.

In the fall of 1989 I started seeing commercials for the new Sega Genesis system. Based on my previous experiences with Sega, I was skeptical. Sure, the games looked better on the commercials, but that didn't really mean anything to me. It was not until I saw Phantasy Star II on the shelf that I knew I had to own a Sega Genesis. Phantasy Star had impressed me so thoroughly, that I was prepared to buy a $200 system and a $50 game without knowing anything more about it. Considering I was 13 at the time, $250 was a huge sum of money. That mattered little in the face of Phantasy Star II.

Amazingly, I was not let down. Phantasy Star II is still to this day one of the best, most engrossing games I have ever played. Phatasy Star III was decent, but did not live up to the Phantasy Star name. Phantasy Star IV went back to the greatness of previous installments. Phantasy Star IV remains as the game I spent the most money on, $100. One day much later, I traded in my Genesis for a Sega CDX. The CDX was a Genesis and Sega CD combined in a package small enough to pass as a Discman. Since Discmans were relatively new at the time and still rather expensive (not to mention cool), I jumped at the chance to own this revolutionary piece of hardware.

Later yet, because I work at Software Etc., I was offered the opportunity to trade in my CDX and any CD games I had for it for a Genesis, Sega 32X, and several games. Since I was bored with my current CD games for Sega I took this offer that I now regret. The 32X was a piece of junk that only had crappy games. Doom was decent, but not as good as I already had it for my computer. I later sold the 32X and its games for like $20 through the classified ads. I eventually acquired between 15 and 20 games for the Genesis.

For my birthday in 1990 (I believe) I received a Game Boy. Since I was not into games on a crappy little black and white screen, I asked my parents if they would mind if I exchanged it for a Turbo-Grafx instead. They did not care, so the Turbo-Grafx became my third video game system. Some time later, NEC, the company that made the Turbo-Grafx, had a deal where you could send in your machine to receive a discount on their new system, the TurboDuo. The TurboDuo was a Turbo-Grafx and the CD attachment for that system in one combined system with additional memory. With that system I was able to play some amazing games. The TurboDuo is the oldest system I still currently own. I still own around 12 games for it.

Somewhere in this time frame I finally acquired a handheld system that I wanted. I purchased an Atari Lynx while on a shopping trip to Grand Rapids at a Toys R Us. The Lynx was an awesome little color system with some really great games. I never got rid of it on purpose, but it was lost never to be found sometime in the late 90s. If it would not have been lost, I believe I would still own it today. I had 4 or 5 different games for that unit.

In the fall of 1991 the best video game console of all time released, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). I bought this system the day it came out, and this system remains the only system I have done that with. The SNES had so many amazing games. Pretty much from day 1 it was a system that was loaded with excellent titles. Only because I was a teenager with a lot of spare time did I get to play even close to all the games that I wanted to. The Genesis had a faster processor even though it was 2 years older, but the SNES had better graphics and sound and it used them well. My favorite genre is role playing games (RPGs), and the SNES was loaded with excellent RPGs. Although I sold off games here and there that I was finished with, I owned a total of more then 40 games throughout the lifespan of the SNES.

All of that was before the dark times... before the Empire. Around 1995 I stopped getting new games due to a lack of funds, and then around 1997 I sold off the last of my consoles and games. I will not get into the reasoning behind that here, but I do regret it. It was not until late 1999 that I once again acquired a system of my own, the Sony Playstation. I purchased it used from a pawn shop with 2 controllers and no games for $50. Finally, I was back! I had missed so much - too much to catch up on, unfortunately. The Playstation and Saturn had many awesome games that I totally missed out on. The Nintendo 64 had a few - but not enough to care so much about.

My Playstation was great, but not long after I got that, the Playstation 2 (PS2) came out. Since supply was very limited at first, I did not try to get one right away. I figured I would wait and see how good the system actually was. My friend, Aaron, however, waited in line for a long time to acquire his on the first day. I visited Michigan right around that time and he came over with his PS2. He had several games, either ones he bought or had rented, and some were mediocre, but two in particular made me know that I was going to own a PS2, and sooner rather than later. They were SSX and Madden Football 2001 I still have my PS2 and about 12 to 15 games for it. I don't have nearly as much to play it now as I did when I was a teenager, but that is probably a good thing.

Sometime after I got a PS2 I once again dabbled in the handheld gaming arena. I purchased a Gameboy Advance sometime during 2002. It was a no brainer at the time because I had a job where I could play it while working. It helped pass the time in a fan manner, and I got to play some excellent games. Once I moved on from that job, however, I rarely played it and eventually sold it. Whenever I find myself wanting a PSP or Gameboy Micro, I remember having a Gameboy Advance and how little I played it and the desire goes away.

My next system will likely be the Playstation 3, which I hear will be coming out in the fall of 2006. I probably won't buy it until it has its first price drop, unless some amazing game comes out for it that I don't want to wait to play. Maybe that will be my school graduation present. As you can see, my video game odyssey has lasted for over 20 years, and it is not likely to stop anytime soon. Video games are not just for kids, but for people of all ages.

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