From SNES to 360 in 13 Years
My loyal readers who have followed 500WPD from its inception (read: very, very fewof you) may remember this little nugget of video game industry forecasting/analysis back in the fall of '05. In my lengthy dissertation, I commented at length at my general nonchalance following the launch of the Xbox 360 game console. What was touted as ushering in the first wave of "next-gen" gaming amounted to little more than a paltry sampling of very underwhelming, very "now-gen"-looking video games.
Guess what, peeps? Little over a year after that post, I am now a proud, beaming owner of an Xbox 360. No!! Shock!
This development has more relevance to me than it will to anyone else... even myself, maybe about 5 minutes after publishing this post in fact. The last video game system I owned was the 16-bit Super NES. That was back in ooooh, 1993? By that time, I had already discovered the wild wooly frontiers of PC gaming, with the years from 1990-1992 being one big blur of playing the Wing Commander series non-stop on my blazing fast 386 home computer. Gaming on the PC had already won me over. The games just seemed more sophisticated, more daring and gosh darnitt, you could pirate all this shit to your heart's content. My 8-bit NES was collecting serious dust by then and the whole idea of gaming on a console just seemed a little "kiddie". I was a grown geek now, and real grown-up geeks do it up on PCs.
But yeah, when the SNES came out I wasn't intially too impressed. But once I got my hands on the newest Contra game, their Star Wars platformer (forget the name) and Super Mario Kart, it became abundantly clear that I needed to "get with it" and support Nintendo once again. And it was good. I wasted a lot of my remaining high school years renting out games from all the video game stores that had cropped up in my tony west side neighbourhood. Every Friday after school, I'd pop in with the Christian Cock (his cockhood status still but a glimmer in our eyes at the time) and we'd rent the latest side-scrolling beat'em up game and play it compulsively for the next couple days. The next weekend, same deal. Fortunately, there was never a shortage of these Double Dragon knock-offs; they kept cranking them out, month after month.
Anyway, what's my point? I'm lost now. Oh right, now I have an Xbox. Well, after my love affair with the SNES faded away, I had already committed to gaming on the PC full-time. I all but ignored the N64 when it came out around the time I started college. Same deal with the Dreamcast and Playstation. I was content to visit friends and play their games but for myself, I stuck it out with the PC.
Then the PS2 came out and suddenly we had a new king of video game systems. It all looked very tempting, but I didn't bite. So finally, after 13 long years, I have been tempted back to the "kiddie" world of game consoles, and who woulda thought Microsoft would be the one to do it?
Yes, I trash talked the 360 when it came out in late '05. How could I not? The hype was tremendous and I am chronically allergic to excessive hype. I'd see people playing King Kong at the 360 kiosks and think, "500 bills for this bunk?", shake my head and walk smugly over to the PC games aisle. But that was a year ago. The Xbox 360 today is looking like a very different beast. And so is the current state of PC gaming.
In a nutshell: 360 games look impressive now. PC games also look impressive, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg to keep up. My gaming time has been cutting back little by little these last couple years. When I do want to try a new game, however, I want it to play, and play well. No frame stutters, no dialing down of graphics details, no tweaking. Just plug and play and relax on the couch.
Why no PS3? Why no Wii? You may be asking this. Maybe you've fallen asleep already. Well, I'd like to talk more about video games so I'll continue this ramble in a future installment.
Until then, Merry Xmas and thanks for reading 500WPD. It's been an interesting year.