I attended the Tokyo Game Show on October 13th, 2001.
Have you ever noticed how videogames kick ass? I sure have. I grew up on playing Atari games. I belong to the first generation of children who grew up with videogames. When I was young, my parents gave me an Atari VCS (later known as the Atari 2600) for Christmas. That was when I was about five or six years old. I played that thing until it broke. I played it even after it broke. And finally when I was in the seventh grade, it was replaced with an Atari 7800. When I was a sophomore in high school or so, I stopped playing my 7800 because it became obsolete and I only occasionally played games on my computer. I spent most of my time listening to music and watching anime in high school anyway.
During my first year of college, I bought a Super Nintendo and re-entered the world of console gaming. My level of anime/manga otakudom had grown to the point where I wanted to play video games based on my favorite anime and manga. It was either a Super Nintendo or a Sega Genesis, and I was impressed more with the hardware and selection of games for the SNES. With Ranma 1/2, Macross, Patlabor, and so many other great anime games for the SNES, I was so happy with that system that I created my own homepage dedicated to anime games on the Super Famicom. The Super Nintendo is probably my all-time favorite console of the past ten years or so.
Most people might laugh, but I do own an Atari Jaguar. In the summer of 1996, I had a job at a gaming store in Phoenix called Gamers for a short time. A very short time. Only three days. When I interviewed for the job, the manager liked me a lot. Unfortunately, I had to have a second interview with the owners of the chain of stores who didn't really care for me. They wanted a total geek who could spout all the tech specs for the soon-to-be-released Nintendo 64 (at that time it was known as the "Ultra 64") and someone who has played games on all the current systems. At that time I only had a SNES due to monetary reasons, but they gave me the job because the manager liked me so much. I enjoyed working with him for two days and he even thanked me for being a good worker. Then on my third day I had to work with this obese, unpleasant woman who really couldn't stand me. It was an unusually busy day, even for a Saturday, and of course I was making mistakes as new employees are prone to do. But this was unforgivable in her eyes, and after a difficult situation with some irate parents who didn't know whether their son had a Playstation or a Saturn and also when the register drawer came out a little short, the unpleasant cretin bypassed the manager's head and had me fired directly by the store owners. The manager really liked me and wanted to give me a second chance, but there was nothing he could do. So there were two outcomes of working at Gamers: 1. I vowed never to work retail again, and 2. I was able to buy a used Jaguar for only $10 (cost). By the end of the month I got a telemarketing job despite my moral principles that oppose the concept of telemarketing (I was desperate). But hey, I was making more money than my former manager. But me and telephones don't mix, so that job only lasted a year, and very limited part-time at that.
I bought the Jaguar because I had fallen in love with Tempest 2000. Normally I despise updated versions of classic games, but this game was totally intense and addictive. The only other game I bought for my Jaguar was the 2D shooter Raiden. As far as I know, that's all the console is good for.
A year later in the summer of 1997, my planned trip to Japan with the WYVEA organization was cancelled due to a lack of interest, so I bought a handheld Atari Lynx. It's a really cool handheld console. It featured some really cool Atari games that I loved playing in the arcades, such as Roadblasters, Xybots, Rampart, and Klax. In many ways, it was superior to the Nintendo Game Boy. But just like the Sega Game Gear, it didn't stand a chance against the giant Game Boy despite their strengths.
That same summer, my friend Nathan bought a Sony Playstation. To that point, all the 3D games were still no match to hand-drawn, sprite-based anime style video games. But when I saw Namco's Soul Blade, I wanted to buy a Playstation. There are some great games for the Playstation. I normally do not like 3D games, but I really enjoy the first Colony Wars, the WipeOut series, and the Tenchu series. I normally don't like violent games at all, but playing a ninja in Tenchu and sneaking up behind people and slitting their throats is too much fun. Metal Gear Solid was fun as well. I now have a fairly sizeable collection of Playstation games, but it doesn't come close to my Saturn collection.
When I first heard about the Sega Saturn, I was unimpressed. It didn't sell very well outside of Japan, and I was under the common misconception that it was inferior to the Playstation. I liked my Playstation, but I was starting to fear that 2D sprite-based games were a thing of the past. And for awhile I had figured that 2D shooters, one of my favorite gaming genres, were also a thing of the past. Tht was until I learned about the Saturn, and all the great games for this console that were only available in Japan. The very first game I bought for the Saturn was Macross: Do You Remember Love? I bought at a really cool store called Game Zone in Gilbert, Arizona that specializes in imports. When I bought it, I joked with the owner, Trevor, that since I had bought a Saturn game, I ought to buy a Saturn console to go along with it. He told me that they sold them in the store, but I said that they had them cheaper on the Net. So he offered me one for ten dollars less than the price I had seen on the Net. Cool guy, cool store. So, I bought a Sega Saturn while it was on its way out in America. I was impressed with its selection of 2D anime games, and it quickly became my most-played system.
I've bought many incredible Saturn shooters, such as Radiant Silvergun, Gunbird, Strikers 1945, Soukyugurentai, Dodon Pachi, Batsugun, Parodius and Thunder Force V. Owning a Saturn also introduced me to the Sakura Taisen series of games. I like them so much that I bought them again when they were re-released on the Dreamcast. These games were like watching an anime TV series, and each level was like an episode from a TV show. Combining a pseudo-dating game and a battle strategy game, it's plenty of fun.
In January 2000, I bought a Sega Dreamcast. Just like Namco's Soul Calibur had made me want to buy a Playstation, once I played Namco's Soul Calibur at Funco Land, I knew I had to get a Dreamcast. I love this system so much that I now have two Dreamcasts lined up right next to each other: my North American one and my Japanese limited edition pink Sakura Taisen Dreamcast next to it for playing Japanese games. The spirit of the Saturn lives on with the DC, and it has an awesome library of great games. Perhaps a little lacking with RPGs, it makes up for it in other areas.
Neo Geo Pocket
For long road trips or while I'm bored staying at my in-laws' house, the Neo Geo Pocket Color is perfect. Unfortunately, this great little system couldn't stand up to the might of Nintendo's Game Boy, yet it still has a great lineup of fun games.
The latest console I bought was an NEC Turbo Duo. Known as Turbografix 16 outside of Japan, this console is a real treasure. I had to rely on my friend Lou and my fellow retro-gamers at Shmups.com for help on buying this complicated gaming system. It's no wonder why so many game developers gave up on NEC by the time they released their PCFX game system. There are HUCards, CD, Super CD, Arcade, and finally Supergraphix categories of games. Not to mention the various incarnations of the system... the original Core System, the CD add-on and it's various HUCard drivers to play the various types of CD games, the Duo, the Duo R, the portable Turbo GT, the Shuttlegraphix, the Supergraphix.... Man, it's confusing! But I settled on getting the black Duo, which has the 3.0 CD driver built-in. I picked up many cool games including Bubblegum Crash, Ranma 1/2, Valis 2-4, Macross: 2036 and Macross: Love Song. I love this system!
Gaming remains one of my biggest hobbies. However, I am really unhappy with this current generation of game consoles. Nothing seems interesting to me. Playstation 2, Game Cube, X Box... I just can't get excited. I'm the kind of person who would rather play Twinkle Star Sprites than games like Resident Evil/Biohazard. It seems like there are no more consoles that offer me games that suit my tastes anymore. I think that the Dreamcast is going to be the last true otaku machine.
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