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Greetings, my fellow Retro Junkers!

It's time for the holidays, and every time that Christmas comes, I can't help but think of my youth, and how crazy I was for the season. I've mentioned before that Christmas was what I lived for as a kid. I would start making my list in August, and narrow it down by November. I loved the specials and movies that I would watch every year, I loved wrapping gifts, and I loved the decorations, which always played a big part with me, thanks to my dad, which I wrote about in an article a couple years ago.

But what I also think about are the big gifts that I got each year. I actually vividly remember the best gifts that I received each year from 1983 (when I was 6 years old) up to my last year of high school (1995). So, I thought I would share not only my favorite gifts from each year, but also my personal memories. Hopefully it will inspire some thoughts of past Christmas gifts for you, and what they meant to you.

So, without further delay, let's travel back to 1983. As I mentioned, I was six, and was in Kindergarten.

CHRISTMAS 1983


WICKET THE EWOK PLUSH
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1983 was all about Return of the Jedi with my two older brothers, who were dyed-in-the-wool fans of the franchise ever since our grandmother took them to see the original back in 1977 (the same summer I was born). I remember going to see the movie with them at the theater that summer of 83, and being somewhat confused, since I was not as familiar with the movies. However, there was one thing I did love about the movie, and that was those little tribal teddy bears who helped bring down the Empire!

The Ewoks really struck a chord with my six-year-old mind, especially little Wicket. And so, when this commercial started playing on TV, I knew I had to have it! He immediately went to the top of my Christmas list, and I found him under my tree on December 25th.
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The main thing I remember is that the Wicket doll had a Velcro hood that you could remove. And when you took off his hood, my brothers and I could not help but think he looked like the gopher from Caddyshack, which had started airing on TV around the time. And so, my brothers and I would often play a game where one of them would pretend to be Carl Spackler (Bill Murray's character in the film), and I would use my Wicket doll to play the part of the gopher. I actually remember playing this game more than I do playing his rightful role in the Star Wars Universe.

Regardless, I remember this being a great little plush, and quite the sturdy one too, since my older brothers used to like to abuse my toys back in the day, and he stood up pretty well.


CHRISTMAS 1984


GIZMO PLUSH
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Another year, another plush toy based on a big movie from that past year! Seeing Gremlins in the Summer of 1984 was a life-changing experience for me, as it was that film, along with Ghostbusters that same summer, that began my love affair with film to the point that I wanted to devote my life to it. Like Wicket the year before, I immediately fell for the furry Mogwai, and getting one of my own (well, the plush variety, anyway) that Christmas was a dream come true.

84 was all about Gremlins for me. I had a Gremlins lunch box and folder for school that year, as well as a big book on the making of the film, which got pretty dogeared due to the amount of time I spent flipping through its pages. Getting this Gizmo for Christmas was just the topper on the year.

As the commercial demonstrates, the toy would even squeak when you shook him. Boy, did my brothers take advantage of that feature, shaking the poor little guy as hard as they could, or banging him against a wall to make noise. (This is how my Gizmo eventually lost one of its eyes.) Please don't feel too bad, though. I still loved the little guy, even after his fur became all tangled, and he only had one eye by the end. He looked pretty mangy by the end, but this was still one of my favorites when I was really young.


CHRISTMAS 1985


BOOMBOX

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When I was growing up, my dad had a workshop in our garage where he would do various projects or build things, such as the club house we used to have by our swimming pool in the backyard of the house I grew up in. I used to love to hang out there with him on weekends, not only because I had a good relationship with my dad, but he also had a portable boombox/radio that he could listen to music to while he worked, and I absolutely loved that thing. I wasn't always crazy about the music he chose to listen to (He was really into Country Music, and I was not.), but sometimes he would let me pick a station, and we would listen to my music for a while.

For Christmas of 85, I got a boombox of my own, and I was absolutely thrilled. It actually looked pretty close to the one in the picture above. I remember thinking it was great to have something like that in my room, so that I could listen to any music I wanted, whenever I wanted.
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Along with the boombox, I got two cassette tapes to go with it. One of them was Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA. I've talked about this a little in a previous article, "10 Moments in Pop Culture That Shaped My Youth". This was the first "real" album I ever owned (meaning, it wasn't a kid's album), and I just fell in love with the music, and the passion with which Springsteen sang them. I didn't understand all the words, or the meaning of some of the songs, but they still moved me, and I remain a fan to this day. So much so that last year, I went to see his intimate one man show/concert that he performed on Broadway. It was a moving experience, and one that brought me back to my early childhood when I discovered his music.
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The other cassette I got introduced me to another long-time favorite of mine - "Weird Al" Yankovic. His Dare to Be Stupid album introduced me to the king of Polka Parodies, and just like with Bruce, I immediately became a fan, and started seeking out his earlier work. To this day, this is one of my favorite albums he has done. Not just for nostalgic reasons, but he put such a wide variety of comic songs on this one that are just so memorable.

I remember this as the year that I was opened up to new music, and that there were things out there that were better than "Pac-Man Fever". (My favorite album, up to this time.)


CHRISTMAS 1986


TRYPTICON

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For a kid who lived for the Transformers for a time (I mean, I saw 1986's animated Transformers: The Movie twice at my local theater that summer), there was nothing cooler than finding one of these robot toys under your tree, or getting one for your birthday. But every Transformer I may have gotten the previous years seemed small in comparison to the bad boy known as Trypticon.
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I mean, just look at this thing! What 9-year-old who has sold his heart entirely into the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons could ignore this? I mean, first of all, it's massive, and it's a frickin' dinosaur. A frickin' batter-powered dinosaur that could walk and move on its own! Yes, please, just take my money! (Or rather, my parents' money.) Not only that, but it could transform into a massive fortress-like city, and even a battle station! This was back at the time that the popular toy lines for young boys were releasing really massive and super-detailed figures and playsets that probably cost way too much, but our parents still bought them to make us happy. (If they were cool, that is.)

And just to make sure I would be demanding this as my top gift that year, there was this incredible commercial, narrated by the voices of Optimus Prime and Megatron, Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, respectively. Just listen to how excited they sound about this thing. Megatron himself even calls the thing "awesome", and you believe him! I also love the back and forth argument they have. "We have a fortress". "Oh yeah, well we have these guys!" "Did I mention that our fortress also turns into a dinosaur?" Notice how Optimus has no come-back for that one. You just can't argue with a dinosaur. Megatron wins.

As much as i was into the Transformers at the time, it would be nothing compared to what I would get the following Christmas...


CHRISTMAS 1987


NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM

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I vividly remember one day back in 1986, my best friend Tim and I were playing a game on my Atari system. After the game, we decided to take a break, and catch up on some afternoon cartoons. And during a commercial break, it was the first time my friend and I ever saw the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Remember, we had just finished playing the Atari, only to see this commercial come on, advertising a game system unlike anything we had ever seen. Not only did it come with a robot, but it also with some incredible looking games, a gun, and tons of amazing looking stuff. Plus, you could play Super Mario Bros. on the thing.

So, Christmas '86 neared, and I had to make a choice. I had to choose between a Nintendo and Trypticon. You already knew the decision that I made, as at the time my heart and soul were with the Transformers. Tim, however, got a Nintendo. We would always get together the day after Christmas to show each other what we had gotten the previous day, and when I sat down and played the Nintendo for the first time, I wondered if I had not made a mistake. I mean, Trypticon was an awesome dinosaur and all...But I had never seen anything like the Nintendo. You just could not put a value on how great the games on this thing looked when you had been playing on Atari most of your young life.
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This is the set I found on Christmas morning when I was 10.

When Christmas of 87 rolled around, I was determined to correct that mistake. I asked for both a Nintendo with Super Mario included, as well as a copy of their latest and greatest game, The Legend of Zelda. I found both under my tree that year, and as soon as I had it hooked up in my room, I don't think I ever looked back. The NES remains one of my favorite nostalgic gifts of all time, and one that I still love to this day, as my growing collection of Complete in Box games for the system that line my walls proves.

The NES became king in my young mind. Nothing, not even the Transformers, could come close. Don't believe me? Keep reading...


CHRISTMAS 1988


NINTENDO CHRISTMAS


So, since getting a Nintendo the previous year, it pretty much became my main interest. I was 11 at this time, and while I still had an interest in toys, I was much more interested in video games. My parents must have noticed, because for Christmas of 1988, I received a boat-load of Nintendo goods, including two of the hardest games to find at the time.

In case you don't remember, Christmas of 88 was the time that Nintendo released two of their biggest and most anticipated games ever - Super Mario Bros. 2 (which was a reworked version of a Japanese game called Doki Doki Panic, though we didn't know this at the time) and Zelda II: The Adventures of Link. Nintendo was pretty much on top of the world at the time, and nothing could touch them in the toy world. In fact, Nintendo was in such demand, that there was a shortage of the two games I just mentioned. It got so severe that even the ABC News program 20/20 did a segment on it, which you can view above.
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If you got one of these games for Christmas of 88, you were solid. If you were lucky enough to get both, you were golden.

That video should show you the desperation that parents were going through to find Mario 2 and Zelda II for their kids that Christmas, as both were pretty much the biggest games to ever be released at the time. Naturally, like just about every other red-blooded young boy, they were at the top of my Christmas list. I wasn't expecting to get both, as I knew how impossible they were to find in stores, and I was old enough to know that my parents could only do so much. And yet, on Christmas morning, there they both were. Finding both of these games under the tree was equal to winning the lottery to a kid in 1988. Oh, but the Nintendo fun did not stop there...
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Not only did I find the two rarest games of the year under the tree, but I also found a copy of Bubble Bobble. Tim and I had become addicted to the arcade version of the game at a local pizza parlor called Happy Joe's, and knowing that it was coming to the Nintendo that year made me put it on the list as an alternative if my parents could not track down the allusive Mario and Zelda sequels. I never in my dreams imagined that I would get all three, but sure enough, there they were. My parents had put all three games in one wrapped package, and I remember how shocked I was to rip off the wrapping, and see all three of the games I had been wishing for stacked on top of each other.
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As if all three games were not enough, I also got the very sweatshirt pictured here that year as well. What better way to show the world my obsession for Nintendo than with this flashy and very 1980s shirt? I remember wearing it on the first day back to school after Christmas Vacation, and it actually being a big hit with my fellow Nintendo-obsessed friends. Now, not only could I proclaim my love for Nintendo, but I could do it in style!


CHRISTMAS 1989


STEREO

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By 1989, the boombox I had gotten just four years ago was starting to show its age. Besides, by this point, CDs were all the rage when it came to music. My two older brothers had each gotten their own personal stereo systems the previous Christmas, and so in 89, I knew what was to be on top of my list.

The stereo I got that year looked very similar to the one pictured above. It had a CD, record player, radio, and tape deck built into one system. At the time, I had gathered a large collection of music, mostly movie soundtracks and movie scores by some of my favorite film composers like James Horner, John Williams, Alan Silvestri, Jerry Goldsmith and Danny Elfman. I was looking forward to start collecting their scores on CD, and enjoying them in a new format.
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However. to kick off my new collection of CDs, I decided to go with another passion of mine (Broadway Musicals), and asked for the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Les Miserables. My parents had set a love for theater in me at a very young age, taking me to various plays and musicals that were touring at the time. I still am very passionate about the theater, and frequently take trips to New York or Chicago to see new productions. (As I am writing this, I am preparing to visit New York from December 10th to the 15th with my girlfriend and another very good friend of mine, where we will be seeing 6 shows during the trip.)

I remember the big deal at the time is that since CDs were able to hold more storage than records or tapes, the CD version of Cast Recordings usually contained additional songs that were in the show, but not included on the previous recordings. I had Les Miserables on tape, but the CD had even more music, so it was a must buy for me. Entering the world of CDs felt like entering a new world of music at the time, and I was very excited.


CHRISTMAS 1990


GAME BOY

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My story regarding the Game Boy is similar to that of the NES. When the Game Boy came out in 1989, I was immediately excited for it, but obviously, my desire for a stereo was much stronger, and so the old GB had to be knocked off the list. Once again, my best friend Tim had gotten one that year, along with a copy of Super Mario Land.

When I tried the Game Boy out at his house the day after Christmas that year, I remember being a bit disappointed with it. It was kind of hard to see, and I also remember finding Super Mario Land to be a bit weird compared to other Mario games. It felt like kind of a step back, especially with Mario 3 about to come out at the time. And Tetris (the game it came packaged with) just sounded odd. Just how much fun could falling blocks be?
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During the summer of 1990, I got a chance to borrow Tim's Game Boy for a little while, and finally spent some time with it. This allowed me to truly enjoy Super Mario Land, even if it wasn't as rich or varied as the console versions. I also quickly figured out just how much fun and addictive Tetris could be. Plus, he also let me borrow a game he had recently gotten called Gargoyle's Quest that immediately appealed to me, and I actually managed to beat during the time I had his Game Boy.
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I remember thinking this box art was really cool back then.

So, when Christmas of 1990 came, I knew what I needed to ask for. That year, I got a Game Boy, along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan for the new handheld. Of course it came with Tetris, and that became a big addiction for me over the Christmas break from school. On the NES side, I also got the Ninja Turtles Arcade Game (which came with a Pizza Hut coupon that I remember using during the Christmas break) and Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, so it was once again a pretty good haul for the Nintendo.


CHRISTMAS 1991


SUPER NINTENDO

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In 1991, my mind was all about the Super Nintendo. I had waited a year with the NES and the Game Boy, but I was determined to get in on the ground floor with their 16-bit console. To this day, the Super Nintendo remains the great console ever made in my mind, and the main system I collect for when it comes to retro gaming.
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Which side were you on?

Of course, the 16-bit era had already been in full swing by this time, as the Sega Genesis and the NEC Turbografx-16 had both been released two years prior in 1989. Tim had gotten a Genesis for Christmas in 89, so I was already a full believer in the next generation of gaming. I had gone over to his house many times to play games like Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Forgotten Worlds, Strider and Sonic the Hedgehog. I loved the Genesis, and would eventually get one myself in the summer of 92. But Christmas of 91, my mind was set on Nintendo's new system, and dreaming of how amazing it would be to play new entries in my favorite series like Mega Man and Castlevania in glorious 16-bit.
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Along with the Super Nintendo, I got Super Mario World (which came packaged with the system), but if there was any game that truly blew me away and showed me what the new machine could do, it was Super Castlevania IV, which I also got along with the system. Oh, this was a beautiful game. Those dark, rich graphics, that music which sounded like nothing else I had ever heard in a video game before, the fact that Simon Belmont could now whip in all directions and swing across gaping chasms...This was the game that truly meant "next generation" to me, and to this day remains one of my favorite games not just in the Castlevania franchise, but on the system itself.

I knew that the Super Nintendo was special right out of the box. As much as I loved the NES (and still do), I remember the Super NES just surpassed all expectations. And it would continue to do so over the next few years with an amazing library of games that, in my opinion, has yet to be topped.


CHRISTMAS 1992


SEGA CD

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So, in the Summer of 1992, I managed to buy a Genesis with my own money. Obviously, it wasn't because I was tired of Nintendo. While many people back in the 16-bit era were content to take sides and combat each other over which console was better, I liked both, and saw value in each system. I had played enough games at Tim's house to know that it had stuff I was interested in. But, if I had to be honest, if there was one thing that had made me go with a Genesis that year, it was the promise of CD gaming.
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Yep, this looked like the future to me back in 1992...

I had a couple friends who were PC enthusiasts at the time, so I had seen a few examples of the potential that CD ROMs had for gaming. And when I started reading about the Sega CD being prepared for a holiday release in America, I grew very excited. I was especially excited for the promise of Full Motion Video being included in games. Being a huge fan of both movies and video games, combining both seemed to be a match made in heaven. Plus, I was excited by the possibility of better sound and storage for bigger games. The Sega CD seemed like the future to me at the time.

So, Christmas was approaching, and I was looking forward to hopefully finding the add-on under my tree. I distinctly remember on December 23rd, I was home from school, as the Christmas Break had just started. My friend Jeff who lived across the street from me had come over, and we were watching TV. We decided to order a pizza delivered for lunch, and while we were eating, we were both talking about how awesome the Sega CD was going to be. Shortly after lunch, I started to feel funny. I suspect the part of the pizza I ate must have been tainted or prepared by someone who was ill, because not long after, I came down with a severe flu that pretty much knocked me out for the entire Christmas holiday. I spent Christmas Eve and Day sicker than I had ever been in my life. And since the doctors were closed, I had to tough it out.
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Lunar: The Silver Star. One of the many underrated games found on the Sega CD.

So, yes, I did get a Sega CD that Christmas, but it was hard to enjoy it considering how I was feeling. Regardless, I pressed on, and quickly figured out that Full Motion Video games like Night Trap were not what they had been hyped up to be. Fortunately, the Sega CD, while not the success it was expected to be. did have a number of great games I still have fond memories of. Games like Ecco the Dolphin, Snatcher, Lunar: The Silver Star, Lunar: Eternal Blue, and Popful Mail (to name a small few) are underrated classics in my eyes, and games that people unfortunately look over, due to the console they were on.

Most people dismiss the Sega CD as a failure, or know it only for the awful Full Motion Video Games that dominated the add on. But, it had a lot of great stuff, and I may do an article about it one day in the future. Maybe it wasn't the "future" as I anticipated, but it was still a great little system that deserves more respect.


CHRISTMAS 1993


HAND-KNIT SCARF

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I understand that this may seem weird, after some of the more hi-tech gifts that have been dominating this list so far. But, there is actually a story behind this.

In 1993, I was kind of in a dark place emotionally. I had few friends, I was being bullied a lot, and I will honestly admit, I had some bad thoughts about myself. One of the few bright spots of that year is that there was a girl from Japan who was spending a year at my high school. Her name was Keiko, and she decided to strike up a friendship with me. I remember I had a big crush on her, but I knew in my heart that she only saw me as a friend. Still, I couldn't help but dream.
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During the year we were together as friends, she knew that I liked to take walks a lot. I would walk in any weather, even in the rain and snow. She kind of worried about me when I would tell her that I would walk in the bitter cold and snow. And so, that Christmas, she surprised me with a scarf that she made herself for me. It was a beautiful blue design with white snow flakes on it. I was so touched by the gesture, especially since it was so unexpected. I didn't know she was planning to get me anything. Regardless, I was very proud of it, and wore it every day in the winter afterward.

She stayed in town until the summer of 1994. We stayed in touch for quite a long time after she left, well into our adult years, but she eventually dropped contact with me, and I have not heard from her since. I still do have the scarf, though. It's very frayed, and I don't wear it as often as I used to, but I hold onto it for the memory of her, and how much it meant to me at the time.


CHRISTMAS 1994


FINAL FANTASY III

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During the Summer of 1994, I got into Japanese Role Playing Games when I happened to rent Lunar: The Silver Star for the Sega CD. I had rented the game on a whim, as I had never really played many RPGs before. I remember I had rented Dragon Warrior for the NES back in 89, but I couldn't figure the game out very well. Lunar appealed to me with its artwork that was featured throughout the instruction manual, so I took it home, and quickly became hooked. I spent most of that rental weekend playing it, and when it was time to take it back, I immediately asked for it for my birthday that year.
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After receiving Lunar and beating it, I wanted more RPGs. A good friend of mine named Jon loaned me his copy of Final Fantasy II for the Super Nintendo. Again I quickly became hooked, and spent the remainder of the summer until it was completed. When I brought it back to him, he started talking about how Final Fantasy III (known in Japan as Final Fantasy VI) was coming in the Fall. As soon as I started to see images of the game in issues of Nintendo Power, I immediately knew I had to play it.
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For its time, Final Fantasy III had the most detailed graphics ever seen in an RPG. It was the first game to ever use every color that was available for the Super Nintendo. Not only that, it was a change in tone for the franchise. While the previous entries had been traditional medieval fantasy stories, this entry took a more Steampunk approach, mixing magic and fantasy with Science and Technology. This alone was enough to grab my attention. But given that I had recently completed Final Fantasy II and was hungry for more, I needed this game. Sure, for most kids, Donkey Kong Country was *the* game for the holiday season of 1994. And truth be told, I picked that one up also, and loved it. But nothing could prepare me for when I popped this game into my Super Nintendo on Christmas Morning.

Still one of my favorite video game intros of all time.

This is one of those games where you know you're in for a special experience almost from the word go. As soon as the opening intro kicks in, setting up an aura of mystery and intrigue, you're hooked. And then you have the instant classic music score by Nobuo Uematsu. At the time, I had my Super Nintendo hooked up to my stereo system, so that the music came through the speakers in surround sound. And, to this day, I still remember the experience. Hearing the arctic wind blow through my speakers as the soldiers in the metal mechs looked down at the village below, discussing their mission, actually gave me chills. And then there was that gorgeous opening credit sequence as the soldiers make their way to their destination with Uematsu's haunting opening theme playing.
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The Opera House. Still one of the most memorable moments ever in a video game, even 24 years later.

In my opinion, this is one of the few nearly perfect games ever made. There are just so many memorable moments, including my all time personal favorite moment in a video game - the Opera House scene. You had a story that was much deeper than what you usually got in video games at the time, characters who you felt emotionally attached to, and some pretty dark themes for a Nintendo game, including attempted suicide. This is one of the rare times where everything came together perfectly in one game, and one of the few times I knew I was playing a masterpiece. I spent a majority of my Christmas Break playing the game, and actually managed to beat it the night before I was supposed to go back to school. Fortunately, the weather was bitter cold and we had a lot of snow, so there was little reason to go outside, less it was to shovel or do an errand.
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The first day back to school, Jon and I talked about this as much as possible. He had gotten the game during the Fall, and since I was asking for it for Christmas, he was forbidden to talk to me about the game, as I wanted to go in completely unspoiled. It was frustrating for him, as he so desperately wanted to talk about the experiences he was having, but it was worth it when we could finally discuss it. We spent days dissecting the plot, talking about our favorite moments, and reliving the experience. We even spent time replaying the game together, as he would come to my house every day after school, and we played through it again with each other.

When I started collecting retro games, Final Fantasy III was one of my first purchases, and every time I play it and the opening music kicks in, I can still feel how I felt on Christmas Morning of 1994.


CHRISTMAS 1995


ANIME

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The last Christmas of my youth. I was 18, and a Senior in High School. During the year, I had been introduced to Japanese anime thanks to the Sci-Fi Channel, which at the time would air a different animated movie at 8:00 AM on Saturday mornings during a block that was called Saturday Anime. This was also the year that shows like Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball were beginning to be aired in syndication, so I guess this kind of marked the beginning of anime going mainstream in America.
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I was actually making it a point at this time to wake up early to watch these movies and shows, something I had not done since I was young. As Christmas neared, I started to notice the selection of anime VHS tapes that my local Sam Goody store had on display, and so I decided to make that my main Christmas present that year. I was kind of flying blind. Most of the stuff on display I had never heard of, as most of my exposure had been from TV. So, I personally looked at the back of the ones that seemed the most interesting to me, and put them on my list.
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The first one I received was one I definitely knew of - the all-time anime classic, Akira. A friend of mine at school named Dan had been raving about this film, and insisting that I had to see it. I had heard a lot about the film, and was genuinely curious. The film, a post-apocalyptic thriller about a military experiment involving psychics going wrong and being unleashed upon the world, is highly regarded as a huge stepping stone for anime becoming more known in America. When I watched it, I remember finding the movie beautiful, but also very confusing. I actually had to watch it a number of times. I also remember Dan trying to explain the movie, and how I had to read the original manga in order to understand it better. This was probably a pretty steep introduction to the world of anime, but I remember enjoying it.
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Next up was Project A-Ko, which was a film I was definitely familiar with, as it was one of the movies the Sci-Fi Channel was playing at the time. This was a comedy about a bizarre love triangle of sorts between three high school girls - The super-humanly strong A-Ko, the scheming scientific genius B-Ko, and the ditzy and airheaded C-Ko. The plot basically involved B-Ko coming up with elaborate schemes to steal C-Ko away from A-Ko, which would ultimately lead to massive battles between the two rivals and mass destruction. Oh, and an alien invasion happened to be going on at the time, with the aliens wanting to kidnap C-Ko, since they believed her to be their lost Princess. This movie was basically one giant parody of anime and Japanese pop culture at the time, which I naturally did not get. But, I loved the film's oddball sense of humor, and especially the very 80s synth soundtrack. (I even tracked down the music on CD later.) This was the movie that actually got me hooked on anime, and was one of my favorites at the time.
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The final video I picked out was one that I had heard of but knew little about, Ranma 1/2. But, since my local store had the very first episode on tape, I decided to check it out. This is a broad comedy about a young martial artist named Ranma Saotome who becomes cursed after he falls into a mythical pool of water that changes the person into the last thing that entered it. In Ranma's case, whenever he is splashed with cold water, he changes into a young girl. (Warm water reverses the effect.) The series follows his trials and tribulations as he encounters other fighters who also fell victims to the pool's curse, and now turn into various animals such as cats, ducks and pigs when they are splashed with cold water. I become instantly drawn to the series' slapstick humor and action, and it quickly became one of my favorites.

I remember that Christmas as the time when my love for anime truly began. Over the years, I gathered a large collection of VHS tapes, bootlegs, and DVDs. And even though I am not the fan that I used to be, I can still appreciate the anime art style and storytelling that is unique to the artform.

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And that would wrap up my Christmas memories. Looking back over this list, I realize how blessed I was to receive many of these toys and electronics. And yet, what stays with me is the memories that I created with them, and not the materialistic value of the items. I hope you enjoyed hearing my memories, and would love it if you would be willing to share some of your own memories.

I wish everyone a wonderful holiday, and as always, keep the past alive.