Some time ago, I wrote an article talking some video game related items I've kept over the years. While I'm thankful for what I've been able to collect, I also couldn't help but think about the things that I wish I still had. So I began to make a list of all those items and even though it's not large one, I thought it would be fun to share with you. Some of these items I got when I was still little, so longevity or the benefit of future nostalgia was simply nonexistent to my mind. Other times...well, you'll see. I'll begin with the same thing I started my first memorabilia with; the Mario pillow.
I'm not trying to be repetitive, but every time I look back on this I can't help but mentally kick myself. As I've said before, this was destroyed when my neighbor and I played tug-a-war with it and ripped it's arms off. That wasn't like me. When it comes to toys, I realize that kids, little boys especially, can play rough and things get broken, lost...etc. But in this case, I more-or-less willingly destroyed it and that just wasn't like me. Besides the fact that I think it's a cool pillow, I also like the artwork. This was when Mario was still hand drawn. Ever since Super Mario 64, Mario and the gang have pretty much been rendered with computer models. I miss having the classic artwork, as I think it looks cooler and has more charm to it.
Another cool Mario related item I used to have was this wallet.
This was a Christmas gift and I can remember unwrapping it and thinking how cool it was. The hologram on the front showed Mario picking up a mushroom. I think used to put my allowance in there, but I was also too little to actually need
a wallet. That didn't stop me from appreciating it, though. What happened here is interesting. I carried it with me all the time for a while, but over time that became less and less until eventually it found a permanent home in the top drawer of my dresser. I'd notice it from time to time and play with the hologram some, but that was about it. Then when I was in high school, I saw it laying there and realized "Hey, I should use this." So I did. This was during the time of the N64 and video game merchandise was becoming more common where I lived, but I still wasn't sure that other people would think my wallet was as cool as I thought it was. I'm sure my friends did, at least. And then one day I remember going through my stuff to figure out what I should and shouldn't keep. I looked at my wallet and I decided to...throw it away. I know, I know, I can't believe I did it, either. If I was determined to get rid of it, I wish I would have at least donated it or given it somebody. Eh...I had "D'oh!" moment. That's all I can say.
Topping off the Mario themed stuff, we have these figures.
Years ago, I had a birthday party that was completely Mario themed. Mario paper plates, Mario Napkins, blue and red streamers, and a Mario cake. These figures were used as cake decorations and naturally became my toys once the party was over. I got the bike I would learn to ride without training wheels that year, along with a shiny new copy of Super Mario Bros 3. Needless to say, it was an awesome afternoon. Getting back to the figures though, I thought they all were cool, but I know I favored the one with Mario throwing the fireball. I played with these everywhere and they were great, but I also remember wishing they were posable. As cool as these are, I have to admit that they never really stood a chance. I wasn't even ten years old yet and many of my smaller toys eventually ended up lost, and that's what I'm pretty sure happened to these. I'm not kicking myself for no longer having them like I am the wallet, but they're still pretty cool collectibles. Plus when I was looking for pictures of them for this article, I found out they are pretty rare. Oh well. At least I can say I had them at one point.
Moving on from Mario, here's the item I held onto the longest before getting rid of it; my Tamagotchi.
Seeing this again really takes me back. Tamagotchi was a virtual pet from cyberspace that took the world by storm, and inspired Giga-pets, Digi-pets, and other imitators. I think there was also a game boy version released eventually. I first read about these in Nintendo Power and I thought the idea sounded interesting but also that it wasn't really for me. Then the day after Christmas happened. I received a Playstation with a few games, along with some money. My family went to the mall and I went to Kay-Bee toys to pick up a copy of Crash Bandicoot. While I was there, I noticed that their entire selection of Tamagotchi was on sale for 50% off. I began to look them over and found a dark blue and silver one that I thought looked cool and figured why not. I opened it in the car and looked over the different possible ways your Tamagotchi could end up looking, depending on how it was cared for. I actually enjoyed taking care of it and brought it to school with me several times. One time I lent it to my friend for a period and when he gave it back next class, he apologized because he though he killed it. Turns out he just didn't know how to clean up after and it and the little guy had just gotten sick from sharing a space with his digital feces. Still, I got the best possible outcome my first go round, and the second one I raised ended up being the secret/hidden variation. Not sure how I did that. I think those were the only two times I saw my Tamagotchi through to complete growth. The battery died in time, but I kept it, along with the box it came in, all the way up to around 2009 or 2010. I started using it as a keychain and for a conversation piece, and I even debated getting a new battery for it and trying it again. But in the end, I just threw it away. Sigh..I really need to quit doing that.
Some things I've always enjoyed reading and having on hand are players guides. I've had several over the years, such as Mario Kart 64, Ocarina of Time, Crash Bandicoot...etc, and I wish I still had many of them. But if I had to narrow it down, there are three in particular that I wish I'd held onto. They are as follows...
Why these three? Glad you asked. I mentioned Top Secret Passwords in my article about G.I. Joes I used to own. It had codes for NES, SNES, and Game Boy games. I used to read through it just to look at the screen shots, thinking how cool some of those games looked. Seeing them now would be wonderful nostalgia. And look at the cover. It's got an old phone on there, hearkening back to the days where folks would call in to get tips and trick for their favorite games. It was a different time, when hardcore gaming meant you had the skills to finish a game. That nostalgia for a by-gone time is the same reason why I wish I still had the 4 Player Special guide, though I'd love to have all my old issues of Nintendo Power back. Kept the final issue, at least . Four Player had a handful of games in it, but the only two I remember are NES Play Action Football and A Nightmare On Elm Street. (Couldn't find any pictures of the insides of these guides, sorry.) Before the internet, and before the N64 made 4-player a standard game mode, using adaptors and such for a 4-player game must have felt special, even the games that supported it weren't. The Official Guide to Mega Man was something I bought at the Software, Etc. in our mall, and it had walkthroughs for Mega Man 1, 2, 3 and Wily Wars for the Game Boy. What was cool here was that it had a fake intro calling the games historic simulations of mining wars, and it had drawings and names for each enemy, which I would try to draw on my own. I don't know about the other two, but the Official Guide to Mega Man is still affordable on Amazon and other sites. That's cool, but I still wish I had the one that I bought myself.
When it comes to actual consoles, there's two things I wish I still had now. The first is my Game Boy Pocket.
I remember getting this along with Kirby's Dream Land 2, and then my mom taking my sister and I out to eat afterwards because my dad had to work late. As the name implies, it was small enough to fit comfortably into your pocket, but the screen was also a lot clearer, and it wasn't green like original. It was more black and white, and had a gold-ish color in the background. I was able to borrow lots of games for it, and ended up with a nice little collection myself.
Operation C, Tetris, Spider Man, and Vegas Stakes were floating carts, but I had the box and manuals for the other games, which is a big reason why I wish I still had them. I love all that art work that went into the packaging and instruction booklets. But more than that, the games I had were really fun. Looking back, the Game Boy did have it's fair share of mediocrity, but I enjoyed each game I had and managed to beat most of them. I really lucked out with Operation C. I bought the Game Boy version of Contra 3 and a guy I knew at school had Operation C. We lent them to each other and we each decided we liked the other game better so we did a permanent trade and we were both happy. And the Game Boy version of Tetris is my favorite version of Tetris to this day. My junior year of high school, my friend Jason had also had a copy of Tetris and a Game Boy Color. We got into heavy competition with each other, each trying to beat the amount of lines achieved. He would set the bar, and whenever I would finally beat his score, he would have the game of his life and beat mine. We got really good as a result, with most games getting between 120-140 lines. We shared a class together and using the link cable included with F-1 race, (see pictures above), we played vs directly. It was a lot of fun. Some of these games are available on the 3DS eshop, but I still wish I had the actual carts and Gameboy. For the box and artwork, for the memories, but also as a reminder that these little black and white games are still leagues better than the freemium crap you find on your cell phone nowadays.
And finally, one last thing. I've had several consoles come and go, but even with my love of the 16-bit era and the SNES being my favorite system of all time, the console I wish I still had most is my Sega Dreamcast. I think the reason for that is how unique it was. It sits in between the N64/PS1 and PS2/XBOX/Gamecube in terms of it's power, and I got mine either the day of or the day before Sega made the announcement they were going to cease production of it. Talk about timing. It worked out in the end though, because I got the games I had for it for pretty cheap from bargain bins and such. The system bundle I had was also really cool.
It came with a demo disc and the Sega Smash Pack. This included games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Columns, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage 2, Shining Force, Phantasy Star 2, Virtua Cop 2, and puzzle game called Sega Swirl. This is one of the best retro game collections I've ever seen, and I played it a ton. The only area it faltered was the sound on the Genesis games I don't know what was going on with the emulation, but the music and sound effects were off. The music was forgivable, but sound effects...not too terrible with games like Sonic and Streets of Rage, but Vectorman was just awful. His shots sounded all squeaky and even a little bubbly. But the gameplay was still intact so in time it was easy enough to just laugh at it. Along with that, these are the other games I remember having.
Kind of an eclectic collection, I know. But Jason had a Dreamcast too, along with the big hits like Sonic Adventure, Crazy Taxi, Marvel vs Capcom 1 & 2, and Soul Caliber. Plus we knew somebody else who had Phantasy Star Online, so we all benefitted. :)
One of the reasons I wish I still had it is because in addition to what was mentioned already, there were some really good games for the Dreamcast, and I think it would have been nice to collect for it over time. Also, some of the games I had for it I never finished, like Ecco or Carrier. Carrier was a survival horror game where you landed on an aircraft carrier that was overrun by some kind of plant virus. It was cheesy as anything, but it was a lot of fun. There's also the nostalgia of the time, like seeing the cel-shaded graphics of Jet Grind Radio and thinking how much it looked like a cartoon. Or how realistic I thought Soul-Caliber used to look. Alas, I ended up selling this system, and the Game Boy. In fact, I remember selling all my Game Boy games to get Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2. Having no games meant it was only a matter time before the Game Boy got sold, too. Having the 2nd one prompted me to buy the first Pro Skater for the Dreamcast. I liked it, but I really missed being able to do a manual.
And that's it. Next up...well, I've got quite a bit in the pipeline I want to write, including a new series. It's all of matter of what I feel like, and finding the time. We'll see what happens. Until then, stay retro folks. Thanks for reading.