The One That Got Away

The story of how I almost got Perfect Dark
By Bro
September 08, 2014
I've learned many things about video games from years of enjoying the hobby. One of them is the fact that the process of obtaining a video game can be nearly as entertaining a story as actually playing one. This is not that kind of story. This is the story of how I almost obtained a game. Perfect Dark, to be exact. "Well, if you didn't get it, how is this a good story?" you might be asking yourself. Let me answer that by setting the mood of this article with the following Far Side cartoon.

This story takes place at the Scandia Family Fun Center in Victorville, CA. This was the site of many birthday celebrations for me, as well as a place for more than few memories of my sister, mom, dad, and myself just enjoying each other's company. Scandia exists in a few Southern California cities, each one containing something a little different.

This is the view of our local Scandia from the highway. That tall swing ride wasn't there when I was a kid.

At its heart, it was a minigolf place. Ours also had the Stockholm Raceway (go-carts), Bumper Boats, batting cages, and an arcade.

Minigolf was divided into two separate 17-hole courses with the 18th being the point of no return for your ball. We usually bought a pass that gave each person a ticket for one game of golf, one race in the karts, and one turn on the bumper boats, as well as a handful of tokens. We would just play both golf courses and save the 18th hole for the end. Over time, my parents developed a tradition where a hole-in-one would earn you a king-size candy bar.

It was a little before or just after summer vacation had started in the year 2000. The 90's were officially over, I was getting older, and my father wanted to spend some quality time with me. To Scandia we went. As played some golf and talked, I began to tell my Dad about a new game that had just come out that I wanted to play. You may have heard of it.

While he doesn't share my same degree of enthusiasm, I'm very fortunate to have a dad who likes to play video games. He liked games like Mario Kart and Star Fox in particular. My dad was also, like myself, a big fan of Goldeneye 007 for the N64. He had his own file on our cartridge and he enjoyed playing multiplayer with me. He even played with my friends a few times. Knowing how much he enjoyed the game, I knew that Perfect Dark would interest him. What I was not prepared for though, was his response when I was done telling him what I knew about the game. As we were about to begin a hole, my dad looked at me and said "I tell you what, son. You get a hole-in-one on this hole, and I'll buy you that game."
I couldn't believe my ears. I looked at him. He looked at me.
"You serious?" I asked.
He smiled and slowly nodded his head. This was my fathers language for "Yep."
I was thrilled. All that stood between me and new found first-person glory was an obstacle or two and some cheap astro-turf. No pressure, right? On top of that, just across and a little further up the highway was the Mall of Victor Valley, wherein lied a Software Etc. Right next to the mall was a shopping center that held a Toys R Us, Best Buy, and Funcoland. After we were done golfing, there was no shortage of places close by to pick up my newly won prize. Then I thought of something. "You know, you need an expansion pack to play the whole game," I said.
"I'll buy you that too, then." Said my dad.

Sweet! I almost couldn't believe this was all really happening. While visions of headshots danced through my head, I was imagining what it would be like to call my friends and tell them about this amazing afternoon. But first things first. I had to focus. I had to sink this ball in one shot and I needed all my mental prowess to do so. But try as I might do clear my head, I had one thing on my mind. It looked a lot like this:

Focus man, focus! I took a breath, swung my putter, and...I didn't make the hole-in-one. I could feel my disappointment overtaking me, but I wasn't out yet. I looked at my dad and said "Can I try the next hole?" He told me that any hole-in-one while we were there would seal the deal. This was good. We hadn't been playing very long so that meant I still had a lot of chances. So we golfed. But with each new hole, came new disappointment. I came close many times, was robbed few others, but hole-in-one. Finally, we came to 18th hole. It was set behind bars so that you couldn't retrieve your ball once you hit it. I'd seen my father do it once before so I knew it was possible. I swung...and no dice. Nothing left to do now but enjoy some time at the arcade and race some go-carts.

I didn't have the heart to ask him, but I was hoping after seeing his son struggle to get a hole-in-one for past couple hours or so, my dad would have bought me the game anyway. He didn't. I did ask if we could at least rent it then and he had no problem with that. Unfortunately all the copies at Blockbuster were checked out. Oh well. In time, a couple of my friends came to own it which meant I still got to play my share of the game. I completed single player and Perfect Dark pretty much replaced Goldeneye for us multiplayer-wise.

I'll say this much. My father is not a cruel man. He's bought me many games and even surprised me with a couple. I'll never forget coming home from a friends house one evening to find him sitting in my room playing a newly purchased Star Fox 64. Seeing my joyfully surprised face, he said that he and my mom simply wanted to bless me. He certainly didn't owe me another game. And I'm fine never owning Perfect Dark. I borrowed it from my friends multiple times and played the crap out of it, but truth be told I never took to it the same way I did Goldeneye. So it's all good. I had a lot of fun that day regardless. And that's my story. Stay retro folks. Thanks for reading.
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7 years, 2 months ago
I had an experience like this just last year when I tried to obtain GTA V.
    7 years, 2 months ago
    I had a similar story with my parents. We just got let out for the summer from school and my parents owned a hotel in town. They had a tour bus for old people coming in and my Dad said if I carried bags to 10 or more rooms, he would buy me an NES game. I was done at 8 and there were no more bags. However, my Dad noticed the struggle was real and relented, buying me a copy of Tecmo Super Bowl.
      7 years, 2 months ago
      This reminds me of a story from about 7 or 8 years ago. I was 14 and the Wii had just come out the previous year. And boy did I want one! The thing is that my parents never got me any console. EVER! I wasn't willing to give up easily though.
      It cost about 400 bucks let's say. I had about 150 saved up and was begging my parents for the rest. No luck for months.
      Then, one day, we recieved the new Christmas catalouges for a local store and there it was - with a special holiday discount and a free game. So I show it to my dad, jumping in excitement and the next day he tells me "Let's have a walk to that store". We go to the electronics aisle, I'm biting my lips just ready to hug him as I expect him to grab a Wii from the shelf. He stops in front of them and asks: "Is this it?". I go "Yeah...". He looks at me and says "Okay, I saw it, let's go home"... WHAT?! Did you seriously do this to me, dad? Oh, and I didn't find one under the Christmas tree either...
        7 years, 2 months ago
        Dude....that sucks man! That's just mean. I know it's come and gone, but makes wanna buy you a wii just out of sympathy.
          7 years, 1 month ago
          Oh, what hurt even more was that right after this we went back... so he can get a present for my sister :D
          But I did get my Wii eventually... Sure, it was 6 years after it launched and I bought it myself, but it was well worth the wait :)
            7 years, 2 months ago
            Thanks for this. :D I can't wait to take my daughter to our local Scandia (here in Sacramento). She's three now, so maybe another year? Hopefully it won't suddenly shut down after, I'm guessing, 40+ years. It always looked old and shabby as far back as I can remember, heh. When I was 8-12, back in the nineties, Scandia was my Dad's go-to place for father-son bonding. The batting cages first, then either golf or go-karts, then he'd run some commentary while I kicked ass in the X-men video game (always X-men). He'd usually wander off after seeing a few mindless levels and go dominate the basket ball hoop game (he only had a passing interest in video games, and then, only the sports ones). Finish it off with air hockey matches to the death (it was just like Moses and Isaac, complete with God intervening at the final second). I would have thought the same thing you did, if he had ever put that much riding on a hole in one. Like, he must have already bought it for me or something, right? :)
              7 years, 2 months ago
              I haven't been there in years, but the Victorville Scandia is still going. Last time I went, some paint was chipped and the moving doors didn't always move on the windmills and castles, but it was still fun. We used to drive by a Scandia I think was in Ontario and that had roller coaster. I hope you and your daughter have fun, I want to take my daughter to my old Scandia one day as well.
                7 years, 2 months ago
                Thanks for this really fun read. Reminds me of how me and my dad would play the Zelda games together we had rented the game and gotten to about the forest temple when time was just about up. Obviously I was disappointed to have to return it but my dad had enjoyed playing the game together so much that he up and bought the rental copy. I had had the choice of the rental copy or a new one but I knew that I wanted that cart the one on which we both had formed our love of the zelda franchise.
                  7 years, 2 months ago
                  That's awesome about you and your dad! Many parents don't consider video games to be a way to bond with their kids. My dad liked Ocarina as well, but we never did a playthrough together. I remember standing in line for something, and I caught him whistling the music to Kakariko Village. I thought that was cool.
                    7 years, 2 months ago
                    how old were you? your dads a fun guy.
                      7 years, 2 months ago
                      I believe I was 17.
                        7 years, 2 months ago
                        Nice story. I think its a better story since he didn't buy the game for you. But I'm glad you got a chance to play it.
                          7 years, 2 months ago
                          It's funny, but I agree with you. I think not obtaining it makes this a good story. Still played a ton of it though. My best friend Danny and I would argue with our other best friends Jason and Greg as to which was better; the K7 Avenger or the Laptop Gun. Danny and I favored the K7.
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