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 still...no 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.