Friday, January 05, 2007

Re-inventing the wheel

I am not what you'd call an "early adopter." Those are the people who have to have the latest experimental plasma TV and the cell phone that can open their garage doors. I'm more of a late adopter; I want all the bugs worked out and the price to come way down.

This is why I'm considering upgrading my current Nintendo 64 to a Playstation 2. Now, before you confusedly check the date stamp at the end of this post: yes, it is 2007, and yes, I still have a Nintendo 64.

Despite having been born right in the middle the video game generation, I've never been much of a gamer. This is also despite my parents buying several of the early video game platforms (if you knew my parents, you'd know how weird that is. They were young once, apparently.) I remember my family having a Texas Intruments computer when I was very young (the TI-99/4A)), and the only game simple enough for me to play was called Hunt the Wumpus. We then upgraded to an Atari 5200. My mom was a fanatic of the game Megamania, which again is totally out of character for her. Megamania is basically Space Invaders but instead of alien ships, you shoot at flying hamburgers and bowties. What can I say? It seemed really clever at the time. I still remember a hearing the adults talking about a friend who reached the vaunted 45,000 points and took a picture of the screen to send to the company.

None of this really rubbed off on me, and despite becoming very skilled at Pole Position, I remained indifferent to video games. Like everyone else in America, we got a Nintendo system sometime during the late 80s. Even after playing Super Mario Brothers for hours upon hours, I was probably the only kid in America not to beat the game. A few years later, when I was still in my teens, we moved overseas and we couldn't make the Nintendo work with our foreign television.

(A funny side note on that: When we moved, we had to ship all our stuff months before we left. The mission president that my father replaced was a local and he had a son about my age. Apparently, the son and his friends heard that we had a Nintendo, so they opened all our stuff when it arrived and got the Nintendo out, but they couldn’t get it to work. A real class act, that family.)

During the first few years of college, I was too poor to even have a TV, let alone a Playstation. Finally in February 2000, Maude, who I was dating at the time, convinced me to buy a Nintendo 64 as a Valentine’s Day present for both of us. The price had finally gone down to $99 and she wanted to play MarioKart. And that’s where we stand today.

Since I don’t spend a lot of time gaming, I can’t imagine spending $400 for an Xbox or $600 for a PS3. Plus, all the games cost 50 bucks on top of that. But now you can get a Playstation 2 for just $130 and there are hundreds of cheap games now. Still, 130 bucks could buy a lot of books, instead of just time wasted sitting in front of the television.

On the other hand, if I get the system, at my current rate, I’ll be set until 2014. That’s a lot of time to try to beat Metal Gear Solid.


C.L. Hanson said...

I'm generally a "late adopter" too.

As I explained in programmer technophobe, I never buy the latest gadget just because it's the coolest newest thing. A new gadget really has to convince me that using it makes my live easier and/or more wonderful than whatever old curmudgeonly thing I was in the habit of using instead.

I'm also not really a gamer.

However, I did beat Super Mario Brothers!!! ;-)

NFlanders said...

I KNEW I was the only one!

I didn't know that computer programmers were even allowed to be late adopters. Who's going to work out the bugs for us regular people?

wendyp said...

I still don't have a cell phone. :))

My husband lives and breaths video games (he's also a book lover too). He even runs a fansite under the name mik:

We had some really lean years when he paid for his "habit" by working a second job in a video game store. Now that he makes a pretty decent living and could, in theory, buy whatever, he still trades in old games/systems and buys used. Yay for thrifty men.

Anyway, he says you should totally upgrade (Playstation 2 is a great system) and here are some game recommendations:

Can't miss, $20 apiece:
1. God of War
2. Shadow of the Colossus
3. Final Fantasy X
4. Resident Evil 4
5. Sly Cooper 1, 2, or 3

New and noteworthy:
Guitar Hero 1 or 2 ($70)
Bully ($39)
Final Fantasy XII ($39)
Okami ($39)

NFlanders said...

No cell phone, Wendy? What if you get a flat tire?

I mostly use my cell phone to order take-out while on the way home from work. I'm not sure if I'm using the technology to its full potential.

Thank you very much for the recommendations! I have no idea what games to get. Those all look interesting.

Beijing said...

This post reminds me of what Ali G asked a panel of scientists: "Let's talk about when technology goes horribly wrong: Could there be another Nintendo 64?"

I'm a non-adopter. I would consider getting those re-released Atari games because I have fond memories of Kaboom, Super Breakout, Qbert, Pitfall, and others. But those have been out for several years now, for cheap, and I still haven't gotten around to it.

Susan M said...

We don't have a cell phone either. People think we're insane. I think I don't want people calling me all the time.

Go for the Playstation 2. And I'm not just saying that because I work for Playstation. :) There are a lot of great games you can get used very cheap these days. And you should check out the Eyetoy Kinetic, it's really cool. It's a workout game that puts you on the tv screen and you interact with the game:

RoastedTomatoes said...

I just think it's cool that someone else remembers "Hunt the Wumpus." So many happy hours spent playing that thing with the Marshall kids (who actually had a video game system).

NFlanders said...

My parents wanted to get me something for my birthday, so I suggested they get me the PS2. Woo-hoo! I'll have it in a couple weeks. Now I just have to find some good games to get.

Beijing-- Nice to see you around, B. And thank you for reminding me that I need to pick up Season 2 of Ali G. I've thought of getting those throw-back Atari games too, but I wonder how much I am idealizing the past gameplay. I don't know if Frogger can hold my interest any more.

Susan-- I didn't know that's where you work; very cool. Thanks for the game suggestion. It looks like it provides a more complete workout than Dance Dance Revolution. I also checked out some other games on YouTube (great idea). The clips from Wendy's suggestion Bully look very entertaining. I might have to shell out the $40 for that one.

RT-- Another Hunt the Wumpus fan! I still remember the dread of accidentally running into the Wumpus and seeing that red pixellated monster on the screen and the music. Unfortunately, I looked and no one has posted a sample of it on YouTube. I'm very disappointed.

cbrown said...

I am also a late adopter, but we just traded up from the old PS one. There are great cheap games, especially if you go to the used game stores (or used on amazon). I have purchased many games for $5-10. My favorite right now (because my 10 year old and I can play it together) is lego star wars. It is so much fun. If you get stuck, there are plenty of sites with hints. I also recommend a game shark. It has all sorts of cheats (invincibility, jump and stay in air, free money etc...). It is for those of us who want to play games, but do not have enough time to master the game. I can play a couple of hours a week and have fun.

a random John said...

I don't have a land line. People think I'm insane.