Here at Outright Geekery, we’re always looking for an excuse to talk about the comics, TV shows, movies, and other stuff that makes us all geeks. So when ManCrates.com contacted us about their love for video games, and asked us to share in that passion, we jumped at the chance. The folks at ManCrates really dig the classics! That moment when you transition from a fledgling newcomer to a hardcore addict is one that every video gamer has, and the Outright Geekery crew is sharing our personal moment with you. But that’s not all! We want to hear about your moment. Whether it was hours in an arcade, days behind a keyboard, or multi-player marathons with your friends, what was your Gamer Origin?
One of my best video game memories doesn’t come from my early years of gaming. Actually, it comes from a little over a decade ago. This happened around the time of my brother’s 15th (or maybe his 16th) birthday. My brother asked if I would let him borrow my Xbox console so he and his friends could play Halo CE on separate screens. Being that it was his birthday, I agreed on the condition that I could join in the fun.
After several matches of team slayer on Blood Gulch, my brother calls for a cease-fire and asked if everyone wanted to do something different. When he was asked what he had in mind, my brother replied “well, all the vehicles are indestructible without drivers, lets get a Scorpion on top of the base”. And like that, we went to work putting a tank on the roof.
After a few failed attempts, some brief exchanges of rockets between us and a few curse words traded back and forth, we had finally came up with a plan.
We started by parking a Warthog next to the base, then we parked the Scorpion on top of the Warthog. Here’s where it gets fun, all of us would toss all our frag grenades at the tank, when those grenades detonated, we’d toss all our plasma grenades to keep the tank in the air a little longer, and finally we’d hit it with the rocket launchers. After a few tweaks of this method, we finally managed to get that Scorpion on the roof. We let out a triumphant howl at our accomplishment. I fetched a camera from my backpack and snapped a few pics. This is one of them, proof that we did it. That is my brother’s Spartan posing with the Scorpion on the base.
What would I like to see in a personalized nostalgia gaming crate? The first thing that comes to mind are snacks, like beef jerky, peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets and Twizzlers Pull and Peel. Next, something to keep my drink cold, as mine would be my trusty tin cup. It keeps the ice cubes longer that than any glass or ceramic mug. Now, if I could find a tin cup with a decent lid and a place for a straw, I’d be set. Years ago, I had a t-shirt that was simply the NES controller with the phrase “Remember your roots” on it, I kind of miss that shirt. I’d include a shirt or two like that. Just for laughs, maybe toss in a Nintendo Power magazine, along with a couple of vinyl figurines of old school Nintendo characters and stickers, that’s pretty nostalgic right there.
While my first recollections of playing video games go back to the Atari 2600, the NES, and even ZORK, Space Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry on my dad’s very early IBMs, I don’t consider those the moments that made me a gamer. I’m old enough to remember popping quarter after quarter into arcade cabinets at laundry-mats, bowling alleys, restaurant backrooms, and actual video game arcades way before playing anything at home.
But even those early escapades in coin-op didn’t really cement my status as a hardcore gamer. It took not one, but two very popular arcade classics to truly pull me to the dark side of video gaming never to look back. Those two games were Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.
Of course I’m talking about Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat II, the fighting games that changed the genre and this gamer fanboy forever. In the 90s, there really wasn’t all that much to do in my hometown, especially for teenagers. My friends and I would spend most weekends (and a few truant days) at the local bowling alley, popping quarters into one game or another. But one Thursday (that’s when the arcade games leasing company stopped by) dropped off a brand new version of both Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat II (games the bowling alley had already had for months) and moved them to either side of the entrance. As soon as anyone walked into the bowling alley they walked past there two new games, and it was pandemonium for that moment on. People we’re lining up to play the winner of each match to the Nth degree. There were lines, literally, from lane 1 all the way down to lane 15 for both games!
At the time I was connected at the hip to a friend named Josh, and we’d been skipping school and spending a Smaug’s horde worth of change on each of these games for weeks. Thanks to some diligent combo hunting (no easy feat in the earlt 1990s) and some friendly competition, we got really good! Josh had become exceedingly skilled at using Blanka, Bison, and even Zangief to completely decimate his opponents, but he could whip digital butt with any of the Street Fighters, while I was the Kombat King. I knew all the moves, all the Kombos, and most of the Finishing Moves for every. single. character. Those long lines for these game-changing games started behind US, and it felt great! Of course, it only lasted a couple of weeks and everyone was as good as we were, but that was one hell of a couple of weeks. It’s when I knew without a doubt that there was no turning back. From that moment on, I was a hardcore gamer.
My personalized Man Crate would be full of an arcade cabinet of MK2 (I’ll settle for a port), a sack full of quarters, and a candle that smells like cigarettes and alley oil.
For me, the thing that made me into a gamer was definitely the N64. It’s hard for me to pin down one specific moment because the first few months I played with it seem to blur together for me. From watching my cousin play a rented copy of Blast Corps, to popping in Super Mario 64 on Christmas morning when my brother and I finally got our own console, to being scared out of my wits by Gohma the first time I played Ocarina of Time, so many of my memories center around that console and its poorly-designed controller. The first time I can remember staying up until 3 in the morning was a session of Mario Kart that caused my friends and I to lose track of the time. I will always remember having my mind blown when I found out that there was another form of Andross to fight if you took an alternate route in Star Fox. All through my grade school years, I remember my friends and I coming to school to share tips and tricks and secrets about the newest games.
These are the experiences that made me who I am as a gamer, so my crate would need to have an N64, a turbo-controller, a grab-bag of games, and enough soda to keep me awake until dawn.