The X Button
Due Recognition

by Todd Ciolek,

The X Button will take next week off. It's time for a Christmas break, or as close as I can get to one now that I'm no longer a kid. I'll return the week after for more end-of-year retrospection, Guilty Gear ravings, and facts about old MSX games.

This week, we have the results of a contest that asked readers for their favorite memories of the holidays and video games. The top spot went to Justin Wisniewski and his story of Super NES wishes and flying pigs.

1992. Many kids dreamt of waking up on Christmas morning to find a carefully wrapped Super Nintendo left by Santa. I knew, however, this would not be the case. My parents told me that they had already talked to Santa and asked him not to bring one to our home. They were worried that I was not yet old enough to budget my time responsibly (rightfully so). Every Christmas after we would repeat the same joke, "Can I get a SNES!?"; "When pigs fly." I even went to the library to try and find a book to research swine aviation capabilities (this was before the western release of Porco Rosso). No flying pigs = SNESless me.

Christmas morning, 1995. While opening gifts with my family, I noticed a curious box buried far under the others. It was small and was addressed to me. A note read, "OPEN LAST." When the time came I carefully peeled the wrapping to find a small porcelain figure of a pig. With wings... The winged porker held a note "Look behind the couch, Love Santa." Cautiously I turned my head; the angelic bacon did not lie, there was a rather large box back there! With a sense of optimistic skepticism, I tore at the wrapping. Before me in grey and purple plastic was the 16-bit powerhouse known as the SUPER NINTENDO. After reassembling the brain matter from my exploded mind, I proceeded to play Donkey Kong Country for an entire, blinkless, weekend. Happy Holidays indeed.

Yeah, but what about the pig? Was it well-made? Nicely painted? What happened to it? Oh well. More entries will follow at the end of the column!

NEWS

SQUARE ENIX ANNOUNCES A NEW SAGA GAME, EINHANDER 2 STILL NON-EXISTENT
The SaGa series has a touchy relationship with the English-speaking world. It began as a pack of Game Boy games, all somewhat experimental twists on the Final Fantasy formula, and most of us enjoyed them when they came West under the title Final Fantasy Legend. Then Square put out three Romancing SaGa games for the Super Famicom, and most of us could only stare in vague envy at the Japanese versions while Square's U.S. branch left them off the localization priority list. Then the PlayStation era brought the incomplete mess of SaGa Frontier and the decent but underfed SaGa Frontier 2. The PlayStation 2 got a not-bad Romancing SaGa remake and a confusing, tedious chore called Unlimited SaGa. I wonder just how we'll take it when Square Enix rolls out a new SaGa game for the PlayStation Vita.

Currently known by the humdrum name of SaGa 2015, the new game emerged during a NicoNico livestream announcement hosted by series creator Akitoshi Kawazu. Few details were offered beyond two illustrations by longtime SaGa artist Tomomi Kobayashi. Furyu seemingly wrangled Kobayashi away for a 3DS title called The Legend of Legacy earlier this year, but he's clearly capable of working on two RPGs. Or three.

Kobayashi's art also will adorn Imperial Saga, a browser-based RPG that winds an original story through the worlds of previous SaGa games. Lastly, Square Enix plans.a PlayStation Network version of Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song, the above-mentioned PlayStation 2 remake of the original Romancing SaGa.

Will any of these make it to North America? Minstrel Song might, since Square Enix already has its 2006 localization on hand. Yet we haven't been very accepting of Romancing SaGa titles in the past, and Square Enix declined to translate the DS remakes of the second and third SaGa games. Might SaGa just be a niche over here?

COSMIC STAR HEROINE SHOWS OFF AN ENTIRE HALF HOUR
Cosmic Star Heroine draws heavily upon classic RPGs. Its creators cite Chrono Trigger, Phantasy Star, the Lunars, Suikoden, and others. If you want proof of that, look to a new half-hour demo of Cosmic Star Heroine's alpha build. The game's sci-fi trappings and hardened heroine, Alyssa, recall Phantasy Star, but the footage seems more Chrono Trigger than anything. It's in the spritework of the monsters, the battles you can avoid, the characters who follow the party leader and fan out during combat. It's even in the soundtrack.

Of course, there's plenty that sets Cosmic Star Heroine apart. The alien jungle scenery is quite impressive, the monster descriptions are amusing, the lack of magic points is intriguing (and possibly inspired by Paladin's Quest), and I'm amused by the whole idea of “gunmancy” taking the place of regular sorcerous attacks. The demo only gives a few hints about the game's overall plot: shadow-ops expert Alyssa may end up on the run in the final Cosmic Star Heroine, but for the demo's duration she's leading a covert mission into a terrorist cell's doomed hideaway. It's equal parts grim plot twists and comedy, with a slaughtered cadre of enemies one moment, a quip about new firearms the next. That may seem uneven, but on the whole it's a catchy start to one of the most attractive retro RPGs yet seen. It's good to know that it'll hit the PlayStation 4 and Vita as well as Steam next year.

AFTER BURNER CLIMAX IS GONE ALREADY
I was set to tell people to grab After Burner Climax right now if they want it, because Sega's gorgeous jet shooter was scheduled to vanish from the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live on December 24. I say “was” because the game disappeared just this Tuesday, well ahead of schedule. The reason for its departure: Sega reportedly licensed actual jets for the game, and licenses don't last forever. Yet it's odd that there was no big sendoff or last-day price cut. Sega could've promoted it with the SeHa Girls!

Where does this leave you if you want After Burner Climax? If you already bought it and just want to download it again, you're fine. Those who never bought it can try nabbing the game from Europe's PlayStation Network (which needs an Euro PSN account, of course), but it may already be gone by the time this column goes up. And if you just want to try the game, there's always the arcade version or the scaled-down smartphone releases. At this writing, the Android and iOS editions of After Burner Climax are still available.

Or you could fire up Shenmue II and head to its virtual arcade for some After Burner II.

THE X BUTTON AWARDS: 2014

End-of-year awards are prestigious, eclectic matters…or at least they are in some places. Seeing as how many other sites already decided the Best Indie RPG or the Tallest Ice Cream Cone of 2014 (the latter goes to Persona Q), I prefer to focus on less important things.

BEST HALF OF A GAME: BROKEN AGE
Double Fine's Broken Age was one of the first big Kickstarter successes, and so it drew a lot of flak for every little problem it encountered. Delays took hold, and when the game arrived in January of this year, it was merely the first half of Broken Age. Some felt cheated when a Kickstarter that raised over $3 million made them wait until 2015 for the second half of a game originally promised by the fall of 2013.

I don't mind that, because the first chunk of Broken Age is something special. The Kickstarter all but promised an adventure in the tradition of the old LucasArts point-and-click affairs that launched Double Fine founder Tim Schafer's career, yet the game doesn't rely on nostalgia. It follows two characters: Shay's a bored young man on a deep-space liner, and Vella's a wary young woman caught in a ceremony to appease a ravenous and destructive behemoth. Their stories connect eventually, and there's plenty to enjoy along the way. I like the soft colors and slightly bizarre designs. I like the clouded menace of Shay's story and how it contrasts with the preposterous and overt injustices of Vella's side. I like how it's all about privilege and gender roles without hammering that down. I like the family of bird cultists who live in a cloud colony.

The second part of Broken Age is coming in 2015, and I suspect it'll clear up many of the ideas hinted at in the first half. That'll be nice, but I find myself strangely content with that partial game. It says just enough to satisfy, and it makes a surprisingly complete point for such a short experience. Sometimes you need only half to see the whole picture.

BEST INANE CONTROVERSY: LUCKY CHLOE
This year brought about a lot of bickering over small and strange things. The greatest was Gamergate, a movement seemingly fomented over complaints of “social justice warriors” controlling game journalism and colluding with developers. Gamergate was absurd and poorly substantiated when broken down to its base elements, but it was also serious: people were harassed, other people lost jobs, and companies pulled ads from websites (and, when it came to Intel, put them back). And it's still going on in some capacity. After enduring that, it was a comfort when, in the last weeks of the year, a controversy arose about nothing more serious than a catgirl cosplayer in a Tekken game.

The short of it: Tekken 7 introduced a new character named Lucky Chloe, and some fans didn't like her catpaw sleeves and headphones and minidress. So series producer Katsuhiro Harada told them he might remove Chloe from the American versions, since fans there prefer beefy boring grizzled guys with MMA gloves and imposing stubble. Speculation ensued over whether Harada is joking (he probably is) and just how Lucky Chloe fits into a fighting game that has such dignified sights as samurai cyborgs, lion-headed wrestlers who never remove their masks, and an ending where a schoolgirl travels back in time to stop an angry old man from throwing his son off a cliff.

The best thing to come out of this so far is Diepod's vision of Chloe sneaking into American players' good graces (above), which Harada seems to like. After such a fuss, I hope that Lucky Chloe arrives in Tekken games everywhere and inspires arguments and vaguely horrifying artwork for years to come.

BEST FAN TRANSLATION: ACE ATTORNEY INVESTIGATIONS 2
We've missed little of the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series. The mere description of a legal-drama game laden with Japanese puns once seemed poison to any localization plans, but Capcom was very diligent in translating and releasing Ace Attorney titles. One exception remains: Ace Attorney Investigations 2, sequel to the spin-off adventure game that stars Phoenix's friend and rival, prosecutor Miles Edgeworth. The original Edgeworth offering was a delight, but it didn't move enough copies for Capcom to justify the sequel's trip West. So it sat untranslated until this year, when some fans put together an English treatment for Ace Attorney Investigations 2.

It's a fan translation, so it's not quite as slick and pun-intensive as Capcom's official jobs. And playing it involves a lot of gray legal areas, if not outright thievery. At present, though, it's the only way to experience Ace Attorney Investigations 2 in English, and so it's a grand accomplishment. The Ace Attorney games are all about stories, and players need to understand them. It's unlikely that Capcom will localize Ace Attorney Investigations 2 in the future, but there's a chance. And if that miracle never happen(s), there's an alternative.

BEST RETRO-GAME DISCOVERY: THE UNCENSORED MONSTER PARTY
There's a great deal to uncover among old games: canceled titles, bizarre backroom stories, hidden messages where programmers rant profanely about how bad their co-workers smelled. Each year brings new pop-culture excavations, and 2014 saw a number of interesting finds. Intrepid game geeks and deep-pocketed collectors turned up the unreleased Famicom version of Strider, a long-missing Sega/Santos helicopter shooter called Hammer Away, the once-legendary landfill of unsold Atari games, and even new images of an aborted Final Fantasy comic by Kurt Busiek and Dell Barras. Yet my favorite revelations came from the never-released Japanese version of Monster Party.

Monster Party is a strange NES game where a humble, baseball-playing kid explores a goofy and grotesque realm of monsters. Some of the creatures bear vague resemblance to movie characters, and that was the original idea. As the prototype for the Japanese version shows, the game's bosses initially were blatant parodies of familiar monsters. Most of them were changed for the U.S. version: a robot Xenomorph became the grim reaper, a Planet of the Apes boss became a pumpkin ghost, and the above Gremlin became a far less scary cat. It makes the previously veiled Japanese edition fascinating to play through; while the mechanics are the same as the U.S. version, it's rare to see a game so defanged. Was Bandai really afraid that someone would sue over a Gremlins knock-off?

BEST KICKSTARTER DISASTER: LUFIA: THE HEROS [SIC] LEGACY
Kickstarter is a wonderful and cruel invention, a realm where ambitions and jokes and pet projects beg for a critical public's funding. Some ideas are lauded and swamped with cash well above their asking prices. Others are laughed off of the site. A few are affectionately funded at first and then pilloried after they disintegrate into empty promises and woeful design choices. It's usually sad when a Kickstarter fails, though there are rare cases when a flop is almost as precious as a raging success.

A young Australian named Michael McDonald put together a Kickstarter for Lufia: The Heros [sic] Legacy in February. His vision: a faithful successor to the Lufia RPGs. His funding goal: $40,000, with a demo available to those who ponied up at least $100. His pitch: a brief and vague description with rampant misspellings. The proof of his craftmanship: Lufia II's Selan pasted into some Dungeons and Dragons artwork.

Lufia: The Heros Legacy met with rampant mockery, and its creator shut down the Kickstarter page a few days after opening it. Some believe it was a prank. Others maintain that it was an earnest attempt that became embarrassing to watch. Yet I find it endearing. I suspect that many of us had youthful bouts of delusion and creativity that turned us into the saviors of marginalized games, books, comics, TV shows, or whatever. We knew that something we adored could make a blazing comeback if only we were in charge of it, and we weren't about to let petty legalities and our own meager talents get in the way. That's what led Mr. McDonald to sacrifice a Kickstarter in the name of Lufia, and I fully understand why.

Besides, he likes the underrated Lufia DS game. He has potential.

GAME OF THE YEAR: DRAKENGARD 3
It's traditional for a year's best games to be technically impressive, carefully polished, or at least novel enough to surmount deficiencies of the former qualities. Drakengard 3 doesn't fit. It's a crass, mechanically careless game. An action title with a few shooter interludes, it follows a brusque demigoddess named Zero and her dragon Mikhail as they destroy her sister deities. Its gameplay is a fairly serviceable slasher held back by awkward viewpoints. Its story is full of crude comedy, heartless bloodshed, and obnoxious fourth-wall assaults. It even slows down unbearably when Zero hops aboard Mikhail for air-to-ground attacks. Drakengard 3 is a sloppy game.

Drakengard 3 is also remarkable. Zero is a loathsome, brutish antiheroine who bullies her childlike pet dragon into carnage and tears through ranks of lowly troops all more likeable than herself. She tears wide open an idea from the original Drakengard and just about any game with a dark hero grimacing and murdering his way to victory. Drakengard 3 tells us that only a horrid person would enjoy cutting through entire battlefields of enemies, and that person is Zero. She's not alone, either. The game's story spills out through alternate realities, the struggles of Zero's equally warped sisters, and masked critiques of all too common stereotypes. And there's just enough grim pleasure in the gameplay, music, and styling to keep it together.

Many games from 2014 were happier, smoother, and better-crafted than Drakengard 3. Yet nothing snared me quite the same way. No other game drew me in, screwed with my emotions, or made me think about it nearly as much as Drakengard 3. It's flawed and silly, and it oversteps its borders all the time. It's indulgently dumb as much as it's clever, and you're all but forced to level-grind weapons and play bonus DLC quests if you want to see everything. Then the final boss arrives, and Drakengard 3 turns around and aims all of its innate sadism at the player.

Drakengard 3 hated me. I loved it.

Runner-Ups: Broken Age Part One, Guilty Gear Xrd, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright, Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker, Child of Light, Bayonetta 2, both Danganronpa games, and Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. And Illusion of Gaia for the Super NES. I played it this year, so it counts.

NEXT WEEK'S RELEASES

Little to nothing will arrive in the last two weeks of the year, but you can look for the special edition of Guilty Gear Xrd on December 23. It has a soundtrack, an artbook/history tome, a keychain that looks like a belt buckle that looks like a piece of metal with “FREE” on it, and a big, gear-festooned Backyard box to hold it all. The regular edition of Guilty Gear Xrd is out this week, but those who wait should get their boxed sets by Christmas.

One more game might slip in before the end of the year, as Gaijinworks and Monkey Paw Games' Class of Heroes 2G looms somewhere above the PlayStation Network. The limited-edition physical release was available only to those who signed up early, but there should be a digital version out before long.

HOLIDAY CONTEST: THE REST

This column's most recent contest invited you to send in humorous collisions of the holidays and video games. I expected a bunch of cuddly recollections of opening presents and enjoying time with friends and family. Some entries were like that. Others were about present fraud, blackouts, and…unhygienic elements.

In fact, we'll start with the most disturbing entry in the bunch, courtesy of “a-chan145.”

Last year I got a PS3 and had my sights on a particular game, WWE All Stars. However, it was never in stock, and I didn't want to buy it online since EB Games (Canadian GameStop) had a cheap used copy. One day in December, I found out that a used copy was available at a local store. My older brother went out to get it for me as a Christmas gift. Come Christmas, I opened the game and was so excited that I popped it in without second thought. To my surprise, I got a disc read error! I opened the disc tray and one of the FUNKIEST smells slapped me across the face. I was crying because it smelt so vile and I took out the disc and turned it around. Turns out the disc had a chunky brown substance aggressively smeared across it. What made it worse was my PS3 heats up and warmed it up, so it activated whatever that stuff was. Sadly, some of that brown stuff was smeared on my PS3 as well. Unlike the disc, I couldn't properly clean my PS3 since I didn't want to damage it. Although, you could argue the brown smear in the disc tray already did. I finally decided to clean my PS3, but it was too late. Somehow, the smell persisted and every time I turned it on, the smell would spread cause of the fan. It didn't help my PS3 is in my room, so my room was done for. In the end, I was forced to leave my window open during a snowstorm with my PS3 turned on for hours just to rid of the foul smell. Needless to say, my Christmas was ruined by a used, shit stained PS3 game.
Kajimaru was naughty before Christmas, and it was all Pokemon's fault.

Alas I am but a humble man, who as a child did something that would have placed me on Santa's naughty list instantaneously. The year was 1998 and the young 15 year old version of me wanted nothing more than to begin his journey as a Pokemon Trainer with the release of Pokemon Red. Mom eventually gave in to my request for the game.

I knew my parents had gotten it several days before Christmas. They had a cruel way of teasing us kids by placing it under the tree days before Christmas. Unknowingly to them, this would be my downfall into corruption. It only took two days. One night when my parents were out and I was alone, I snuck into my elder brother's room for his exactoknife. I then hurried into my parent's room for tape. Locking all of the doors of the house to buy myself time incase my parents arrived early I grabbed the present and hurried back into my room.

I was a moment before I did it. I thought "I just don't want to look disappointed if this is not the right game." As I cut through the tape, carefully revealing the GameBoy game box with the heavenly Pokemon logo I could not help but grin. I could not resist any more. I slowly opened the box and removed the cartridge. I met with Professor Oak, choose Charmander, lost to my rival, caught a Pidgey, and saved. I then sealed and placed the game under the tree. I would repeat this every night that there was an opportunity for the next seven days.

Finally, Christmas came and I opened up Pokemon Red. I did not have to act surprised. Honestly, I was surprised that I was able to get away with my scheme for so many days. Looking back, I do not regret what I have done. I never did drugs, caused violence, or hurt anyone on purpose - but for a few days in 1998, I was the naughty little Pokemon trainer.

Perhaps you were a brat, Matt Kauffman, but in the long run you saved your parents a lot of money on batteries.

In December of 1995, I was eight years old. My parents informed me that I would finally be allowed a portable video game console. I remember staring at them in stunned silence. I had never been allowed an SNES or Genesis like my friends. I had accepted my fate. But now there was a ray of hope. I told them that I wanted a Game Boy. Christmas could not come soon enough.

On that Christmas morning, I tore through wrapping paper in a crazed frenzy until I found my first ever game system. It was a Game Gear. With Batman Forever. I tried it. I wanted to like it. But it was terrible. It wasn't what I had expected at all. I was crushed.

I stopped playing after 15 minutes. My mom could tell I was disappointed and asked me what was wrong. I explained that I had wanted a Game Boy. That this machine she had bought me, even though it did have a color screen and more buttons, wasn't any fun. I don't remember crying, but I might have.

I'm sure that I appeared an ungrateful brat. I didn't care. I stood my ground until she took me to Target the next day to return that battery devouring despair brick and buy a "Gorgeous Green" Game Boy and Kirby's Dream Land 2.

I am very proud of my eight year old self. His refusal to settle for less created a lifelong Nintendo fanboy.

John Everyman's dad was just looking out for him.

8 years ago, the day before Christmas me and my father went to Delkalb Ave to find a copy of Marvel vs Capcom for the Playstation One. We searched many stores but could not find one until I found one used copy.....next to a bunch of hentai dvds. Only knowing of anime shown on Toonami I wanted to stare more but my father who didn't notice the nude anime maid pulled me away out of impatience.
Kerry Saulters didn't ruin Christmas, but a snake might have.

Our Ci-Ci's pizza joint has a mini arcade. There are times the place doesn't work, but me and two friends were lucky that after our meal during holiday shopping, we decided to see if it did work, and turns out the machines in did. Now when I go to an arcade, my favorite game to play is one of those car racing games, like Crusin' USA I think is the name of it, the one where you can hit cows with your car in Germany or something.

Anyway, I put my donation in to play the game and pressed the START button. It's at this VERY moment all the lights went out in the restaurant. I'm sitting there with a blank look on my face like what just happened, and pressed the button again. Nothing. Someone came in and said that the lights were out all over town, including the traffic lights!

Of course, I'm wondering did I cause a city wide outage by this point. My two friends are chuckling at me, since I must've had this funny look on my face. Even my own apartment lights were out.

The next day, we get the newspaper. A snake had crossed into some circuit breakers at the Power company finding a tasty snack and committed suicide in the process, causing the whole outage in the first place. It's funny how the snake decided to do this right as I press the button. Yet the snake was the first casualty we've had, since then, another snake and a raccoon have suffered the shock. But it's that one snake that had me believing I had started an outage by the press of an arcade machine button. To this day, I have the newspaper clipping as a funny reminder.

Lynette Smith won the Drakengard 3 Contest earlier this year, so she recused herself from this competition. But she still shared a Christmas story!

The Great Frog Crash of 2000

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December when I received Frogger 2 for Christmas.

The anticipated sequel to a game I had loved (and sucked at). It was great and all went well until… Pyramid Climb. It was an Egypt themed level, decent and unremarkable up until you reached the stairs. It wasn't an obstacle, there were no enemies, just three steps that led to the next part of the level, but as soon as I got to the top--*crash* the game closed, sending me back to the desktop. I tried again *hop* *hop* *hop* *crash* did the computer need to be restarted? *hop* *hop* *hop* *crash*

My parents tried to fix it. Change the video res? *crash* What about the audio? *Crash* Anything need updating? *crash* Is there a downloadable patch? Tweak the settings? Re-install the game? Comb though the readme? Tech support? Put the game on a different drive? Etc? *hop* *hop* *hop* *crash*

Really, it played much more like a yo-yo then a video game. I was called in to play the level again and again to see if it would work now, only to be shooed away when it invariably crashed.

Days passed and then a week. Mom finally gave up and bought me a new game to make up for it: Croc 2. I booted up the game and--*crash*

It was to be a barren winter, devoid of anamorphic amphibians and their platforming adventures.

One way or another, Christina Maharaj was getting Yoshi for Christmas.

In the early hours of Christmas in 1998, when I was 9 years old, I woke up to see my stocking sitting at my bedroom door. In the top I could just barely see something sticking out the top, which what looked like eyes staring at me. Not wanting to turn the lights on, I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. It didn't work though, as I found my eyes wandering back towards my stocking. I stared back at the pair of eyes staring at me in the darkness before trying to go back asleep. It still didn't work as I could feel them watching me. I needed to know what it was. I got out of bed quietly and walked up to my stocking. I flicked the light on to find out that it was a green beanie baby Yoshi. Also with him was Yoshi's Story for the N64. Only thing was, we didn't have an N64. Finally at ease I went back to bed, my Yoshi with me.

Later that day, I found that my brother also received an N64 game, Banjo Kazooie. My mom told us she thought they were Super Nintendo games and she made a mistake. We all set up downstairs, to open our presents. My mom pulled out a big box first for us to open all together. And there is was, the N64 she faked not knowing about. It is a Christmas I will never forget.

Seems that a lot of kids, “evilmongoose47” among them, unwrapped their presents early. I never did that, and now I feel like I missed out.

One year, all I wanted for Christmas was Zelda 64. About a week into December I knew that my mom had already finished her Christmas shopping and that all of the gifts were wrapped in her closet. I waited until she was at work and searched the closet for a gift that was the right size and shape. After finding it, I carefully unwrapped it, removed the cartridge, and re-wrapped the box. When I unwrapped the box on Christmas morning I pretended to be really surprised and happy, my mom never realized I had already been playing the game for weeks.
It's too bad Vince Henry didn't get Stadium Events instead of World Class Track Meet. He'd be rich today!

My fondest Christmas was from the 1980's when I got a brand new Nintendo entertainment system for the holidays. It came with 3-in-1 super Mario bros/duck hunt/world class track meet game.

It was great fun.

Don't ever get your mother a Harvest Moon game, Tom Morgan. Those horses will starve.

A few years ago I was visiting my mom for Christmas. Since she lives out in the country and can't get cable, I brought my laptop with me to keep entertained. One day while I was playing The Sims, mom got up to feed the horses. As she walked by, she spotted my characters going about their daily routine. She leaned in close, fascinated.

"What is he doing?"

"He's cooking dinner, Mom."

"Oh that's cool!"

After several minutes, I realized she was still watching.

"Uh Mom?"

"Yeah?" (still watching my screen, btw)

"Don't you have horses to feed?"

She jumped back. "Oh crap, I forgot!" Then ran out the door.

Joel Cooper learned that you have to wait for good things.

The most amusing incident of note about Christmas would be waking up as a kid, at 4 A.M, and running to the tree, only to find that the presents weren't out under the tree yet. Being young, I thought that Santa had not dropped off any gifts, and laid down under the tree, crying to myself. I fell asleep shortly after, only to wake up again and see that the presents were in front of me. A brand new N-64 with Ocarina of Time. Fortunately, it was only that the parents hadn't expected me to get up that early. My older sister ended up taking me to her room to watch T.V until the rest of the family got around for it. I had already gotten the players guide as a subscription bonus from Nintendo Power, so I already knew exactly what to do in the game once I started it up, though, with spoilers.
Insaneben remembers Goldeneye fondly, as do most people who were within range of a Nintendo 64 in the late 1990s.

My fondest holiday memory dates back to Christmas week, 1998, when my brother, a few of his friends and I would face each other in Goldeneye. Having already played Versus mode numerous times, we decided to change things up by setting the game to one-hit kills and pistols only. The rules were if you held someone at gunpoint, they'd have to answer a trivia question correctly in order to escape. It worked well... for the most part (some tried to make a break for it without answering, only to end up getting shot). The best part, though, came when someone held an opponent at point blank range, only to get whacked from behind by a karate chop. (Needless to say, the victim was quite furious, but we all had a good laugh.) Another funny moment was being able to land proximity mines on an opponent and watch them panic in futility before detonation (which, coincidentally, happened on the same day... to the same guy who got karate chopped earlier... which led to another profanity-laced tirade).

Good times.

I hope you yelled out the game's full title like that one kid opening his Nintendo 64, Jamie Hott.

My tale comes from an embarrassing Christmas event from about two years ago. I have a soft spot for sidescrolling action games like Ghosts N Ghouls and others which got me introduced to the first Prinny game for PSP. I found it in a used game store about a month before Christmas and had been playing the crap out of it. Fast-forward to about a month later on Christmas day when as a gift I get, from my mother, the 2nd Prinny game with a title of Dawn of Operation Panties in front of my entire family. Surprise to me to see I got the game and it was about panties apparently, I still wish it did not mention them in the title.
Cristiano Sterni spent the holidays caught up in Trauma Center. Not a trauma center, mind you.

Me with 6 friends in a room, the party was going downhill because of the tiredness.

I was playing DK: CR on the Wii all by myself, then I said, "Let's Try Trauma Center: New Blood"

After inserting the CD I lent the controller to one of my half-dead friends, after a brief introduction he was ready to perform the first operation On "easy" [Spoiler]: a Man with a broken arm assaulted by a grizzly [Spoiler end]

I still thank the moment I suggested we play a little with trauma center! Everyone bursted into laughter…probably because he never played TC before and with his precarious mental state he often picked the wrong tools (Laser instead of the drainer, burning the organs of the patient; stitches instead of the syringe and so on ... causing more damages then anything). If that poor man could have spoken, he would have probably said "Please ... no more ... give me back to the grizzly!"

He performed every operation awfully but somehow he was able to barely keep the patients alive. The last operation he performed was [Spoiler] an old Nun smashed by a timber beam [Spoiler end]

He said "Naaahhh, she can't die, the divine providence will help her ..." In the end, my friend defeated the "Divine Providence" ... he killed her in less than 20 seconds without even knowing how!!! We still make fun of him for that even today.

After all of this he "passed the baton" to the others, and within an hour there were many casualties: a poor little girl in need of a new pacemaker died 10 times, a man with gallstones died 3 times, two poor boys in need of an appendix surgery died 6 times, and so on ...

Thanks to all this laughter, we were able to push till 7.15 AM playing Trauma center, but also Taiko No Tatsujin and Mario Party ...

Playing Trauma Center, A lot of patients perished under the knife of my friends ... But in the end, at least one thing was revived ... Our New Year Party !!!

Thomas Rice provides a story with an unexpectedly romantic twist! Stay to the end!

Let me take you back to around Christmas time of 1996. The Nintendo 64 had launched and quickly became the most popular toy for the season. Between my brother and I, we discovered that we had enough Christmas money to get one of these coveted machines, but with one problem. They were sold out EVERYWHERE. My father looked and looked, but they were gone. We figured we'd just hold onto the cash and get one later.

At the same time, my father was corresponding via email with an old friend of his who was stationed at an Air Force base in Italy. He had recounted our tale of video game woe to him and received quite a shocking reply. The PX at his base had N64's in abundance! My dad came back and told us about this and we agreed to have his friend send us one all the way from Italy. Waiting a few weeks sure beat waiting a few MONTHS.

That night we went out and picked out games and extra controllers. I got Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, and my brother got Mario Cart 64. I will admit that I even took one of the extra controllers out and sat in front of my TV, imagining what it would be like to get this amazing new gaming console.

As an interesting little cap to this story. 11 years later, this friend of my Dad became my Father-in-Law when I married his daughter.

And that's it for the holiday stories! See you all after Christmas!
Todd Ciolek occasionally updates his website, and you can follow him on Twitter if you want.


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