Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hey buddy, can you spare 400 Microsoft Points?

XBox appears to have noticed that they have a user base that consists of more than just teenagers.  As much as I hate, and have always hated, the term Gen-X, that's the easiest way to group together people around my age group who have a common experience base around early video games.  Not to say we're the only ones.  I've met at least two "Gen-Yers" (I apologize) who grew up with the very same games due to having "Gen-X" (last one, I promise) older siblings.  They got the hand-me-down Atari 2600 systems.  I still have one.  Most of the games still work.  Pitfall doesn't, which sucks because that was always my favorite, but I've got re-released versions for Win95 and Playstation.  (Damn it's hard to keep that stuff up to date). 

Now XBox has found the newest way to get me to spend my rather hard-to-come-by-lately money in the form of Microsoft points again.  They're releasing all of my old favorites on XBox Live Arcade.  Bastards!  What a cunning, evil plan!

It all started with DOOM.  Oh the countless hours spent in the early nineties banging arrow keys and spacebars killing simulated 3D bitmap based hellspawn. I honestly don't remember if the original DOOM supported multiplayer (I've still got it around here somewhere, I'll check later) but I remember that DOOM 2 did.  I had countless hours of fun sneaking up behind my best friend with a double-barreled shotgun and blowing him away (that's just fun to say), untill somebody picked up the phone and messed up the damn carrier signal on the modem.  Ah, modems: good times!

XBox released DOOM on XBox Live arcade a few months ago.  Something that primitive probably doesn't appeal to today's youth unless they've got a video game history fetish, but it's nostalgic to those of us that pissed away our youth on it when it was new. 

Next was PacMan.  Oooh, I was GOOD at PacMan when it was a popular new arcade game.  Again, today's youth would probably not look twice at it, wondering "where's the damn plot line?  How do you win?"  You didn't back then.  You proved your mastery over others and your right to rule as master of the tribe by showing how long you could survive the onslaught of digital ghosts on a single quarter.  PacMan was the very first "SuperGame".  The first game that caused a craze.  Today's market is so flooded with titles that there really aren't any crazes any more, other than for consoles themselves.  Back then we had PacMan lunch boxes, PacMan bedsheets, PacMan pajamas, PacMan records (yes, records.  Not CDs.  Those big round black things you put on turntables as part of rap music today used to be a music distribution medium.) PacMan cereal (fortified with Sugar Frosting and High Fructose Corn Syrup), and on and on. 

Now we have PacMan on XBox Live Arcade.  I love it.  My kids hate it.

Then Galaga.  'Nuff said.

Then Frogger.  'Nuff said.

Missile Command, Warlords, and on and on.  Some are the original arcade versions.  Some have the original versions plus an updated version (to help the kids out with it.  Their brains can't process 8-bit graphics). 

And Finally, the Coup de grâce, Duke Nukem 3D.  Oh, they're killing me!  While money is still tight, I figure "Well, $5 for this game isn't a big deal", then another $5, then another, they sneak it in on you.  Then, an epiphany: I'm paying for games I already own!  How do they do that to me?  They're preying on some kind of nostalgia weakness.  I'd be fascinated to know what the psychology behind it is.

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