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For the holidays this year, a dear friend of mine got me a 3-month subscription to Loot Crate, a gift he considered “too geeky for [him], but something [I] would love.” As the guy who got him into geek culture, this was a wonderful gift to receive. I sought to get him something equally considerate.
As he was the one who got me into good whiskey, I eventually came across the Whiskey Appreciation Crate from Man Crates, a site that sends wooden crates that actually requires you to open it with a crowbar they send with. Intrigued, I took a look into some of the other crates, surprised to find they have some awesome crates for gamers as well.
When I got to the Super Retro Gamer Crate, and saw the classic Mortal Kombat cartridge, I flashed back to a shining moment of my gamer past: I was a chubby ten-year-old, at my cousin’s birthday party at a skating rink, bored out of my mind. I didn’t know any of his friends and no one there cared much for gaming. My mom must have noticed, because she came over with $5 in quarters and told me I could go over to the arcade. I jumped right on to the Mortal Kombat II machine. The first game was one of my favorites (and thankfully easy to borrow from my friends), and the second one had just recently come out. I went straight for Reptile, my favorite “new” character and started working my way up the ladder.
That’s when it happened: a tall fifteen-year-old and his girlfriend jumped onto the second player spot and I prepared to get my ass handed to me and loses spot. He popped his quarter in and selected Sub Zero. The first round went just as expected; a hailstorm of ice was flung and although I got a few acid orbs in, I was flat on my back. The second round began, and I switch to a more defensive posture, using the block button more than I ever have. With some well timed uppercuts and some invisibility, I managed to eke out a victory with a sliver of health left.
Fortunately, I’m a strategist first and a gamer second. The invisibility really messed this guy up and he spammed freeze blasts like it was the only move he knew. Blocking gave me a wonderful opportunity to switch it up between turning transparent and catching him with a slide, a move I was happy to see the two fighters shared. Taking my time, I was able to wear him down and make the kill with a happy half health bar left. His girlfriend smirked and he pulled another quarter from his pocket.
The second match was laughable: I had his pattern of freeze then jump kick down like a bad AI, and cleared the first round on a flawless victory. Confident in my control, I didn’t want to give him a third round. I pulled more orbs, threw in some throws, and soon the “Finish Him” message flashed on the screen. I smiled at our screen position, tapped Back, Back, Down, Low Punch and watched with glee as Reptile pulled his mask off, shot his tongue out and consumed Sub Zero’s head. The girl screamed out “He ate your head!” and smiled at him. The guy, with a smile on his face, shook and my hand and congratulated me, telling me he hadn’t seen that before and he loved it. He walked of with his girlfriend, but I had won the game, earning my right to finish up my tower climb. Oh youth. That moment taught me, more than any sport I’ve played or competition I’ve entered, that skill comes in all forms, and destroying someone in a game doesn’t always have to lead to conflict and a timely fatality can help you make friends.
The Best Crate Ever
The arcades are gone now, but my love of gaming was always first and foremost in consoles and the home gaming experience. While I will probably be picking up the Super Retro Gamer Crate for my brothers, if only to catch them up on my real favorites like Earthbound and Super Metroid, for me, there are some things I’d love to see in a crate coming to me (to my designated Player 2, take note).
First, I’d need soda, the fuel that keeps us gamers going. But not just any soda; soda with real sugar, not that corn syrup. Nothing would bring back the memories of late night sessions like a Dr. Pepper that tastes right.
Next is the snacks, which is perfect as is. Both Retro and Super Retro crates have great candies, and more importantly, they are in small pieces easy to just pop from box to mouth, meaning you won’t have to clean your hands off afterwards! Smarties and Nerds were my dedicated staples in those times. Of course it never hurts to have some protein, so beef jerky would be fantastic as well.
The 16-Bit era also happened to have some great music as well, but for those games that didn’t quite measure up, CDs filled the bill. If Play! A Video Game Symphony had been a thing when I was a kid, it would have been the only soundtrack I would have had on.
Finally, gamer merchandise rounds out the set. From posters and video game beanies to t-shirts and accessories like belt buckles, pins and keychains, every gamer needs a way to let other gamers know they’re one of them. Generally the subtler the better, as nothing is better than seeing someone who gets it compliment you, and someone that doesn’t, ask about it.
There is one final thing one would need: a great two-player game. For me, the greatest joy gaming brings is the way it can bring people together. My cousin and I cleared Contra as kids, my brother and I cleared Halo: Combat Evolved when the Xbox launched, and my girlfriend and another good friend managed to clear the first Borderlands last year, even as both were away at school. A good Co-Op game is a must.
Where To From Here
It’s been wonderful reliving my gaming youth but it’s time to get back to creating new memories. The XCOM Board Game has arrived and I need to get through that tutorial.
Until next time, keep making those memories and make sure to enjoy them more when they come back!
What were your favorite gaming moments growing up? What’s the game or situations that always bring you back to those great times? I invite everyone to take a moment to relive your favorite gaming moment and share it with us in the Comments below!