Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Boxing Day blowout 2014 part 2

And now, the thrilling conclusion: the rest of my holiday haul. Now experiencing Christmases somewhat larger-than-life after a decade of it virtually not turning up on my calendar at all, I no longer know what "normal" is in these situations, but in any event -- I was quite impressed by it.
The book, "Introduction to Pascal INCLUDING UCSD Pascal", is by Rodnay Zaks and dates to 1980 -- predating the release of the IBM PC. (UCSD Pascal was actually one of the three operating environments available for the IBM PC at launch, the other two being CP/M and PC-DOS -- later rebranded MS-DOS. One of those things was not like the other.) Pascal was the monster programming language of my youth (which is to say, the language of choice for all programmers who weren't chomping on C and C+), and UCSD has a couple of hooks into retro gaming -- it was used in the creation of President's Choice, and the better-known FTL game Sundog: Frozen Legacy.

What else have we got here? "The Next Tetris" for PS1. I haven't heard much about it, but I'm guessing it wasn't exactly the next Tetris. There were an array of handheld LCD games -- a niche that I traditionally don't really collect... but maybe now I'll have to start? I do remember playing with them as kids when nothing else was available (not quite the bottom of the barrel -- on vacation a couple of years ago I found myself playing Solitaire on the beach with a deck of cards... damn, why won't these shuffle themselves?!) but not having nostalgia for them. Still, they're only one notch below Game Boy, right? Speaking of which, there was also a playing-card-engraved Nintendo DS in the batch, given apologetically without games or cables (snicker): now I have two DSes -- can't we use them to play games cooperatively over Wifi?

The scattershot nature of the actual games given yields a grocery list of sorts at this point: a couple of GBA carts (a platform with a remarkably unremarkable library, as best as I can tell, though of course I only experience the games for it that people were throwing away), a couple of Genesis carts (how many copies of Sonic 2 have I gone through, anyway?), a Game Gear cart, four N64 carts, two thrift-bin Wii games, Half-Life 2 (which, judging from the label, was still being published by Sierra at that point. Now Valve is a way of life and Sierra is a nostalgic property undergoing a revival... maybe if a HL 3 is ever released, they can brand it with the Sierra logo for nostalgic purposes -- since after all, Half-Life is the Sierra property people have nostalgia about, right?), a PSOne with another joystick and two varieties of multi-tap convertors (I own a third... will any of them enable 4p gaming on the PS2, though?), plus a half-dozen assorted N64 joystick gewgaws.

Speaking of which: this holiday season saw a visit from my Toronto-based 14-year-old nephew, and I am the only person in his life capable of holding a conversation with him about Mordor or Ratchet & Clank. Hoping to impress him with a display of my retro games setup (my Boxing Day party thoroughly derailed by two thirtysomethings rediscovering Super Mario World to a rapt audience), he began sharing strong (and, I expect, under-informed) opinions regarding platforms he'd assuredly never seen, several of which were commercially extinct by the time he was born. (Woah!) My home setup currently boasts 4 machines, each of which plays at least two platforms (eg. the Retro Duo has slots for NES and SNES carts, the latter of which also allows Game Boy play through the Super Game Boy) ... at my gaming parties now I'm not setting up every machine but rather the ones that I have the largest libraries for, because getting the Saturn up and running isn't worth squatting one of my limited CRT TVs for the three games I've got for it. I found that the N64 was similarly getting neglected at parties (falling in between nostalgia cracks -- SNES games are totally triggers for floods of memories, while Gamecube titles are recent enough to still be compelling) so I hadn't bothered setting it up. Nonetheless, though he's never owned one, he somehow felt it was the ne plus ultra of my collection and in an attempt to impress him I pledged to bring it out of storage and set it up at my parents' Xmas party the following day. To reiterate: the N64 was released in 1996, replaced in 2001, retired in 2003. He was born in 2000, and surely wasn't playing video games for at least a couple of years after that. Why the fixation? I can't figure it out. At this point it's been set up there (after some mystery retrieval obstacles... I gave him my keys to bring it in from the car and he disappeared for a half-hour, located in the back seat with the bag torn and carefully bundled N64 hardware strewn all over the car -- ah, 14-year-olds) for a couple of days and finally providing him something to do in deepest Dunbar over his holiday trip, so hopefully he can provide some demonstration of why it exerts its strange appeal over him. (I mean yes, Goldeneye, I get it, but singleplayer?)

But I digress. Then there were the 2600 carts...

That right there is pretty much all that you need (some apparently needed twice), many of which I already owned... yet I still do not have a working machine of that vintage to run them on. Plus Donkey Kong for the ColecoVision, its killer app. (It's interesting to see how Coleco's games for its own system were branded slightly differently from those for the competition... just omit the "Vision".)

This box really got my attention...

SuperCalc was a very popular CP/M-era spreadsheet program with a timeless design. In this case its box was repurposed to hold completely unrelated presents. I love the idea of chance and happenstance keeping the box of a CP/M spreadsheet intact for 35 years, only to gut its contents and use it to hold ceramic figurines or somesuch. The retroapplications scene is burgeoning, but it's still not quite a thing yet.

OK, thanks for joining me in this holiday trip through my strange accumulations. Next up -- very likely more video game ANSI I was so jazzed about posting, I almost leapfrogged this resolution and did two in a row. And, of course, more game ads -- eventually.