Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Less Play: Dark Adventure

Hey, I warned you something like this was gonna happen!

Anyway, this is a Less Play of Dark Adventure. A Less Play is kind of like a Let's Play, but shorter. And Dark Adventure is Konami's dip of the toe into the arcade RPG genre first popularized by Atari's Gauntlet. Spoiler alert: it's not that good. But hey, it kept my brother and I out of trouble whenever we visited the Jewel-Osco in Michigan.

There was a revamp of the game called Majuu no Okoku, released only in Japan. That game featured some key improvements over the original. It also lost Zorlock, but that's a small price to pay for improved weapons and a life bar that doesn't dwindle to nothing in a matter of seconds.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Video Killed the Bloggio Star

Well, the first presidential debate is over... and judging from the early reviews, so is Donald Trump. I don't get political too terribly often on this blog, but if you vote for this orange-tinged dope after all you've heard tonight, I will lose all respect for you and punch you.

Okay, enough of that! So I've been thinking of supplementing these blog posts with brief videos of games that are underrepresented on YouTube but have personal significance to me. There's just a few problems, though. I used to do this kind of thing ten years ago and found that it was a massive and often fruitless investment of time and effort. Secondly, YouTube tends to be kind of dickish about copyright infringement, to the point where even game footage can be flagged by the administrators. Thirdly... well, did I mention it's been nearly ten years since I've done this sort of thing? I have a fairly capable video editor in PowerDirector 14, and far better hardware than I did in 2007, but lordy lou, it's still kind of intimidating. There's a lot I want to do that I can't do, because PowerDirector can't handle it, and I don't have access to the software which can.

I don't know. If you actually want to listen to me yarble on about old video games, leave a comment saying so. I might do it despite my reservations, but only if there's sufficient interest. I throw enough of my work into a black pit as it is; there's no sense in wasting even more of my time on pointless crap.

One more thing. There's a Playstation emulator for hacked Vitas now. That sounds redundant as the Vita already has a built-in Playstation emulator, but it really isn't because it can play games you can't install on a Vita, or even buy in the Playstation Store. I tested Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha earlier today, and while it doesn't run at full speed with default settings, it's damn near perfect with just a little frame skipping.

An underrated title, that one. Not only does it play a strong game of Street Fighter even with the Playstation's primitive 3D hardware, it's got characters you won't find in the mainstream series, like Doctrine Dark. Sure, he looks like Ellen DeGeneres, but he's more vicious than the rest of the cast, planting timed explosives and catching foes by the throat with a strand of steel wire. We'll probably never see a Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat crossover, but D. Dark gives you a taste of what could have been, if Midway and Capcom had been silly enough to explore the concept.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Capcom Power-Up-a-Palooza

Oh yes, let's do! Here now is a compendium of the items you'll find in Capcom games. Note that this won't be a complete list, because the company's been around for a very long time, and it would be nearly impossible to, um, catch 'em all. Note also that Mega Man, while an undeniably important part of Capcom's history, won't get much representation in this list. I'd go mad covering every weapon in every entry in the franchise, and if you dare ask me to try, I'll tear your arms off and feed them to you. Okay, let's begin!


No doubt inspired by the combining robot craze of the mid 1980s, the Alpha/Beta token in 1986's Side Arms: Hyper Dyne merged the two players to form one unstoppable super mech. By "unstoppable," I mean you could get hit a few more times than usual. This was still useful if you were tackling the game solo- in a game this punishing, you're grateful for any help you can get- but with two players, it quickly becomes an aggravating "push me/pull you" exercise where both players try to commandeer the mighty robot, often with embarrassing results.


Roll out the barrel! Roll out the barrel of... a little bit of fun, I guess. The barrel was a fixture in Capcom games almost from the beginning, first appearing in the company's saltwater-soaked Pengo knock-off Pirate Ship Higemaru. As the game's plucky sailor, you pick up the barrels scattered on the ship's deck and toss them at oncoming pirates. Sometimes the buccaneers get sneaky and try to hide inside the containers, but they're not tough to spot... their buggy eyes pop out of the fronts, making them look a lot like the Mettools that frequently appeared in the Mega Man series years later.

Higemaru wasn't one of Capcom's best arcade games, but it did inspire a sequel on the NES (with Ghosts 'n Goblins characters...?) and was an obvious influence on Don't Pull, another block shover that was part of the Three Wonders arcade jukebox. Capcom also paid tribute to Higemaru by hiding barrels in its arcade games, including Black Tiger and 1943, and letting you break a rain of the wooden containers in the arcade version of Street Fighter II.


This is one of the least impressive Capcom power-ups, as well as the most puzzling. Hopelessly white and Midwestern me had no idea what the hell this thing was, believing it was a tulip for years until the internet set me straight. (It's identified as a "flower" in the 1943 instruction booklet, so that certainly didn't help.)

Anyway, the bamboo shoot gives you a couple thousand points in 1943 and thirty extra seconds of time to finish a stage in Black Tiger. So in other words, it serves no real purpose, except maybe to feed the panda trapped in one of Strider's torpedo bays.


Who doesn't like beer? (Me, but nobody really asked so I'll just move on.) There are three kinds in Final Fight, all based on popular brands. The first (shown here) is patterned after Budweiser, while the second appears to be Heineken and the third is a Japanese brand, evidently Kirin or Asahi.

Players can also fight in the cola wars when they're not busting the heads of criminals. Two soft drinks appear in Final Fight, including a faux-Pepsi and a Coke-alike. Both give you the same amount of health (not much) so I would advise you to ignore your brand loyalty and just drink whatever's offered.


That thick meat roll doesn't seem like it would be too healthy, especially after it's been festering at the bottom of a stack of tires. However there's nothing better for you in a Capcom game. First found in 1989's Final Fight, the barbecue fills your entire life bar, and is typically found shortly before a boss fight. After the beatings you've taken from the likes of Poison and Andore, you'll need it. The barbecue can typically be found alongside less iconic but similarly nourishing foodstuffs such as chicken, hot dogs, curry, and sushi.


Also identified as a Holstein in some Wiki pages, the cow makes random appearances in Capcom games, usually alive, but also sometimes in the form of a steak. There's currently no explanation for Capcom's bovine affinity, but the cow is worth a lot of points/zenny, so I guess no explanation is needed. You'll find her tucked away in the dusty corners of some stages, unless she's been cooked. In that case, her remains can be found in oil cans and phone booths, the preferred means of storing perishable foods in Final Fight.


Okay, so it's not a croissant, but it sure as hell looks like one. And like the French pastry it so closely resembles, the Shotgun isn't much use in a aerial battle. This weapon from 1943 gives you a pittering spread of five short range bullets, which intercept other bullets and do a laughable amount of damage to practically everything else. It's no wonder that it was given a substantial upgrade in the Japanese semi-sequel, 1943 Kai.

It's worth noting that later Capcom games (typically of the "scroll right and punch lots of guys" variety) have actual croissants as items. They boost your health slightly, but I still can't help but hold a grudge after the way they hobbled my aircraft in 1943. Curse you and your buttery deliciousness!


Many of the power ups in this list have their origins in early Capcom games, and the dragonfly is no exception. It first appeared in Son Son as an enemy, flying in formation with a half-dozen other bugs. Its value as a power up in later games varies... the dragonfly gives you ten thousand points in the arcade version of 1943, making it a pass unless you're going for a perfect score. However, it lets you boost one stat in the loose NES port of the same game, making it hugely important if you want to unlock the best weapons.

There was also a dragonfly Maverick named Commander Yammark in Mega Man X6... but let's pretend that game didn't happen.


image from TechCrunch
After receiving one too many packages filled with broken controller pieces and death threats, Capcom wisely decided to cut Mega Man fans a break and include this very handy item in the sequel. Accessible in the weapons menu, the E-Tank refreshes Mega Man's life bar, giving him an edge in an otherwise tricky boss fight. E-Tanks would be expanded upon in later Mega Man games with tanks that topped off one of the blue bomber's weapons, or restored all of his energy. Sub-Tanks work similarly in Mega Man X, although these can be refilled through a tedious process of killing enemies, grabbing the energy they drop, scrolling their spawn points off the screen, and repeating the process.

It probably bears mentioning that the E-Tank has been merchandised to Monsteropolis and back, with mugs, pillows, and even an energy drink! Yes, you can consume the stuff in real life. No, you still won't be able to beat Airman.


Because one stocky, herbivorous mammal just wasn't enough, Capcom added the elephant to its collection of weird hidden items. The elephant's function varies from game to game, but the pachyderm packs an extra five hundred zenny into your wallet in Black Tiger.

When Capcom shifted its focus to fighting games, the elephant moved into the background... well, Dhalsim's background, mostly. The rows of incessantly screaming elephants in Street Fighter II must have been impressive in 1991, but they lost their novelty in a hurry when the game was ported to home consoles. Thank goodness they kept their trunks shut and spent their time playing with apples instead in the sequel, Street Fighter Alpha 2.


Sure, you can fight with your friend over who gets to have that chicken, but why not split it and save your rage for the aliens, dinosaurs, or Andre the Giant clones waiting on the horizon? That's the premise behind the feast, which first appeared in Don't Pull and Knights of the Round. It adds flexibility to items and lends itself extremely well to the cooperative nature of Capcom's early 1990s arcade games. If you need to top off your life bar but your friend's is almost empty, just take a nibble and let him have the rest. You could be a jerk and take it ALL, but there's a brief pause between bites, forcing you to let other players have their fill. The feast works differently from game to game... some of them are finished after several bites, but Knights of the Round lets you split the meal into smaller servings with a swipe of your sword. You... just might to wipe the blood off it first.


This is just one of the many health-ups in Final Fight. As such, it probably wouldn't be worth mentioning if it weren't for the fact that it can be recovered from the third stage boss... after he's already chewed it. Peculiarly, Edi E's partially digested and completely disgusting gum restores more of your health than the stuff still wrapped in the foil. Really player two, you can have it! By all means, after you!


You know I don't like Resident Evil all that much, right? Okay, FINE. The herb is an important item in a game where resources are limited and there's always a zombie (or an alien parasite, or whatever those things were in Revelations) eager to make a Jill sandwich out of you. The most common herb, green, restores a little of your health, while a salad of green and red herbs completely refills your life bar. You're encouraged to combine different types of herbs to increase their potency, as some won't help you at all if consumed separately.

Hey, remember that other item from Resident Evil, the typewriter ribbon? Each save cost you a ribbon, and if you didn't have any left, you couldn't record your progress. Gee, fun! That item was purged from the series starting with Resident Evil 4, and as the kids and Jay Sherman like to say, nothing of value was lost.


Necklaces, rings, precious gems... all of these can be found in Final Fight, although lord only knows why they're just lying around and why the game's three manly heroes would want them. Stranger still, the game's also got hammers, radios, and gold bars as pick-ups. No, you can't use any of these as weapons, although I'd imagine a gold brick to the face would hurt like hell.

Jewels were far more handy in Pocket Fighter, with red, blue, and yellow gems boosting the strength of each fighter's signature attacks. Past Capcom fighters let you adjust the strength of your fireballs, dragon punches, and whirlwind kicks with the tap of a button, but with just one punch and one kick button available, Pocket Fighter had to make a few adjustments. Eh, most of the cast look like eight year olds. Nobody was expecting tournament caliber gameplay from this game anyway.


I can hardly blame, er, credit Capcom for the key... it's been in video games since the swingin' 70s, starting with Adventure for the Atari 2600. However, it's worth mentioning here anyway as it appears a lot in Capcom's arcade games, cracking open chests, doors, and dungeons alike.

One game where keys are used quite extensively is Magic Sword, the gorgeously drawn yet oppressively dull sequel to Black Tiger. You'll find allies trapped in prisons as you climb Drokmar Tower while secretly wishing you were doing something else. If you don't release these prisoners, they cry out to you for help in the most unfortunately worded Engrish they can muster. Look, if your best argument for being released from that cell is "evacuate me," you're probably going to be in there for a while.


Cody probably wasn't anyone's favorite in Final Fight, but the flat-faced street tough had one advantage over Guy and Haggar... the ability to hold knives rather than fling them at the first mook in his path. It's a skill that becomes especially helpful when the screen is crawling with El Gatos and Holly Woods. They quickly litter the screen with daggers, keeping Cody well armed and his enemies bleeding profusely.

The knife would follow Cody to his appearances in Street Fighter, starting with Street Fighter Alpha 3. In every stage where Cody appears, there's a knife on the ground that only he can use. Snatch it by pressing down and two punch buttons and both his strength and reach drastically improve. Well, until the knife is knocked out of his hands. I guess it's hard to keep your grip on it when you're in handcuffs.


Weapons are freely available to all three characters in Final Fight, but each of Metro City's heroes has a personal preference. Modern day ninja Guy likes the swift retribution of a katana, while streetwise Cody likes to get up close and personal with a knife. It should come as no surprise that Mike Haggar's favorite weapon is a lot like him... big, heavy, and capable of inflicting a whole lot of pain to anyone unfortunate enough to cross its path.

Haggar took a break from the lead pipe in Saturday Night Slam Masters, wielding traditional wrestling weapons like tables and folding chairs instead. However, he took up the pipe once more in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, whipping it out of thin air and bringing it down on the heads of his opponents. (Eh, they're Marvel superheroes. They can take it.)


I'm rolling these all into the same category, as they're part of a matching set. While on his excruciatingly tough mission to defeat the Grandmaster in 1989's Strider, futuristic ninja Hiryu can collect power-up capsules with robot assistants inside. The first two are dipodal saucers, sad little walking drones that don't do much aside from take up space. However, grab a third capsule and the saucers merge into a chrome-plated sabretooth cat. It's a fitting reward for all that hard work... at least, for the few seconds you'll be able to keep it before you're blindsided by a stray bullet. You know, there's something to be said for the extreme easiness of the sequel, Strider 2...

Oh yeah, there's a robot eagle too, but it seems even more useless than the dipodal saucers. It flies away, then comes back occasionally to peck at the eyes of one of the Russian soldiers, while three or four others stick their bayonets into you. Gee, thanks. At least Hiryu found some use for them in Marvel vs. Capcom and its sequels, flooding the screen with a menagerie of merciless mechanical pets.


A common fixture in Japanese storefronts, the Lucky Cat is a very fortunate find indeed, blessing you with the almighty laser in 1943. Why would such advanced technology be available in World War II, and why would a cat have it? Who cares? Just grab that kitty and get to blastin'!

Apropos of nothing in particular, it was tough finding this icon in the game, and using the picture supplied in the instruction manual for the NES version of 1943 wasn't an option. Not just because it wasn't pixel art and it would have thrown off the aesthetic for this blog entry, but because it looked kind of ugly. This is how Capcom's artist drew a strawberry if that tells you anything. Looks like something his kid scribbled with a Bic pen on the back of his coloring book. A kid that doesn't like strawberries, even.


This is the pint sized version of Side Arms' lead character Lieutenant Henry, referred to as "Alpha" in NES instruction manuals. Evidently Capcom has a soft spot for this character, as he's appeared in more of the company's games than any other. He's often an extremely valuable item, but sometimes, he'll just wander around in games where he shouldn't be, like a less intrusive version of the villain from Wreck-It Ralph. He's also used as a cursor in Street Fighter II: Special Championship Edition for the Genesis, alongside fellow Side Arms veteran Sergeant Sanders.


Yes, that's how it's spelled in Final Fight. Anyway, the muramasa! earns its exclamation point in the hands of Guy, who can use it to slice through a room full of thugs in a matter of seconds.

The muramasa! usually vanishes when it's knocked out of Guy's hands, but for some reason, second stage boss Sodom is immune to this law of video game physics. He's armed with twin blades, and although he can be disarmed, the swords never disappear. This can be frustrating, as Sodom is a much more capable fighter with his katana than without them.


Short for "POWER" or "POWER-UP" (well, duh...), the POW icon has been in Capcom games as long as there have been Capcom games. Grabbing a POW in 1984's unremarkable Vulgus gives you a concussive missile, which slices through multiple enemies. Catch a column of enemies with the missile and you're awarded a huge bonus, kind of like when you kick a Koopa into a crowd of his friends in Super Mario Bros.

POW's function varies from game to game, but it typically can be "spun" into other weapons by firing at it repeatedly. After cycling through the weapon selection a few times, POW settles on a permanent form, like the unfortunately named WOP in Side Arms, or a small boost in fuel in 1943. In the games where POW has a fixed form, it usually increases the strength of your current weapon (MERCS) or wipes the screen of enemies (Black Tiger). In the 2014 revival of Strider, it unlocks artwork and challenges, although it's a lot harder to find than in past games.


(shown next to dork)
This one's a bit of a stretch, I know, but just bear with me. It's easy to forget this, but Rush didn't appear in Mega Man until the third game in the series. His role as a handy footstool was filled by the magnet beam in the original Mega Man and the numbered units (all red, hinting at what would come later) in Mega Man 2. So there was always some trace of Rush's functionality in Mega Man, but the metal-plated mutt wasn't formally introduced to the series until three years after it launched.

Generally, Mega Man starts out with Rush, but doesn't get his more useful forms (Rush Jet, Rush Sub, etc.) until he's beaten a few robot masters. An amusing wrinkle in the sixth game is that Rush becomes armor for Mega Man, merging with his master to grant either temporary flight or a punch that turns stone blocks into gravel. Sorry, kids... the guy who just crashed through your wall might be red, but he ain't the Kool-Aid Man.


Along with Mobichan, Son Son has the distinction of being a Capcom power-up who's also a hero from a Capcom game. He's the cheeky little monkey from a side-scrolling action title from 1984. He's not as recognizable as, say, Ryu from Street Fighter or Jill from Resident Evil, because his namesake game didn't have much of a presence in the United States. You'd see him pop up in collections and the occasional 99-in-1 game cartridge for the NES, but that was about it.

Son Son was revived in the late 1990s, with the monkey and his friends floating by on clouds, dropping items to the fighters below in Pocket Fighter. However, it was his granddaughter (also named Son Son) who made the biggest splash in the United States, starring in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 as one of a small handful of immediately available fighters. Meanwhile, Gramps could be found as a hidden item in Strider 2, released around the same time.


Also called the Sakichi, this simple star refills your weapons and fuel in 1943 but is about as non-descript as a power-up can get. I dunno, maybe my expectations have been unreasonably inflated after all the massive hunks of meat and Japanese swords and flaming unicorns in other Capcom games. One plus in the Sakichi's favor is that it's instantly recognizable as a power up... you know right away that touching this tiny gold star isn't going to kill you, a bonus in games like Side Arms where practically everything else will. 


The strawberry is a hidden item in 1943, typically set high above the battleships you dive down to attack at the end of each stage. It's pretty valuable at twenty thousand points, but it would be easy to forget if it hadn't been revived as a health item in God Hand, the ball-busting brawler released by Capcom nearly twenty years later. You have to wonder if it was included as a deliberate tribute to the company's earlier work. Actually, God Hand makes you wonder about a lot of things, like why people would race chihuahuas instead of greyhounds or who thought surf rock would be appropriate music for a stage set in the wild west.

Oh yeah, you can also be turned into a strawberry in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, if you're hit with another Capcom power-up in this list, thrown by SonSon, yet another Capcom power-up in this list. It's... complicated.


If you've ever wondered why there's a unicorn with a flaming mane on the title screen of U.N. Squadron, dig this... it's from Area 88, the Japanese comic book series that inspired the game. Lead character Shin Kazama has a decal of the fiery beast on the tail of his jet.

So it's probably not surprising that while there's a unicorn item in the game, it's only in this game and none of Capcom's other ones. Nope, not even Carrier Airwing, which is basically the sequel with the license scrubbed off. Frankly, the unicorn isn't all that easy to find in U.N. Squadron either, hiding in a particular stage and refusing to come out until you've burned down a forest full of trees. Wait, unicorns like that? Anyway, your reward for catching the horn-tipped horse is a crappy shield you could have bought in the store at the start of the stage. You're a bastard, unicorn.


Ladies and gentlemen, the Yashichi. This enigmatic pinwheel has been in Capcom games from the start, appearing as an enemy in Vulgus and Exed Exes but quickly evolving into the ultimate power-up. If you see a Yashichi in a Capcom video game, no force on heaven or earth should stop you from getting it, as it's usually pretty rare and almost always better than the other items. In Side Arms, it grants you Auto, a weapon that sprays hot death from three different angles. In 1943, it tops off your plane's fuel tank, regardless of how perilously close to empty it was earlier. In the first Mega Man, it instantly replenished all of Rock's health and weapons, predating the S-Tank by several years. You cannot afford to miss this thing, is what I'm saying. Get into a fist fight with the other player if it comes down to that.

The Yashichi's importance has waned somewhat in the 21st century, but it still pops up in games, because Capcom isn't the kind of company to turn its back on its past. (Unlike some other game companies. Cough.) It's a television brand in Resident Evil 6, and Hsien-Ko always seems to have a couple up her oversized sleeves in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. 


from Black Tiger
The preferred form of currency in the Capcom universe! Don't leave home without it... but if you do, you can always get some by killing a few man-eating plants or lizard soldiers.

Zenny was introduced in 1987's Black Tiger, a slick side-scrolling platformer that didn't get the attention it deserved despite hitting every "cool" button in a teenage gamer's brain. You're a barbarian who throws a chain mace and handfuls of knives at dozens of medieval monsters, including the freaking god of hell fire! How could you not love that?

from Forgotten
Anyway. Each slain beast in Black Tiger drops a red coin, with shambling skeletons coughing up a measly one zenny (a penny zenny?) and the tougher foes offering a thousand or more. The coins could then be used at stores where you could upgrade your chain mace and armor. Zenny made a comeback in Forgotten Worlds where they serve a similar purpose, but their appearance would change. Rather than gold-rimmed coins, Zenny became glistening blue spheroids that hover in mid-air. Imagine anti-gravity Mentos and you'd be on the right track. Zenny also appear in Strider 2, but serve no real purpose beyond points and eye candy.

Special thanks to the zillions of wikis, strategy guides, and other online references which helped in compiling this way too long article.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Doorstop No More

Wow, the Playstation TV suddenly got useful in a hurry. Now that I've got HENkaku running on the thing, I can play all kinds of emulators, making it the interactive entertainment system I was hoping the accursed CX-919 II would be. My only beef is that I haven't been able to find a comfortable way to play Neo-Geo and CPS2 games, since the PSTV rejects pretty much every controller you plug into it aside from the official ones. There are a few adapters that work, but the moment someone realizes it's compatible, its price on Amazon shoots through the roof. So I guess I'm going to be playing these games with a Dual Shock 4, whether I want to or not.

I know, I know, this isn't much of an update... more of a reminder that I'm still drawing breath. Hopefully I'll have something more substantial to say in the near future.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Sleeping with the Enemy: A Quarter Century of the Super NES

August 23rd, 1991. A day that will live in infamy.

No, feel free to keep me waiting!
Really, I'm good!
(image from Palace of Wisdom)
Well, it was certainly a day I was dreading. I went full in on a Sega Genesis earlier that year, selling my NES collection to scrape together enough money to afford one. It was the leader of the 16-bit revolution (Sega even said so!), and it didn't need Nintendo's latest console butting in to steal its thunder. As revenge, I spent most of my time in study hall defacing advertisements for the Super NES and its launch titles. Did it matter even slightly? No. Could I have spent that time doing something useful, like, well... studying? Sure. But to a profoundly dorky seventeen year old me, it felt good. Take that, Super Nintendo! The Genesis was released years ago, and your wimpy processor is way too slow to catch up! You'll never have games like Forgotten Worlds, Revenge of Shinobi, and Altered Beast! (Wait, scratch that last one.)

Don't let the detailed background fool
you. The Genesis version of TMNT:
Tournament Fighters sucks, and hard.
(image from Hardcore Gaming 101)
That extreme zealotry- mostly comical, but also a little scary- stuck with me for several years, resulting in fights with countless other gamers and earning the newsletter I'd published the unflattering nickname "Fanatical Fanboy Monthly." Yet for all my devotion to the Sega Genesis, I had a grudging admiration for the games on the Super NES. I played Super Mario World in the electronics department of Wal-Mart whenever my parents shopped for groceries. I spent a lot of time catching up with the system's library in the makeshift arcades built in the back of game rental stores. I fumed when Konami released games I desperately wanted for the Super NES, then offered lame knock-offs for the Genesis as a consolation prize.

"So, you like Super Mario, do you? Well,
have all the Super Mario in the WORLD!"
"Wait, what about Yoshi's Island?"
"...shut up!"
(image from LoveROMs)
I was ferociously loyal to the Sega Genesis in the early half of the 1990s. However, I guess it was inevitable that when the 16-bit console wars came to an end, I would lay down my arms and pick up a Super NES controller instead. The details of where and when I picked up my first Super Nintendo aren't clear... I believe I got it from a random pawn shop in New Mexico, on a trip to Arizona in the summer of 1997. One thing I do know is that I was allowed one free game with my purchase, and there were only two available. I ultimately left Vortex behind and picked Super Mario World + Super Mario All-Stars instead. Considering the lackluster reviews of the former and the bountiful replay value (and collector's value!) of the latter, it's a decision I don't regret.

There are a few things I learned from this experience. One, don't swear that you'll never buy a game system, because when you actually do, your amused friends will be quick to remind you of your broken vow. Two, try not to pick sides in a pissing match between two competing brands. They're big corporations; they can take care of themselves. (Well, maybe not Sega, judging from what happened with the Saturn and Dreamcast years later.) Third, personal preferences are fine, but try not to be a jerk about it, and don't let your biases keep you from playing what you like, no matter where you happen to find it.