Gaming at Christmas Time - A Tradition

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Chris Kennedy's picture

For the past several years, an old college friend of mine drops in around Christmas time to pay me a visit and play some games. This list of games is typically quite bizarre. My goal in this entry is to simply walk you through what we played...

Due to our time being limited, Aaron and I typically talk about the games we want to play a few weeks before Christmas. It is certainly not one of those "Hey - let's play Super Mario Bros" type of gaming sessions. The platforms and games themselves are fairly atypical from what an average gamer would expect, and it varies each year. A large percentage of the gaming is devoted to either games we have never played or games on a different platform than we usually experience. The past couple of years has put some major mileage on my Panasonic 3DO.

Games are listed in the order in which they were played:

1: The Daedalus Encounter (3DO) - We started this one last Christmas having wanted to play it since 1995. There are several stages of opinions on FMV games - You like them, you hate them, you make fun of them, and you don't care anymore & therefore like them. We hit that last stage I mentioned not too long ago. FMV games are so far removed from the spotlight now, it is easy to enjoy them for their humorous acting and awkward interface. The Daedalus Encounter was notable in that it starred Tia Carrere. While the FMVs are nothing to brag about, the puzzles can be quite challenging. The puzzles challenged you in two ways - First, you had to figure out WHAT to do. Second, you had to do it. We managed to go through most of the game last Christmas, and aimed to complete it this Christmas. Alas, we got to the very end and continued to fail during the FMV climax. Even the walkthroughs online seemed to have no mention of our problematic scene. The game apparently has several endings...

2: Archon (Atari XEGS) - Being that the Atari XEGS was actually the first platform on which we experienced Archon, it was the first version I picked up. Playing it with the Atari CX-40 (traditional) joystick seems only natural. If you have not played Archon, I cannot accurately describe just how much fun it is to play this game with a friend. As we neared the end of our "last man standing" style of gameplay, I told Aaron that the gameplay was so intense that my hands were actually sweating a bit. I couldn't believe it! We still have yet to play a game with the proper objectives - you can make the game as simple or as strategic as you want. Either way, you are in for a roller coaster ride of awesomeness.

3: Thrust+ Platinum (Atari 2600 - Homebrew) - Armchair Arcade is certainly no stranger to this game. I gave Aaron the controller and said, "try this," while firing up Thrust. Aaron is a fan of arcade game Gravitar, so Thrust sat well with him. It is almost as entertaining to watch as it is to play. A ship, a planet, gravity, object retrieval, combat, and maneuvering - If you haven't played it, read about it and ask yourself, "why not?"

4: Medieval Mayhem (Atari 2600 - Homebrew) - I have mentioned this here before, but Medieval Mayhem is a great rendition of the classic Warlords in Atari 2600 form. Using a lot more RAM than the original port of Warlords on 2600, Medieval Mayhem takes Warlords to the next level on the VCS. I think the only thing that would have made it better would be two more players. If you are looking into homebrew on the 2600, check this one out. More high-paced fun!

5: Wing Commander III: The Heart of the Tiger (3DO) I played a decent chunk of Wing Commander for PC when there were only two games. I would later pick up Wing Commander IV and play it through shortly after its release. While I find Wing Commander a fun series, I never really fully explored the franchise. Aaron played through WC3 when it originally game out for PC. This time, we used the 3DO version with the official 3DO Flightstick and started making our way through the game. I basically watched most of the time. Wing Commander doesn't get much press these days, but it sure has a fanbase. WC3 was the first game to incorporate live action into the gameplay, and I daresay that it actually worked well. Not only that, but holy cow - what a cast! Naturally, the bulk of a game comes from the space combat. I believe both the live action and the space combat need each other to make this game work - the acting needs the space combat to keep WC3 an actual "game," while the space combat needs the acting to help prevent the game from getting a bit too monotonous.

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A few last things worth mentioning - I told Aaron about Vintage Games when it came out back in Mar/Apr of 2009. What do you know but he got it as a gift for Christmas! We talked about it a little bit - he had only just read the first chapter, but he finds it entertaining. I imagine we will have a few discussions about it in the future.

Towards the end of our gaming time, we actually tried out the 3DO version of Syndicate. Aaron has never played Syndicate. I played the PC version (along with American Revolt) back in the day but had not played the 3DO version. It is *painfully* obvious that Syndicate is a mouse-based game. We tossed the 3DO version aside and loaded the PC version on a laptop. Unfortunately, I couldn't show much of it because we couldn't get dosbox to agree with it (XP-based machine). After tweaking CPU timing, fake soundcard IRQs, EMS, XMS, etc...we gave up. At that point, I chuckled a bit and fired up the PS3. What did I do? What else but access Matt Chat 37: Syndicate!

So Aaron has now been introduced to Vintage Games as well as Matt Chat. Thanks to both of you for writing the book, and thanks to Matt for putting out Matt Chat. I look forward to a future where there exists an entire library of Matt Chat - so don't stop now, Matt! It sure is an easy way to introduce someone to a game!

And that is Christmas Gaming 2009...

Comments

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Well done, Chris. I was

Well done, Chris. I was happy to promote this one to the front page and thanks for the nice mentions. Keep the blog posts coming.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[About Me]

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Wow, Aaron sounds like a

Wow, Aaron sounds like a great friend. You're lucky to have such a good friend who's into retrogaming!

If I ever come into any money, I'd love to sponsor some type of AA event (or perhaps we could get a booth at CGE or some such). I'd just like to meet some of you guys and have some good times playing retrogames!

Something I've said many times...Games are great, but you don't really unlock the real fun unless you're playing them with a friend. That's when they kick into overdrive.

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Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Wow excellent read!

@Chris That is an awesome tradition you and Aaron have. Excellent choice of games too!

Actually today MrCustard aka Erwin B. (who used to frequent the old forum/site) is coming over to inspect my new home and baptize the new gaming room - we'll be playing some retro games for sure! Erwin is my only real friend who enjoys retrogaming as much as I do - the rest of my friends don't play games or favor the newer consoles. Although some of them (I still got quite a few friends from highschool) did play videogames in the past. They're all grown up now - doing important business and have lost touch with the kid inside :P

PS3: MarkVergeer | Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Chris Kennedy
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Joined: 08/31/2008
Thanks

Thanks for the feedback, guys. We had an absolute blast.

I think an AA event would be a ton of fun, Matt. It would be nice to be able to game in an atmosphere that also lets us have conversation at a reasonable volume. Sometimes convention conversations are yell-based. We need something that has a...well... armchair atmosphere!

There is definitely something to be said for having someone else around to play the games with you AND enjoys playing them just as you do. I remember talking to Aaron on the phone a few weeks ago and the conversation where we listed the games went something like:

"...and Archon!"
"Definitely Archon!"
"Sweet..."

We also use it as an excuse to go crazy with the junk food and soft drinks.

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Aaron Wegner (not verified)
Christmas gaming

As usual, I had a fantastic time playing some vintage games with Chris this year. There are few gaming experiences, new or old, that offer the intensity level of a caffeine and sugar fueled late night Archon session.

But every time I visit Chris, I end up with an enormous list of games to play and things to do. There seems to be a nearly infinite supply of classic games that I NEED to hit. After I finish up my current obsession (XCOM: UFO Defense), I'll be on to Syndicate, refurbishing my 7800, Infocom's "A Mind Forever Voyaging", and possibly a little Tradewars if I can find some ancient BBS still running it.

And of course, now it looks like I have quite a few Matt Chat episodes to catch up on...

Mark Vergeer
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hey cool Aaron for responding here!
Aaron Wegner wrote:

As usual, I had a fantastic time playing some vintage games with Chris this year. There are few gaming experiences, new or old, that offer the intensity level of a caffeine and sugar fueled late night Archon session.

But every time I visit Chris, I end up with an enormous list of games to play and things to do. There seems to be a nearly infinite supply of classic games that I NEED to hit. After I finish up my current obsession (XCOM: UFO Defense), I'll be on to Syndicate, refurbishing my 7800, Infocom's "A Mind Forever Voyaging", and possibly a little Tradewars if I can find some ancient BBS still running it.

And of course, now it looks like I have quite a few Matt Chat episodes to catch up on...

Thanks for responding here. It's appreciated!

PS3: MarkVergeer | Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I keep meaning to check out

I keep meaning to check out X-Com. It's another of those classics that I somehow managed to miss entirely back in the day and haven't played hardly at all. I've always enjoyed the Thrust-style games and 2-D precision flying titles like Ft. Apocalypse.

Just in terms of raw casual fun with 2-players, Bubble Bobble is a blast. It's still one of my favorites.

Oh, and here's the awesome Mancopter! Great game to play if you're depressed. Something about it always perks me up!

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Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
Great fun to read this!

What a cool world it would be (for me) if I had a retro-gaming friend like you do, Mr. Kennedy! That was very entertaining to read about.

I've never played a "Wing Commander" game. Is it something that can be appreciated "cold" from a jaded gamer with modern sensibilities like myself? It might be fun just to play it for the Mark Hamill cut scenes.

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