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I've never ever met a kid who didn't love Christmas. Growing up it was the day dreams were made of. A day where you couldn't wait to get up and see what Santa had brought you. It's a magical time of happiness and hope. As a kid Christmas was second only to Halloween. I've had some splendid Christmas memories over the years, including a simple groovy Christmas last month that I'd like to share. Let's start off with the late 1980's...

Christmas: a time where miracles and dreams can still come true!

                                                 CHRISTMAS IN THE LATE '80s AND EARLY '90s

In December 1989, my bro and I only had an 8-bit Nintendo. We loved it dearly. Then we went to our family friend's house. Denny was raving about his new game system, the Sega Genesis. I was only six years old, but I still remember it as though it only happened yesterday. Denny showed us the cool clamshell box of Altered Beast. The keen art on the cover blew me away with its wild beasts and savage wolf man. Before Denny opened the box he asked me, "How big do you think the game is?"  Hmmm, I figured since it was 'bigger' than Nintendo, surely the cart was HUGE. Denny shook his head with a sly grin. He opened the box
to reveal to me the tiniest cartridge I had ever seen in my life. I was stupefied. The next big leap in video gaming was THAT small? Then Denny popped it in and I sat back to watch him blow through the first couple levels. From the moment the game fired up and I heard the infamous voiceover "WISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!"  I was hooked and sold. The graphics were jaw-dropping!  So too was the sound. I never ever looked at gaming quite the same after that fateful December day of 1989. I still loved my NES dearly, but it was clear gaming had evolved, and Sega had truly taken us to THE NEXT LEVEL. Over the years, I remember going back to Denny's place a lot during December. We held a lot of family-friend gatherings there. I remember watching him play games like Dynamite Duke, Thunder Force III and Gaiares. Man, what a fantastic time of innocence and sheer awe it was. Not only were we on the verge of a new decade, we found ourselves standing smack-dab in a new generation of hi-tech gaming!  It wasn't long before my brother and I bought a Genesis of our own

So too did my best friend Nelly. He had picked up Streets of Rage and I remember coming over
to his place one cold December night in the early '90s to play this with him for the very first time. Once again, the Genesis had made me rethink the future of gaming. Never before had I seen such gnarly graphics, heard such convincing sound or experienced this much fun with a two player game since Contra!  Nelly and
I laughed and roared all night long. What I remember adding to the special-ness of the evening was that particular night Nelson was having a family party. His living room was filled with all his uncles and cousins. I had never met them before, but yet there we were in the middle of the party playing this hot new cool game. And everyone else was CAPTIVATED by the on-screen mayhem. They all watched on and cheered us on. I remember it clear as day, even nearly twenty years later. Just two eight year old best friends having the time of their lives!

Streets of Rage to this day remains one of my favorite beat 'em up's. While many hold the sequel in high reverence, I'll always have a special spot in my gaming heart for the classic original. It represented an innocent time of joy and endless possibilities. It really felt like an arcade game in Nelson's living room. Thanks for all the memories, SoR


I was a wee eight years old, on vacation with my family and friends. You know, back in the good old days when folk had time, my family developed a strong friendship with four families. Together, between the 5 of us, 10 parents and 16 kids, we had some of the most legendary sleepovers in the history of such. 11 boys and 5 girls, ranging from birthdates of 1977 to 1987. Growing up, those were my brothers and sisters. They truly were

In December '91 the parents wanted to go skiing at beautiful Lake Tahoe. We rented out a HUGE cabin where all twenty-six of us stayed. It was INSANE, needless to say!  And one of the guys, Tommy, brought along his newly acquired Super Nintendo. He lugged 3 games with him: Super Mario World, Final Fight and F-ZERO.

Whenever I mention my gaming circle, I'm talkin' about these cats
And note that, coincidentally, Tommy is Denny's older brother!
Those two gave me some great Christmas memories, eh?

One Sunday morning I woke up to an empty cabin, with weird odd noises coming from the house in every which direction. Then I tip-toed downstairs timidly and yelled out the names of my family and friends

No answer... except for the hissing of the house.
I felt a chill creep up and down my spine. Some thing was not right...

As I made my way to the kitchen, I found a note on the fridge written for me
                                       Cabin was FREEZING!  Some thing just didn't feel right about it...

It was a note from mom. It went something like this:

The rest of us got up early and decided to go out for breakfast. We'll be back soon. You had a very long night last night and I want you to get the extra rest. Make for yourself some Honey Nut Cheerios, and don't watch too much TV


All alone in that hissing cabin with demonic-looking hallways...

Ever feel a presence in
the room with you?  That someone, or something, is watching you?  That's how I felt on that cold, dreary December morning of '91. But being eight years old and resourceful, I believed spirits would never mess with me if I had the radio or TV playing  -- any kind of noise. I believed they only attacked those who were 'alone.' So I watched a WWF show for a while. Then I spotted Tommy's Super Nintendo lying on the floor. With no Sunday morning cartoons on TV, I decided to fire the ole Super NES up. I started with F-Zero, and then played Final Fight, up until my family and friends came back. Yes, part of me was ecstatic to see them again, as I was no longer alone with this cabin from hell, but something funny happened during my playthrough with the SNES... it made me forget about ghosts and spirits, and instead transported me to the future of video gaming, where you could snap a guy's neck in two and soar 200 feet across a race track suspended high above a futuristic city -- all in stunning graphics and sound. I never looked back

Indeed. The SNES amazed me to no ends -- I never looked back

                                       Family, friends, F-ZERO and Final Fight made Christmas '91 rock


My mom and I used to go shopping all the time. I always hit the same ole five stores: Suncoast, Kay Bee Toys, Walden Books, some times Sam Goody, and of course, the classic SOFTWARE ETC.

Now rarely did she buy me anything, but it was fun enough thumbing through books, EGM mags and drooling at the various awesome action figures

BRIGHTLAND MALL: a childhood classic and now relic... *sniff*

Being December and all, Santa was there on hand. Taking pictures, kissing babies and shaking little hands. At nine and a half years old now, I was too old for that stuff, but not old enough to not still believe in the magic of Christmas, as hokey as that may sound to the rest of us. So instead of sitting on Santa's lap, I sat back from afar and admired what had been, and what once was

                                                 That little blond kid was me just a year or two ago...

My mom came over and asked if I wanted to meet the mall Santa, but I told her I was too old. She looked at the kids rushing up to Santa just twenty feet away from us, lost in her thoughts. Somewhere in her aging face I saw her loosen up, as if she suddenly missed the days when I was that young and scampering around. Perhaps it was the right kind of Christmas magic I'd need for what was about to transpire...

There it was, in big and bold blue letters. I always made it a point to hit up SOFTWARE ETC. every time we visited the mall, but of course I could only DREAM of my mom complying to buy me a video game. Still, like a moth to flame, those bold blue letters always sucked me in. I stood there that evening in sheer awe of the endless shelves of SNES goodies, games in which I could only dream of owning. And then, there it was. High on one shelf I saw it, like a beacon of light. KING OF THE MONSTERS for the Super Nintendo! I nearly had an accident in my pants, recalling to myself how it was just ONE year ago that I'd beaten the arcade and thought to myself, "Man, I can't wait for this to come home!" And now, it finally has. Only one problem, of course. How can
I convince Mom to buy it? Standing there, staring at the pristine shiny King of the Monsters box, my mind raced through everything I could think of in order to weigh the odds in my favor

I didn't have very long to think...

"C'mon honey, we gotta go back home now," my mom interrupted my train of thought


"What is it?"

"That..."  I pointed to the King of the Monsters box sitting on the top shelf.
"I want that"

OK, so much for poetic language and convincing arguments

My mom then gave me the look. Uh oh. This task was going to be about as easy as Quantum Physics... "Honey, that's fifty-five dollars," she started

"No, it's fifty-four ninety-nine!"  I quickly countered. HA!  I had her -- ahhh, the bliss of being nine...                The box sat there high on the shelf like a beacon of light

"Well actually with tax it's about sixty," she corrected

Well DAMN. Talk about backfiring!

And then, out of nowhere, it hit me. My trump card. I explained to her how it was my favorite
game, how I HAD to have it, and how much joy it would bring Kevin and me. And that if she bought it, it would be my Christmas gift AND my Birthday's as well!  Yes, I wanted it BAD

My mom grabbed the box and examined it. "Hey, isn't this the game you played all night last
year at Chuck E. Cheese's?  Is this the same one?"

                                     ***FLASHBACK TO DECEMBER 1991***

I'll never forget December of '91. My parents took my brother and I to our favorite place, Chuck E. Cheese's, to celebrate the end of the year. Now my mother in particular was rather strict and whatnot, so these rare opportunities where she allowed us to binge on our desires were not taken for granted!  They ordered two large pizzas and got Kevin and me 50 tokens!  I knew where I was gonna be for the rest of that night... on the King of the Monsters cab determined to beat it! It was ONE EPIC NIGHT!
More than an hour and 25+ quarters later, Rocky rose to the top!

                                         ***BACK TO DECEMBER 1992***

I nodded furiously and watched as my mom bit her lower lip, contemplating what to do. Finally, after what seemed like forever, she took the game to the counter. I stood there as they swiped her credit card, and I just couldn't believe it. It was the first video game she ever bought for me. Outside I could hear the chattering of youngsters and the HO-HO-HO's of the Mall Santa. The magic of Christmas is still very much alive and well, I told myself with a hearty grin. My bro and
I played King of the Monsters as soon as I got home. It turned out to be a ho-hum translation...

But the funny thing is, even as a kid I knew it was a butchered port, and that the game was average at best, but somehow,
I still loved it. It still played like the arcade game, the cities were still fun to trash, and it was still King of the Monsters in my living room. A couple days after my mom bought the game, I was playing it one night with my brother when she urged us to turn the game off so we could drive downtown to see the fancy Christmas lights. It was a basic tradition in my family that every Yuletide we do so. Again, it's funny, I knew the port wasn't very good, but I still couldn't help but love it in a strange way. I loved the lights, but that year my parents had to pry me away from my Super Nintendo.
I guess as my brother and I got older and older, the more my mom fought to keep certain traditions alive. Like the night she bought me the game, how she urged me to go sit on Santa's lap. I guess that's something I'll find out for
myself one of these days...

                                             Downtown Christmas was a tradition in my family growing up

Christmas '92 proved to be one for the record books, indeed. In addition to my mom buying me King of the Monsters, that year our uncle had bought for me and my bro DEATH DUEL. I remember the ad from EGM. It looked cool and all, but honestly, my brother and I were a bit disappointed. Of all the games on our wish list, DEATH DUEL certainly wasn't in the top ten. We tried not to complain though, as our mom always taught us to be grateful, and that any gift was better than none at all. Still, Kevin and I went home that night and we talked about how awesome it would have been had Death Duel magically been Super Mario Kart instead, which topped our wish list. It was rare that my bro and I both wanted the same game, as he was a "mainstream" guy and I was the one who always loved and supported the more obscure or underdog titles. However, Super Mario Kart transcended all of that -- even I wanted it, y'see

And then, as we were talking, a lightbulb popped up over our heads. We recalled the ad for Death Duel in EGM. We flipped to it and there it was. Not suggested for children under 14. I was only nine, and my bro was 11. We wouldn't be able to play Death Duel for another three years, well, my bro anyhow. It was five for me! Not that we can't break rules, but when the rules benefit you, why not follow?  *wink*

                                                        Good thing my brother wasn't already 14!

My mom then called up our uncle and asked him if he kept a receipt. Luckily, he kept it, and we hadn't opened the game yet. So later that week my mom took me and Kevin to the game shop to exchange Death Duel for Super Mario Kart. I remember thinking that it was the greatest trade in the history of mankind. Ah, such is the sheer vibrant innocence of youth. I still laugh thinking about this Christmas memory; who knew an ad could bring about such a dramatic turn of events and turn a Christmas completely around?  I'm sure we would have been OK with playing Death Duel, but one thing's for sure -- it definitely wasn't no Super Mario Kart!  It's pretty amazing how a year or two can change things. In 1989 my bro and I were content with the NES. Then Denny showed us the Genesis. While we still loved our NES very much, in 1990 and '91 it was all about the Genesis. Likewise with the SNES in '92, '93 and '94

My bro and I played the crap outta Super Mario Kart that Christmas season. We played it well into 1993, too. It was such a fun and awesome game. My favorite character was Yoshi. My brother loved using Toad. One of our friends, Ben, his guy was Bowser or Donkey Kong Jr. Ben liked to push us around that's why. We were the only kids in the neighborhood who had Super Mario Kart, so you can better believe our neighborhood friends were quite literally banging down our door to have a little taste of go-kart action. I'm not even exaggerating. I remember many Sunday mornings where the sound of the doorbell would wake us up at 8:45 AM!  Kevin and I became the kings of our block, all thanks to Super Mario Kart                                                           Great game, GREAT memories

Our favorite mode was the Battle Mode. Many battles were waged. Many egos were bruised.
And many friendships were tested. To this day, whenever I wake up on a lazy Sunday morning,
as I lie quietly in bed still groggy, part of me can
still hear the incessant doorbell ringing and the
voices of Ben and friends all eagerly waiting to
trample in to play some SMK

We played this 'til the cows came home!

                                               DEATH DUEL: KILLER AD, KILLER TRADE -- THANKS!

What a great Christmas season '92 proved to be. First it was King of the Monsters -- a dear arcade favorite of mine and the FIRST game I ever bought (err... at least the first game I managed to get my mom to buy for me). As if that wasn't enough, my bro and I traded in Death Duel for Super Mario Kart and became the KINGS of our neighborhood for a solid month or two. Yes indeed, Christmas of 1992 turned out to be a wonderful season. We were busy stomping cities and firing red shells at one another. What a perfect time it was to be a carefree kid  ^_^

Super Mario Kart: Champion of the ages!


How would the following Christmas '93 season compare?  Quite well, indeed. Leading up to Christmas of 1993 I was completely fascinated with Interplay's Street Fighter II clone CLAY FIGHTER. Endless ads filled the pages of gaming mags, and I studied many of the previews drooling in sheer anticipation of this neat promising new fighting game. Who could forget the box art?  I thought it was the coolest thing ever. And man, who could forget the ads?  I sure don't
Clay Fighter had become my new and latest underdog fascination

I still remember fondly one night in early December of '93, my cousin called me. It was rare in those days for her to call, as we usually just saw each other in person and hung out that way. But on this fateful night she called asking me my Christmas wish list. My heart was racing as I knew there was really only one thing on my mind that would make my Christmas: a copy of Clay Fighter. I remember explaining to her over the phone what Clay Fighter was. I was sure she was going to buy it for me. After the phone call, I leaped for joy and began counting down the days until Christmas night!

                                               The ads attacked other fighting games. IT WAS WAR!

As a ten year old, I thought the ads were the coolest things ever

                                              Kinda the gist of what I told my cousin that fateful night!

As it turned out, she bought something else for me. It wasn't Clay Fighter, and it wasn't a game. I don't remember what it was, but I was severely disappointed. I was such
a nut for Clay Fighter that
I even abandoned my ole favorite, World Heroes, for a small stretch there. My best friend Nelson bought World Heroes and I loved playing against him. However, when Clay Fighter hit the scene, I actually turned my back on World Heroes -- as it became too popular with Nelson and the other kids. I was / am weird like that, heh. World Heroes was always the underdog, but when it suddenly became a hit in my gaming circle, with Clay Fighter on the horizon, I jumped ship. I remember the turning point came one night where there was a World Heroes tournament held in Nelson's gaming room with him, me and our mutual friends. I went home and to this day, I recall thinking "Clay Fighter will be much better. Taffy can whup Brocken's sorry butt."  I eventually rented Clay Fighter and ooh, it wasn't anywhere as good as I made it out to be based on my imagination from studying the previews. And that was the end of my short-lived turncoat on World Heroes

And of course, I would be remissed if I didn't mention World Heroes. My ol' best pal Nelson bought it when it first came out around September of '93, and we would play it 'til the cows came home. Played it well into the winter of that year. Nelly even lent the game to me here and there. One time, when Uncle Ben flew in that winter of 1993, he watched me use Dragon, and although Uncle Ben didn't care for video games whatsoever, even HE was drawn into World Heroes. He rooted me on from the sidelines, turning into an armchair gamer!  He loved the Dragon Kick. Ahhhh, those were the good old days. Carefree times and innocent gameplay-filled winter nights. I will never forget all the great fun that the original World Heroes provided for me and my loved ones. "ORA!"

                                      That was the night World Heroes became more than a game to me

Christmas '93 was just a wonderful time to be a 10 year old robust boy living in suburban America. If ya had a Super Nintendo, a best friend and you loved fighting games -- what a season it was!  With fine titles like Street Fighter II Turbo, TMNT Tournament Fighters, World Heroes, Ranma ½ Hard Battle and Clay Fighter, there were plenty of choices. The 16-bit war was in full swing, and if you had both, like me, you were the ultimate winner!  That Christmas was one I'll never forget
16-bit war, 10 years old, best friend, suburbia: WONDER YEARS!

Having hounded both my parents about Clay Fighter and with 'em knowing how disappointed I was that I didn't get it or even a video game that Christmas, my mom decided to allow me to buy one video game in January of '94. I had just rented Clay Fighter and was thankful I did. They took me to GOOD GUYS and I bought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters. I had never played it before but it was #2 on my want game list that Christmas season, trailing only Clay Fighter. I grew up on the Ninja Turtles, and it looked like a terrific Street Fighter II clone. I loved the cover and will never forget seeing it at Good Guys looking all pretty in its wrapping. It seemed to call out to me and, right away, I knew it was the one. My mom and dad took the game over to the counter to pay for it, and I stood there nearly quaking in my shoes. What a wonderful belated Christmas gift!  It was the second SNES game I ever bought, just about one year after my mom had bought me my first, King of the Monsters, Christmas '92

The back of the box was even cooler than the front. Seven beautiful screen shots adorned the back where most games didn't even have five. There was a snazzy yellow bit that declared 16 MEGS of awesomeness. Ahhhh, remember the good old days when 16 meg was
a really big deal?

What a gorgeous back cover. It made it look like an epic fighter!

                                           Like Clay Fighter, I also remember the cool ad for TMNT: TF

SNES owners were blessed with the best version!

                                               Ah, two of my most anticipated games back to back :)

All in all, Christmas '93 was another good one. I'll always remember it as the season I went gaga for Clay Fighter, to the point where I even turned my back on favorite World Heroes. Luckily, I rented it shortly thereafter the fact my cousin bought me something else. It was OK, but it wasn't the epic game I was hoping it would be. My loving parents bought me Tournament Fighters and it turned out
to be one of my favorite games in that time. I even remember thinking it was better than Street Fighter II -- and I wasn't alone. Good times, good times

Love Mikey's rooftop stage. COWABUNGA!

                                                          CHRISTMAS 1994: KAREN KOMBAT!!

Christmas '94 was marked by the return of my cousin Karen, whom I hadn't seen in a while. She was now eight and my Uncle Ben also had a one year old daughter, Liz. My bro and I bought Mortal Kombat II for the SNES and we were still very much playing it by Christmas of '94. It was a fantastic port of a great arcade fighting game. We loved it and the fact that Nintendo allowed blood in the game was a big event! My bro and I loved MK II

                                         They finally got it right with part II. SNES fans were vindicated!

When Karen and baby Liz
came over for that holiday season, we showed off to them Mortal Kombat II. The very first Fatality we did, Karen immediately screamed and picked up her baby sis Liz and ran out of the room. As she dashed out she yelled at me and Kevin, "OH MY GOD!!!  A ONE YEAR OLD BABY CANNOT
Heh, I still remember it fondly, and we kid one another about it these days whenever we see each other. Good times

As it would turn out, Christmas '94 would be the last great gaming-related Christmas I can remember... until last month, Christmas 2010...

Damn, Jax -- don't lose your head -- it's only a game!

                                                       CHRISTMAS 2010: PARTY LIKE IT'S 1994

In November 2010, I bit the proverbial bullet and finally purchased an SNES PowerPak. This great device allows you to play almost any SNES game ever created. It comes at a steep price, but honestly, and as I would come to find out firsthand this past Christmas, it's SO worth the asking price. That Christmas season, guess who but Karen and Liz came back to visit... it's funny how life comes back full circle sometimes, eh?

                                                            It was one POWERPAK'ed Christmas!

It was now Saturday, December 25. Christmas afternoon. Uncle Ben, his wife, Karen and Liz were staying at their 2nd home and invited all of the family to head over for a good ol' Christmas night bash. Normally I take the Sega Saturn with me, but this time, I knew it had to be the 16-bit Super Nintendo instead. So, for the first time in nearly five years, since I planted my SNES, I had to remove it from its dwelling spot. You can see what nearly five years did to the carpet there. Just a little love mark. Eagle-eyed readers can see that the Saturn is a bit dusty there too, heh. It's been a while since I touched it. I almost brought the Saturn and Saturn Bomberman instead out of habit and I didn't want to take my 'precious' SNES, but I knew I couldn't pass up this rosy opportunity to show my cousins a snapshot of the good old days where we were all younger and more innocent. It was a decision that proved to be one hundred percent AWESOME

Ah, the advantages of having a PowerPak and not having to haul 20, 25 games with ya! I found a box that fitted all of this perfectly. A snug fit  ^_^

                                                  The PowerPak turned out to be the MVP of the trip!

After greeting one another and having dinner later that evening as a family, Karen, Liz, David, Mia and I retreated to the living room. Karen had texted me earlier that day "PLEASE COME NOW!  We are in desperate need of entertainment."  So I busted out my ole Super Nintendo, and upon doing so, Karen nearly had a heart attack. "OH MY GOD, I haven't seen one of these in decades!"  We set it up and then I put in the PowerPak. She was stunned by this amazing device. I let her browse the endless list of games and her eyes popped when she saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time. "I remember playing this back in the day!"  Karen shouted, turning back into a six year old kid before my very eyes. "WE GOTTA PLAY THIS!" she continued. So Karen and David started out on the first level. It was my first time seeing the game LIVE since the early '90s. Although I traded for it back in 2006, I never got around to play it. It was a sight all right!  Karen, David and I were oooh-ing and awe-ing it like we were back at the arcades in the early '90s!  Liz and Mia, being young teenagers and Wii fanatics, didn't get "IT" so they didn't care to join in. But Karen, David and I were having a blast. It wasn't just the Ninja Turtles here who went back in time, it was also US

The 3 of us rotated turns playing the two-player mode (shame they couldn't pull off a four-player mode). Each new stage brought about random "Oooh I remember this!" comments and the like. When we made our way to the sewer stage, with the gigantic yellow Pizza Monsters leaping out at us, Karen made the comment "WOW I TOTALLY REMEMBER THOSE PIZZA MONSTERS FROM THE CARTOON SHOW!"  We made it to Super Shredder, but soon fell at his evil hands

                                                                           It felt like we'd gone back in time to 1992!

After Turtles in Time, we switched over to Super Bomberman 2. It was Karen vs. David vs. me vs. computer. We played each stage and had a riot bombing one another. It brought back so many
rich memories of the early-mid '90s when my old gaming circle would spend countless Saturday nights dunkin' on each other (NBA Jam TE) and blowing each other up (Super Bomberman 1 / 2). We even played a bit of the team mode. Time flew. In the end, we played the SNES from 6:45 to 9:20 PM. We spent the next two hours just talking like how they used to in the good old days. All in all, it was a simple awesome Christmas that reminded me of days long gone by
Karen David and I had a BLAST that night

I slept over at my parents' house that night. They live about 15 minutes away from Uncle Ben's second home. Well, maybe it was more of a "gameover" than a "sleepover!"  I arrived at my parents' place around midnight that night. I set up my SNES and fired up the PowerPak. The first game I chose to play was World Heroes 2 BETA. Although I love the final game, what makes the Beta version unique is that it's more combo friendly and thus, more accurate to the arcade. I was quite amazed by the differences between the Beta and final version. Really, it's almost like playing two entirely different games!  That's how great the PowerPak is... you can play Beta versions of your favorite games. Who knows how different they might play from their final product??  You might even prefer the Beta, and the PowerPak gives you that cool luxury

                                             I was so glad to have bought AND brought the PowerPak!

After World Heroes 2 Beta, I had the urge to revisit another old childhood favorite, TMNT Tournament Fighters. You already know what this game means
to me... fond Christmas '93/early '94 memories with this one. Computer is tough as nails though. After I got whupped, I felt the need to do some whupping of my own, so I fired up...

Thanks for all the memories, Ninja Turtles

... the greatest SNES wrestling game around, Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling Budokan. This game never fails to please me. I can play it for a quick 10-15 minutes and get as much satisfaction with that as opposed to a three hour RPG session. I like that it's a game I can play at any time and every time it never fails to satisfy. Plus, it's just fun to pound some folk!  Only in video games

                                           I just love this game. It's a must for all and any wrestling fan!

After I was done with this, I brushed my teeth. My parents had already gone to bed. I turned off the lights and lowered the volume. I hadn't slept over in a long while so the huge house with unusual noises in the dark was slightly creepy. I decided to play

From one obscure Super Famicom goodie to another...

... Deae Tonosama Appare Ichiban. One of the weirdest games on the SNES, it's also a very fun game. This was my first time really playing through it, and I really enjoyed it. Made it to the end boss and defeated the game. It was now 2:45 AM, and the eerie house seemed to get darker and darker. It was the perfect time to load up

                                       Fans of the unusual and Pocky & Rocky will like this unique title

Clock Tower!  This was also my first time really playing through Clock Tower. I couldn't have picked a more perfect setting for the occasion. My parents live in a huge house, and it had been a while since I slept over. All sorts of weird noises were emanating from the house. Outside, the heavy rain was crashing against the windows with FIERCE velocity. Playing Clock Tower didn't help!  I never imagined in a million years a Super Nintendo game could actually scare me. But on that night, Clock Tower succeeded. There were moments where I peeked over my shoulder just to make sure I was alone. All I saw behind
me was pitch blackness. Meanwhile, Scissorman left a wake of terror on the monitor as he pursued me relentlessly throughout the mansion. It was one of the best gaming sessions I've ever had. Quite surreal...

One of those gaming sessions that haunts you EVEN long after...

It was now 4:30 AM. My goodness. I had played from midnight to 4:30 AM, brushing my teeth for ten minutes aside. As I turned off Clock Tower, I went up the stairs in the darkness, uneasy and still thinking about the grisly images of the game I had just played through. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I could still hear the snip-snip-snip of Scissorman's gigantic clippers. I crawled into bed and stared at the ceiling in the darkness. What a game and what an amazing accessory is the PowerPak!  I laid there for a while just reflecting on the night. Great gaming session with my cousins Karen / David, great dinner, great conversations, catching up with Liz and Mia (all of these cousins are featured in The Wonder Years), and one epic SNES session back at my folks' home. And to think, I came THIS close to bringing the Saturn instead. Was I ever glad I brought the SNES instead. And that PowerPak... what a terrific invention. It allowed me to play a host of games I didn't need to haul with me -- or that I didn't have at all. I couldn't believe four and a half hours flew by as I was playing various games, culminating with a heart-pounding thriller adventure in the macabre Clock Tower. I drifted off to a deep, peaceful sleep...

The next morning I woke up at 9:30 and found the house empty. My parents had gone
into town and said they'd be back in two hours so we can meet Uncle Ben and the rest of
the fam for a Sunday lunch. Perfect. I fired up my old friend and browsed the endless list
of games, settling on a Super Famicom favorite,
DoReMi Fantasy. It had been years since
I played it, and revisiting the whimsical and charming capers of Milon sure was a blast :)

Next, I loaded up another old Super Famicom favorite of mine, Rendering Ranger: R2. Like DoReMi, it too had been years since I played R2 -- not since 2006, the year I went
SFC-bonkers. R2 is a sweet mix of a wild space shooter and platform shooting action

Remembering the unforgettable December nights in the early 1990's watching Denny play Thunder Force III, I had the urge to play Thunder Spirits. It was no Thunder Force III, that's for sure!  Next, I decided to play another "Christmas darling" of mine from '93 -- Ranma ½ Hard Battle. I loved it as a kid, but sadly the game doesn't hold up well to my memories :(

It was now a bit past 11 AM. Wanting to go out with a BANG I fired up World Heroes 2 BETA. Using Hanzou, I set the difficulty to Level 8, the speed to 3 and selected the Death Match. It was
a blast slamming bodies into spiked walls and on
to vicious land mines. I defeated the final boss Neo Dio by perfecting him. I love the Beta version of this game. It IS different from the finished game. It allows more combos, thus playing a lot more like the arcade. Also, Hanzou and Fuuma's majestic Dragon Uppercuts operate just like how they did in the arcade. So if you have a PowerPak and consider yourself a fan of World Heroes 2, you must see for yourself. As the game credits rolled, my parents came home. What perfect timing!  We went over to Uncle Ben's and shared a Sunday lunch. He and his family would be flying out soon. Before we said our good-byes, Karen, Liz, David, Mia, my niece Jasmine and nephew Justin, and I went out to the local park. My little four year old nephew Justin held onto my hand as we walked about a mile over to the local park. We played tag, ran around and I even went on the swings. Felt like a kid all over again. It was great to see Justin and Jasmine run about. I had a few nice quiet moments with David too (from BUON COMPLEANNO!). I told David about how I played the original Clock Tower on SNES last night, and when I mentioned Scissorman, I saw the poor guy almost twitch. Over ten years ago I used to force him to watch me play PlayStation Clock Tower and he would always run out of the room screaming every time Scissorman jumped out. We also just talked about life in general. It was a wonderful Christmas weekend. I shall always remember it  ^_^

                                       ~FINAL MAD RAMBLINGS AND RETROSPECTIVE PONDERINGS~

As I grew up the meaning of Christmas constantly changed. When I was a little kid it was a time for toys, games and Santa. Then I learned ole Santa wasn't real, and toys and games were replaced by ugly olive green sweaters and math workbooks. But now... at this stage in my life... I see Christmas for what it TRULY is. It's the birth of Christ. Secondly,
it is a special time of the year for family and friends to gather and show love to one another, as well as to our fellow man. Yes, that should be the case year round, but there is no doubt extra emphasis surrounding Christmas time. And, if able, it can also be an opportune time to 'get your game on' with your family and friends. There's something about gaming during the winter season that can't be beat. Those early darkening late afternoons. The whipping rain lashing outside late at night as you play childhood favorites, or unearth new ones. Wherever you are at in this stage of life, may you be blessed each day and a blessing to others, too. After all, isn't that what life's all about?

Ah thank you. God bless ya and everyone else, in Jesus' name  :)