The Ryan Lambie column: my console obsession

A brand new column! All about a man and his videogames! And, er, the explanations he has to come up with for his other half...

Mr Ryan Lambie's amazing joypad.

It’s fair to say that most people have a spare-time obsession of one sort or another. For some it’s football, for others it’s gardening or maybe a pleasant spot of Sudoku. For me though, it’s always been videogames.

‘We’ve got far too many consoles in the house already,’ sighs Sarah, my girlfriend, as yet another large parcel appears on the doorstep, and to be fair I can sort of see her point – perhaps owning twenty or so games machines is a little over the top.  At the last count, my menagerie of consoles and computers included, in no particular order: Playstation 1 & 2, Sega Saturn, Master System, two Megadrives, two Game Gears, Dreamcast, Atari Lynx, Nintendo Entertainment System (now sadly deceased), SNES, N64, GameCube, Wii, Neo Geo Pocket, three ZX Spectrums (one still boxed with Sir Clive’s BASIC programming manual), PC… you get the idea.  

The issue of console immigration became such a sore point that my last acquisition had to be done in secret; this time it was a boxed Japanese Super Nintendo (or, to be absolutely accurate, a Super Famicom), purchased from a certain online auction house. At first, I toyed with the idea of simply smuggling my new toy into the house and hoping she wouldn’t notice, but Sarah has developed a keen nose for these things, so I decided to opt for a more honest approach, and after a pleasant meal at our local Indian I decided to break the news.

‘I’ve got a small confession to make,’ I said, playing with the corner of my napkin. Sarah looked at me with suspicion.‘You’ve been caught speeding?’‘Oh no, nothing like that…’‘You’ve bought another console haven’t you?’‘Sort of… a bit,’ I replied, sheepishly.Sarah sighed one of her special sighs usually reserved for those times when a new console arrives or a large box turns up full of games from Japan, and says something about the spare room already looking like a branch of Dixons.

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The problem is, there are just so many fantastic games in the world, and they’re never all released for just one system. It’s vital, therefore, that I own a Sega Dreamcast so that I can play Rez, Ikaruga, Bangaioh or Shikigami no Shiro 2, the same as it’s imperative that I own a Nintendo 64 so I can play Goldeneye, Zelda: Ocarina of Time or Mario 64.

Of course, some may argue that there’s no need to own so many systems – especially the older ones – when you could simply play them through an emulator on the PC. But emulation (apart from not being particularly legal) just isn’t the same as sitting in front of a big old telly, controller in hand, in the same way that MAME just doesn’t recreate the feeling of playing, say, Final Fight or Street Fighter 2 on a genuine, six-foot tall chipboard arcade cabinet.

As for the latest generation of consoles, I did make a firm promise to Sarah that I would restrict myself to only one next-gen system (which ended up being the Wii, partially because I desperately need the exercise), but already I can feel my resolve beginning to waver, particularly where the Xbox 360’s concerned. The news that the latest Katamari game has defected from the Playstation to Microsoft’s finest hasn’t helped, and can any self-respecting gamer really exist without Halo 3 or Project Gotham Racing 4? And what of all the gaming loveliness to be found on XBLA, with the lure of Rez HD or Omega V?

Today, I found myself plotting 360 acquisition strategies with a work colleague. ‘You could pretend you won it in a raffle’ was one suggestion. ‘Pretend that burglars broke in and left it’ was another. Whether I ever manage to get one of Microsoft’s megalithic systems into the house or not, my thoughts will inevitably turn to the PS3. There is Little Big World coming out pretty soon, after all.

‘You’re obsessed,’ Sarah says as she fires up her Nintendo DS. ‘I’m a videogame widow.’ And then she’s off to play Animal Crossing or Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, because although she doesn’t like to admit it, Sarah loves games nearly as much as I do. See you next week.

Ryan Lambie will be writing every week at Den Of Geek; he’ll be back next Thursday. 

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