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Vol. 2, Issue 3
November 25, 1999
Pad Happy:

All I Want for Christmas is...

by Nick Ferguson

Nick F shamelessly tries to disguise his letter to Santa as this week’s Pad Happy...
Every year, I have this terrible crisis of conscience over the run up to Christmas. As the nights draw in, I feel an overwhelming urge to not spend my money on friends and loved ones, but rather on the disproportionately large number of A-class games released every holiday season. Aaargh! Why do games companies do it? Last winter my good credit rating was almost wiped out by a tidal wave of console goodies: Zelda 64, Rogue Squadron, Ridge Racer Type 4, Turok 2 (yeuch!) and the Color Gameboy. This year Sega has already delivered me a sucker punch with the Dreamcast sneaking a large chunk of savings, money that should’ve probably been saved for a comfy pair of socks if Santa’s elves had their way. Quite frankly, I don’t know how I’m going to get away with it this time... I have a sinking feeling that now I’ve finally got a post-university job, people will be expecting a bit more than the planned airport bestseller, box of chocolates and Yanni CD (just kidding about that Yanni CD, guys). Damn yoooooou, publishers!

Let’s face it, if there was a poster boy for Attention Deficit Disorder, it would be me on Christmas Day (or, indeed, any other family gathering). Sitting there, joypad fingers twitching, I’m painfully aware of the difficulty in trying to keep an expression on my face that doesn’t betray my complete and utter lack of interest in anything anybody is trying to tell me because I want to get back to my new game. Even as a kid (hell, especially as a kid), formal family visits, big turkey meals and extended vacations were, quite simply, a cruel and unwelcome intrusion on good, honest gamesplaying time. I mean, is there anything crueler than finally giving a child the video game they’ve been waiting six months to play, and then banning them from touching the computer all day? Sounds like sadism at its worst to me. Even worse was when your well-meaning (read: useless) relatives managed to buy you the game that would have been last on anyone’s Christmas list (believe it or not, I wasn’t allowed to trade in unwanted gifts as it was “against the Christmas Spirit” - balls). I have a sneaking suspicion that EB staff get a bonus for offloading their dud stock the week before Christmas: “Hey, I sold five copies of Tanx Warz!” “No way!?!” Gah! Where’s your heart, people?

Hell, I know what I’d like to find in my Christmas stocking this year. We could start with a Neo Geo Pocket, complete with Turf Masters, Puzzle Bobble, Metal Slug and (yes!) Pac-Man. Moving swiftly on, the mandatory PlayStation game would have to be Resident Evil Nemesis – full of zombie-blasting undead goodness. I’m tempted to ask for Tomb Raider 4 (that’s what it is people, fancy “Last Revelation” subtitles or no), but if Lara still moves like she has piles I’ll give it a miss. N64-wise, there’s always Donkey Kong 64 and Jet Force Gemini from those console stalwards Rare. On the PC there’s no shortage of thrills on the action front, with Quake III Arena, Opposing Force and Unreal Tournament catering for all your gaming preferences (as long as they’re in the first person). I’m intreagued by the “scary” Nocturne, the “epic” Omikron: The Nomad Soul and the “pretty” Homeworld, too. And if you like your gaming with minimal-bittage there’s always a Gameboy Color with Pokemon Yellow (mmmmm, Pokemon Yellow). Oh, and while I’m asking, alphas versions of Halo, Oni and Duke Nukem Forever wouldn’t go amiss, either!

This next bit is a public service announcement (or maybe I just feel the need to share this weirdo experience I had last weekend). I was in my local HMV, just browsing through some gaming magazines, when this complete stranger starts talking to me about Dino Crisis. So, my initial reaction is just to be polite – mentally I’m going “Uuuuuuh, okaaaay...” but you know, let the guy get on with it and he’ll soon leave me alone, right? But no! He just keeps going, and going and going. Over the next ten minutes - with nary an ounce of encouragement from me - he’s telling me about how he’s already on the fourth disc of Final Fantasy VIII after a week and how he’s really impressed with the Dreamcast. Next, “Did you know that the new Tomb Raider game will be the last one... ever?”

The real cracker comes when, with a conspiratorial whisper, he informs me that he has inside knowledge that Sony just bought the rights to publish a version of Rare’s Goldeneye on the PlayStation. At this point, I admit, I start to laugh - but he gives me a really rather creepy look and I suddenly begin to want to get the hell out of there. But, being a bit too polite for my own good, I’m trapped (in a nodding-my-head-politely, “what-the-frig-is-this-guy-on?” kinda way). He then proceeds to tell me his vision for the Japanese console market: “In the next few years, I’m pretty sure that Sony will buy out Nintendo and Sega, just scrap them, so they can control the market.” Yeah, right! At this point I suddenly developed an imaginary friend I had to go meet and I got out of there, but I just thought I should warn you that these people are out there. What I want to know is, where the hell do they pick up that sort of crap?

Then again, I fall for outrageous Usenet rumors like “John Romero is dead”, “Link dies at the end of Zelda 64” and (heh) “PlayStation 2 will have 250 titles at launch” all the time...

- Nick F. apologises for the preceeding He really does.


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