Editor's Note: Matt is a true gamer, and he's got the emotional scars to prove it. Reading through this list of awful gaming memories is enough to make a grown man cry — not that I did! Thankfully, he spices his tales of woe with a hearty dose of humor. -Brett
In my previous entry, The Games That Define You, I delved into some of my favorite memories from 25 years of gaming. But for every GoldenEye deathmatch played and Zelda game box opened on Christmas morning, I've had a video game experience so soul-crushing and demoralizing that I struggled to pick up a controller again.
With a lot of willpower — and a little bit of luck — I fought through those dark times. Now I'd like to share my pain with you.
Warning: These memories are not for the weak of heart — or for the fanboys of Sega.
"I love the Power Glove. It's so bad." (1990)
My first foray into terrible video game peripherals was the Power Glove. Young people are so susceptible to crap, especially cool-looking crap with totally rad commercials. How could I not want one?
Needless to say, the Power Glove lasted all of 30 minutes in my household before my father demanded we return it. I was simultaneously crushed, perplexed, and angry. But who was I to argue? I couldn’t even manage to navigate Level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. with it! I loved seeing it in The Wizard, though.
The Bargain Bin (1995-1996)
Ah, the Christmas of 1995. I was excited, and how could I not be? I was almost certain that my brother and I would get a shiny new Sega Saturn or Sony PlayStation. We had been subtly hinting about our desire for them, and I felt like the stars were aligning. My parents dropped hints and gave us approving nods. All systems were go.
On Christmas morning, we got up early and raced to the Christmas tree. There it was: a large video game-sized box. With adrenaline making our hands shake, we tore open the packaging and found…a Sega CD.
Oh, it gets better. We also got new copies of Sewer Shark, Corpse Killer, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Masked Rider, Brutal: Paws of Fury, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Time Gal, Jurassic Park (I kind of liked that one), and Sonic CD (a godsend!). I was unprepared for the horror of FMV gaming, but today I am a stronger person for having lived through it.
My parents later explained to me that they thought that getting a Sega CD on clearance with a bunch of cheap games seemed like a better deal than buying just one expensive console. Their hearts were in the right place, but unfortunately they didn't read EGM, or they might have known their folly.
Is This Thing Alive? (1995-1996)
Not long after getting the Sega CD, my once-proud Sega Genesis grew into the patchwork behemoth you see below.
I can't say any more about this subject. It’s too painful.
"As if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced." (1998)
The evolutionary biologist in me got me hooked on Pokémon. I loved entering its bizarre world, where I could scour the earth for rare species of animals and then throw them into epic battles. (Sort of like my real job now, sans the "epic battles" part.) My team was ferocious pack led by a level 100 Charizard. I collected all 150 Pokémon, many of them high-level finds, and we were ready for any kind of rumble as we frolicked all over Kanto.
Then one day I made the mistake of leaving my Game Boy out while some of my younger brother’s friends were over. One of them decided to turn on my system and try out a new game. In my room, I instantly felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if Kanto was Alderaan. I had lost game saves before, but this was on a scale of suckitude far greater than any that had come before it.
The Old Switcheroo (2001)
Need I say more?
Dreams Can’t Last Forever (2001-present)
After only two years, Sega put the Dreamcast out to pasture. Has there ever been a better system with a shorter life span? (Hint: The answer is no.)
The saddest repercussion of the Dreamcast's death is that Sega "restructured" as a software company. They haven't been the same since. It's hardly controversial to say that the average quality of Sega titles post-Dreamcast has taken a significant dip — a few gems like Panzer Dragoon Orta and Valkyria Chronicles notwithstanding.
Stuck in Limbo (2003)
Don't get me wrong: I loved Panzer Dragoon Orta when it came out on the Xbox. But as I played through the game, a sickening feeling came over me. Good as Orta was, it didn't hold a candle to Panzer Dragoon Saga, one of my favorite RPGs for the Saturn. I realized that I would probably never see another Panzer Dragoon RPG like Saga again.
All I Want for Christmas Is Three Red Lights (2008)
After assembling a proper set of plastic instruments, Rock Band parties became regular events at my place. My friends and I would gather around the Xbox 360 and rock out until the wee hours of the morning. Since my parents are avid rockers, I decided to bring my 360 and Rock Band home with me for the holidays. On Christmas day, I set the Xbox set up and plugged in the instruments. Everyone gathered around the TV, ready to rock out.
Everyone except Microsoft, that is. I booted up the 360, took a seat, and…nothing. A quick glance at my console revealed that the Red Ring of Death had come to spread holiday cheer, two years to the day I bought it. I felt like Scrooge as I told my family that there would be no rocking that Christmas.
The Old Switcheroo, Part 2 (2009)
Much has been written on this topic already, but I'll say it again: For someone who had been reading EGM since the beginning, receiving Maxim as a substitute when EGM died was like pouring salt in a wound.
Ironically, my girlfriend had renewed my EGM subscription as a gift just before the magazine's demise. Much hilarity has ensued.