A braggable Christmas gift (Picture: ANON)
Readers discuss the magic of receiving a highly anticipated game for Christmas and the horror of unwrapping the wrong gift on the big day.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Cranston, who wanted to know what’s the happiest you’ve ever been with a gift and what was the most disappointing moment.
Most people recalled some very happy memories but there were the inevitable disappointments, some made worse by the assumption that earlier hints had been recognised and understood.
The best gaming Christmas present has to be my SNES with Street Fighter 2 in 1992, when I was nine. I’d go as far as to say it’s the best present I’ve ever got, full stop. I can still see the box in my mind, with some objectively terrible artwork plastered over it. What an amazing Christmas it was too. I must’ve played more Street Fighter matches in that period, between Christmas Day and going back to school, than I had in my entire life up to that point. A truly special and formative time in my life, and a memory I’ll treasure forever.
In terms of bad gaming Christmases, I’m lucky enough that I’ve never had a Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge situation. I would just tell my parents what I wanted and they’d pass my request on to Santa!
Over the years, as a child, I was always gifted old consoles from my uncle, whether it was an Atari 2600, NES, or SNES. But one of the best gaming presents? I would say my N64 at Christmas time 1997 when I was 14, which I still have to this day.
I remember my mum set up a mini-scavenger hunt, leaving clues to the eventual treasure of the N64. I also received Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, and the infamous Duke Nukem 64. Then a year later I got my hands on the Best. Game. Ever… Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. Such good times.
The wrong G
In 2004 I was most eagerly anticipating GTA: San Andreas. I was 15 and that was the age my parents deemed it OK for me to play an 18 game. Up to that point I had only played GTA 3 and Vice City at friends’ houses and was supremely jealous that I couldn’t play it. So my hype levels were through the roof for San Andreas and Christmas Day. I remember going to the cinema on Christmas Eve, with my family and a trailer for San Andreas was shown before the film. I said out loud that I can’t wait to play that tomorrow. No one said anything, so I had nothing to worry about.
Come Christmas Day and I open what looks like a game sized gift to be presented by GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. This was a big no from me dawg, but I supressed my annoyance so as to not seem ungrateful. I did eventually buy San Andreas later in the week, with my Xmas money, but then a few weeks later I asked my mum why she hadn’t bought me San Andreas.
What she said had happened was that when she went to HMV (apparently unaware other shops sold games) she had forgotten to take my list with her but remembered the game I wanted began with a ‘G’. Asking a shop assistant she asked what popular game that year everyone was wanting beginning with a ‘G’ and they told her it must be GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. In reality. I think they had lots of stock they needed to get rid of. A very disappointing Christmas morning in 2004.
Now playing: Super Mario RPG (Switch), Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name (Xbox), and F1 23 (Xbox)
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I’ve been lucky and had some great video-game-related Christmases. My godfather Steve was a true hero to a seven-year-old wanting video games for Christmas, opening up and playing Mario Vs. Donkey, the next year Ultimate Spider-Man, and the year after that Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – all great games and great memories.
Steve is no longer with us, but this time of year my brother and I can’t help but talk about him and video games. Even games that are considered bad; something about the hype of opening and playing them on Christmas makes up for it. The Kinect’s novelty may have quickly worn thin, but it’s understandable why it was 2010’s most wanted gift, SpongeBob SquarePants: SuperSponge may be a very by-the-numbers 2D platformer but a kid getting to be their favourite cartoon character on Christmas Day doesn’t really care. And, yeah, even Sonic The Hedgehog 2006 manages to have its own charm during the festive season.
And yet there’s one game even a small child knew was an absolute dud. I think I was four years old and I was gifted the PlayStation 1 game Moses Prince Of Egypt. This is a weird game that had a 30 minute cartoon telling you the story of Moses, a very off-brand version of the Prince of Egypt movie, along with a colouring book and a puzzle game. None of it was fun and I’m pretty sure it only existed as a cash grab following the film. Erm, Merry Christmas.
I risk sounding like a complete diva here, so please feel free to have a good laugh at my expense to even this story out a bit. Many moons ago, about 1999/2000, I had just moved into my first flat.
I had been with my then girlfriend a couple of years by then, although she was not living with me.
She dropped a hint to me that she had bought me a Dreamcast. My eyes lit up and I asked her ‘Really?’ and she assured me she had.
I was over the moon at the thought of opening a Dreamcast on Christmas Day and couldn’t wait.
Christmas Day arrived and I was round my girlfriend’s house, literally like an excited little boy on Christmas Day.
She came out holding this rather large box with her mother. ‘Funny,’ I thought. ‘That looks a bit big for a Dreamcast box.’ It was then at that point that it was placed on my lap ‘Funny, it feels too heavy to be a Dreamcast?’
I then opened it up to unveil my brand new microwave oven.
I felt like a losing contestant on Bullseye being shown kitchen appliances and wondering ‘what I could’ve won’.
‘It’s a really powerful microwave,’ she said.
I smiled through gritted teeth and I could only think to myself. ‘Yeah, but it’s not as powerful as a Dreamcast is it.’
I don’t mean to sound ungrateful and it was by far not the worst present I’ve ever received. It was the carrot that was dangled in front of me that was the big disappointment.
Anyway, I’m not with her anymore.
Merry Christmas everyone.
From bad to worse
I’m going to sound ungrateful but the funniest/worst gaming present I received was a PlayStation 2 with no games for Christmas.
I just played with the menus for about two weeks until I rented The Bouncer from Blockbuster.
GC: We would’ve waited an extra couple of weeks.
Waste not, want not
With games not being cheap for many a year, and the fact my parents rarely went to such a high price consideration in relation to video games, the wrong title would not be possible due to my parents making sure the game I got is the correct one, to avoid wasting money.
Games for presents was not a thing generally for me, as I would usually save up to buy the title myself after a few months. Getting the title would be on my calendar checklists for a good few months, as I ticked off the days. I did get The Lion King for Christmas once, but my mind can’t remember if I saved for it or it was given as a present! An awesome game, though, that I definitely wanted.
Either way, the Amiga had a good few games I borrowed off mates previously, which were an odd mix of genres and playability for sure. Definitely games which were good and bad respectively. But going through Woolworths and getting Zelda: A Link To The Past. with my parents in tow. one birthday or Christmas was quite something, especially when no shops seemed to have the game in stock!
So here I was going through my local city trying to find the golden Zelda box of destiny – an adventure worthy of Link himself! Found the last one in the Woolworths store and then the journey home in the car seemed to take an age. Te excitement was definitely amplified to say the least and, boy, what a game – what a game indeed. The best present ever in regards to video games.
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