Round Table: Time for a Festive Chat
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Visiting the gaming ghosts of past, present and future
So this is Christmas, and we hope you have fun. That is the whole point of video games anyway, and we're sure that as Sony gamers you've had a rather good year. We've seen the release of the fabulous Vita which — despite disappointing sales — has redefined the power and multi-functionality that we expect from a handheld system. PS3 is also into its later days and producing some of its best titles, while another re-model and innovations such as Wonderbook have brought the price down further while attracting even more gamers to Sony's console.
We thought it was time for a festive chat, so joining features editor Tom Whitehead was Mr Push Square himself — associate editor Sammy Barker — Vita editor Corbie Dillard, events correspondent Katy Ellis and reviewer Jamie O'Neill. We talk about some retro memories — which scandalously refer to non-Sony products — before getting all serious and talking about the Sony's 2012 and some expectations for PS4, when it eventually arrives. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy!
Tom: First of all, please introduce yourselves to the lovely readers.
Corbie: I'm Corbie Dillard, Vita Editor for Push Square and yes, I love my little Vita!
Katy: Hi there! I'm Katy, Events Correspondent at Push Square.
Sammy: S'up. I'm Sammy, Associate Editor. I try to slip as much innuendo into Push Square news articles as possible.
Jamie: Merry Christmas everyone, I'm Jamie and I’m a reviewer for Push Square, I have a particular fondness for retro gaming.
Tom: And I'm Tom Whitehead, an imposter that just shows up for round tables. First off, let's talk about our favourite festive gaming memories. What's your earliest game-related memory at this time of year?
Corbie: My first gaming memory was Christmas 1981 when I got my first game console, an Atari 2600. Okay no need to count it up, it was 31 years ago!
Sammy: Man, I don't think any of us can compete with that! Being the young'un I am, I remember my sister getting a Mega Drive at Christmas. It came with Sonic the Hedgehog and BLEW my mind.
Jamie: That is a tough one, I remember handheld Pac-Man games as a little nipper and Tomy's 3D Games, which you used to hold up to your eyes like binoculars in the early 1980s.
Katy: I think my fondest Christmas memory is similar to Sammy's but instead it was my sister buying me a second hand Mega Drive for Christmas, complete with Altered Beast and Sonic after ours took a trip to the charity shop...
Sammy: I'm sorry about Altered Beast.
Katy: I like Altered Beast! "WISE FROM YOUR GRAVE"
Tom: If we're counting Tomy handhelds and binocular things, I'm pretty sure I had a new one every Christmas and adored them.
Corbie: I'm one of those weirdoes that actually loved Altered Beast in the arcades. And Mega Drive rocks!
Tom: MD was the CEO of gaming... see what I did there?
Jamie: One Christmas I was excited to get Barbarian II and Last Ninja 2 on the C64, the latter came with a shuriken throwing star in the box. This is a specific early memory related to gaming, but I was playing games long before then.
Tom: I think a throwing star extra may be the best one so far. Not necessarily first memories, but what about particularly enjoyable festive memories you have?
Corbie: Nothing can top the Atari 2600 that I got in ‘81. I've never been so excited for a game console. The Commodore 64 I got a couple of years later was great, but didn't top the Atari.
Jamie: I first played SNES Super Mario Kart on Christmas Day in 1992, I imported it from America and it is quite possibly my favourite game of all time. I have associated Christmas gaming with kart racers since then, and I enjoyed that game immensely, especially multiplayer with my mates.
Corbie: I do have rather fond memories of importing my first game console, the Super Famicom in 1990. I got it about a week before Christmas. Played Super Mario World until I couldn't see straight.
Katy: I still maintain that the Mario Kart series could never improve upon the SNES version - love that game to bits.
Corbie: I'm with you guys. Super Mario Kart SNES rocked and still does!
Sammy: So, my favourite Christmas gaming memory is totally not PlayStation related. I remember really wanting a Dreamcast in 1999, but my family couldn't afford one for Christmas. Thankfully, I had all of my Nintendo 64 stuff to sell — TONS OF IT. I remember hauling it all to Computer Exchange with my Mum and Dad a few days after the 25th, and trading it in for a Dreamcast and a second-hand copy of Sonic Adventure. I couldn't even afford a VMU — so I just played the start over and over again. We got to go to KFC for tea on the way home — a novelty in those days — but I could barely even eat my food because I was so excited. That day will live with me FOREVER.
Tom: You just made SEGA fans very happy there Sammy. A few of us seem to have a special place for the house of Sonic's old console days.
Jamie: That feeling of being so excited to open up a brand new console is really powerful, as both Sammy and Corbie have just noted. I can imagine the buzz of getting a Dreamcast, although I did not have one until last Christmas; owning a Super Famicom in 1990 just a week before Christmas is an awesome memory, Corbs.
Tom: We've all been very retro. Any memorable Christmas moments in the last 5 years or so?
Corbie: Of course, last Christmas when I imported a PlayStation Vita. I was so excited that I knew that there was no way I would be able to wait until February for the NA launch to get one. I had a blast with that thing during Christmas playing Hot Shots Golf and Mutant Blobs Attack.
Sammy: I was so jealous when I saw on Twitter you'd already got your console, Corbie.
Corbie: I was like a kid in a candy store man.
Katy: No-one will buy me games or consoles any more, apparently I have "too many"!!
Corbie: Too many game consoles!? Blasphemy!
Sammy: If we're talking recent memories, I had a real blast playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim during the Christmas break last year. I thought I was going to hate that game — I can't stand high fantasy stuff like Lord of the Rings — but it sucked me in. I put in a stupid amount of hours over the course of a couple of weeks, and loved every minute. And, yes, I did play on PS3, and it worked fine for me.
Jamie: This memory is linked to the Vita chat, I know PSP was released in Japan late in 2004, but I did not manage to import my PSP from Play-Asia until January 2005, so I did not have it in time for Christmas. I was champing at the bit for PSP by the time I received it on my birthday in February. I remember I was excited by the preview hype in magazine articles on Ridge Racer and Vampire Chronicle: The Chaos Tower during that time, because I knew I would import those games. Did any of you guys get a Japanese PSP as a Christmas present for December 25th, 2004?
Corbie: I did manage to stay up late and get in on the first batch of import PSPs from National Console Support, so I did get mine before Christmas. I got Darkstalkers and Hot Shots Golf.
Tom: You like a bit of Hot Shots Golf, Corbs.
Corbie: I LOVE Hot Shots Golf. LOVE it!
Sammy: Sadly, no. I got my PSP on European launch day, September 1st. That's my birthday, by the way.
Corbie: Sweet, and on your birthday!
Tom: Happy Birthday 14 weeks ago...
Jamie: Great stuff, Corbie. I seem to remember that I imported the DS earlier than PSP. I'm not sure perhaps the Japanese DS was released a little bit earlier, leaving plenty of import time for Christmas. It's cool to hear that both Sammy and I got a PSP for our Birthday in 2005.
Katy: I've never had a PSP (shameful I know) but as I said video games as presents are a no-no with my family, so I mostly save up and get games on launch - best I've bought in the last year was Sleeping Dogs, absolutely loved every second of that game!
Tom: Are there any gaming gifts on the way to any of you from Santa this year?
Corbie: I'm not sure I've ever gotten a present in 30 years that wasn't either a game system or games!
Katy: Lucky you! Beats socks and shampoo.
Corbie: Okay some underwear, but that's it.
Sammy: Yes. I actually bought my own Christmas presents this year. I picked Resident Evil 6, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and Need for Speed: Most Wanted. They are all games that I haven't had chance to play yet, so I'm looking forward to them.
Corbie: Funny, I bought myself a Wii U and gave it to myself early! Imagine that!
Katy: What games did you get Corbie?
Corbie: Scribblenauts Unlimited, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Nintendo Land.
Jamie: I won't bend your ear here on Push Square about the Wii U coming my way on Christmas Day – though I’m really looking forward to it — a gift off Jo and all of my family. I spent lots of time with Sumo Digital's PS3 Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing during a previous Christmas, so I am buzzing to get Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed on PS Vita this year. I had the chance to play it at Play Expo last October, when Steve Lycett provided a talk on the game and I love the way that its morphing courses celebrate environments from classic SEGA titles (After Burner, Shinobi, Golden Axe, Panzer Dragoon and NiGHTS). I am especially pleased to be getting the Vita version, the vibrancy and style associated with SEGA titles will look lush on the OLED screen.
Corbie: That's awesome Jamie, gotta love SEGA!
Sammy: Sonic All-Stars is awesome. It's really, really good.
Corbie: Another game to get.
Sammy: That Golden Axe stage is incredible.
Jamie: I have arranged to stay over with my family for some of Christmas, so the Vita version of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is ideal as part of my festive celebrations.
Corbie: Time to get a fourth job.
Over on page two the conversation turns to Vita, PS3 and some debate about PS4, so come and join us...