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...