ALEX, TIM, ZACH AND I were at best buy late Monday night for the midnight release of Grand Theft Auto 4. It was a bit of a strange feeling. I've been to countless midnight movie releases, and waiting around in line until midnight is not an uncommon feeling. For many movies I would even wind up in a line so long it stretched outside, so waiting in the cold is nothing new to me, either (the line for Star Wars: Episode 3 holds the record for longest midnight-release line I've been in).
However, it's been a long time since I've gone to the midnight release of a video game. I still play a good deal of games, I suppose, but they're almost entirely PC games that I play online or portable games for PSP or DS. In other words, sort-burst games, things meant for maybe ten or twenty minutes of quick fun, but not much more than that. I am at my computer a lot, but almost all the time I'm sitting at my desk I'm either talking to people online or reading through my ever-growing list of blogs, news sites, and the occasional comic. It's been a while since I've played a console game for an extended period of time.
Recently I had a little quest to find Final Fantasy VI for the Game Boy Advance. Originally released as Final Fantasy III for SNES, it is widely considered to be the strongest in the Final Fantasy series, and one of the greatest video game stories that has been produced. I had a Sega Genesis as a kid and did not pick up a SNES until high school when I found one on eBay for cheap, so I missed out on this game when it came out. My first RPG was Chrono Cross, a 3D game on the Playstation, and I never had even spent time with a 2D RPG at all. I found a used, beat-up copy of III on eBay for cheap to go along with my beat-up SNES (the thing has character though). Even though I didn't play it as a child, when I think about it, it has that same nostalgic effect, because those 2D sprites had more life and character to them than any 3D game I've played, even by today's standards. It's position as my favorite video game has yet to be rivaled. Anyway I had an urge to play this again lately, for no real reason, and I hunted down an unopened copy of the GBA port for $40 on eBay.
I was thinking of this in line at Best Buy. It really had been a long time since I was outside a store at midnight for a video game, and it is a feeling I kind of missed. I consider myself a "gamer," and I've always kept up with the technology and the news, but it's been a while since I've actively been excited about new games like I have been in this past year. It's gotten me a handful of annoying comments, though, since people seem to insist that I should not play video games, that they're for kids, adults should not be wasting time with them. My usual comeback regards how much TV my critic watches every day and how much time they spend on the internet (one of the two usually shuts them up), but it does bother me sometimes that some people just don't understand.
It's not horribly different than that attachment to a sports team. Some people get it, some people just don't.
To be honest, I was more excited for Mario Kart Wii than I was for GTA4. Part of a new MK game always reaches back into those games I did play as a kid, sitting at my friend's SNES for hours and hours into the night. Picking up the latest incarnation brings that feeling back out, the childlike joy over something has no real substance and doesn't try to, something that is pure fun
and not meant for anything else. It's the kind of thing a lot of music and movies miss out on, there is always this drive to be big and mature and serious. Nobody seems to want to just have stupid fun anymore. I think the people walking out of Best Buy and opening Mario Kart before GTA4 understand this.