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I’ve been driving myself nuts trying to find a replacement Dreamcast. A few months ago, the controller port broke, so I’ve been looking for a faulty one, in order to save some money and fix my current one by transplanting the working controller port into the one with the non working controller port. The controller board shorted out and I tried to replace the blown resistor, but unfortunately, I also buggered up the board. Yes, I have mad skills at soldering, usually, but this time I was off my game, pardon the unintentional pun. I usually use a soldering iron, but this time I decided to use my soldering gun, just because I hadn’t used it for a while and wanted to use it. I also thought it would be best for the job. It is a lot hotter than a soldering iron and as I needed to burn the lacquer off the solder, I thought that it would be much faster and safer to use the gun. Not so. The damned thing just burned right through the board and now I’m left without a Dreamcast. This makes me a very unhappy Kitty. Speaking of Kitty, I saw a Hello Kitty Dreamcast on eBay. I really want it! So, don’t suppose any of you have a spare 200 pounds just collecting dust? 

At Christmas, I received a game called Powerstone. This was one of my favourite Dreamcast games and I’d been trying to find it for a while. I was obviously looking in the wrong place, but seeing as it was gifted to me, I no longer have to look. Yay! But the broken Dreamcast means that I can’t play the damned game. The original disc broke by the way, as Dreamcast games are so prone to doing. Actually, Dreamcasts are prone to breaking down, too. That’s part of their charm for me.

I’m having cravings to play my Dreamcast. It is my second favourite Sega console of all time, after the good old Mega Drive. The Mega Drive was simple: You plugged it into your TV, slotted the game cartridge in and away you went, playing for hours on end. It was challenging and no matter where you started out sitting, you always wound up almost against the TV. It literally drew you in. It wasn’t just me who played the console either. Yes, the console was bought for me as a birthday present, after a bunch of asking and pleading, but my mum always used to play it when I was at school. I didn’t mind at all, as long as she gave me it back, so I could get my gaming fix, after watching my programmes, that is.

I’m not sure if you could say I’m addicted to gaming, but I don’t go a day without doing it, so maybe I am. Last year was one of those really crazy years for gaming. I completed 28 games, over a range of formats - Wii, PS3, Dreamcast, Mega Drive, Android, Xbox 360. Actually pretty much every console I own, plus my phone.

I own a lot of consoles. I own almost all Sega consoles: Video Driver (which a lot of people forget, but it was my first foray into gaming, so I’ll always remember it), Master System II, Mega Drive, Mega CD, Mega Drive 32X, Game Gear, Saturn and Dreamcast. The one that I really want is a Genesis Nomad. It is a portable Mega Drive, released only in USA (excluding Alaska, as far as I’m aware) and it is hard to find. That’s not to say it’s rare, it’s just... Hard to find, due to Sega fans never wanting to part with their precious consoles. I also need an original Master System, a Mega Drive II and a Saturn with the square buttons on it. The original iteration of the Saturn had oval buttons and then they revised it to have square ones. For some unknown reason, Sega are the kings of reinvention. They were always coming up with new iterations of the same machine and really set a trend for quite some years. In fact, some companies are still doing that.

Nintendo is pretty damned good at redesigning their consoles. They did it most with the Game Boy and the DS. In total there are nine iterations of the Game boy and four of the DS, not counting the 3D varieties, of which there are only two, but I’m sure there will be more.

Sony have done it with all their consoles (they released smaller iterations, sometimes with reduced functionality) and Microsoft did it with the Xbox 360. However, in my opinion, it was Sega that was the real innovator.

When the Dreamcast came along, there was not such thing as Internet based gaming on consoles. The Dreamcast changed this. They were about a year ahead of Sony with their Internet capabilities. Sure, it was laggy and the voice communication left something to be desired, but they did it first and provided a benchmark for people to beat.

Sega will always have a special place in my heart. They gave me some amazing consoles and just as amazing memories.

I remember when I was wee and I used to go out to play on the weekends. I always used to belt around for a bit and then come back in to play my Mega Drive. There was this one particular game that I used to play, called Chuck Rock. The main character was called, funnily enough, Chuck Rock and he was a disgusting, slobbish caveman, with long, black greasy hair and a huge belly. Whenever I got bullied by the neighbourhood miscreants, which was far more often than I would have liked, I used to come in and play Chuck Rock. I loved the intro to the game because Chuck would be standing there with his band, playing this really rather catchy instrumental and I would dance along to it, ‘playing’ the various instruments, especially loving the keyboard solo. That made me happy. I always used to get a good laugh out of that game because he had a move called the belly-butt. He had this huge gut, you see, and would thrust it out and incapacitate his enemies with it. He’d also chuck rocks at him, hence the name Chuck Rock. When Chuck got hit by an enemy, he’d turn around to face the player, stick his tongue out and shout “HAAA!” that always made me laugh as well. Then there was the start of every level, he’d shout his catch phrase “unga bunga!” and wander around like a giant, hairy, slobbish ape. I’m giggling thinking about it, actually.

There were so many games I used to play and so many different emotions I’d get out of them. For anyone to say that gaming is a waste of time, says to me that they’ve never even done the tiniest bit of gaming. Playing a video game can be like reading a book, or watching a movie. You can easily get transported to a different world, no matter how simple or complicated the game is. For example, when I was taking about Chuck Rock just there, I could remember the living room, I could remember the sounds, the smells, the feeling of it all. I could remember being transported right into that world and being totally immersed in it. I wasn’t merely playing AS Chuck Rock, I WAS Chuck Rock. That, to me, says that the designers of the game succeeded in their goal. They made a whole other world and they made me escape into it, forget the world around me and be happy. I was a hero when I played those games and I still am. Who’s to say that isn’t a good thing?

I’ve fought foes, I’ve saved the world from zombies, madmen and all sorts of crazy bosses, I’ve driven around aimlessly, I’ve even learned history from gaming. If it wasn’t for gaming, I wouldn’t be in my current job. I fix consoles for a living. It’s been difficult lately to get the ball rolling, but I have faith that I can do it. I thank all of the gaming companies for giving me learning opportunities and for giving me good memories (and bad ones too), but what I mostly thank them for is the countless hours of entertainment, the escapism and the familial bonding.

Let’s all raise a glass to gaming!
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