So on New Year’s Eve I received an email from a representative of Man Crates, a company that ships out honest-to-goodness wooden crates (or ammo boxes!) of fantastic
goodies masculine entertainment goods that you actually have to pry open once they arrive on your doorstep. I think that’s pretty cool. You want a jerky crate? To carve your own wooden pipe? To relive your retro gaming memories? They’ve got you covered. And if your crate doesn’t net you the “high-five, fist bump or coveted father-figure hug” you were hoping for, they’ve got you covered there too.
Anyway! I’ve been asked to write about my gaming memories, then at the end i’ll share what i’d want in my own gaming crate. For reference, here’s a picture of one the the company’s previous selections:
Truth be told, I’m a bit too young to have any nostalgia for that era and a bit too Kiwi to recognize most of those lollies (or maybe I should call them sweets?), so here’s how I remember gaming growing up. To be honest, if I shared all of the titles that stood out to me we’d be here forever, so i’m going to pare things down a bit.
I’ll be brief, since these are my first memories rather than my foremost. My earliest memory ever (not just of the ones featuring video games) is of sitting at home playing Jazz Jackrabbit, which is one of those games you never hear anyone talking about. I remember the first Rayman, and weep for what the most recent releases have done to my childhood…heck, I even played the Brain Games version which carried the price of death for every failed mathematics question. Finally, my first introduction to Pokemon was in the form of the Pinball version, which wasn’t quite as fun as those first red and blue releases that everyone talks about.
I’m not one to harp on about the whole “90’s kids” thing, but 90’s kids should remember these. I’ve been back in recent years to complete all but the one on the bottom right, which this article has prompted me to go and buy so I can do just that. To be honest, my nostalgia for these titles makes me feel sorry for all those children born after their heyday because (to my relatively crotchety old mind) the offerings these days just don’t stand out. For those who are still wondering, from the top left clockwise, we have the original Crash Bandicoot (from when he was still Sony’s mascot before they bled him dry and dumped him), Spyro the Dragon (oh how the mighty have fallen), Croc: Legend of the Gobbos and Medievil.
When I was a young lad I had the opportunity to get my hands on a Pokemon-themed Nintendo 64, the only catch was I had to wait till my Mum returned from overseas. Despite having played Rayman’s Brain Games to death, it hadn’t made me any smarter and I ended up missing out and making most of my memories on someone else’s console. Do you remember the days when you used to actually go to your friends’ houses to play games? Me neither. As my benefactor from Man Crates suggested when they contacted me, The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time is a very special game and one of the few I will return to play repeatedly as I age. However, at the time being able to see my favorite Pokemon up on the big screen was just as fantastic. I spent ridiculous amounts of time playing Super Smash Brothers with mates, setting the stock to 99 and then giving up long before we’d actually finished the match. Finally, of course, there’s that one multiplayer game I could always beat my friends at…because I was the only one that owned it and knew all of the secrets. And that is, of course, 007 Goldeneye.
Yep, i’m as cliche as you get. Final Fantasy VII was the title that captured my heart and truly cemented my identity as a gamer growing up, though there’s a twist. I originally bought the game at a flea market in Switzerland, as we’d moved there temporarily for my Dad’s work. Suffice to say, the entire story was in German so I played through the game without understanding a thing…and still loved every moment. When I was finally able to grab an English copy I was ecstatic.
It was my first RPG, let alone JRPG, and the epic story had me mesmerized as it was played out by its wonderful cast. Despite being a man of few words, Cloud became something of an icon for me and I distinctly remember re-enacting the turn based battles with my friends at primary (elementary/intermediate) school. In fact, one of the few pieces of gaming memorabilia I own is a scale replica Buster Sword. If I hadn’t happened to pick it up from a random stall then this blog probably wouldn’t be here today.
So what do I want from a crate?
I’m in a unique position as a medical student, because your patients’ opinions of you will directly affect their health outcomes. I can’t “not care what anyone else thinks” when it comes to showing off the things I love. So give me a Man Crate which screams maturity.
A game-themed wallet? I’ve been carrying around a World of Warcraft themed leather wallet for years and it’s been awesome, though it’s getting a little old and tired now.
A keyring? My Hylian Shield may have broken a while ago now but I loved it while it lasted.
Some sort of ornament or poster that looks great to any outsider, but has a special meaning to the people who know what it’s all about. A necklace, a ring or a belt buckle.
I even have Portal-themed coasters at home.
As the Man Crate guys might say: It’s not about hiding my passions, it’s about showing my dedication to them in the manliest way possible.
I’d love to hear from all of you reading as well, though I know this is all a little different from what I normally cover. What are the games that stand out in your memories, and what would you want in your very own Man Crate?
If you want to see what they’ve got on offer already, you can find Man Crates here.