A blog is intended to be someone’s personal unique thoughts. One person writes, another reads and hopefully finds something that resonates. It’s a nice way for like-minded individuals to share ideas on a topic, or find out if the general consensus on a subject differs from their own. The ideas that are posted, of course, have a lot more meaning when you know a bit more about the person who has written them. Are they similar to you, do you share common ground or better yet are they so far removed from what you see in the mirror that their opinions may be fresh and original to you.
With this in mind, I really had better tell you more about me if youre to get much from my rambling posts. Who am I and why am I choosing to spend my limited free time waffling about old games on the internet?
I’m Julian Hill. I’ve been bouncing around on the internet for years so some of you may know me from Twitter (julianhilluk) from YouTube (julianhilluk) from various Podcast appearances (Midlife Gamer, TMPGOTI, Monkey Chunk Show) or from my SingStar Guinness World Record last year (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqnG5h7_k-M) – I sung non-stop for 24 hours to raise money for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. I’m a husband and a Daddy to a 3 year old girl with one on the way. I live in a little house in Kent, and spend 2 hours a day sitting on a train to London to make TV programmes for a living. I have a very lovely life and I would say I’m generally a pretty happy bunny.
I have been gaming for some 25 years, since I was about 6 or so (obviously I’m now 31) starting on the NES, through the SNES via the Amiga and onto PlayStation Consoles. I know it’s not something to be proud of (and society will no doubt think I’m some sort of psychopath or lonely obese recluse) but I do love video games. If I had a free day I think I’d would be very happy spending it sat down just playing games with a big elaborate frothy coffee. It wouldn’t be a waste of a day, it would be a day spent slaying dragons, rescuing princesses and saving the world from some sort of oppressive regime. My Dad maintained that one day I’d grow out of games, but I still play every chance I get. Admittedly with a family and a demanding job this time is somewhat limited, so I find myself actually reading about games, or listening to gaming podcasts, or watching gaming YouTube videos more than I probably play games, but at least the intention to play is there!
I’m not going to say I dislike modern games, as that would be both madness and a lie. I adored ‘Ni No Kuni’ and I don’t think I have ever invested as much time in a single player game as I did with Drippy and Oliver. I also very much enjoyed the new ‘Tomb Raider’ as it reminded me of the ‘Uncharted’ Games that are one of my favourite series of all time (I’ve lost literally hundreds of hours to Uncharted Multi-player!) I also dip my toes in the unique and quirky; ‘Thomas Was Alone’ made me care more for a faceless rectangle than I have for some pets. However, One thing I’ve always wanted to do was return to when I loved gaming the most, the 16 bit era, the SNES era.
When I was younger I loved my grey and white Nintendo box and its 8 games (I can still name them all). With such a limited menu of games, in those days you didn’t just play the games you had, you played them to death, till there was no surprises left knowing that you wouldn't get a new one till the next birthday or Christmas. In modern terms, every game I had was ‘Platinumed’ (or what ever the Xbox Equivalent is) I knew every short cut, found the star road, unearthed the quake medallion and even spun Andros’ fruit machine. But would I still love these games now after barely having seen them for 20 years. What would it be like to hold the boxes in my hands and put them on my shelf after all this time? Is the magic of the golden age still in those boxes and in the pixels within. I have reached a point where I want to find out. I want to remember the excitement of hearing that Capcom jingle at the start of a game and I want to see if that SNES control pad with its revolutionary shoulder buttons still fits in my hands.
I have been watching many people on YouTube for years now, talking about their pickups and their collections, and always wanted to join in. Though I do have a complete SingStar collection (all UK releases) that hasn’t scratched the collecting itch, so my intention is to hoard Boxed Complete Super Nintendo games, in as close to mint condition as possible. Now due to having a wife, a 3 year old and another child on the way, my money is not limitless. So I can rule out the EarthBounds, The Goof Troops and the MegaMan games. But what I would really like is just to own all the games I had as a youngun (yes all 8 of them) but more importantly all those games I read about in SuperPlay but never had the money, or ability to buy (those US imports were the stuff of dreams not reality).
I have gone through the complete list and picked about 80 wants, and 70 maybes so quite a bit to sink my teeth into. But the main thing I desire is boxes, not loose carts. I don’t see the point in just having a cartridge, I can play the game on emulation (in fact that’s how I play a fair amount of SNES games due to sitting on a train so much!) I know this may mean paying a premium but I’m thinking if I’m going to do this I want to do it properly. I have cleared a space in my garage (even ear marking a space for a massive Ikea book case!) I’ve ordered 30 Plastic Protectors (25 EU/NA 5 Japanese) and I’m ready to go.
And you dear reader can follow my progress. It is my intention to document the experience on here. I’m not arrogant enough to think that this will one day be printed onto pages and become a best seller, but hopefully it will reach the screens of others either doing the same thing or at least interested in the process of collecting. I like writing, it records emotions, thoughts and moments that could be lost and if it does nothing else, what this blog will do is give me something relatively creative and constructive to do with my 2 hour daily commute!
I hope you enjoy the journey with me.