Sunday, 13 February 2022

Neptune - Why Live on Saturn?

The day before Christmas of 1996, my brother and I had already opened up all of our presents. I don’t remember the logic behind this, but we were having so much fun as a family that our parents just said, “go ahead”. So, after such a wonderful night of new gifts and Christmas love, we didn’t expect there to be anything else left when we got up the next morning. Still, we were happy because it meant we could still play with our new stuff we got and were happy to spend our Christmas money on more stuff, meager a sum as it was. We weren’t rich by any means, so what gifts we got were more than welcome, and some of them exceeded expectations by a long margin.

That’s when we saw what was under the tree on Christmas morning. It was a large box, and it depicted a black console with a CD underneath a hatch. Sonic the Hedgehog was depicted in small boxes along with other Sega properties, along with a triple pack free games with a gaming demo included. The Sega Saturn included Virtua Fighter 2, Virtua Cop and the racing game Daytona USA. This was a ridiculous concept for both my brother and I because we had only had a Nintendo Entertainment System and a Sega Genesis in the past. Those were 8-bits and 16-bits respectively, only able to make two-dimensional games with varying levels of quality in both graphics and gameplay.

This was full three-dimensional and fully rendered polygons in 32-bits! Not that I knew that as a 10-year-old child, but it looked really cool and the games were awesome. Going from 2D to 3D and playing games we could only dream of from the arcades in the comfort of our own home was a dream come true. It had real music in the soundtrack and full audio dialog that didn’t sound like someone was talking through pixelated baby monitors. As soon as we got into the games, we would get locked into them for hours and my brother and I played every single game as many times as we possibly could.

Even when the games weren’t two player, we were still happy to watch each other play while waiting our turn. There were obviously parts where my brother would hog the controller and we would fight over whose turn it was but that’s to be expected, we were 10 and 12 after all. Still, he was better at video games than I was, so he helped me figure out a lot of the puzzles and worked through some of the harder parts of the video games. We collected a decent number of games and also rented quite a few from Blockbuster. It was quite the experience because we played these games together and found ourselves truly engrossed.

It got to the point where we would defend the Sega Saturn in arguments against the Playstation console. Back then, they were the top competitors on the market and today I can admit that the PS objectively was the better system. When I was in fifth grade, though, I would die before admitting to anything.

Over time, of course, things moved on, but we kept playing the Sega Saturn even when I was able to obtain the Sega Dreamcast because we still had a good number of games for it that we enjoyed playing. However, this was five years later, and it was clear to me now that this was when we began to grow apart. We began to hang out with different crowds, and he was starting to get into stuff that messed with his sense of reality. He began to spend more and more time alone, even when I was in the room, he barely acknowledged that I was there. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was when he was succumbing to a mental illness commonly known as schizophrenia. His state of mind began to bob in and out of logic and it wasn’t long before his new personality began to shove me away.

As much as I would like to tell you that this story had a happy ending, I must sadly disappoint you. While he got on medications and evened out, he was never the same and we have become very estranged as our lives branched off from one another. Our relationship never recovered from what occurred and I am left with the knowledge that my brother is somewhere buried deep within his own psyche. However, I still proclaim that the Sega Saturn is my favorite game console for a great number of reasons. It really does have a wonderful game library and the graphics evoke a heavy sense of nostalgia from an era branching off from the 2D to the 3D consoles of arcade and home ports. What it reminds me of most is of two young boys sitting on a bed and fighting one another in Virtua Fighter 2 or shooting criminals in Virtua Cop. It makes me reminisce over a time where the two of us helped one another solve puzzles or overcome challenges that came about in games like Warcraft 2 or Nights Into Dreams. It represents a time when our relationship as brothers was strongest and for that I will never give it up, no matter how much better graphics get or however many unfinished garbage games they release only to patch them later. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were making a history that would last for as long as I draw breath.

                                                    For Justin


Father Krishna said...

Wow. This resonates with me on so many levels. I'm going to DM you.

manofstone17 said...

Hey man, I found this story really touching and sad. It's particular to video games and perhaps film and tv that we can relive those moments from our childhood because we can and will go back and play the games, and it will instantly put us back where we were, with our friends and family, re-living our memories.

Hard to put it into words but I totally understood where your story was coming from, hearkening back to treasured memories, snapshots in time that you wish were still current, happier times. For our generations, video games became part of our childhoods and were often a shared experience of joy which we look back on fondly, yet sometimes ruefully about the passing of time.

I'm sorry to hear about what happened to your brother Justin and wish him respite and recovery from what he is going through, and strength for you and your family in support. All the best mate.