Why The Super Nintendo is Still the Best Christmas Present I've Ever Gotten
I'm also going to go out on a limb here and say that SNES perfected storytelling on console systems. I've never been particularly aware of why people complained about the lack of endings in NES games. Why did it matter? Even something epic like Crystalis or engaging as Shadowgate never really rose above the level of a pulp novel. The memory restrictions were just too great.
Then we got Illusion of Gaia, Chrono Trigger, and even simple sidescrollers like Super Metroid or Earthworm Jim became able to engage an audience because they could infuse characters with enough physical personality to make you care about them despite a lack of real overall story. For the first time playing a game could actually be as immersing as reading a good novel.
The system also gave gamer's the first chance to really become embroiled in controversy. Yeah, the NES had Chiller, but I'm willing to bet that fewer than 1 percent of all gamers have ever heard of it, and even less have played it. No, we had Mortal Kombat, and the launch of an entire social movement on how much damage ripping off a man's head in a game would do to our fragile psyches. This is going on even today, and it all started on my Christmas present.
Then again, maybe the system is so large in my heart because it was the last time I could really sit down and play a game or five for hours on end. These days, every minute spent gaming is a minute not spent writing, and thus is a minute not making money to buy my own family whatever would make them happy. There's no recapturing the magic of the perfect Christmas gift from when you were a child. Instead, you get a different magic as an adult, that of trying to do for your own kids what your parents did for you.
So I'll take the paycheck from this piece and I'll tuck it away until next year when I listen close to my daughter as she tells me what she would really like, and I'll try to do as well as my mom and dad. I may never love a present as much as that SNES again, but I'll never do anything better than recreating that moment for the kid.