Hats And Hatracks
By Karl Castaneda
With everyone gearing up for the next generation of consoles, whether you're a Wii Man, a PS3 Millionaire, or 360 degrees of Xbox, we're all putting the last coat of varnish on our respective systems. I've been a GameCube man, myself, which probably doesn't come as much of a surprise, considering my library of work. There have been some fun times with the ol' black box (who needs purple?), some tiny, and some unforgettable.
What's the Difference?
I'll always remember when I bought my Cube. I had amassed a small fortune by house-sitting for a friend of my mother's for three weeks, and decided that (besides some new threads), I wanted to come back to video games. Choosing Nintendo's camp as my new home for the next several years, I went down to GameStop with $150. "A GameCube, please," I said to the clerk, full of joy and pride and nachos.
"Sure thing, man," he said, mirroring my pleased expression.
Then he swiped it on the register, and my world came crashing down. "Your total is $162.42."
I forgot the tax. The room got dark. I was gonna pass out. The clerk looked bewildered. He said, "Are you okay?"
"I forgot the tax... I-I forgot it."
"Oh, guess you're not getting a GameCube, then, huh?"
"Yeah, don't mind me. I'll be in the corner weeping silently."
But after I had finished mourning my idiocy, I raced home, and no lie, I dug around until I had twelve dollars in change. It made me look like I had sandbags in my pockets, but I didn't care. I wanted to get my damn GameCube. I marched right on down there and said, "GameCube. Give it. Now."
"Huh?" said a new clerk.
"I want a GameCube."
I swear to God, I've never been more confused in my life at such a statement. "How come?" What the hell does that mean? Who does that kind of thing? Especially in my kind of mental state. I was stunned. In fact, I think this is where my war with clerks began. From here on out, we were enemies. I didn't remember that until just now, if you can believe it.
"I want to play Zelda."
"Oh, okay. Let me get that for you."
But before he left, there was a conversation that I'll never live down. It doesn't make it any better that a friend of mine was with me to forever iterate the story when we meet anyone. It went as follows:
Clerk: What color do you want it in?
Me: Color? What?
Clerk: Purple or black?
Okay, let me interject. I was mentally traumatized, tired, and distracted by thoughts of Wind Waker. What I said afterwards shouldn't be held against me.
Me: What's the difference?
Yeah, I'm a dumbass. Piss off.
The Origin of Viewt
In January of 2004, I was snooping around GameStop for a new game, when two games caught my eye: Eternal Darkness and a cartoony box that read: Viewtiful Joe. I held both of them up to get a better look, and I almost got Eternal Darkness, but then I remembered that I'd have to deal with the clerk's tyranny on minors buying M-rated games. Wanting to avoid that noise, I opted for Viewtiful Joe. The clerk, for the hundredth time, offered a subscription to Game Informer Magazine. Up until that point, I'd avoided it. I had the internet, after all. My soul was weak that day, so I relented. "Fine. Sign me up," I said.
Sometime in March, my first issue arrived, and shortly afterwards, I made an account on Game Informer Online forums. Having fallen in love with the game that had been purchased alongside the magazine, I wanted to adopt the Viewtiful mantle. And I was a gamer, right? So hey, there we go: ViewtifulGamer.
I found reviewing on the forums, and found out that I really liked it. Within six months of my first review, I was offered a position at a Nintendo fansite. A short three months later, I joined up with PlanetGameCube.com. The following summer, I did a stint of work at The Miami Herald, all in the field of game journalism.
All of this happened simply because I went snooping, and found a little gem called Viewtiful Joe to play on my GameCube (which had gotten tired of the over-played Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance at that point). So I proudly use the handle, Viewt, and I'm honored that I'm known as such to a few people. After all, from that day onward, I was transformed into what I believe to be a better person.
Henshin a'go-go, baby.
Shoot the Barrel!
Last December, my older brother came down to visit me from Atlanta. Being a PS2 owner, Resident Evil 4 had just recently become available to him, but he hadn't gotten to it yet (I think he was playing Indigo Prophecy). I offered up my Cube and copy of RE4, and within about thirty minutes, he was hooked. He played the game for hours at a time, eventually making it to the fight with the Village Chief. You know, the one in the cabin? Anyway, not being accustomed to the GC's button layout, he was making some mistakes every now and then. Although his foe was almost vanquished, he was low on health, and lower on bullets. So what did he do? Did he stand his ground and show that centipede-looking bastard who's boss?
Hell no. He ran to the wall and said, "Shit! Fucking wood's in my way!"
It bears repeating that he was dangerously low on health and didn't have many options left. He only had about ten shots left, so he quickly unloaded half of them and ran to the opposite end of the cabin. "Any ideas?" he asked.
"Learn to play the damn game and stop rushing into crap?"
"Fuck you, man. That's the way I roll."
It became a game of cat and mouse, except the mouse only had five bullets and no herbs left. Then I saw it. A red barrel in the upper right hand corner. That was the key to victory. Without explaining I exclaimed, "Shoot the barrel!"
He shot the barrel. Explosions. Screams of horror. You know the rest.
Hats and Hatracks
I told you a few stories today, and although they're not directly related, there is a common thread: my GameCube. It's a system that's completely changed my life, so as we all shift over to new, shinier toys, let's not forget what got us through the last generation. I tip my cap to the GameCube; the PS2; the Xbox, and I hope you'll do the same.
Hanging that hat up in respect,
Karl "Viewt" Castaneda