That New Console Smell

Remember that feeling you got when you were a kid, on Christmas day, tearing open your “big” present and being delighted with it? Of course, when you get older Christmas becomes less fun, and more an event where everyone tries to see who can maintain the highest blood alcohol content for the entire “festive” period. You certainly don’t get the same thrill from opening a box when you know it contains something sensible that you asked for, like a kitchen gadget.

The closest you get to that childlike feeling of joy as a gamer comes far less frequently than once a year ‒ at the launch of a new console. I’ve recently preordered a Playstation Vita and as the tantalising prospect of finally being able to play proper two-stick games on a portable console comes into view, I got thinking of consoles gone by, and the stories associated with getting hold of them.

I think it was 2001 when I finally ordered a PS2, after cleverly deciding to not get one until after my university exams. In a moment which was to be repeated throughout my life, it turned up when I was out. Upon finding the card I headed off to the sorting office in Colchester to collect it. On my pushbike. I’ll never forget that precarious ride through Essex traffic with a weighty PS2 dangling from one handlebar of my bike as a I weaved unsteadily home. It was worth it.

Not actually a Photoshop job ‒ it took twenty men to get the 16 ton weight on there, and another forty to get the Xbox alongside.

I made a similar mistake with the original Xbox in 2004. This time I owned a car, but the shops were quite a way from the car park. In a moment of insanity, I also decided to buy a full set of rubber car mats from Halfords that day. Let me tell you now, travelling that reasonably short distance with a heavy set of car mats on one arm and the ridiculous weight of the Xbox on the other, was one of the longest trips of my life. I felt like one of those World’s Strongest Man guys lugging around those enormous balls. The concrete ones, pervert.

There’s also the humorous story of how I ended up with two separate £425 Playstation 3’s on launch day, but that will have to wait for another time. My favourite new console story, though, doesn’t even involve my new console. It was Xbox 360 launch day, back in 2007, and I was round at Ready Up founder Dan‘s house. We’d been out to Woolworths (remember Woolies?) to pick up his and Anthony‘s preordered consoles, and had returned to the house eager to play the (in hindsight, dreadful) launch day titles. As Dan unpacked the console and leads, I was tasked with the duty of putting the batteries into the media remote control that came free with launch day machines. Dan finished connecting the cables, sat back and said “Right, here we go.” as he pressed the power button.

What Dan wanted to see…

The green ring spun up as the 360 whirred into life, then suddenly stopped. Puzzled, Dan looked at his console, checking the cables again. Then he tried again. The console sprung to life, only to go off again a second later. I could see the blood drain from his face as he considered that he might have a duff console. Then he looked at me sitting behind him, and saw me sitting there with my finger on the “off” button on the remote control. I’d been pressing it deliberately every time he turned the console on, just to wind him up. His face was a picture, and I fell about laughing.

Something tells me I’m unlikely to be invited round to his house when he gets an Xbox 720.



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