20/12/2020

๐ŸŽฎ๐ŸŽ„ The Best Video Games Console Christmas Presents From 1979 to 2001 ๐ŸŽฎ๐ŸŽ„ #Retrogaming #GamersUnite

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So as we hurtle towards another Christmas in 2020 I thought it would be good to take a look at the best video games related Christmas presents from down the years.

These are either cool machines from when I was alive (I was born in 1979) or they are machines that I was lucky enough to get for Christmas.

My sister got a Pong machine in the early 80s for Christmas and I can barely remember it but after that Christmas, I was always eager for a Christmas video game or a console to be popped into my Christmas stocking.

There was the classic Christmas when I was desperate for a ZX Spectrum +2 but Dad got me an ATARI XEGS but I loved it! 

Christmas is a great time for a gamer as you seem to get that bit of extra downtime to play your new games before your next helping of cold turkey in a roll.

Let's kick off our Christmas look by hurtling back in time to December 1979...

1979 ATARI 2600

The ATARI 2600 stole the show in 1979, it was a revelation and the first truly mainstream popular home console. It still lives in the hearts of those Atari fans that cling to the Nolan Bushnell glory days. Despite being released in 1977 it was in 1979 that it was the Christmas gift to have for every kid (and adult!) It was so popular that it ended up selling 1 million units in 1979!

1981 - INTELLIVISION

The Intellivision was the first console to pose a strong threat to the Atari 2600 and Mattel went to war with Atari with a series of advertisements featuring a guy called George Plimpton where George demonstrated the superiority of the Intellivision's graphics and sound to those of the Atari 2600 by using side by side screen comparisons.

The slogans of the television advertisements stated that Intellivision was "the closest thing to the real thing"

In 1981, over one million Intellivision consoles were sold and it became the next hot gift for Christmas '81

1983 - ZX SPECTRUM

For the whole of 1983 in the UK, the ZX Spectrum was ruling the sales charts. The Atari was still bossing the USA but Clive Sinclair's marvel of a home computer was causing waves as it held off the Commodore 64 from Top Spot leading into Christmas 1983! 

When I was growing up you were either Spectrum or Commodore but Speccy ruled the waves!

1984 - COMMODORE 64

In 1984 the Commodore 64 sales figures rocketed as the Bread Bin sold circa 1.3 million units and it became the colourful brash competitor to the ZX Spectrum in the UK and was a world leader elsewhere. 

With adverts like this on TV, you can see why people fell in love with it and every kid wanted one under their Christmas tree!

1986 - NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM

The Nintendo Entertainment System launched in the US during 1985 in New York and a full North American release was seen in 1986 it was priced at around the $149.99 mark and came with an amazing line up of Super Mario Bros, Duck Hunt, the light gun and 2 controllers. 

It had already been released in Japan as the FAMICOM and had sold around 2 million units. The success of the Super Mario and Duck Hunt Pack in games meant that 1986 was the year that the NES dominated the world market while it took a little longer for kids in the UK to get excited about their very own NES at Christmas as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 were still pretty much the games machine of choice.

1987 - SEGA MASTER SYSTEM

In America, the NES was still dominating in 1987 but the British kids had an 8-bit machine to dream of in their stockings for Christmas 1987 and it was only £99!
It was seen as an upgrade from the ZX Spectrum and C64 in terms of power and graphical prowess and it was also the budget option to buying a 16 Bit Commodore Amiga or Atari ST. 

It was basically a parents dream that would sell really well in the UK due to the amazing marketing campaign that caught kids imaginations and parents wallet sense. This explains why the Master System was such a hit in the UK and not so much in the U.S.

I managed to get my Dad to get me a Master System for Christmas and I also got a copy of Wonderboy In Monsterland which meant that I was happily amused well into 1988!

1988 - ATARI XEGS

After playing heaps of Football Manager 2 on my mate's ZX Spectrum +2 I was eager for my mum and dad to get me the ZX Spectrum +2 as there seemed to be stacks of really cool deals in Dixons and I just knew dad would get one for me. I was so excited for my Speccy and on Christmas morning 1988 I unwrapped an ATARI XEGS which on the face of it was a disappointment BUT once I realised that I could literally play any game from the Atari 800 XE/XL series of games along with the cool cartridges that you could plug straight in I was hooked.

Me and dad spent a lot of our Christmas typing in games and playing Flight Simulator II as well as Bug Hunt using the Atari Zapper!

Looking back now at the XEGS it was probably on offer as it wasn't selling well but to me, it was a cool machine.

1989 - NINTENDO GAMEBOY

Something very small was about to achieve something very big in 1989 which made it the most coveted Video Game handheld in Japan and The USA. The Nintendo GameBoy was released in April for Japan and July for the U.S and this mighty machine-made massive waves with the kids of the day. It was less powerful than an Atari Lynx but it packed a punch with great games and an affordable price which meant that mums n dads could put this under the tree for Christmas in 1989!

It helped that Super Mario Land and Tetris were launch titles which arguably stands up as one of the best launch lineups ever of any console as both games took on legendary status.

Punching above its weight the GameBoy was a staple of everyone's Christmas lists for many years to come after 1989 and especially for UK kids in 1990 when it got its EU release!

1990 - SEGA MEGA DRIVE

In the UK in 1990 the SEGA MEGA DRIVE finally arrived after being released in the U.S in 1989 and Japan in 1988. This machine was a 16 Bit wonder and when it arrived it seemed to change everything. There were all of a sudden a whole load of SEGA kids walking around our school after Christmas 1990! The console arrived in September 1990 and became the must-have Christmas present!

The only problem with this was that the launch took so long that there was a flood of Japanese and U.S imports already in the UK so on the face of it the PAL version didn't sell that well in the UK until 1991 when the price was lowered. 

The pack in-game was initially Altered Beast which was a hit in the UK arcades and it was a dream to be playing this game at home in your front room! (although it is pretty crap)

1992 - SUPER NINTENDO

Here comes the new challenger! 1992 saw the UK release of the Super Nintendo and for me, this meant that my October Birthday and my December Christmas would be the most magical time of my life! 

For my birthday I was given an amazing Super Nintendo from Boots which came with a copy of Super Mario World! I had to save up half of the money and my mum and dad paid the other half and then I was the proudest owner of a SNES in the world! It was a moment that I will never forget. I had never played a Super Mario Game to completion before this moment but from that day onwards I immersed myself into the SNES and my one and only game Super Mario World (bets launch title ever?)

By December I had completed all 99 Worlds of Super Mario World and I knew the game inside out, but luckily for me, December 17th was the PAL release of Street Fighter II on the SNES which meant that my Christmas Day was spent perfecting the Dragon Punch with Ken whilst eating After Eight Mints and devouring Cadbury's Roses. 

The game was £65 which was a massive deal at the time as it was so much more expensive than most other games released but was worth every single penny!

1993 - COMMODORE AMIGA 600

When Christmas '93 rolled around I'd had a year to fall in love with my mate's Amiga 500 plus and its vast array of disks that he had been given to go with his purchase. I was hooked on Championship Manager 94 and I was constantly playing Sensible Soccer on my friends Amiga and I desperately wanted my own Amiga. 

Luckily for me, the Amiga 600 was released in March 1992 and by the time Christmas rolled around I was the proud owner of my very own Amiga 600 with 1MB of RAM! 

From that Christmas onwards I was an Amiga nut and this was fuelled by the playground trade in copied Amiga desks. You could pick up the latest version of Sensible World Of Soccer in the playground for £1 per disk! What a bargain!

The Amiga 600 was actually discontinued in 1993 but for me, the Amiga woke me up to games like Indiana Jones & The Fate Of Atlantis, Secret Of Monkey Island, Monkey Island 2, IT Came From The Desert and of course Cannon Fodder 1&2!

Thanks, mum and dad for such an amazing present!

1997 - PlayStation

The PlayStation was a system that I knew I needed to own as soon as I played the Grand Theft Auto Demo Disc on the front of the Official PlayStation Magazine. I'd resisted crossing over to the PlayStation from my beloved Amiga 600 but now was the time to do it and Christmas 1997 was an ideal piece of timing for me!

The games that blew my mind were Metal Gear Solid and Pro Evolution Soccer. Once I owned my first Playstation then I owned every one since (assuming I can get my hands on a PS5 at some point!)

2001 - PlayStation 2

The PS2 was so eagerly awaited by me as it was just after the release of Grand Theft Auto III that I knew I needed one for Christmas 2001. The PS2 bundle I got given to me was the GTA III bundle and it's all I needed for months on end and then I got involved with Metal Gear Solid 2 which was a step up for me from Metal Gear Solid that I just didn't expect, it was amazing. PES 4 was released in 2004 and from that moment onwards that was the only disc that was ever in my PS2. A game that is so good that it has never been bettered, the pinnacle of Football video games and everything else since just was never the same.

It was at this point in my life that I took a break from video games and consoles and I missed out on a whole host of video games from 2005 onwards.

But then in 2007, I bought myself a Nintendo Wii and since then I fell back in love with video games and rather than relying on people to buy me the consoles for Christmas I generally get them for myself. 

As you get older maybe the magic dust of Christmas video games fades but the memories of those Christmas presents will always remain...
Rich

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