People always wax lyrical about music and movies and their ability to elicit emotional responses that have roots in our past. These media can undoubtedly bring us back in time to the places we were and the emotions we felt. It’s incredibly powerful, we all have that song that can make us laugh, cry, smile and feel good because of our experience with it.
Games are the same. I cannot play Pac-Man without thinking back to my childhood, my Atari 2600 and it catching fire. It makes me laugh. Since it’s the holiday season though, I’ve decided to tell you about a series of games that remind me of Christmas.
The first such game brings us back to the Christmas of 1995. I’ve previously written about this Christmas so I won’t bore you with a lengthy intro. The game is Ridge Racer and it reminds me of Christmas for a number of reasons, let’s reminisce!
The first reason Ridge Racer reminds me of Christmas is simply because it was Christmas day 1995 that I had my very first experience with it. Until that day I had never played it, hell, I’d never even heard of it! I had lived my gaming life in a SEGA bubble; my world revolved around everything the Japanese maestros pumped out on their home consoles.
Needless to say my experience of Ridge Racer was an incredible one. I spent the majority of Christmas Day becoming accustomed to racing in the third dimension. Throwing that yellow car around corners and watching it go sidewards, throwing up plumes of smoke and making that high pitch screaming noise as the tires struggled to find grip is a memory that will live with me until I die.
My fondest memory of the original Ridge Racer, wasn’t of the game itself (although it plays an integral part) but of the way it brought the family together. Sure it was Christmas and we were celebrating together. But Ridge Racer created a crowd around my new 14″ inch TV and it kept us all there for most of the day. There were screams of joy when we set a “NEEEEEEWWWWWW RECORD”. Tears of anguish when we wiped out or were going “too slow, better luck next time”.
Ridge Racer embodied the very sense of Christmas and even better than that; it made my uncle jealous of what we now owned.
As regular readers know, my uncle (on mum’s side) was the guy who always had the latest and greatest thing. We got passed down tech from him and were always one step behind. I remember him showing off his SNES with the Super Scope, then I remember him showing off a Link to the Past and worst of all (this made me more jealous than I’d ever been) I remember him showing off Star Fox. To see his face when we showed him our Playstation was great, but to see his jaw hit the floor at Ridge Racer made me so proud to own this great game.
He went home and sold his SNES. Unfortunately (for him, I loved rubbing it in every visit) he also had to wait a while for his Playstation; they were sold out.
It was glorious. I played Ridge Racer to death over that holiday; I even bought a memory card to record my lap times and save the Devil Car (I can’t remember if it was even memory card compatible). All the while my uncle was moaning about the wait to get his. Take that uncle!
The connection between Christmas and Ridge Racer however goes way beyond the Christmas of 1995. Precisely 10 years later, it was MrsLuvva’s and my first Christmas together. I got her a DS and she got me a PSP (which I still use regularly) with a copy of World Tour Soccer and; you’ve guessed it, Ridge Racer. I eagerly charged that sucker and played a game of Ridge Racer…
…it was 1995 again! This was another fantastic demonstration of the Sony hardware’s power. This was a handheld I couldn’t have dreamed about ten years prior; hell I wouldn’t have dreamed of this power for a home console in 1995! I just couldn’t believe the graphics of Ridge Racer PSP.
The game itself was also excellent, there was a mountain of content, the first couple of tracks were updates of the original track and it’s variant. It was a real trip down memory lane. Again me and dad took turns in playing and passed the PSP to one another, he was as excited as I was. We drained the battery in one sitting that day (about 4 hours), ate dinner and played more Ridge Racer with the PSP plugged in. Addictive is not the word.
It was during this marathon that my dad turned round and asked if I remembered getting the PSOne, I said of course I did and that it was one of my most memorable Christmas presents. We chatted about it for ages as we played Ridge Racer, it was a great Christmas – where new met old. It was awesome knowing that my favourite Christmas was one of my Dad’s favourites too. It meant so much to me, that my joy stuck with him and made him happy – in the end that’s what parenting is about. I can only hope to be half as good a dad, as my Dad.
Even though Ridge Racer has only appeared in two of my 30-odd Christmases every time I load it up I am brought back in time to 1995. It is so intrinsically linked in my brain to these great holidays that it is impossible to separate the two. By the time I finish with the loading game the smile is on my face until I power it off – it’s such a great game.
I’ll always have a special place in my gaming memories for Ridge Racer, and remember how it brought everyone together and made us all incredibly happy.
Ridge Racer, Namco and Sony. Thank you for the memories.
This is one of my games that remind me of Christmas, and I have a few more stories for you over the week!
But what is the game that reminds you of Christmas?
Tell me in the comments!