If you're a gamer, you've already made your holiday wish list and given it to your parents, grandparents, girlfriend, boyfriend, or whoever else in your life will plunk down $60 at Gamestop. This year, you're likely asking for the newest version of "GTA V" for your next-gen system, or the new "Super Smash Bros." But what did you and your gamer brethren want back in the day? Here's video game Yuletide history, going back a half-decade at a time...
Ah, 2009. Seems like so long ago: Barack Obama was president, LeBron James played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and people lined up in front of the Apple Store for the latest iPhone. So much has changed, but some familiar names stick out among Holiday '09 games.
Wii was about as hot as it could get thanks to "New Super Mario Bros. Wii." Gamers were putting on their assassin hoods for "Assassin's Creed II," while a little game called "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" was setting the world on fire by allowing players to set lots of things on fire. Seasons change, time passes by, and new AC and COD games drop every winter like clockwork.
The biggest misfire here? "Guitar Hero" was still pumping out the expansion packs for just about the final time. Did we really need to play Van Halen songs on a plastic guitar that badly? No one does that anymore, right?
A massive shift here: No PS3 or Xbox 360. Those systems dominated your holidays in 2006, but back in '04 there was no question which title ruled Christmas: "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas." Only available for PS2 at the start, the game sold millions and made a lot of parents pretty uncomfortable.
Y2K was threatening our computers, but our systems were in fine working order. The original Playstation competed against the stalwart Nintendo 64 and the fantastically underrated Sega Dreamcast, and the games were aplenty.
A lucky kid would wake up on Christmas morning and find "Sonic Adventure," the open-world Sonic game that took the speedy hedgehog off the sidescroller and into the third dimension. Nintendo kids were treated to "Donkey Kong 64," while Playstation kids were way ahead of the curve with some war game called "Medal of Honor." The massively successful first-person shooter (produced by Steven Spielberg on the heels of his similar "Saving Private Ryan") that is the direct progenitor of later games like "Call of Duty."
Arguably one of the biggest years in video game history, and the absolute apex of the "Console Wars" waged between Nintendo, Sega, Sony, and several smaller startups. The SNES kids got "Donkey Kong Country," the most graphically advanced game to date. Genesis kids got "Sonic & Knuckles." PC gamers were introduced to "Warcraft." Weirdos with a 3DO got some racing game called "The Need for Speed," and even sad kids with no consoles at home could walk through the snow to the local arcade and play a few rounds of the recently released "Tekken."
A tough year for gaming. The previous one was ruined by the infamous "video game crash," and it would take years for companies like Nintendo to build up consumer trust. Nintendo did release "Ice Climber" that winter, but the smart kids were playing "King's Quest I" on their rickety new "home computer" while their parents got ready to vote for Ronald Reagan again.
'Twas the holiday of Atari, the OG home system that was about to release a third version of its insanely popular Atari 2600. In 1979, you could expect "Asteroids" in your stocking, but winter 1980 featured classics like "Missile Command" and "Space Panic," which ruled the wood-paneled basements of homes across America. We were also on the cusp of discovering a little yellow hockey puck named "Pac-Man." Ever hear the song "Pac-Man Fever?" Seems like things were just as weird before the internet, maybe more.
And we finish in the pre-console era. In 1974, you probably asked for a gift-wrapped roll of quarters and a ride to the arcade, where you could bust out some sweet "Pong" while waiting for the home version in winter 1975. Atari sold 150,000 home versions of Pong that holiday season, exclusively through Sears, and if you can think of a more 1970s sentence than that, you probably saw "Jaws" in theaters.