Hey, we’re all human. We can’t help it when we get a little over excited (it’s called hype, but I hate that word) for something we’ve been waiting and anticipating for a long time. At some point, we’ve all had sleepless nights in our excitement of waiting for that special game or console. I’ve experienced it many times in my life, especially with the launch of the Nintendo Switch last year, but there are two moments I’ll never forget.
Today it’s common to live by the release date of a game. Back in the 80s and early 90s you barely had a clue what game launched when or when it would arrive at your local store. You’d head there and you would pick up a game you had no idea existed. However, the PS1 era was where I slowly but surely made myself more familiar with release dates. I had just bought and played the Director’s Cut of Resident Evil that came with the Resident Evil 2 demo. I think I played the Resident Evil 2 demo well over 50 times. I absolutely fell in love with it and recall having dreams about the game back then. My anticipation for its release was unequalled at the time and thankfully I bought my games from a dedicated video game store (Golden Child Video Games) in Durban, where I had friends who worked behind the counter. Their instructions were simple – phone me when the game arrives. The day had come and I picked it up in early February of 1998 (a few months before its PAL release, as I had an NTSC PS1). My friends all visited and off we went to visit Raccoon City. It was glorious and of course, it lived up to all my expectations and then some.
But, there is no bigger day in my life than the day PS2 launched.
I remember that era so clearly. Dreamcast? Pfft! PS2 was going to steamroll it, and it’s got DVD! That’s half the reason I was so excited. Up to that point I did not own a DVD player and was still using a clumsy VHS machine (I always think of earbuds when I think of VHS recorders. Anyway, moving on). Also, I had seen the future of Tekken Tag Tournament and Ridge Racer V. On CNN they ran a broadcast of a delayed PS2 launch, showing after midnight back home and it was just getting too much for me. The PS2 was going to be when the next generation starts and there was no doubt – I was going to own it on launch day.
Then the one day I got word from someone that the PS2 had arrived at Makro (this is in Pietermaritzburg). After work, I jumped in my car, picked up my wife (then girlfriend) and rushed to Makro. There it was in all its glory. I remember the console physically being a bit smaller than I had dreamed up, but there it was – my future. The cost? R4,500. Now, back then it was super expensive… especially when you consider that that number, at the time, ate up more than half my salary. Efforts had to be doubled because that PS2 had to be in my house.
I lived in a tiny 1-bedroom simplex back in 2001, but my neighbour who is a good friend to this day worked for his dad in their pawnshop. Therefore my work PC had to be sold (a little Pentium). He sold it to some poor lady for R4,500, which was just enough to fund my PS2 console. He brought the cash home and I recall tossing and turning in my bed all night. I just wanted daybreak to arrive and the long ass day of work to vanish so I could rush off to Makro. After what felt like forever I finally got there and picked up that beautiful blue box of heaven. Along with it, I bought The Last Boy Scout on DVD and that’s that. I had to do with a demo for a month as I had depleted all my funds. On the way home I was in the passenger seat opening up the box and looking at what else was inside. The excitement was at an all new high and I simply could not wait. That was just too much to ask my brain filled with euphoria at that stage. That SSX demo got played to death until I bought my first game, Dead or Alive 2, a month later. In my friend circle, I was the first guy to own the PS2 and recall the nights I would have people visit us just to see what the PS2 looked like and what it could do. The PS2 wasn’t just a games console, it was the entertainment hub that friends and I would enjoy for years to come.
I don’t think I ever had a time in my life since that era that I was quite as excited for something new in this industry as that particular era. What moment do you think back to? What game or console had you quite literally having sleepless nights with excitement leading up to launch?