I’m sure everyone games for their own reasons. Some do it as a distraction, some do it solely for entertainment purposes, and some just like to annoy other people in online lobbies. As for me, I do it because no matter how much older I get, it makes me feel like a kid all over again. Remember the Nintendo 64 kid – yeah, that was me. Well not in a literal sense at least, but in the sense that video games had the ability to make me more happy than a virgin at the Hustler Club. The only thing that would trump gaming, would be gaming with a best friend or family member and staying up all night to do so. Join me on this journey through one of my favorite all night gaming marathons ever.
It was 1998, and I was 14 years old. It was a really hot summer in New York City. Mark Macguire and Sammy Sosa were all the rage as they were in a heated HR race that would reignite everyone’s love of baseball (and coincidentally would later on tarnish the sport), meanwhile the Yankees were cooking up their 25th World Championship. In the movies Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” was top dog in the box office, and Ben Stiller became a household name thanks to Brett Fa-ve-ra and “There’s Something About Mary.” Wyclef Jean was “Gone Till November” and we had no idea we were going to be “Living La Vida Loca” thanks to Ricky Martin, but unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. I apologize for so many 1998 highlights I just wanted to paint the picture while we go on this trip down memory lane. You see, the year was full of distractions, but none of them would matter and that was because 1998, for me, was all about three words.
Metal… Gear… Solid…
Thinking back I remember that fateful week as being my last hurrah before I would enter the sinful world known as high school. My cousin Yaris had spoken on the phone to plan out our gaming marathon (as we normally would) and said that there was this game coming out that he’d been reading about all summer in the gaming magazines. He was trying to describe it in his own words but just couldn’t. He said it was going to be a big deal, and we may need more cans of Coca Cola than previously planned. I did extra chores at home that week to make sure I would have the allowance to buy enough of the high fructose corn syrup nectar to keep us up.
When I arrived, we made our mad dash to the local supermarket where we ransacked the soda aisle like a pair of junkies with keys to a methadone clinic. We grabbed a case of 12 (ridiculous I know) and scooted on back to his place. However, we couldn’t play yet as Yaris had to do some house chores of his own. To this very day I can say that no one in the history of lawn mowing had ever mowed the lawn as fast as Yaris did on that faithful day. Have you seen footage of football players pushing a five man sled at practice? Well, that’s exactly what it looked like. Yaris was like the f*cking Dallas Cowboys pushing that lawn mower with no remorse. In about 10 minutes the man child had managed to mow about 1/3 of an acre of grass and weed whacked in that same time.
It was about 7pm when we began. I can still remember seeing the Konami logo and hearing that familiar chiming in the background. We got to the title screen and Yaris with his man child sausage fingers hit the circle button (not X, circle was the confirmation button in Japan) twice and we were on our way.
The opening sequence was like something never seen before, especially on the PS one. The cinematic style…but then realizing that you were actually looking at in game visuals when snake pulled him self out of the water, it was something special to behold. And yes, before you get up in arms about visuals, Final Fantasy VII was a power house a whole year prior, but let’s face it, Cloud Strife had Pop Eye arms and muffins for hands. Solid Snake looks like a real human being albeit with perfect standing hair.
Within 5 minutes though, after you enter the freight elevator in the first area, Snake takes off the mask and then the opening credits start, that’s when it officially hits you and you realize you’re about to play something that is like nothing you’ve ever played before. From that point on, I think Yaris and I were stuck in some kind of stupor where we didn’t even talk. We just stared at each other as a form of communication that it was time to pass the controller.
Boss fights were the best as we would be dying and arguing about who was the biggest noob. I think we dropped so many F-Bombs and mom jokes on each other that it would make Jonah Hill in Super Bad blush.
As far as who of all the bosses was the most difficult, I would have to say Gray Fox (or the Ninja) was a real pain in our asses. I think he kicked the crud out of us like 20 times. To this day, I have the sound bite “Snake? Snaaaaaaaaaaaaakee!!!???” still stuck in my head because of it. Our biggest freak out moment of the night was with Psycho Mantis, who would not only “change” the TV input on us to “Hideo” instead of “Video” but also told us that he knows Yaris is playing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. At that point I was like “okay, time to turn on the lights and turn the game off.” I was officially freaked out. Instead, Yaris made a smart remark about my integrity, masculinity and challenged my sexual orientation, so instead of quitting we kept moving forward.
Along the way, we fell in love with a girl named Meryll and befriended a computer nerd who had the backbone of a snail by the name of Hal “Otacon” Emmerich. We realized snake has a twin brother with a bad attitude whose ass we would eventually kick. It was now 6:30 in the morning, and we’re just sitting there not really understanding what we had just experienced but we knew we liked it. Scratch that, we loved it. The credits stop, and we hear a familiar voice. It’s Revolver Ocelot, who appears to be on the phone with someone. He highlights some of what we just witnessed in the game and then his conversation ends with “Goodbye, Mr. President.” Yaris and me just stare at each other and nodded in disbelief.
We practically crawled out of exhaustion back to his room. I laid down in my make-shift bed and just stared at the ceiling- he was doing the same. I think we were both trying to fathom what we just played. We were talking and just trying to piece together the missing elements of the story while the sun began to shine brighter and brighter through the blinds. We fell asleep while talking, and when we came to, it was around 2pm in the afternoon. We got up, ate breakfast and then we did it all over again.
It wasn’t the first time we had broken night playing a game. It definitely wasn’t the last time. I just think because the title was such an experience, it was the best time that we would stay up all night and because of that, I’ll never forget it.
What was your favorite gaming experience when you stayed up all night? Let us know in the comments section!