Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wil Wheaton Review on the most expensive PC ever made

When I gave my keynote at Penny Arcade Expo, I wanted to give context to the whole reason we all gathered in Seattle. To do that, I tried to take the audience on a trip through gaming history, as seen through the eyes of someone who witnessed the evolution from Atari 2600 to Xbox360 first hand.

I understand that there will be an official PAX'07 DVD released sometime before our Sun goes supernova, or Duke Nukem Forever goes gold, but until then, here's some video of me talking about the first time I played a Nintendo Entertainment System.

Here's what I put into my notes, for those of you who are YouTube impaired, or want to find those places where I broke away from my prepared remarks to heed Fiona Apple's timeless advice to just "go with yourself."

After briefly browsing the action figures and board games, we turned a corner and saw it: the Nintendo Entertainment System, sitting at the end of an aisle, waiting for some lucky kid to pick up its controller and take it for a spin.

We looked at each other, marveling at our good luck, before bolting down the aisle and grabbing the controllers so that no one could get between us and unlimited video game bliss.

There were sixteen different games to choose from. It was incredible. My eyes raced across the colored titles spread out before me:

Golf? No. Golf is lame.

Clu Clu Land? That sounds like math. Next.

Kung-Fu? Bori -- wait! Kung-Fu? Like in the arcade?!

"Let's play Kung-Fu," I said.

"Is it cool?" he said.

"I'm pretty sure it is, Jer," I said. "I think I've played this at Pinball Plus."

(Pinball Plus was our local arcade, owned by a guy who would give us free tokens for good grades. He sold the place in the late eighties, and it was renamed – I am not making this up – The Enterprise. I felt right at home there, for all the reasons you’d think.)

I hit start and was so impressed and excited by what I saw, I think I peed a little.

It was unlike anything I'd ever seen on a console. It made our Atari 2600 feel as technologically advanced as a set of alphabet blocks that was missing three of the five vowels.

"Oh my god, Jeremy! This is just like the arcade!"

"Yeah!" He said, spurred on by my excitement as much as his own.

We alternated between Kung-Fu, Excitebike, and Pinball until our parents dragged us away, what felt like hours later.

Once we were in the car. My brother said, "Mom! Dad! That Intendo is so great!"

"It's Nintendo, Jeremy," I said, in my very best Serious and Mature voice, "and it's probably the most advanced computer system that will ever be made."

That was my favorite line in the entire keynote, because I can still hear myself saying it, and recall how passionately I believed that.

I'm pretty heavily in love with my Nintendo DS, and I have a massive crush on my Xbox360, but the Nintendo Entertainment System will always hold a special place in my heart that's like . . . well, you know how there's the person you lose your virginity to, but then there's the person who shows you how to actually, you know, do it right? I lost my virginity to the Atari 2600, but it was the NES that made me a man.

Wow. Uncomfortable metaphors FTW.

Wil Wheaton made this half-pony half-monkey monster to please you, but he gets the feeling that you don’t like it. What’s with all the screaming?