It's getting harder and harder to write these posts. My memory just doesn't want to cooperate.
As such, this post and my last one will be on two individual gifts from the same year. First up? Donkey Kong 64, a game which I hate with a passion:
Ah, yes. This thing. See, when the Nintendo 64 came out, there was a lot of speculation about the little latch on the front of the console. The cover had "Memory Expansion" sculpted into it, and removing the cover showed something that looked like a small game cartridge stuck inside of it. It didn't do anything. It laid there, dormant, for three years. Most kids I knew, me included, forgot about it. It wasn't needed. The release of Donkey Kong 64 changed that, since it came bundled with the Expansion Pak, which went into the expansion slot on the front of the console.
This lovely device doubled the N64's memory from 4 MB to 8 MB, which turned the N64 into an even bigger visual powerhouse, eliminating a lot of the slowdown and fog that plagued games on the console. A lot of developers put in extra content for people who owned the Expansion Pak, such as Hydro Thunder's 4-Player mode and content from Brood War in Starcraft 64. A handful of games required the device for the game to function.
Simply put, this little pak (No "C" in there) was a staple for anyone who had an N64. It didn't interfere with any games that were made before it, so for most people, once you go 'Pak, you never really do go back.
My parents were smart when it came to wrapping Christmas gifts. They knew that I knew the exact dimensions of a Nintendo 64 box, or a Playstation 1 CD case. They knew that if I saw a bunch of CD cases or 6"X8" boxes under the tree, I'd know exactly what they are. Any other parent may not have bothered to change anything. My mom and dad started to mess with my expectations.
I hated getting clothes as a kid. That was always a "lame" gift for me. You could buy clothes any time of the year, so why bother getting them for Christmas, a time where you can't try them on before you buy them, and where it would be a nightmare to return them if they didn't happen to fit? As a nine-year-old child, I wanted to tell people that I got awesome stuff for Christmas. Telling your friends that you got clothes for Christmas was decidedly not awesome. Clothes were stupid, especially when it got in the way of getting more video games and toys.
Remember that part about me being an ungrateful bastard? Yeah. I kind of regret that now.
My parents weren't stupid, though. They knew that I saw the long, flat department store boxes as gift-wrapped quarantine signs - gifts that were to be avoided at all costs. That is why my parents had the brilliant idea of putting my video games in those boxes. It did the job: It surprised me on Christmas Day, and it made me actually want to open the rest of my stuff, hoping that the next gift was actually a copy of Crash Team Racing and not another Polo shirt.
To this day, I don't know how my mom or dad pulled off hiding a factory-sealed Nintendo 64 game in a shoebox, with the sneakers still in it...
LOOK WHO CAME: