Back before we were famous rockstar journalists who nab every game for free, we were bound by the generosity of friends, family and an overweight, omniscient cook with a penchant for breaking and entering. That meant that many in the EGM Crew had to wait with baited breath for the eventual arrival of the Holiday season for our biggest gaming come-ups. As we reflect on presents past, we decided to take a look at some of our favorite game-related gifts, and how they helped shape our young minds on our path to gaming glory.
It’s not a complete list—but definitely a solid gathering of some foundational equipment. If—while reading—you find yourself in the throes of nostalgia, feel free to testify on your own favorite gift in the comments below. And if any of you got a pony, know in advance that we hate your face.
EGM’s Top Holiday Gifts
The Gift: 13″ GoldStar Color Television
Way back in the stone ages—before wonders of the Interwebz and Flat-screen TVs changed gaming forever—my gaming addiction was at the mercy of my family members, as our lone 19” TV was frequently monopolized by Full House, the evening news, and daily viewings of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure on VHS. Then, one Christmas, my Dad stepped in and got me my very own TV. It was small, cheap and ugly, but it allowed me to finally fuel my obsession with proper marathons—which eventually led me here to EGM. Not bad for a hunk-of-junk TV, eh? —Brandon Justice
The Gift: Nintendo GameBoy
While the Game Boy’s blurry, black-and-white visuals might not have wowed me like the NES did, I was still pumped to receive Nintendo’s highly hyped portable as the ’80s wound to a close. After all, I could now bring games with me wherever and wherever I wanted—well, so long as the batteries held out! The dot-matrix distraction proved particularly valuable during a harrowing trip across the western United States with my dearly departed grandfather—when, for reasons still unknown to me, ol’ Grandpappy decided to pick up a leather-jacketed, mulleted (and possibly knife-wielding) hitchhiking transient in the middle of the Nevada desert. —Andrew Fitch
The Gift: Nintendo 64
Like many kids during the Christmas of 1996, I was fortunate enough to receive a Nintendo 64. Unlike many other kids, though, I had broken my thumb not three days prior to Christmas while playing “karate” with my childhood friend Joe Cucci. Unphased after receiving this gift—reacting similarly to the infamous Nintendo 64 kid on YouTube—I proceeded to play Mario 64 non-stop until I got all 120 stars, broken thumb and all. —Ray Carsillo
The Gift: Nintendo Entertainment System
One of the perks to being born in 1984 was getting to grow up alongside video games—starting with the Nintendo Entertainment System, which I got for Christmas when I was about five years old. Somewhere at my mother’s house—my childhood home—there is a video on VHS of my brother and I in our PJs shrieking in jubilation at the sight of our new NES. Days spent in the Mushroom Kingdom would ultimately be the start of a lifelong romance with video games, culminating in what I do for a living. —Chris Holzworth
The Gift: Sega Master System
When it came to the 8-bit era, I was far and away an NES kid. So much so, in fact, that I continually badgered my close friend Tim to give up his silly Sega Master System—which he absolutely loved—and get a “real” gaming console like I had. And then, as a Christmas gift from my dad in 1987, I received the Master System bundle that came with the Light Phaser light gun and SegaScope-3D glasses (tech that was way, way ahead of its time). I came to adore the system, it was the birth of my becoming a hardcore Sega fan, and it would lead me to receive another of the best videogame gifts ever the following year: Phantasy Star. So, thank you dad for getting me that Master System—and I’m sorry for leading you astray Tim. —Eric L. Patterson