Cleaning the Closet – A Blarticle

The other day I had some free time, and I started going through all my video games and picking out ones I no longer liked or was sure that I’d never play again. Honestly, it was very hard. I’m a pack rat by nature, and it’s incredibly hard to look at a game and admit to myself that I’ll never actually play it again. God knows that most of the ones I kept will only continue to collect dust until my girlfriend (or possibly even my mom, she would love to clean my room) gets rid of them, but I ended up with some incredibly large piles. 32 games ended up on the chopping block, and when I mentioned it to my mother, she recommended I hit my Nintendo Power collection next.

While I’ve stopped getting them over the last couple years, I had subscribed to Nintendo Power magazine for at least ten years, and had a nice collection of really old ones from my uncle. They were eating up a sizeable portion of my closet, and I decided it was time to free up that space. Issues 92 (Shadows of the Empire, and coincidentally, the number of this article) through 198 were lined up neatly on a shelf and were an easy purge. It was just a matter of grabbing a handful and tossing them in the recycling bin. Everything I owned that came before #92 was a little more complicated. These issues were left in a milk crate in the corner of my closet, and due to their poor location, were mostly torn and ripped far past the point of me feeling they were worth keeping. A small stack of these ones is pictured below.

Getting rid of all these magazines was a terribly nostalgic ordeal. The shelf issues were in such pristine condition that I could barely bear to part with them, and looking at just the covers was like a trip backwards through my entire life. In retrospect, it’s perhaps a little distressing that I could take any point in my life and define it with an issue of Nintendo Power. Every time I grabbed a new stack, my heartstrings tugged a little harder as I remembered all those games and all the good times I had. I have at least one story (short and trivial though some may be) to go with every issue, but that’s not why I’m writing today.

What’s truly interesting was the crate pile. Or moreover, what was mixed into the crate pile. Among the torn, raggedy, old relic magazines was all sorts of neat junk that inspired just as much (if not more in some instances) nostalgia as the Nintendo Powers themselves. Old drawings, writing, other kinds of literature, and even a bunch of exclusive promotional junk that came into my possession through my subscription to Nintendo Power. This may be a terribly boring article to most, not unlike my tribute to the cottage (which is yet to receive its due second part), but to me it’s a wellspring of memories and cuddly feelings of simpler days gone by. This is my tribute to what basically amounts to a pile of junk.

The first (excluding the small forest’s worth of magazines) thing I noticed was this wonderful little booklet of looseleaf. It’s entitles “The Guinness Book of Freaks” and is essentially a time capsule of how broken my sense of humour was nearing the end of grade seven. Things were so hard back then, I still had no idea who I was as a person, I was trying so hard to fit in with anybody, and my usual material (stick men being killed in decreasingly creative ways) was starting to dry out. So I guess it was time to parody a record book? Isn’t that the logical next step? I don’t know.

Looking back at this “book” of about 3 pages, I start to wonder exactly what went through my head back in those days. I mean, yes, gross and weird. I get it, just like most young boys. But this book is really bad. And I don’t mean disturbing or anything like that, but rather that it just shows a complete lack of imagination or originality. The best entries held within include “World’s Fattest Man” and “World’s Hairiest Woman”. I’m fairly confident that at that age I still had an imagination, so I have no idea what happened to it here. Guess it was just a stinker. Those happened every once in a while. It’s not even finished, with more than half the book’s pages completely untouched.

And no, I’m not scanning any of the pages. The mere description should be more than enough. It’s just really bad material, though fairly interesting in that it’s not often that I find something I did almost a decade ago and don’t look at it with even a bit of nostalgic fondness. This just sucks. F minus minus.

Now this bunch of old drawings, I was very happy to find. It’s not nearly as old as the Book of Freaks, but it’s at least a billionty times better. Most of this pile is comprised of the original pencil drawings for Coozy For Hire comics. A good portion of them come from the time before the tablet, some even from before I started colouring them in! We’ve only been running CFH for three and a half years, but already I look at these like they’re some kind of long-lost relics.

Even better than old rough comics, is that there’s a veritable wealth of unused material stashed away in here! And it comes in all kinds: unused comic ideas (albeit they were never used because they’re terrible), hordes of doodles, character galleries, etc etc etc. Granted, most of it will never see the light of day as anything more than filler, but I love that it’s there to be filler. The well was runnin’ dry, you see, and now I’m good to shirk off my comicing duties for ages to come! (But not really.)

Also hidden inside this slimy little pile is a script for a short play (possibly short enough to be referred to as a “skit”) that I co-wrote for grade 10 drama class. Yeah. If you hadn’t heard, I took drama class in grade 10. It was cool. Anyway, it’s a story about… well, I won’t say too much about it, because I may turn it into a feature-length comic one day (as inapproprite for that medium as the story is), but I like it. It was fun to write my character, and actually doing the play was a gas too. Second best play I’ve ever been in, hands down. The best one only wins out because I got to drop my pants in it.

Hmmm. Seems I owe junior high a shitty holocaust book.

Grade eight, I believe. English class, we were doing the inevitable yearly holocaust/WW2 unit (seriously, do they have to teach it every goddamn year from 6-12? I got the friggin’ point after two years; Hitler bad, Vandals good.) It’s a terribly generic story about a girl who gets magically transported from her passover supper or whatever to a concentration camp and then has to survive to get back. I don’t remember the details, but I don’t care. I’ll probably burn this book for being a smack in the face to all the people who had to suffer through that horror.

Ah, this one is great. Sort of. It’s great for what it represents, not so much the finished product. Of course I use the word “finished” very lightly, as what is contained in the notebook pictured above is an unpublished article. I find it amazing that at one point in time I actually loved writing for this website so much that I would take a notebook places and work on articles in my away-from-the-computer spare time. Of course, this is the only one I ever actually completed writing, but it’s not the only one I ever worked on.

And what is the lost article about? Well, actually, it’s about porn. Yeah. One of two articles about adult-related media that never got published because I didn’t really want to smut up the site like that. This one was actually about my dissatisfaction with pornography on the whole, though it focused more on film than anything else. It’s not worth typing out and putting up, because it’s short and crappy (er, crappier than my usual crap anyway), and I really don’t like it. I guess I probably didn’t like it by the time I got around to typing it up, because it never came to fruition.

The other porn-related article I was going to write was about a game called 3D Striptease that, after a little searching, no longer exists outside a demo. The article then, obviously, was a review of that demo, as the full game was still in development at the time and I wasn’t going to pay money for something so garbage anyway. It was opposite the article in the book, however, as I had all the pictures and article structure ready, I just needed to sit down and write the thing. The game was supposed to be released in summer 2004, so I’m assuming the article in the notebook is at least as old if not older. Maybe someday I’ll dig up the demo and then write about the greatest stripper FPS that never was.

This notebook is only marginally more interesting. The first page is a continuation of the Spare! comics I wrote throughout high school. Only high school was over so I had no more material, since Spare! was based on actual events. I actually coloured and posted the first strip on this page on the blog many years back. It’s much better than the other two, which at best serve to set up the “I’m not in high school anymore so no more reality-based comics” premise of what I assume would have been called “New Spare!”.

I never made another attempt at new Spare! comics in either high school or after high school format. The only other use this book has served over time is as a stand-in for our old printer that never worked. In it, I copied down every single alchemy recipe for Dragon Quest VIII. I was pretty into that game, and of course I would have to complete the alchemy book. I’m obsessive-compulsive like that. Ironically, I never beat the game proper, as the last boss is too Goddamn hard and I totally fucked myself by putting skill points in all weapon types for my characters, rather than focusing on one or two.

There’s also a map to every hidden Sorcerer’s Scanner item in Tales of Legendia, which I did collect all of in the end, but really, Legendia wasn’t that good. And that’s coming from a pretty loyal Tales fan. Maybe I just need to play it again? I dunno. I’d rather just play Tales of Vesperia a fourth time.

Here’s a pile of Nintendo Power-related goodies, the one which I’m most excited about being the Nintendo Power Club challenge cards. See, back when NP was awesome and I read every single page (even about games I’d never care about in a million years), they put in little punch-out cars in the back of the mag that you could collect. I had tons of them, and I thought they’d been lost to the ether many, many years ago. But alas! It seems that there were a couple issues from which I did not remove the cards, and forsooth, I have a small number of them in my possession. Kinda shitty when you have a collectible that you can no longer collect though.

There’s more to these cards though! While they may seem like cheap eye candy or collector fodder at best, the back sides also have a couple challenges for each game. The MegaMan X card, for example, challenges you to beat certain stages using only the X-Buster. This is a joke because today I can finish the entire game with only the X-Buster, while asleep! But they were hard back in the day! They also give a short summary of the games’ plots, and some practical data, such as genre, number of players, and the date the game was released. You may also notice that the cards are color-coded; purple cards are Game Boy games, red are NES games, and green are Super NES – the same color-coding Nintendo Power used for page themes.

There are a couple Nintendo Power Supplies catalogues in here, but I definitely want to review those separately, and the big “confidential information” file folder look-alike is a promotional brochure for Goldeneye 007. I haven’t leafed through it very thoroughly, but I’m thinking it’s also worthy of its own article, so I’ll let it sit and collect dust for a few more years before I get around to it. Plus, it’ll be way more retro by then. Hopefully retro will still be cool.

I’ve always loved super heroes and comics. Every Saturday morning for most of the 90’s I would get up early and watch FOX’s morning cartoon line-up, which included X-Men, Spider-Man, and… well, I can’t remember what else. But I watched the shit out of X-Men and Spider-Man. Ask any male and they’ll tell you that those were some awesome shows. Hulk’s cartoon was nowhere near as popular and was never in the Saturday morning lineup, but he managed to make himself my favourite super hero with his pure awesomeness. I’ve been interested in super heroes as long as I can remember, I’ve read up a ton on them, and when I was younger, even had most of the toys.

I’ve also always been a huge fan of comics. Admittedly, they only had Archie and ALF (with a few Heathcliffs and Richie Riches thrown in for good measure), but my grandparents had a magnificent stack of old comics at the cottage, and over many years, I read them all. My fondest memories involve ads where Batman is selling twinkies. And these days (though admittedly less often than usual) I read at least five webcomics, and I even draw my own comic! It’s amazing! You’d think this obsession with comics would equate to me having a good collection of my own.

Not the case. Pictured above is every single comic book that I own. Yeah. Just over twenty. There’s a pretty wide variety, from Batman to Spider-Man to KISS to Star Wars, but it’s still a bit tiny and embarrassing. Though there is a Marvel art book in there called “Marvel Masterpieces 2” which is amazing and has some truly fantastic portraits in it. It’s the gem of my collection and is the only one in pristine condition. The rest range from okay to have-the-cover-ripped-off. It’s actually probably the only one I’m going to keep. I may not have many comics, but I’ve read them over many times each, so I don’t really feel much sorrow parting with them. It was fun, but I guess when it comes down to it, I’m just not a comic person.

This is just a bunch of window decals that I took from work before the Wii launch. It was a great time to work at TRU, because there was so much promotional Wii crap that I could swipe and enjoy for myself. Other than that, I’d say it’s no more enjoyable than most other jobs. Friendly crew, but that’s about it.

I would love to type “Ahh, the piece de resistance” at this point, but as cool as this book is, it’s not some kind of amazing article-finisher. It’s just a standard unlicensed Nintendo strategy guide. In pocket book form.

Edwin gave this to me a few years back. I forget where he found it, but I believe there was some sort of intent to see it on the website. Maybe not, I don’t know. It was ages (three years) ago. All I can think of when I look at this book is that I know I’ve read it before, but a glance at the index of games covered assures me that I have not. I’m certain that the book I read covered Monster Party, Friday the 13th and maybe a Choplifter game. But that was all the way back in grade five, so I may be off on a couple titles. Googling it, I couldn’t find a game index for any of the three follow-up books, but I’m pretty sure it was one of them. The cover just looks so familiar.

On the other hand, I looked up Jeff Rovin on Wikipedia, and while he’s a pretty prolific novelist and biographer, he’s also pretty big on movie novelizations. Which is not too bad, since he’s done a ton of original work, which makes up for the movie novelization’s inherent lack of imagination, but he novelized Mortal Kombat. Why? Why would you bother? “Read the book based on the mediocre movie based on the crappy game!” That would be the pitch. What a terrible idea…

And that’s about that. I should mention that while the article is titled “Cleaning the Closet”, we’re only talking about approximately 5% of the closet’s space, so it’s a little misleading. If I were to dig out all the old nostalgic junk from the entirety of my closet, this article would never end. And that would be more than even I could take.

Leave a Reply