It's December. You know what that means.
December has always been a favorite month of mine, mostly because I was a spoiled only child growing up. My parents made sure that gifts with my name on them were piled to the ceiling every Christmas Day, and for that I am eternally grateful.
I loved and cherished every Christmas with my family. But, of course, some gifts stand out from the rest in a particular year. Over this month, I am going to post about some of the best videogame-related gifts that I received for Christmas over the past 23 years.
The first one comes from Christmas 1995.
Man, I hadn't even been in Kindergarten for a year. It's hard to look back on this with any sort of clarity. From what I can remember, I recall getting a ton of Batman Forever action figures. I think my parents might have got me the whole line. Either way, I was showered with Batman variations, and I loved every minute of it. For some reason, I loved the wacky variations on the main characters that every 90s toy line seemed to have. Screw The Riddler or Two-Face. I wanted Hydrogen-Flame Batman and Neon Rolodex Robin. The gaudier the colors, the better.
I was kind of an idiot, even by five-year-old standards.
The crown jewel of all of it, however, was a little game for the Super Nintendo called Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.
Ooooh. Look at that masterpiece of Super FX art.
Yoshi's Island (the Super Mario World 2 title was just for marketing purposes, really) was released in October 1995 for the Super Nintendo. It was one of the later releases for the console, and it is also one of the few SNES games that used the Super FX 2 chip. The original Super FX chip was used to make rudimentary 3D graphics, like in Star Fox or Stunt Race FX. Yoshi's Island used the power in that chip to make amazing 2D art.
Seriously, this game looks like it could make a great Sega Saturn or early Playstation 1 game. It's a cut above the standard 16-bit visuals.
The plot is as follows: Baby Mario and Baby Luigi are separated as they are being delivered by a stork. Luigi is in the hands of Bowser Jr., but Mario was glossed over and he falls into the care of a tribe of Yoshis. These Yoshis vow to carry Baby Mario to reunite him with his brother, across every kind of climate possible on one island. It's a giant mess of platforming, egg-throwing, and secret-finding that is essentially flawless.
Green Yoshi always starts a world. Once you finish that, Mario is passed to the Red Yoshi. Then light blue, then Yellow, which is a mid-boss level that takes place in a small castle. After that, it's Purple Yoshi, then Brown Yoshi, then pink, then dark blue, which is the main boss of that particular world. After each world boss is finished, the cycle repeats at the next world, going through to world 8.
This game was hyped to hell and back on its release, and with good reason: This game is effing fantastic. Yoshi's Island is probably my favorite SNES game next to Kirby Super Star, and the memory of getting this game for Christmas makes it all the more awesome.
Make no mistake. I played the hell out of this game. My parents made sure to hook up my Super Nintendo to our big-screen television in the living room (a rear-projection TV, if I'm not mistaken), so I could experience the game in the best way possible. December 25th, 1995 was mostly spent with me glued to the television and my SNES controller glued to my hands. I spent weeks afterwards playing it after school, trying to beat the tougher levels without help from my mom (who never got too far, anyway). World 4-4 is still a choke point for me to this day. Friggin' lava.
I still own the very copy that I got for Christmas. It resides in my shelf with all of my other SNES games. I usually make an attempt to re-play it every year, and it completely holds up each time.
As for my Batman action figures from the same Christmas? If you go to Acme Comics in Longwood, FL, there may be a few left. Infared Batman isn't exactly in high demand.
LOOK WHO CAME: