Ever since the Nintendo Wii was released I've been flooded with games to play. Reviewing games during a new console's launch window is hectic, as every week something new lands on my doorstep, plus let's not forget all of the games that I want to play for myself. The little game cases are stacking up, some of which are still shrink-wrapped. I've had Red Steel in my home for a month now and haven't had a chance to crack the seal! I picked up Psychonauts cheap for the Sony PlayStation 2 and haven't even thought about when I'll have the time to tear into it. All of these games atop my television remind me of the time first time I was (from my young point of view) flooded with games to play and was faced with that eternal question: which game to play first?
As a child I would save up my allowance until I had enough money to buy a new Nintendo game. Then I'd go with my mother on one of her monthly shopping trips to the Big City where we'd stop by Toys R' Us so I could pick out a new game from my ever-growing wish list. It was a simple, unchanging clockwork-like process: save up $50, go to Orlando, get a new game.
In the later months of 1990 I had once again saved up $50, so the time had clearly come for another trip to Toys R' Us. For some reason I cannot remember my father had to go to Orlando, so I arranged to tag along so we could stop at the toy store on the way home. I confidently led Dad past the action figures and board games to the massive Nintendo aisle where dozens upon dozens of games were up for sale. I began browsing the selection, seeking out the games on my list. Fifty dollars... one game... what's it gonna be? Alright, they have Maniac Mansion for the Nintendo Entertainment System! And what's this? It only costs thirty dollars...
Thirty dollars. My young mind shivered for a moment. This was new. Games were supposed to cost $50. They always cost $50! How can a game only cost $30? Why, I could buy this and still have $20 left over! Unless...
I turned around from the NES games and looked at the Game Boy games on the opposite wall. My eyes locked on to another game from my list, Gremlins 2. And could it be? Somehow? Yes! Gremlins 2 only cost $20! I could afford to buy both games! Two games at once... never in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined such a thing. I mean, it's the kind of thing that you see on TV and in the movies and stuff, but you never think you'll have that chance for yourself. I grabbed sale tickets for both games and was all set to go. I excitedly explained to Dad how I could afford to buy both games with my savings, and after he said something along the lines of "it's your money; spend it how you want," we were past the register and I had two brand new games in a plastic bag.
Back at home I discovered the dark side of buying two games at once: which should I play first? How could I ever decide? There are just some decisions that a nine-year-old should not have to face. In the end I tore open Maniac Mansion after considering the ramifications: if I played Gremlins 2 later, I could play Game Boy and watch TV at the same time, whereas Maniac Mansion would tie up the television, robbing me of the evening's prime time network lineup. That was my decision and I stand by it all these years later.
Today the quandary lives on in the new generation: Red Steel or Psychonauts?