Ben's Beginnings: First Xbox Game

When the first Xbox released it wasn't something I cared about. I was only around 10 years old at the time, and everything I saw over it just seemed weird. The controller was huge and too big for my hands, the demos in stores were "stupid adult games," and even the more kid friendly ones were a lot more crude than I was used to. It wasn't a console for me at all. Instead I really wanted that new Game Cube, and even the PlayStation 2 looked cool. This is what I was interested in at the time, and I never expected it to change. But you know what? It did.

The first time I really gave the Xbox a chance was over at my cousin's house. He had one to replace his N64, and he had a few different games he let me try. The first one was Oddworld Munch's Oddysee, but it kinda freaked me out. The opening cutscenes alone were a bit much for me back then, and I remember shutting it off and telling my mom what I had seen. "THE GUY'S ARM WAS CUT OFF AND YOU COULD SEE HIS BONE!" or something, I don't know. Whatever I told her doesn't matter, but I do remember her saying something along the lines of "well you shouldn't have been playing a T rated game then." After that I didn't play it, I was done with it for good; however the second game my cousin had was a different story. It was none other than Halo.

Up until that point the only shooters I had spent much time with were the 007 N64 games (which I also played at my cousin's house). They were fun and all, but Halo was something different. The controls, the graphics, the cool aliens, and pretty much everything else about it just drew me in. I instantly liked Halo, and wished I could play it more for myself. Around this time was when it started to explode at school as well, and pretty much everyone (other than me) was talking about it. This is as far as it went for me with the original Xbox though. I did play Halo 2 some at my cousin's house, and later on I would play the PC demo on my Grandpa's computer (since mine couldn't run anything), but I would never get the original Xbox. At least I wouldn't be the owner of it.

After my aunt got divorced, her and my other two cousins moved in with my grandparents for awhile. My cousin who owned the Xbox had since moved out on his own (and owned an Xbox 360), and passed his original Xbox down to his sisters. During this time is when I got to spend the most time playing it, as I'd go over to see them almost every single day (or sometimes they'd come to my house). We'd play games like The Sims on it, and once I even got to rent Crazy Taxi 3. It was cool finally getting play these games more, but even this didn't last long. Eventually one of my aunt's dogs would chew up the wires for the thing while it was "put away," and that was that.

About a year or so later my aunt and cousins helped her brother open the family bakery, and I got my first job working there. I still remember working extra hours helping set things up, and going in late at night even when I didn't have to. I wanted to help out in any way I could, but above all I was looking forward to finally getting my first pay check. As for what I was going to buy with that check? Well, it was none other than the Xbox 360. The thing is, I actually really wanted the thing. I might not have shown that much interest in it at the time, but the truth was it was the one thing I wanted more than anything else. I even considered asking for it for Christmas over the Wii, but I had hopes that the Wii would be just as good (if not better). I didn't understand console hardware back then, and I really couldn't understand why some games would be on Xbox but not on the Wii. But that's what happened. A lot of games I wanted simply weren't coming to Nintendo consoles, and there was nothing I could do. I couldn't ask my parents for something so expensive, but not having one got harder all the time. I'd come home from school to friends talking on MSN about Halo 3, Call of Duty, and all of these other great online games, but I had no way of playing them. So when the bakery opened, I finally got my chance.

I still remember the day I got my first pay check. I cashed it then went over to my mom's work to see if my dad would go with me to Walmart (as I've explained in the past, my mom managed a home for the developed mentally disabled, and we were allowed to be there as well -- as it was in fact a normal home). When I got there I counted my money and found I had exactly enough to buy a 360 and one game, but I really didn't want to go alone. I was new to driving at the time, Walmart was about 30 minutes away, and I thought it would be better if someone went with me anyway. Well, he agreed, and off we went.

Honestly I got a bit ripped off that day, but I didn't care. The Xbox 360 Pro 20GB was the first thing I saw, and that's what I wanted. I didn't have the money to buy the upgraded 60GB, but I didn't think it mattered. So I grabbed that 20GB model, and ran over to the cheap game shelf to see what I could find. Yeah, that game ended up being none other than Sonic 2006, and that 60GB model would go on sale that following week. Got hit hard twice there. (Well, kinda.) Afterwords me and my dad went back to my mom's work to set the thing up, and I spent the rest of the night playing it. We only had standard def TVs at the time so I didn't get to see the HD graphics, but the game still impressed me. I was a bit paranoid about the whole Red Ring of Death thing, but I just tried not to think about it and took breaks off and on. In reality Sonic 2006 was one of the main reasons I wanted the 360, as it was finally the "Sonic Adventure' sequel I had waited so long for... Man...

(This is how I took screenshots back then!)
Since Sonic 2006 was my first 360 game, it's the game I spent a lot of time playing. It had glitches everywhere, and the loading times were long, but I was willing to put up with it. I had already watched the story years ago on YouTube so I wasn't as interested in that part, but I did have a lot of fun with the game despite it's issues. I learned how to avoid troubling spots, and I even discovered glitches that made the game a lot more fun. Omega had the ability to fly if you continued to tap his hover button, Sonic could fly by using the purple gem and jumping, Shadow could get outside of his vehicle in forced vehicle sections, and I even discovered a way to play as other characters in different stages. I had a lot of fun breaking that mess of a game, and that's one thing that kept me coming back. Putting that aside though, I truly was impressed with that game.

Although I saw demos and what not in stores, this was the first game where I got to see such detailed textures and lighting effects for myself. The way light reflected off of the glossy wood finish on some platforms, the way water looked, and even the sky was impressive. I just liked looking at the game, and would spend time exploring to see how different things looked. The physics also were pretty impressive (putting aside all the "fake" physics throughout the game), which is where the character Silver really shined. How boxes exploded was insane to me, and Silver himself stopping bullets and throwing them back was pretty cool. Until then I was used to objects not really being objects you could interact with, and destruction in general was completely new to me. Usually if you broke something in a game it just vanished, but here the pieces remained and became objects themselves. I know it sounds dumb to think about this sorta thing now days, but back then it was a big deal. I was just late to see it.

Eventually I would complete Sonic 2006 and download the DLC for it to add some extra life on (it was the first game I got to play with standard DLC), but even that only lasted so long. I did have a lot of fun playing co-op with friends too though, and I'll never forget the day my friend jumped over a fence at the start of a level, and got to the goal ring behind -- we completely skipped that one, and would go on to break the following stages as well. It was pretty funny, and despite the game's issues we still had fun. But again, only this would last for so long. Once I had done nearly everything that was to do, Sonic 2006 was put on the shelf, and I would move onto bigger and much better things. Things that would become stories for another time.
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