My favourite Christmas game: Greg Kasavin

"I had to do my homework before I got it. I'm not talking about school stuff, no. I'm talking about comparison shopping"

In the last instalment of our Christmas soapbox feature Modern Warfare 3's Sledgehammer Games boss Glen Schofield - previously of EA and Dead Space fame - recounted a monster festive gaming session...

Before that we had Cliff Bleszinski's Mega Drive / Genesis memories, Kudo Tsunoda's Disneyland daydream, Randy Pitchford's heartfelt Christmas story, and Mark Healey's career starting Christmas.

In today's instalment we're heading to Moscow to share a Christmas moment with former game journalist and writer Bastion, one of this year's finest downloadable offerings.

If you're like me, and you were born in Moscow in 1977 and your ethnically Jewish family emigrated from there to the United States before you can even remember, then chances are you didn't grow up celebrating Christmas.


It was all about New Year's for my family and me, which meant I got presents a couple of weeks (i.e., an eternity) later than my friends. Even still, sometimes what I managed to finagle out of my parents was worth the wait. Case in point: When I was nine years old, my parents finally plunked down and got me my very own video game console, the Sega Master System. I'm pretty sure this is what they mean when they say 'you never forget your first.'

The Master System wasn't exactly my first console. I'd already been playing on my brother's Atari 2600 way more than he ever did, and was frequently playing games on our Apple II computer as well as in arcades, using whatever quarters I could scrounge. All the more reason why getting my very own video game system was incredibly important to me, and man, was it ever a great system.

I had to do my homework before I got it. I'm not talking about school stuff, no. I'm talking about comparison shopping.

Did I mention I'm from Russia? We're, let's say, a value-conscious people.

My Dad was committed to getting the better of the two systems on the market because we were only going to get one (see above). And as far as I was concerned, there was no way we were going to get that good-for-nothing Nintendo Entertainment System. I mean, the Master System had way more simultaneous colors onscreen. Supported more sprites. Let you play games from a cartridge or a card. It was way better. I didn't care about Mario.

I was a 9-year-old Sega fanboy.

Yeah, the Nintendo Entertainment System beat the Master System in the long run. But it was a tortoise-and-hare kind of race, and back in 1986 and '87, I thought the Master System was winning. I mean, I had Space Harrier at home. If you played Space Harrier back then, you must know how important this is.

Did I mention I'm from Russia? We're, let's say, a value-conscious people.

In Space Harrier you are a flying man with a rapid-fire bazooka, hurtling through these beautiful enemy-filled environments at hundreds of miles an hour from a behind-the-back perspective. This, truly, was a Video Game. I loved it in the arcades and I loved having it at home.

I have to admit I don't have a clear memory of playing my Master System around the holidays specifically, but I do remember how happy I was to get it, playing Hang-On and Safari Hunt, and lots and lots of Space Harrier.

Gaming was a pretty personal and solitary thing for me when I was a kid. My memories of the holidays themselves are pretty murky, but the experience of playing the games I got around those times, and how they made me feel, all that remains vivid. Those feelings, plus my family, are the reason I am where I am today.

Bastion is out now on Xbox Live Arcade, PC and Google Chrome

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