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December 14, 2011 / jwaxo

Cool Spot (Returns)

I have no idea what’s going on in this screenshot, whatsoever.

It is Christmastime. For everyone. I don’t just mean the people who celebrate it, I mean for every single person in the world. Why? Because there are, undoubtedly, millions of people at or near them who are excited, nervous, frightened, and, above all, panicked about the holiday season. Crowded streets. Impossible-to-navigate stores. Music. Decorations. Food. Even for those who don’t celebrate it, you can’t escape it.

I pity those people who don’t like that kind of stuff.

For me, I’ll be heading to Idaho to spend the time with my parents and the old gang, shipping my gifts off to the relatives who need them to be shipped and, overall, be thankful not to be working. There’ll be a post here Christmas day, but no guarantee that it will be good in any way.

Christmas today is a lot different than it was when I was a kid. If that isn’t a common phrase, huh? But seriously. It was so much simpler, then. Here’s how it went, as first mentioned (briefly) in this post:

  1. We arrive at the Mall.
  2. Each child is given a $20, five dollars for each sibling or parent.
  3. We are cut loose.

These kind of outings got us extremely well-acquainted with the mall. We knew exactly where to go and browse to find the correct gifts for everyone in our family. And, at that point, it became less a task of finding gifts and more a task of who to travel with and which stores to hit first.

SWAT teams weren’t this organized.

Still not video game-related? We’re getting there. Because that wasn’t really our most busy day during the holiday season. No, it was much more complicated than that.

The real hustle, you see, came after Christmas.

As you may or may not remember, it is an awesome tradition of our grandparents to give each grandchild $50 on Christmas, instead of the usual present. On rare occasions this is not followed, but those times are rare and never spoken of.

Well, back before the mall started being jerks about the gift certificates in one way or another, this $50 gift came in an actual gift certificate. And, being kids, we would always want to spend these as quickly as humanly possible.

$50 is a lot of money, of course. Especially to a little kid in elementary school. Meaning that $50 didn’t just go to one gift, but to a heck of a lot of gifts. $50 worth of candy. $50 of books, candy, and a cheap video tape. Or, if you’re very lame, $50 worth of video games. In most cases, that would be a single video game, but the thrifty shopper might get several used games, and then some.

I always tried my best to be a thrifty shopper. But those glitzy lights of the mall, combined with the fervor of after-Christmas shoppers, returns, staff packing up decorations, and the love of the ability to magically “fix” Christmas by getting that one gift you didn’t get…

Well, you can imagine the problem.

Our poor parents.

Times when I wasn’t a thifty shopper turned out to be the worst. And that’s how I ended up with Cool Spot.

It was a DOS game somehow being sold used at the mall. I guess that, back then, you could actually sell PC games used, although my copy-protection woes implied pirating games was a problem back in those ancient days. It cost a lot of my money; maybe not all, but a good amount of it. Enough that it was the only bonus present I was able to buy myself.

And, well, as you can guess from the subtitle of this post: it didn’t work.

Ever.

This wasn’t even a software problem that my genie-like dad could fix with a few hours of tinkering and swearing (assuming it wasn’t a Goosebumps-themed game). There was something horribly wrong with the diskette, preventing our drive from reading it.

Being the crybaby I was, I probably was close to crying. I have no idea why: I had no great love of 7-Up, nor for the red spot that was half-heartedly being made into a mascot for it. It was probably because it meant going back to the mall, fighting back through the crowds, and maybe even getting yet another game that was broken. All of that effort–for nothing.

And so I learned that returns suck.

Yet another game that serves as my title that I’ve never played.

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