Sunday, December 14, 2008

Goodbye To An Old Friend

I was saddened the other day to learn of the closing of a Toys-R-Us store here in town. There are several locations of that chain here in Columbus, Ohio, but that particular one held some special sentimentality for me. It had been my longest running supplier of videogame software, and I had been purchasing games there for the last six generations, more or less.

I'm from a small town north of Columbus, which had slim pickings in terms of game stores back in the 1980s. So on a road trip to the city on March 28, 1986, I scanned the one part of town I knew for shopping - Morse Road - for software stores, and found that Toys-R-Us.

I was blown away by the sheer selection offered there. They had the games displayed behind glass, with a system where you take a paper ticket to the front to get the game. The game I choose that night was one of the greatest games I had ever played - The Bard's Tale for the Commodore 64. That was the first game I purchased at that store. A few weeks later, I returned on a second road trip (both of these trips were not just for games, but also to party with friends) and got Neutral Zone and another classic game called Sword of Kadash, both again for the C 64.

In late 1986 I moved down to Columbus for good, and continued to build my Commodore 64 collection with more games from that Toys-R-Us store. They always had a selection of the newest games, and obscure titles that I had only seen before in magazines. In addition to the previusly mentioned Sword of Kadash, I picked up the classic Penguin Software games The Crimson Crown and The Quest there, as well as Skyfox 2 : The Cygnus Conflict and Alternate Reality : The City.

After I got my Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989, I picked up games for it at that store. After that, in 1990, I purchased my Turbografx 16 console there, and several games for it. My purchases began to wane after that because of closer locations with more varied product, but I know I got some of my SNES, Genesis, Sega CD, and Playstation 1 games there.

My last videogame purchase at that store was on March 8, 2007, when I got Archer Maclean's 3D Pool for the Game Boy Advance, when I had stopped there to look for a Wii during my Wiiquest. The coolest thing about my last visit there was the sales associate who was kind enough to fill me in on how to get a Wii (show up at any Toys-R-Us early on a Sunday).

So many game stores in my time have come and gone, along with the memories of purchasing great games at those places. I wonder if I'm the only gamer who gets sentiemtnal about those sorts of things.

Oddly enough, the demise of this one Toys-R-Us location makes one of the other ones, the one closest to my current home, the oldest still-existing game store I visit. I've been going to that Toys-R-Us and buying games since August of 1987. Maybe I'll stop there after Christmas and see what's in the clearance bins - for old time's sake.

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