Console & Game Bundles - A Retrospective
Tis the season for home console bundles. I get a warm fuzzy feeling just thinking about consoles packaged with games and extras. I recall Christmases, oversized boxes, peripherals you are never going to use and instruction manuals that remain untouched in their sealed bags. The bundle represents the beginning of a long and hopefully fruitful relationship between gamer and console. Unless it’s the Sega Saturn or Dreamcast, in which case it represented the start of an all too brief, heart wrenching fling.
Whether it’s an all inclusive bundle, or a system bought alongside a couple of separate games, we all have our memories. What follows are the home console bundles, or a console bought alongside separate games, that I have bought or recieved whilst the system was contemporary. Also, I’ve added the perfect bundle set for each system, an entirely personal, and therefore subjective combination of the console, 3 outstanding titles and that peripheral that no gamer should do without.
1. System - SEGA Master System II
When - Christmas circa 1991
The Bundle – Alex Kid in Miracle World (built-in), Sonic the Hedgehog, carry case.
My first console, and what a joy it was. I can still recall first hooking it up to the TV in the living room on Christmas morning and struggling through the first few stages of Sonic. I was useless at Alex Kid, and as a 9 year old, the MS carry case was of limited value. However, I loved that system and it introduced me to a past time that has evolved into so much more.
Master System II recommended bundle – Sonic the Hedgehog, Double Dragon, Phantasy Star, 3D glasses (never had them, but 3D must be good, right?)
2. System – SEGA Mega Drive II
When – Christmas circa 1994
The Bundle – Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Street Fighter II Champion Edition.
And so began, for me at least, the 16bit era. Sonic 2 was a continuation of the fun that I had had with the first game and Street Fighter II was 24megs. At the time, I had absolutely no idea what that meant, but it didn’t stop me from getting excited about it. SF2 also marked the beginning of my frustrating relationship with fighting games.
Mega Drive II recommended bundle– Sonic the Hedgehog II, Desert Strike, Road Rash 3, The Mega/Sega CD (does that count as a glorified peripheral?)
3. System – SEGA Saturn
When – Christmas 1996
The Bundle – Virtua Fighter 2, Alien Trilogy, Sega Rally, Olympic Soccer, RAM Cartridge, Steering Wheel
Noticing a SEGA pattern here? Don’t worry, it comes to an abrupt end very soon. This was a beast of a bundle, and I distinctly remember my father haggling over the phone with the shop assistant at Dixons to get it down to a reasonable price. I got a great mix of games, though the steering wheel was all over the place. Eventually I was forced to sell my beloved SS to partially fund my next bundle. I have since bought two JPN Saturns.
Sega Saturn recommended bundle – Virtua Cop 2, Nights, Sega Rally, Sega Light Gun (just edges out the Nights analogue pad)
4. System – Sony PlayStation
When – Summer 1998
The Bundle – Resident Evil 2 and NBA Live 98
With the Saturn on the brink of extinction, I joined the swelling ranks of PlayStation gamers, and I haven’t really looked back. The £50 I got for my Saturn collection (it still pains me to write that) funded my purchase of Resident Evil 2. The replayability (?) of Resi blew my mind, as I couldn’t believe that there were 4 scenarios to play through. This game also reminds me of an old friend, who would only play racing games. We eventually convinced him to branch out and get RE2, but he got stuck in the gun shop. Thats the same gun shop located 3 minutes into the game! The PlayStation gave me Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid amongst others, as well as my first 4 player gaming experience (Smackdown!). Pure quality.
PlayStation recommended bundle – a Final Fantasy game (VII, VIII, IX or Tactics, take your pick), Metal Gear Solid, Syphon Filter 2 and a multitap.
5. System – Sony PlayStation 2
When – Summer 2001
The Bundle – Kessen and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (DVD)
There is a good reason why the PS2 is still going strong, 10 years after launch. Not only was it an amazing gaming system, but it was also an affordable DVD player. Also, there is something to be said for a console that I didn’t feel the need to upgrade for 6 years. I got my PS2 just before heading off to university, and it was mine and my friend’s console of choice for the next 3 years. Armed with a multi-tap and a plethora of controllers we played games like TimeSplitters, ISS and Quake II virtually non-stop.
PlayStation 2 recommended bundle (this was the hardest of all to narrow down to 3) – Metal Gear Solid 3, God of War II, Timesplitters Future Perfect and a multitap.
6. System - Nintendo Wii
When – Summer 2007
The Bundle – Wii Sports and Wii Play with an extra controller
My wife succeeded in giving me a real birthday surprise with this one. In the summer of 2007, although shops were no longer employing raffle style allocation systems, Wii’s were still quite hard to come-by. So when, on the morning of my birthday, I was greeted with my first step into the current generation of gaming, I was well pleased. To be honest, the Wii quite quickly fell out of favour in my house, but like most people I have had a great deal of fun with friends playing Wii Sports, and No More Heroes remains one of my favourite games of the last couple of years across all systems.
Nintendo Wii recommended bundle – No More Heroes, The Umbrella Chronicles, Wii Sports Resort and some re-chargeable batteries.
7. System – Sony PlayStation 3
When – Spring 2008
The Bundle - Ridge Racer 7, Resistance, Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare
I had been saving and biding my time. I would buy a PS3 once Metal Gear Solid 4 hit the shelves, but I ended up jumping the gun by a month or so. I have loved my PS3 since I bought it, and could wax lyrical about it all day. One of my biggest concerns about moving back to England earlier this year, aside from how I would find a job, support my wife and re-acclimatize to a culture that I had been away from for 4 years, was how I could get my PS3 back in one piece. That’s rare company for a heavy, plastic brick.
Sony PlayStation 3 recommended bundle – Uncharted 2, Metal Gear Solid 4, Grand Theft Auto IV, Burnout Paradise Ult. Box (Couldn’t keep it to 3!), and a headset mic (though it pains me to say so).
8. System – Microsoft Xbox 360
When – Spring 2009
The Bundle – Lost Planet Extreme Edition, Dead Rising, and a headset
As I have recounted before, I was drunk when I bought my 360. I’d been thinking about getting one for a while, but it took a fistful of pints in an Akihabara pub to finally convince me to stumble to the shop and buy one. Due to my affinity for the PS3 and reluctance to pay for Live, I haven’t got a lot out of my two 360s (I bought a PAL replacement in February), though the games that I have been inspired to complete I have really enjoyed.
Xbox 360 recommended bundle – Dead Rising, Mass Effect 2, Alan Wake and a PS3.
Are there any memorable bundles from your years gaming? Or maybe a bundle you have your eye on for Christmas?