Saturday, February 15, 2020

Nostalgia Overload

Only the true early readers of this blog will remember that in my very first post I explained how a certain popular videogame sparked my interest for Japanese cars and, ultimately our beloved BNR34. And just like with the GT-R, over 17 years after its original release, I recently managed to acquire a small part of my childhood. Ah, the memories.

It all started with a lazy afternoon where I indulged in the dangerous pastime of browsing through Yahoo! Auctions. Few days (and one expensive credit card transaction) later a box with a familiar logo appeared at my doorstep.

Whether you are an avid gamer or not, if you are a car enthusiast anywhere between 12 and 45 years of age there are pretty high chances that you have seen or played with Gran Turismo at least once. 

As a kid I probably spent way more time than I should have with this game. Today I barely play any video-games at all, but when I ran into a brand new, unopened, limited edition of the PlayStation 2 Racing Pack with Gran Turismo Prologue there were no question asked: I just had to have it.

How did it manage to survive 17 years unopened and in absolutely perfect condition is beyond me, but also not a complete surprise as the Japanese used car market is no stranger to similar situations.

Released on December 4th, 2003 as a Japan-only edition, this pack contained a limited PlayStation 2 console finished in Ceramic White (as opposed to the original black), a controller to match and a copy of the game.

As you can easily guess, it wasn’t exactly cheap to acquire, but the chances of a second opportunity to buy one in similar condition were slim to none. So I decided to take the plunge despite the fact that, realistically, I won’t use it.

So why did I buy it? Well, simply out of pure nostalgic value. It brings back memories of a time when I was half the age I am today and used to spend hours on the web, collecting photos of Japan and downloading (over the course of several nights) Best Motoring episodes. 

It was a time when, due to the limited amount of information available and our younger age, Japan looked more like a far away planet immersed in a thick mist of lights and indecipherable characters, rather than a country that can be easily reached with a couple of quick taps on your smartphone as it is today. The number of misconceptions and myths were off the scale.

Today, for good or bad, that feeling of discovery is lost and everything is readily accessible, anytime, anywhere. You can easily take a tour of Shibuya Crossing or Omori Factory in HD on YouTube, leaving nothing to the imagination. Maybe I am really getting old...

Designed by Teyu Goto, the PlayStation 2 looked unmistakably Japanese (much like the GT-R), yet still manages to feel modern in 2020. Two decades after its release and with over 150 million units shipped, today is regarded as one of the biggest successes in the history of industrial design.

Besides the obvious lack of funds and the fact that it was sold only in Japan, this version wasn’t even compatible with the standard European electric voltage, making it pretty much unobtanium back then. But I do remember seeing it in photos and the strong desire of want. Who would have thought that 17 year later I would have bought one.

The game itself is actually not very different from its more recent editions, yet again, in a world where digital content is becoming the standard, you can’t help but appreciate the pleasure of opening the case with its DVD and extra booklet. 

Although I didn’t own this specific edition, it’s a strange feeling to shuffle through the pages of the instruction booklet now that I can read Japanese. I remember spending hours wondering what the characters could mean.

The PlayStation 2 unfortunately doesn’t look great on today’s modern HD screens, but I did try the game a bit, just for some extra nostalgia.

Much like with my car ownership philosophy, rather than hoarding stuff for the sake of collecting, I prefer to acquire few selected items that I feel connected with. This was certainly one of them and I will take great care of it.

After all, if I have spent almost half of my life in Japan is partly thanks to GT. I wonder what it will be like to one day start this up in front of my kids.

Until next time.

No comments:

Post a Comment