notified of site updates. Sign-up for the Newsletter sent out
E-Mail Address Below:
Bits of Stuff
from the Last Ten Years
by Aaron Simmer
Any stone that rolls downhill long enough gets covered in debris and
collects tchotchkes from gaming companies.
Some of it's horrible, squelchy things that couldn't get out of the way
in time but sometimes there's a diamond to be found or at least some
chewing gum. So, with nearly ten years of The Armchair Empire I thought
it might be a good time to see what's in my pockets and on the underside
of my shoes; shake the grime out of my hair and extract the lint from my
Max Payne 2 Pins
Way back in 2003, when our review copy of Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max
Payne arrived, it was packed in with a small black box, embossed with
the game's title on top. Inside the small box are five small pins. I've
never taken them out of the box to wear them. They just seemed cooler
left inside the box and that's where they've been the last 7 years.
Giants: Citizen Kabuto t-shirt
The first free gaming t-shirt I ever received was back in 2001 when
Giants: Citizen Kabuto arrived. It's a little faded because I wore it a
lot the first year or so, but I
haven't worn it in ages. I still keep it
though because I really liked Giants and I like the color.
Next Level Games leather dust jacket
I think it was after a visit to see Super Mario Strikers at Next Level
Games that I was presented with a leather-jacketed note book. I've
replaced the notebook inside a couple of times since then but I don't
think I'll ever get rid of the
jacket. It has a pocket inside to hold some
business cards and there's a spot to hold a pen but its utility is
outweighed by the nostalgia factor because it's been with me a long
Scarface: The World is Yours cigar box
A cigar box is one of those objects that I secretly desired but couldn't
justify purchasing. I don't smoke and I'll have a cigar only on rare
occasions. After a visit to Radical Entertainment a week before the
launch of Scarface: The World is Yours, I was presented with a wooden cigar box. There
weren't any cigars in it and it's mostly used a container to hold GBA
and DS games, but I rest easier at night knowing that if I ever had to
store cigars, I'm good to go.
Nintendo DS t-shirt from E3 2004
A black shirt with the would-be design of the Nintendo DS on the back
and "See it. Touch it. Play it." on the front. The fact it has stayed
with me for the last six years is an indication of the quality materials
that went into the t-shirt but the reason I like it is the fact it was almost
retro the moment you put it on. The would-be design, which is radically
different than even the original metal-finish DS, was never put into
production. I also like motto.
Left 4 Dead mini-posters
With our Xbox 360 review copy of the original Left 4 Dead, four
mini-posters were included. They feature the artwork from the "films" of
Left 4 Dead: Blood Harvest, Death Toll, No Mercy, and Dead Air. I had an
extra frame that would hold one of the posters. I picked No Mercy simply
because it was the first campaign I finished and made me a "believer."
It's up on my wall as a constant reminder of that "first time"
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess t-shirt
Another score from an E3 visit. And another t-shirt of high quality from
Nintendo. Besides the time I hesitated surrendering the shirt to staunch
the flow of blood from my daughter's nose after she'd fallen on her face, my
next favorite story around this shirt is this one:
Last summer I was out walking the dog, but the only crucial piece of
information was that I was wearing a Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
t-shirt that Nintendo gave me many E3’s ago. Well, that, and I’m
A kid, couldn’t have been older than 9, rode up to me on his bike.
“Hey, is that a Legend of Zelda shirt?” he asked excitedly.
“That’s so cool!” he said. “Have you played Twilight Princess?”
I thought the conversation was going to move to something about Twilight
Princess. Plot points, puzzles, the controls, whatever.
“Yes, I’ve actually finished it.” I said.
“I didn’t know old people played video games!”
At which point I pushed him off his bike and walked away.
Okay, so I didn’t push him off his bike.
Does the silver suitcase hold the secret
codes for an array of ballistic missiles? Nope, it's a Wii, complete
with extra controllers and games.
Nintendo Wii case
Maybe the coolest Wii case I've ever seen was sent to us by Nintendo
Canada a few days before the official launch of the console. Besides
being customized to hold the console, two Wii Remotes with nunchucks,
two classic controllers, and a couple of games, the best part was that
the case actually had all those items inside it.
Sideshow Collectibles key chain
This is a constant reminder to me of the high-end figures I've reviewed
over the years. I don't remember when I got it; probably 6 years ago.
And it has served as my key chain ever since.
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force
The first ever game the Armchair Empire received from a publisher (as I
almost 9 months after Jeff Nash and I established the site. (Here's
the review.) It was an
early milestone and I still have the box. Sure, it has been flattened to
save space and I'm not entirely sure where the game disc is, but if
there's a game that I think back on with almost irrational nostalgia
it's this one.
I remember being impressed that it stated
very specifically on the box "3D Card Required." It was offset by the
completely un-Trek moto above it, "Set Phasers to Frag!" They don't make
game boxes this large anymore. With a flip-open cover, it allowed for a
real showcase. It was 1990 and flipping open the cover, I couldn't help
but feel like we were witnessing a subtle shift. Suddenly TV wouldn't be
passive, it would be active. That sentiment was way off the mark, but
with graphics like those, I couldn't help but think big.