Why did you buy THAT console?
"What got you into gaming?"
I see this question asked a lot. And true, it makes for fun, light discussion and occasionally (but not often) surprising answers.
A question I rarely see asked, is "what prompted your purchase of console X?" It is - I feel - the more interesting question, as the answer isn't largely reliant on what a parent purchased or what happened to be available when you were ten. Now this doesn't have to be systems you purchased yourself, mind you - gifts are fair game.
And without further ado...
Nintendo Entertainment System - Zelda: Not only the title that got me into gaming, but also what made me go from not really knowing what an NES was to wanting one in the course of a single afternoon. It was fourth grade and I went to a friend's house after school. His family happened to have recently purchased a NES and he was happy to show it off. At that point in my life, Legos and Transformers were all my small heart desired - but that changed the moment I saw Link enter the first (I think it was technically the second) dungeon. I had to have it. And several months later, on my tenth birthday, I did.
Genesis - Revenge of Shinobi: Another instance of killer app being demoed at a friend's house. This was the first time I'd ever seen a 16-bit console "in de flesh", and what crueler way to introduce a seventh-grader to it than Revenge of Shinobi. The visuals were jaw-dropping, the moves seemed impossible, and the music from the first boss encounter haunted me. This was another console I campaigned for heavily, and it paid off when the holidays finally rolled around.
Super Nintendo - U.N. Squadron: During much of seventh-grade I had become obsessed with the arcade game U.N. Squadron. At a time when the NES was still the dominant platform and there was no word of a Genesis port (indeed, I felt the game too obscure to even warrant a home version), it was the type of game I always felt I'd have to leave the house to play. So imagine my surprise when an early Nintendo Power feature on the SNES listed the launch titles and - lo and behold - there was U.N. Squadron. I had an NES, I was happy with my relatively new Genesis...I hadn't given the Super Nintendo any serious thought up to that point. The announcement of U.N. Squadron changed all of that - and a few months later I was selling my NES and all of its games to fund the purchase of Nintendo's new console.
TurboDuo - This was more of a hodgepodge. In addition to a years long curiosity about Ys, there was a desire to own the "true" versions of Valis 2 and 3. In addition, the Turbografx-16 (more specifically the PC Engine) had seemed like a holy grail for someone with an intense enthusiasm for niche, Japanese games. It also had the single best pack in games (yes, GAMES...plural) of any system. Anywhere. Ever. Ys: Books 1 and 2, a compilation disc featuring Gate of Thunder, Bonk's Adventure, Bonk's Revenge (and Bomberman as a hidden easter egg!), and a Ninja Spirit turbochip. I didn't even think about buying another game for at least a month after I purchased the console - itself the product of months and months of odd jobs and allowance savings.
Neo Geo Pocket Color - Metal Slug: First Mission: This was totally an impulse buy. I was aware of the system, but hadn't given it much thought. One summer (between my junior and senior years of college) I happned to be in the EB Games near my parents house and they had just put up the Neo Geo Pocket display. I perused the titles, noticed Metal Slug, and was actually half-way home before I realized that "Metal Slug" and "portable" had been repeating in my head since I left the store. Not just repeating...you remember those old Sesame Street segments where a word would be split in two? A woman would pronounce each half of the word...and the two would gradually get closer and closer until she was saying the entire word? Yeah, that's what was happening with "Metal Slug - portable". I got back home over an hour later than I'd planned with a NeoGeo Pocket Color and copies of Metal Slug: First Mission, Fatal Fury: First Contact, and Bust-a-Move Pocket. And it was wonderful.
Dreamcast - Capcom Versus SNK by way of King of Fighters: Dream Match 1999: This was sort of an oddball. I noticed the game was deeply discounted on EB Games' website, so I decided to go ahead and order it, knowing that I had every intention of purchasing a Dreamcast later on...specifically when Capcom Versus SNK launched. A week later my apartment's buzzer rings (and by that point I'd already forgotten King of Fighters was on its way) and what's in my hands but a brand new Dreamcast game I can't play. And being the weak willed nerd that I was back then, chose to remedy the situation then and there. Several hours and a few bus transfers later I returned from the mall with a new Dreamcast in tow along with copies of Chu-Chu Rocket, Soul Calibur, and Virtua Fighter 3tb.
PlayStation 2 - Tekken 4: This was yet another arcade obsession come home to roost - literally. For months I had been dropping quarters in a Tekken 4 cabinet at the student union where my then girlfriend worked. And for just as long I'd been saying to myself that once Tekken 4 hits the PlayStation 2 my resolve is going to disappear. Sure enough, one day my broke ass was walking by an EB Games when a Tekken 4 standee caught my eye. I didn't even make it home, I was already on a bus towards my parent's house where I scoured the basement for PlayStation 1 games I felt I could bare to part with (most of my collection was in storage at that point) along with the system itself. I got a PlayStation 2 along with a brand spanking new copy of Tekken 4 (and a few other games) and it was easily the best day of 2002.
Gamecube - Resident Evil (and by the time I got around to actually buying one, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes) - Not much else to say about this one. REmake looked sweet and so did Twin Snakes...and it was January of 2005 before I could actually afford a Gamecube.
PSP - Ridge Racer: A clerk at GameStop let my try out his own unit with a copy of Ridge Racer and I was absolutely stunned. It was the most stunning portable game I'd ever seen (and remains my top "holy fucking shit" moment for handhelds) and it changed my thoughts on buying a PSP from "whenever" to "as soon as fucking possible".
PlayStation 3 - Little Big Planet, Final Fantasy 13, Tekken 6, Metal Gear Solid 4: By this time I was not only a dyed-in-the-wool PlayStation fan, but acutely aware of what was coming out for Sony's new platform. I'd traditionally kept no more than one eye on new hardware announcements until I was close to actually buying the system in question. This time I knew exactly what was announced, how potentially far off it all was, and didn't give two shits because I was determined to play these games.
3DS - Dead or Alive Dimensions: Having never owned an Xbox or 360, my last Dead or Alive experience was with 2 Hardcore on the PlayStation 2. So needless to say I was excited to purchase a new Dead or Alive game for the first time since 2002 (with the added bonus of being a good way to tide myself over until part 5 launched).
Other systems I've owned, but had no specific reason to purchase: Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Sega CD, Lynx, Game Gear, PlayStation, Gameboy Advance, and DS.
System I didn't purchase for a specific reason: Wii...because from the moment it was announced, I somehow knew in my gut that No More Heroes would find its way to the PlayStation 3 - and that would've been my tipping point for picking up a Wii. (And at this point I'll likely just skip it altogether in favor of the Wii-U since I've sworn to not purchase any new hardware until 2014 at the earliest).