Diablo III comes to consoles today, and I'm just as giddy as I was back in March 1998, picking up my copy of Diablo for the original PlayStation — and the additional memory card needed to save the game.
Picking up a new game was a special event for 24-year-old me. There was a ritual to it. I would drive to the mall — in this case the Lenox Mall in Atlanta, Georgia — make my purchase at what I am sure was an Electronics Boutique at the time, and then my new game and I would have dinner.
Diablo was $40, but I spent $60 on the game bundled with a PlayStation memory card. Due to the complexity of the port and all the data it had to keep track of — items, statistics and such — Diablo for the PlayStation required 10 memory blocks to save. Since the standard PlayStation memory card only held 15 blocks and I played a lot of games, I took the plunge.
We ate at Sbarro. I picked at a sauce-drenched piece of stuffed broccoli and spinach pizza as I read through the manual. The new-game smell made the meal so much better.
Diablo for the PlayStation was a big deal. Perhaps not as big a deal as Diablo III for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, but back then we didn't worry about things like DRM as much, and when consoles got a port of a PC game, rest assured it was an inferior version.
That was certainly the case here. The game looked nowhere near as good as it did on PC. The movement wasn't as fluid. My hand ached for a mouse to click for the first hour. Navigating menus with a game controller was odd. Being able to change the game speed was strange.
It was like sitting down with an old friend after years apart and discovering how much they'd changed. At first you're unsettled — something is off. Then memories and mannerisms from past experience ease you into acceptance of this brand new familiar thing.
It was the sounds that did it doe me. The reassuring voice of Deckard Cain. The visceral squelching and crumbling noises as enemies fell. It was't exactly like my PC friend, but what made me love that version was intact.
And hey, two-player local multiplayer from the couch!
Today Diablo III returns to consoles, and from what I've seen it might even be more enjoyable than the PC version. My hands ache for a game controller, and my stomach rumbles for Sbarro. The more things change...