Days on Dial-up

In the beginning there was only TV. And it was local cable TV in the province. Nothing fancy yet. We were slaves to the time slots. Weekday afternoons had anime, and for a time anime was even on prime time nights. Weekend morning cartoons too. I remember distinctly waking up at maybe 5AM on Sundays to watch different seasons of Transformers or Dino-Riders on one of those channels.

During summer between school years we would go on trips to Manila – we had relatives in multiple cities that we could travel between. Trips to the malls were memorable because I would have an awesome new toy every time like a GameBoy and cartridge. TV’s here were great because they had the cool channels like Cartoon Network and Disney. It was one of the few times I could watch Art Attack.

School was the first place I had access to the Internet. We collectively would skip work on our Computer classes to all go online and play the Miniclip games in multiplayer. Everyone did that for years. It was like free period. There was that time when Ragnarok became the fad. Then the MMORPG boom happened. Kids were playing all of these games. But not me. I enjoyed reading all about them in the magazines like K-Zone.

The PC games I grew up with were the small ones from Popcap or Reflexive. They were actually ‘office games’ played at my parents’ workplace. Arcade-y score-attack games influenced me a lot. We had a ‘supplier’ of some sort that had multiple of these burned on blank CD’s.

I don’t recall exactly how we got a dial-up connection – but I still remember what it was like. That iconic dial-up handshake tone. Begging parents to swap the phone line. The almost hour-long loading times just to play Flash games on portal sites. What I mostly used it for was GameFAQS. Text was quick and easy. Days spent scrolling through guides for Pokemon, Zelda, Megaman Battle Network. After that I found out you could ‘download’ these GBC/A games and play on the PC. Emulation. That changed everything. But I still had to wait. On 256kbps dial-up, my 16MB ROM of Kingdom Hearts took an overnight download – that I had to explain why. I finished Final Fantasy Tactics Advance this way. Before I did it all over again when I got my GBA. It’s just that good of a game.

Finally getting broadband internet was an event. Literally because we got it when I was getting back from a school trip or competition. It felt like a nice reward. Only about 3Mbps but I took what we had. What I found myself streaming were reviews from ThatGuyWithTheGlasses. Their eloquence and styles were good influences for writing and critique. Having the separate connection meant staying online for hours. And that began the Internet habits. No streaming videos because the connection was still too slow for that and the computer was in the middle of the living room. I was into forums. A lot of them. I delved into hobbies. Learned programming and graphic art. Every night after dinner, I was online. Then most of the weekend. The stories of my exploits on those can fill an entire blog post. So those are for next time.

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