I’ve been playing video games for over twenty years now. It all started when I was six years old and I received my first video game system, the Super Nintendo. Christmas approached slowly that year and like all kids that age I was excited for all the presents, cookies, and holiday parties. When the big day came, I was ecstatic to see all of the presents around the tree. I don’t remember what I unwrapped that year but that’s because nothing compared to my final gift. I thought I had unwrapped all of the presents but my parents had one last surprise for me. Instead of giving it to me, we played a game of hot and cold for me to find out where it was in our house. My parents hid it really well for a kid my age. I must have searched in every room in the house before I found it in the basement behind our water heater. What stood before me was a large box in red wrapping paper that was taller than me. This was no ordinary present. After all, kid logic dictates that the larger the box the better the present. Once you also add in that this was one present saved for last by hiding it so it must be good. A year later this kid logic would be used against me years later when the last hidden present I received was a pair of tighty-whities.
This “bigger is better” type of thinking continued to follow kids throughout elementary school. We were mesmerized by commercials that advertised bits. 8 bits. 16 bits. 32 bits. A whopping 64bits! We didn’t know what a bit was but we just assumed that it meant more power, better graphics, and made you cooler by association. I assume the same thought process exists on the playgrounds today except it’s more focused on which console is better.
Opening the Big Present
Ripping open the wrapping paper the words Super Nintendo sprawled across the box. I didn’t know what it was but that it was a big toy that connected to the television. Looking back at the gift, this wasn’t just a gift for me but for my dad as well. While the system came with Super Mario World, my dad also bought himself a golf game, bowling game, and soon the first Madden game ever released. I wasn’t really into sports as a kid, but I still have great memories playing those games with him. From finding out how to bowl a perfect game, to exploiting a bug in Madden that results in a touchdown every time. I believe we scored over 100 points in one game. Even the first time we beat Bowser together, I was wearing a “lucky” shirt that we won from a movie theater. We’d find new ways to play single player games like the helicopter game in Pilotwings in which he’d fly and I’d shoot. All of these were fond memories I had growing up and one day I hope to share them with my future children.
First Mario Now Sonic
The first time I played Super Mario World I was hooked. Being able to control a character with a simple button push was amazing for little ol’ me. I had to play more games, but some of them didn’t come out on Super Nintendo. I saved up money for a Sega Genesis because I wanted to find out what Genesis did that Nintendon’t…. And games like Sonic, Altered Beast, and Streets of Rage were some of the games I could only play at a friend’s house. I ended up saving money from any non-normal chores and birthday money I could get my hands on. When I finally had enough money to purchase one (for about $129 at the time) we went to Toys R’Us to pick one up. My dad had a surprise for me though. He was going to chip in the rest of the money and so we could get a Sega CDX. If you don’t know what the Sega CDX is, it’s the smaller version of the genesis with an attached Sega CD. Just like the Super Nintendo, he purchased Joe Montana Football and Links golf for himself. Looking back I also believe he saw that the system could play music CDs. It was a major selling feature for him as he had a nice surround sound system in our family room.
I had a lot of fun playing the seven games that came with the system. That’s right, seven games included with the system. That’s unheard of by today’s standards. I still consider Sonic CD to be the best Sonic game due to the music. Also included was Ecco the Dolphin, and a 5 in 1 game disc with such Sega classics as Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Columns, Revenge of Shinobi, and Super Monaco GP. That’s a lot of entertainment for kid at my age! This compilation disc started my love for different genres. Just like Super Mario World started my love for 2D platformers, Streets of Rage started my love for beat em’ up games.
Video Game Collecting Habits
Growing up and going to school I followed the latest systems but still had a fondness for retro games. I began playing and collecting more. This was back in the early 2000s when NES and SNES games were really cheap compared to today’s standards. I didn’t have much knowledge but treated the games I bought like any trip to the video rental store. Does the cover look interesting? Have I heard anything interesting about this game? Yeah, I probably missed out on picking up some rare games at the time but that wasn’t the point. It was about playing these games and having fun with friends. With that said there weren’t a couple of games I regret not picking up. There was a time when I found Mega Man X2 for $25 and I didn’t have the cash for it at the time. When I bought it recently off of eBay I paid around $75. Back in 2004, I saw Earthbound a couple times for $50 but I always thought that it cost too much money. There was always hindsight but at the same time I did get a couple of rare games cheap just because I liked the cover or arcade version of it. Because of this, one of the most expensive games I own is Panic Restaurant and I picked that up for $10 at a Gamestop. I still have no idea why it’s worth so much today.
Video Game Entertainers and the Future
I feel slightly old when I say the Youtubers I grew up on and still watch are the AVGN and Pat the NES Punk. Let’s Play videos like Game Grumps didn’t exist, but that’s the great thing about this hobby. It has taken off in a lot of different ways that no one expected and a lot of the older gamers are sharing their knowledge with the younger generation to preserve the history of this art form. I love reading posts about younger gamers are collecting or looking at this hobby through historic lenses. Because of all this, part of what I want to accomplish by writing these blogs or making videos is to share information over the hobby I grew up with and still love. With that, please stick around and enjoy these blogs and share some of your gaming memories with me.