Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Nintendo Nostalgia

We're a multi-platform videogaming household--GameCube, PS2, XBox, etc. Also GameBoy SP and the Nintendo DS. This is the result of (a) having an only child who occasionally needs entertainment and (b) having played videogames (originally in arcades) since I was about 17. For years, the only game at which I could routinely beat my brother (AKA "Pepperbro," for those of you who read my comments) was "Alpine Skier." I could beat anyone at "Alpine Skier." (Naturally, this is a game that hasn't been manufactured for about 20 years, as best as I can tell. I am, of course, thinking of the old "Alpine Skier," not the new one where you actually stand on virtual skis and move your body. I'm still trying to master actual skiing, thank you very much.)

Before The Boy was born, my husband bought me, in succession, an SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System, natch) and a Nintendo 64. The 64 was the true breakthrough system of the modern era. But aside from the superior graphics and faster chip speed, what really made it great were the games, such as "The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time" and "The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask," but most especially "Super Mario 64." (It tells you something that there's a Wikipedia entry on the game. Although maybe it tells you that some people have a lot of free time.)

Anyway, that was the game that really let you see some of the possibility in videogames: Big world, many levels, fun tasks, a charming main character. The problem was, we got it when our son was about 2 (when it came out) and ... we could never finish the frakkin' thing. We were always a few stars short of winning. We finally gave up and waited.

Naturally, what we waited for was for The Boy to get old enough to play the game. And, naturally, he finished it off in short order. Because kids have that dexterity and concentration that adults begin to lose after we start working 8 hours a day and give up all hope of becoming professional gamers.

The reason I bring this up is that my son recently asked Jim to get the N64 out again and hook it to the TV. It was in the car, because for long trips, you can't beat a cartridge-based game connected to a little portable television; the new-generation disk-based games hate the vibrations of the road. But we haven't taken a long trip by car for most of a year, so it was mainly gathering dust. (As an aside, this is our second N64--the special Pikachu/Pokemon edition--because the first was "blowed up real good" as they say in Texas in the same lightning strike that nearly burned our house down right before moving to New England. But that's a story for another day.)

The games don't look as spectacular as the current ones (though they sure stunned us 10 years ago), but the fact is--a good game is a good game. It's the story more than anything. "Mario 64" is still a kick-ass game--still many worlds, fun puzzles, a charming plumber with a hat that lets him fly. It takes me back to the early days of my son's toddlerhood, when I'd play a level or two during the rare moment I had to myself.

Now, the system is his, and The Boy, of course, runs circles around me at "Mario." And "Zelda." And "Mischief Makers." And you name it.

And after all these years, it still makes me happy to believe a plumber can fly.


Anonymous pepperbro said...

still not sure I can justify all those quarters, in retrospect, just to dominate you. their must have been a cheaper way. suggestions?

10:22 AM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

Nah. I think the quarters were it. No way we were going to convince Mom to buy a full-size arcade console for the house, especially one with only a single game.

11:16 AM  

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