Previously on My Gaming History…
I don’t remember when I actually received my Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas. I mean, I know I got one for Christmas, I just don’t remember what year it was. I’m pretty sure it was somewhere between the releases of Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3. With the second installment being released in 1988 and the third hitting the stores in 1990, I think a safe bet is Christmas of ’88.
I had already had plenty of exposure to the NES, though. My cousin, Landon, had one for at least a couple of years before I got mine. So I got plenty of experience playing the original Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. My cousin and I were both pretty good at Duck Hunt, not only playing the duck levels, but the skeet shooting stages, too.
Landon also had R.O.B., the robot accessory that may have been useful with a total of two games released for the NES. One of those compatible games was Gyromite. I have no clue how anyone used that stupid robot to play that game because it took forever to convince the robot to follow instructions. Instead, Landon and I would just take turns in the role of R.O.B., controlling the red and blue doors (?) so the playable character could get through each stage. His sister, Lindsay, told us we were cheating by not using the robot. And, yeah, I’m good with that.
When it was my turn to have a Nintendo of my very own, I received the Power Pad version of the console which came with the standard Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt, but also contained World Class Track Meet, which was compatible with the Power Pad. This was an early attempt by Nintendo to get game-playing kids to exercise. They would kick it up a notch in a couple of decades when the Wii came out, but we’ll get to that.
The idea with the Power Pad was that you would control a track and field athlete on the screen by running in place on the pad. And the game wasn’t too bad. It was kinda fun to do the one player mode where you would race against the computer. Each race got increasingly more difficult, of course. You’d start off racing against “Turtle” and work your way up to “Cheetah.” Now, I think there’s an argument to be made that even Usain Bolt could not have beaten “Cheetah.” So what my friends and I did was get down on the floor and use our fists to run faster than the computer. My mother told us we were cheating by not actually running the race. And, yeah, I’m good with that.
Now that my cousin and I both had an NES, we had the ability to trade games. Sure, there were a few games that were important enough that both of us just had to have them (I’m looking at you Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game). But for the most part, we had different collections. Since he had been working on his cartridge supply longer than I had, he had lots of classics: Contra, Double Dragon, Tetris, and the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He also had a video game adaptation of The Karate Kid, which I always thought was awesome… but I’ve since heard it has a less than stellar reputation among gamers.
The first game I remember buying for myself was Metroid. I used Christmas money at Toys ‘R’ Us the day after Christmas. I played the crap out of that game. And this was before the internet, so I had to go through and find all the secrets on my own. I had to figure out where to find the boss fights against Kraid and Ridley. I had to figure out how to kill the Metroids before finally reaching the Mother Brain all on my own.
Maybe not all on my own. Because I also got a subscription to Nintendo Power magazine. This was the greatest magazine in history. It had tips and tricks and sneak peeks at upcoming games. I’m pretty sure this is where I got the password for Metroid that allowed the player to start somewhere near the end of the game without the main character’s suit of armor. If you didn’t realize that Samus Aran was a girl before you beat the game, you knew it with the Justin Bailey passcode.
I don’t remember many of the other games I owned in my personal collection, aside from The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and, eventually, Super Mario Bros. 3. I know I played tons of different games, but purchasing games wasn’t always the most feasible option for a kid who had yet to figure out how to earn a steady income. Thankfully, I had a dad who liked to let us rent movies and games on most weekends. While he would find a good movie or two for us to watch, I headed straight to the video game aisle.
Sidebar: Did you ever see the movie, The Wizard? It’s got Fred Savage, Christian Slater, and Beau Bridges and is basically a 90 minute commercial for Nintendo. But the big thing was that it introduced American audiences to the long-awaited third Super Mario game. Not long after seeing the movie, the game was released in North America. As I said above, I eventually owned the game. But before that, I had to settle for renting.
But, being Super Mario Bros. 3, it was super popular and, therefore, difficult to find at the Blockbuster… or any other video store, for that matter. I remember one Friday afternoon I was hanging out in my room, disappointed that I still had not had a chance to play SMB3 for myself yet. Then my mom got home from work and surprised me with a rented copy of the game. I think she had called ahead to see if they had the game available before she left work and decided to stop and get it for me to try out. I didn’t leave my room for 2.5 days.
I never got a chance to try out the other big product featured in The Wizard, the Power Glove. But I’m okay with that. From what I’ve heard, the thing was super glitchy and never really worked right.
Some other favorites that I may or may not have owned (I really can’t remember) include but are not limited to: Double Dragon II, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Mighty Bomb Jack, Excitebike, and the Donkey Kong trilogy. Yeah, Donkey Kong had a trilogy before Donkey Kong Country.
Did you ever play the classic NES? If so, what are some of your favorite games and/or memories? Let me know down in the comments!