Alan Smithee

Ahh…The Good Ol’ Days

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I am the quintessential renaissance gamer, a classic gamer, a modern gamer, a console gamer, and even a PC gamer at times. I’ve been gaming since way back in 1983 when I was only three years old. I got my start on the good ol’ Commodore 64. The first games I can recall playing were Pac-Man and Time Pilot. At three, I wasn’t even able to read much, or really understand much of what was going on, but all I knew is that gaming would forever be my passion.

Since then, a whole whopping 26 years of gaming has come and passed. While the industry has grown exponentially, they tend to forget what the precepts of a good game are: it must be easy enough to play, have ‘decent’ graphics, and have wholly addictive gameplay. In short, we are led to believe that flash rather than substance is what we need in games.


I disagree with that view…but that’s neither here nor there. Instead, let’s go back, way back to my origins of gaming. I’m sure there will be many of you who remember gaming the same way I do.

The first console that I personally owned was the Sega Master System that had Hang-On and Safari Hunt built into it, not a cartridge like Nintendo gave you with the system. I fondly remember playing the crap out of this system, it got to the point were the system would begin to display static on the screen after a few hours due to overheating. I had few games for it but I’d have to say that my favorite was Spy vs Spy, which was quite possibly the first deathmatch type game I can remember playing.

Shortly after the SMS, I got an NES core system for Xmas, it was too bad really, my parent’s had no idea that this came with no games, no zapper, no ROB the Robot, no Powerpad, no nothing!!! Lucky for me, my delinquent brother had stolen a copy of Super Mario Brothers a day or two before Xmas.

The first game I was given (that wasn’t stolen) for my NES was Bionic Commando which kicks so much ass still (go download the remake right now) that it’s hard to state the volume of ass it displaces with its foot.

Being a kid, and not one with much money, I borrowed, traded, and double-traded with friends and somehow managed to play just about every single game that was localized here in the US. My favorites, if I had to pick a few out of the dozens for this system, would have to be Battletoads which I still have yet to beat, Mega Man 2 which remains one of my all-time favorite games, and Super Dodge Ball.

To really get to the bottom of my adoration for the NES, I would have to start another series of post. The NES was THE game system that sustained me for many, many years. It wasn’t until late into the advent of the 16-bit generation that my focus on my NES started to wane. It was at this time that my focus went towards the most excellent gaming platform to ever be, the SNES.

Before I was lucky enough to get a SNES, I got a Turbographix-16!!!

Yeah…moving on…nothing to see here…

When I was finally loved enough by my parents, they got me Super Nintendo for Xmas ’92 with The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and the pack in game Super Mario World.

It was that magical week between Xmas and New Year’s where I spent every available minute of every hour playing on this system as if my life depended on it. See, for me I was lucky enough to have parents who didn’t care how long I gamed or what I did, as long as I kept good grades and stayed out of trouble.

I never even dreamed of getting a Genesis while I had my SNES…I was a complete Nintentard through and through. I attribute this now to me just being an ignorant child and being broke most the time. Now that I’m smarter and can afford games and systems, I’m a much more balanced gamer.

If you were to ask anyone who knows me and was around at that time, they would probably have a hard time recalling me even existing since I was technically non-existent during the life of the SNES. I lived to game, I loved to game, and the minute that my best-friend at the time got a copy of Secret of Mana came out, I was rarely at home.

My fondest memories of the SNES was when you had the best year ever for RPGs Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III coming out only 10 months apart! Once again, if I really had to pick favorites they would have to be Secret of Mana, and Super Metroid.

While I bring up Super Metroid, I have something to say…I busted my ass all summer long mowing yards and being my grandparents’ little bitch until I had enough cash to pick this up at the local Kay-Bee Toys in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

The best part about this hectic time in my life is that my mom worked at a temporary living facility at an undisclosed installation where I went with her to work everyday. In the common building for this facility, there was this ginormous big screen TV where I spent the rest of that summer plodding my way through Super Metroid over and over and over again.

For me, this game is more than just a game; it is a serious touchstone for me and for my gaming generation. Anyone who was around when it came out and spent time playing it knows exactly what I’m talking about.

It’s kind of like Halo for the original Xbox…if you were there, you get it, if not, then you don’t.

Maybe you could attribute this all to me being nostalgic but it’s so much more than that. I still have my NES hooked up to my TV. I play it every once in a while, and I still blow in the slots to make them work and love every minute of it.

For some reason I can find myself playing my Xbox 360 and having a good time, but seem to have more fun playing Blaster Master. It’s not nostalgia, it can’t be that simple. I know that the graphics sucked, I know that the systems are dated, but damnit the gameplay was there and it was SOLID. It had to be; otherwise we would never be where we are today.

Well that’s enough ranting and raving about my memories of old-school gaming. Tomorrow, I’ll continue on to the modern gaming age starting with the N64 up through the Xbox. Stay tuned to MWN for more as I write it.

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