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Rediscovering my childhood all over again
I can't comprehend owning a NES, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and N64 at the same time.
My childhood mind can't comprehend having a NES, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and N64 at the same time.
They didn't even carry all of those game systems simultaneously at Blockbuster. And now they're all in my living room?
The systems are available for download through the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack, with a handful of games available for each (and more games anticipated). No blowing into the cartridge, no controller cords, no insanely long codes of letters and numbers needed to load your game, no Game Genie (I kind of miss Game Genie).
The systems cover more than a decade’s worth of video games ranging from the 8-bit era to 64-bit — the late 1980s to the early 2000s.
I find myself jumping between the game systems during those restless moments when there's nothing to watch on TV or I want to wind down.
We got NES as kids because of a donkey -- not Donkey Kong, but an actual donkey.
Game systems are expensive, as are the games. And during the late 1980s, money was tight.
Family friends of ours had an NES, and when we went over to their house, I was enthralled watching the older kids play Excite Bike. I had never seen something like this before. You pushed a button on the controller, and the character on the screen followed your direction, riding over a hill or hitting an oil slick or overheating the bike’s engine.
Our friends lived out in the country (being that this was central Pennsylvania), and they had a donkey on their property (again, Pennsylvania), and we ended up riding it, and the donkey went berserk, running down the middle of the road, and our mom pulled us off in time, thankfully, but our friends felt bad about the whole thing, and next thing you know, we had an NES.
Other game systems followed over the years, but for me, nothing beats Nintendo Entertainment System. Giggling dogs and raccoon suits and interconnected blocks represent something more in an 8-bit world.
Dr. Mario for NES is a personal favorite, and it’s one of the games I’ve reacquainted myself with on Switch. As the title suggests, Mario -- of Super Mario fame -- has shifted from plumbing to medicine, and he's clearing the world of viruses with colored medical capsules (maybe best not to worry so much about the plot here). It's a lot like Tetris, in the sense that you need four in a row of any color to make them disappear.
I'll play at Level 20 -- the highest virus level to start the game -- with the speed of high, and you're forced to act immediately because the pills are coming fast, and one in the wrong spot means instant failure. I used to play this and other games, like Tecmo Bowl, as a kid, and the games take me back to simpler times.
People think the original Tecmo Bowl is all about Bo Jackson, and it is -- he was dominant, as he was in Super Tecmo Bowl. But the most important player in the game, in my opinion, is actually Cap Boso, the Bears' tight end, because you can complete passes to him at will, even if the defense picks your play. On Pass 2 (offense and defense choose between four plays) even when Boso is covered, gravitational pull takes the defender just far enough away to complete the slant pattern. And it's good for 7-8 yards every play, coupled with Jim McMahon's passing and Walter Payton running, and Willie Gault to catch the long pass, and the vaunted Bears defense shutting down offenses.
Where replaying NES games allows me to walk down memory lane, playing games on the other systems helps me catch up on the things I missed -- the systems I might have played at so-and-so's house, but didn't have access to myself.
There are good games and bad games and weird games.
Jelly Boy for Super Nintendo, which was never widely released, features a pink blobby character that punches things with its stomach, and can use power-ups to turn into objects like a skateboard or hammer. It's not Mario, or even Kirby, but it's a little piece of 1990s fun.
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine is a version of the puzzle game Puyo Puyo centered around the bad guy from the Sonic games -- he's kidnapped a bunch of bean-like characters and turned them into a robot army, and you need to defeat a range of opponents (including a monkey, a dynamite plunger, and a pig on wheels) to foil his plot.
WinBack: Covert Operations for N64 isn't inherently bad as a third-person shooter, but there's a lot of ducking behind boxes and shooting bad guys, and not so much strategy, and it just makes me long for GoldenEye 007.
Mario Tennis is fun. There's something neat about seeing Wario -- Mario's evil enemy -- smashing the ball in an opponent's face.
And Mario Kart is magic. Mario Kart is always magic. That game will never get old, no matter how old I am.