Tuesday, October 25, 2011

1988 Was a Very Good Year

Heeding a suggestion made by the CFO here at Backward Compatible (better known as my wife), I'm using this week to introduce myself to all of you nice enough to read my blog. For others, this series of posts will serve as a great way to put a face on that hate mail you've been sending me.

Me eating another Odyssey II. I can't help it; those things are delicious
I grew up as a child of the '80s in the suburbs of picturesque Cleveland, Ohio with my two older brothers. Naturally, this means that I wasted formative years in front of the TV watching Saturday morning cartoons and playing Nintendo. Remember when Saturday morning cartoons were awesome?

My first experience with video games stems back to when I was just a wee nerdling, when I famously chewed through the power cord of my family's Magnavox Odyssey II like some sort of rodent. And by the fact that I'm alive to type this, we can only assume it wasn't plugged in. Or maybe it was--that could explain my terrible memory.

Years later, (say 1988?) I got my first taste of Nintendo at a friend's house. His name was Dino Mayo and his parents hated each other. And while that's a pretty crappy situation to grow up in, you can't deny the positive effect marital turbulence can have on an only child's toy chest: not only did Dino have a complete Laser Tag set (helmets and all), but he also had an NES in his room.  

I distinctly remember spending hours locked away in his poorly lit bedroom playing Super Mario Brothers, Adventures of Bayou Billy, and T&C Surf Designs on a 13" television. This was incredible for a first grader back in 1988. Today, that'd be pretty sad.

Soon after, it occurred to me that every kid in the neighborhood had a Nintendo except for me. Aaron Husted had one, Arnold and Jimmy had one, Nick Cortis across the street played his on a ridiculous movie projector, and hell, the kid down the street with the awesome tree house had three Nintendos. Three!

My original copy of California Games.
You're talking to the footbag champ of 1990.
At some point, I think my parents noticed that I'd unabashedly ride my bike from one house to the next playing whenever and wherever I could. Tetris, Classic Concentration, Mario 2, TMNT--for a kid without a Nintendo, I was playing a heck of a lot of it!

Most likely afraid of an impending abduction, an NES Action Set of my own found its way under the tree that Christmas, complete with Mario 2 and California Games (which I still have). And in a Nintendo 64 kid moment of triumph, I pulled the console from the box, raised it above my head, and proclaimed "Say hello to Mr. Nintendo!" It's unclear whether I was talking about the console or myself, but hey, I was seven--it sounded good at the time.

Now that I think about it, I wish people would call me "Mr. Nintendo."

So that's my story. What's yours? I'd love to hear your about your earliest gaming memories. Leave a comment below!


  1. This post got me hard...

    ...hard, as in the emotional impact of your childhood had upon my own sorry little memories of the teenage years. i used to get seasick playing endless hours of mortal combat on genesis on my friend's waterbed, and smoking cigarettes we made of paper and paint.

  2. My first memory is of the Atari, cause I'm old. When I'd stay home sick from school I'd play Pac Man, Donkey Kong, and Pitfall all...day...long. It was the only time I'd get to play because Dad wouldn't share and he was really good at River Raiders.

    Then, when everyone was getting a brand new NES for Christmas, I wasn't. But my best friends did. They were twins who lived three houses down the street. We'd take turns playing, wishing there were three-person games. We'd play all weekend, as many weekends as we could get away with it. We beat Contra and all of the Mario Bros, and others I can't remember because they're not Contra or Mario.

    Then I finally got my own dang NES and it was awesome, except I had to share with Dad. Until I beat him at Tetris for the umpteenth time and he declared he was done with that shit. So it moved to my room and I'd sneak playing video games all night, mashing those buttons as quietly as possible. I also spent hours in my room with my boyfriend, beating him.......................at Legends of the Diamond, Arch Rivals, Heavy Shreddin, and others. Lucky guy.

    And yeah, I perfected the blow and wiggle to get those games to work. You know what I'm talkin about.