The Time I Played Video Games

So I have a confession to make. I am a video game nerd.

Now, I know people who have it worse than me. Way worse. But I spent a good portion of my formative years playing video games. My family’s first system was the Atari 2600, whose polished wood veneer hearkened back to the system’s origins in the 1970s. We children hoarded cartridges like squirrels preparing for winter, though my hand-eye coordination at that age meant that my character in Pitfall! fell to his death every single damn time. Pixellated crocodiles and scorpions were poised to devour his corpse, and when I was at the controls, they ate well indeed.

I later graduated to the NES in 1985, where I continued to fail with alarming regularity. We were such early adopters that our system didn’t even come with Duck Hunt, and instead was packaged only with Super Mario Bros. I was miserable at classics like the aforementioned Mario Bros. (including 2 & 3), Punch-Out!!, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Mega Man. But I was surprisingly decent at Balloon Fight, Bubble Bobble, Dr. Mario, Donkey Kong, and Donkey Kong Jr. I think I was just too young for most of the other games. To give you an idea of my age, one of my favorite games on the NES was Sesame Street A-B-C & 1-2-3, which I remember being shockingly difficult at the time. Later, I eventually was able to play Tiny Toon Adventures and DuckTales over and over again, but I also rented terrible titles from Blockbuster like Mario Is Missing. Even though I played that awful game only once back in 1993 at age 10, I still remember how crappy it was.

But my older sister was a whiz at the NES, and I would spend hours watching her play since I couldn’t play myself without instantly dying. How did she do it? We also got a single Game Boy, which caused much strife between us siblings. The battery life was abysmal, and the graphics were only black and white, but that thing made car trips infinitely more bearable.

We purchased a SNES in 1991, which I proceeded to dominate. I’d beg my parents to rent me new games from Blockbuster every week, and I eventually hit my video game stride. I fondly remember games like ClayFighter, The Lion King, EarthBound (still one of my faves), The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (ditto), Mario Paint (a console game that bizarrely came with a mouse), Pilotwings, Secret of Mana (THE BEST), SimAnt (yeah, I was into role-playing as an insect), Star Fox (fuck you, Slippy), Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, Yoshi’s Island, Super Mario RPG, Donkey Kong Country, Super Metroid, and Earthworm Jim (I loved this so much I even submitted fan art to Nintendo Power magazine. Yes, my sister had a subscription.). I remember playing stinkers like Bass Masters Classic (UGH, what was I thinking?!), Cool Spot, The Great Waldo Search, and E.V.O.: Search for Eden (an admittedly terrible game that I nonetheless loved so much that I bought it with my allowance). I was never really into sports or fighting games, mostly because none of my friends played video games. What fun are those games against a computer?

My brother meanwhile had bought a Sega Genesis, and I recall playing Ecco the Dolphin on his system and thinking it was the stupidest game I had ever seen. He would go on to buy the PlayStation, while my sister and I stayed loyal to Nintendo and bought an N64. I plowed through Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Mario Kart 64, Pilotwings 64, Star Fox 64 (Slippy, damn you!), and Super Mario 64.

After this era, I mostly stopped playing video games, only picking up them up again after becoming addicted to rhythm games like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero. Nowadays, I have a Wii, Nintendo DS, and an Xbox 360. I still play Zelda, Metroid, and Super Mario Bros. on the Wii, and Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption on the Xbox. I’ve shouted at a Nintendog on the DS (not my proudest moment), enjoyed the writing of the Phoenix Wright series, and even tried Pokemon briefly before realizing it was just too damn time-consuming.

Well, now that I’ve thoroughly embarrassed myself, what are some of your favorite games from back in the day? Make me feel less alone as a girl gamer – please?

  1. calger459
    June 13, 2012 at 10:25 am

    You know what’s kind of sad, that as much as you believed I was a whiz at video games (and thank you for saying that, it made me feel good 😉 I actually really suck. Ben is so far superior to me it’s pitiful. We played Super Mario Bros. Wii together (that game is so awesome!) and at the end he had 30 continues to my embarrassing 45. I die. A LOT. He whips through games like Arkham City and Portal 2 in mere hours. It would take me months. I’m still working on Skyward Sword, Twilight Princess, Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid Prime 3 and a few others, and it’s going take me YEARS at this rate. But that’s okay, I still love to play 🙂 Maybe someday I’ll graduate to XBox from Nintendo, especially since the Wii U looks lame 😛

  2. June 13, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I always thought you were pretty good, or at least more coordinated than me! You were always better at Metroid, and don’t worry, I’m still working through Skyward Sword as well. I haven’t really looked into the Wii U yet – is it that bad?

  3. calger459
    June 15, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Well the Wii U may not be bad if you don’t already own a Wii, but apparently it’s going to be $300 and the new controller just feels very gimmicky to me. Overall the Xbox and PS3 seem to be the superior machines in terms of specs. It’ll be interesting to see how well it does when it actually launches. I mean I really want to play an HD Zelda or Metroid, that would be amazing!! But I don’t know if it’s worth the cost of this particular console. It took me a few years to get a Wii, and by then there were plenty of good games and they’d made some improvements with the console and wiimotes. I might end up doing the same for Wii U – wait awhile until the bugs are worked out and there are some great games to play. We’ll see!

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