Knowing my fondness for retro games, this past Christmas my sister and her husband–total gamers, the both of them–got me a Super Nintendo Classic Edition.
For those who aren’t aware, the Super Nintendo Classic Edition is a cool little device that Nintendo released in 2017 that’s similar to their NES Classic: it’s a hand-held version of their classic early 90s Super Nintendo console pre-loaded with 20 classic games, designed to work on modern TVs, and guaranteed to tickle your nostalgia gland and separate you from your hard-earned money!
So while we were visiting my parents over Christmas, I fired it up and gave a few old games a spin. And my pleasure centers were absolutely engaged. Super Mario World, Super Metroid, F-Zero, Donkey Kong Country, Super Castlevania . . . aw yeah, total classics. And of course, one of my all-time favorites that I haven’t played in easily twenty years, Mega Man X. I loved that game, and was immediately engaged.
And of course, so was my son.
I mean, Mega Man X, like every single game in the Mega Man franchise, has bright and colorful graphics, fantastic music, exciting gameplay, and robots that fight each other, steal each others weapons, and blow stuff up. In this edition, the main character, X, has to fight animal-based robot masters in order to beat their big boss Sigma. It is, in short, tailor-made for a five-year-old.
But the presents a bit of a parental conundrum for me. I grew up with Nintendo, getting a set for Christmas in 1987, when I was not much older than my son. I also played Atari with my maternal grandmother, who is always up on technology, and classic Sierra adventure games with my paternal grandfather on his then state-of-the-art Leading Edge computer (with two external disk drives!). So video games were always a thing with me.
I’ve written fondly about retro games before. The music in those old games was often fantastic and inspiring. And speaking of inspiring, the plots and mechanics of many old video games really stoked my imagination, and continue to be an unlikely source of inspiration. And I know for a fact that I am not alone in this.
But I also reflect on all the hours I spent playing video games as a kid, especially as the console generations marched on and got better and better and more realistic, and the games got longer. I always liked role-playing games, you know, those dorky games where you fight monsters and level up and so on. They always had really fun tactical combat, customization of characters, and a lot of options to just go and explore stuff.
They were fun. They were engrossing. And they often took sixty hours to finish.
And as the games got better and better, they got longer and longer. Continue reading “A Budding Gamer”