Rants & Essays

Gadabout Gamers: NEStalgia

Gadabout GamersFor this inaugural edition of Gadabout Gamers, I chose the theme of NEStalgia as a reaction to all the recent doomsaying for Nintendo’s future in the wake of the Wii U’s continuing disappointing sales. For many of us, the NES or SNES was our first console and is arguably the machine that really ushered in “The Gaming Generation,” in a way that the arcade era had failed to.

However, while I’m aware of the place of the NES in the history of gaming, I never personally experienced much of that history. Although we finally got an NES in the late 80’s, we never had that many games for it. We’d rent stuff from time to time, but none of us were dedicated enough to finish them in the three meager days we could keep the cartridge for. Because of this, the games that we did play obsessively, like Bubble Bobble and Doctor Mario, are most etched in my mind. Having to share the console with a brother and a sister, games that offered a multiplayer option were favoured.

We couldn’t afford to buy every console that came out, and by the time my brother got an N64 I’d moved on to “grown up” things like boys and shopping. While I did maintain an interest in the medium, it never really became a part of my life. That is, until I moved to Montreal and ended up working in the industry.

Which is where I met Rick. Rick’s history with gaming and the NES specifically, was very different to mine. He grew up gaming. He’d picked out our wedding march at age of fourteen after playing FFVI. He’d been gaming his whole life and video games were a part of his life. And so I’d like to share my favourite NEStalgia story, which actually doesn’t even belong to me. It belongs to Rick’s parents.

Rick’s father worked in computers in the 70’s and 80’s and was very into early PC gaming. His mother, not so much. So, when they finally scraped together enough money to buy their sons an NES for Christmas, Rick’s father couldn’t resist giving The Legend of Zelda a try. Every evening after Rick and his brother went to bed, his mother and father would carefully unpackage the console, hook it up to the TV and make as much progress as they could before packing everything back up before the boys woke up for school.

Rick’s mom would help out by mapping out the location of every single item they’d need in Hyrule. It was all laid out in pencil on graph paper taped together to better chronicle their progress. They still have the maps she drew stashed somewhere in the basement.

As Christmas Day drew closer, she even played the game on her own to make sure Link had what he needed for his clandestine adventures that evening. As it turns out they did manage to finish the game before Christmas Day and neither Rick nor his brother were any wiser.

I really hope you enjoyed this month’s prompt and please don’t forgot to add your post to the Link Up using the widget below:

Next month’s prompt is: I Am/Not My Avatar

Again, this can take any shape you’d like. Pro or con. Essay or art. Take the theme and make it your own.

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  • Reply
    Jane Y.
    February 24, 2014 at 11:40 am

    i have so many memories of playing nintendo with my brother. i have to gather my thoughts and write it up and participate! does the link up close soon or will it be open throughout the month? thanks for creating this space for folks to come together!

    • Reply
      February 24, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      Yes! I will keep the Link Up open all month so don’t feel too, too rushed about participating.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    That is an adorable story!! I’ve read about people drawing their own maps before and for some reason it makes me super happy. It seems like such a bonding experience for the people involved, and I can only imagine the sense of pride and accomplishment that would come with it!

    Thanks for adding my article already 😀

  • Reply
    February 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Awww what a really cute story! I also have really fond memories of The Legend of Zelda from my youth. It really shaped my views on heroic acts and bravery and that sticks with me to this day.

    My parents were poor when I was really young, but to shield me from it, they always made sure I had the latest console, even if we couldn’t afford very many games for it. One of my very first memories is playing the Ducktales video game– specifically the Himalayas level!

    Elyse @ Cuddly as a Cactus

    • Reply
      February 24, 2014 at 9:25 pm

      Ducktales! We did manage to rent that one and I LOVED IT. It totally makes sense that they remade it. Such a classic.

  • Reply
    Lady Geek Out
    February 24, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Haha, what an adorable story! I was a big young when my brothers had their NES and I don’t think I bought my own console until university (Xbox 360). But I have fond memories of playing Duck Hunter when I was about 6!

    I also added my link to the linky!

    • Reply
      February 24, 2014 at 9:26 pm

      I love your cross stitch NES! Thanks for adding the link!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2014 at 6:14 am

    he he he, that is the best story ever! I have lots of nostalgia tied to Nintendo as that was the system we grew up on – it always makes me smile to hear sweet Nintendo related stories 🙂

  • Reply
    February 28, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Great story. Such dedication from his mom. If you guys ever come across the maps, you HAVE to post them 🙂

    • Reply
      February 28, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      I’m gonna look for them next time we’re over.

  • Reply
    Open Thread: Childhood Console Wars | Mama Needs Mana
    March 15, 2014 at 12:52 am

    […] on my Facebook and Twitter pages a post by Gamer Wife about her Gadabout Gamers blog carnival. The theme for February was NEStalgia, and while I would have loved to participate, there was a slight issue. I never owned a […]

  • Reply
    Anastasia Catris
    May 26, 2014 at 6:43 am

    (Showing my age here) My first Nintendo console was the N64 and I remember that it was the first console I was completely addicted to! My dad had a Sega Megadrive when I was smaller, so I was definitely a Sega baby, but Nintendo was my childhood.

    It is a shame to hear about the WiiU sales, but one of the main issues with Nintendo is that they don’t bring in cross-platform games very often (xbox and Playstation have their exclusives, but so many of their titles are also available on both and the PC). Nintendo have tried it with a few games (such as Ghostbusters), but due to their poorer graphics, console gamers seem to look past them. Consequently they stick to their own material (Zelda, Mario, Kirby etc) and while these have huge fan followings, it doesn’t really allow for new fans.

    I personally LOVE Nintendo. I’m a huge Pokemon nerd and will continue to buy Zelda and Pokemon titles as long as Nintendo are creating them. But I just wish we could see them breaking out of the box as far as game content goes every so often 🙂

    • Reply
      May 26, 2014 at 11:27 am

      I’m currently listening to the audio book version of Console Wars, which gives an incredible look behind the scenes of the Genesis/SNES era, finishing with the N64 and the first Playstaton. I’m surprised that Nintendo hasn’t been even more aggressive with their nostalgia properties, like just making the entire catalog available to stream or something. But yeah, their crazy strict (in my experience, sometimes completely arbitrary) quality control has definitely made it harder for 3rd parties and put too much pressure on Nintendo proper to produce games, meaning they usually just recycle what they’ve already done.

  • Reply
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    Friday I'm In Love #73 - Gamerwife
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