An Unconventional Reflection of a Retro Gaming Past (A guest post)

This week, please give a big, warm welcome to simpleek and her retro gaming memories!  She wrote a fantastic post that’s sure to warm the cockles (cockles??) of your gaming heart. I remember losing more than a few hours to that Aladdin game. And Mario Kart…it was…well, I just, uh — okay look. I’ve never played…a Mario Kart game. [GASP!] There I said it. You happy now?! Sheesh. Never mind about that — read this post and forget we ever spoke. Join simpleek as she vividly shares several entertaining bits from her video game past. (And be sure to check out her blog!)  I, for one, will never look at chicken nuggets the same way again.

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I consider myself a gamer these days. Back when I was growing up, I didn’t have a gamer bone in my body. Sure, I had a cousin and friends who owned the NES, Sega Genesis, Game Cube, or whatever retro gaming console you can think of. I played a bit of those consoles predominantly at my cousin’s place because he’s a huge gamer. Even then, I hardly held a controller, more content to watch my cousin play.

Now before you start thinking my cousin is a terrible person for being a controller hog and not letting me play, it wasn’t like that at all. On the contrary, I chose not to play most of the time because I was a painfully shy girl growing up. I watched my cousin play games like Mario or Sonic, and I’d be impressed by how he controlled the characters and got them to jump from platform to platform. After seeing that, I just couldn’t bring myself to play and have him watch me. Yes, I was also a very self-conscious girl way back when.

When I hear my cousin and friends talk about their retro gaming memories, or read others blog about them, it makes me a little envious that they have them and I kinda don’t. Not in the most conventional sense anyway.

When I recall my own retro gaming memories, my memories are filled with going over my cousin’s place and watching him play all these games that have set the precedent for future games. I remember how the old consoles looked, and watching my cousin blow on a game cartridge to make it work. I was the spectator and not the participant.

The only time I can say I ever dabbled in these old classic games was when I went to an after school program during my grade school days. They had a SNES system where I was able to play Super Mario World and Aladdin. The hour I got to play these games before I got picked up by my mom was great. I remember immersing myself in these virtual worlds and being in awe of it. Pure euphoria.

Aladdin_Pic_3
It has been an adventure, Aladdin

My favorite thing about playing Aladdin was reliving the Disney film in video game form. Rather than watch Aladdin go on these adventures with his monkey sidekick, Abu, I got to be Aladdin. How exciting was that? At least I thought it was, and Aladdin was one of my favorite Disney movies growing up. I don’t think I knew it at the time, but I experienced a video game’s ability to suck you into the world created just for the player. It’s an invitation to dive in, play, and go on a journey.

Oddly enough, the times I did get to play these games and my disappointment in not ever seeing the end of either game wasn’t enough to beg my parents to get my own system. I was content spending my entire childhood growing up without one. I can hear all the hardcore gamers of the world shaking their heads and saying, “You poor, poor child. You know not what you speak of.” Again, I wasn’t a gamer and blame my parents for not encouraging the world of video games during my childhood.

By becoming a gamer much later in life, I’m playing catch up with a lot of games, both new and old. One weekend, I went on a retro gaming binge by playing the first Mario and Mario Kart 64. The benefits of owning a Wii and having Nintendo’s virtual console store, I’m able to become the participant and not the spectator for once. I get to download all these timeless classics, and find out what I missed out on as a kid. It also helps that I’ve become less self-conscious and hesitant to try something out, at the risk of embarrassing myself or showing how badly I suck at a game.

I’ll admit, I’m terrible at platformer games. When I play some of the Mario games, I have issues with making Mario jump from one high platform to the next. I tend to time my jumps poorly, I accidentally run off the platform before making the jump, or I run right smack into a Goomba when I meant to jump on it. You can see I make stupid mistakes, but I’m no expert at this stuff. I’m trying at least.

Playing the first Mario after watching my cousin and friends play for years, I wanted the chance to actually play it on my own. I know now that the experience of playing the game yourself vs. watching others play is completely different. You experience a range of emotions. It can be the excitement of having completed a level to feeling frustration over making stupid mistakes and having to start a game all over again, praying you don’t make the same ones again in this brand new start over.

NES_Super_Mario_Bros
Damn you, Goombas! Or as a friend liked to call them, “Those damn chicken nuggets!”

The first Mario game also really makes you appreciate the invention of the save/checkpoints. I’ve only gone as far as clearing up to World 2. I tried getting past World 3, but died after wasting my last life. Starting over again from the beginning is a bitch. And those damn Goombas! Why are you always in my way?! Yeah, I had to wave the white flag after not being able to get back to World 3. It just went downhill after I had to start from the beginning. If I was getting along swimmingly when I first started up the game, I just got progressively worse after that.

Mario Kart 64 I thoroughly enjoyed because it’s Mario and you are racing. What’s not to love? The courses are varied and each have their own level of difficulty you have to master. It also brings out my competitive side, especially for someone who isn’t usually a competitive type of person. This game is an exception. I find myself really wanting to win badly in Mario Kart 64. It’s also a bit of a challenge to keep the 1st place spot until the end of each course. Where you are in the race can change at any given moment. Mario Kart 64 really keeps you on your toes, and you have to use whatever means necessary to stay in the Top 3 at the very least.

Mario-Kart-64
Fast & Furious Mario Kart Style

I cleared the 50 cc on bronze. When I ventured to do the 100 cc, I ran into problems with the courses there. Turns became much harder to control and there were more obstacles in your path you had to avoid, aside from the tricks your other racers pulled out of their hats to undermine you. Damn snowmen! Damn turns! Damn Wario! Damn *insert all else here*!

Despite my lack of prowess in playing these classic games, I still had fun. It really makes you appreciate all that came before and what we have now. These games may look outdated, as our technology has become more advanced and sophisticated with the passing of time, but nothing still beats the classics. Without them, we wouldn’t have the games we have now.

Spending an hour or two on these retro games brought back good memories of watching my cousin play these games for the first time and humming along to the very catchy and well-known Mario theme being played in the background as you play the game.

You all may think this is weird, but I enjoyed watching my cousin experience all these games when I went over his house. Like watching a movie, I was at the edge of my seat, wondering if Mario will make the jump or if Mario will defeat Bowser and rescue Princess Peach. It was a story I wanted to know the ending to, even if it was really simple at best.

Now that I’m playing these games on my own, I’m creating my own retro gaming memories right now. At least they are my own experiences and I’m not living them through someone else. As they say, better late than never!

Have any retro games you think I should play? Please let me know. I’m open to trying them.

7 thoughts on “An Unconventional Reflection of a Retro Gaming Past (A guest post)”

  1. I’m in a similar boat as you. My parents were cheap and only got me a few games growing up, so I missed out on most of them. Not to mention I stopped gaming for a couple of years due to frustration. I was not a patient child. ^^;; So I’ve been doing lots of retro binges too. Last one was Legend of Zelda on the NES. I totally recommend that one. It’s aged really well and there is a genuine sense of fun to be had just exploring the world and dungeons. Although I do recommend playing it with a map open on your browser. The overworld can be really maze-like (and the game came with a map originally too). I honestly think the first Super Mario Bros. hasn’t aged all that well. The physics are a bit off compared to future games. Still a fun game, but I think there are definitely some collision detection problems and the jumping isn’t as smooth as future games. Not sure if you’ve already tried it, but I think Yoshi’s Island is probably the best Mario platformer (in my opinion of course~). Also Wario Land III, but I may be a tad biased because I prefer the more puzzle-like approach to platforming in those two than the more reaction-based platforming of SMB1-3 and World. Hope you’ve been doing well though. I’m trying to catch up to all your older posts, so that’s why my reply is so late. ^^;;

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    1. Haha, thanks for playing catch up with all my posts! 🙂 I have a few older games downloaded onto my 3DS, thanks to the Nintendo eShop. I like trying to play these older games, so I can understand the nostalgia most people have for these games when they played them as kids. It also makes you appreciate what came before and what we have now.

      I played a little of Yoshi’s Island and I’ve really enjoyed it! Hopefully I can get my hands on more retro games to add to my gaming memories now.

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  2. Great article! It’s really interesting reading about retro games from the perspective of someone who didn’t play them growing up and it’s good to know that these games are just as fun playing them now. I still fire up my N64 for a game of Mario Kart 64 when I can. There’s something so addictive about it! I’d also definitely agree it’s devilishly hard to get the hang of at times. It just requires a lot of practice, but by the sounds of it, that game’s going to get a lot of playtime from you in the future. 🙂

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    1. Thanks! 🙂 Yeah, I never really had what would be considered the “normal” retro gaming past that almost all other gamers do have. It’s either I knew of the consoles and games growing up or I played a little bit of them but not enough to get too into it.

      And practice I shall with Mario Kart 64! I want to master the 100 cc like you wouldn’t even believe. Also, I want to wipe that smug smirk off Wario’s face. Damn Wario!

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