Friday, December 18, 2009

Mario and Me

This week I got a Nintendo Wii and I’m every bit as excited as my fiancé is nervous that we’ll never have another conversation. It’s the fourth video game system I’ve owned, the first one I've had when it was first out and brand spanking new. In the past when I've gotten a system, the newer upgrade had already come out - always one step behind. But it’s the system I was never allowed to have that will always carry the fondest memories to me.

My parents never got me a Nintendo when I was a kid – I guess I would have been angrier about not having one if it weren’t for the fact that nearly every one of my friends from school and all of the kids in my neighborhood had them. If I was really jonesing for some Contra, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Ducktales (my favorite game at the time), my fix was never so far away. Not having the system myself was never a back and forth struggle with the parents, nor did it become a large argument, it just was what it was. It might have had something to do with us owning two pinball machines. We also had an old Atari and my Dad often had new computer games for us to play. A four-colored computer version of The Price is Right could really incite the Lurie children’s competitive nature.

At my 8th birthday party, my secret love of Nintendo came to the forefront when I had friends come over to watch the Fred Savage movie The Wizard. A very odd choice for someone who didn’t even own the video game system the movie was shamelessly promoting. The movie was a glorified 100 minute commercial for Super Mario Bros. 3 – a new game that single handedly increased my number of play dates during the early 1990’s.

A few years later, something big happened. At an afternoon screening of Batman Returns at the North Haven Showcase Cinemas, I noticed a bunch of teenagers crowded around one of the arcade machines. As I inched closer, I saw the most violent fighting game I had ever laid eyes on - Mortal Kombat. In the days before the Internet, you heard about things from your friends at school. By this time, most of my friends had upgraded to the newest video game console, Super Nintendo (SNES). Not only had they already heard about this fighting game, but according to their subscriptions to Nintendo Power Magazine Mortal Kombat would be available on the SNES in the not too distant future. That settled it – I was shut out of the original Nintendo, but I would not be denied this time around.

Through some miraculous arrangement between my parents, Grandmother and Caldor’s Senior Citizen discounted Wednesdays, I got the Super Nintendo. I got it on a random day in the summer, not on a birthday or even Hanukkah. It came with a game called Mario All-Stars, which contained all three of the original Nintendo Mario games. As far as I was concerned, I was even with all of my friends. The following birthday I received Mortal Kombat II, the highly anticipated sequel to the arcade game I saw. This was a video game that was responsible for creating the video game rating system due to excess gore and violence. Unlike its precursor, Nintendo did not censor the blood in this game. My game collection began to pile up, I got a subscription to Nintendo Power and some extra controllers – I had arrived.

Though I always considered myself a Nintendo kid, when my uncle took a job at a video game company and offered me a free Playstation, I wasn’t going to turn it down. The console had been out for a few years, but it still seemed pretty revolutionary. It came with a bunch of games his company designed – most of them were fun, but a few of them were heavy role playing games that were too clunky for my liking. While I did appreciate the detail, especially with the wrestling games, I always had my SNES plugged in for the sheer fun of its game play.

When I moved to Los Angeles, I took Super Nintendo, not my Playstation, and continued to add to my collection through used game stores and e-bay. Later on, during the height of the Guitar Hero craze I did upgrade to a used Playstation 2 via craigslist and bought the guitar at a charity auction. Now, after about a year of feeling strange that my parents had a Wii and I didn’t, I’ve caught to the in crowd once again.

The first thing I’m going to do is download the original Nintendo version of Ducktales.

1 comment:

dlevy said...

I still have Ducktales and my original NES if you'd ever like to come over for a playdate.

Also, does this mean I should bring over some Wii games tonight?