So you bought an NES
Nostalgia’s a strong thing. It can make crappy things seem better and great things ecstatic. So on our weekly path to the past we’re going to look at how buying a childhood console comes a new perspective and brings nostalgia into full effect.
The NES was the ground-breaker, the phenom, the home console that would set the standard for home consoles (unless you remember the Atari 2600). I remember my awesome childhood days playing this classic piece o’ plastic all day long. Now granted I didn’t grow up when the NES was actually current, it was still a memorable part of my childhood. So now as a semi-functional adult, I wanted to return to those days of the past and recapture the feelings of the classic console. Buying a used NES along with four classic games, I set out on a nostalgia-fueled adventure. The only way to experience this greatness is with an old school TV; no flat-screen, we’re looking at one of those big-box beasts from back in the day. Consensus? Console’s only a little yellow, has all the cords, and contains one mini controller. All in all I’m actually giddy to get this journey started.
Game One: Super Mario Brothers 3
A classic by every regard. One of the best video games of all time. One of the greatest 8-bit adventures one can experience. It’s a classic… and it won’t turn on. Actually it will turn on, but it just keeps flashing on and off. Alright, Alright, I expected some technical difficulties. RESET. Nope, now the screen’s just white. I know- blow the cartridge! Joke across the internet, it ought to do the trick. Nope. Nothing. Well, crap. Now for more advanced cleaning methods! This can’t fail. Well, I can see the opening curtain, but then it shuts off again. What the hell am I doing wrong? One game in, the console’s already trolling me. TO THE INTERNET! So one half-assed Google search later and it turns out I’m blowing the wrong thing *snicker*. There’s dust in the console, making it hard for it to connect to the cartridge. So now cleaning that out, let’s see how it goes… IT WORKS.
Alright getting down to business, let’s see how I do. Yep, still holds up. It helps that a lot of modern Mario games haven’t really evolved, and this game is just as enjoyable as the last time I played (which was about a week ago on the virtual console). Still, there’s some unique feeling one gets with the old controller in hand. The jumps are a little different and the movement takes some getting used to, but still it feels natural. Beating one of the Koopalings is still satisfying, looking for secrets is great, and it still has all its charm. I lost a lot of time just getting into the game, already on world three. I’m going to see just how far I can… and it froze. No save state. No save point. Balls. NEXT GAME!
Game Two: Kirby’s Adventure
So I never actually played this game on the NES as a kid, but I couldn’t resist picking it up just to see how it is. First I have to go through the ritual of cleaning the console and cartridge before I can even get to the damn title screen. The game is moving pretty good, has a lot of good parts and… oh my lord, the frame rate has gone Matrix. When there are a lot of enemies on screen the whole thing enters molasses. Frame rate issues aside, this game is still pretty engaging. The screen sort of freaks out at points, but it’s usually on purpose like for Kirby’s “crash” ability, so it sort of adds that kind of “verge of breaking” excitement to playing. These old games have that sort of pull to them; they definitely initiate a lot more immediate interest by the gamer. Not too much story or anything to wade through, for better or worse. And it crashed… aha, but Kirby has save points! I return. By the time the console goes kaboom again, I’m already at the Orange Ocean, meaning I’m half past beating the game. This time the whole screen crashed with sprites all over the friggin’ place, so I think NEXT GAME.
Game Three: Dr. Mario
One of the easiest buys one can make. Simple puzzle game that you can pick up and play at anytime. Turning on the game for the first time and the title screen’s a giant clusterf*ck of in-game properties. Cool. So going through the motions, I got the game working right and got to prescribin’ pills. Damn, this game’s actually pretty addicting *snicker* after awhile. I never played Dr. Mario that much, but I’ve already beaten six levels. Oh crap, it’s getting tougher now. NO! STACK-UP! NO, I DIDN’T MEAN TO DO THAT! DAMMIT! I LOST! (And there it was: the first controller throw of this NES. A lifelong tradition of any gamer, these older consoles knew how we thought. They made these controllers to take a beating and they would. Nowadays if you so much as look at an Xbox controller wrong, the bastard’ll stop working on you. And boom, it hits the ground. Still working though!) Now that that emotional roller-coaster is over, NEXT GAME!
Game Four: Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!
That’s right kids, the real Punch Out!! None of that Mr. Dream bullcrap. We’re talking Mike Tyson here. I couldn’t pass the opportunity to get this one, despite the fact that it cost half as much as the friggin’ NES. So let’s do this. Aaaaaaand nothing. Ugh, this game is notoriously hard to get working (more than the others apparently). I tried everything to get it going, but the furthest I could get was punching Glass Joe one time. Eventually giving up on any logical solution, I got someone to hold the console upright, hoping gravity would help make the cartridge connect and would you look at that! It worked. Now if you’ve never played punch out, it’s all about timing and patience; a game of pure skill. With that said it’s time to fight Tyson. First, I got to get through these amateurs. Tore through Glass Joe. Von Kaiser sucks. Piston Honda is a chump. Don Flamenco? See ya! Not happenin’. King Hippo couldn’t touch me! Great Tiger is just terr… and he destroyed me. Alright, we got a challenge here. Tiger’s damn spinny teleport punch is killing me, but I won’t resort to the internet. There was no internet in NES days. I’m beating him legit, like the good ol’ days! I’ve already lost three times, but I’m getting this tool. AND BOOM! Got ‘em! Good blocks and good timing. He is down for the coun… and the game crashed. F*ck.
Alright, so maybe the NES wasn’t quite as good (or functional) as I remember, but there was some pretty fun things going on here. The games were still just as awesome as I remember and despite the new age of $100 million sky boxes, these games were plenty fun the whole time I played. I think it’s worth revisiting some of these classic consoles to sort of take a step back in gaming. Too often we see things in modern gaming getting bogged down and convoluted. Getting your hands on these old games makes you appreciate where it all came from. There’s an aura of simplicity that you can’t really beat. That is if you can get the thing work.