Days of Gaming Past: Oh 16-bit ‘Where Art Thou?’

With Christmas charging hard fast, Blogga Comicbookjockey looks back, lovingly, on the days of yore in gaming.

I love nostalgia. There are so many things out there that can make you think of, or feel something you haven’t in years. A chilly winter’s day comes to mind for an example, or maybe a fresh rainfall. Everybody has something that reminds them of a “better time.”

For me, my “triggers” are video games, but not just any. Don’t get me wrong, I love games, and gaming, and my Xbox, and embarrassing people online playing Halo, or Modern Warfare. But my heart belongs with old school: the classics, retro games.
I grew up during the days of the NES, Sega Master System, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and the like. Systems like this were such amazing pieces of machinery when I, along with a lot of you, was kids. My first system was the NES. My mom used to drag me to a laundromat by our apartment when I was 5 that had the a-typical claw machine, a few Atari game cabinets, and Super Mario Bros.
I was so obsessed with that game, I would drop quarters, and play for the entire two or three hour time span we were there.   I was undeterred that for months I was unable to get past world 6-2 (curse you, pits!).  Yes, I remember it: standing in front of that cabinet was a defining moment of my life, even if it has, in reality, just started.  And when I found discovered that there was  a home game system I could play Super Mario Bros. on?  I blew my stack!

I sold my mom and dad on getting it for me for Christmas, by telling them $200  for the system would be cheaper than giving me 3 dollars in quarters once a week when we went to do laundry (Yea, I know the math. The point is I wanted it.)
That was the beginning. A few years later, along came Super Mario Bros. 3, which, of course, is still to this day one of the best selling games of all time. It blew kids and game experts of the time out of the water. There was a magazine called Nintendo Power that every kid with an NES had a subscription to it seemed.  We thought nothing of running up our parents’ phone bills, calling the hotline for tips and tricks in those heady days.  It was a great time to be a kid, and to be into video games.  And, to think there was more to come.   Much more.  It boggles the mind!

By the time Mario 3 came out, we were drooling on ourselves by the release of the Sega Genesis, which was considered the start of the “next generation” of games.  Due to my extremely spoiled nature as a young child, I had a Sega Genesis given to me for Christmas in 1990.  It was bundled with Sonic the Hedgehog. AMAZING.  I couldn’t stop playing it.  The sense of speed in the game, the battles of the spiky blue speedster against the rotund Dr. Robotnik….the ecstasy of having to stay home from school “sick”, only to, with a “heavy heart”, play games all day!
In 1991, The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, arguably one of the greatest systems that were ever released, ignited a brutal battle between Nintendo and Sega.  Both were Japanese companies at their core at the time, yet they also had U.S. extensions:  Nintendo of America and Sega of America.  Do you, like me, recall the commercials they rolled out mocking each other?  The same games being released on both consoles?  That caused madness in the industry, and just as much insanity with people practically mauling each other.  Wild tales swirled about regularly of parents getting into fights (my mom did on 2 separate occasions for games I wanted).

The SNES was the system that put out the legends, and was the beginning for role playing games. The SNES eventually started using “mode 7”, which was the technology to flatten, spin, and make polygons, simulated 3-dimensional scenes, and graphics.  It was revolutionary.  Super Mario World, F-Zero, Pilotwings. To this day, a decent amount of the SNES library can still hold its own today. After that, came the Turbo-Grafix 16, the Sega CD, and attempt to go after the Super Nintendo, as the SNES could produce, maintain, and had a pallet of colors at least double that of the Sega Genesis.
The next generation, came the Sony Playstation. The Nintendo 64, and my personally favorite system ever, the Sega Dreamcast. Then you had another generation, with the original Xbox, and the Playstation 2, and the Nintendo GameCube. And, we all know where we are at now, with the 360, Playstation 3, and the Nintendo Wii.

I love it all, but none of this will ever hold a candle to the excitement, and the better times of when I was younger; not a care in the world, spending time at school with friends talking about games, and sharing, and showing each other how to get past the most impossible parts of games.  It was a world and a culture more so than it is today.  The games today look amazing, and there were  a lot of times where the advances in technology just left us wanting when you go back and play games from 10, 15 years ago. Like I said at the beginning, everyone’s got something they do, or experience that makes them think of, and feel that jump backwards in time, where your stomach floats, and you feel so happy and smile, that you’re almost embarrassed.  This is mine:
My parents yelled at me for being glued to my little world in my room, with all my game systems, for hours on end.  Note:  Don’t chastise your kids for loving video games or anything in general.  Without video games, I would have never had an appreciation or the skill in art that I do, never would have gotten into comic books, science fiction, etc. Video games, no matter what age you are, are the gateway to so much more.
To this day, there are people out there that give games a bad rap, and chastise people for playing them, or buying them for their kids.  It has nothing to do with moral compass, or any of the things you hear from those pissy people trying to make themselves famous, by complaining about something they’ve never even tried. You’re allowed your opinion, just like I am allowed mine. And now, with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says states making laws limiting the age someone can buy a game based on content, there’s going to be more of them out there.

But that should have happened a long time ago. The state, and certainly not a retail store, is there to parent your child. That’s your job. Teach your kids the importance of differentiating fantasy from reality. If they like games, don’t let them miss out on something amazing, because of some violence. It’s a different time, and world to be a kid now, but everyone should have a chance to see if the next disc they put in the tray will be the one they go back to in 15 years for a smile.

By Blogga “Comicbookjockey“, a guy with too many opinions, and too little time. He’s crass and articulate, and enjoys hot sauce, talking about nerdy stuff, and cleaning up after himself. Too see and hear more: The Twitters, The Website,The Blog, The Email


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