One Nintendo Fan’s Non-Nintendo Gaming Experience
Editor’s Note: This is a by-request special feature. For this edition, I am writing in response to Zack Smith, who requested that I write “something not related to Nintendo.” Touché, Mr. Smith, esteemed 1 More Castle columnist of the great Completist series. Here you go.
To be clear: My online persona goes by the name Nintendo Legend. That is my branding, that is the search term in Google that will lead you to my NES-review blog, and that is the title I aspire to deserve someday. I am a fan of the Nintendo company, even if they make some wow-seriously-what-were-you-thinking sorts of decisions from time to time.
My familiarity with their products runs the gamut of every console from the NES to the Wii, and includes a couple Game Boy portable iterations as well. I make it fairly clear that Nintendo is my “specialty,” and has comprised the bulk of my digital entertainment familiarity.
So, really, when someone says that they want me to write about something unrelated to Nintendo gaming, they are saying, “Look, Eric, we get it: You really like Nintendo. Good for you. Now please, please try to share your thoughts on something different for a change. Have you ever even played anything else in your life?”
Yes, yes I have.
Ah, the Atari! I have a personal attachment to that original VCS console. It was actually the first home gaming machine I had exposure to, as my momma had one for a time, and I have very dim, fuzzy memories of her play.
Not only is the 2600 the first console I experienced on a television screen, but it remains the only system I have ever stayed up all night to play. That was a glorious occasion. I would say that wooden-paneled box of magic played a key role in influencing how I think of video games, especially older ones, and being able to tell which legendary titles (Adventure, Pitfall!) would have an impact on gaming writ large from then on.
Even as a “Nintendo guy,” I had enough experience with Atari to feel confident pitching to 1UP.com, back when they existed, and back when they were looking for pieces for a special celebration of Atari’s 35th anniversary. They published my article, and I am still a little proud of it – How The Atari 2600 Shaped Pop Culture.
Favorite games: Keystone Kapers, Dodge ‘Em, Yar’s Revenge, Joust, Haunted House, Super Breakout, Frogger, the football game where you actually controlled the flight of the ball, and that circus game with the trampoline and stuff.
Sega Genesis, 32X
Growing up in the 1990’s was awesome; so awesome that, really, I might write a separate feature on that topic alone someday. I am sure many fellow same-generation gamers would agree, and some may even specifically remember that wonderful escalation that would occur between friends: Oh, you’ve been the one with an NES for the past couple years? Well check this out, I got the Sega Genesis. Oh, you got the Super Nintendo? Screw that dude, I went straight to the 64. Sucker. Psyche.
Growing up, my best friend (rather than use his real name, let’s say his name was… Maxx Power) was considerate enough to live right across the street, so for years and years it was super easy and convenient for one of us to just walk on over and game. We both had the NES, but he would be the first to strike a real blow in the great console war when he brought home a Genesis. The first model, for those curious.
And, wow, did we play the crap out of that thing. Madden games, NBA Jam, Golden Axe, Mega Turrican, Mortal Kombat (and II and III), Primal Rage, Eternal Champions, even stuff like Kid Chameleon, Flicky, and Zany Golf. He also had the Buster Douglas boxing game, which I understand would now be a collector’s item. Once I got my own Genesis, I would add four Sonic the Hedgehog games, King of the Monsters 2, Prince of Persia, and many others.
Ristar would become a sentimental favorite. Hours upon hours were spent on four-player Mega Bomberman matches. As alluded to in some 1 More Podcastle episodes, I even grew a taste for Risk and Monopoly on Genesis, along with Wacky Worlds. Comix Zone is a great game. So many. Asterix and the Great Rescue was not exactly remarkable, on the other hand.
Then my friend went and got a 32X. Okay, that peripheral did not turn out to be a game-changer, but we still got a lot of fun out of it: Playing Star Wars Arcade taking turns who would play pilot and who would play gunner, finding what would become my favorite version of Blackthorne, getting some Virtua Fighter action in, and even squeezing all the fun we could out of Motocross Championship. Good times, all.
Oh, he also had an Atari Lynx. It had, uh, my favorite version of California Games, at best – along with the kinda-fun diversion Lynx Casino, the not-as-good-as-Aces-of-the-Pacific Blue Lightning, the “this has tons of potential but is crippled by the Lynx’s display limitations” Electrocop, and the non-wowing Blockout. Whatever.
That same friend would get a PS1, which provided my first exposure to Final Fantasy VII, along with the Crash Bandicoot games. But our multiplayer time on that unit was mostly spent on the delightful Twisted Metal series. Mmmm, vehicular combat. Some sports titles and Armored Core later, we managed to have our share of fun, but largely found ourselves opting for other systems more often. Hey, that was just our experience. Also: Perfect Weapon is a terrible, terrible game. I mean, wow, that is something awful.
When we had a week-long Chex Quest lovefest here on 1MC, I was so happy. Chex Quest was one of the high points of my PC-gaming upbringing, which involved hardly ever actually paying for a game and settling for a share of hundreds-of-games disks, random handwritten-label floppies, crappy shareware passed around, giveaways, and ancient Internet chatroom-recommended downloads.
A different friend would let me borrow many a fine title back in the day: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, 3D Moviemaker, Lemmings, Treasure Mountain!, King’s Quest, Doom, Quake, and others all saw play. A special mention goes out to Gazillionaire, because many of us spent dozens of hours playing that game, and it is so good, and funny, and deceptively deep, and competitive, and crazy. Highly recommended. 10/10 would play again.
There was also my text-adventure-game period, which I would prefer go unnoted, since I tried writing one of my own but ran into some unfixable, and ultimately depressing, coding errors. Yay text adventure gaming, though, for sure. Hurray. Huzzah.
Strangely, thanks to my uncle, my grandparents had a decent PC gaming stash. In that house, I would have my initial exposure to classics like Myst and SimCity, along with not-quite-classics like You Don’t Know Jack. At home, though, it was all about Scorched Earth, random tile-based RPGs (heck yeah Exile series by Spidweb Software – not a typo), Mechwarrior, TIE Fighter, Jezzball, and countless hundreds of try-once-and-discard titles on those multi-game packages. Yikes. Firing up one of those monstrosities was always a frightening exercise.
Then again, I did discover the genre of roguelikes that way, so that was a blessing. Shout-out to Angband here, and one other solid roguelike, that I do not remember the name of, yet am not seeing on any lists as I sit here trying to research to find it again, oddly enough. I can honestly say that roguelikes are the genre I have to stay away from now, because if I go down that rabbithole again, I know I will get sucked back into a time-demolishing obsession.
Actually, of all my non-Nintendo experiences, PC gaming is the flavor that has managed to survive the strongest. With the advent of Steam, and a little GoG, and maybe a couple other outliers, I still regularly engage in gameplay sessions on my laptop. Some favorites have been BioShock, Dead Space, Thomas Was Alone, Hotline Miami, SimCity 4, and A Valley Without Wind 2. Half-Life 2 and The Walking Dead were pretty fun, I guess, but I would not count them among my favorites.
There you have it: Nintendo Legend’s non-Nintendo gaming tastes and history, laid bare for the record, hopefully touching a smile-worthy note of familiarity with others.
What different systems have you played in your gamer career? Leave a comment below!