Take Me Back to a Simpler Time
Another Christmas is here and children all over the great U.S. are tearing into their presents and screaming with joy as they open their brand new Microsoft Xbox Ones, Sony PlayStation 4’s / Vita’s, and Nintendo Wii U’s / 3DS’s (hopefully no 2DS’s but not everyone has that much money). Kids’ cell phones are ringing off the hook and Facebook accounts are exploding with messages and posts of the spoils of 365 days of being “nice” and not getting caught being naughty. Inevitably all of these children will spend the rest of 2013 playing their new systems nonstop. Games like Super Mario 3D World, Killzone, Knack, Ryse, and Killer Instinct to name a few. Maybe I’m too old to feel the magic, but I wish somebody could take me back to a simpler time.
One of our Nerd Bacon writers, Doobs, recently showed me a picture of him playing an NES when he was just a kid in the late 80’s. Sitting on the floor, face about 18 inches from the TV which was encased in a rich wood cabinet and sitting on the floor. This image reminded me of how simple life used to be, especially for a gamer.
When we all got our first cartridge-based gaming console 20+ years ago, it was as simple as “plug in, insert a game, turn to channel 3 or 4, press power, play.” Now kids have to go through astronomical efforts to play their game when they first get them. Updating the software, hooking up to the internet, having batteries for their controllers, bluetooth linking the controllers to the systems, registering the games, and the list goes on. A lot of kids are getting phones in elementary schools these days. Pair that with social media and it’s as easy as pie to get in touch with your friends. Let’s take a look back at what Christmas was like for a kid getting his first gaming system in the early 90s.
December 25, 1992
All family traditions are usually dealt with by going through the motions as the only thing on your mind is that large box under the tree wrapped in green and red paper with a large bow taped on top. Minutes feel like hours and you wish you parents would cut out all of the boringness and get to business. Eventually that time comes, but you’re forced to open the smaller presents first and pretend like you give a damn. And not only do you have to open the big box last, but you find yourself growing more and more fidgety as you wait for the rest of your family to go around opening their presents too. After 18 hours of watching other people open their gifts during a 30 minute span, finally you can open your present. Mind you, all of this is probably exactly how it goes down today for kids.
Scenario 1: You open the box and find a brand spankin’ new Sega Genesis box. The cool one, too, with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 already packed in. You shit a brick and scream like a rape victim. You ask dad to hook it up and watch him as he plugs the bunny ears coaxial cable into the side of your Genesis RF plug. While he’s finalizing the steps, you run to the kitchen to pick up the phone and dial your best friend’s 7 digit number (no long distance, yall or a need to dial the area code before very call). His mom answers and you politely ask “Can Jacob come over and play?” – She assures that he can but not until his family finishes opening their presents (they’re the family that likes to sleep in late). 2 hours later you see Jacob running through the yard as he comes barreling into your house. Only 2 people in the world know you have a Sega… You and Jacob. Since your parents weren’t kind enough to buy a 2nd controller, you and Jacob take turns relentlessly attempting to defeat Dr. Robotnik to no avail. Game Over after Game Over doesn’t deter you, however, and the rest of your day is spent saving the animals from the evil Eggman.
Scenario 2: In that box was a giant toy and not a video game system. You instantly begin to cry and storm into your room.
A Simpler Time
Take me back to a simpler time when video gaming was hard as hell but the gaming itself was simple and straight-forward. It didn’t get easier than picking up a controller, pressing start, and immediately being able to run around the screen with a little mustachio’d plumber. The colors were bright and no explanation was necessary. Most controllers had 3, 4, or even 6 buttons but for many games only 1 was needed. We weren’t overwhelmed with 30 minute tutorials, memorization of 8 button combinations, or having to download the most current DLC to be up-to-date with your friends.
Life couldn’t have been simpler and we couldn’t have been happier. Despite a plethora of systems on the market, there were only 2 that mattered in the 16-bit generation: Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. Both were equally great in their own unique ways, but the winner was you. You couldn’t go wrong with either.
Times will never be the same and video gaming isn’t just a small activity kids do from time to time… Video gaming is a major form of entertainment running along with the Music and Movie entertainment industry. Will video games ever take a simpler form? Duck Tales: Remastered for the 7th and 8th generation systems might be a foreshadowing of a simpler time to come… but until more games are remastered or until simple 2D games are brought back onto the market, casual gamers like myself will be forced to play the classics from an archaic era. I still love you Ristar. I haven’t forgotten your epic journeys.
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