Of all the video games I have played, Baseball Stars on the old 8-bit Nintendo is the only game that has kept me up past midnight many nights. Currently, I only play baseball, basketball, or football on my Playstation 3 about two hours a week, but in my youth I was enthralled by video games and no console was more important then the 8-bit Nintendo. I have owned an Atari, a Commodore 128, an 8-bit Nintendo, and a Playstation 1, 2, and 3. The best system, the most entertaining and compelling home gaming experience (NBA Jam might be my favorite arcade game) came from my time playing my 8-bit Nintendo.
We never called it an 8-bit Nintendo. It was just a Nintendo. I remember I didn’t get one when they first came out when I was in fifth grade. Instead, I received one the following Christmas and proceeded to play copious amounts of Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros. I played many games with my friends Todd and Marcos; I knew the secret code for unlimited lives in Contra, but mostly I played sports games. Baseball Stars, Tecmo Bowl, and Blades of Steel were my favorites. I don’t know if Baseball Stars was the first game where you could create your own players, but the designers of that game created a realm of play that both captivated and inspired me. Since Todd and I both excelled at school, we challenged each other to make the most creative names imaginable. We struck out to defeat the American Dreams the only team on the game that has something resembling actual players. They use the first names of baseball legends. The graphics were not realistic, but the game play and the competitive and creative nature of the game kept us engrossed. The hilarious way that Tecmo Bowl players were flat like paper dolls on the screen didn’t keep us from imagining that were vying a real Super Bowl only this one is called the Tecmo Bowl. The Bears dominated in that game. You could run kick offs back with Gentry, but no one else. Tecmo Bowl 2 was a dream when it came out. I pre-ordered it with my own money. My parents hid it from me and made me find it with a treasure map. I spent many nights in heated battles with Todd and Marcos. Wall Street Kid was another entertaining and thought provoking game. It was a stock market game that I never owned, but rented. We played with Mike a few times who ended up cheating in a similar stock market game in our math class. These games seeped into our daily lives.
I played Intellivision when I was in second grade at my brother’s friend’s house. I remember awkwardly moving my finger over a small metal disc in order to move my character on the screen. One Christmas my brother and I received an Atari. We played boatloads of War. My Commodore 128, in 64 mode, played over a hundred pirated games that I had acquired from my friend Jason. Beachhead, Zork, Jumpman, Pitfall, and countless others. I played many games of Sega Genesis at Todd’s house mostly hockey while mixing in a few games of Toe Jam and Earl. I have played almost exclusively sports games on all three Playstation systems, but the nostalgia of the Nintendo remains.
I have played almost every console, but the first Nintendo is inscribed onto my very being like no other console. The only drawback is that the knowledge that magic mushrooms are good for you probably ruined my college grade point average.