So lately I’ve been trying to collect retro games. I just bought a Nintendo Entertainment System and more recently I’ve been scouting around for a Nintendo 64. While discussing this with a friend of mine, he made a point that, while valid, really kind of stung at me.
“What reason do you have to get these old systems if they have no nostalgic value towards you. I owned a NES, a SNES, and an N64, but you did not.”
He had a point. I hadn’t been buying these systems for their nostalgic value. I’m sure there was a part of me that had assumed I was, some remnant of my mind upset that I’d been left out for all these years. He was very much correct in his reasoning. I had no memories of unwrapping an NES at Christmas or spending hours practicing Super Smash Bros so I could beat my friends when they came over. Why buy these games simply to collect them, especially considering I was only getting used games?
Now, I’ve read a lot of introductions from game critiques, writers, commentators, etc. all over the gaming industry, and every one I read seems to have the same intrinsic element: they were always into gaming. They always have multitudes of memories that blow my own experiences out of the water. They were always the one kid on the block with the new games.
So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce myself. Hi, I’m that other kid on the block.
My parents weren’t exactly enthralled with me getting into gaming. Even after I got my first gaming system, a Game Boy Advanced that I had to save up for on my own and pay for (a swell accomplishment for a 9 year old, if I do say so myself… even though the SP came out very soon after…) , my playtime was restricted and the amount of games I had, very much limited to a grade-schooler’s budget.
Obviously, even then, I wasn’t the kid on the block with the system. Hell, everyone I knew had a Game Boy… except one kid, who said he had ten… yeah, that kid. The Game Boy was still pretty big for me, though. My earliest experiences in gaming had always been watching other people play Pokémon Red and Blue in kindergarten. When I got that Game Boy, it was like I could finally play with everyone else. (Three cheers for acceptance!)
I’m not exactly sure how many friends I gained from getting that system. Hell, I’m sure that by ten years old, I’d already passed the phase where a new system could enlarge your friend circle, but it was fun. Still, I had no console. Many of my friends had N64s up to that point. Many updated to Game Cube a few years earlier. Really, the only systems that no one I knew seemed to have at that point were the PS2 and Xbox. Hell, even one of my friends had a Dreamcast still.
Not soon after I bought the Game Boy, however, my luck changed. I’m not sure exactly what brought my dad to get us a PS2 for Christmas in 2003-maybe I’ll ask him about that at some point-but safe to say I flipped out in excitement. I was finally there. I had a console. Everyone was going to want to come over, right? Well, not exactly. Yes, my friends came over early and often-I was the only one of us with a PS2, after all-but, as I mentioned before, the age when having a gaming system made everyone you know want to be your friend had long since passed. I’d missed out on that opportunity.
So no, I did not have much nostalgic value for gaming systems from the N64 era and prior based on actually owning the system. But my friend was wrong on one front: Just because I didn’t own those systems doesn’t mean I have none at all.
As I said, I was the other kid on the block. I played many of the systems, especially the N64, by going over to the houses of friends and family and playing it there (even now, my cousins have the newest systems before I do. Shame they don’t play as much). All of my nostalgia comes from playing with friends at their houses. That’s mainly why most of the time I end up looking for multiplayer games for these old systems. Pokémon Stadium? Yes to the please.
As for the NES and SNES, my friend probably has a point. I’m not sure I played those systems much, or I was at least too young to remember it. Maybe it’s me wishing I’d had nostalgic value for them. Maybe it’s me pretending I actually do. But seeing as today is the first day of E3, why don’t I just offer a much more simpler explanation, one that I’m sure anyone can understand:
I just want to play good games in their original form.
Not much more explanation I think I need to give than that.