The nice thing about being a full grown man with a healthy dash of nostalgia is that you can pursue whatever collecting and hobbies your time and wallet will allow. The rotten thing about that is paying the rent and working a more than full time job means there’s never enough money or hours in the day to scratch that itch fully.
Maybe it’s a good thing. Almost everything is better in moderation, they say, and after a half dozen margaritas I’m inclined to agree. If I had infinite free time to play the games, and infinite money to collect them, I don’t think I’d be having nearly as much fun with my Nintendo return.
Happiness doesn’t come from having every idle wish instantly fulfilled, it comes from facing life’s challenges and difficulties and forcing yourself to carry through. It comes from having goals to work towards, things that require struggle, sacrfice and effort to achieve. And so, even though I could strap a Game Genie onto Metroid and blow through it, or just look up the all items code, it was more rewarding to pick my way deep into the game, and eventually die in the bowels of Ridley’s lair at 4 AM. Even if I’d gotten through, it wouldn’t have been fast enough for the good ending, but that was a moot point.
For the most part, my return to NES gaming had been a mixture of fun nostalgia and a realization that old grey H, he ain’t what he used to be. It’s a shame to say it at 30 years old, but I just don’t have the hand-eye coordination I did when I was playing most of these games for the first time. A game like Castlevania III, that I played a ton of and was able to finish as a kid, now confounds me after a point. But there had to be a tradeoff somewhere.
I just don’t think 8 year old H had the patience to backtrack and puzzle solve in the way that Metroid asks you to. A linear platformer built on timing? Oh yeah, youth is all over that. An open world that requires patience, memory and multi level thinking? A grown ass man has the advantage. Sometimes you just have to run across something at the right time in life. When I played Metroid for the first time, it was too soon, I didn’t get it. I was a little older when Super Metroid came out, and I loved it, even if I leaned heavily on Nintendo Power to get through it. But I never really revisited the first until last night.
Now, most of the original feels fresh to me, even though it’s a nearly 30 year old game that I’ve played before. I think that really gets down to the heart of the appeal of retro-gaming, that what is old is constantly new again. For most people who are into the hobby, the thrill of the chase is of course a big part of it. But the days when you could walk into any thrift store and expect at least some type of dirt cheap find from the early console era seem to be fading, as more people get into the hobby.
The flipside is that the retro gaming resale market is thriving online, where if you hunt hard enough, you can still find a lot of quality games for cheap. Well, sometimes cheap. I’d love to give Sword Master another shot, but if it’s $60 bucks to take the trip, I’ll probably pass. I did pony up 7 bucks for a copy of Crystalis, which I’m looking forward to diving into. And ultimately, I don’t want to limit myself to just the NES. I have a smaller SNES collection, and a few stray Genesis cartridges plus a working console. I sold or gave everything else away through the years, so until I come across any stray cheap other consoles, I’ll be focusing on those 3. The last couple weeks, I’ve been ducking in and out of thrift stores, hoping to find some random retro console goodies. I haven’t found them, but it hasn’t stopped me looking.
On the other hand, I have found a wealth of NES era advertising. After awhile, you start to wonder how they sold any of these things. Thank god most of the products were better than the commercials.
NEStalgia week turned into 2 weeks, and over the course of it I worked a ton, turned 30, and discovered the fun that’s still waiting to be found in games that are almost as old as I am. If you’ve been enjoying the NES related content here, well, you’re in luck, because there’ll be more retro gaming articles to come, mixed in with the regular random nostalgia and esoterica I usually indulge in. There’s still pedestrian lessons to be learned from Paperboy. Maybe Scrooge McDuck can teach me a thing or two about how to manage my finances.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this first trip down Nintendo memory lane, and I hope you’ll join me on the adventures ahead. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rip off various housewares from a blue skinned family.