Welcome to the ZTGD Reviewer Rodeo. Each week, we’ll grab on to the hottest issue, hold on for dear life, and wrassle it to the ground.
This week, the team digs deep, sharing their earliest gaming memories and the experiences that got them hooked.
Drew “Frustrated Fury” Leachman
Well, I will talk about some of the best and two of the worst memories from my childhood playing games.
First, some of the best memories spawn from my time with Super Mario Bros. 3. Man, that and Super Mario World were some of the best game to play back in the day. Super Metroid was another amazing game. Of course, I can never forget 7-year-old me going to the arcades playing Street Fighter II: Champion Edition. Oh, man. Those were the best times.
Some of the worst times as a kid playing games were my time playing Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Oh, my God, I loved the movie. Every kid loved the movie, and then you find out there’s a new video game based on it. AWESOME! No, not awesome. That game still haunts my nightmares. The problem was, back in those days your parents bought you your games, and if your parents were like my parents, you only got a new game maybe once a year for Christmas and maybe your birthday (if you were really good that year.) So, when I got Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, I was stuck with that pile of crap for almost a year. Do you know what that does to a child? People ask me why I act the way I do. I just point them to that LJN travesty.
The last bad memory would be with the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game on the NES. Yes, the one where the cover had all the turtles wearing red. Now, don’t get me wrong, the game wasn’t THAT bad, but the thing that stuck out the most about that game was the stupid dam bomb diffusion level where you’re not only timed, but also are surrounded by electric seaweed where two hits from that could kill you. I remember finally getting past that level only to be on the world map and getting game over because a truck ran over me. Talk about frustrating.
That’s it for me. I was always an NES guy. I never owned a Sega console so I never got to experience Sonic at all. I was always the guy that had to blow into the NES cartridges to get them to work properly for about 20 minutes. Needless to say, I still have my original NES from back in the day, and it still works. I’ll never part with it.
The first time I saw people making things happen on the TV was a revelation. Up to then, I had understood there were certain circumstances in which this could happen, but I suppose I took it to be something scientists could do in a lab or something. Here it was on an actual TV: the Atari 2600, making what had seemed like a precious dream made real in someone’s living room, and used for the most frivolous purpose. It’s hard to look back on that experience and convey the sense of absolute wonder being able to control the TV gave me–to my young mind, it was like discovering that there was an expensive but not totally unreasonable doohickey you could buy to let you land on the moon. I don’t think I ever lost my interest in video games after that.
My early tabletop experiences mostly involved my younger brother, who is five years my junior. As a result, he was playing games like Conquest of the Empire long before he could really grasp them. I am in retrospect astonished that he was so gracious in defeat, and obviously valued the experience of playing and our relationship so much that he could suffer repeated losses gladly. Years later, a friend of mine remarked that I seemed to have skipped the phase in most Magic players’ lives during which they were obsessed with building the most powerful deck they could, and had moved directly to wanting to do interesting, slightly silly things. I think the appetite for power wanes somewhat when you have the opportunity, early in life, to sate it.
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