I’m Alex, the guy to the left, presenting emo on the PowerPad box. I don’t tend to be emo – just think of the photo as a pseudo-artistic rendering of my dismay at knowing that I’ll never be able to use it with a legitimate copy of Stadium Games… I’ll take a moment at this juncture to wistfully sigh.
I hope that was wistful enough to be convincing.
Well, then, why a site based on video games hailing from the era of hair metal, leg warmers, and the Flowbee? I got an NES for Christmas in 1988. The faithful old Atari 2600 lay feebly clinging to some misguided notion of relevance atop the living room console television set. My six-year-old self filled with resolved to not feel sorrow or pity, altruistically put my faithful friend at the top of a closet (where I believe it remained shuttered away from the world for several years, until it was given away). It was only kind to keep the Atari out of earshot; the mocking laughter and stinging ripostes to any of the feeble defenses I could mount on the Atari’s behalf would have likely lowered its feeling of self-worth significantly. Elementary school kids can be brutal!
Needless to say, the Atari had been a fun distraction when it was raining outside, but it was the NES that ensured that I forgot what the sun looked like well into the early 1990s. Though I had played the machine at friends’ houses beforehand, it didn’t compare to actually owning one. Attacking level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. until I could finish it without getting a game over; attempting (rather unsuccessfully) to shoot that absurd laughing dog in Duck Hunt; fuming at the television when my marble kept shrieking in protest, “Ahhhh, Ahhhh,” in Marble Madness, having decided that ceaselessly plunging itself into absolute oblivion was an infinitely better course of action than paying any mind to what I wanted: all of these things cemented in my mind that the NES was, in fact, the best thing ever. EVER.
The subscription to Nintendo Power that my parents got me with the Nintendo certainly didn’t hurt, either.
Though I got the Gameboy when it was released the following year, the Super NES the year after that, and still keep current with the other game systems (let’s not talk about Call of Duty and my prestige level…), nothing has ever really surpassed the NES in my mind. Call it nostalgia. Call it good taste. Call it whatever you like… I love it. Life does tend to get in the way of things that are awesome, though, and it was no exception in this case. I ended up going to college, getting a career, growing up, blah, blah…
I ended up concentrating in English and Japanese during my undergrad, which ended up sparking my keen interest again in the subject. After going to school in Tokyo and seeing the game shops in Akihabara (if you ever get the opportunity, SuperPotato is a mecca of retro gaming), it suddenly dawned on me – I can actually play these now! The writing
actually looks like intelligible writing, not random scrawls!
I’m now a high school English teacher, which is fun. It’s usually fun in a good way, not in the way one might call something fun, actually thinking, “I’m too apathetic to make a negative statement, because someone might annoyingly ask me to qualify it.” I love the subject, and teaching is certainly different from day to day. Some of my students one day were going on about Black Ops (I think, but every Call of Duty is virtually identical anymore), and that they hated digging through forums and stuff trying to find what classes and perks were the best.
Much later on, my mind, mulling over things that really aren’t important enough to be
mulled, made a few connections. It pointed out in a most austere manner, “Hey, you formally studied writing!” as well as other obvious things, like, “You certainly seem to enjoy video games,” and, “It’s been a long time since you’ve seen that Helen Keller movie.” The random Call of Duty conversation seemed to keep bubbling back to the surface in my mind for no seemingly good reason during this (possibly psychotic) break in reality as I conversed with myself. Thankfully, this fanciful delusion wasn’t entirely for naught. Please note the skillful employment of litotes (a rhetorical understatement, typically expressing an affirmative through a negative of its contrary) in the previous sentence. Please also politely disregard George Orwells’ denunciation of the construction’s legitimacy as a tactic of persuasion. I then had an epiphany:
People love video games. People also love reading about video games.
I love video games, and I love writing! …about video games?
(…is the Helen Keller movie still relevant?)
I then proceeded to writhe in an obscene manner on the floor for a few moments in a magnificent state of jubilant exaltation.
This project idea first manifested itself physically in the form of a 50,000 word MS Word document that was to ultimately become the ultimate guidebook to NES games – descriptions, reviews, screenshots, other minutiae that I found interesting. After playing several dozens of games all the way through, meticulously taking notes and screen captures, and drinking far too much Monster, I realized that, though I was having a blast with what I was doing, I was several years away from something even nearing completion.
This website represents the continuation of that project. But, rather than putting all of this work into a document, of which I’m quite proud, that resides solely on my hard drive (thus anxiously awaiting the day that the hard drive decides to eat itself out of spite, someone tips a glass of water into the computer, an EMP goes off nearby, or it gets taken out in a tragic drive-by shooting), why not put it online? It’s going to have a much bigger audience (as in, not limited to one), other people might (hopefully!) enjoy reading it, and the feedback would certainly be welcome.
And so you have it. Me, an incredibly condensed and fractured account of bits of my life, and my justification for this insanity.
Hope you enjoy the read!
P. S. If there’s a game you want to see reviewed, or you have anything to say, let me know!
Alex @ firstname.lastname@example.org