Written By: Johnny
Video games as a kid were the things I looked forward to most. I grew up on a street where there was only three to four other kids. We would play outside in my yard sometimes, my house was a corner house so my front yard wrapped around the house and connected to the backyard, and most of my friends had a much smaller one. Day in and day out, we would play outside, get bored and then go in and play video games.
My grandparents on my mother’s side were the first to introduce me to video games. They live across the street from my childhood home and would often watch me after school when my parents worked. But I had older cousins who would sometimes visit and before I came around my granparents bought an Atari 2600. They had a handful of game cartridges; Pitfall, Indy 500, and the notoriously bad E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. I was very little but my favorite game was Breakout, using a dial controller was a fond memory.
My grandparents had also purchased the Nintendo Entertainment System. The combined Super Marios Bros. and Duck Hunt was one of my favorite games for that console. They had all Three Super Mario Bros. Mario 2 was so vastly different than the original it was veryconfusing for Kid John. And Mario 3 was just fantastic; it was the first to introduce a map in between levels, which carried over to Super Mario World on SNES. One of my favorite games at this time, that I still need to revisit and beat was this weird game called Zoda’s Revenge. I never got past the first chapter of the game, and after reading the synopsis online I really want to beat it.
The first system my parents bought me was Super Nintendo around age 5, along with Donkey Kong Country, Mega Man X, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers game and Mario Kart. At this age I started to make friends with the neighbor kids, we would go over each other’s houses to play on our different systems. I had SNES, my friend Joey has Sega (and Sega Genesis eventually), he introduced me to Sonic the Hedgehog which became one of my favorite characters that I followed to later consoles.
Donkey Kong Country and its sequels bring fond memories of bonding with my mom. Although neither of us were very good at beating them, I remember being able to play file after file, getting further and further until we got to those really hard levels in Gorilla Glaicer. I really love that I got to share my early gaming memories with her. My mom has always been there for me, I know gaming wasn’t really what she wanted to do but she did it to spend time with me, and that will always be a very special memory.
As N64 became my household norm, Blockbuster began renting games out. I had a few games that I owned but on weekends my mom would take me to blockbuster to give me a two day game rental. The weird thing with that was at this time, game cartridges were advancing in a way that let them save game memory (this was a feature in some SNES games but became a norm in N64), so each weekend when I re-rented Banjo Kazooie I would pray for a copy that had been mostly completed so I could explore the latter levels I didn’t have the time or skill to get to.
If you haven’t figured itout yet, I was not the best gamer. I had difficulty with higher levels in games and anything intermediate or harder took multiple attempts for me to figure out and master. At this age, it was very rare that I beat any game. The first time I ever witnessed someone finish a game was my best friend at the time, Sean, he somehow got 120 stars in Super Mario 64, and accessed the the cannon outside of Princess Peach’s Castle. I could get to the Third Bowser stage but could never beat him until two years ago. The very first game I ever beat was also on N64, and no joke it was a blockbuster rental. Yoshi’s Story was a game I started one Friday afternoon and played straight through to Sunday morning. As the credits rolled and the Happy Tree was safe I became confused, ‘it’s like a movie?’ I never gave it much thought; I never really considered games as stories up until this point. As a child video games never had an ending, it usually ended with me getting bored or dying. But this game showed me there was more to that there was something to strive for.
Even before that, I introduced myself to the game that changed my life. In one lazy summer in the blockbuster game rental isle I found myself holding one of the greatest games of all time. I found myself spending time and time again with this game. It took a couple years but I eventually beat it, and furthermore this was the first game I one hundred percented.
But that, my friends, is another Ocarina in Time (winks), until next time friends, what game meant most to you as a child?