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Features: Staff NES Stories

Posted by Nintendo Life Staff

Learn our shocking pasts

To continue our celebration of 25 years of NES, the staff's gathered around the campfire to share their favourite memories of that little dream machine. Not everyone could make it to the party, unfortunately, but we're sure that those who couldn't had good reason to stay home.

Join us now as we lay bare our souls to you and open up in a way that the staff of Nintendo Life never has before and never will again.

Mat Allen

My first dabbling with the NES came with playing on a friend's machine in the late 80s. Having enjoyed what was on offer, my brother and I managed to persuade our parents to buy us our own machine. Eventually we did get one, the TMNT pack, that, while somewhat late in proceedings for the life of the NES, was like a new dimension opened up after owning a Commodore 64 for several years by that point.

There was really only one problem with the console: the insane price of games in the UK. Forty pounds appeared to be the norm in shops in my area. When compared to the average price of a game on the C64, that was four times the cost. Definitely an entry in the list of things "not missed about the 8-bit era" for sure. I wasn't pirating C64 games at the time either, something you couldn't even do for the NES, so my money had to be split between both formats.

Kids today may consider themselves far luckier regarding pocket money and what is available to earn in order to buy such treats. With general inquiries to my parents regarding buying games falling on mostly deaf ears, I had to save up for the games I did acquire. Between handouts and the money I was earning doing a paper round it took roughly six weeks to be able to afford a new NES game, and that's without spending it on anything else, let alone any C64 titles I wanted. Needless to say the roster of games acquired was quite narrow.

TMNT proved quite frustrating up to a point, something my brother and I discovered fairly early on. But we persisted with the game, partly because it was the only one we owned at that point. What games we did manage to get we dove into violently and ended up playing them to death. Mega Man 2 was bested within two weeks, but proved to be full of replay value. Castlevania was challenging, and it was insanely hard attempting to defeat the Grim Reaper. Never got passed that point back in the day, evidently something we were not alone in.

Borrowing games from my friend also helped fill the gaps, enabling me to explore Mario's world, drive an RC Pro-Am, battle along with the Rescue Rangers, venture around Zebes, and slap Mike Tyson to the floor. Either he was coming into more money than I was, or his parents were more liberal with theirs. Curiously, neither of us was big into RPGs, meaning I didn't get to play the formative Zelda titles until later down the line. Final Fantasy and the early Dragon Quest titles were not released here. Neither did I get to see Metal Gear until stumbling upon the curious C64 conversion of the game.

And then, suddenly, my friend sold all his Nintendo stuff to fund buying a Mega Drive. With his supply of games suddenly gone and still lacking spare money on my end, the days of the NES in our house were numbered. I can't remember what the money we got for it was spent on. However, what I wasn't to know at that point was that acquiring an American Super Nintendo was soon around the corner and the start of my import life would begin, something that has stretched onwards to this day.

The cheap price of most NES titles has allowed me, over time, to appreciate the console more. It's one that was arguably the founding basis of the console era as it stands today, and host to many classic games. If only the it wasn't so susceptible to that ruddy blinking issue...

Darren Calvert

Like many Brits, I was given a Sega Master System for Christmas one year. With classics like Wonder Boy, R-Type, California Games, Phantasy Star, Alex Kidd, Psycho Fox and Shinobi, it is easy to see why it was such a huge success. In fact, all my friends at school were Sega fans so I rarely even came across the NES as a young teenager. That's not to say that the lure wasn't strong at the time; my local department store had an NES set-up with several of the best games at the time set up to play on a three-minute timer.

Nintendo fought back hard however, engineering the release of a console bundle including Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt on one cart with a Zapper peripheral, something that proved too alluring for many to pass up. As my pocket money wouldn't stretch that far, I held off until late 1990 when Nintendo released a bundle in Europe with Teenage Mutant Hero (Ninja) Turtles. That was really a golden time for the NES in Europe, riding on the crest of Turtles mania, and even though the game was a stinker, it helped shift the NES in the face of the release of the Sega Mega Drive, a much more powerful console. Many of the older games could be picked up cheaply at this time, and I quickly became acquainted with classics I had missed out on, such as Super Mario Bros. 1 and 2, Mike Tyson's Punch Out, Mega Man, Zelda, Metroid and Castlevania – many of these picked up for very reasonable prices.

With hot competition from the newly released Sega Mega Drive, Nintendo really showed what the NES was capable of with Super Mario Bros. 3, which steadfastly ensured the continued sales success of the platform in the face of what was a technically superior rival. Nintendo’s little grey toaster had finally won me over and I enjoyed playing on my NES for many years until the Super Nintendo picked up where it left off.

Jacob Crites

I was born in 1992, so by the time I was at the prime video-game-playing-age, 3D graphics were alive and well. My fondest childhood gaming memories involved Mario 64, Mario Sunshine and The Wind Waker. So, and it's odd to think of this now, my first real experience with the NES didn't come until around the year 2005.

But that doesn't make it any less special.

It was a rather boring day at grandma's house, and, having watched all the basic cable I could possibly bear I wandered upstairs where my uncle Zack's room was. Being a few years older than me he was, I assume, off working that day, leaving his room entirely unattended. And that room, as it happened, contained the most mysterious little gray box...

I'll spare you the suspense: it was an NES. It had Punch-Out!! loaded up. I turned it on. My life was never the same.

It was the simplicity that got me. Here I was with a Nintendo GameCube — the height of technology (at least that's what my simple-minded 13-year-old thinking told me) — and yet this simple little 8-bit game that I had never even heard of sucked me in like no other. As I would soon find, as I sifted through the pile of classic NES games that sat before me, this little system was full of this stuff — full of masterfully crafted games that would take beginners ten hours to complete, but masters only ten minutes.

Eventually Don Flamenco would get the better of me, and after curb stomping the controller in frustration, I decided to pop in Super Mario Bros. Except, since I was stupid, I mistakenly didn't put the cartridge in all the way, resulting in an onslaught of glitches. Goombas became little Mario heads. Pipes became koopa shells. Coins were still coins, but dear god, they were everywhere.

This, I said to myself, is the greatest system of all time.

Corbie Dillard

The video game crash in 1984 was a difficult thing to watch as a gamer. I saw all of the consoles like the Atari 2600, Intellivision and Colecovision being placed into clearance bins at various stores along with countless titles. While this was a great opportunity to pick up games for $5, I'll never forget my uncle telling me as we left the store one afternoon that the video game fad must be finally coming to an end. It's something I'll certainly never forget hearing, let alone witnessing over the course of the next year.

After a year of playing games on my Commodore 64, I finally had something to get excited about when I read that Nintendo and Sega were both readying consoles for release later that year in 1985. The article mentioned that the Nintendo Entertainment System would be released only on a limited basis that holiday season, but I found myself telling any family member that would listen that I wanted one for Christmas.

Our tradition was to always open up all of our bigger presents on Christmas Eve and then my mother would save one smaller item and some candy for Christmas morning. I remember being absolutely certain that this large present under our tree was the NES, so much so that it was the first one I grabbed to open. No words can describe the disappointment I felt when I opened that box only to find it contained some pyjamas and a bunch of socks. After we'd opened all of the presents and there was no Nintendo Entertainment System to be found, my mother explained to me that she'd tried to locate one, but that no stores had any in stock or would have any until next year.

I began calling up all of my friends that were supposed to get an NES for Christmas and each and every one of them ran into the same problem of no systems being available. I didn't feel so bad after hearing that not one of them had gotten a system either.

The next morning when we got up to open our remaining presents and instead of small items, there were quite a few large packages... among them, the NES! Not only did I get the control deck, but also the Zapper light gun, the R.O.B. robot buddy, and three games to go along with it all. I don't think I've ever been quite as surprised as I was at that moment. I ended up playing Super Mario Bros. and Kung-Fu almost non-stop for the rest of the Christmas break. Of course, some of that time was spent chasing around the spinning discs that R.O.B. kept dropping onto the floor.

I would spend the next three years of high school wearing that NES system out and even blew some of my graduation money on Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and Dragon Warrior the night I graduated. Just about every good memory I have of my high school years somehow involves that NES system, and it was really the console that made me fall in love with video gaming all over again. And despite owning pretty much every game system that's been released since the NES, I'll never forget how exciting it was to see that wonderful console help resurrect the gaming industry. I'll always cherish those fond memories of that amazing era of gaming.

(By the way, if you guessed that it's Corbie in that picture, you are correct.)

Patrick Elliot

The first video game I ever saw was Kung-Fu for the NES. My older sister's friend down the street had just gotten the system, so she kindly escorted me down to their house to check it out. I still remember that I was carrying a small Falkor stuffed animal, the giant scaled flying dog from my favourite movie at the time, The Never-Ending Story. It was 1986, and I was three years old.

The kid's family was pretty well off, so they already had tonnes of games. When I walked into the house I saw a stack of gray cartridges on the carpet as tall as me. On their TV was this dude kicking snakes and ninjas, which immediately reminded me of my other favourite movie at the time, Karate Kid, and I thought to myself “Daniel-san.” I had to play this thing.

I don't remember too much about actually playing the game, other than I died a lot. I think I mostly just stood there and made him kick so I could hear the voice sample over and over. Needless to say, the big kids soon took all the fun away.

Back at our house, I sat in front of our small black and white TV, one of the old ones that glows for minutes after you turn it off, leaving a small white dot in the centre of the screen. I was probably watching He-Man, but I was still thinking of the NES. All those sounds and colours kept whizzing though my head, and I couldn't wrap my mind around the concept of controlling something on the screen. Sure, I could watch He-Man on my TV, but I couldn't be him. That's what playing with my neighbours NES felt like: I was Daniel-san.

The following year we moved, and my sister and I began saving up money for our own system. Being six years older than me, she saved up most of the cash, but like a good annoying little brother, I played it the most. I played and played. So much, in fact, that I broke it, and I don't mean flashing-blue-screen broke, I mean kicked and punched it with my chubby little hands broke. Those games were hard and could bolster up more frustration and aggravation in me than any schoolyard punk.

Needless to say, my sister wasn't too happy about that, but she had sort of moved on by that point, having mastered Tetris to a level of expertise. Still, I remember my father taking it apart and fixing it somehow. I was astounded at the tiny world of circuits and wires that the dull gray box housed. We had to shove two games in it after that to get it to work, and a few months later it died for good.

I sacrificed getting a Christmas present that year so I could receive a new NES for my following February birthday. I still can't believe my parents let me have another. I promised not to lay a hand on it, but never said anything about the controllers. Those things were durable.

The broken NES remained in our closet for months, until one day I received an issue of Nintendo Power. In it they had a diagram of the system's innards, pointing out where all the magic comes from. I used the diagram and my broken NES to make a class science project for school, and titled it “Inside the Nintendo Brain.”

At the Science Fair, I didn't win any trophies, but I did receive an “Honourable Mention” certificate. Mostly, though, I received scorn from my fellow classmates. They all thought I had torn a perfectly good NES asunder in the name of science. But who would do that? I had to explain that while, yes, I did break it, it was not for school or science—it was because I was trying to beat Double Dragon. I was trying to beat Kung-Fu. I was trying to be Daniel-san.

Dave Frear

Looking back, the NES, simply referred to as a Nintendo by everyone at the time, had some cracking games, and it's understandable why it got people rather excited. I, however, didn't have one, and to be honest I wasn't particularly interested.

"Nintendo, the world's number one game system" said the proud voice-over bloke at the end of the adverts that seemed to be on ALL THE TIME. I didn't believe him and went back to gaming on my trusty Spectrum. Whilst the games did look like fun, I just couldn't get over how expensive they were. I'd been used to buying games for just a few quid, but these Nintendo games were around £30-£40 – madness! "It's because they load up straight away" a friend informed me. Whilst it was indeed a speedier way to get your gaming fix than loading from a cassette tape, I wasn't convinced that it was enough to justify the high price. Worst of all, there was no way to sample the games. Speccy mags had cover tapes containing demos (and sometimes full games) but the only way to try a Nintendo title was if a local shop had a system set up for customers to try out. There was no such shop in my town.

Of course, the Nintendo wasn't the only games console around: I actually knew more people who owned the Master System, but it was Nintendo that seemed to be everywhere – I even vaguely recall some promotion with Walkers Crisps. I didn't have anything against Nintendo (and I enjoyed watching Captain N) but time went on and I still had no desire to play with their machine. When the Ninja Turtles (or rather Hero Turtles) game was released, I of course went for the Spectrum version and couldn't really see how it differed from the more expensive Nintendo cart. Years later (via the Virtual Console) I found the NES version was actually inferior. The Speccy also has a better port of Donkey Kong.

Things changed when a toyshop in town finally had a console set up to try out and I got to play Super Mario Bros. Initially I found it quite frustrating as I couldn't figure out why Mario refused to jump when I pressed up, but after being informed of the joys of the A button I loved it, and I got to play it some more upon discovering a machine whilst visiting relatives.

So, despite my initial disinterest, it was the NES (or more specifically Super Mario Bros.) that got me interested in Nintendo. But by this point the Game Boy had been released, and it was the green and black handheld that would be my first Nintendo machine. I would get to play other NES games, but despite buying a variety of Nintendo machines over the years (I even had an iQue Player at one point) I've somehow never purchased a NES. Oh well.

Zach Kaplan

I am non-confrontational. This is the first adjective that comes to mind when I look to describe myself. Throughout life, this has worked both to my benefit and against it – for every fistfight avoided, there's another fistfight avoided... I could have won the second one, though. My involuntary pacifism, more than any other characteristic, has come to define my life – and it all started with the NES.

When I was small, maybe five or six years old, we had an NES with what I still think of as the essentials: Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt, Mickey Mousecapade and the gold Zelda II: The Adventure of Link cartridge – which, by the way, looked a lot cooler and shinier than the gold cartridges of today. Back then, I had just as much fun playing games as I did watching my older sister play. Maybe I had even more fun, considering I wasn't any good when I was five.

One night, as would often be the case, I was watching her play Super Mario Bros., riveted. I was so caught up in the action that I barely heard my mom calling me to come take my bath. And when I did, I wasn't happy about it. A bath? This wasn't in the plans! She hadn't even gotten to King Koopa yet! I looked to the screen to contemplate my next move and watched Mario kick a koopa troopa shell into some goombas. And that's when I knew exactly what to do.

I walked up to my mom, kicked her in the leg, and walked back to my seat, triumphant. I had won. There would be no bath tonight.

Well, not exactly. Much like the koopa troopa shell upon which I based my very plan, it came crashing back towards me. There would indeed be a bath tonight, and my sister would have to, through no fault of her own, stop playing. Not just for tonight, either. When I emerged, cleansed of body but not of spirit, the Nintendo was gone.

The Nintendo sat at the top of my mom's closet for weeks. Then months. And though this sounds difficult, to tell you the truth, it didn't take me long to forget about it. I was reading Dr. Seuss books every day, and I had this neat slide and a bunch of Ninja Turtles action figures and Matchbox cars, both of which I could push down the slide. I was on top of the world.

Then one day, like Peter Pan's kids in Hook recalling that they hadn't always lived with their pirate captors, I remembered. Who knows what triggered it, but it happened. I ran to my mom's closet, if only to peek at our Nintendo once more and remind myself that it had not all been a dream.

It was gone.

My parents, happy with the effects of a video game-free household, had shipped the little gray box and all of our games off to our cousins in South Carolina. Suddenly, I had to have it back. I begged them, I told them that I'd never kick them again, that I'd learned my lesson. It had been many months, as long as a short prison sentence in some states. Didn't I, like those prisoners, get time off for good behaviour?

Finally, they recanted. The NES came back to us in one piece... and only one piece. Mickey Mousecapade was in the game slot, but gold Zelda II and Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt were nowhere to be found. We never would find them again, either, having to make do with Mario and Duck Hunt on separate cartridges and a plain gray Zelda II, but at least I had my NES back.

Darrell Monti

Nintendolor: Four Years of Terrible NES Gifts

The Nintendo Entertainment System I received on Christmas Day 1991 was simultaneously the best and worst present I ever got. A present from “Santa," my NES was already out of the box and hooked up to a small, brand new entertainment centre that morning when I stampeded down the stairs the very instant my sadistic parents deemed it was an appropriate time to get up (some time around 7:30 AM to my recollection). While there isn’t a dose of MDMA on the planet strong enough to match the sheer ecstasy that coursed through my seven year old body when I first laid eyes on my long-coveted system (complete with a Super Mario Bros./ Duck Hunt combination cartridge), I was unaware of the years of anguish and strife that were to follow. Little did I know that shortly I would while away the hours blowing on, jiggling, smacking, and cotton-swab-colonic irrigating my stubborn cartridges like a crazed tinkerer only to get mere flashes of the title screen for my troubles. Nor did I know that next Christmas’s gift of Game Genie would further reduce my NES to a down-at-heel shadow of its former self. However, the crux of my Ninten-woes for the next five years would be attributed to having two severely out of touch parents who comprised the most indiscriminate pair of video game buyers in 8 bit history.

Obviously, I had no complaints about the Super Mario Bros./ Duck Hunt game that came with the system. Both are classic games in their own rite and its inclusion in the package alone made the whole system worth buying. This is because Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt are part of the classic NES canon of games. The immortal canon includes the Super Mario Bros. series, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Castlevania 1-3, Mega Man 1-6, Contra, Punch-Out!!, and Bubble Bobble; near perfect games that everyone needed to own in order to avoid looking like a train yard vagrant. So what does it say about my parents that out of this rich collection of games, the majority of which appeared on my Christmas wish list, they somehow chose Milton Bradley’s Captain Skyhawk as my second game. This was a title that neither I, nor I’m sure most of the game design staff at Milton Bradley itself, had ever heard of. While it wasn’t a terrible game, flying some anonymous jet plane and blowing up weird spinning things and evil pyramids over a disturbingly perfect geometric landscape is scarcely a replacement for getting equipped with tanooki suits or bubble lead. This merely foreshadowed the cornucopia of crap games that was to follow.

The next game I got as a gift was Data East’s Robocop on Easter Sunday: a scarcely recognisable adaptation from a movie that I wasn’t even allowed to watch at that age, mainly because 1987’s Robocop is the most “rated-R” R-rated movie ever made. So for the two weeks I gave it a chance. I went around awkwardly rock ‘em sock ‘em clocking random men in what looked like leotards and shooting dogs (which the designers had the bad taste to outfit with a harrowing whimper when killed) with a berretta and absolutely no context with which to understand this psychotic ballerina/dog slayer who couldn’t even jump. What had I asked for that Easter? Snake Rattle & Roll. The only way they could have redeemed the shoddy Robocop adaptation is if they pulled the “I’d buy that for a dollar!” recurring line from the movie and made it the tagline on the box.

And that’s how it went for the next cycle of birthdays, Christmases, and any other gift-giving occasion for the next four years. I asked for DuckTales, Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers, and Wizards and Warriors. What did I get? Time Lord, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure, and Where’s Waldo. Time Lord could not have left me more utterly time bored, Bill and Ted was as decidedly non-triumphant as it gets, and the ever elusive Waldo is only fun to find in print form because it’s the one of the only non-colouring books that requires absolutely no reading whatsoever (and because of the topless cartoon ladies that pervert Martin Hanford threw in every now and again). I must have asked for Super Mario Bros. 3 on every wish list from age 7-10, but instead I received Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom. Sorry Sir Cucumber, but I’m far more concerned with the princess that needs saving in the Mushroom Kingdom before I worry about rescuing some ketchupy slag with the 14 tiresome fixed text commands in your stupid game.

Of all the unadulterated rubbish that my folks seemingly trash-picked out of the toy stores, the most putrescent had to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I have been relieved to see the Dr. Jekyll survivor support groups that have sprung up all over gamer message boards in recent years and to know that I wasn’t the only one who had to abide this monstrosity. Developed by Toho, the Japanese company responsible for Godzilla, this game was far and away the most terrifying monster they ever created. If you’ve never played this game, here’s a spoiler alert. You spend most of the game strolling along brick walls as Dr. Jekyll on his way to church and dodge cats, dogs, spiders, and bird turds like a total pansy. Then if your anger meter gets too high, you turn into Mr. Hyde for about thirty glitch-ravaged seconds and throwing Hyde’s PSYCHO-WAVE (a mediocre boomerang advertised on the original box as the most amazing feature of the game) at demons until you either kill enough to transform back or just get struck by lightning arbitrarily. It is as dull, repetitive, and bereft of imagination as a month’s worth of daytime soaps. What left me most perturbed was that Nintendo had the gall to stamp this game with the Official Nintendo Seal of Quality; a golden icon that up until that point in my life held more meaning for me than the American flag.

My NES library wasn’t entirely without a few good titles. With my first holy communion money I bought Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse and practiced the Catholic good vs. evil paradigm at its most fundamental. Also, with the $100 dollars I won in a Halloween costume contest – I was Stimpy – I purchased Little Nemo: The Dream Master, a dazzling and spectacular side-scrolling adaptation of the amazing Winsor McCay comic strip. I also acquired both Ninja Gaiden II and The Legend of Zelda through my cousin Jason moving away, unaware that I was borrowing them. However, as for my parents, they had the same relative success in choosing Nintendo games as Elizabeth Taylor had selecting husbands.

If this story comes off as the lamentation of a spoiled brat, I apologise and don’t entirely disagree. There were plenty of kids at that time who didn’t even own an NES, and my parents didn’t have to buy me one. Initially, they were reluctant to buy me the system because they thought it would cause my grades to drop, failing to take into account that I only worked so hard in school in order to earn the console in the first place. However, in cases like this, it seems a lot wiser to trust the instincts of your child instead of reaching for the most colourful box you saw at the Electronics Boutique, although part of me always suspected that they deliberately bought me such terrible games in order to curb the amount of time I spent playing. Nevertheless, I always appreciated their effort, and on Christmas I received a Sega Genesis and my days of awful, insipid NES games was over. To my horror, I quickly found the cycle was to begin anew that very day when I unwrapped the Eternal Champions cartridge they had purchased for me in lieu of Street Fighter II.

James Newton

I didn't have a NES growing up, but a friend of mine did, and I'd often go to his house after school. I remember playing some WWF wrestling game which at the time was probably amazing, as we used to spend hours trying to perform elbow drops, clotheslines and whatever else it is that wrestlers do to each other.

Naturally he also had Super Mario Bros., but as at the time I was such a staunch Sega fan (Some things never change - Ed), I probably never played it. Looking back on that I think I could have missed out on something, and how my life might have changed if I'd only got an NES instead of a Sega Master System.

To this day, the NES is the only Nintendo home console I haven't owned. Perhaps one day I'll pick one of the machines up and see what I've been missing out on all these years.

Philip J. Reed

Many of my favourite NES memories involve me not playing the games at all. One of the best things about that era of gaming, in my mind, was how much of an actual event it was. This was long before the internet, before YouTube, before tool-assisted speed runs. When you could sit in the same room with a gamer better than yourself, and watch him play long past midnight, whipping his way through Dracula's castle (which you've never reached), tossing Rolling Cutters at Dr. Wily (in a secret seventh area you never knew existed) or skipping nimbly through a Mushroom Kingdom newly infested with Buzzy Beetles (in a simple, but effective, re-imagining of the entire game that you never saw coming), it meant something. It meant something big. You were in the presence of a master who could do these things on command. We didn't have tutorials then, and if you could decipher the often cryptic (if not downright incorrect) clues in Nintendo Power, that was a kind of achievement in itself.

Without any question there are better gamers nowadays than any of the friends I had as a child. Heck, I'm a better gamer than any of the friends I had as a child. But there's a big difference between watching a recording of the great gaming accomplishment of somebody you will never meet, and being in the same room, at three o'clock in the morning, on the floor with bloodshot eyes, wearing Mario jam-jams and strung out on Dr. Pepper, watching a good friend, for the very first time, take down Mike Tyson.

I miss those days... when moments of discovery and triumph meant as much to you as a spectator as it did to a player. I wonder if that even happens anymore, or if such easy access to so many more impressive things on video has cheapened it beyond repair.

(Oh, and also, I once got into a fist-fight with someone because I was a brat and made him use the frog suit before an auto-scrolling stage.)

Desiree Turner

The year we got our NES Action Set, I had just turned five. My parents had gotten it for themselves, really, but that didn't stop me, my four-year-old brother, and my three-year-old sister (she'd just mash buttons, hahaha) from fighting over who would get to play it first whenever we got home from anyplace, whether it was the store, a friend's house, or when mom would pick me up from school on occasion.

I had started reading very young, but fortunately for me, my siblings were not quite as precocious, and I soon realized that they didn't understand what I was saying when I would spell things out – thus, instead of asking "Can I play Nintendo?" and starting the screaming match between us three over whose turn it was to go first, I'd ask "Can I play N-I-N-T-E-N-D-O?" and the question would fly right over their heads. It was the first "big word" I learned how to spell all on my own, and the trick worked great for a while until they finally caught on to the fact that I was always getting to play first whenever we got home.

Trevor Chan

Other than slapping a cartridge into the console and pressing the power button, nothing that exciting happened.

We hope you enjoyed our tales. Thanks to all who contributed.

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User Comments (45)



LztheQuack said:

Haha, I knew it

He always seems to have that expression in all the photos I've seen of him



theblackdragon said:

@lz: that, and he's probably the only one of us who was that old back when the ROB came out, lol :3



LuWiiGi said:

Good stories. One day, I'd like to own an NES. Here's hoping for an NES competition for Europe.



Ron_DelVillano said:

This is really great, guys. Too bad my first was the SNES. When that anniversary comes around, I'll gladly flood you with stories



she_gamer said:

Zach, I can relate. My dad was THIS close to selling our SNES, until I caught wind of his plans and went into the crying/begging/hunger strike mode till I was assured my games weren't going anywhere. Kids today have no idea...



The_Fox said:


That one is new to me.

Odd spelling aside, cool stories one and all!



Noire said:

I'll be more nostalgic personally when we hit the 25th anniversary of the SNES. And.... I'll feel really old. D:



Objection said:

I feel really young actually, as I was born into the end of the NES era, but I didn't really play games until the N64 was out. Not sure if its good or bad, lol.



MeloMan said:

"Pyjamas" makes me think it's someone on the other side of the pond... James perhaps?

All I know if my story of the NES began when I met my cousin from California for the first time and he brought his NES with him. Right away, big name games, SMB and Duck Hunt, big name "toys" like the Zapper and the Track and Field floor pad, were right there before me looking so fun. Up until that point, all I knew was Atari as far as the home console world was... I was just a kid, so I had heard the name "Nintendo" but was a fan to the Atari cause I knew about it and liked it... boy was I a changed man when the rectangular controller hit my hands and I made Mario run for the first time... it looked great, the controls felt natural... that's the moment my life changed and I KNEW I was destined to have a controller in my hand, and it all started w/ the NES. Took until Xmas '88 to get my own, but thanks to my big bro, it finally happened. Wow... 27 years ago I first touched an NES?! Man, where does the time go?



Kid_A said:

This turned out so well, guys! What a fun read. It's nice to see our writers speaking in first person, out of the ol' review/news shell. Zach your story actually made me laugh out loud. Good stuff.



warioswoods said:

One has to respect Corbie's historical journey through gaming via memories of the great crash.

And, Chicken: you're absolutely right. Something has been lost, now that one can instantly look up guides or videos for any game. I remember just how mysterious the world of the first Zelda, for instance, used to seem; all I knew was that I had been given a sword and a strange world to explore. Even the first dungeon was a complete surprise, and every time I happened upon a hidden passageway, it felt as if I was entering uncharted territory. There was a pervasive sense that one might never fully uncover all the little secrets, and sharing a discovery with friends actually meant something.



pinta_vodki said:

Ahh, good old NES days.. Only in Russia we had a clone called Dendy. But anyway the days were good. =D

And the thing that chicken brutus said.. So true!



TKOWL said:

Great stories, all of you
I was born in 1995, so the NES ages me by 10 years...



Odnetnin said:

I haven't read them all yet, but so far Zack, Phillip, Desiree, and Trevor's pieces were all amazing. You guys should do articles like these more often.



GamerforGod said:

I definitely agree with your story Mr. Phillip Reed. Discovering things was much more of a discovery back in the time before these "internet knows all" days. There are still certain games that I will not allow myself to cheat on at all because I feel that they were designed to be ridiculously hard, and I should figure out how to beat the myself (i.e. the four bonus levels at the end of The Adventures of LoLo 2 and Myst on the Playstation One, in particular). But, I must admit, people still appreciate watching a skilled player showing off his stuff in a video game. I never even thought that people watching me play a video game could be an option (I thought I was just being selfish and wanting to play more). But I've found that over the years many of my friends enjoy watching me play video games. Many times even people I don't know enjoy watching me play video games. It never fails to draw a crowd when I go dance to some heavy difficulty songs on Dance Dance Revolution in an arcade. I also thoroughly enjoy playing Super Smash Bros. with my very talented friends, and an epic one-on-one match in Smash Bros. always attracts a nice crowd too. My two favorite video gaming moments are because people were watching me. The first one was with Earthbound on the SNES back in 2006 when I was still getting my undergraduate degree in college. I picked up Earthbound for ten dollars at a flea market (WOOHOO)!!!! My friend Marshall had been watching me play through it, and ny friend Venu was also there the night that I finally got to the final boss SPOILER ALERT Giygas. I had all of my characters at level ninety-nine, but it was still pretty tough because I wasn't using Paula at all. I knew she had to pray when I fought the final boss, but what I didn't know was that she only had to pray against him in his final form. So I beat his first form, but all of my party, except for Paula (who was only still alive because her prayers kept randomly healing her) died during Giygas' second form. So I just kept sitting there and praying with Paula because I knew I couldn't kill Giygas with her alone, and she kept randomly healing herself. This went on for a little while, but finally, I prayed with Paula, and a message appeared saying that a rainbow-colored light had been emitted, and all of my party was revived!!!! So we defeated Giygas' second form and got to his third form (where Paula actually needs to pray) and defeated him!!!! Marshall, VenuM and I all were jumping for joy ay two in the morning!!!! Good times. My friend Marshall watches me play games a lot. He recently watched me play through Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, which was terriffic!!!! Marshall was also there (as well as my college roommate Zack) that glorious day when I finally beat the ridiculously hard Sanbone Trio on Master's Mode in the game Gitaroo Man after attempting to beat them for (literally) a year and a half!!!! lol We all were high fiving each other and shouting for joy!!!! That's still the only time I've beaten that level to this day!!!! lol Marshall actually sent me a Facebook message that day with a picture of the Sanbone Trio that he had found on the internet telling them to rest in peace. lol As far as my first experience with the NES goes, I guess you could say it found me. I don't think I had ever really showed to much particular interest in video games (although I do remember owning a Texas Instruments video game system (it was kind of like an Atari) that was a lot of fun, and a friend of my dad's had brought a Sega Genesis over with Ghouls nl Ghosts that was also a lot of fun). But one day, my dad brought me home an NES with Super Mario Bros. and Tetris. Thus, a beautiful relationship was born. My dad just had a knack for picking out great games because I usually didn't ask for them when I first started getting them, and he would bring me games like Little Nemo (which is still my favorite game of all time), and when I got an SNES later on, one Christmas I wanted Madden '97 (which I received and it was and still is a great game), he also got me some game that he found in a ten dollar bin calles Super Metroid. I think he picked a game that was quite a bit better than mine. lol My mom virtually never got me video games, but the one Christmas that she did, she got me Kirby's Asventure on the NES. This was initially disappointing because I already had a SNES at that time (although I still had my NES too (and I still do)), but then I played rhe game, and it was fantastic!!!! So, thanks mom and dad for steering me towards good games!!!! lol Thanks also to all the staff here at Nintendo Life for sharing your NES memories!!!! GREAT ARTICLE!!!!

P.S. Sorry this post is so long!!!! I haven't been able to get on here much this semester while continuing to work on my Master's Degree, so I've got some catching up to do!!!! lol



Kid_A said:

Chicken's little article was so great. Being the resident kid on the N-Life staff, I always feel like I missed out on something great not being around during the NES days.

But that article made me realize that I didn't, really. In fact I'm having a lot of those experiences right now. Just this year me and a friend stayed up till the wee hours of the morning, eyes bloodshot, trying to beat that impossibly hard final green star level in Super Mario Galaxy 2, and every day last summer was spent with friends trying to beat the brutal final circuit of title defense on Punch-Out Wii.

In these days where online multiplayer reigns supreme, people forget how incredibly satisfying it is to sit down and experience a game with a friend--a friend sitting in the same room as you. At the same time.



Slapshot said:

Great Stories Guys and Gal

@Zach....dude I almost made it to your story earlier today at work and didnt and Im glad I didnt because I busted out loud on that one. Hilarious! I had to reread the opening of your story with knowing where it was going and laughed again, great stuff!



Philip_J_Reed said:

I love this kind of feature. I get away with writing a paragraph or two and calling it a day...and I get to read so much awesome stuff from the other staff members. Collab 4eva!!



Caliko said:

Most of these stories don't sound too pleasing, the NES is touted as the peak of the gaming golden age. I hear incredible stories about it all the time. More than just slapping a cart into the slot. And where I live finding someone who owned a Sega master system... well let's just say you're better off finding a fossil.

The Corbie story reminded me of another story a man once told me.

He said his parents couldn't afford an NES and on christmas day he had opened all his presents and was disappointed to not find the coolest toy of the 80's in sight, about 30 minutes after all his presents were opened his dad left the living room and returned with one final present.... A brand New NES he had been hiding to surprise him!!
He said it was one of the most joyous moments of his life, and said he has bought every single Nintendo console since, for that moment alone.



Caliko said:

and Philip Reed(chicken?) has a fascinating point. I'm a child of the digital age but I keep noticing that as time goes by, more and more people disconnect themselves from reality and humanity. Emotions and friendship is lost through gamefly or youtube.

I really miss walking into blockbuster after my dad promised he would rent a game for me. Just entering that world, the smell of game cases and gazing anxiously through the library of games all available to touch and see. "This game has a cooler cover, but this one has an amazing description". But I could only choose one.



Slapshot said:

@Caliko.... NES was expensive and cartridge games were horribly expensive, not to mention if you finally saved your money up to buy a game, got to the store and found a clearance rack and bought two games instead of one, you might get home to find they were garbage with great covers lol. Lack of internet and magazines, etc made it gaming at your own risk at times back then.

Oh, one thing I wanted to add... One thing Ive loved about this site is the cultural differences we all have. Being an American and not having a lot of knowlege on the British cultures and learning it here has been great, and to see you guys experiences compared to my own with NES is great!

Im actually starting to get this whole Queens English as well



Corbs said:

Phil's section reminded me of how it felt when I moved on to the NES era from the Atari 2600 era. Games felt so much more complicated and lacked some of that "pick up and play" feel that the earlier games featured. Of course that's how games would continue to become. I don't think it matters what era of gaming you begin playing in, that first one always sticks with you and feels so nostalgic and special.



Megumi said:

Too much reading for me. T_T
But yeah, we need to do a Member's Edition article now. xD



Mayhem said:

In truth the same applied to me Corbie... except I went from 2600 to C64 so there generally was no pick up and play... because you had to wait for the games to load from tape



Corbs said:

I don't count my Commodore 64 era. I file that one away under "Misc."



MetalMario said:

These are great!

The NES is years older than I am, but I remember Super Mario Bros. being my first game at 4.



Fuzzy said:

Nice work guys. As I never owned a nes, I spent a lot of time over friends places playing and watching. It was so much fun with a group of friends getting further and further in a game each time, and finding little secrets along the way.



Twilight_Crow said:

What a great article!
Reading all the staff experiences was so nostalgic.
I remember how it was, when the NES was the ultimate toy. Nintendo did a great job to promote the machine over here, everybody wanted one, especially after trying good old SMB. I tried it on my cousin's house, and I thought "this is it, I was born for side scroll jumping XD", our Atari2600 was nothing compared to Mario in all his 8 bit glory. I didn't ask my parents for it, I begged them on my knees .

I really hope to see more articles like this.



Knux said:

Awesome stories, guys! I had a NES back when I was a kid, but I remember playing my SNES, Genesis, and N64 a lot more than my NES. Guess I grew up more on the 16-bit and 32-bit eras.



Ravage said:

What great stories! Some of them remind me of similar times that I had, but it really is great hearing how this little gray toaster affected so many lives to such an extent.

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