As I sit in the Dave-Cave thinking back to previous Christmases and trying to find a good Nintendo-themed anecdote to tell, I realise I'm struggling. Sure Christmas has provided an excuse for lots of fun multiplayer gaming in the past and that's entertaining for those of us who were there, but that's also the whole story. Present-wise there will sometimes be a small cool unexpected gift (Mario Kart stylus), but generally people ask me for some ideas for presents, I give them some and then I unwrap a great game or two on Christmas. I'm not complaining, but it does make for a rubbish story. There was, however, a pleasant surprise in 1991, although the surprise was mainly due to me being a bit dense.
Since its (European) release the previous year I'd become very interested in the Game Boy, and as Christmas approached that was what I was hoping for. Thing was I hadn't actually said I'd like one and so I braced myself for disappointment. Now I should have known I had one on the way when my parents quizzed me on the different handhelds available and which one I liked best, but I assumed they were just making conversation. Perhaps I should have realised when people would see a Game Boy somewhere and say, “you're getting one of those aren't you?” Instead I'd think they meant something else or worry when sometimes I'd accidentally say “yes”, and think what a fool I'd look post-Xmas when I would still be without a Game Boy. When we got to December and my brother suggested I should buy the first issue of new Nintendo magazine TOTAL!, I really should have figure it out, but of course I didn't. Though I did buy the magazine, I soon felt daft looking through it because I doubted I was getting my dream present.
Except I did! With three games! I was very excited, not Nintendo 64 kid excited, but I was happy and rather relieved. Quickly unpacked, I was eager to start playing and grabbed a game. I switched it on and watched as a black block landed in the middle of the screen with a ping, and then I waited. And waited. “Are you sure that's in right?” someone asked as nothing else seemed to be happening. I insisted it was fine, it was Tetris I'd put in so a black block onscreen made sense. Some more time passed and I looked at the cartridge sticking out of the top at an angle. Of course it wasn't in right. I'm not sure how I'd managed it (attempts to recreate it years later failed) but the cartridge was balanced above the slot. In fact, in my rush to play I'd even neglected to remove it from its plastic case. This was embarrassing but I turned the machine off, removed Tetris from its case and tried again. I'd played Tetris before and on a Game Boy, but this was my Game Boy that I could play whenever and wherever I liked (subject to lighting conditions) and so it was brilliant.
Tetris was just the start as there were many other enjoyable games available. The Game Boy was not my introduction to gaming but it was at this point I started playing a lot more. Xmas '92 was rather good too: a SNES (shared present) with Super Mario World and Street Fighter II. Whilst those are two of my favourite games, it is the surprise of my first piece of Nintendo hardware that remains my favourite Nintendo Christmas memory.