Retro Power: Issue 1
Greetings readers! Welcome to the very first issue of Retro Power. We got a lot of great feedback from you. We hope you enjoy reading these great stories as much as we did! We could use more art from you guys next month. If you are an artist or know an artist who is into retro gaming, please feel free to spread the word. We also really want to see your retro gaming hauls too, don’t be shy! Keep being awesome, readers. We are quite fond of you.
-Alex and Valerie
Last month we asked you to answer the question “Do you remember your first experience with gaming?”
I grew up with an N64 that my family bought a little bit after I was born. Our first game was Mario Kart 64 (to this day, we have never owned Super Mario 64, only borrowed it), and for the longest time, that was the only game we had, but all the different modes and levels created thousands of hours of fun for us. To this day, Mario Kart 64 is easily m favorite Mario kart, and one of (what I consider) the best party games of all time.
Do I remember my first gaming experience? I’ll never forget it.
The time is 1980. The place is the small game room of a Pizza King restaurant in northwest Indiana. Much like other small animals, a three-year-old child is easily distracted and amused by flashing lights and blaring sound effects, especially when one’s own father is responsible for producing said light-and-sound show by putting a quarter into the slot of a pinball machine. But when he did, I sat in rapt awe from the chair he pulled over for me to stand on so I could see what this was all about. It didn’t take long to figure out: he hit a button on the side of the machine to control a little flipper thing that kicked the silver ball around and made it run into things. Whatever it hit made noise, and sometimes made the ball bounce, and every so often the machine itself would talk. “Me Gorgar!” it would declare. “Me got you,” it taunted as the ball slid into the pit. Naturally, I wanted to play.
This presented a problem, because being three years old, I didn’t have sufficient arm span to reach both sides of the machine– I could only slap one button at a time. Dad helpfully took the left side while I played (“hammered” to be more precise) the right button. I have no memory of the score, or how long the game even lasted (my guess is no more than a few seconds per ball, since I was far more interested in moving the flipper by hitting the button than trying to form a strategy or understand angles). But that twenty-five cent play changed my life forever.
I’m thirty-six years old now, and my father has been dead for many years. What few memories I have of him from being a child I count among my most precious possessions. I’m proud to say the impression left by a big, red demon with a seven-word vocabulary, a pinball machine played jointly with my dad, is one of the best. Yeah, he had no idea what he started.
The first gaming experience I remember was at my grandmother’s house during a family Christmas get-together. My uncle from out of state came, and brought his Atari 2600 with him. He had it hooked up to the TV, and brought a handful of games with him. I know that most people decry the 2600 version of Pac-Man, but for a child at the ripe age of 5, having never played games like these, it was a technical marvel. I played Pac-Man and loved it, despite its flaws. He also brought Combat with him, and I fell in love with it as well. The idea that two people could control tanks and shoot at each other on screen was just an incredible thing to me. It wasn’t until years later that 2-player competitive gaming would truly become a major thing for me, but at that young age, it amazed me what could be done with little blocky images on the screen that I could control. Suffice to say, that experience forever cemented within me the desire to game, and I am forever grateful to my uncle Dave for introducing me to the wonders of the Atari 2600.
That’s a tough question. I probably saw intellivision II or Atari. I do however have a convincing idea for the earliest “desire” for gaming. Basically, I was SCARED of dogs and my cousins had a Nintendo and I had to see Zelda. Despite them recently having a litter of new dogs, I dealt with anxiety and fear just to see the magic that was Nintendo. What do you think for a concept?
While I don’t remember specifics about my first gaming experience, I do remember playing our family’s Atari 800 system back in the early 1980’s. I remember playing Dig Dug, Frogger, Joust, and my favorite Atari age game Pharoh’s Curse.
Video games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Being the youngest in my family by six years and having two older sisters, I grew up with a mix of old and new (at the time) consoles including the SNES, Game Boy/Color, N64, PS1, PS2, Game Gear, and Commodore 128. I remember watching my sisters play various games like Super Mario 64, Mega Man X, Gex 64 and Dragon Warrior III, but it wasn’t until Super Smash Bros. on the N64 that I started to play games. I’d get my butt handed to me countless times by my sisters and storm off only to come back to play more.
I remember getting my NES in Christmas of 1986. It was the console bundle that came with ROB the Robot, Gyromite and Duck Hunt. I also got Kung Fu at the same time. I played Duck Hunt and Kung Fu for hours. My whole childhood, I was a little bitter that I never got a Super Mario Bros. game. But as an adult now, I’m glad I got the system with ROB the Robot instead.
My first experience was playing Atari. I sucked at it but it was fun. My real first gamer experience was on my 7th birthday. My parents promised me a Nintendo. We went to Toys R Us and it was sold out. I never cried so hard. Later that night Toys R Us called my house (I miss the 80’s) and my dad picked it up (my hero I thought…until he had to connect it. So much cursing):) Ive been hooked ever since.
I only vaguely remember my first gaming experience. I was likely 4 or 5, so we’re talking about the mid-80s and the Atari 2600. I don’t remember not having that console in my house. I still remember the TV and console and where they were in our old house. I had Asteroids, Missile Command, Berserk, some game that had a bunch of variations of Pong, Pac-Man, and E.T. I also remember, at around the same time, some…thing you would hook up to the TV that had a keyboard and played games on audiocassettes. To this day, I cannot remember what the hell it was and not knowing has slowly been killing me.
Regardless, back then, video games were just another thing to do along with hockey, cartoons, legos, soccer, playing in the snow, and fighting with my brothers, but I remember playing them just as fondly as the rest of what I did.
A listener question!
Dear Retro Power,
I’ve never read a Nintendo Power in my life, will this fill the void inside of me?
I’m not sure how old you are, but I do know that without Nintendo Power in your life there was something definitely missing. I am hoping and praying everyday that Retro Power will fill that void. There are more people like you out there I am sure. Please tell your friends about us.
Fan Art & Recent Hauls
I (Alex) was able to get a few minutes with our very own Eric Bailey. Here is what he had to say on various topics.
Alex: I know you like Super Mario RPG, but have you ever had a dream about it? My friend Caleb and I say that you aren’t really a fan until you’ve dreamed about it.
Eric: Yes, I have! Growing up, I used to dream about video games often – either entirely new gameplay experiences, or expanded version of my favorite games. I distinctly remember always waking up sad, because I did not actually have these games I dreamed about. Sometimes I would even go as far as to look through my existing cartridges, in real life, clinging to some bizarre hope my “dream game” would be there.
As far as Super Mario RPG, specifically, I still remember dreaming about a certain part beyond the end, where Mario goes to like Star Land above the world map and there are super powerful enemies and Luigi was there.
Alex: Tell us where Andrew Carrerio came from. (Don’t be smart!)
Eric: I wish I had a better answer, but I really don’t remember. All I know is that NintendoLegend.com started as a generic WordPress blog, and when I began I was cranking out new reviews fairly quickly and raising some eyebrows on Twitter. Somehow, he became aware of me, and dropped me an email basically saying “hey I like your website idea but I can design something way better than a generic theme for you if you want” and everything rolled out from there, including eventually collaborating on the idea that became 1MoreCastle.
Alex: What is your earliest gaming memory?
Eric: Getting the NES for my 4th birthday by my grandparents. My grandpa thought it was cool that it came with a gun, so he handed me the Zapper and Duck Hunt was the first video game I ever played.
Alex: Can you name a few games that have sentimental value to you that the general populace seems to either misunderstand or just plain hates?
Eric: I could probably name dozens, because I’m a big sap and people like to hate on stuff. I’ll focus on one, specifically, and that’s Rescue: The Embassy Mission for the NES. It might have been the first game that one of the kids on my block had that I did not, so it made me HAVE to have it.
I truly believe that Rescue was way ahead of its time. It looks pretty good, has very varied genre portions (including one of the earliest first-person shooter segments on Nintendo), and presents a tidy challenge. Many just haven’t played it, but those who do seem to shrug it off – and I get why, I mean, it’s just the same mission, over and over. But it’s like a mobile game, or some other modern diversion; meant for a quick digestion, just a little fun here and there. Yeah, it’s not very deep, but it’s very fun, and I think that’s okay. I like it.
Alex: Have you ever beaten that DAM level? (on TMNT)
Eric: Yep! Just takes some practice, and well-timed turtle-switching if necessary. I do confess that I never got past the Technodrome, though.
Alex: Besides graphics/style is there something about retro gaming you wish today’s gamers knew and appreciated?
Eric: There was something resonant and evocative about the mysteries of the pre-Internet days. The challenge of tearing your own brain apart and staying up extra late to figure out an infuriating puzzle, rather than look up the solution on YouTube, is something we may have lost forever. I really think that sense of accomplishment was a great feeling, but also can be important for people to develop their confidence. I love the Internet, but I also like mystery, and some of that is gone. I enjoy mobile games that are designed to get you addicted and parcel out micro-triumphs, but I miss having the time to fully submerge myself in a shadowy digital world where I wasn’t sure what the next turn would hold.
Alex: Before the Nintendo 64 came out what did you think it was going to be called?
Eric: Whatever Nintendo Power told us the prototype was called. I don’t even remembered. The Ultra 64? Something like that.
Alex: Is there a time when you have ever been caught off guard with the Nintendo Legend brand? E.g. a time when you just wanted to be “Eric Bailey.”
Eric: Nah, not really. I’m not famous. People don’t stop me on the street or something like that, that’d be absurd
Alex: It’s time to come clean in public, please tell the world why you have that underscore in your Twitter handle.
Eric: For the obvious reason: @NintendoLegend was taken! I’ve heard that I can tell Twitter to yank it away from its current (and very inactive) owner, but by this point I would likely just use it as a redirect-style bio (“I think you’re looking for @Nintendo_Legend, follow me there!”) instead.
Alex: What do you know about “Jack Nicklaus’ Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf” for the NES?
Eric: It is one of a handful of golf games on the NES, and I think I tried it once. Why? What do YOU think of it, Alex? :p Really, I was more of an NES Open kind of guy.
Alex: It’s a sentimental favorite of mine, just like “To The Earth”.
Alex: Off the top of your head do you know anything about “Bee 52”?
Eric: Ah, yes, it’s one of those Camerica carts by Codemasters. It’s weird. You’re flying back and forth, you’re pollinating flowers, you’re stingin’. It controls smoothly, at least. Fellow NES reviewer Dylan Cornelius was pleasantly surprised by it. I haven’t played it much, but it’s not awful. Weirdly remiscent of Fantasy Zone, for me, although it’s not quite like anything else on the NES.
Alex: I’m pretty convinced that you and I would have been best friends had we grown up near each other. That’s not really a question, can you speculate?
Eric: I can see it. At the very least, we would’ve played tons of video games together through the years. And if that’s not best friendship, I don’t know what is.
Alex: Have you ever been caught up in the crossfire?
We decided to answer our own listener response question.
I don’t remember the first time I myself played a video game of any kind. What I do remember is watching my mom & my brother play a lot of NES, from after dinner until bedtime. Mostly TMNT 2 & 3, Super Mario Bros. & 2 & 3, Marble Madness, Kirby’s Adventure, StarTropics, NES Open Tournament Golf… a lot of games that remain my favorites to this day. I remember my brother receiving Yoshi as a Christmas present, & it really made me want to be allowed/able to play a game on my own. Nintendo was a joy that we shared as a family. My mom was a single parent from when I was one until I was five, & though I have memories of how tough & stressful that was sometimes, most of the memories I have are the three of us in my brother’s room, bonding over pixels.
I don’t have a lot of concrete memories of before I was five. And what is there is still kind of fuzzy. One of the things I most remember though is playing a game entitled “Animal Math” on my Grandmother’s DOS computer. Looking at the game objectively there is nothing special about it. The gameplay consists of simple math problems with an animal theme. It also has very repetitive sound effects and music. And yet I still can’t help but travel back to my childhood when I play this game. It will forever be in my heart, and I am glad it introduced me to the world of gaming.
There you have it folks! Thanks for reading this month’s issue. Please feel free to continue answering our question of the month. Why not send us a question of your own for us to answer while you’re at it? We’d also really love to see your art skills and your retro game hauls! The deadline to be featured in the next issue is November 14th. Send all content to firstname.lastname@example.org
This month’s reader question is “Has a retro game ever helped you through a tough time?”