As much as I wish it wasn't the case, first impressions count. This also goes for videogame consoles. Those first excitement fuelled minutes spent with new piece of hardware will stay with us forever, be that running through '3D' half-pipes in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, grappling with the Nintendo 64's peculiar controller, or the dreaded "Red Rings of Death".
The Super Nintendo is special in this regard, as my early memories of the console aren't sourced to a particular event. Instead, the SNES is inextricably linked to a notion – an idea of what the console meant to me and my younger brothers. To us, the SNES offered the prefect co-operative gaming experience. But to me, it signifies the period of my life when I stopped loving individual videogames and started to love “gaming”.
When I was about the age of ten my grandparents said goodbye to the house in which they had raised my dad and his four siblings to move into a smaller bungalow. At this point I now had three younger brothers of my own, which made visiting my grandparents more difficult than it once was and as the years went on our visits were reduced to once a year. Cramming four young boys into one small bungalow was, of course, a recipe for trouble so my uncle, the source of all our gaming knowledge, had the bright idea of bringing his SNES over for us to play in the spare bedroom.
Needless to say we completely ravaged his relatively large collection of videogames, and while we most certainly got a buzz from playing Earthworm Jim, Super Mario World and even strategy games such as Metal Marines and SimCity, it was the co-operative videogames that kept us coming back for more.
My brother William, who was a year younger than me, and I would spend hours on end battling our way through the likes of Pop'n TwinBee, Total Carnage and Capcom's Goof Troop while our two much younger brothers looked on in awe. So much would we play that our uncle, who at the time was enjoying his shiny new PlayStation 2, eventually left the SNES at my grandparent's permanently (my grandmother had passed away at this point). These experiences were available on the Mega Drive, PlayStation, N64 and the other consoles we had back home, but we just didn't have the right videogames.
As my brothers and I grew older, our interests changed. I stayed with videogames, moving onto single player experiences on the GameCube and the PC, and William found his calling in an electric guitar. Even so, it remained tradition that we would always devote at least a few hours of our time at our grandparent's house in front of that same, tiny CRT television, holding the same worn controllers, sitting cross legged on the same carpet and having just one more go at Super Double Dragon.
The very same SNES eventually found its way into my possession with the complete collection of cartridges I played as a child. I've gone on to share the SNES co-op experience with my girlfriend, recounting tales of times spent at my grandparents house while we play. In fact, after spotting the SNES during a visit to my flat while I still lived in the Netherlands, William, my now non-gamer brother, practically begged for a final crack at Super Double Dragon. The decade of practice paid off as on that very night we beat the game for the first time.
And so that is how it came to be that the SNES, or to be precise our SNES, became a symbol of our brotherhood and reminded us of the days when we would stop our bickering and continue our quest for eternal co-op gaming glory.
And that's why I have, and always will, love gaming.