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Destructoid circa 1988: Our community turns two (and twenty) years old

1:34 AM on 03.17.2008 // Niero Desu

Today we celebrate two years of blogging as, an independent web site my friends and I update daily for the love of the hardcore gaming community. It fills me with tear-jerking pride that we’ve been able to come this far on our own steam, coupled by an eternal gratitude for every editor, contributor, c-blogger, and reader that supports what we do.  While there is much I can say about what the future may hold for us, I think that birthdays are also a great time to look back on the past.  Its true that Dtoid was my first blog, but I’ve been writing about video games as a hobby for a long, long time.  

Let me tell you an irresolute story about kids who love video games.

My closest friends and I grew up in a canyon of low-income apartment complexes in Hialeah: a lovable ethnic armpit where you can still find the best greasy food and greasy mechanics on the cheap at your own risk. We weren’t poor, but when you live next to a water processing plant your options are a little limited. There were no nearby swimming pools or parks where our 100-pound K-mart bikes could safely rest, so we mostly stayed indoors with our army dolls action figures, LEGOs, cartoons, Skinemax, comic books, Sears-brand Atari, and my favorite at the time: transformable die-cast robots.  Little did we know that the Miyamoto army would soon make landfall and take us by storm.

No warning: It was a 90-degree winter’s day in Florida when I first saw Nintendo Entertainment System commercial. The ad aired late in the middle of our precious Saturday morning cartoons, cutting through whatever we were doing like a silver bullet.  Christmas was coming up.  This thing had to be discussed.  I rallied my local brethren over a game of boxed ball (that’s four square for you Midwest kids). Confession: I was extremely skeptical.

I presented my case: You can’t just piss away the time of the year when your otherwise frugal parents allow you to ask for big ticket items.  If they needed to put this thing on lay-away, they needed to know ASAP. This was a crisis! The Atari 2600 was solid but the later versions were to be approached with caution. Nobody we knew had them. They were expensive and required *color* televisions.  I thought it was a bad idea to be an early adopter until we knew more. Lucky for me, my best friend was the wiser.  He had done his research and discovered that my leading suggestion of Fortress Maximus had a flaw: the giant transforming robot city was primarily made of cheap colored plastic. F*ck that.

And so due to due to cost-cutting by Hasbro toys, the likes of R.O.B., Gyromite, Duck Hunt, Super Mario Brothers, and the Nintendo Entertainment System was introduced into our circle of friends days at the end of that year.  More importantly, it came with a giant strategy guide and a subscription to a video game club run that would mail a monthly magazine to your door.  A video game club!  A solution to mitigate my fears of having an expensive console we couldn’t buy games fast enough for.  And so our group made the strategic decision that I should get Mike Tyson’s Punch Out and the bare Control Deck for my upcoming birthday and continue to pool our collective resources for game purchasing decisions, game passwords, cheat codes, and use our fanboy powers to also pull in other kids in school and neighborhood into our cult.  The second NES arrived on my block on my tenth birthday: March 16, 1988. And so, my first video game club was formed.  

The trouble was … the club was flat broke. I could barely afford games, much less running a proper club!  Nobody we knew had their own yard – our dads didn’t have power tools or wood lying around either, so a Monster Squad-style clubhouse up was also out of the question. There were no computers, no Internet, no blogs. What’s a Nintendo Club owner to do? Hold meetings, track club activity, and document our top secret tricks and knowledge until we had more steam. And so with some determination, wad of colorful pens, and a stolen floral memo pad from the kitchen I got to work.

The gallery of images in this post is essentially what Destructoid was like in 1988 during the NES and Super Nintendo era, my favorite period in gaming for sentimental reasons. The two notebooks I kept are roughly 80 pages thick each and contain stuff like:

-    Tips for playing better, including quotes from Skip Rogers and stuff like “if you give up, you’re a weed!”  I’m amazed I didn’t get my ass kicked throughout my childhood years for saying crap like that.  Then again, saying something was “tubular” or “gnarly” was perfectly acceptable at the time.

-    A list of “club accomplishments” which primarily included games finished and quizzes about the games. Achievement points? Pffft.  We’ve been doing that for years.  Chad’s retro quizzes remind me of making these and our retro podcast bares a similar name (RetroforceGO)

-    Full color illustrations of where to find 1-ups, special items, saved passwords, gameplay advice, and cheat codes of every kind.  
-    Game gossip, such as full tech specs on the Super NES CD-Rom

-    More Nintendo fanboy nonsense and typos than most humans can bare.  

The club wasn’t much of a success.  We had seven members, tops. Nevertheless, it was a formative experience I’ll never forget – the works of little Niero and his video game club live on as Dtoid today.  The kids who run the club have all changed, but the end of the story is far from over.  Here’s to two (or twenty) years of video game blogging: Long live Destructoid!

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Niero Desu, Blogsmith
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