I really can’t say with 100% certainty what my first game was, though like the good Reverend and many others I had much fun early on stomping goombas and zapping ducks with the Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt
combo cartridge. It may have been my first experience with video games, it may not, I honestly can’t remember where I started. I can’t even remember when we got our NES, though I do remember there being a time before owning one, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. The start of the affair, eh? It was hard to pinpoint it at first, but whenever I think of my earlier days of gaming there’s one memory that always sticks out, and is as vivid today as it was when it happened; the Christmas my brother and I got StarTropics
. There’s no doubt that those two games enforced my love of the hobby, each in their own way.
So no, the Christmas 19XX in this c-blog’s title isn’t a game, I just can’t recall the exact year I'm referring to, but that particular Christmas morning my brother Dave and I each received a video game, he StarTropics
, me Shadowgate
. The whole experience of tearing the gifts open and seeing those boxes is burned into my mind. That demonic gargoyle breaking free from his stone skin, and the tropical island scene against the setting (rising?
) sun, I’ll always remember first seeing those covers. Getting two brand new video games was the greatest thing ever at the time. We weren’t dirt poor or anything, there was money to buy an NES for crying out loud, but there wasn’t a whole mess of extra money either, y’know? So we owned an NES and a few games, but mostly we either rented from the video store in the local grocery store, or got used cartridges from the thrift store.
Needless to say, I didn’t play a lot of the “classics” when they first came around. I watched someone play the beginning of the original Zelda at a friend of the family’s house once, and it bored me to death. I was just used to platformers and shooters, of course actually playing
the game might’ve helped too. Anyways, StarTropics
was my first experience with that style of adventure gameplay, and the whole game felt so epic as a result. Traveling from island to island, talking to villagers, exploring dungeons, collecting items and figuring out how to beat the puzzles and bosses… It was all so great to me, and still is. The music sticks with me to this day as well, and I‘ll be honest when I say that I‘m not a game music buff at all but I have multiple StarTropics
tracks on my iPod. I spent a lot of time with StarTropics
and loving every minute of it, killing things with my island yo-yo and getting immersed in the adventure. Then I got to the point where you needed to input a certain code into your sub. Damn…
Nowadays most people know about the letter included in the box with the game. The letter had to be submerged in water to reveal a code that needed to be input into your sub in order to progress after a certain point in the game. Well, us being little kids, my brother tore into his new video game and promptly lost all of the paperwork that came with it. Nobody else we knew owned the game, and there was no searching the internet for help back then, so we were pretty much screwed. By the time I got that far in the game the letter was long gone. I spent weeks randomly typing numbers into the Sub-C, desperately hoping that I’d stumble upon a way to continue my adventure through sheer dumb luck. Unfortunately luck was apparently too smart for me and I was never able to get it figured out. I was sad, I was mad, and I eventually gave up. A while later we actually ended up selling the game at a yard sale put on by my Scout Troop, and the guy who bought it came back an hour or so later complaining that he’d gotten to a part where he needed a code, and wanted to know what it was. He was obviously a lying bastard, as there’s no way he got that far in an hour, he’d just used one of our saves. So I didn’t feel so bad anymore about selling him a game he could only feasibly partially beat, and I pretty much just told him a variation of “Sucks to be you
Then there was Shadowgate
, the one of the two that was actually mine
, which I ended up liking less but still loving. Like I said earlier, I was used to just platformers and shooters as far as NES games go, so this was another brand new experience for me. I’d never even seen a game like before getting it that day. Just figuring out how to get into the castle felt like a giant accomplishment to me, let alone fumbling my way throughout the rest of the game. Death came to me often, but even when I had no clue what I was doing, which was also often, I was still having a blast trekking through this insane castle. There were sharks in a lake inside
the freaking castle, how awesome is that?! Now imagine how awesome that was to an elementary schooler. Pretty friggen’ awesome, huh? I played that game relentlessly back in the day, and didn’t give up ‘til I was finally done. Bizarre game, confusing game, but one that left an impression.
When I bought a refurbished NES off eBay a few years back, which came with Mario/Duck Hunt and a Zapper of course, StarTropics
were the first two games I bought. For years I’d been dying to own them again, and thanks to the power of the internet I was finally able to complete StarTropics
. Now that I know it I don’t think I’ll ever forget the code 747 for as long as I live. After thinking about it and typing this out I guess it’s a no brainer for me that that particular Christmas was my true “Start of the Affair”. These two not only opened me up to a wider range of games than I’d ever played, but they also were the first games I can remember being obsessed with completing. Plus, in the case of StarTropics
, it also provided me with one of my favorite games of all time…