I suppose it was fairly easy for me to get into video games. For one, I was a little boy, and most importantly: Super Mario. I fell my first few feet down this rabbit hole most of us would call a hobby back in 1994. My dates aren't exact since my memory of infancy is a little bit foggy so that's an educated guess more than anything. If I'm right I would have been five years old at the time, my bedroom littered with all kinds of dinosaur and Batman toys. You know, the kind of awesome stuff you used to project your vivid imagination onto, before technology did it all for us. Again, my memory of that time is a bit foggy so maybe that stuff came a few years later - likely after I saw Jurassic Park in the case of the dinosaurs. Either way, dinosaurs and Batman!
First result on Google image for 1994. Represent.
Obviously I was a pretty cool five year old, if I do say so myself. Dinosaurs and Batman you guys! Then I became a whole lot cooler when one day my mum brought home a shiny new - it was probably used - Nintendo Entertainment System. What was this mysterious grey box I pondered? Or, at least I imagine I did. Either way it didn't take me too long to find out; my dad hooked it up to the TV in the dining room and my life was changed forever. Dramatic! But true. Who wouldn't be blown away by the visual splendour of Super Mario Bros.? Admittedly, probably not very many people by '94 - it was almost ten-years old at the time, and the SNES had already been out for a few years - but I didn't know any of that back then. This was some wondrous, new technology. Video games! I was hooked.
How couldn’t I be? This is Super Mario Bros. we’re talking about, a seminal title in the video game pantheon. For a first time playing games you couldn’t ask for a better experience, from the flawless mechanics through to the catchy, whimsical music. Even today, generations later, it’s difficult to match. Some would argue it jumpstarted the modern era of video games, and who am I to argue? It certainly began my journey. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve arrived at a castle only to find the princess in a completely different one.
Oddly enough, my most vivid recollections come from the second level. That music must be engrained in my brain at this point. I still have a home video somewhere with footage of our puppy’s first night at our house. A touching, memorable moment for my whole family, and one that’s punctuated by the music of level 2-1 playing in the background, my dad and I huddled around the TV in joyous glee. “Mooshkey” he would shout – his fabricated name for the Goomba’s – and I would unleash a barrage of devastating fireballs until there were none left. One level ago I could only jump, now I’m shooting fire out of my hands! That’s what you call satisfying progression. Then, through nothing but pure intuition – there was no internet back then – we discovered that you could break the blocks at the very top of the screen, allowing you to bypass a large portion of the level and uncover portals leading to levels much later in the game. How can this game get any better?!
When that’s your first exposure to video games it’s pretty easy to be enthralled. Those initial feelings of wonder, excitement and pure joy have stayed with me into adulthood. I adore games, I play them every day, come rain or sunshine. They make up a large portion of my life and I guess I owe a lot of that to Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka and their superlative team at Nintendo. Who knew a fat Italian plumber could have such a profound effect on a person’s life.
On a side note:
Holy shit, this is a real thing! I guess I shouldn't be so surprised.