This article was originally published on June 27, 2014.
There’s nothing quite like summer gaming. School is out, friendships grow stronger, and the soundtrack of the season varies from crickets to ice cream trucks to the melodies of various video games that fill up our nights and days. The memories of summer are usually the ones that stay with you forever.
The experiences and memories we forge during summer vary greatly depending on what type of hardware you’re using. The memories of console gaming usually involve friends and family in a nighttime setting or on a rainy day. The memories of handheld gaming usually involve long car rides, family vacations, or camping out with friends. Of course, I have my own fond memories of summer gaming with both console and handheld. How could I not? Those games helped define many summertime experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
I remember summer nights at my cousin’s house, staying up till 3 AM with my cousin, brother, and a couple of my cousin’s friends playing GoldenEye 007 and Super Smash Bros. I was still a mere beginner in those days (one who was extremely happy that the Nintendo 64 allowed for four players) and was not that good. I relied on button mashing and cheap moves. Yes, I was one of the fools who played as OddJob. I did it mostly to troll my brother and cousin. Some of our funniest gaming moments came from that time playing one-hit kill slappers only mode at 3 AM. This, when sleep deprived, was flat out hilarious.
A more recent summer gaming memory I have is more from my college days. My friend and I had an absolutely insane idea to play a 50-turn marathon of Mario Party 8 and were cracking up at everything. I remembered playing as Luigi and every single unlucky thing that could happen to me ended up happening. Needless to say I lost, and lost horribly. Also, I began to realize how absolutely cheap Toad is as a CPU player. Such a jerk.
As great as these memories are, handheld systems, arguably even more than consoles, are where the real memories are for people. They are the semblance of sanity during those long car and plane rides you must endure when you embark on a family vacation. They’re the conversation piece during awkward family gatherings and the link between generations young and old that helps bond them closer together. I’ve always said that summertime, more than any other season, is the season for handheld games. The little piece of home you carry with you as you explore the great outdoors.
I wish I could say I have many fond memories of handheld gaming in the summer, but I’d be lying. I usually ended up exploring the great outdoors or socializing with my non-gamer friends during the summer months as a kid. Whenever I did play my Game Boy, it usually was my source of intermission.
However, later on in life, I did have some nice memories of handheld gaming in the summer. My friend gave me her Game Boy Advance and a copy of Final Fantasy IV along with it. I was undergoing what I like to call my Gaming Reawakening during this time period. I had already reawakened with my console gaming, but handheld gaming was a little tougher. However, when I managed to find some old Game Boy games, I told my friend and she said to me that she could give me her Game Boy Advance if I want to play them again. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance.
Throughout that summer, I discovered so many Game Boy Advance games I missed out on, like Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, and rediscovered old classics revamped like Metroid: Zero Mission and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I also was able to play my old Game Boy games like Pokémon Red and Kirby’s Dream Land 2. Through these replays and discoveries, I regained my love for handheld gaming, which led me to buy a DS Lite by the end of the summer. That proved to be a wise investment, to say the least, especially with the fact that you can play old Game Boy Advance games on it!
In the summertime, we’re usually encouraged to go outside and explore the world around us. We’re told to ignore our video games and actually do things with our friends. Personally, I don’t see any reason why exploring the outdoors and playing video games can’t co-exist peacefully. I know my summer memories at least help support the idea.
The memories that stay with me about the summer usually either pertain to playing video games with my friends, going to the beach, and family vacations. Of course, everybody’s memories vary, but I know that these memories are the ones that stay with me as the years go by. Sometimes, when I hear that music from GoldenEye, or hear the Big Forest level music from Kirby’s Dream Land 2, or find myself laughing like a fool over Luigi losing at everything whenever I play Mario Party, I think back to those summer days and nights. It’s like a portal to Memory Lane, where those idyllic summer days never end and you’re forever the age you’re flashing back to. It’s not a good place to stay, but it’s always worth a visit or two.