Round Table: NES Memories

The staff wrap up NES week with some of their fondest memories of the legendary console.

By Nintendojo Staff. Posted 04/26/2014 12:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

Nicolas Vestre

Despite being born at the tail end of the ’80s, my very first video game console was the NES. I remember when my dad brought an NES home one day, totally out of the blue. We were short on cash, so my mom was a little perturbed when he spent so much money on a game console. I was only three or four, but I quickly became better at Super Mario Bros. than my parents. Playing Duck Hunt with the Zapper was awesome, and I quickly learned the key to getting to the later levels: stick the Zapper right up against the TV. The other game that came with the console was Circus Charlie, with flying monkeys and rings of fire. That game was tough, and I’d love to play it again today (I think some compilation somewhere has Circus Charlie in it).

But what’s a relatively low-income family going to do to enhance their NES experience? The answer: rent a whole lot of games. I remember renting a score of games: Little Nemo: The Dream Master, Yo! Noid, DuckTales, Tiny Toon Adventures, Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom (I taught myself to read when I was three, so I kind of knew what was going on in this game), Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, just to name some of them.

Even though I loved almost every game we rented (except for TaleSpin, which always froze five minutes in), my favorite game by far was Super Mario Bros. 3. Nothing excited my four year old self more than taking to the skies and exploring the secrets and nuances of that game. To this day, no game evokes more nostalgia than good ol’ Mario 3. I was pretty bad at first (getting past World 2 was an impossibility at the time), but now going through the game is second nature.

Growing up with an NES when everyone else was playing an SNES or Genesis (and eventually, an N64) did make me pretty jealous. I remember seeing Super Mario All-Stars in Mega Movies and yearning to play it (even though, ironically, most of the games on the cart debuted on the NES). Just the box art on SNES games looked so appealing. But now I’m happy that I started with the NES. Without starting with the 8-bit realm, I would have missed a whole generation of excellent games! Even though my age dictates that I should have started with an SNES, I’ll always be grateful that my earliest gaming memories were of Super Mario Bros.

Sadly, my dad thought that my SNES superseded the NES, which resulted in my 8-bit toaster taking a ride in a dumpster. Now I have a bunch of NES Virtual Console games and a RetroN to relive my NES memories. I’d love to get a top-loader NES (and a CRT TV again) in the future!

The memory of the NES that tops them all, though, was when I took some of the styrofoam from the packaging and lodged it up my nose. The next day, I got to visit the doctor! Hey, I was four at the most!

Mel Turnquist

I was born the year the NES came out; in fact, I believe I was about 6 months old when it first hit the shelves. I remember that it was a Christmas gift when I was around four or so, and our system remained working till the time I was in third grade. I wish I had some super long and intricate tales about staying up past midnight playing Super Mario Bros. or mastering Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which we still actually have!), or even anything to do with Legend of Zelda, but this was a two player world we had on hand here and there were three of us kids. Being the youngest, I was the odd one out. I would be the one who would be stuck watching as my brother and sister would play. My playing time was usually scarce and when they’d let me play, it’d only be for a moment before they’d rip it from my hands again and insist to my mom that they let me have a turn. Yeah, a five second turn!

The Legend of Zelda, NES, screenshot

Unresolved issues stemming from my siblings aside, it wasn’t as if I never got to play besides then. Usually if they were busy doing other things, I would manage to sneak downstairs and play the NES. Thankfully, all my time of watching my brother and my sister play taught me what to do and what not to do. My favorite games to play were Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy, which ignited my love of action/adventure games and RPGs. Then in 1993, while everybody had the SNES, we were a little behind the curve. If it wasn’t for that, then I may have never played Kirby’s Adventure and I would’ve never ignited my love of that little pink puffball. That game is one of my all-time favorites.

Robert Marrujo

NES was primarily a cartoon and comic video game machine, for me. I’ve gone back and played a ton of the classics like Castlevania, Contra, Final Fantasy, Metroid, Zelda, and many more, but my true memories of the system are pretty different. First off, it’s not an exaggeration when most people say they’ve never gotten past the Turbo Tunnel level in Battletoads. I never did, as a kid. I would play the game, love every moment of it… until that level. It was maddening! Like a lot of my childhood NES memories, though, it exists in this sort of fog. I remember playing so many different games, but in this abstract way that’s always associated with other events. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II is cold winter afternoons and the sewer level, Little Nemo is that frog and playing in a dark room, Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six is summer and Electro, and so on. One of my oldest memories of my life is being in my uncle Michael’s apartment and playing Tetris; it’s a fuzzy blur of colors, but it’s also oddly vivid.

NES games fed so much into my imagination. I used to come up with so many elaborate stories and ideas separate from the games themselves. I’d draw everything, especially the Turtles, because I just couldn’t get enough of the characters and worlds from all the different titles I played. Video games never stopped once my NES turned off. As I sit and write this for Nintendojo, I guess that still hasn’t changed! There’s something magical about this particular system, though, that I’ve never been able to put my finger on. Whether it’s the pixelated graphics, simple, catchy music, or tough gameplay, NES left an indelible mark on my consciousness and started me on the path I’m on now.

Anthony Pershkin

In Russia, we’ve never had NES officially. Instead, we had Dendy, which was an unlicensed clone of Famicom. The cartridges looked like the ones on Famicom as well, very small and very orange. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything similar to Nintendo Power magazine back then, so I literally had no idea what to buy. The biggest challenge was to separate official games from the bootleg ones, which was pretty much impossible, due to the fact that I simply didn’t know any difference between them. It was a hard time when buying Mortal Combat 8 and crying yourself to sleep was a sad reality.

With that being said, most of the time I was lucky enough to play official and great games like TMNT 3: The Manhattan Project, Prince of Persia, Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy and DuckTales. The only video game store I knew never had all the games, so if I wanted to play something specific, I usually had to go to my neighbors, who were much older than me, but still really into games. And I guess that’s my fondest NES-related memory– just trying to be a gamer while living in an isolated bubble. I didn’t know anything about the video game industry, but every game was an exciting surprise.

We hope you enjoyed our week-long tribute to NES! What are some of your fondest memories of the console? Share them with us in the comments!

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One Response to “Round Table: NES Memories”

  • 12 points
    Sunnyleafs says...

    My family couldn’t afford a NES, but I managed to play about once every week at my cousin’s house. We played a lot of Mario Bros 1 and 3, StarTropics, and Darkwing Duck (my favourite NES game). About a year ago, I wanted to re-live those childhood memories, so I bought a NES and started collecting games – the Virtual Console is great, but there’s nothing like playing on an old TV on original hardware.

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