ong ago was the day when I would sit in front of a huge box that was the 80’s television and play the Nintendo greats such as Super Mario Bros., Elevator Action, and Kung Fu. These classic titles were cutting-edge in 1986 and to have them in your possession was equal to owning a social network by today’s standards.
I remember the shortages of consoles and games when the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) first came out. Parents would literally fight in the stores to get their kid an NES so their kid would have more friends and rocket up in the social hierarchy. If a parent came home empty handed, they would have to fight their own child. Luckily, my parents were expert negotiators and I got one that first day.
I remember spending entire days playing Nintendo and going feral when my mother would come in and ask me to stop playing and go outside. I would treat the Nintendo like royalty and nobody was going to lay their hands on the King. I honestly would have died for that box.
Being an only child with a traveling salesman father, the Nintendo was more than a babysitter for me. It was my escape from reality. Escape from the pressures of a cruel world where Ronald Reagan was attempting to launch a Star Wars program. They should have made a game about that. The good thing about my dad was that he was a great salesman and when he came home he would always buy me a new Nintendo game. I had every game that was made for the system and each new game fueled my addiction to crack-addict levels.
“I can’t just shut it down mom. I’m not even close to a save point. Do you want me to lose my progress? I’ll kill myself if I lose my progress.”
One time I took my NES to a friends house. I felt bad because he said he hadn’t played it yet and his parents couldn’t afford it. We played an action-packed game of Techmo Bowl and I’ll never forget the crazy look he had on his face when he ran from his own end zone and scored a touchdown with the completely over powered Bo Jackson. “In your face! In your face! Up your ass you dumb son of a bitch!” He yelled at me. It was at that point that I proceeded to gather up and pack my NES. He fought me like an animal, scratching and spitting. I hit him with my backpack full of Nintendo gear and escaped. I was not surprised to see him on his bike with murder in his eyes on my walk home. Jumping over fences and running through people’s yards, I hid until he disappeared.
The Nintendo Generation
When Super Mario Bros. 3 was released upon the world, it was the game you had to have. If you didn’t have the game you were not going to make it in the social world. Parents and kids again fought in the stores and did unspeakable acts to obtain the game. I heard one of my friends traded his bike to get it.
On October 23, 1988 my mom came home with Super Mario Bros 3 and said we should have a party. I remember asking her how she got it and she blinked her eyes and licked her lips, “Don’t worry about that honey. All that matters is that you have it now.” Even if she did kill somebody, that party was amazing. There was ice cream, candy and all my friends, and their friends, showed up. Word spread through the neighborhood that I had The Game. Even the bigger kids tried to get in the door but Mom was there and told them to leave. The bigger kids tried to come through a window and we had to call the cops. It was a very successful party.
Nintendo games were a part of my life in the 80’s and 90’s. It was instrumental in my social status. If you look at us now, those who never got an NES went on to be doctors and judges and those who did have it are raising the next generation of gamers. Buy your kids the newest games and fight if you have to.