Tuesday, November 15, 2005

When's My Turn?

20 years ago last month, the Nintendo Entertainment System was introduced in the US.

When I was a kid, we had a couple of video game machines: a Commodore 64 and the ubiquitous Atari 2600. The Atari was a lot of fun, and we had a ton of fun games for it. The Commodore 64 would have been more like a computer, except that all we had was the base unit (keyboard). So all you could do was type in BASIC programs that couldn't be saved, or play cartridge games (some of which were quite good though).

A number of uneventful years passed (with respect to video game machines), until the fateful day I went over to a friends house to see his new Nintendo.

There was a huge crowd of kids over that day, all gathered around the TV where they were playing Super Mario Brothers in all its 8-bit color glory. I had never seen anything like it. The graphics looked a million times better then the blocky, limited-color graphics of the Commodore 64 and Atari. I was hooked.

There were only two problems.

First, in the original Super Mario Brothers when playing multi-player the first player kept playing until they died. And that could take a really long time if you were good at the game. For reference, later when I was in college, Bill and I used to play SMB1 and could beat the entire game without dying (though with warping I believe). No one was quite that good back then, but they were plenty good enough to play for a very, very long time on a single guy.

Since I didn't have an NES, I was quite bad at the game. That meant my turns at playing usually ended rather quickly, after which I had to wait for a seemingly interminable time until the other player died. There was only one solution to that problem in my mind; I needed my own NES so I could play as much as I wanted.

But that lead to the second problem, the fact that as a young kid, I had no way to afford an NES.

To Be Continued...


Brenden Johnson said...

I don't think I want to hear how this ends. Unless I'm thinking of something else.

I wait with anticipation.

Scooter said...

Hardcore programmers liked the Vic-20.

Steve Eck said...

The Commodore 64 was plenty complicated for me.

The whole peeking and pokeing memory in order to do everything sort of confused me. Of course not being able to save anything, ever, made things significantly more difficult. So mostly I just wrote little text adventures.

Brenden Johnson said...

I wrote a couple games on my Atari 400 and my Apple ][+, but in BASIC. PEEKing and POKEing always scared me.