When Wii Were Young

Our Nintendo Wii must’ve sat idle for five months before the other day when I downloaded Super Mario World. I’ve knocked the Wii for requiring so much physical exertion, but the fact I can tap into a database of hundreds of video games from previous Nintendo systems makes it something of a time machine.

I mean, right now, somewhere in your community, there’s adults playing dodgeball. Somewhere, a father is telling his son about his little league glory days while a mother is telling her daughter that Justin Bieber’s got nothing on a young David Cassidy. It’s no secret we hold tight to our childhood convictions even decades after we should’ve grown out of them.

I don’t like to use the word “nostalgia,” because it seems to belittle and bemoan a very practical want for the simple joys we had as kids. Let me just say my latest foray into Super Mario World has been just as delightful as the first go-round, but sadly, just as hard. I’ve been stuck in the Forest of Illusion for a week now. (The irony is not lost on me.)

Video games were an important part of my childhood. I grew up in a neighborhood where I was the youngest boy. Most of the other boys were at least two or three years older. It’s a miracle I ever stuck with sports after all those backyard games of 5-on-1 softball and tackle football games where I thought I might dislocate my face. These memories explain why I was better at defense in softball and played offensive line in varsity football.

It was video games that leveled the playing field on Gibson Avenue. My lack of size and strength didn’t matter holding that Super Nintendo controller, so when it came time to play Street Fighter II, that’s where I got my revenge.

Sometimes, I imagine what it would be like to earn my current paycheck as a kid in grade school, with no bills or reasons to save. I would blow the money on Super Nintendo games, baseball cards, Lemonheads, Garth Brooks cassette tapes, the latest pair of Air Jordans, a Schwinn to replace my lame-ass Huffy. I’d take my family to Valentino’s all-you-can-eat Italian buffett. I’d buy batting gloves for little league baseball, but also for my Super Nintendo, so my chunky little hands wouldn’t slip off the controller after hours of gaming.

Instead, it’s rent, my car lease and car insurance. It’s cable and Internet, my cell phone bill and US Bank for that $40K they loaned me for college. It’s groceries and toiletries. Now and then, it’s a meal out or a movie or a T-shirt.

It was just eight dollars to download Super Mario World on my Nintendo Wii, and I can honestly say it’s one of the most fulfilling purchases I’ve made in awhile. (Second only to the driving range balls I’ve purchased to see my girlfriend experiment with golf.)

As we get older, there’s this movement toward more dignified activity as what should find fulfilling as an adult. I’m not interested in seeing plays or spending $100 on dinner or hiking. Nonsense. I’m a big nerd and I always will be. (I mean, I blog, after all.) Playing Super Mario World isn’t just enjoyable because it triggers pleasant memories from my childhood. Hopping on Yoshi and stomping on Koopas and Goombas is just as fun now as it was back in 1993.

I spent plenty of Friday nights at home a a kid, cooped up in my upstair bedroom, plowing through the latest Super Nintendo game I was renting. Sixteen years later, as grey hairs are starting to multiply and 60 Minutes has become a highlight of my week,  I plan on spending my Friday night with a mouth full of Lemonheads, sipping Diet Mountain Dew while in hot pursuit of Bowser.

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6 thoughts on “When Wii Were Young

  1. I smell what you’re cooking.

    I played a lot of videogames as a kid, but since graduating college, I’ve probably only turned on my Playstation 2 a couple dozen times. I’ve got at least three games I’ve purchased and never even played once. I’ve got a great baseball game I bought on a whim last spring and played non-stop for like a week and have attempted to play once since, but spent three hours updating rosters manually and got sick of it.

    I’ve got a machine that plays both NES and SNES games and I love that thing and playing Super Mario and all that, but even then I still almost never pull it out and play the games. It’s too bad, I miss playing videogames, but I’ve just got too much going on.

    Getting older kinda sucks sometimes.

  2. Any blog that mentions Street Fighter II is great in my book. I still play videogames. It seems my desire and time to play them fell off a cliff once I graduated from high school but I still have found memories of beer and Grand Theft Auto III my freshman year of college.

    Then we moved on to a modded Xbox and fast-forward to the present and I currently have a 360. Right now, all I really play is Street Fighter 4 but I use my 360 every night…to watch movies and TV shows on Netflix through Xbox LIVE.

    I still own my Sega Genesis and every once in awhile bust it out to play some X-Men 2, Mortal Kombat 2 or NHL 95. I also still have a Dreamcast but rarely play it. I love the old-school service Xbox and the Wii are giving to older gamers by re-releasing old classics like Marvel v.s. Capcom 2, Super Mario, Legend of Zelda, Castlevania and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

    It’s great and doesn’t require the knowledge of complicated button schemes in games nowadays. Just press right on the D-Pad and hit A or B. Simple, effective, fun.

  3. you should write a book. you’re funny. i love this blog posting btw. also, the wii is for little people, you should be playin’ freakin’ xbox. they have this thing call xbox live and you can play with big people. you can play games that are way more “cooler” than mario, fyi.

  4. Nice. I just picked up Super Mario Bros Wii (comes in the red case) a couple weeks ago. We’ve been playing it non-stop. Already passed the game, now going back to get all the secret coins and stuff. It’s way better than the old school one, you can play up to 4 people on the levels at the same time. Mass craziness at some points, but it’s fun to jump off of someone else to reach a high ledge or something.

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