This unassuming, rectangular plastic box was born before I was. I don’t remember how old I was, but at some young age at the fringes of my memory, my older nephew (you read that right) brought his old Nintendo Entertainment System over to my childhood home so my siblings and I could play it. As children, with barely functioning motor skills, I can’t imagine we were very good at the game.Our family ended up getting the system from “Santa” at some point, conveniently around the time my nephew got a new, shiny Super Nintendo. It came with Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt, and to this day I don’t have any other games for it.
I remember playing it a bit as a child, but a few years later “Santa” brought us a PlayStation, and the Nintendo was parked in the basement for years. As pre-teens and teenagers, we didn’t appreciate the beautiful 8-bit simplicity and diabolical level design of the old games. It wasn’t until sometime in the latter half of my high school years, when my parents (the artists formerly known as “Santa”) gave me a small CRT television to put in my room, that I dug it out again. As the oldest sibling, dying to get away from my family, spending time in my room seemed like a perfect escape. However, I couldn’t bring the newer systems to my room, as they were shared amongst the family. So I brought the trusty Nintendo upstairs, blew out the dust from the cartridge, and proceeded to spend endless hours in blissful solitude mastering every level of Super Mario Bros. until I could beat it routinely.
When I went to college, I brought it along to my dormitory. As a college freshmen, I wanted desperately to be cool, and felt a retro game system would surely be a hit. It’s almost embarrassing to admit now how eager I was to show off my skills, but beyond that, I remember enthusiastically showing my roommate all the tricks and secrets of the game and watching him master the game as I had. Sharing it was far more enjoyable than playing it alone. Over the years I’ve collected quite a few new game systems, but I’ll never move on from the original.