Gross Anatomy

I have probably already mentioned this before, but Jeremy Parish is one of my favorite video game writers/historians. I add “historian” to that description because his knowledge of video game history (particularly console/Japanese video game history) is deep.

Lately he’s been doing these “Anatomy of a Game” posts and recently he started examining The Legend of Zelda for the NES. He hasn’t finished the series yet, but I am thoroughly enjoying all of these articles.

The Legend of Zelda is probably the most important contributor to me becoming a “gamer”. I had played many games before then (I owned a ET cartridge for the Atari 2600, people) but I have vivid memories of hours spent playing Zelda. My exploration of Hyrule actually mirrored those formative years of growing up for me. We moved to a new city the year I turned twelve years old. I went from going to schools in the not-exactly-the-pinnacle-of-education Cleveland City School District to the relatively successful schools in the peaceful suburb of North Royalton. At the start of the seventh grade I didn’t have any friends and video games served to fill that vacancy for a while.

I was playing The Legend of Zelda and, quite honestly, I was pretty lost. Not making a lot of progress in the game nor in the game of life. I happened to bring my fold out map of Hyrule to school one day and a girl in my class noticed that I was studying it before class started. She took it from me and started drawing on it. Horrified, I asked her what she was doing. “Just helping you out,” she replied. She proceeded to mark out places where bombs would open new caves, bushes would reveal secret passageways and where I should go first. She didn’t reveal everything (I honestly don’t know how she had memorized as much of the map as she did), just like the game. Her hints and suggestions gently guided me on the path to discovering things for myself. My eyes had been opened to the possibilities.

I don’t know how many times I actually finished The Legend of Zelda, but I will never forget the sense of wonder I experienced exploring that world. Jeremy’s posts have definitely stirred those emotions almost twenty fives years later.

(You can see all his Anatomy of a Game links here.)

It worked every time

You used to blow into your NES cartridges to make them work (even though it was probably nothing more than the Placebo Effect). Now you can make some sweet music with your very own Custom Nintendo Super Mario 3 Harmonica!

Consoles I have known (cont’d)

I linked to the first article in this series a little while ago. Here’s the second part. (I loved the mention of The Amazon from the NES game Pro Wrestling. I hated getting my face eaten by that guy!)

Continuing his saga through the gaming systems that formed him, TODD LEVIN recounts the lessons found in his first Nintendo, particularly as taught by the highs and lows of Mike Tysonís Punch-Out.

Link. Another funny read.

A simple instruction manual

This month’s Round Table Discussion is a trip down memory lane — “A moment when you knew that games were to be a part of your life…” As soon as Corvus announced the topic I immediately knew what moment that would be for me. The moment is crystal clear. It happened one Saturday morning on my way to Boy Scouts.

I was twelve years old at the time (1987), and on Saturday mornings I attended our weekly Boy Scout meeting at my friend’s house. His dad was the Scoutmaster and I’d get a ride to the meeting with another buddy of mine. This particular Saturday (it was late October, if memory serves me) my friend handed me the manual to his new Nintendo game, Kung Fu.

I had already been playing video games for a couple years on my trusty Atari 2600, but that was the extent of my playing. I didn’t play it very often, just a game of Combat or Pitfall when I was bored. I was more into my G.I. Joe Headquarters than any video game. My friend had an ColecoVision and I knew what the new Nintendo system looked like, but I had never played it. Leafing through the pages of the Kung Fu manual that chilly morning, I was immediately sucked in. “Look at those graphics!” Amazing! “Oooh, I bet the Mr. X is tough to beat!” I had to play this game. All during the meeting, all I could think about was saving the girl and kicking butt, Kung Fu style! After the meeting, I called my mom and begged her to let me go over Lance’s house. That afternoon we played Kung Fu and Super Mario Brothers for hours. I don’t know if you can get Nintendo thumb from just a few hours of playing, but I’m pretty sure I did. Kung Fu was one of my favorite games on the NES and that single day cemented my love for video games.

Of course I set about making sure Santa knew that all I wanted for Christmas that year was a Nintendo Entertainment System. No G.I. Joe, no Transformers. Just Mario, Luigi, and any other 8-bit creations I could play. Santa came through, as he always does, and I haven’t stopped playing since.

Kung Fu
Where it all started

If you’re interested, you can download the Kung Fu manual here, from replacementdocs (which is where I got the image above).

Are you a Nintendo Geek?

Prove it.

I scored 1700, getting two wrong and getting a couple clues. I’m a “Nintendo Geek”. Darn skippy.

(via my buddy Grant. Destructoid has been added to the feed list!)