When I was younger, my dad and I spent a lot of time at the dump. You’d have to ask him why, but I have a lot of memories of us wandering around trash heaps and breaking old TVs with rocks.
I was probably about 10 when the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) came out. I wanted one so badly that I would nearly have a seizure each time I learned that another kid in my class had one.
My dad knew about my mania and offered a solution. At the dump one day, we walked past a pile of cow entrails that came up to about waist height.
“Tell you what, son,” he said. “If you’ll stick your head in that pile of guts, you can have a Nintendo.”
He’s not a cruel man but he does love a joke. He’s generous and kind and I know that he probably would have stopped me from getting into those entrails.
I didn’t get the Nintendo then. But a couple of times a month one of his college friends–a black guy named Charles–would pick me up and we’d go to the arcade and play Kangaroo, Missile Command, and Donkey Kong Jr.
Arcade Fever: The Fan’s Guide To The Golden Age of Video Games
I saw this book at the library and had to grab it. There are few things for me that evoke as much instant nostalgia as music and retro video games.
Arcade Fever is a fun look at the classics. It’s basically a book of trivia. Each page or two contains a profile of one of the canonized heavies like Frogger, Pac Man, and Donkey Kong. There are interviews with programmers, pictures of the original game art, and a very interesting anecdote about one of Steve Jobs’s early projects.
What can I say? As much as I yap about living in the present, I love me some nostalgia. Many of today’s videogames require time commitments of 100 hours or more. I don’t have the time or interest for that anymore.
But when I need to empty my mind for 15 minutes–this often helps with Tourette’s when I can’t calm down any other way–I can sit down and play something like Super Mario Brothers from start to finish. I get some relief and Princess Toadstool gets rescued…yet again.
If you’re a fan of arcade games or you’re appalled by my father’s behavior, Arcade Fever is a fun trip down digital memory lane. It’s too expensive to buy, but if you follow that link you can see the Amazon reviews. Some fanboys are very upset about this book…
And when I got that Nintendo, I went nuts. I used to pause it in the morning before school, leave it on for 8 hours, then come home and pick up where I’d left off.
Any fans here? If you have a favorite retro game or two or any arcade memories, tell us in the comments section. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try and find my copies of Pitfall and Yar’s Revenge.
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