Tag Archives: zelda

Six kids and one Nintendo

Growing up it was always this battle to play video games, to get some quality time with the Nintendo without one of my brothers or sisters spoiling my fun. I’m the oldest of six, we’re all really close in age, it wasn’t like I was in charge of the Nintendo, and so everybody wanted to play. We had one TV, one console, and they were shared property.


There was really only one rule that governed our video game play, and that was the principle of mutually assured destruction. Regardless of who happened to be using the Nintendo, if one of us started complaining to my mom or dad, the result was always as swift as it was consistent: “That’s it. Turn off the TV. Turn off the Nintendo.”

And if I was playing, I’d maybe start in on a defense, like, “But mom! Come on! I was playing first! I had the controller! I was playing a one-player game! Come on mom! That’s not fair! Mo-om! Come on!”

I’m talking here as if I was the victim. More than likely I was the one who got bored, decided to see what was going on in the living room, I’d find one of my brothers playing some video game, and just because of the fact that I was a huge asshole, I’d start being a jerk. “Move over, we’re playing two player.”

It was a cheap move, yeah, but that was the system by which we self-governed our Nintendo use. The rule was, as laid down by our parents, if you want to play Nintendo, and someone else wants to play Nintendo, then move over and play something that’s two-player, because it’s not your Nintendo, and if you resist, if you have to get mom and dad involved, that’s going to be the end of it.

My mom would be like, “Look, if you kids are going to fight about the Nintendo, nobody’s going to play. You want to keep fighting? I’ll throw that Nintendo in the trash. You want to try me?”

That always shut any of us up. Because even though I kind of doubted my parents’ willingness to trash something that they bought, a piece of electronics that they spent over a hundred dollars for, I never wanted to take the chance. There was always this story that my dad told about how when he was a little kid, one time he and his brothers and sisters, had so annoyed my grandmother that she cut the chord to the TV with a pair of scissors.

I mean, no, I was never really afraid that the TV would get trashed. Take away the Nintendo, maybe, but no TV? That would have been hell for my mom, having us all cooped up inside the house, no Saved By the Bell to keep us somewhat quiet.

Because that’s what we did, we watched TV and played Nintendo. We had several games, we’d get them for Christmas or, sometimes at the end of the school year we’d be surprised with a new one. I remember when I convinced my mom to buy us The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It was awesome. For months I had read in Nintendo Power magazine about all of the different dungeons that I’d have to explore, all of the various weaponry at my disposal.

This Zelda game though, it was a double-edged sword. As a one-player game, one that I really, really wanted to play, like all of the time, it meant that the rest of my brothers and sisters now wielded an inordinate amount of power over me. Any time I sat there playing Zelda, all one of them had to do was open his or her mouth and say loud enough for my mom to hear, “Hey Robbie, can I play?”

To make matters worse, this game came with only three save files. Granted, only three of us barely had the hand-eye coordination necessary to actually play this game, but try being a ten year old kid and attempting to explain this argument to your mom and dad. Halfway through the first sentence, I can already imagine my parents shaking their heads, saying to themselves, I knew we shouldn’t have bought that Zelda. Maybe there’s still time to return it for one of those baby educational Fisher-Price two-player games. We actually had one of those for regular Nintendo. It was the equivalent of Barney & Friends for video games.

And so yeah, I complain about never really getting much quality time alone with the Nintendo, but if I really take a look in the mirror, I know that it was mostly my own fault. I’m the oldest, and I had a hand in crafting the tactic of mutually assured destruction. I’d be doing something else, I’d get bored, and I’d walk into the TV room to find one of my brothers minding his own business playing a video game.

“All right,” I’d say with a shit-eating smile, “Let’s play two-player.” And if my brother started to object, I’d say in a really low voice, “Moo-oom.” Then we’d both be sitting there playing two-player Tetris, neither one of us really interested in falling bricks, but both of us too stubborn to leave the TV alone. So we’d sit like that for hours, every time I scored a line I’d do this overblown celebration, “Yes!” just to rub it in his face.

Man, I was such an asshole.

I love the Legend of Zelda

I just started playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Wii. I know I’m like two years late, but Zelda games, man, they’re so f’n great. They’re too great. You have to space them out a little bit. I finished Twilight Princess, the previous installment of the series, maybe four years ago. And it was all of the video gaming I needed for probably a decade.

Seriously, I just started this new game, and after going through the intro, after finding my sword, after learning about my quest and finally getting ready to start playing the game, I looked at my watch in total shock, unable to comprehend how four and half hours slipped by.

Four and a half hours. And that was just the very beginning of what’s ahead. Yeah, you definitely have to space these games out. My first experience with Zelda was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo. I was in second grade when the game was released, and I remember the build up, the excitement I felt seeing the ads, reading about the sixteen-bit adventure in Nintendo Power magazine.

Sure, there were two games released on the original Nintendo system, but I was a little too young to really grasp the enormity of the challenge inherent in those titles. Duck Hunt was cool. Anybody can play Duck Hunt. Even Super Mario, sure, when I was a little kid, I could never beat the game, but I’d play the first two levels over and over again, maybe I’d get to the third, maybe not.

Zelda requires something more. It’s a whole world to navigate through. It’s a giant puzzle. No, well, yes, well … OK, it’s a series of little puzzles that are all part of one bigger puzzle, and then there are a bunch of side puzzles that may or may not have something to do with the other puzzles.

It takes time. There’s a lot of opportunity to get stuck, to not know what to do next. You might pick up some obscure tool one day, not knowing what it could possibly offer you, and then weeks later you’ll be stuck in some dungeon, wondering if maybe you dug yourself into an inescapable hole, when you start going through your inventory, wildly throwing random objects at other random objects when something finally clicks, another piece of the puzzle solved.

Sounds fun, right? Of course, any game that big can get frustrating, especially when you get stuck. But getting through it all, completing the story, figuring out all of the clues, finding all of the hidden treasure chests. I’m still not doing a great job describing it.

Whenever I finish a Zelda game, I’m exhausted, like every part of me, like I lost a lot of time out of my life that I’m never getting back. That’s why I space them out. They consume me. They make it so that I’m unable to function properly in the world, a good chunk of my brain always thinking back to the game, to the puzzles, to all that I have left to do.

But it’s fun. Insanely fun. I’ve never played a bad Zelda game. (Probably because I’ve never played Zelda II.) And they keep getting released. I hope they follow me through life, every four years or so I’ll dive into a new adventure, the characters the same but the puzzles getting harder, the virtual worlds growing a little more in-depth.

I hope that someday I’m a ninety-year-old man, playing the latest Zelda game on whatever new console Nintendo has in store for the next generation. And just I finish the last level, just as I defeat whatever incarnation of evil Ganondorf has manifested in his futile attempt to take over the Kingdom of Hyrule, I’ll pass away, a smile creeping across my face as I depart this earth, into the heavenly bosom of the three goddesses, may their light shine over the Hero of Time, his unending quest for goodness, for peace, for the Triforce.

I’m the best at video games

I get on these kicks every once in a while where I get totally and completely addicted to a video game. It doesn’t happen all the time, and it always eventually passes, but when I’m in the grip of a game, it’s just takes me over so completely that I can’t think of or do anything else.

I remember being maybe two or three years old – I know this sounds like a bullshit story, but it’s true – and being over my grandparents’ house. My dad’s the second oldest of eleven kids, so when I was two or three, all of my uncles were in their teens and early twenties. And I remember one time being over there and everyone was huddled around a brand new Nintendo, the first console. They were taking turns playing Super Mario and Duck Hunt. I wanted to play so badly, but nothing sucks the fun out of something more than letting a little kid without any developed motor functions taking a turn and getting his snot-covered fingers all over the controller.

So I didn’t get to play, but I’d still pinpoint that memory as my first moment of video game addiction. Because I can remember it so clearly. And I was only two or three. I don’t have any other memories from that early in life, except for watching them play Mario I. A couple of years later, my dad came home from a business trip really late at night. At least, I thought it was pretty late at night. It could have been ten. I don’t know, I was a little kid and I was asleep and my dad came home with a Super Nintendo, set it up, woke us up out of bed, and sat us in front of the TV to play.

Little kids go to bed early and they stay asleep for like twelve hours. That’s how it must have been, because my exact memory of what went down had me waking up, regaining consciousness right in front of the television, holding the controller and playing Super Mario. I’ve never had a better waking up experience to this day. I beat that game so fast, I remember sending a photo of the end credits to Nintendo Power magazine, who asked readers to send in their photos, to determine who was the first person in the world to beat it. And it was me. I was the first person in the world to beat Super Mario World.

Then I remember reading Nintendo Power later on and seeing a whole article about The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It showed all of the enemies you’d get to face, all of the items you’d get to collect and use along the way. Reading that article and looking at those pictures, I remember that I wanted that game more than I wanted anything else in the entire world. But I had to play it exactly right. I couldn’t just beg for it, because then I’d never get it. I had to casually mention that I wanted it, all while presenting little opportunities for my parents to buy it for me as a reward for something. So I’d pretend that an upcoming math test was really hard and that I’d be studying for it even more than I normally would. And I wouldn’t really be studying, I’d just be looking at that copy of Nintendo Power underneath the math textbook.

There were so many cool video games that came out when I was a kid that I didn’t really get a lot of time in between games to let the individual addictions die down. There was Zombies Ate my Neighbors. There was Donkey Kong Country and Mario Kart. After Super Nintendo got old, the Nintendo 64 debuted, with Mario 64 eating up whole chunks of my seventh and eighth grade life. Then there were two great Zelda games for that console. There was Mario Kart 64. There was Super Smash Brothers.

Somehow this blog post has just turned into me listing titles of video games which, if you’re not too familiar with video games, you must find this incredibly boring. I was going to say so much more than just the titles, but all I’d be doing is describing the games. This is the problem with video games, for me, they absorb me so completely, so fully, that I don’t have any other room in my mind for anything else. I didn’t write as a little kid. I liked to draw, but I never really gave it the attention it deserved because I was too busy playing Goldeneye.

So that was the majority of my childhood, Nintendo. Now it’s gotten to the point where most of the time I never play video games, except for like one or two months every two years or so, when the video game bug bites hard and I can’t resist. It happened when Halo 2 came out for Xbox. I would play it for entire days while I should have been going to class and writing papers. It happened right after the Wii came out while I spent entire days trying to get a 300 in Wii Bowling while I should have been going to work. It happened when Doodle Jump came out for the iPhone. That was especially infuriating, because after just one day I really didn’t even like the game anymore. Playing it was more than just this compulsion, it was like I hated myself for wasting my time holding my phone in front of my face, moving it side to side, feeling it grow hotter and hotter in my hands. Most recently, it happened last year with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, where I spent a solid hundred hours playing Team Deathmatch on Xbox Live.

I’ve been good for a while. It comes and goes. It probably has to. If I didn’t let it happen, whatever it is that’s inside of me that compels me to play video games would bubble up inside of me and warp and grow twisted and, well, I don’t know what exactly. Maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe I would spend more time doing other stuff. But at this point I can’t fight it. I can’t predict it either. I don’t know which game is going to lay claim to my soul next.

Whatever, they’re just video games. I guess if you have to be addicted to something, video games aren’t that bad. It’s much better than gambling. Or crystal meth. Right? You ever see pictures of long-term meth users? Gross.