Memories Under Glass: Super Mario Kart

This is going to be short, but it’s Father’s Day and one memory sticks out more than anything else.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have many games for the SNES that were actually bought and owned by us.  We were much more of a rental family, due in equal parts to a limited budget for gaming and the fact my three siblings and I could rarely agree on a game to get.  Countless memories of mine consist of us spending several minutes pouring over the selection of games at the local video store looking for a good game to rent that at least most of us could agree on.  Sometimes we’d switch off who would pick the games, even, allowing my sisters to choose a game one time and me and my brother would pick the next one.  It kept the peace, for the most part.

The games we did own ended up being games that had more general appeal, or at least were enjoyed by three of us.  A game we owned could generally be counted on to be a good game all around, or at least I like to think so.  One of those games is Super Mario Kart.

Super Mario Kart was probably one of our most played games.  It’s no surprise to me that the kart racing games took off.  My siblings and I would play this all the time.  It seemed to have a huge amount of replay and variety.  Each racer had their own strengths, whether that be fast acceleration, tight turning, or high max speed.  There were also a ton of tracks, separated into multiple cups, as well as multiple difficulties.

The game was just fun, really.  I’d team up with my siblings, trying to work out stuff like the boost start and how to properly skid around corners.  We’d laugh, cheer…all the things that are encouraged by a good game.  However, despite that, the real reason this game holds such a strong memory for me is this: it was one of the few games my dad would also play.

My dad didn’t play many games, at least not for very long.  For some reason he really liked Super Mario Kart.  He’d always pick Donkey Kong every time and play along with us, joking along the way.  Since it was two player, it really connected with me when I was on the other controller.  Having your dad take an interest in what you’re doing, and join in on it, has to be one of the greatest memories of any child, I swear.  Even the fact that he played Donkey Kong warms my heart.

You see…when I was a kid, we would go to theme parks and spend the day there playing around and doing all sorts of fun things, as you do.  Being a small kid, though, I always had trouble on things like rope net bridges, since my coordination on moving objects wasn’t the best at the time, and it was very easy for me to slip.  My dad would notice I’m having a lot of trouble and put me on his back.  Now, normally you might think he’d just go across as normal while carrying me, but nope:  He’d imitate being a gorilla, crawling along and jumping around the rope bridge while I rode on his back cheering and laughing.  He did stuff like this often, or at least I have a ton of memories of him doing it.  My dad must have seemed kinda crazy like that to others but he couldn’t have been more awesome to me.

So naturally, the fact he most often chose Donkey Kong meant something to me.  He’d joke that he liked how Donkey Kong looked like he was hunched over the steering wheel (even if he wasn’t really), and then imitate being Donkey Kong while playing.  Try playing Super Mario Kart when you’re falling over laughing, it’s extremely difficult.  It’s..really almost impossible to put into words just how strong of an impact all of this made on me. I loved him for it, and still do.  I only hope I can create as many memories for my kids in similar ways as he did with me.

Last year, Super Mario Kart celebrated it’s 20th anniversary.  Since then it’s gone through multiple iterations and versions on new consoles and continues to be a fun kart racer.  Super Mario Kart itself can be bought through the Virtual Console, even, and a new one is coming out for the Wii U.  It’s a great game, and great games make great memories.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go call my dad.

Memories Under Glass: Gaming on the IBM PCjr

My earliest memories of PC gaming began in my grandparents’ house back in the mid to late 80s.  I didn’t really know anything about PCs at the time and they had their IBM PCjr set up in the living room.  We didn’t have a PC at home yet, I don’t think, so traveling 6 hours to visit my grandparents was really the only way at the time to mess with one.  Being a huge Transformers kid at the time, the computer fascinated me…albeit not as much as it would once I learned all about the inner workings later in life.  I have no clue what they normally did with it, but I remember the only thing I cared about at the time was the games.

Now, I’ll be honest, the games on the PCjr were usually nothing special, and most wouldn’t hold up today even if you ignored the obvious differences in graphics and presentation.  They were short little fun things you might find in a flash game nowadays.  That said, I was a very young kid at the time with little experience, so it didn’t take much to make me excited.  Lower standards and all that.  I could stay there and play game after game if I was allowed to do so.  Looking back, it was quite obvious games were Kind Of A Big Deal to me.  First, let’s take a look at the PC itself.

The IBM PCjr in all its splendor…as it were.

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Memories Under Glass: Medievia

My interest in online worlds and games began quite a long time ago.  I’m not sure which one was the first online game I played, though.  I know I tried out the original Neverwinter Nights on AOL, and for a time we also had Prodigy and I tried out Compuserve.  I spent time somewhere with a crude 4X game (I think) called TradeWars, and I played various games on the GEnie service along with spending time in the RoundTables (RT) there (the precursor to these new-fangled “forums”…the Justice League: GEnie group in the Comics RT in particular was pretty hilarious).

However, the clearest memories I have was a game called Medievia.  It was a text based MUD that my siblings got me into when I was probably around 10-12 (so 1992-1994-ish).  Compared to other MUDs I tried later, it felt like a fully realized world, and introduced many words into my vocabulary like quaff (the only way to drink potions) and formation (a 3×3 grid for your group used to employ a rudimentary form of aggro control and tanking).

First thing you see when you log in

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Memories Under Glass

I just want to go ahead and say this right now: I’ve played a lot of games in my life.

I started playing games way back when I was a really young child, maybe around 5-7 years old (i.e. ~1987-89), with King’s Quest on an IBM PC Jr. and Super Mario Bros on the NES.  In the intervening time many games have come and gone.  Some were highly forgettable, others shaped my perceptions and interests to the point that even today I can look back and remember it fondly.

This category of posts are mainly about those games which affected me in some significant way, either by introducing me to a new type of game, providing some benefit even beyond the game itself, or hits me with nostalgia like a brick.  Some games were fun, but are most remembered because it brings back memories of friends or times in my life.

Essentially these posts will be about my memories of games that affected me, put on display for the world to see, as if they were under glass in a museum display.  To put something under glass essentially means that you recognize its worth and value.  It symbolizes your intent to protect it and remember it, as I am doing by posting them instead of leaving them just in my head.  Therefore, these are my memories under glass.