Monday, September 24, 2007

The SNES keeps on passing me by...

I never had a Super Nintendo as a kid. You wouldn't think it was such a shocking revelation, but you haven't seen the incredulous expressions on the faces of hardcore gamers when I tell them that I didn't grow up with an SNES in the house. The system obviously had a strong impact on a generation of kids, and I missed out. To some people, those younger than me by a few years, the SNES was their introduction into the world of video games. A world without it was the territory of hapless, unfortunate losers like me.

Oh, sure, I had the original Nintendo Entertainment System along with the grey Zapper and even R.O.B. the Robot. By the middle of 1991, I had over 40 NES games in my collection. My parents even got me the original Game Boy when it was released for the 1989 Christmas season.

But they wouldn't budge when it came to the SNES. They didn't see the point in spending the money on a new system when they had invested so much in the NES. If the SNES were backwards compatible, then maybe they would have considered it, but as it stood, they didn't see the logic. To them, electronic equipment consisted of household tools that could last at least a decade before becoming obsolete. They couldn't be blamed for thinking that in 1991 while they watched TV on a set purchased in 1979. Even with an enlightened attitude brought on by the rapid evolution of computers and home video, they didn't understand how the NES was about to be replaced by what seemed to be the most incredible system ever.

This tale is essentially the beginning of my "How I got a Sega Genesis" story. But I don't want to digress. It was the mystical lure of Japan's Super Famicom (Japanese name for the SNES) that had me daydreaming of playing in 16 bits.

I remember going over to my see my friend Yoshitoyo (coincidentally nicknamed "Yoshi") and playing Street Fighter 2 and F-Zero on his Super Famicom. Strangely enough, all the Japanese kids in my town must have lived in Yoshi's neighborhood because every Saturday I'd go visit him, there'd be like six younger Japanese kids sitting around the Super Famicom playing Street Fighter 2. Considering that I spoke no Japanese, it was a little unusual hanging out with them. I had to endure their laughter and verbal outbursts as they effortlessly pummeled me in the game. When I asked Yoshi what they were saying, he'd just laugh and shake his head in that timid way Japanese people do.

Fast forward about a decade and a half and I still don't have a SNES. Now that I see what a treasured history the system has in the minds (and libidos) of gamers everywhere, I can't help but feel that I missed out on something special. I never got to play through much of Super Mario World. I never got to develop my skills in Street Fighter 2. I never got to experience the joy of playing Pocky & Rocky co-op. I still don't get all those clever Earthbound references. I never even got to experience the complete disappointment of playing Faceball 2000.

Woe is me—I really missed out, didn’t I?

Well, I'll live vicariously through the 10 minutes in this video:

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