Posted on May 28, 2013
Recollections of days long gone
Games don’t always bring back one specific memory. They sometimes bring to mind certain things I used to do on a regular basis, or people I used to hang out with, even though it only vaguely relates to a video game.
A few things come to mind when I think of Metroid for NES.
On top of the epic bicycle story where I recounted seeing Metroid beaten for the first time (“Samus is a woman… so?”), I have a memory of one particular Winter day with my friend Katie. We were in the basement at her place, playing with who knows what kind of dolls, or “house”, or whatever video games she happened to have. Her mom was babysitting me, since my parents and sisters were all downtown at a curling tournament.
The phone upstairs rang, and it was my mom! She was at the good ol’ Co-Op, and wanted to know which game I wanted her to rent; Metroid or Simon’s Quest? I was at the foot of the brown-carpeted stairs to the kitchen, contemplating the choice… it was a very tough decision to make! Not only that, but Katie’s mom didn’t really *know* games the way my mom did, and I always felt timid when talking about games with people who don’t know games. Still do, actually.
I ended up yelling “Metroid!”, and went back to playing with Katie. We had a bit of a road trip planned that day, which became a bit of a tradition we’d both get very excited about.
Her mom would always bring her and I to various places around Fredericton. We thought it was always “far” and called them “road trips”, and we often packed lunches, and other things to do. Indeed, places like Burton and Keswick Ridge were really out there when we were kids. We even went so far as Hillsborough for a train ride, one time! We always considered ourselves pretty lucky, since they were all simple yet incredibly fun experiences.
Well, except for that one time we had to pull the car off to the side of the road because Katie killed a tiny spider with her juicebox straw and FREAKED OUT. Other than that minor occurrence, they were all fantastic times!
In any case, I don’t recall what we did on that particular day, but I ended up being dropped off at Fredericton’s Capital Winter Club with the rest of my family. That was the arena where the curling tournament was going on.
The C.W.C. has four curling sheets (made of ice, duh) with an enclosed seating area for people to watch from. There’s a bar on the main floor, as well as another lounge upstairs that people could hang out and watch from, if they wanted to. Around the corner from the bar, however, was a tiny little room that I was always drawn to. In it was four or five arcade cabinets, and though I couldn’t quite reach the controls, I was perfectly satisfied with watching the “attract” mode.
It was still pretty early on in my addiction to games, so I remember seeing a few titles for the first time, in there. I couldn’t read quite yet, and the stylized graphics of the game names made it even harder to know what they were called. Still, I remember seeing Arkanoid, Donkey Kong, and either Centipede or Millipede among the cabinets they had. In my mind, those two are both incredibly similar, and I still don’t know the difference between them without Googling them.
In the corner, however, was the game with the greatest graphics I had ever seen. It had more colours than anything I had played on the NES so far, and it had an isometric view. It looked so real! It only gave the appearance of three dimensions, but it was incredible. There were coconuts bouncing around the stage, waterfalls, and little monkeys running around… it looked so alive and vibrant. I was so mesmerized by it, that I remember just standing there, staring at it for quite a while.
When I started writing this blog (almost two years ago, already), I went back and tried to find out what game it was. It wasn’t that tough, actually, since “isometric Donkey Kong clone” did the trick just fine!
Congo Bongo! What a trip down memory lane this is… In any case, after that tourney at the C.W.C., I went home and played Metroid a bit before going to bed.
What’s kinda wild, is that the flea market where I buy the majority of my retro games these days, actually takes place at the C.W.C. during the summer months. The vendors are all down on the rink floor (not on ice, thankfully), and one of the game vendors is right next to the windows of the viewing area. I can easily look up and see the seats, the bar, and the door to that little room that once held some gaming classics. I’m not sure what’s in there now, but I doubt it’s Congo Bongo, Arkanoid, Donkey Kong, Centipede or Millipede!
It probably holds mops and buckets now, or something.
The last thing Metroid reminds me of is that little slip that came in the rental case. Whenever you rented games, they came in those special plastic containers that snapped shut. Some were plain and clear, some (like Blockbuster Video) were made of coloured platic with labels all around them. For rentals from the Co-Op store, there was this orange and yellow sticker glued to the inside of the plain and clear container.
From what I can recall, it was just some stylized drawing of a video game-like character, and it served some kind of promotional purpose. It wasn’t much, but I remember thinking it was a very cool little addition to the rental, even though it actually had nothing to do with the game itself.
Ahh, simpler times.