“The following is a contributor column by the Infernal Accountant Mage.”
The first time I can remember being awestruck by a video game was the first time I saw the rain in an import copy of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
A consistent message that I’m going to repeat time and time again throughout this series is that I don’t remember much of my childhood, that those are memories I’ve largely cast aside for a brighter present and the hopes of a happy future. With that said, I’m not going to be able to tell you exactly when or where the first time I saw a Super Nintendo was. I do, however, remember that rain.
That glorious rain! No NES game had such a spectacle. If you’ve played A Link to the Past, you’re aware that the rain doesn’t even last all that long; you’ll see it for five to ten minutes at most. Yet it was that rain that really opened my eyes to the power of video games and what they could do – how could something look so glorious, so realistic? What wonders could we hope to see in the future? I had to have a Super Nintendo, of course, and that Christmas there was one under the tree, courtesy of my long-suffering parents who did their best to make that kind of thing happen.
That Super Nintendo came with several games and A Link to the Past wasn’t among them. I’d receive that game eventually, though I’ve never been much of a Zelda fan so it didn’t have much of a long-term impact. No, this Super Nintendo came with F-Zero, Pilotwings and Super Mario World. F-Zero was terrifying to timid young me; the ships exploded in impressive fashion upon running out of shields or falling off the stage and that was a bit too much to handle. Pilotwings was a favorite due to its graphics, but I never really understood the conceit or the physics behind what I was doing, so any success came from rote memorization. Playing it now, I find myself overthinking the game and doing much more poorly than I did back in 1991.
Most of my time, then, was spent with Super Mario World. I’m not going to reiterate the thousands upon thousands of hours that have been spent extolling this game’s virtues. Instead, I think it’s important to point out that for young me, Super Mario World represented an advancement of graphical and technological capability that hadn’t seemed possible. Look at how big the characters were! Gape in awe at the interactive cartoon playing out onscreen! Super Mario World became newly fascinating with each completed level; behold the coin-filled Yellow Switch Palace that, when completed, filled the world with bricks and opened new paths! Here’s a magic feather that gives Mario a cape! He can fly with it, but flying requires finesse and practice, with successful aviation serving as almost a little game in itself.
Could a video game really look this good? Could it really be this fun to play? Could there really be this much to do? Perhaps most significantly: if video games can be this impressive, what magic might the real world one day hold? In a strange twist, the magic of Super Mario World began to open my eyes to the larger world around me. This was amazing…but there could be even more than this out there. I couldn’t wait to grow up and find out. At the very least, I couldn’t wait to see what else the Super Nintendo would have in store.
Young me would be awestruck by the myriad miracles that surround us today and by the nonchalance with which we take them for granted. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and try to recapture that sense of wonder. It’s particularly important when there are so many who are so eager to crush it out of you.
Oh, and with all that said: I still have a special place in my heart for rainy days.
The Infernal Accountant Mage believes the pen is mightier than the sword…well, depending on how sharp the pen and sword are. A child of the ’90s and a prolific writer, he strews his work about like Legos made of words, just waiting for your brain to step on them. He enjoys a devilish challenge, so when it comes to talking about some of the more difficult games out there, you might just run into the Infernal Accountant Mage. Some advice: hold on to your soul around this guy, and don’t sign anything. Read more at popzara.com
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Categories: Wednesday Column