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Our NES Memories: 30 Years of Famicom

Nick Wozniak, Yacht Club Games

by Neal Ronaghan - July 25, 2013, 2:11 pm EDT

The Shovel Knight dev recalls playing Super Mario Bros. 2 with his mom.

At 7 years old, I was terrible at finishing games. I remember getting through a couple dungeons in The Legend of Zelda, but never seeing the raft. I remember getting to the levels in Super Mario Bros. where the sky was black but never seeing the crazy amount of hammers emitting from that last Bowser. I remember using warp pipes to eek out progress as far as I could into the dream world of Super Mario Bros. 2, but never seeing Wart. That was until I let my Mom have a go.

She, not being much of a video game player, took to jumping over enemies and digging up radishes like a pro. It was awesome; I told here where secrets were and where to put the potions, and she deftly maneuvered her way through the levels up until the final boss. At a certain point, I was unable to help at all, since we had gotten to levels I had never seen before. All I could do was sit there and hope that Mom could get through the waves of Snifits, Shy Guys, and those horrible Phantos. And then it happened, the screen changed and I heard the boss music start up. It was perfect, we had a dozen lives (my mom was somehow really great at the slot machine mini-game) and just one more foe.

She entered the room and there, with that stupid, fat grin on his face, stood Wart. I was glued to the screen and had forgotten how to blink. Mom ran in and suddenly bubbles were everywhere and radishes and pumpkins shooting through the air, and no mushroom blocks to dissuade the torrent of projectiles. After a few seconds of assessing the situation, Mom died. That was ok, we had plenty of lives and all the time in the world to figure this out. Our plan was to jump right over where the veggies popped out so that we could ride them through the air in order to pick them up before landing; just like the Birdo eggs. We didn't know that if you let the veggies fall on your head, you would just grab them. That mistake cost us many subsequent lives before we accidentally discovered that trick.

It was down to the wire, only three lives left and Mom was getting into the groove. She'd gotten to the point where she could grab the radish out of the air and land without getting hurt but the timing of throwing it into Wart's mouth was still a little tricky. Two successful hits in and Mom died. Next life went very much the same: bubbles came out right as the radish was thrown breaking the radish and killing Mom. We were getting pretty tense. It was down to the wire; we had only one life and one hope for defeating this terrifying foe. Then, in that final life, while avoiding bubbles and throwing vegetables at the frog, Mom pulled a miracle out of nowhere and hit Wart for the third time, I nearly jumped with excitement as the assumed victory had been acheieved.....the problem is, he takes a lot more hits than three. Wart still lived. Unlike the other bosses in the game, he requires the player to learn three completely new concepts: Catch the veggies on your head, Wart only gets hurt when his mouth is open, and he takes more than three hits before dying. In a fluster, Mom died and we saw the most horrible screen ever conceived....the game over screen. As the start-up screen showed up again, and that once happy music began to play, she looked to me and I asked " are we gonna try again?" She balked at the idea and said "no, sweety, I think I'm done." And my Mom has not played a video game since...

I hate Wart...



CericJuly 16, 2013

I played To the Earth with the Zapper Headset that you spoke to activate.

StrawHousePigJuly 16, 2013

I heard he was a total Star Wars nerd.

A nerd! :o

ejamerJuly 16, 2013

I remember buying To the Earth due some confusion. We were supposed to buy Solar Jetman, but hey, the games are probably almost the same right? Both involve... well, space.

After the initial disappointment, I sat down and started playing To the Earth. Eventually we could get through the first 3 or 4 levels, which seemed pretty substantial. Even though the game was tough, it was really quite enjoyable once you had enough practice. I liked how you were forced to be accurate with your shots since every miss was costly and would reduce your fuel level. The one downside is that Duck Hunt became almost unplayable - the pace was just so slow.

Have thought about reacquiring this game now... but not sure my adult self would have the persistence (or time) required to build up the skill and memory required to get through each level.

Quote from: StrawHousePig

I heard he was a total Star Wars nerd.

A nerd! :Q

This is another true statement. But that didn't happen until 1994! I send out a big "Thank you" to USA (the TV channel) for having marathons of the movies around Independence day back then!

You know, apparently The Lone Ranger also used the zapper in the first person areas, but we could never get the thing to work properly.

xcwarriorJuly 19, 2013

Top 4 all worthy selections. Never played Darkwing Duck. But the omission of Legend of Zelda/Final Fantasy/Tetris/Baseball Stars 2/Duck Hunt/Mega Man 2/MM3/Double Dragon II and probably others is sacriligious!

So many good NES titles.... I normally am for NES games being on Wii U VC and not 3DSVC, but I would pay $5 in a heart beat for Baseball Stars 2 on 3DSVC.

Ian SaneJuly 19, 2013

I like Brian Davis' story about the parental network in the neighbourhood making sure that their kids each had a distinct library of games between them.  In the NES days I figured that in regards to videogames parents fell into two categories:

A: parents that thought videogames were evil.
B: parents that would buy their kids games but had a knack for zeroing in on the worst game in the store 99% of the time.

With videogames it seemed like us vs. parents.  So Brian's story was refreshing, showing that that wasn't the case every time.

TheFleeceJuly 21, 2013

Justin, our stories are so very similar it's almost scary! I always think about that event almost everyday, it's one of my favorite memories. These stories are awesome, I've enjoyed them all.

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