For part one of this article click here.
After Katie chose the games we wanted to play we hooked everything up to the big TV in my parent’s basement. We started with the NES.
At first, Katie didn’t know how to insert the game. She quickly became annoyed but not discouraged. I told her how to push down inside the NES to pop the game already inserted out. She pretty much figured it out from there. As expected, my old Mario 3 cart refused to play at first, but surprisingly, Katie knew the old blow-on-the-cartridge trick. She blew the dust off and carefully plugged in the game and started it up. It worked great. Right off the bat Katie liked Mario 3. Se had played Super Mario World on the GBA so controlling the game and understanding the game world wasn’t a problem. She liked the graphics and the music but she disliked the fact that most NES games don’t have a save feature. Katie’s first impressions of Little Nemo were also pretty favorable. She liked the idea behind Little Nemo’s gameplay and thought it was pretty fun once she got the hang of it, but (understandably,) quickly got irritated with the difficulty of the game. She only ended up playing Little Demo for about 30 minutes before shutting off the NES out of frustration. She thought she would like it more if she could save her progress along the way.
Katie told me right away that she liked the design of the SNES more than the NES. She had no problem plugging in the carts and getting right into the game. As she had used the Wii Classic controller several times in the past she felt more comfortable using the SNES controller than the two button NES one. (She later told me that while having only two buttons never really got in the way, she felt weird only having two.) The first game we played was Earthbound. Katie had played several Pokemon games and wanted to try a new RPG. She loved it. She liked the colorful graphics (The trippy backgrounds in battle threw her off at first but quickly grew on her,) soundtrack and odd characters. She liked the simple battle system and thought that the scrolling HP and PP meters were a great idea. We ended up playing Earthbound for almost an hour before she shut it off and popped in F-Zero. She was a fan of the mode 7 effects F-Zero used and the fast paced races. Although Katie initially had fun with F Zero, her interest didn’t last as long as I expected. She felt “The Racers and tracks and stuff are too similar.”
Turbografx-16/ PC-Engine Impressions:
Katie absolutely loved how small my modded PC-Engine was but was very disappointed when I told her that the US Turbografx was about twice as big. Again, she noted how strange it was to her that games so old came on a card but she then added that she thought t was cool that these game cards are so different. I had to explain to her what the turbo switches on the controller were and although she seemed to like the idea she never really used them. To my surprise the first game she chose was Double Dungeons, a mediocre first person dungeon crawler. It only took her about ten minutes to get sick of it. It’s repetitive nature and dull graphics really got under her skin. The second game she played was shubibinman 2 (localized for the US as Shockman.) She chose it because of the anime art style on the cover. Despite it being in Japanese, she took to the game very well. She liked the graphics and control, but stated she really wasn’t a fan of the sound on the PCE. She played this for about 30 minutes until her mom came to pick her up.
The PC Engine (bottom) and it’s US counterpart, the Turbografx-16 (top)
As Katie got ready to leave, I offered to buy her an NES or SNES for Christmas or her birthday, but she quietly declined. She told me that she thinks she would probably prefer a super Nintendo to an NES but asked me to hook her up with an emulator and give her time to play around on her own before she made a final decision. As she she was heading out the door I asked her what it was that she liked most about these older games. After thinking to herself for a minute she gave me an answer. She told me, “I like these old games because they don’t take forever to learn and don’t need several different types of control to get through them. I like how colorful they are compared to Matt’s (her brother,) shooter games. Basically I like them because they’re fun and different from a lot of the games I see now, and different is cool.” That answer made me proud to be her geek mentor. I fully believe that if kids like her appreciate the things I love about older games, the future of gaming can’t be too bad.