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Revisiting old video games

| Tuesday, February 18, 2014

WEB_Banner_OldVideoGamesEmily Hoffmann
I don’t watch a lot of television.

This isn’t something I’m bragging about, it’s just a fact. I don’t even have some admirable, moral reason for not watching TV; I’m just bad at it. My attention span doesn’t really work for the length of shows, and I’m far too much of a commitment-phobe to keep up with a series. Instead, I stick with mostly episodic comedy (read: cartoons) or anything from the “Law & Order” franchise because it’s on at any waking hour of the day.

When I moved into Farley my freshman year, I brought with me a wonderful gift from my parents — a huge Sony television. Seriously, it’s enormous. How big? I have no idea. People measure TVs in inches, right? It’s a lot of inches. Though I didn’t watch much television to begin with, I was excited to have an especially large TV to call my own. It was fancy, flat-screened and a marker of my emergence into adulthood. I carried it up to my minuscule dorm room with all the pride of a college freshman convinced she had achieved independence, despite the fact that her TV had just been purchased in full by her parents.

Upon assembling the television and placing the giant, shiny Sony on top of the diminutive refrigerator in my freshman quad, I already had doubts about how much use it would see that year. Boy, was I right. The poor guy experienced about two hours of use over the entire academic year, and when it did, the only thing my roommates and I could find to watch was “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” It got to the point that the Sony became known simply as “the Kardashian box.” We even considered taping a printed out picture of the sisters to the black screen, since it would be the equivalent to its current use, both in the diversity of shows watched and the interestingness of the Kardashians.

Don’t you worry, though; this story has a happy ending. During my sophomore year, the Kardashian box experienced a beautiful transformation. One fateful night of shameless procrastination lead to some online shopping and the impulse-purchase of a Nintendo 64 from eBay. One week later, the package arrived, changing the course of history for both my GPA and the Kardashian box’s destiny. Late nights of “Tony Hawk Pro Skater” brought me closer to the Sony than I ever was before. After years of neglect and abuse in the form of the E! Network, my television got the use and attention it deserved.

I share this tale not (only) to publicly reassure my parents that their purchase went to good use, but to spread my vast knowledge of and appreciation for old-school video games. While some of you may be well versed in fancy Xbox and games that involve zombies and carjacking, I’m here to walk you through some of the best (and most affordable) consoles and games from yesteryear so you can play them your very own Kardashian box. Because if there are two things this generation needs more of, it’s video games and nostalgia.

Nintendo 64: There’s pretty much no doubt that the Nintendo 64 was the pinnacle of video gaming systems. There’s no better feeling than blowing in the cartridge and firing up your favorite game. To be fair, though, there’s also no worse feeling than that hand cramp you got from the weird controllers. Totally worth it.

Notable games:
Diddy Kong Racing: This was by far the best racing game available on N64, as we call it in the business. Plus, it had a killer soundtrack that got stuck in your head for no less than seven years.
Kirby: In this game, you can eat your enemies and mix-and-match their powers. Nothing else needs to be said about “Kirby”; just let that first sentence sink in.

Atari: The Atari isn’t technically the first at-home gaming system, but it will always be the original in America’s memory. It also remains the classiest gaming console in history due to its wooden paneling. While naysayers may argue that playing on a 40-year-old console is horribly boring, Flappy Bird mania has reassured us that 2-D graphics with huge pixels are still the video game version of crystal meth, so all arguments against Atari are null and void.

Notable games:
Ms. Pac-Man: Just like the “Pac-Man” arcade game, “Ms. Pac-Man” requires agility, speed, strategy and a healthy fear of ghosts. Plus, it combines all this fun of the original game with lipstick, bows and female empowerment!
Frogger: With “Frogger,” you simply navigate a frog to cross a busy street. The game is great because if you aren’t already anxious enough with school-related stress, you can plug in your Atari, throw on “Frogger” and be on the verge of a panic attack in mere seconds.

Sega Genesis: Immortalized by Notorious B.I.G. and completely forgotten about otherwise, the Sega Genesis is a great addition to any dorm room entertainment system.

Notable Games:
Aladdin: I know it may not seem particularly cool or exciting, but I promise you that “Aladdin” for SEGA was the greatest collaboration Disney ever did pre-Pixar. In the game, you got to navigate the magic carpet in some high-stakes getaways, and the music was MIDI version of the movie’s original soundtrack transformed to bring the best of Disney to your console.
Mortal Kombat II: Enjoy all the nostalgia of fighting over your favorite characters with your friends and hitting buttons incoherently as you battle them. The special effects in this game are top notch (read: absolutely absurd), and enjoy the indescribable bliss you feel upon seeing the words “Finish Him!” on your television screen.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Allie Tollaksen

Scene Editor. Senior studying Psychology and dabbling in everything else.

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