Today’s the big day! My last day of vacation off of work and the SNES Classic Edition releases. I didn’t bother to preorder it because I thought it’d be too much of a crap shoot like the NES Classic was. It’d be cool to nab one and play some old games that I remember, properly, and have a dedicated system for it. It’s too easy to emulate these days and even easier to put no value into it since it’s easy come easy go. Not to mention with the birth of multi-function devices it’s harder and harder for me to just concentrate on the game I want to sit down and play. Before you’d plop down and jam a cartridge in and just leave it there for hours. No OS to navigate. No tools, settings, or digital stores to waste time on. No internet to browse, twitter to check, or waiting for updates. All of this sounds awesome and yeah, it’d be cool to grab and SNES to revisit some of my favorites like Secret of Mana and Donkey Kong Country. Sounds nifty and I’m in for all of this. With a bit of luck and friendly communication I found myself lined up outside of Best Buy about an hour before open and secured myself a system.
Yet… Something else happened that I wasn’t expecting when I got home. I kind of sat down, pulled the classic out of my bag, and was knocked off my geeky high as things got complicated emotionally.
Previously I’ve documented here my on goings of childhood, as well as my complicated history with my father. To abridge some of that though I’ll give you the meat and potatoes of it all. He was an alcoholic techie and would spoil us with that latest video game consoles when we weren’t in fear of his abusive nature. Sometimes as an apology for those times too I’m sure. The techie itch passed down to me either through genetics or magical moments like getting an NES and SNES to be overwhelmed with joy. My dad passed away a few years ago now at 53 and feelings are still conflicted when recalling memories with him. Bringing home the SNES Classic Edition in it’s tiny tiny stature, I couldn’t help but be rushed back to opening up my original SNES back in the day with Super Mario World. I know we didn’t get one at launch, but it still was a great moment. Oooing and awing over the box and studying every inch of it while my parents set it up with the TV. I didn’t realize until today how much that stuck with me.
Getting home from grabbing my SNES Classic Edition felt like a geeky fun thing to do. It’s really not like me to run out on a nostalgia buy, line up to get some hot new item. Normally I just sit these things out entirely like the NES Classic, or I just wait until it’s readily available to grab something if I’m interested still like the Villager amiibo once it vanished. I’m generally someone that abstracts out my own existence, gravitating towards utilitarian nature. “Why drop $80 on an emulator when I can just run these games on my PC? Modern controllers are better designed anyways.” What I wasn’t expecting is once I got home was to be completely floor with emotions and memories the way I did. I was 33 going on 9 again. Yet to even play a game since I’ve turned it on, I’ve just been letting the demo mode loop while listening to all the music and letting it wash over me. So what happened if I’m so excited to jump in and crush out some worlds of Mario or Mega Man? Essentially the same thing that happens whenever I start up a Final Fantasy game and hear the Prelude. A deep somber state of mind locks me dead in my tracks. Only this time I’m wrapped in memories of my family and childhood as I’m sure many others are experiencing today.
Opening the box and unpacking the mini Super Nintendo console and reading the side of the box teasing the power of the SNES absolutely hit me like a ton of bricks. “My dad would have loved this” echoed in my head, eager to share this moment with him. He would have been tickled pink with how small it was, recalling as I am how big of a deal the original was. How some 25 odd years ago we did this with a much bigger system, bigger price tag, and felt just as stupidly enthralled with the whole thing. The cycle of things is hard to just set aside in this case. I texted my brother to come over for rounds of Street Fighter 2 like when we were younger… and after a long pause commented on how dad would have loved this all. From the complicated relationships we had with dad back then, and not necessarily being able to set things straight before his unexpected passing – I wasn’t sure if I should have sent the text. It hit my brother harder than it did me when dad died. We never really bring him up individually, and since he passed have definitely never brought him up when we’re together. A few minutes later his reply popped up on my screen of “he really would have”. It crushed me a bit to have that in the open, but it’s great to have that moment of acknowledgement of the person he was as opposed to the drunk he could be.
It’s great to be able to return to all of these games for what they offer the gaming landscape. Out of these 20 some games, at least a dozen I’ve got strong memories of. From A Link to the Past, to Secret of Mana, to Super Mario World on those first days of owning an SNES. Returning to games you love and games that are proven classics is something that I could have done either through Virtual Console services on Wii and Wii U, or the more nefarious means of PC emulation… I’ve been there and done both. Neither of which have given me that moment of opening up a brand new Super Nintendo to remind me of connecting with my family when life was utterly different. That tactile feedback of unfolding the lid, unfolding a “giant” poster advertising games available on the system, and seeing that wonderful clunky gray box again? There was nothing quite like it. It’s corny and indulgent to say it’s a ticket to your childhood that you’re paying for. Once you partake though there’s no doubt in your mind that’s exactly what this is and that it’s worth every red penny.
Now if you excuse me, I have some Fear of the Heavens to bring me back to when Chris, Dave, and Derek rode on the back of Flammie to defeat the Mana Beast.