If there's one thing that I can say for certain about growing up, it's that my family was all about creating and sustaining traditions. Whether I ever thought this to be a good or bad thing, it certainly had a profound, if unexpected, impact on my life. It has found its way into my view and enjoyment of video games. For years now there has been this underlying factor that I couldn't define until later in life. This factor is nostalgia.
The fact that nostalgia has such a big impact on me probably has to do with having a little brother that I did practically everything with. Growing up, we would tiptoe our way downstairs extra early on a Saturday morning to sneak in some extra gaming before mom and dad woke up. We didn't just turn on the TV. We couldn't. We had to have a system. He would turn it on and I would rapidly press the volume down key on the front of the TV, in attempts to keep our parents from waking up. We would then take out the controllers and plug them into our NES. I, being the oldest, was of course Mario and my brother, Luigi. It's on cool, crisp fall days that I think back to those days and want to throw in Super Mario Bros. 3 and call up my brother to come over and play for a while.
I mention all of this because when it comes to playing video games, we all have our own "origin story." I've been putting a lot of thought into this drug called nostalgia these past few days, and it got me thinking. If someone were to gift me the perfect "nostalgia gaming gift," what would it include? This notion was inspired by a company called ManCrates. They take a crate--yes, a literal wooden crate--and fill it with stuff that they believe "men" would like. But what if they were to build the perfect personalized game crate? What would "my" game crate come bundled with? I decided to make an adventure out of it!
First, I needed to remember that I had my own origin story that, while it may resemble someone else's, it was entirely mine. It was unique. Thinking back to some of the times video games have most effected my life, I immediately knew that my ManCrate would have to contain a Nintendo Entertainment System (Or one of those all-in-one retro consoles that ManCrate bundles with their game crates). There are just too many amazing memories associated with it. Like when I would get sick and my dad would go rent--yes, rent--Batman. Or the time when I was sick and played Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 so much that I got my first blister (damn that D-Pad had acute edges). Now that I've made it sound like my entire childhood was filled with nothing but sickness, let's move on.
Second, I'd like to see some of my favorite NES games in the ManCrate. There is of course the ones I have mentioned previously, but looking back, Pinball was always a favorite. For instance, there was that one Thanksgiving where my brother and I flipped all five cards at the top of the screen over and the boarder turned orange--orange is Thanksgiving-y...right? Ever since, I get the urge to bust out some Pinball every Thanksgiving.
Next, I would want a GameBoy. None of the fancy reiterations. I would want the original. There was nothing like holding that brick in your hands as a half-pint of a kid. That gray body, the dot matrix screen and stereo sound. That look your mom would give you when you asked for four more AA batteries. Just throw in some Maru's Mission and some Pokémon Red Version and I'd be set. That is, if such a ManCrate existed. Oh, and some AA batteries would be nice.
Whether or not such an amazing crate would ever grace this planet with its existence is highly unlikely. However, it's fun to stop and look back at these memories. It's important to hold onto them, as they are what gets me through the day to day. So, if you're out there reading this ManCrate, feel free to take my suggestions under advisement. And a second controller for that NES would be great. Because video games are always more fun with someone you care about.
Article by: Mike Ackerman