Warp Drive

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Nintendo Rhapsody (World 3: Genesis)

In the beginning, there was the Magnavox Odyssey. Utilizing an array of on-screen lights and television overlays, it marked the start of a worldwide phenomenon. One of many smiles, tears and jeers. Twenty years later, the video game industry was a bustling business. With the increasing popularity of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis, a whole new phenomenon was just beginning. As for the rambunctious Haley bunch, we arrived home from Toys "R" Us with the SNES in tow. It was quickly decided the system would reside in my brother's room. I cannot say for certain if this was punishment for my wrongdoings at Murphy Ranch Elementary, but whatever the event, it was rather effective. I would next attend Barbara Dawson Educational Center, where I would finally learn to read and write. I have Diane to thank for her encouragement, persistence and unique approach to instruction. I recall one book reading session in-particular for its use of non-linear progression. A "choose your own adventure" story in a world filled with stories fixed in stone. My mind was suddenly set ablaze. It would be quite a number of years still before I could write well, but she laid the foundation. I gradually became more proficient with practice of my own. I missed out on so many funny mistranslated NES games, but I had a plethora of dialogue heavy games to look forward to on the SNES. Of course, the first game to grace my brother's television screen was none other than Super Mario World - and it was good.

The Master, in his infinite wisdom, brought forth unto the land a set of sacred rules. Of them, he decreed murder to be the most wicked. The Master encouraged his children to share the land, but henceforth forbade the act of stealing. As the digital age neared, he sent a cherub to open a chain of Blockbuster Video stores. The Master was pleased with that which he saw in the growing video game industry and wished for everyone to reap from its harvest. His divine opposition to stealing remained unchanged. He merely bestowed the gift of renting. However, late fees would be the very undoing of one's soul. I cometh to a very peculiar game by Quintet. ActRaiser combined action platforming with urban planning simulation stages. I found the latter mode of play quite fascinating. It would be some time still before I discovered Maxis' SimCity, and thus, the concept of managing a town was that much fresher in my mind. ActRaiser cast players in the role of The Master, who went by another name in the original Japanese version, on his quest to rid the land of Tanzra: The Evil One. During the simulation stages, a cherub's arrows were used to fight evil monsters until which time as their lairs could be sealed by the townspeople. I rented the game from Blockbuster Video and, of course, returned it promptly on time. The grapes have ripened. The Master will live forever.


Home: The Simpsons

Life is the biggest adventure. To glimpse the world with a sense of wonder the way only a young child could; to grow with each passing day; to learn from one's experiences, both good and bad, but more than anything else, to bring joy to those of all ages. That is the essence of one of my favorite childhood films: Hook. A coming of age story about Peter Pan. A film rich with colorful and diverse characters, landscapes and musical renditions. Neverland, as every Disney fan knows, is the second star to the right and straight on until morning. Unfortunately, not everyone has a guiding fairy named Tinker Bell. Ukiyotei, a short lived Japanese studio, was therefore called upon to design a video game based on the film. It was a rather traditional action platformer, but it retained certain elements. Such as Peter's wondrous voyage through Neverland to become the pan, the brilliant soundtrack, presented in sweet 16-bit audio, and the end goal of rescuing Jack and Maggie from the evil clutches of Captain Hook. The rest was left to my young imagination. One cannot expect to embark on an adventure without that. For life is the biggest adventure and imagination is the canvas on which we create everlasting memories. Hook was also somewhat tough for its time. I lost quite a bit on the road to Hooky, but as someone once said, "Sometimes, when you lose, you win." I do believe in fairies. "You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." -Robin Williams

Before I had any such knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) or Microsoft Paint, one adorable paint program captured my imagination. Mario Paint allowed my inner artist to shine with its easy to use controls and whimsical effects. It came packaged with a device that, at the time, I was completely oblivious of. A two button trackball driven mouse. Dad once said while browsing the game's manual (see video clip), "I turned into Bowser's worst nightmare." If only I had possessed the power of the mouse in Super Mario Bros. 3. Mario Paint was quite feature rich for a paint program. I could bring drawings to life in the animation editor, compose music and even eliminate pesky bugs in Gnat Attack. In-game variety only. Alternative methods were still necessary for actual unwanted house guests. For my younger sister's third birthday, I surprised her with an on-screen cake. With as much time as I spent drawing it, I wanted to ensure the work was preserved. This is one memory I am proud to say does have a photo associated with it.


Home: Mario Paint Birthday Cake

Long ago, whilst my parents were undergoing a trial separation, I lived with my grandmother. In my eyes, she was simply Ma. We often drove to the park together. Not just one but every park in town. I explored everything from forts to rocket ships. What I enjoyed most of all, however, was being pushed on the swing. Having no real friends, Ma was the closest companion I had. Then, there was that most unusual friend of mine. While tricycling through Ma's neighborhood, I met him for the first time. Haugau must have lived in that very same neighborhood. He was, in my memory, the spitting image of Charlie Brown. With his help, I transformed my grandmother's backyard into an adventure. Her orange trees covered a swath of the yard and it was there in which we made our forest. We liked to play in the dirt an awful lot, but that was okay. It would soon be time to wash up. At long last, the day came when Dad drove up in his gold colored Chevrolet Monte Carlo. With a smile planted firmly across my face, I quickly rushed out to greet him. I then learned we would soon be moving into our own house. It was time. It was time to go home. We slowly settled into our new house. I eventually invited Haugau over to visit. I still remember that fateful moment quite well. We met on a corner between my grandmother's and my new house. Haugau had some very sad news for me. He too was moving away. We therefore parted forevermore on that lonesome corner. Farewell, Charlie Brown, my one true imaginary friend. We shall always have our forest.

I awoke to the sound of rain falling just outside my house. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, I could scantily hear her voice. It was Princess Zelda and she was in imminent danger. My single finest SNES adventure was set to begin. The passage of time may have had something else to add, but The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was an incredible experience. It took everything wonderful about the first game on NES and dialed it to eleven. Hyrule was now populated with lusher landscapes, villages bustling with townspeople and deeper and more insightful dialogue. It was also quite challenging. With the aid of bottles and extra heart containers scattered about the land, Link's perilous quest became a bit less painful, but I was not always savvy to their secret locations. Following the third dungeon, I, like many others, obtained the Master Sword. Undoubtedly, the most exciting moment in the game. It meant I could now face Aghanim, the villain holding Zelda captive. I was overcome with joy when I finally defeated him. Zelda 3 truly had been a game without parallel - but wait. A flash of light enveloped the screen and I found myself atop a strange pyramid. To my jaw dropping surprise, the game had only just begun. There were another eight dungeons to conquer in what I learned to be the game's Dark World. Indeed, Zelda 3 did in fact have a parallel. It was Hyrule, but yet, it was not Hyrule. It was dark and twisted. Most of all, it was awesome. With a game of such scale, it was not long before I once again teamed with my brother. We each discovered our own secrets, and the ones we felt like sharing, we collectively put toward the ultimate defeat of Aghanim. He too went by another name, but some things are better left a surprise. We may have also cheated a little with a device that shall remain nameless. Let me just say, the golden power was in our hands. The Master Sword sleeps again. Until the next Zelda game.

The tides of change were fast approaching. A new love was about to enter my life and its name was Sega. We were once faced with a difficult choice between the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis, but now, it was only the Genesis I yearned for. Sonic the Hedgehog offered something few Nintendo games could. A rebellious attitude with super speed. Signs, perhaps, of the changes occurring within myself. My enrollment at Barbara Dawson Educational Center had become less and less tolerable. When Diane accepted a job in the front office, I was transferred to another class. Everything went downhill soon thereafter, but not before I made at least one super cool friend. Someone just as positively weird as I was. James and I would play a game at recess, based upon Sonic the Hedgehog, in which we tried to match each others pace running throughout the field. We called it simply Sonic & Tails. He introduced me to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and much like myself, his love of video games helped him through dark times of his own. My parents ultimately decided to pull me out of the school over a dispute with my replacement teacher. It would not be the last time I saw James, but it would be the last time we shared a class together. Dad was waiting for me. It was time to go home.

It was time to blast process.


Mario Paint - The Legend of Zelda Overworld Theme