My SNES Comeback

SNESArt

Today marks 12 years since I got back into the Super Nintendo. January 17, 2006. Who would have guessed that I would still be going strong with the SNES a dozen years later? It either speaks to my insanity or to the clout of the SNES. Hopefully the latter but the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. I can’t help but grow nostalgic around this time of the year as it brings back to mind some truly great memories. This is the story of how I began my SNES renaissance. It’s a look back at that fateful first month of January 2006 and all the different crazy stories that came along with it. So kick back and join me on this jaunt down memory lane. This is my story. This is… my SNES comeback.

IN THE BEGINNING…

There was nothing like playing SNES with your buds
There was nothing like playing SNES with your buds

My brother and I had a Super Nintendo from early 1992 to 1998 or so. We owned about 20 games over that time and we loved it. It took everything awesome about the 8-bit NES and injected it with steroids. There were so many great memories forged, from renting SNES games to midnight sessions with your friends on Saturday nights to the simple joy of eagerly anticipating the next arcade translation. It was a great time to be a kid growing up.

Always fun anticipating the next arcade to home port
Always fun anticipating the next arcade to home port

But as it is with these things in life, my bro and I eventually moved on. The system was donated to our cousin, David, in the late ’90s. My brother moved onto the PlayStation and aside from a few select titles, I really didn’t care a whole lot for Sony’s new machine. I was a disenchanted teenage gamer secretly longing for the glory days of 8 and 16-bit.

Damn right I did
Damn right I did

In 1999 I found myself venturing onto planet Sega Saturn. As detailed in my Sega Saturn Saga, I acquired 350 Saturn games from 2001 to 2005. Speaking of 2005…

Cue the flashback montage!
Cue the flashback montage!

JANUARY 15, 2005

MarioJanuary

On this day I found myself at the local Game Crazy by my childhood home. Some guy was playing Super Mario World on the SNES and I stood there watching him play. I still vividly remember he was right at this spot in the picture above. And I stood there thinking to myself, “Should I buy a Super Nintendo?”

Later that night I made a post on a video game forum asking for opinions.

DPSteveSNES

I ended up not buying it. So I carried on sans SNES and concentrated on finishing my Sega Saturn collection in 2005. Then a funny thing happened. My Saturn passion, which at one point seemed endless, gradually faded. In late 2005 I found myself playing it less and less but even more telling, my heart was no longer in it. The burnout was real.

CHILDHOOD DREAMS REALIZED

SteveAct

As a young child growing up in the late ’80s to mid ’90s, I was fascinated by sitcoms such as Full House, Home Improvement and The Wonder Years. I found the art and magic of acting to be really intriguing. In fact, one of my dreams was to one day be in a movie.

FALL 2005

September 2005 I made my on stage acting debut
September 2005 I made my on stage acting debut

That fateful semester in college I saw a dream of mine come true when I was cast in my very first University play. It was the thrill of my collegiate career. Those late night rehearsals, dressing room ribbing and performances will live on forever in my soul. It was everything I expected and more. The cast got along like we had known each other our whole lives. We went out clubbing, grabbed dinner after shows, and even had a sleepover party. I’ll never forget the rush coursing through my veins when I finally made my acting debut on the big stage. I burst out of the curtain with a vengeance and knocked my opening monologue out of the park. I never felt more alive during my college years than those three weeks in late 2005. I’ll always look back on those days with a real deep fondness.

I drove all over town like a mad man just to audition
I drove all over town like a mad man just to audition

Riding the huge wave of momentum following my performance in the play, along with a renewed sense of self-confidence, I drove three hours to audition for an independent movie in December of 2005. It was a childhood dream of mine to one day be in the movies.

My independent movie debut!
My independent movie debut!

Long story short, I was cast two days following my audition. I remember that time well. It was an exciting time that felt like anything could happen. I only had a few speaking lines but I was thrilled for the opportunity. I was only 22 at the time and not many of my peers could claim IMDB.com credit like I could. It made for a great icebreaker!

SatBomb-10

One of my favorite things about college were those fat six week winter breaks. I’ve always joked that there’s something about those long lazy winter weeks that does things to a man. During this time my cousins came over a lot and we found ourselves playing a shit ton of 10-player Saturn Bomberman. It was a blast, pardon the pun. Prior to these sessions though, my Saturn laid dormant for a few months thanks to my crazy rehearsal schedule for the play, my independent movie role and also, like I said earlier, I could feel my Saturn passion waning. But all those epic Saturn Bomberman sessions definitely got me in the mood to dig back into my Saturn library.

Wait, is that it?!
Wait, is that it?!

After my cousins left one night in late December, I had the strongest urge to play a platformer. I looked at my Saturn collection and saw some potential choices: Tryrush Deppy, Keio Yugekitai, Steamgear Mash and Willy Wombat just to name four. Yet none of them met my need for a pure old school traditional hop ‘n bop. I suddenly realized precisely at that moment what I had secretly been yearning for. And right on cue, that’s when an old friend from the past came roaring back to mind…

Now that's more like it!
Now that’s more like it!

JANUARY 2006

"FIRE!"
“FIRE!”

I still had about three weeks until the Spring semester would begin. I started entertaining thoughts (again) about whether I should buy a Super Nintendo or not. I had my doubts — was it worth it? Perhaps this was all just a nostalgic trip best kept locked in my box of memories. That’s when fate decided to step in. By mid January I decided I was all in. I posted the following on a gaming forum, coincidentally, almost one year since my last SNES post (as shared earlier).

DPSteveSNES2

January 17, 2006. It was just another ordinary Tuesday night, or so I initially thought. I logged on eBay following dinner. Just for fun, I typed in SNES. And the VERY FIRST item I saw ending was none other than Power Moves. I couldn’t believe it — what were the odds? Power Moves and I go way back; it was the first import game I ever rented back in late 1992. It was ending in 38 seconds. I didn’t even have the system yet but I knew this was no mere coincidence. Nope, this was fate. The very first import I ever rented back in the day would now become the very first game purchase of my SNES resurrection. It was meant to be.

7YearIt19

I didn’t have long to just sit there and get all mushy. Clicking on the seller’s other items, I also won Prehistorik Man, Ignition Factor and Fatal Fury Special all within the next 10 minutes. Now that I had time to digest things a bit, my mind was running at 200 MPH. I really did it. I was back in! One minute I went from having zero SNES games to having four! The next day I bought five more titles. Not one to stop there, I was back at it again two days later with five more. The games were a mix of childhood favorites, games I missed out on, or games I always was curious about but never got to play. It was an exciting time with a want list literally in the hundreds, left-and-right buying and building up my brand new SNES library. But there was one slight problem you see — I didn’t buy the system itself yet! That’s when I found a friend online to sell me one for $39. He also had over 20 games I was interested in, so it became a bulk buy of epic proportions. The final damage? $192. YOU DAMN RIGHT it was worth every last dime!

It all began with this...
It all began with this…

What started out as “Should I or shouldn’t I?” ended up in one simple impulse buy (Power Moves), opening up the flood gates completely. In 72 hours I went from zero SNES games and no SNES to having the system and 38 (!) games. There was no turning back now… a monster was born.

I posted the following on a gaming forum the next day on January 18, 2006.

Saturday night fever? Psst, I had SNES fever!
Saturday night fever? Psst, I had SNES fever!

Like I said, I don’t know what it is about mid January but those long six week winter breaks does things to a man :P

SCHOOL’S BACK IN SESSION

SchoolIoG

Wednesday. January 25, 2006. It was the first day of my Spring semester at University. I only had one class that day (from 9 to 10:15 AM). My SNES was still in transit but that didn’t stop me from buying even more games. After class that day I had a couple girl friends go buy some books with me at the campus store. We ate brunch and talked excitedly about the future. All the while I was thinking about the past in the back of my mind, and what SNES games I might find later that morning to add to my rapidly growing collection. It was an exciting time in my life — an odd but irresistible clash of looking toward the future while also looking back.

A most welcomed sign
A most welcomed sight in those days of 2006

Afterward it was 11:30 and I decided to drive to a nearby Game Crazy to see what SNES goodies they might have that day. Game Crazy was a hub attached to Hollywood Video back when these relics existed. Game Crazy used to carry a solid variety of SNES games in early 2006.

The actual location I went that fateful morning
The actual location I went that fateful morning

On this particular morning, much to my delight I found The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues and The Lost Vikings. I got The Lost Vikings free as part of Game Crazy’s buy 2 get 1 free deal. Talk about starting off my final undergrad semester with a bang!

All for under $11? What a steal
All for under $11? What a steal

JuPar2-b

Hard to believe it's been nearly 12 years
Hard to believe it’s been nearly 12 years

10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

ImportSummer5

Thursday. January 26, 2006. This was a big day for me. It marked 10 years since I had moved from my childhood home. After my classes ended that late afternoon, I decided to stop by my old stomping grounds for a reunion tour. I loved my old hometown. We lived there from mid 1985 to January 26, 1996. 10 and a half years of my life. From infancy through childhood. Some of my best memories came in my old hometown, my old house and that old neighborhood.

Ah, the vintage train tracks of my childhood :)
Ah, the vintage train tracks of my childhood :)
Hello, dear old friend
Hello, dear old friend

So off I went, revisiting the old sights and sounds. I stopped by my childhood Toys R Us. I dropped by a few Game Crazy locations in the area but found no SNES games of interest. Finally I arrived right around my old house roughly at 6 PM, and I headed straight to my childhood Hollywood Video.

The actual "scene of the crime" in all its glory
The actual “scene of the crime” in all its glory
Another nice haul
Another nice haul

Added Art of Fighting, Clay Fighter, Mortal Kombat II and Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 to the collection. These games represented the crux of my SNES comeback well — two games I loved playing as a kid and two I always wanted to play but never did.

GCRece

They had a glass full of SNES goodies but I decided I’ll just pick these four for now and come back later for the others…

GC-Rece1

With another bag full of old childhood favorites and memories, courtesy once again of Game Crazy, I made a beeline toward my old house. There was no way I was ending this 10 year reunion trip without seeing my old house.

I was a man on a mission
I was a man on a mission

By now it was 6:30 and darkness had devoured my old hometown. Driving by I took full inventory of all that assaulted my senses. I remember those old roads… that old street corner… the little hill where my brother, our friends and I used to play tag and flag football. The smell of the crisp cool night air. And the soothing sounds of the grass and leaves swaying gently in the calm of a quiet January evening.

This was more than just a Super Nintendo comeback!
It was more than just a Super Nintendo comeback…

I spotted my house at long last. Memories came flooding back like a tidal wave crashing over me. It was an ordinary house, like any other house in America, in a suburban neighborhood just like any other. But it was home. My home. Or at least, it once was, anyhow. Somewhere in the depths of my heart though, it will always be to some degree.

I took a minute to take it all in
I took a moment to take it all in

I turned off the engine and radio. I sat there for a couple quiet minutes, admiring my house from across the street in the dead still of the night. Has it really been 10 bloody years?! Gawd DAMN.

There she is
There she is. Still as pretty as ever, too

I was lost in a trance admiring the sight that stood before me when suddenly I had a crazy idea. Now I’ve had a few crazy ideas in my life before but this one… THIS ONE might be the craziest of them all…

Before I knew it, I found myself standing at the front door. Like a man possessed, I rung the doorbell before I could talk myself out of it.

A lady in her late 30s appeared behind the door. “Can I help you?”

“Sorry to bother you but I really could use a restroom. Do you mind if I go really fast?”

She looked a bit perplexed but perhaps she sensed that I was a safe person. “Yeah, sure, come in come in,” she said warmly.

And I was in. Just like that. I have to admit, in hindsight, this was one of the wackiest things I have ever done. But when you’re caught on a high, maybe you don’t always use your noggin. At any rate, it’s a memory that will last a lifetime.

Its the home where my bro and I fought, played and loved
It’s the home where my bro and I grew up
All the birthday parties and fun we shared. Priceless!
All the birthday parties and fun we shared. Priceless!

Using my old bathroom for the first time in 10 years was a little surreal, as was being back in the house I grew up in. After using the facilities, I thanked her for her generosity.

The house was still in good shape. I couldn’t help but glance around in admiration. That’s when I decided to tell her the whole story. “To be honest with you, this was my childhood home. I spent 10 years of my youth growing up in this house. It is very special to me and I want to say thanks for letting me relive my childhood for even just five minutes.”

And that opened up a 10 minute conversation!
And that opened up a 10 minute conversation :P

We talked about how cold the house gets during the night time, like really REALLY cold. We talked about my old room where her daughter now occupies, and so forth. It was a really nice conversation and an awesome way to end what had been a crazy reunion tour.

Time to head back home. My real new home...
Time to head back home. My real new home…

Finally, we bid one another farewell. I slipped inside my car, took a glance at the new SNES games resting on the passenger seat, cranked up the radio, stole one last glance at my old house and floored the hell out of there.

That night, driving home on the freeway with the windows down and the music blaring, was truly one for the ages. A tale to be retold to my future children. Daddy was a crazy kook :P [Wait, was?? -Ed.]

JANUARY 30, 2006

RainonWindow

I remember this fateful rainy Monday afternoon quite well. It was around 12:45 PM. I was sitting at home waiting for my big SNES package as well as my Advanced Acting class at 1:30. I’ll never forget the sight of the UPS man carrying a huge box to my door through the whipping rain. My baby has finally come home! The raindrops pelted my window and looked like melting silverware. I had 45 SNES games waiting in the wings to be played, and now, after a good seven or eight years, I finally had a Super Nintendo again. Alas, with class beginning in less than an hour, I had no time to delve in. Oh how badly I wanted to just stay home and have one major binge session. Reasoning got the better of me when I decided if I already waited this long, then surely a couple more hours wouldn’t kill me, right?

SNES-Journey

My Advanced Acting class that day ran from 1:30 to 4. After class got out, I drove to Game Crazy by my old house once again to buy the other enticing titles I saw just a few days earlier on January 26.

The actual pic I took on that rainy Monday evening!
The actual pic I took on that rainy Monday evening!
Game Crazy delivers again
Game Crazy comes through again
ActRaiser and Equinox are the best of this bunch
ActRaiser and Equinox are the best of this bunch
What a crazy time it was -- that January 2006 I tells ya!
What a crazy time it was — that January 2006 I tells ya!
Of these 51 games, which one to play first?
Can you guess which game I played first?

Arriving home late that Monday night, I had a whopping 51 SNES games from which to choose. Which one would I play first? It suddenly became clear to me that there was only one appropriate choice. It’s certainly not the best game, but for all intents and purposes, it had to be my first.

You win if you guessed Power Moves
You win if you guessed Power Moves

Yup, it had to be Power Moves. It was the first import I rented back in late 1992 and it was the first SNES game I bought during this whole comeback reunion tour. A reunion tour, mind you, that has now lasted for 12 years and counting. To say that I was nostalgic as Power Moves fired up would be a grand understatement. I felt like I had gone into a time machine and was transported back to my youth for a few minutes. Even though the game was kind of bad, I knew there were tons of great games to beat and that this was going to be a hell of a comeback. As it turns out, my gut was right.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

FotBSNES3

There is something special and sacred about the Super Nintendo. It reminds me of a simpler time in my life. A time in which playing games with your best bud took center stage on a lazy Saturday night. A time where damsels in distress must be saved and red shells and fireballs must be thrown with malice and joy alike. But perhaps best of all… a time where junk emails and bills didn’t yet exist.

stevesnescol

My SNES comeback these past 12 years has been a fun-filled ride down memory lane and beyond. I don’t just play these games for nostalgia. There are many I have yet to play, so many are actually brand new experiences for me. Yes, even 25 years later in the year 2018. I’ve had a blast going through my SNES collection the past dozen years. With many more yet to go, here’s to 12 more years!

FotBSNES2

My dream is to one day pass my love of these vintage classics down to my son or daughter. Maybe they’ll never know what it feels like to stroll through a Hollywood Video on a rainy Monday night. But I hope they’ll get half the joy out of these games as they’ve given to me over the years decades. Call me corny but I like to think of this whole SNES comeback, which started way back 12 years ago in January of 2006, as more than just one big epic gaming adventure. I like to think of it as reclaiming bits and pieces of my childhood and one day being able to share that joy with my children. One thing is for sure… there’ll be no shortage of video games for them to play. Long live the Super Nintendo, indeed.

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