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DIGITAL DEBATE WEDNESDAYS: Happy Birthday, SNES!

Welcome back to Digital Debate Wednesdays! Every Wednesday, the staff of The Ace of Geeks will get our keyboards ready for a good, old fashioned nerd argument, and you get to hang out with us! Feel free to email us any ideas you might have for future debates, or let us know in the comments! Until then, here’s this weeks topic:

This week marks the 25th anniversary of one of the greatest gaming consoles of all time, the Super Nintendo. With that in mind – not so much of a debate this week, because I think Genesis vs SNES would tear us apart as a family – I want to know what your favorite classic gaming memory is. (Whatever classic means to you. I know some of you whippersnappers are too young to remember 16 bit gaming.) Doesn’t necessarily have to be about the SNES, but bonus points if it is. And tell me your favorite SNES game while you’re at it!

Mark Foo: Boo, Genesis!

Mike Fatum: I’m gonna start here, because I relish any opportunity to talk about not only the best game on the SNES, but the Greatest Video Game of all Time – Final Fantasy VI. Final Fantasy 3 in it’s original US release numbering.

FF6 is a masterpiece of storytelling, and it’s stuck with me my entire life. But especiallly one moment in particular (spoilers if you care). About halfway through the game, the focus is given to Celes, who is trapped on a deserted island with her saintlike father figure, Sid. Sid, you discover slowly through story heavy, non-combat gameplay, is dying. He asks you to retrieve him some fish to eat to bring up his strength. I did that, but it wasn’t enough, and as I watched and slowly broke down, he died right in front of me.

I was shaken to my core, but even more so when I opened the strategy guide I’d bought and discovered that, if I’d only been faster, gotten healthier fish, Cid would have survived. I could have saved him. I don’t think I’ve ever cried harder.

That was my first ever experience with the agency a video game can provide you. With a movie, when a character dies it sucks. (Looking at you, Whedon). But with a game, when a character dies, and you could have saved them…my god, it’s painful. And it’s beautiful, because no other medium can give you that kind of power in a story.

Justin Rhodes: Favorite SNES game and likely one of the greatest games of all time: The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past.

Favorite old school gaming memory: I played Super Mario Bros. 2 through the 1989 earthquake here in California while my older brother was freaking out. Also, anytime I could make it past the 3rd level in Battletoads.

Raven Knighte: Super Mario for N64… I was staying with my best friend when she got the console and SuperMario/Duck Hunt. We stayed up all night the first night and then the rest of the week we only got a few hours of sleep a day – she beat the game, but we would wake each other up singing the theme music in our sleep. With Duck Hunt, I kept trying to shoot the dog. The dog made a sad face and whined when you hit it. I found that out when I got lucky and actually hit it.

Joe Hadsall: Favorite SNES game: Gradius 3. I could play that all day.

Favorite 16-bit memory: No idea why, but my friends loved to watch me play “Sonic.” I guess I was good, or funny while I played? No idea. The “dwong” sound from getting a shield was in our lexicon. One time a couple of friends of my roommate came over, and they were tripping on mushrooms. I was playing “Sonic 2,” and they were watching me play on like an 18″ diagonal, dinky TV. They were RIVETED. Then I got to one of the special stages, where Sonic and Tails were running in the half-pipe all 3-D like, and it blew their minds. “ARE YOU SEEING THIS?” “IT’S LIKE I’M FLYING!” I thought they were giving me crap, but they were legit into it.

Melissa Devlin: My favorite classic gaming memory is a little older. We had something that used cassette tapes and hooked up to our TV. I always forget what it was called. I was very little – this belonged to my sister.

I just remember getting to play occasionally, and I don’t know the name of the game (we only had two) but the one I liked was some fantasy thing you could explore a lot in, and had to push things.

I really wish I remembered more because what I do remember is having a ridiculous amount of fun going through level after level when I was very little. It was brightly coloured and I was sucked in, but I was also some age between five and eight so the details are fuzzy.

After that we came to the states and the first Nintendo game I played was duck hunt I was just about to turn nine. It belonged to the people we were staying with (They had a kid around my sisters age). I also played some spy game and a game with a soldier neither of which I remember the name of.

BUT the first time we got our own console? We were in Palo Alto, in 1987 we couldn’t afford one before coming to the states where it was less expensive. Naomi was given one, and again I got to play and we would play Super Mario brothers A LOT. Even little I beat that game which can’t be said of every game I played.

  • Mike Fatum: It wasn’t Adventure, was it?
  • Melissa Delvin: The levels looked a lot like that, but the icon looked like a little person and there was slightly more detail, but the shape of the levels and the way you moved around was the same.

Teresa Loesch: When I was young, gameboys colors were it. I didn’t have one. Then playstations were super awesome, and I also didn’t have one. My mom didn’t want to buy me video games because… I’m actually not sure about this one, because she and my dad still regularly played with the Super Nintendo? Maybe her theory was video games melt kids’ brains but adults are powerful enough to resist? Anyway, she wasn’t going to buy me a video game system, deal with it. (I eventually dealt with it through 8 months of intensive saving and hiring myself out for chores all down the street, like I lived in the 1950s instead of the early 00s, and buying my own gameboy SP a few years later. She wasn’t pleased, but Dad was on my side: I earned the money, I could keep what I bought with it.)

But anyway, the only gaming system I had ever played was Super Nintendo, and the most popular game ever (it seemed like, at the time) Super Mario Bros 3. So I basically memorize the first two worlds, and all the tricks.

I’m at a friend’s house one day, getting (lightly!) made fun of for sucking at all these games I’d never seen before or been able to play. I didn’t even know what a GameCube was. But by some karmic turn of events, they unearth their parents’ old super nintendo. There’s this really great game for it, but there’s something like 8 worlds and they can never get there so they stopped playing.

“Why don’t you just grab the first two whistles and warp there?” says I, all innocent. CRICKETS. They didn’t know what the whistles were. They’d never warped anywhere.

We fired it up and I schooled them over the course of an hour plus (hey, the game’s still pretty hard), and while in a movie this would have given my friends new respect for me and they’d never make fun of me again, that didn’t happen. But it was a pretty great afternoon.

  • Mike Fatum: How on earth do you live through life without knowing about the whistles?
  • Teresa LoeschI?? Don’t know, to be honest. Remember Ice World? Who wants to actually play through ICE WORLD?

Jonathan Howe: The SNES was the first console that my mom would play with me and my sister. We had a lot of games for it and my mom would even enjoy playing Mario with us. Of the games that we had, the ones that stick out the most are Super Star Wars (A game I NEVER beat because there was a part that was ridiculously hard) and Tetris Attack. Tetris attack had more of an impact because it was a game my mom, my sister and I could play for hours. We would all take turns and go against each other. I have fond memories of that and I love playing it until this day.

Another reason is that one of my friends had an SNES as well and we played it all the time at his house, too. We played the Super Mario cartridge that had 1, 2, 3 and All-Stars on it as well as a load of random ones. I also remember that it was the first console that I played a Madden Football game on. I know sports games aren’t really a thing to many, but it was fun for me and still holds a LOT of fond memories of my childhood.

Jim Lucky: There are many great gaming moments for me to chose from. Gaming practically was my childhood, whether or not it was Tecmo Bowl and Rockin’ Cats on the NES, or the original XCom and Wolfienstien 3D on my old 486 PC, or being shown where the warp whistles were in Mario by my older cousin, to the later days of N64 and playing Battle Mode in Mario Kart with my father (the first time he’d ever played a game with me) and my sister.
There were long weekends with friends where we did not sleep but a handful of hours because we were smashing through The Secret of Mana, Lunar, Legend of Dragoon, or even FF7, knowing that once the next day came one of us would have to go home and we’d have a whole week before the game we were playing together would be picked back up.
Ironically, if you asked me for 10 moments that would have been easier than trying to pick one.

Chris Brecheen: Herzog Zwei was awesome and I loved the 2, 3, 4 run of Phantasy Star and Sword of Vermillion remains one of my favorites of all time, but probably my strongest memories of that generation were Squaresoft games on SNES. Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy 2 and 3.

The irony is those games are just insufferable now. I can’t even stand them from a nostalgia point of view (even the new releases with better graphics and voice overs) because grinding for untold hours was SO vital to progressing in the first gen of RPGs. But at the time….unfuckingbelievable how spectacular they were.

Colin Carlisle: My only console was an NES until I got my first Playstation, but I have some great memories of staying up all night playing Harvest Moon on an SNES emulator.

Korbl Klimecki: I grew up on Sega. But probably my best video gaming memory is when my daycare got a Genesis and sparked a Sonic craze that even had me and several other kids “designing” levels.

Nick Bailey Jr: We used to have a game called Uniracers. It was a game where living unicycles raced. It got pulled because Pixar had a similar IP and would have sued them. Put lots of time into that.

JC Brown: Ironically, the SNES was the only Nintendo console in the 90’s we didn’t own (my parents opted for a Genesis instead). My best gaming memories come from the original NES. Namely the first time I beat SMB3 (still can’t beat SMB, though). I occasionally bust out Tetris after a long day at work, though I recently got Dr. Mario, and while I thought I loved that game as a kid, I just learned I loathe it.

Mike Fatum
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Referred to as a God Among Men, the Greatest Man that Ever Lived, and That Dude Over There…No, The Dude with the Long Hair and the Goatee…Yes, That Guy, Mike has grown up being known and loved around his apartment. In addition to being a successful film director and editor, he loves video games, movies, comic books, board games, and his wife and cat. He’s been friends with Jarys for over a decade now, and they started hosting a radio show together on college that became the genesis for the Ace of Geeks Podcast. When he realized he had so many talented friends who could write, the Podcast became an entertainment website, and here we are.

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