Last Thursday, I posted some photos on my Twitter and Facebook pages. They were old Nintendo Power magazine covers. Immediately Dane, who is a good friend of mine and all-around handsome dude, messaged the super badass Facebook messenger group we are part of and we got down to the nitty-gritty, reminiscing about the days of old. Before the Internet, magazines like Nintendo Power were our bibles. With web giants such as IGN & Kotaku dominating what we read, we’ve lost touch with something great (I say this as I post an article on the Internet for you to read). Most of the magazines you find nowadays just talk about old games. It’s cool, but definitely not the same. There are still publications running such as Official Playstation Magazine, but with information readily available at the touch of your fingertips online, it’s just not the same as getting that magazine fresh and new and reading about all the new games coming out before anyone else. These magazines were the holy grail of information. Talking about the old days even got me thinking about rental stores. Getting the last copy of that hit new game was such a satisfying feeling. My nostalgia button had been triggered. I was thinking about demo discs packaged with magazines. I felt feelings I hadn’t felt in years! (alright I’m kidding…. kinda).
Come with me my friends, as we take a trip down memory lane.
I had subscriptions to Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, Nintendo Power and Playboy (thanks Nana Jones, miss you). Every month, it was something to look forward to. I’d head out to the mailbox and find that new issue sealed in plastic. I’d run inside the house, open it up, and immediately get to reading (what? Playboy has fantastic articles).
These video game magazines were a vast ocean of information. I would read them cover to cover numerous times until the next one arrived. Checking out the photos and examining them. Reading the articles over and over and over. You could read about all these exciting new games coming out or that were just announced, but the release dates were always so vague. You had to basically call your local rental store and drive them insane, asking them if they were carrying that specific game you wanted.
Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine used to come with a demo disc each issue. I made sure my parents bought me one of those fancy new Dual Shock controllers so I could play the Ape Escape demo. One of the demo discs contained the trailer down below for a game you might have heard of….. I watched it religiously until Kingdom Hearts finally released.
The magazines were full of great information, but the demo discs were a gateway to something else. You felt like some badass working in the industry, playing a game before anyone else could. Another one of my favourites was Official Dreamcast Magazine. Reading about Phantasy Star Online and how it was the future of gaming was so great (that sweet, sweet, dial-up connection was revolutionary). It’s just too bad we’ve never heard anything about Phantasy Star again in the West.
Renting games was always an experience as well. You could walk into a store and go to the games section and each time it was a surprise. I remember going to Blockbuster and Super Mario Kart had been completely rented out. I didn’t even know the damn thing existed! We asked the clerk to check both drop boxes just to be absolutely sure that someone might have returned it (you just never knew what kind of luck you were going to have, and it was a goddamn rush). Another time, TMNT-Turtles in Time had just been released on the SNES, and there were never any copies available for rent. I had been hanging out at my buddy Darren’s place while my parents were out but he was going to be coming over for a sleepover. When we arrived back at my house, my parents called us downstairs. Sure enough, they were playing Turtles in Time. They finally were able to rent a copy. It was fucking fantastic. My 6 year-old brain exploded.
You could rent systems before you bought them too. I hadn’t been feeling the greatest, so my mom offered to take me to Blockbuster and rent a PS2 with Devil May Cry to try out for the weekend. It was such a small gesture but it meant the world to me.
Even game instructions were awesome back in the day. Some sucked, sure, but usually, they were beautifully made (seriously, they were really well done). Sometimes I would just sit around and read manuals for hours (I was a cool kid). One of my new favourites is one that I acquired last year, which was for Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2, which we sadly never saw released here) on the Super Famicom. The instruction manual is a goddamn novel, I swear. I can’t read it because it’s all written in Japanese, but it’s big and the pictures of pretty to look at. I was one of those bozos that didn’t really take care for the boxes or manuals and now I live with regret. Maybe my wife won’t mind if I just start building my retro game collection up again.
Well, that’s it for now. I might make some more posts in the future about all the nostalgia I have bottled inside me. I just needed to get some of it out. I tried to explain to my kids (who are 5 and 8) how awesome those days of gaming were, but they just asked me if I could give them permission to download The Sims on their Ipads. Kids these days, I swear.
Do you have any gaming memories you cherish to this day? Let me know! – NVJ