I can’t always remember where I parked my car at the mall. Yet somehow I can remember where every star, mushroom and coin is hidden in Super Mario Bros.
I recently discovered that information is still stored in my brain. For Christmas, our girls received a gaming system. To our surprise, there are “classic” games available for it, including some of those classics from the 1980s and ’90s such as Donkey Kong and Tecmo Bowl.
It’s a good thing I still rule at some of those classic games, as I’m not faring so well on the current ones.
My children expected me to have a very low ability level on video games after our first turn around the track for Mario Kart. I didn’t finish last, but I didn’t finish in the top six either.
For whatever reason, this game with the simplistic controls of acceleration and braking keeps me from being competitive. Sometimes my tweens and teen taunt me as they wait for me to finish the last half of the track.
Then my lovely wife discovered those classic games. Then somehow their clueless gamer dad became someone formidable.
Playing the new games and old games back to back remind you how far the technology has come in those 30 years. Most of the newer games have a three-dimensional element to you and really rely on the first-person point of view.
Those older games were different. The scenery scrolled behind you, as your character remained essentially in a similar part of the screen.
The tactics are so much different too. Most of those old-school games involved knowing where things were in the game and carefully executing the right jump at the right time.
It amused me for a moment, watching the same daughters who whipped me in Mario Kart have trouble jumping over a simple hole in the ground in Super Mario Bros.
I also realized how relaxing these older style games were. They’re a step short of mindless, but they don’t require the ever-vigilance of knowing which of the variety of buttons you need to press.
On the other hand, it’s also nice to see my girls learn how to beat me in their games. They’ve mastered them, learning the intricacies in the same way I once mastered them in Super Mario Bros.
I did beat our house’s Mario Kart champion one time. I was so ecstatic. Then she gave me a small smile and told me I finally beat her and I should be proud.
I recognized something in her tone. It’s the same one I use when I’ve let her beat me at something, to avoid crushing her spirit.
It seems that I’ll need to get back on the gaming system so I can know the nuances of the new games just the same way I knew where every star, mushroom and coin was in the old game.