The Search for the NintendoI was in first grade when my family got a Nintendo. I remember the very day. It was Christmas; I was wearing ninja pajamas. The Nintendo was the very first present opened. It wasn’t the biggest box under the tree, but it was sitting right in front and was the only one addressed to me and my brother. It would have to be a whopper if our parents thought we had to share it. It was obvious that this was the main event.
When I realized what was beneath the wrapping I shook, screamed, laughed and danced. It was the emotional event of the morning. I can’t even remember anything else I got that Christmas but every second I spent with the Nintendo that morning is seared into my mind. The opening of the next, the tense wait for my dad to connect the cords, the new swear words I learned when he couldn’t get it to work. I even remember the games, Super Mario Brothers, Contra, Bubble Bobble, and what would go on to be my personal favorite: Final Fantasy.
I absolutely adored Final Fantasy, it had such an open world just waiting for me to explore it. Don’t get me wrong, all of those games are classics but Final Fantasy was the only one where I really felt like it was about me. I picked the characters, I gave them names, I searched every corner of the map for secrets, and secrets there were. Also searching for secrets gave me something to do while I grinded levels, damn Fire Fiend kept killing me.
Over the years we picked up more Nintendo games here and there, Double Dragon, Tecmo Super Bowl, Little Nemo: The Dream Master, to name a few. Really the collection grew to be fairly impressive, with the exception of Little Nemo: The Dream Master. My parents felt the Nintendo was more then enough video games for us and felt no need to usher us into the new generation when the Super Nintendo was released. I had to spend many a recess arguing that Metroid was way better then Super Metroid, and Link to the Past is completely “poopy” compared to Link’s Adventure. A few minutes of actual game play on a friend’s Super Nintendo would be more then enough to make me eat my words for every game. The one exception was always Final Fantasy. I would never recant on my claims that it was superior to its successors. “You can’t even choose your own characters,” I explained upon starting up Final Fantasy 2. “This is gay!” I cried out while playing 3. Translated to non-retarded speak, what I meant was that Final Fantasy has a certain magic, a feeling, that could not be replicated, not even by the sequels.
I was in 6th grade when I was finally thrust into the modern gaming scene. Once again it was Christmas but this time my grandmother was the means, giving me and my brothers a Nintendo 64. Looking back I don’t think she told my parents about this gift. This might explain their actions.
Not 24 hours after the unwrapping my mom was talking about how we could sell that “dusty old thing,” in order to buy Nintendo 64 games and accessories. She pointed out how the 64 only came with one controller, surely we needed another, plus memory cards, and all the other bells and whistles. My brothers fell for this instantly but I held out in solitary resilience for months. I didn’t want to give up my loyal friend, who had remained by my side for years. The Nintendo deserved more then to be a garage sale cast off, even if it didn’t have the decency to let me beat the first level of Ghosts N Goblins.
As the months bore on however I fell more and more in line with the constant anti NES propaganda being spewn at me. In the end my beloved Nintendo was sold to a friend for a mere 50 dollars. 50 dollars which was used to buy Star Fox 64, which is a great game, but I think in the back of my mind I always knew I would regret the decision.
It was a few years later that I got the idea to recapture my youth by purchasing a used Nintendo. I turned to my friend whom I had sold my old collection to, but alas he no longer had the Nintendo for he had soon sold it to his cousin who ended up setting it on fire while high. So I set off to the shady realm of thrift stores. I was ignorant of the internet in those days so I had to make my purchases in person. I located one store which had a large stock of Nintendos but their prices were exuberant. I had the want but not the financial means. I couldn’t justify spending my limited funs on an ancient system when my only source for alcohol made me pay a buyer’s fee.
My desires were thrown on the back burner. Life went on, seasons changed, as did my haircut. I grew out my buzz cut and began life anew with a grand pompadour style I dubbed the Conan O’Brien. The Conan O’Brien was in dubiously the best haircut I have ever had but had the downfall of being very high maintenance. Regular trims were a must lest it grow wild and take over my soul. So there I was one fine Saturday, old enough to drive but without car, walking to the barbershop because I considered myself too cool to ride a bike. Half-hazardly I looked into the front window of a store known as The Good Neighbor Service.
I had always assumed The Good Neighbor Service sold used, likely donated, clothes. This assumption was born from the fact that they constantly displayed old, ugly, prom dresses in the window. I had no desire to buy used clothes, prom dress or not, so I never paid the store any attention. It was only by chance that I turned my head that day. I saw something there that made my heart skip a beat. I gasped, shook my head, and gasped again. Beneath the orange and green frumpled garments was a Nintendo Entertainment System.
It was in pristine condition. I would not have been surprised to find out Marty McFly had flown out of 1985 the day before to hand delivered it. Not a scratch on it, not even dust. Not only was there a Nintendo displayed along with it were two controllers, a zapper, the RF adapter, that little grey box thing that plugs into the wall and even games. Four games sitting there waiting to be snatched up. Super Mario Bothers 3, The Legend of Zelda, Punch Out, and the coup da grace, Final Fantasy. The one game that I had loved before all others, the one that always held that extra magic, that extra sense of imagination and wonder, there it was sitting right there waiting for me to take it into my arms and call it baby. There it was sitting right there in this random store begging me to take it home and make it my own.
I knew right then this was it. If I didn’t buy this Nintendo I would never buy one. I didn’t care about the cost. I was going to take it home and make sweet electronic love to it all night. I checked my wallet, two 20s. Certainly enough to make the purchase. If not I had another ten for my haircut. I would get in trouble for spending my haircut money on video games, but at this point I didn’t care.
If I were a wilder person I would have kicked open the door of that shop and screamed, “Give me that Nintendo and your virginity!” like a crazed Anthony Kiedias, but I’m meek so I just walked in normally. Also the lady behind the counter was rather old.
“How much is that Nintendo in the window?” I asked. The woman seemed confused, I thought maybe she didn’t know what a Nintendo was so I clarified, “That grey box thing” while pointing.
Her face lit up as she recognized what I was talking about, “Oh the Playstation game. It’s ten dollars.” A Nintendo is not a Playstation but I did not care. It was cheap, cheaper then my dad’s Rollox.
“Awesome,” I said, “How about the games and controllers and stuff?”
“Oh its all ten dollars, it all comes together,” she said with a smile on her face. I smiled back. I felt like I could lift her up and smack a wet one on her forehead I was so happy about the deal I was getting.
“I’ll take it,” I slapped a twenty on the counter.
“Okay, I’ll need to see your welfare card and then I’ll pack it up for you,” I was confused. I wasn’t on welfare nor did I know they had cards.
“What do you mean?”
“The Good Neighbor Service is a charity, only those on welfare can shop here,” she explained.
That kindly old lady might as well have told me that she used my winning lottery ticket as toilet paper right after eating my dog. There was the Nintendo of my dreams, at practically a steal, no more then five feet away from me but unavailable because my father was a functioning member of society. I couldn’t let some unappreciating poor person have my Nintendo. It just wouldn’t stand. This wasn’t a fight I was going to give up. This was going to be my independence day. Independence from not having a Nintendo.
“Um, could I buy it anyways?” I so poetically asked.
“Nope,” the lady was cheerful in her cruel denialness.
That avenue firmly spent I had to find a new way to convince her to sell me my little grey box of dreams, “Is there anyway I can get that Nintendo?”
“Only if you are on welfare.”
“I am on welfare, didn’t I say that?” I deepened my voice as I said that. I always lie in a tone much deeper than my speaking voice. I feel like it lends me credibility.
“I need to see your welfare card then,” the old lady told me. If she knew I was lying she either didn’t care or was a grade A actress because she remained as perky as a teenage girl’s breasts.
“Well you see, my welfare card, the card that indicates that I am on welfare is in fact,” I tried to think of something plausible, but many late nights of partying had made my mind into a semi permeable mush unable of even the smallest amount of quick thinking, “with my father, who has abandoned my family and ran off with another woman!”
“That sounds a little off,” the old woman said, damn you underage drinking!
“Okay,” I leaned over the counter a little and looked the lady in the eye, “Let me level with you…”
“Let me level with you Bernice,” I said, “I want that Nintendo. The Nintendo Entertainment System defined my formative years. Without it I would have played sports and formed life long bonds with friends. That didn’t happen. Instead I played Metal Gear everyday for five years. I need this Nintendo. I need it to recapture my youth, my vitality, my life back when I was young and innocent and the world seemed like it was beautiful and filled with hope. This is more then a Nintendo to me. This is gateway back to a simpler, better time for me. A time before I had to worry about my future or if I will ever lose my virginity. It’s a vortex to a epoch when my biggest worry was whether Bowser would be throwing hammers or not. Please Bernice, give me the key so that I may open the door to this better yesterday.”
My passionate speech was met with little fanfare, “I’m sorry but I can’t sell you anything unless you have a welfare card,” she said just like before.
“Well, Jesus lady, come on!” My cool composure was lost. I started shouting and waving my hands in the air like I did not care, “Every person on welfare that I know owns a snowmobile and three gigantic dogs. They’re not actually needy, just scamming the government. None of them are going to come in here and buy a Nintendo. For fuck sake’s they all own game consoles that have had a new game released for it in the last ten years.”
“I cannot have you swearing in my store,” Bernice sounded like a scolding grandmother.
“Let me buy Nintendo!” I screamed.
“Stop screaming!” Bernice was getting upset.
This was an important turning point. There were two basic tactics I could take: I could continue to get belligerent ranting and raving in hopes of her letting me take the Nintendo just so that I would leave, or I could change my act, become polite again and sweet talk my way into getting her to bend the rules.
“Give me Nintendo!” I swept my arm across the counter knocking over a number of Hummel figurines.
“Oh my,” Bernice was shocked.
“Rarr raaa Nintendo!” I incomprehensibly bellowed grabbing a small potted cactus that was on the counter and throwing it backwards over my head.
Bernice gave a small cry. I stopped around the room screaming, “Robble robble Nintendo, robble, give me Nintendo.”
“Get out!” Bernice feared for her life.
“Nintendo!” I shook my head wildly spittle flying everywhere.
“My God what are you doing?” Bernice asked as I pulled down my pants. I clasped the shaft of my penis so hard it hurt and painfully pulled up and down releasing various fluids onto a rack of t-shirts.
“Nintendo and I go!” I grunted like a caveman. Bernice was just crying.
Now this must have been about when the police officer came in because the next thing I know I was laying on the ground releasing my bowels with two electrical nodes sending shockwaves through my body.
Then everything is like a fogged glass mirror. I remember some shapes moving and the phrase, “Nuttier than my shit,” being said by somebody who sounded like Wedge Antilles. Then I sort of blacked out again.
I woke up starring at a clean white ceiling. It was spotless. I was lying on my back in a bed. I felt oily and there was a strange wetness in my crotch. I looked away from the ceiling and saw I was in a bed with sheets as white as the ceiling. My pajama pants matched as well except for where they were wet. The wet area was darker. I gazed around the room just trying to adjust my eyes to the blinding nothing.
Slowly I was able to make more out. A chair, a desk, a TV, on the desk. There was something, something next to the TV, what could it be? My legs felt like seaweed but I managed to get up and hobble over. First there was a note, it read:
I guess you really wanted this, I hope this tides you over until we decide to visit. Flag Day sounds good, see you in 9 months.
It took a moment to register, I guess I was still groggy, but then I realized what I had done. I had won! For here was the very Nintendo I saw in the store. It looked like one in the same I didn’t even have to check what game was in. I hit the switches and booted her up.
The familiar song began. Simple and elegant I had to hum along.
I had it, finally had it again, Final Fantasy.
Just goes to show that things have a way of coming out all right in the end.