Book Report: 8-Bit Christmas

8bit christmas 01

I have a great fondness for the ’80s, video games, reading, and humor, and this book brings each of those to the table.

8-Bit Christmas is a romp through the nostalgia of my childhood, and deals very specifically with something I, too, was incredibly keen on: getting a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) for Christmas.

In the winter of 1989, my brain was overtaken with all things Super Mario Bros. 2. I was reading about it in Nintendo Power, I was thinking about it during the day, I was dreaming about it at night, and I was even writing poetry about it. With illustrations. I knew the names of the baddies (Fryguy! Tryclyde! Clawgrip!), and I, even with no artistic talent, was drawing the heck out of them.

When Christmas morning rolled around, and all the presents under the tree were opened, there was no NES, no games, and I was (as a 12 year old) devastated.


nes power set

My parents pulled a huge box out from behind the couch and I was hesitantly ecstatic. It was far too large to be a NES. It turned out to be the Power Pack which included Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, World Class Track Meet, the Zapper light gun, and the Power Pad.

And, separately, Super Mario Bros. 2.

I lost my 12 year old sh*t.

As you may expect, I spent the next grillion hours (and years) of my life playing the heck out of that Nintendo. I still have it and it sits no more than ten feet from where I write this. It still works.

So with all that in mind, I feel 8-Bit Christmas is a bit tailored to my own particular childhood.

And, of course, that of millions of others out there.

As described on the back of the book:

It’s 1980-something and all nine-year-old Jake Doyle wants for Christmas is a Nintendo Entertainment System. No Jose Canseco rookie card, no GI Joe hovercraft, no Teddy friggin’ Ruxpin – just Nintendo. But when a hyperactive Shih Tzu is accidentally crushed to death by a forty-two-inch television set and every parent in town blames Nintendo, it’s up to Jake to take matters into his own hands. The result is a Christmas quest of of Super Mario Bros. proportions, filled with flaming wreaths, speeding minivans, lost retainers, fake Santas, hot teachers, snotty sisters, “Super Bowl Shuffles” and one very naked Cabbage Patch Kid. Told from a nostalgic adult perspective, 8-Bit Christmas is a hilarious and heartfelt look back at the kid pop culture of the 1980s.

That certainly sums up the plot far better than I could.

I enjoyed this book greatly. It was filled with silliness and nostalgia and gave me more than a few giggles. My only beef was that, at times, it felt like there were more references jammed in than there needed to be, though it didn’t detract from the experience much.

There aren’t many video game related novels out there, and I’m glad this one exists to help round out that genre.

I actually found this through an Amazon recommendation and I have to say I’m pleased their algorithms thought I’d like it.

They were right.

Thanks, algorithms!

And if you are so inclined, give this book a gander. It’s a fun time, to be sure.

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