(This piece was originally featured on 8-Worlds News on 12.22.15)
Back in 1989, 12 year old Rebekah was becoming more and more obsessed with her Nintendo Power subscription. I devoured each new issue with glee, but it wasn’t until I “discovered” Super Mario Bros. 2 that my mind was fully taken over with Nintendo mania. All I wanted to do was get my hands on a NES (we didn’t have one) and play Super Mario Bros. 2 all day, every day.
Truly, I was moderately obsessed with it.
I learned all I could about the game world and the characters in it. At that age (before the internet) I had no idea it was basically a reskinned version of Doki Doki Panic (only released in Japan). All I knew was that I had to play it.
I HAD to.
I would find out the name of a new enemy type and I would commit it to memory. Mouser. Tryclyde. Flurry. Birdo. I knew them all. I learned about hidden areas and warp zones. I told myself I would be READY if I one day got my hands on a NES.
But it didn’t look promising.
Allow me to backtrack a bit.
When I grew up, money was never in any sort of abundant supply. I knew I would never really get a NES. I knew that all my 12 year old video game dreams were a long shot of the never-going-to-happen type. But I couldn’t help myself from hoping. I was so consumed with getting a NES and playing Super Mario Bros. 2 that I was drawing pictures of the characters.
And I am no artist.
I was head over heels about getting a system, and I started writing poetry about the NES and the game I wanted. Poetry. It still exists somewhere, and for the sake of this story, I wish I had it, alas, I do not.
So as it got closer to December, I tried to brace myself for the inevitable disappointment. I didn’t want my parents to feel badly for not being able to get it for me. So come Christmas morning, I put on my little brave face, and plopped down next to the Christmas tree.
I have two older brothers, and my parents used to pass us a present one at a time for us to open. It allowed the fun to last a bit longer, and I don’t even recall what any of us received.
We got to the last few little presents under the tree. There was one left (addressed to me) that was a small, mostly flat rectangle. It could have been a game box, but I highly doubted it as there was no NES. My parents saved that flat box for last, and I opened it: Super Mario Bros. 2.
I was so happy to have this potential experience in my grasp, but I also knew it may as well be nowhere near me, for I couldn’t even play it and had no idea when I would be able to.
And as I was looking at the box and trying not to cry, I didn’t see my parents pull a HUGE box out from behind the couch. It was all wrapped up and far too large to be a NES. I was confused, especially when they were looking at me like they might burst or something.
I carefully peeled off the paper and saw the words “Power Pack.”
It was not only a NES, but it was a NES with Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, the Zapper gun, World Class Track Meet, and the Power Pad.
I had hit the surprise mother lode.
And I freaked the hell out.
I have no idea how they afforded it. I have no idea when they bought it or where they hid it, but I was beside myself. I immediately wanted to hook it up (which we did), and I started on my journey as a gamer. Sure I’d been to arcades before, but I was too young to spend much time in them on my own. I’d played a lot of Atari and PC games at friends’ houses, but this was the first time I felt in control of my gaming journey. It mesmerized me that so many worlds, so many experiences were possible because of this grey box from Nintendo.
I was in video game love.
I still am.
I still have that original Nintendo and it works. I will occasionally boot up Bubble Bobble, Tetris, or yes, Super Mario Bros. 2 to remind myself where this all took flight. I look at these new consoles we have and am consistently amazed at the worlds ready to be explored. Games have never been an escape to me; they have been a new way of exploring.
With that, I hug my 3DS close, and think fondly to that morning 26 years ago, and smile. It was a shining moment in the gaming landscape of my life, and I’ll never forget it.
What are your favorite holiday gaming memories? I’d love to hear all about them.