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Memories of my Childhood Videogame Rentals - by Radiation

Memories of my Childhood Videogame Rentals

When many of you first played EarthBound, apparently your first reaction was to show it to friends. Me? Very young at the time I received that fateful package, I didn't want other people to think I was a, you know, nerd. First and second grade are amazing phenomena compared to the rest of your time in school. No nerds, no bullies, no stereotypes. Everyone just blends together into people. The nerdiest thing I ever did was admit to naming a lego robot "Kilroy" after Kilroy in Secret of Mana. Imagine my surprise when the response I got from my friend was "Oh, I have that game! I love that game!"

Fast forward a bit to the recent past, when I am at age twelve. Recently, I had played EarthBound again, for it was one of my favorite games of all time. With me, wacky was a good thing to be during that period of my life, and EarthBound was as wacky a game I had played, well, in forever. In sixth grade, much like I was in first grade, I didn't want to loudly proclaim "Hey, I'm a nerd! Beat me up!" In fact, I only had one other nerdy friend to call my own.

"Nerdy" is a very hard word to define, but if the two of us were both nerds, I believe the definition would go something like this: "(Nerd) - n. (nurd) A loser who sits around playing video games all day. Due to abnormally increased intelligence, the nerd does not have to study and devotes all his free time to obsessing over books, the internet, and video games. (esp. RPGs) 14 HP average."

Unfortunately for me, my friend was not the nerd that had trouble fitting in, so he developed a little ecological niche for himself quickly. He fit in like a gear... in a gear factory. Being the only one whom I could share this amazing game without getting weird looks, I kept on telling him to play it. Repeatedly, I praising it, sent him a copy of the ROM, and annoyed him ceaselessly. Finally, I went over to his house and forced him to load the ROM. While the crazy attract mode music started to play, I realized "Gads." I was slowly becoming self-concious of what I was telling this man to play. To the average person, this game did not look appealing at all. Taking a look at my watch, I halfheartedly told him it was time for me to leave. Looking over my shoulder as I exited the door, I saw him closing his emulator. "It's okay, you don't have to play it," I mumbled to him as I left. When I stepped outside, I felt like the weight of Itoi was just taken off my shoulders.

Never again did I ask him or anyone else to play the game again, although I did make allusions and references to it on a daily basis from that point forward. One good thing did come out of the experience of finding EarthBound is not for everything, though; he wrote a hit song called He Played EarthBound. A sound file is available upon request.

Once upon a time
He played Earthboooound
It really sucks ****s but he played it anyways
He has nothing better
To do
To do

Looking back on those days of no homework and all gaming, I really don't blame him for never actually playing the game. Itoi did not create a game to be enjoyed by the average person.* He created it like an interactive... crazy book. Nintendo treated it like an interactive crazy... I... I can't really describe this problem, so I think it might be better if I talk from personal experience... again.

Fall back to the year EarthBound came out, and take a look at a very primitive me reading Nintendo Power ads. Reading the text in the EarthBound Nintendo Power ads helped me acquire no knowledge about the game except "gas station numbers" and "giant pairs of lips." Of course, the text was just there for show. Everyone knew the real attracting force was the clay figures. Amazing clay figures. You may be wondering what I'm talking about because you couldn't remember or were at an age not capable to remember, graphics were important back then. Confuscious once said the following about video gaming: "If game look really good, game is good. Games without shiny light shows or things like that can be positively awesome,** but you aren't sure that the game is going to be good unless it has good graphics."

And so it went.

Possibly the best example of this phenomenon is the SNES game Rise of the Robots. As I have said before, I was young and foolish at the time and the only three things I can remember about Rise of the Robots are:

1. It was awesome
2. The graphics were great
3. doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo DOO doo DOO doo DOO doo DOO DOO DOO doo DOO doo DOO doo DOO doo

On the other hand, the only things my wiser and skinnier older brothers have to say about it are:

1. It sucked.
2. The only "super-move" the stupid main character had was an uninteresting back-punch, whereas the last boss had a move that restored all life.

As you can see, graphics were extremely important back then if you wanted to get the attention of little kids like me. Of course, since the clay figures were the only things I was really excited about and didn't bother to look at anything else, I thought it was a claymation video game preview for about two weeks. At the end of that time, I stared intently at the ad like I had days before and saw something I had never noticed before. The classic screenshot of Ness fighting a Ghost of Starman by himself with the background in full screen.


Where... were the clay figures? Suddenly, fear overcame my body and I recoiled from the page, much like the way a grape jumps back and instantly transforms into a raisin when scared or threatened. Instead of Wallace and Gromit meet Young Shark Skeletor, the game looked like some sort of professional bore-tography session. Was it? I really had to find out whether or not it was for myself. I made it a goal and we went to Home Vision Video, who would rent out video games for a day a dollar on Wednesdays way back when. Unfortunate as I was already, there was yet another lake of despair for me to wade through before I got my prize. The game wasn't out yet. In its stead, I rented Brandish. Still a young fool, I didn't realize for about three days that turning around actually turned you around. I innocently thought it teleported you to a different room with an eerily similar layout. Trust me, I spent ages sidestepping around enemies, treasure boxes, holes, the like. Eventually, I stumbled upon the secret Music Room in the first area by accident and I thought it was a dream when I couldn't find it again. Oh, what a world!

Back on topic. I was worried. Should I get this game or not? Unfortunately, this was not an option because Home Vision Video would not sell rental games. Not even when I offered ten dollars! Thomas the Tank Engine was the best game they had on sale, and I had already beaten it on hard mode and defeated Ballos.

Back on topic for real. This game was drilling a hole in my emotions. On one hand, the clay figures were amazing. On the other, I didn't even understand the setup of the battle system because I had never played a generic RPG before in my life. Christmas day, the well of misfortune dried up and started spewing liquid happiness instead. In the end, I didn't have to decide, because my eldest brother was smart enough to ask for the gam. I owe him big time for making a life-changing descision like that for me. At that point, I was homefree to check the game out as much as I wanted. No one ever told me it came with a strategy guide and scratch and sniff cards! Better than I could have possibly imagined, days upon days were simply spent browsing the clay figures in the strategy guide. All of it was so shiny, and little did I know that it would only get shinier from that point forward.

That's my story. EarthBound was well marketed. At least, it was to our family. Young kids and eccentric game players would have bought it, and isn't that their target audience? I consider Nintendo genius for making the ads so crazy and foolish that it was impossible to refuse.

When it comes down to raw mass-marketing, though, Nintendo failed. If I was Nintendo, I would have over-advertised the fact that you can use laser guns and baseball bats to slay dinosaurs, aliens, and hippies. In the same game. Fake screenshots of Metroid with Ness pasted on would ensue. EarthBound popularity would be at an all time high. If asked to market without being fradulent, I would have simply made a clay figure of everything. Bones in the desert? Done. Cafe? Done. Millions would be made off and in little crazy kids. Black market them off! Five a dozen! Ten for the weak ones! Fifty for the strong ones!


I didn't cover the last topic, which, for you people in the future*** who are too lazy to look it up themselves, (as opposed to having slave robots do it, whom our eighty-fifth president will free) is the ever-popular classic "How would you make a better place?"

Bob, the answer is simple. I do. We all do. By being here, submitting, even just saying a few small bits of encouraging words, we are making this a better place to be. We don't need a massive site overhaul. We don't even need SimonBob to update Mailbag. We just need to love.

HA HA, JUST KIDDING! You guys are awful. If I really wanted to make this a better place, I would make GuyInSummers and I the new MailBag staffers because SimonBob is dead. Everyone who submits would get a free pony card. Twenty pony cards could be traded in for a pony. I know I would submit more than twice. Maybe even more than thrice.

In all seriousness, all we need to do to make the website a great place to be is rig the essay contest so I win no matter what. The traffic would triple overnight. At the very least, Liar would find a mysterious sack of small, unmarked bills adding up to a total of around twenty-thousand dollars in front of his house. How would that happen? And how is it connected to me winning? The answers are keep your mouth shut and no it's not or you're dead.

* The average Japanese person, maybe. But we're talking about the US here.
** I didn't have an NES, but my friends did and when I played Super Mario Bros., my only thought on the graphics were "Super Mario All Stars except close up."
*** Man, we don't even have Mother 3 yet! Can you believe it?! That's like half of the community! And guess what! We didn't even ever play this on the Revolution! That's amazing, man. Just amazing.

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Okay, this version has no bugs. Ignore the other version and give this one its description. Apply to a 6MB ROM, okay?
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