Sharing the Games We've Loved

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My grey brick of a Game Boy was my constant companion as a child. I had (if childhood memory serves) quite the collection of cartridges, along with many of the bulky and cumbersome add-ons to "enhance" the mobile gaming experience. I spent long hours curled up in impossible positions, playing until my aching wrists and numb fingers couldn't support the heavy apparatus any longer.

Torturous as it could be physically, I am always filled with warm fuzzy nostalgia when I think of those times. Hauling my heavy satchel of cartridges, scoping out every waiting room for an outlet so I wouldn't have to cope with the disappointment of lost game progress as that little power light would go out and the screen's pea green and gray image slowly faded away.

When I came across an old Darkwing Duck cartridge sitting in a Goodwill display cabinet I was transported right back. In pursuit of a new Game Boy, Steve and I headed down to one of our favorite local game stores, Press Start to Play in Coeur d'Alene, ID. With their focus on retro games and systems it was the ideal place to ferret out a working machine to make my thrift store purchase of the old Darkwing Duck cartridge more useful than nostalgic impulse.

We zeroed in on the cabinet filled with gently used Game Boy Colors, Game Boy Advances, even an original grey brick Game Boy. I was sorely tempted by the grey one but recalling the death of my old one on Christmas Day when I first introduced it to my new Pokemon Yellow cartridge, I couldn't let my heart get broken again. So we decided on a nice purple Game Boy Color to act as nostalgia chariot. Browsing through their other games I also couldn't pass up a Pokemon Blue cartridge and a copy of that old workhorse, Tetris.

Treasure in hand, Steve was kind enough to drive home as I plugged the AUX cable into the car's sound system so that we could be surrounded by the 8-bit audio in all its shrill and tinny glory. I cued up Darkwing Duck, and Tetris, but when I popped in Pokemon Blue I hesitated as I prepared to choose a name for my Pokemon trainer.

As great a time I had collecting those virtual critters back in the day, I came to the realization that it would be far better to pass it on to my children and let them take part in the same challenges and triumphs I enjoyed playing when I was around the same age. I ejected the cartridge and waited until we got home to introduce my youngest to the game.

I was concerned that my daughter Miriam might not take to a game whose quality and features were many steps down from what she has grown up accustomed to. She and her older sister play Minecraft regularly and they both enjoy watching us play games like Halo. Miriam herself loves to mess with Steve when he plays Alien Isolation, turning off lights and popping up to surprise him as he sneaks from locker to locker.

I realized how misplaced my worries were when she eagerly began to explore beyond Pallet Town with her trusty new Bulbasaur. As much fun as I might have had selfishly hoarding Pokemon Blue to myself so that I could relive my rose colored gaming memories, I found myself with a greater sense of contentment watching my daughter curled up in a almost painful to look at ball on the recliner, quizzing me about evolutions, and asking for help navigating through tricky caves.

She now has a bunch of Pokemon, including a Metapod and a Magikarp that she is trying to level up. She squeals with glee whenever she catches a new one and totes the Gameboy around everywhere she goes. Looking at her face as she curls up on the couch, inching closer to the light so she can see the screen or shooing the cat from a precious sunbeam I can't help but smile. I know how she feels.