Ok, the title is a little provocative, but this post might not be as outrageous as you might think. This week I’ve been re-reading Earnest Cline’s Ready Player One with one of my classes and it has really made me nostalgic for the games of my youth. I spent a lot of time in arcades in the 80s and if you’ve read the book I’ll confess that in 2044 I’ll be about the same age as the crazy cat lady in the stacks, Mrs. Gilmore. Along with reading the book in class we spent a day playing through a lot of the games that are a part of the story. Cline weaves a tale that makes you long for the days of feeding quarters into arcade machines at the corner arcade/ice cream shop. I could almost smell the sweet mixture of the scent of ice cream and smoke wafting in the back door from illicit cigarettes. And as if they knew exactly where my head was this week Sony released Q*Bert Rebooted for the Vita and PS4 for less than the cost of a trip to the arcade (with ice cream and illicit cigarettes 30 years ago). There was only one thing to do: buy it as fast as I could.
I have a strange relationship with my handheld consoles. It really is a nostalgia machine. In the true sense of the word nostalgia, they harken me back to a past that never was. My Nintendo handhelds have been used almost exclusively for playing old, new, and rebooted versions of platformers I never played as a child because they were brutally hard and I was just bad at them. I much preferred RPGs and fighting games, but somehow just seeing these games in their blocky glory has made me long for a childhood spent in front of a NES or SNES hopping over barrels or swinging a sword at mythical monsters in places where it really was “dangerous to go alone.” But truth be told, I didn’t play my first Zelda game until the 3DS. I bought Skyward Sword for the Wii, but there was something about playing it on the big screen that just didn’t feel right and the same has gone for all of the single player Mario games. These games (and platformers in general) just feel like too much of a personal experience to share with anyone else. And the best way to keep them to myself has been to play them up close and personal (literally like 8 inches away from my face). Playing the games like this allows me the opportunity to (re)live a childhood that never was. On a small screen (albeit smaller than the arcade machine and tv screen that I had in my room) and in a world of my own. Read more »