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Column: My Dad saved the princess before I did

It has been nearly impossible the past month to turn on the television and not see a commercial for the “Super Mario Brothers” movie. While I had zero interest in seeing the film, it brought back a rush of memories of a childhood spent hours playing on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

I’ve talked a lot about spending countless hours in my youth navigating trails on my bike and staying outside in the summer until the streetlights came on. There was plenty of time outdoors, but once I received an NES, my time outside dissipated.

A few of my friends were lucky to have an Atari, and once the NES was released, I started to hear my buddies talk about the gaming system.

I had spent hours at Shakey’s Pizza playing arcade games and tried the Atari a few times, but I was so excited about the possibility of having a gaming system.

I dropped subtle hints for about six months, and it was not working. I enjoyed going to my friend’s house to play but wanted one.

When it came time for my birthday, I was in for quite a surprise.

Not only did I get an NES from my mom, but my constant badgering also made a mark on my dad. I ended up with one at both houses. Being a kid, this was a huge deal. I could play during the week at my mom’s house and on the weekend at my dad’s. And play I did.

At the time, my only game was a combination of “Duck Hunt and Super Mario Brothers.” This kept me pretty busy.

After the novelty of shooting ducks with the gun wore off, I set my sights on saving the Princess on Super Mario Brothers. While it was a ton of fun, I have lousy hand-eye coordination and was awful at video games. The first time I would play a game looked like the first time a puppy tried swimming in a lake.

As I got closer and closer to finishing the game and rescuing the Princess, my dad started to take an interest in the game. One morning I woke up and found him in the living room with a big smile. He had just finished the game and had to let me know all about it. He was boasting when he told me he had played most of the night trying to figure it out and wanted to be the first in the house to finish.

I was not nearly as thrilled as he was and was determined to figure out the last level that day, and I did.

It then became who can win the game without losing a life and who can do it multiple times. It was a weird kind of bonding, but I still have fond memories of the music and countless hours staring at the console television.

Over the next few years, I would start to get different games for presents, would buy a few on my own, and there was always a revolving door of lending from my other friends in the neighborhood. During sleepovers, we would stay up all night trying to finish a game.

A couple of years later, I got a SEGA system, but I did not play it much at all.

The NES would end up being my swan song with gaming, but it was fun while it lasted.

We have an Xbox at home, but the kids never play it, and when I tried, it wasn’t very good. Everything is too complicated these days, and there is no way I could finish a game.

There are now professional gamers, and this seems so odd to me, but I would have loved that idea when I was younger, even though it took me a bit longer than most to win.

Seeing the commercials sure did bring back some memories; maybe I should buy an old NES and relive my youth. It would probably serve me better to get back outside and on a bike.