Handheld Gaming Part 1 – The Past (Ethos)

This will likely be the only part in this series that sees large similarities between Riddles and myself.

My gaming experience also started in the handheld space, and actually stayed there a lot longer than Riddles before transitioning into a console. My mother is a lovely woman, but she seemed really opposed to video games in our house. She didn’t think they were the devil’s work or anything, but she did seem to lack a basic understanding of their legitimacy.

So ugly and so beautiful all at once.

Luckily she eventually caved and let me have a Gameboy if I bought it with my own money. To her delight, I still played outside after purchasing it. And to my delight, video games were the best fucking things in existence.

Also, let me clarify. When I say I bought a Gameboy, I mean I bought a Gameboy. A big, fat, grey, yellow-screened Gameboy. Out of all my systems, that is probably my most beloved. I see it now – dilapidated, missing its screen cover – and memories come rushing back. I don’t think I’ve had nostalgia tied to a physical system as opposed to particular games in any other instance.

But even so, I have strong memories of my games as well. My first ever video game was Kirby’s Dream Land. Played the crap out of that. Then I got Jungle Book. Played the crap out of that. I remember loving it, but I have no idea if it was actually good. It was only my second video game, I was around 8 years old, and it got stolen.

Yes, one day my house got broken in to. They took some jewelry, Canadian $2 bills (they had just gone out of print – we have $2 coins now – so I guess they had future worth), and my Gameboy games. Or some of them. And they didn’t take the Gameboy. Which is particularly strange because it was in the same case as the games. Maybe the thief already owned a Gameboy?

In any case, I mourned the loss of Jungle Book, but not for long because I soon got the two games that would largely define my time with that system. Donkey Kong Land and Super Mario Land. Back in those days I hadn’t discovered RPGs yet. There was no way to level-grind my way to victory. I had to increase my skill.

And did I ever. I had nothing else to do. I was a child. I went to school, played outside, and played Gameboy. I was so fucking good at Donkey Kong and Mario Land, you have no idea. In fact, Gameboy Ethan could kick Current Ethan’s ass when it comes to gaming skill. My siblings and I even played Mario Land so much that the case broke and we were just left with the actual chip that we would have to maneuver into the system for about 20 minutes before it would work. The point is that those were the only two games I needed.

Me and this game are one. I even know some of the music on piano.

Until Pokémon happened. Then there was no turning back. I strangely don’t associate my fatty Gameboy years with Pokémon so much, but I played Blue, Yellow, and Silver to death on that thing. The seed for my love of RPGs had been planted.

But not only did I play the hell out a bunch of games on that old thing, but it even survived a Canadian Winter. Yes, after I had an N64 and GBA that could play Gameboy games, I didn’t have the need for my Gameboy anymore and it somehow got forgotten in my backyard that was strangely large for a city. We found it the following spring and it worked fine. What a fucking tank.

My Gameboy definitely begun, solidified, shaped, and nurtured my love for video games. Because of my age, because of the state of the industry, and my relative inexperience with games, I can’t imagine I’ll ever own a system like that again. I have very fond memories of getting lost in a select few games -dare I say it – before the internet was commonplace.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about that. I suppose I could talk about my time with my GBA, but that was unexceptional to me. I played it. I liked Minish Cap, kinda. But the system has the worst Pokémon games of the series, and I was diving more into console games then. And I suppose I could say that I am grateful for progress. Mario and Kirby didn’t have save systems, and you couldn’t even walk backwards in a level in Mario. Once the screen scrolled, you were fucked.

Look forward to our Part 2s in the coming days!

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3 Responses to “Handheld Gaming Part 1 – The Past (Ethos)”

  1. slayde112 says:

    Haha, my games of choice were Tetris, Kirby, Picross, and Pokemon Red. I even had that screen magnifier that you attach onto the screen to make everything bigger, and there’s a little light that you can turn on to improve visibility. Coolest accessory ever!

  2. Cow says:

    Both yours and Riddle’s most recent updates have been really entertaining reads. This is a really awesome theme. My original Gameboy was a bit less of a tank. For whatever reason my Gameboy was being stored in a black garbage bag. My friend’s drunk father (understandabily thinking that the garbage bag was for garbage) threw his half-full bottle of beer into the bag resulting in a beer-ridden Gameboy. It still worked and played games but there were a couple lines of dead pixels.

  3. Ethos says:

    Oh man, I didn’t even get to talk about visibility, slayde! I remember slaving to get the exact right viewing angle for that fucker.

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