Friday, February 24, 2017

The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M)

One of my favorite stories from Vol. 1 of my SNES Omnibus, which will debut late spring or early summer of 2018, is from my wife, Charis, who became an industry insider, whether she liked it or not, when she married me. Here's her inclusion in the book:

When I married into the whole gaming world, I was such an imposter. My video game experience was limited to post-football Friday nights at the Mazzio’s Pizza arcade with my fellow marching band buddies, and even then, my playing time was limited by my shortage of quarters, not to mention my lack of eye-hand coordination. I didn’t get a lot of practice at home, either, since our only game console was a Sears Pong knock-off. Even through college, I spent more time playing cards and watching movies than firing digital missiles or jumping pixelated barrels.
Then I met Brett. Brett, the guy who knew every old and new game. Brett, the one who kept a running tally of his high scores in a spiral notebook. Brett, who owned more than a dozen old consoles.
I could’ve just cut my losses and left the gaming to him, but I happened to like spending time with him, and if a round or two of Street Fighter II could make him happy, I could oblige. But there was a problem: I happen to be a tad competitive—OK, a LOT competitive. What were supposed to be cozy evenings spent bonding over the SNES turned into unrelenting beat-downs when the experienced gamer pummeled the n00b. Our “together time” was overshadowed by cussing and yelling, and yes, tears, all because E. Honda never gave poor Chun-Li a chance.

Then Donkey Kong Country changed my life and saved my marriage.
Pardon the hyperbole (and the ridiculous undersell of our love), but my savior was that one blessed word: COOPERATIVE. Finally, we had a game we could play together. With Brett as Donkey Kong, I could tag along as his Diddy. Off we’d go through Ropey’s Rampage or the level that warmed my roller coaster-loving heart, Mine Cart Carnage. My Diddy happily played second banana (so to speak) to the master gamer, tagging in when we needed to jump extra high, tagging out when the big bad boss showed up. We’d work together to collect our emus and swordfish, and we’d take turns playing those fun bonus rounds.
Knowing that we could bank those extra life balloons made DKC even better; sometimes one of us would fire up the game before the other was even in the room to build up a bunch of lives before we returned to our saved game. Added bonus: DKC was linear enough for my old-school brain to get, unlike some of the more spatial wandering games that lost my interest along with my avatar.
Brett’s video game collection has grown over the years, but nothing in his big ol’ gameroom will ever take the place of the cart that soothed my Street Fighter II-broken heart, Donkey Kong Country. ~ Charis Weiss, journalism teacher and wife of gaming author Brett Weiss.

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