Today’s writing assignment, along with the accompanying twist, introduces us to the idea of linking blog posts together to make a kind of series. Depending on what you choose to write about, this can be a way to keep readers coming back. Just like when reading a series of novels, if your readers enjoy the first one they’re going to want to check out the second. So let’s get on with it, shall we?
I grew up in the video game revolution. When I was only a toddler I had an Atari with such amazing joy-stick-based games as ‘Mouse Trap’ and ‘Plaque Attack’. When I was a bit older my parents got me a Nintendo Entertainment System and I spent hour upon hour with the Super Mario Bros. The true gem of my childhood, however, was the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which I got for Christmas when I was about 8 or 9.
The SNES introduced me to some of my very favorite games of all time. I spent ridiculous amounts of time playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy 3 (US version), and the little-known gem, Uniracers. And then my best friend told me about this role-playing game that she’d tried out from the local rental place (do you remember those? If not, you’re too young to understand the joy of the SNES). It was called ‘Chrono Trigger’, she told me, and to hear her tell it this game was absolutely amazing.
I rented it for myself one night, and I was immediately hooked. Chrono Trigger had amazing graphics (for the time; shut up, youngsters), an amazing storyline, lovable characters, and something I had never seen before: multiple endings that were rewarded to you depending on certain decisions and achievements you made while playing. It quickly became one of my favorite games of all time (and still is), and it didn’t take long before I’d convinced my dad to buy it for me (a wise financial decision, considering the amount of money I was pumping into rentals).
Owning the game made me obsessed with collecting every item, achieving every ending variant, and maxing out all the characters’ stats. This required a massive amount of grinding (killing enemies over and over again to gain experience in order to gain levels) that took hours and hours of my precious childhood. It may seem silly, and a waste of time to people who don’t play video games, but it was a serious ambition of mine to grind enough to get all the characters up to the maximum level of 100 (denoted by a pair of stars next to the character’s name).
I was getting so close. I had two of the characters maxed out already, three characters in the 90’s levels, and two in the 80’s. I was going to do it.
Then, one day after school I came home, grabbed my SNES controller, and turned the game console on. The screen flashed for a moment, and then remained black. I began to panic immediately.
There may be some of you reading this who are too young to remember cartridge games, but the Super Nintendo had them. Instead of disks or digital downloads we had rectangular hunks of plastic with a circuit board sticking out of the bottom that had to be pressed firmly into the top of the game console. If the game was not properly pressed all the way down before turning the console on, you could cause a short circuit that could cause all kinds of problems. Problems like deleting your game save data.
I touched the top of my Chrono Trigger cartridge and pressed down. It moved a good inch, meaning it hadn’t been seated properly when I’d turned the console on. With my little heart dancing in my chest, I turned the console on again and loaded up the game.
Empty. My game save data was gone, as though the game was fresh from the store.
I can’t describe how I felt at that moment, but it was an interesting mixture of rage and depression. To a kid, losing that many hours of gameplay on a video game is like a college student accidentally deleting the term paper they’ve been working on for weeks. I felt robbed. Robbed of hours and hours of “work”, and robbed of my victory, my bragging rights. I was certain I would never come close to touching this achievement again, and I was right. Even as an adult with a remastered version of the game on a newer console, I never came anywhere near maxing out all my characters’ stats ever again.
But that’s not the end of this tale… You see, I hadn’t removed the Chrono Trigger cartridge from my SNES in weeks. So how, you might wonder, did the cartridge wind up popped out of the console and seated improperly? Well, that’s a story for another day…