A to Z Challenge: (N)intendo

NintendoLet’s be real: I can’t possibly talk about video games for an entire month without bringing up Nintendo.

Not everyone knows that the Nintendo Corporation did not start out as video game producers. The original 1889 company, “Nintendo Koppai”, produced Hanafuda cards, which are playing cards similar to the 52-card decks that most of us know. It wasn’t until many years and other ventures later that the company became interested in electronic toys and video games. It was around this time that they secured the rights to distribute the first commercial home video game console – the Magnavox Odyssey – in Japan. This decision was a huge success for the company, so they followed it up by developing their own games, starting with EVR Race in 1975. Soon after came the well-known Donkey Kong, created by Shigeru Miyamoto, who is every Nintendo fan’s greatest hero.

Nintendo continued to experiment with such electronic toys as the ‘Game and Watch’ (a predecessor to what would eventually become the Gameboy), and in 1983 they released their first console, the Famicom, exclusively in Japan.

Then came the great video game crash of 1983, of which Nintendo was one of the only companies to survive. Out of the ashes of that crash, Nintendo redesigned the Famicom, fixed some issues that the previous machine had, and renamed their new creation the Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES for short). Thus, video game console history was made.

A great deal of my childhood involved the myriad products that Nintendo released over the years. I was the proud owner of one of those NES consoles at a young age, and when I was a little older I nearly had a meltdown of happiness when I found a Super Nintendo Entertainment System under my Christmas tree. For many years I subscribed to Nintendo Power magazine; it was through this magazine that I learned about the Pokemon games and subsequently begged my parents for my first Gameboy, a ‘Pocket’ version. Later I upgraded to a Gameboy Color (I had the special, yellow “Pikachu” version), and one day my parents surprised me with the Nintendo 64. The 64 was probably the last Nintendo system that I played with manic frequency, but over the years I also had a Gameboy Advanced, a GameCube, a Nintendo DS, and a Nintendo Wii. The real kicker? Although the NES doesn’t work anymore, I still have every one of those systems, with games for each of them. The only systems I don’t have are the original Gameboy, the Nintendo 3DS, and the Nintendo Wii-U, and the last two only because they haven’t really impressed me much.

Pictured: One of the greatest things I ever owned.
Pictured: One of the greatest things I ever owned.

Yes, make no mistake, though they haven’t been my source of video games for a while, Nintendo holds a special place in my heart. I grew up with such exclusive characters as Mario and Luigi, Donkey Kong, and Link and Zelda, and some of their games are still my favorites to this day.

What is your experience with Nintendo games/consoles? What are/were some of your favorite games? Favorite characters? Do you own any Nintendo relics? Please share!

Enjoying the A to Z Challenge? Why not check out some of these other participating blogs?

Rhonda @ Albom Adventures
Michelle @ Writer~In~Transit
Fil’s Place – Old Songs and Memories
Forty, C’est Fatastique
Keith Kreates
dSavannah Rambles
Rainbow kaykuala
The Old Shelter
Sabina @ Victim to Charm
Sue’s Trifles

Things I Know About Kids: Pay Attention to What They Like!

Let me start off this post by asking a question: how many of you can recall at least one birthday, Christmas, or other present-giving holiday where you were disappointed by a present? Maybe you got the cheap knock-off version of the thing you really wanted, or maybe you got something that was way outside your age range, or maybe you got something completely different from what you’d asked for because what you really wanted was deemed somehow inappropriate. Or maybe, just maybe, you got something completely random that you didn’t want, and all you could think was, “Geez, does anyone even pay attention to what I like?”

2nnneNow here’s the thing. I’m not suggesting that kids shouldn’t be grateful for the presents they get, because they should, and it really peeves me when kids are ungrateful little brats. I’m also not suggesting that parents should break the bank when it comes to presents…if you genuinely can’t afford it, then your kids are just going to have to deal (and again, be grateful).

But I am saying this: for the love of god…pay attention to what your kids like.

I bring this up because of my “jobs I’ve had” post a few days ago. Mentioning my previous positions at various department stores reminded me of something I dealt with a lot while working retail: clueless parents. I can’t count the number of times I got questions from parents who had only the basest inkling of a concept of what their child wanted as a present. For example, once I had a mother come into Zellers and ask me for help finding a game that her kid wanted. She said the game was called “Mario”. I had to bite my tongue to keep from screaming as I asked her, “Which Mario?”

A SMALL clipping of the Wikipedia list of Mario games...notice the dates?
A SMALL clipping of the Wikipedia list of Mario games…notice the dates?

A brief discussion thereafter revealed that not only did the woman not know which one of the dozens of possible “Mario” games she was looking for, but she didn’t even know which video game console she was buying it for. She knew that her kid had a “Nintendo”, but not which version, and at the time N64 was still booming, while Gamecube was wracking up new sales. Each system had a plethora of “Mario” games, so I had absolutely no way of advising this woman as to what she should buy. In the end I practically begged her to go home and ask her kid about the game again.

Now seriously, folks…it’s one thing to get a little confused when you find out that there are multiple games with similar titles…but if you don’t even know which system you’re buying it for? Sorry, but you must have your head lodged firmly up your back-end. I know there are lots of parents out there who don’t know a damn thing about video games, but how can you honestly not even know which console(s) your kid owns? Is there really not enough space in your brain to commit the words “Gamecube” or “Playstation 3” or “Gameboy” or “XBox” to memory?

I don’t mean this post to torment parents who are a little out of touch with video games and toys and the newest gadgets. We can’t all know everything about everything. But this is your child (or children) that we’re talking about. Is it really so hard to pay a little bit of attention to what they enjoy? The toys they play with? The TV shows they watch? You have no idea how many times I watched parents struggle over a wall of action figures because they had no idea which superhero they were actually looking for, or how many times I’ve watched a parent pick up some random toy with a look of bewilderment on their face and ask me, “Do you think my kid will like this?”

You have no idea how many returns I’ve seen after a holiday, during which the parent grumbled that they’d, “Apparently got the wrong thing.”

Really, I swear, it’s not rocket science.

Yes, there are an outrageous number of options out there and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming, but you know what works? Ask your kid questions. If your kid is playing with a bunch of dolls, ask them what their names are and which ones they don’t have. BOOM, gift idea. Simple. Direct. Almost 100% success rate. Or you know what else works really well? When your kid asks for something specific, take ten seconds to really listen to what they said. The “Mario” game fiasco above could have been easily rectified if the mother had paid attention long enough to hear the full name of the game and, ideally, write it down so she wouldn’t forget. Bada bing, bada boom.

We can’t all be super-parents, and no parent has a 100% grasp on everything their kid is into…but that doesn’t give us an excuse to be ignorant. Your kids have as much right as anyone else in your life to have your attention long enough for you to be able to buy them nice presents without begging a bewildered sales clerk for help. It’s not difficult. It just takes a little bit of effort. Aren’t your kids worth a little bit of effort?

Shown: Something worth a bit of effort.
Shown: Something worth a little bit of effort.