It was Christmas day 1999 and I was ten years old. My biggest present was the just released neon purple hued transparent gameboy color. The transparent futuristic style was very popular at this time in the world of electronics with many see through phones, computers, and mouses populating bedrooms and computer labs. Not being a technology critic at the time, I was more interested in the video games that came with my first handheld game system, Super Mario Brothers Deluxe and Rugrats: Time Travelers.
The Rugrats: Time Travelers game basically involved the main child characters, traveling through time to get various macguffins. Each respective character gets their own level or time period; Tommy, the one year old gets to explore the wild west while the twins, Phil and Lil, get to crawl around a prehistoric time. Unfortunately, I could never beat the Rugrats game as it seemed to echo the issues with the first Metroid game in that there was little space between enemies and the footpath of the main characters. To make everything even more frustrating, a lot of the levels were on an inclined plane so the enemies would be able to knock the player character down. I would always play it for only a half hour and then move on to another game.
Super Mario Brothers Deluxe, on the other hand, was amazing. It not only had the original 1985 game that I hadn’t been able to experience, but it also had little mini games that reminded me of the programs we had on our Dell computer like KidPix and my two Lion King games. There was a sticker machine, a certificate maker, and many mini games such as racing against the ghost character Boo. The main game involves Mario and Luigi racing to rescue Princess Peach from the grip of the monstrous turtle dinosaur hybrid named Bowser. Mario also had the help of mushrooms that gave him fire ball powers or grew him to a bigger size. It was simple but full of varied colorful levels set to fun 8 bit scores that stick with me to this day. I’m particularly fond of the jaunty track from the first level and the sea shanty like rhythm of the background music in the underwater levels. The spacious design of the levels helped me strategize my moves and jumps, even if I often had to start over or finish in the original tiny Mario sprite form.
Next to Pokemon Yellow, it was probably my most repeatedly played game during my middle school years. It not only kept me busy, it opened me up to the history of video games and ignited a relationship with games that continues to this day While I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore gamer, I appreciate that they provide me with an outlet for my fidgeting habit, helped form friendships, and have expanded my idea of how art can be presented.