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Sunday, May 1, 2016

From the Midway: Just part of a gamer's life

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's been said that Generation X is a generation that bridges the old and the young. As part of that 'why bother generation,' I feel like we have missed out on all the fun that our parents and older siblings experienced with history as well as the experiences of the newer generation, who are comfortable with new technology. We got our feet in both worlds.

Examples are the moon landing, Woodstock, the sexual revolution of the 1970's. These are things that we never got to experience first hand. Facebooking, twittering, texting and having the web at your disposal at any time is a novelty for many of us.

But one thing we can truly call our own are video games. I grew up in the area of arcades. For you who are not familiar with what an arcade was, it was a place which had pinball machines, crane games, air hockey, and, of course, video games. There were rows and rows of video games. I wish kids today could have seen it.

If you weren't playing a video game, then you were either standing around watching a master at work or waiting your turn to play the game. I can remember traveling to Arnolds Park when I was a kid, back then they had two monstrous arcades - one under the old Roof Garden and one near the entrance to the park. Bells, whistles and lights were constantly going off, along with the sounds of dozens of games being played at the same time. It was a wonderful time.

Cherokee was not immune to the video game craze of the early 1980's. The Electric Eye was our home away from home. Not quite as massive as the arcades at Arnolds Park, but it did the job for us hometown boys. The Electric Eye was located across the street from where the Copper Cup is today. It was in the building next to where Quit-N-Kaboodle is now located.

The arcade craze lasted until the early 1990's. The end of arcades was brought upon by the home gaming consoles, such as Atari and Nintendo. But it wasn't until 1992 that the final death blow came. Up until this point, most of the home games were kind of lame and cost an arm and a leg. But in '92 all that changed when Super Nintendo was released and the promise of what home gaming could be was finally fulfilled.

Games like 'Super Mario Brothers,' 'Sin City,' 'Fire Fox' and my all time favorite game 'Legion of Zelda: A Link to the Past' were released.

My roommates and I spent countless hours playing that game, and it took many weeks of hard playing to win. But in the end, we were triumphant. At the time, I really wanted a Super Nintendo, but they were a bit too expensive. Plus the home video game market had exploded.

It seemed if you invested your money on a game console, it would be obsolete in a few months, when the new and latest console came out, so I never bought one - not until I found a Super Nintendo at a garage sale about ten years later. I picked up my now- obsolete Super Nintendo for $10, and a bunch of games for about $3 apiece, and among those games I found 'Legion of Zelda.'

I played this game for months without any clues, maps or tech support - just working on memory from ten years earlier. I advanced to where I only needed to beat a few more levels, and I would be completely done.

But fate intervened one cold fall day. I noticed someone pull up to my house, so I just turned off the game. That was a huge mistake. By turning off the machine, I inadvertently erased all of the months of work I had put into that game. I was just devastated.

I took the Super Nintendo and put it away and forgot about it. Well, last week I dusted it off and hooked it back up to my TV. As soon as I turned it on, my game was still there. What happened during the years of it just sitting there I have no idea.

But lately, my old buddy Link and I have gotten to know each other again, and I'm happy to report I have only one more level to go before beating the bad guy. And that is what life is all about, in both real life and in video games -- beating the bad guy.

Mike Leckband
From the Midway