Monday, June 18, 2012

Game Over. Or is it?

While playing Donkey Kong for the Wii with a few of my Conference Hosts tonight, they asked me why the game would even count down your lives since it saves periodically throughout game play. Even if you run out of all your red balloons, you can simply start from your last completed level and resume the game.

It was at this point, that I realized how I old I am compared to these young ones. When I first started playing video games, Mario Brothers (the original) was the most popular game and the only console available was the Nintendo. There were no memory cards or save options. You had a certain number of guys with whom to play, and if you ran out, you were forced to restart the entire game from the very beginning.

Plus, this meant that how long you could play in one sitting determined how far you could advance in the game. For example, I have many clear memories of being pulled away from Mario by my mom, because dinner was ready. I had to pause the game, turn off the television, and tip toe away from the console (for those who don’t remember, if the console was bumped, it would sometimes reset). After dinner, I waited with baited breath as the TV was turned on, hoping it was still in pause mode.

Eventually, the game industry understood not everyone could play all eight worlds at one time and started handing out save codes. Ask anyone 28 or older about their strips of scrap paper with long strings of letters and numbers used to return to the game after the console was shut down. Thankfully, these ridiculously complicated codes were replaced with memory cards and then direct saves to the hard drive.

Now, players can restart their games at different levels or checkpoints within levels. They can die repeatedly without fear of redoing the whole stage with a limited number of lives. Thank goodness, because no one wants to complete Skryim in one sitting. Either way, those darn conference hosts made me feel old tonight. Whatever—back to Frogger on my Coleco. 


  1. Wow, I only just graduated college and I still played old school NES and remember those days.

  2. I've noticed this in many of the new school games. For me, it was Sonic The Hedgehog. Not as much of an epic journey as Mario, but Sonic 2 had 14 levels. You know how awesome I felt when I finally played it all the way through? I was a little pre-pubescent god. Now, games are dummy-proof. I can be killed by the cops 60 times in a row in Grand Theft Auto 4, and there are no consequences.