Throwback Thursday: Famicom
At a very young age, my globe trotting parents would drag me along their travelling exploits. I could vaguely remember what we saw and did, but they would always ask me anyway if I remember falling in line for an hour in the pouring rain to ride Dumbo in Tokyo Disneyland. Obviously I didn't, and obviously it was a traumatic experience for my father, since he was the one accompanying me in the queue. But what I can vividly remember is having my first experience with the Famicom.
We were at a department store somewhere in Tokyo, and like all department stores around the world, there was a toy section which the 5-year-old me preferred immensely over boring clothes. And one of the counters of the toy section featured the Famicom, that crimson and cream colored electronic device filled with wonder and magic. It had just gotten released around that time that we were there, so it was being promoted. The kind sales lady offered me the controller to let me try the console out. At first I was shy to take it from her, but with enough prodding from my parents to go ahead and just try it, I finally did. Obviously, my gaming dexterity wasn’t developed yet, and I fumbled with the controls, but soon enough I think I was able to figure out the basic concept of the game. If I can remember correctly, it was a game that involved a native American boy shooting arrows at enemies. Forgive me as this was almost 25 years ago. My parents saw that I was really enjoying myself and decided to leave me with the Famicom while they went around to do some shopping. And after an hour or so, my parents came back to pick me up and there I was, in the same place they left me, still holding on to that red controller, still playing. I guess that convinced my parents to buy the console so we could finally leave the department store peacefully, or else 5-year old me would bug them every waking moment on buying the Famicom. That was my passive-aggressive tantrum back in the day.
From then on, my Famicom would be one of my most precious boyhood possessions. I tried to play with it as much as I could. I also played with toys with my cousins and biked around our compound, but eventually, everything led back to the Famicom. There was something about this machine that would hook me into playing and keep coming back to it. Maybe it’s the fascination of controlling an avatar on-screen and interacting in another 8-bit pixelated world. But all I know is, whatever spell that had been casted on me years ago, I can still feel that magic today. The ritualistic process was simple back in the day: turning on our TV, pick out and blow into the cartridge and flip on the power of the console and lose myself in gaming. That same process would still apply today, but substitute it with turning on a flat panel display, then choosing a game off a long digital list of games that I would have killed for when I was 5. And when it’s time to play, I would still be as wide-eyed and lost while playing.