Christmas 1991.

I don’t remember if it snowed. I can come to the fairly strong conclusion that in the weeks leading up to the big day that I probably drove my parents insane. I have never been one for wanting much, I’m quite happy getting by with what I have. But since that festive season I don’t think I’ve wanted something more, apart from love and world peace of course.

A Nintendo Game Boy, that’s all. I don’t care if I don’t get anything else, one present. I’ll do anything.

In hindsight I regret the constant badgering I gave my Mum and Dad since the Game Boy had been released. Not being particularly well off, the prospect of forking out a fairly big sum of money for a toy they probably didn’t understand was a lot to ask of them. But to this day I always remind them how grateful I was to open that box on Christmas morning to find one sitting inside. In fact I cried for ten minutes afterwards.


What was even more amazing was the smaller box that came along with it, because it took over my life for months. Super Mario Land was probably the first game I ever obsessively played: the challenging levels, the catchy tunes – I was in love!

Present Day.

After months of planning and stress, alongside high levels of work, exams, coursework and training, our holiday finally arrived. Having never been abroad on a fully fledged holiday, let alone never having flown, I really didn’t know what to expect, but I was so thankful to finally be getting away with my other half that the fear of actually getting there probably wasn’t half as bad as it could have been. Still, thank goodness for hand held consoles for keeping me distracted.


While digging through all my old games before the flight, the nostalgia of ‘91 came flooding back. I dusted off the plastic cases to see what hidden gems I could find. Pokemon Red and Blue, Gargoyles Quest, Kirby’s Dreamland… and then… there it was. Mario!

I grabbed my old Game Boy Advance, slotted in the cartridge and hoped to luck. I don’t know why, as all of my old school games seem to work far more reliably than my more recent ones; sometimes I miss the simpler days. But it was just how I remembered. Run, jump and collect the super mushroom power up, kill the Goomba (or Chibibo if you want to get technical!). I savoured the game for the actual holiday, and it was so worth the wait.


My only regret was that it wasn’t longer. Even 18 years on, I could still clock it in 30 minutes, but the memories will last a lot longer. When I think of all the games I’ve played since, few of them will hold as strong a place in my heart as dear old Mario. Although I was an avid games player before getting that original Game Boy all those years ago, there was something about that console that shaped me into the gamer I am now.

In some ways I feel sorry for the younger generations of game players today. My generation and older really were born for the golden age of games, to see the transition from KB to GB, the technology improve beyond all of our wildest imaginations. Working in a school I’m often surrounded by gamers whose idea of ancient is a Playstation 2, but no matter where we go with this love of ours, no matter how realistic, futuristic or crazy this ride gets, I’ll never get tired of sitting back and taking a look at that stack of old games and thinking “Man, we had it good!”.


Marcus, between us girls you’re starting to look a little worn around the eyes.







7 responses to “Retrospecting”

  1. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I remember playing the original GameBoy too. Playing Mario in my aunt and uncle’s as we went there for christmas dinner, and me being anti-social. Or playing Tetris in my cousins house and going to show him how many lines I’d cleared only to witness a cut-scene of a cosmonaut blasting off in a rocket. (Never saw that again).

    I grew up in a time were arcade machines were 10p a go and games available were Space Invaders, Asteroids and then Pac-Man. Looking at arcades and games today, it is amazing how much technology has advanced our favourite pastime.

    I look forward to having the attic converted into a holodeck for future gaming when the technology arrives. 😀

  2. Noozles avatar

    Ah the tetris rocket…. I think the term is clear level nine, high 5…. get 25 lines on that and the rocket scene was yours…

    Strangely this blog more or less echoes a conversation i had with ChiefBloodyFang yesterday.. I am lucky enough(!!!) to be in my 30’s, so i have seen everything from the speccy and the atari 2600 (actually throw that damn pong game in as well) onwards…

    Good blog…

  3. Chucklebuck avatar

    Nice blog, I remember getting frustrated that my bro got a Game Boy and I didn’t. I think my parents got annoyed about it since they relented and bought me a black one. 😀
    What colour was your’s?

  4. NorfolkNChance avatar

    The GameBoy was the first console I bought with my own money, or should I say money I was saving for the SNES.
    I was utterly addicted to Tetris, so much so I learnt that I could feel when I was in the zone… a tingling sensation ran up my back and usually when I had got to around 100 lines.
    Super Mario Land only helped me in Uni when I copied the mario run animation frames for a small tutorial on GameBoy programming.

  5. markB0SS avatar

    My Game Boy experience is one of my earliest memories. It was 1990, my older brothers tenth birthday. He got what he herald to our parents as the ‘coolest thing ever’ and ‘that all my friends have got one’. I was puzzled by this grey brick. It had no wheels or arms, didnt transform, didnt resemble a cartoon character what was so cool about it. And then I could hear the music, that classic tune, the Tetris main screen music. Was it a portable black and white tv, I pondered as I looked up at brothers intent on it. 2 Minutes later after one of my tantrums my brother let me have a go at it. I pressed buttons and things moved on the screen-awesome. I continued playing it for the rest of that day running the batteries dry. I did’nt even know what I was doing really, was just amazed at it all. The next day my dad alerted me to the fact that ive actually got a Master System in the loft from my past birthday. There begins the obsession. 🙂 memories

  6. Lorna avatar

    Great blog. You had the same Christmas as me – I got Mario with my faithful Original Game Boy one year and adored it…I remember, loughing through the levels and using my Mario sticker album to hep me discover the secret passages.

    A few onths agao I fired it up again (on the Original) and completed it so fast! I had forgotten many of the secrets but not all and was amazed how swiftly the memories flooded back, even down to the tunes for each area.

    We were and still are a lucky generation…from the ZX Spectrum upwards to the latest gubbins, we’re at the crest of the gaming wave and have been since the consoles and home computers first hauled us starry eyed onto our surf boards and I’m damn grateful…no one else will have this. It’s our time! 🙂

  7. MarkuzR avatar

    Great post, really enjoyed the memories it brought up!

    I don’t count my ZX80 because I couldn’t really do anything with it, so my first REAL experience of gaming was with my Oric-1 back in 1983… I had friends with Spectrums and used to sneer at their inferior sprite collision and colour handling while my little dood from “Zorgon’s Revenge” ran towards the Quadnogs avoiding their venom at all costs. I got that Oric for my birthday, which is only a few weeks before Christmas… so I really didn’t expect anything fantastic for Christmas that year – we didn’t have much money and I can’t imagine how my parents even managed to afford the Oric in the first place.

    Yet… my birthday arrived and I remember sitting on the floor of the living room with my mouth hanging open (I was in awe, I’m not a mouth breather!) as I stared down at Lords of Time, Dungeon Adventure and Colossal Adventure (all from Level 9 Computing) and… the holy grail of graphic adventures at the time… The Hobbit! I’ve had some pretty incredible Christmas presents over the years (thanks Lorna!) but that’s the one that I remember more vividly than the others because it shaped me into the person that I am today… an overweight couch potato.. thanks Level 9 :))

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