The Golden Age of Gaming

Inspiration for this week's column just struck me like a lightning bolt from hell - which sounds painful, but rest assured, it was not...

This column will be especially interesting to children of the 1980s and '90s who grew up during the Golden Age of video games. It was a simpler time back then, when the "a" button prompted Mario or Luigi to jump and the "b" button sent a fiery ball of death toward potential enemies, namely, turtles.

And why turtles? I've never understood why Bowser - aka King Koopa - sent an army of turtles to battle against two Italian plumbers who were apparently jacked up on some Alice in Wonderland type of substance that made them super-strong, super-fast, and, of course, capable of hurling fireballs.

Turtles? Really?

Some of you will point out that Bowser himself was a turtle, so he was just employing his own kind. Sort of like hiring Americans to do American work. But Bowser wasn't just a turtle, he was more like Tokka, the mutated snapping turtle from "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze."

So, I have to seriously question Bowser's judgment in this instance.

And what were those other things, anyway? The little walking brown things that were really easy to kill? I can't find a name for them on Wikipedia...

Anyway, I refer to the Mario days as the Golden Age of gaming not just because of the iconic figures that emerged from that era, but also because of the mentality that went into gaming. Nowadays, you need serious skill to be good at gaming. There are three joysticks on a controller and at least three "a" buttons. Back in the day, the best gamers were the one with passion and dedication.

A former co-worker of mine (I hesitate to call him a friend because he never invites me over for dinner) once spent an entire afternoon at a New Jersey arcade playing Spy Hunter. And on this fateful day, he was dialed-in.

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