My first system was the SNES. A number of my siblings pitched in for it, and it lived down in the basement. Hooked up to an old TV from the 70's that never left channel 3, that old SNES entertained us hour after hour. Once I was old enough to hold a controller, I played. That system was special to me, and it formed the basis of many of my favorite memories.
One of my oldest recollections involves playing Super Mario World. In fact, that's the first game I remember playing. It had action and bright colors to keep me interested, lots of challenging levels and worlds to keep me occupied, and a nice two-player mode so I could play it with my brother, Brian. It remains a game that I still pop into my system and play once and a while.
I remember the first time I saw F-Zero. My brother, Carl, brought it home along with Mortal Kombat II one day (to this day, I'm really unsure of where he procured them but I think it was some shady shenanigans that brought those gems into my life...). I was mesmerized by the futuristic setting and kick-ass music.
Out of the two, Mortal Kombat II was the game I played much more of, however. At the time I was already a Power Rangers addict, so Mortal Kombat was the next logical step in the progression. I loved the outlandish characters and the gritty stages; I loved the bloody gibs that flew out on each strike and the anguished screams of unlucky fatality victims (usually me). That game turned me into a wonderful, well-adjusted child who grew up to be a perfectly sane adult.
I played most of the classic SNES games throughout my childhood. Donkey Kong Country, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, and Earthbound all found their way into my heart. I owe myself to them. They were companions in a lonely neighborhood. They were playmates to me, a crippled kid cooped up in the basement alone while his siblings were out playing football. They were exciting escapades in a boring, generic midwestern suburb where walking to the 7-11 was the greatest adventure that could be had.
My mind was always on those games. I'd play Mortal Kombat on the trampoline with my brother (trampoline fighting is badass). During recess, I would mope around the playground pretending it was a dungeon from Legend of Zelda (damn, I must have hated recess). I built Megaman stages out of blocks, Mario levels out of legos. Even when I didn't have a controller in my hand, I had a controller in my heart.
That SNES is gone now. I don't know what happened to it exactly. My mom must have tossed it out one day. It probably happened after we got the N64 (another worthy system). Today, I desperately try to reclaim those memories. I visit the local used game stores in order to piece together my childhood. As the games fill my shelves, I realize the futility of it all. I can't get those memories back. All I can do is make new memories that hold as much magic as the old ones did. As difficult as that prospect is, I press start to begin.