As a kid, sometimes the best thing your parents can do is leave you alone for a few hours.
As a parent, pretty much the worst thing you can do is leave your kids alone for a few hours.
I know the young readers of my blog may find this hard to believe considering their parents are probably better than them at a lot of video games, but gaming wasn’t always a normal pass time like it is now.
We spent our allowances putting quarters into video games only to run out before getting to the boss. Also, we didn’t get tickets for prizes. (GASP!) We just got memories of playing games that you’ve never heard of and would never see on a game system like Time Killers. (I dare anyone to look up that arcade game and then not awe in the fact that I played it and you didn’t. It was ‘too violent’ to release on a game system.)
We also begged and bartered for time to play video games. We had to not only do chores and find time, we also had to find times when our parents weren’t using the living room TV, the only TV in the house or the only one that would take the connections from our system.
Life was rough but we endured and game makers helped us out by making games much shorter back then. You may think it was because gaming hadn’t evolved but no, it was so we could finish a game in the short time span we had to play each month.
Sometimes, it was in those few hours that parents would leave us home alone that we would get as much done as possible. And by that I mean chores that had to be done before they came home so we could play games the rest of the time.
It was one such of these times when my grandmother and mother left for the morning to the mall that my oldest brother and I found ourselves playing the iconic Ikari Warriors.
This is one of those great early days home console vertical scrollers along with 1942 and the amazingly difficult Tiger Heli. Shoot in one of 8 directions with a large variety of weapons and double the pleasure with a friend. No, not like that, I just mean 2 people can play at once.
And like most of the great co-op games of the day the only difference between you and your partner in villainy thwarting was a simple color change. And villains ranged from dumb (Most swarms of enemies were horribly stupid) to dumb and heavily armored. And there was no A.I., but rather patterns that you could find to defeat any enemy. While some games continue to do this as a ‘mechanic’ back then it was just the easiest and cheapest way to produce games quickly. (They weren’t big money makers back then either.)
It was also easy to die in those games, this was to make sure they got more quarters in the arcade versions but at home, it was just a little frustrating. Luckily, and famously thanks to Konami, codes were becoming prevalent to help us out. Much easier than the Konami code this one was simply A B B A. As long as someone was still going just push A B B A and you miraculously re-spawned and continued fighting.
And that is what we did, for hours on end. The parental figures left before 9 and didn’t get back until a little after 12. In that amount of time we ran through the entire game. Well… almost.
We were on the last level, fighting the last fights with missles, gun fire, and explosions filling the screen. We were dying left and right and frantically calling ABBA to sing us back to life. Over and over again we died and re-spawned and got closer and closer to finishing this daunting game.
Slowly we weakened the enemies and boss more and more. We were so close to winning when…
My grandmother walked through the door, bags filling her hands and my mother similarly right behind her. My grandmother said, ‘Turn that damn game off and help us carry in bags.’
You see kids, back then we also couldn’t save except for Zelda. And we couldn’t argue with our parents because they were allowed to spank us. We simply had to turn it off never to complete it to see the ending because we had respect for our elders. Well, we still mumbled and complained about it to ourselves. That part was the same.