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Vol. 2, Issue 10
February 1, 2000

Birth of a Gamer:

Waxing Nostalgic

by Heather "elki" Haselkorn



h, the good old days. The days when innocent children could pop a video game cartridge into an NES and play and play until their thumbs were sore and it was past their bedtimes. I remember that time fondly. I decided to try to revisit those days by making use of loony’s massive collection of consoles and games and I discovered, much to my dismay, that sometimes there just isn’t any going back.

Looking at a shelf full of familiar favorites and their new, 3-D reincarnations, I settled on Donkey Kong 64 and Mario 64. Both these names brought back warm memories of my old Atari, and of the NES and Super NES that became fixtures in my brothers’ room as the years went by. I figured DK 64 would be a revamped version of Donkey Kong Country, arguably one of the most fun games in existence. And Mario, well, that’s just Mario...who couldn’t have a good time playing that?

I tell ya, though, you just can’t judge a new game by its previous incarnation. Donkey Kong 64 was indeed the brightly-colored, cartoonish game I expected it to be. Considering that I’ve been playing a lot of dark, violent, and frankly, depressing games since this column debuted, the silly plot and childish gameplay were a refreshing change. Basically, King K. Rool and his evil crew of alligators are out to destroy Donkey Kong and his island. They capture his friends and steal the golden banana hoard. Your goal in this game...free your friends and reclaim your bananas. No problem! I envisioned 3D versions of Donkey Kong Country, swinging from tree to tree, throwing barrels, and eating bananas. I hit start to bypass that annoying hip hop sequence at the beginning and began the game.

The first thing I had to do, though, was play a tutorial. I think I’ve complained enough about tutorials, so I won’t make you read through another litany. I did get my first lesson in using a Nintendo 64 controller, though. You have to remember that the last time I held a controller was about 5 years ago, and these things have really changed over the years. I am now up-to-date on the proper technique: One hand near the stick thing (sorry, the technical name of this highly sensitive piece of equipment escapes me at the moment) and one hand near the key pad. When did this get so complicated?

I got through the tutorial, all happy and excited and expecting to have tons of fun. And then I found out that I just can’t play this game. First, there’s the fact that the game is not a side-scroller. There’s no reason this should bother me; after all, I’m already used to that in computer games. But for some reason I just couldn’t translate on-screen depth perception from a computer monitor to a television. I had no idea which way to go. I swam around the islands a bit, talking to other characters and trying to find my way to the first level. Fourty-five minutes later, I finally found the island that was actually the beginning of the game. I don’t know why it took so long...I just kept getting lost and basically swimming around in circles. I know that the game does give directions about which way to go, but frankly, I just wasn’t paying attention.

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Credits: Illustration © 2000 Dan Zalkus. Birth of a Gamer is © 2000 Heather Haselkorn. All other content is © 2000 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, you cartoonish villian, you.