I’ve loved video games almost my entire life. Someone asked me how young I was when I started and were surprised to hear getting an NES is one of my earliest memories.
It was Christmas and I vaguely remember my sibling and I asking for one (mostly it was them because I was too young to probably even know what it was) and being disappointed when there wasn’t one under the tree that year.
Our parents had gotten us one of those old race-car tracks. The kind that had the little trigger remotes and they just went around in circles. I vaguely remember my mom and dad telling us we should open it up and play with it before anything else.
Our new NES was hidden within that box. They had gotten us the NES with Zelda, Mario Bros, Duck Hunt and a couple other games. If I remember correctly there was even a power pad in there. Sure they had gotten us the track, but they took everything out of the box and replaced it with stuff to go with our new NES.
Playing these games on the NES was something completely new and different. We had TV, board games, books, but nothing was quite like this experience. You would click a button and a man would jump on the TV! Most of the time you pressed a button for the TV and it changed the channel, not allowing control of what was happening on it.
The NES also had Duck Hunt. Things looked like a dog and ducks on the screen. Couple this with the fact that the NES came with a gun you could shoot at the screen and it was a game changer as a kid. Here I was using a toy gun to shoot at ducks sitting 2 feet away from the TV in my own home. My parents didn’t even need to worry about me shooting my own eye out with it.
It pretty much changed the way I thought about entertainment and interaction. This thought happened when I was most likely barely old enough to understand the world. It was mind blowing.
That NES would lead to a new hobby that has stuck around for life. Mario would lead to Sonic. Duck Hunt would lead to DOOM. Zelda would lead… well frankly to more Zelda.
I still think fondly of that racecar track. Not because it was a fun toy, but because it changed everything.