8-bit Paradise

Fifth anniversary… that’s the one where you buy your wife consumer electronics, right?

Well, in our household it was. Despite her general apathy toward video games, my wife over the past few months became quite interested in the Nintendo Wii. The active gameplay was something she could get into, and she knew that deep down I do like video games (although I’m by no means a gamer). After some difficulty we found one, and it’s been a lot of fun. I might write about it in general at some point–Nintendo’s doing something fascinating with their unique controller style.

But that’s not what’s prompted this entry. Oh no, think low-tech. Because you see, the Wii has an emulation mode that plays games from the NES, SNES, and N64 systems. They’re available for download on the console using the wifi connection our router already had (and which actually wasn’t being used until we got the Wii arrived).

My birthday rolled around last week, and Amber got me a classic controller that plugs into the Wii Remote, and 2000 Wii Points to download games. I snatched the original Super Mario Brothers, Metroid, and the Legend of Zelda.

As revolutionary as the Wii’s new interface is, there’s something deeply satisfying about returning to the old 8-bit games. The NES was the first gaming console I played much as a kid. A couple friends had Atari’s before that, but the NES defined video games for me.

But I never actually owned one. I guess that’s part of it. I always waited to play Mario or Metroid at a friend’s house. Now I can play it any time I want.

Overall, I’m impressed with how seamless Nintendo’s made the whole process. Nintendo emulators have existed on the web, but it’s always been too much trouble. Now it’s point and click to grab some of the greatest blasts from the past.

My only beef is with the credit-card entry buying Wii Points–it’s a bit unwieldy, and failure on the validation kicks you back to the first step. There’s an entry space for the county your billing address. County? I’ve never entered that on a credit card purchase before. Skipped it, hit to Buy and BEEP, no good. I ended up entering your credit card and address again from scratch at least twice. Anyway, you can buy Wii Points cards in real-world stores too, so I’ll probably do that next time to avoid some tedium.

So far I’ve been fulfilling my original NES cravings, but there are several great SNES games that I’m looking forward to after that. Never really played N64, but there’s plenty in the NES/SNES world to keep me happily entertained for a long time.

The little boy inside of me is smiling… and he wants to go play Nintendo!