One holiday season in the late 80’s (I forget the exact year, let’s just call it ’87), my parents informed my brother and I we would be getting our first video game system ever, for Christmas. And if that weren’t cause for enough excitement, they were giving us the choice of which one we would receive! At the time, we had exactly the same number of choices kids do now days: three. Back then it was between the Sega Master System, Atari 7800 and, of course, the original Nintendo Entertainment System.
In retrospect, if video game consoles in the late 80’s were hip-hop groups of today, the Sega would have been the Wu-Tang Clan (the new jack on the block with a fresh style and massive amount of potential), the 7800 would have been Run DMC (the nostalgic gold standard of the time), and the NES would have been A Tribe Called Quest (the one that everyone played and suspected might be superior).
If you’re a regular reader of 206UP.COM, then you know which system my ten year old self was lobbying for. The Nintendo…duh. My younger brother of three years, however, was making a strong case for the Atari 7800. He wanted it because we were already more familiar with the games, which were cheaper and available in greater volume (at the time) than both the Sega and the NES. My main point of contention with the 7800 was that the graphics were inferior to the other two consoles. I also just had this feeling that the Nintendo would ultimately be the one to endure over time.
In the end, I relented, and my brother’s wish won out. On the bright side the resultant effect of the Atari’s cheaper games were happier parents, the unified party which would be responsible for the purchase of the software. It was a strategic move that paid dividends later in the form of accumulation of a sh-t ton of cartridges; enough, in fact, to necessitate their own designated backpack for transport.
All this to say, I was one of the few kids who never owned the original Nintendo Entertainment System when it was still in its formative natal stages. I’m old enough to have seen the birth of the NES and experienced enough early usage to know that when Super Mario Bros. wasn’t loading correctly, the obvious solution was to remove the cartridge from the machine and blow hard and fast into the effected area. But I was never the kid who got the pleasure of experiencing NES games first-hand like Mega Man, the eponymous half-boy, half-robot action hero the above Dyme Def track is named for.
My brother should be commended for his expert old-school sensibilities. Instincts like his serve lovers of video games and hip-hop music well. But I should also be recognized for having the foresight and critical acumen to recognize greatness before it was bequeathed. Watching and moving those over-sized pixels around the TV screen in 1987 was kind of like hearing The Low End Theory for the first time four years later: I wasn’t entirely sure what I was witnessing, but it felt like something I would never forget.