Author’s Note: This post was originally published back in April 2010 (under a different title) on the first Anomalous Musings blog (blogger, anyone)? It’s being revived here with some minor edits.
Growing up, there were 4 or 5 kids in my neighborhood who were close enough in age to play together all day, every day, during the summer. One rainy day, we were stuck inside, sad that we weren’t out exploring the nearby creek [that none of us were technically allowed to go to]. But thankfully, Christine and Alicia’s parents had rented some video games for them (and when I say “video games,” I’m talking about big, blocky, grey NES cartridges that you have to blow into over and over before the console would read them), so we all wound up at their house. I didn’t have an NES at the time – only my brother’s old Atari 2600 – so playing on that new-ish system was really a treat.
We tried a couple different games, but weren’t truly entertained until we came across Tiny Toon Adventures 2: Trouble in Wackyland. (In case you don’t remember, Tiny Toons was one of the best shows on TV after school in the early ’90s.) There were five levels: Hamton Pig on the runaway train, Babs Bunny on the roller coaster, Furrball on the log ride, Plucky Duck on the bumper cars, and Buster Bunny in the fun house. But you couldn’t enter the fun house until you’d beaten all 4 of the other “rides” and collected enough “tickets.”
After a couple hours of play that first day, we were each assigned (in a democratic way, of course) a “ride” based on gameplay performance. I don’t remember all of the assignments, but I do know that I wound up playing the bumper cars (even though I wanted to play Babs on the roller coaster, but I think that was Christine). I don’t even remember if the fourth player was Tommy or David, or if they were both there and traded off turns.
The four-sometimes-five of us played daily for weeks, giving up several beautiful and sunny summer days because of our singular focus on beating this game. That rental must have been extended 5 or 6 times (and if not, I should probably send someone some money to pay my part of that 25-year-old late fee). You couldn’t save games, you see? So every day, we had to start all over. Eventually, we got quickly to the fun house, everyone beating their designated level. We’d take turns trying to beat that final level, fail, and have to start all over again. We’d spend hours together trying to finish off Montana Max at the end of the game. I don’t remember if we ever did, but I do remember how much fun we had.
It had been years since I thought about these summer days spent in front of the NES in my neighbors’ playroom. And then the memories came flooding back to me this past summer, and I simply had to play this game again. Although I never had my own NES as a kid, I do have one now. So I looked all. over. for this game and finally scored a copy from Half.com for about $4.
And I played.
And I beat the game.
In about 25 minutes.
And it wasn’t nearly as much fun as I remember.
So, perhaps video games aren’t the solitary, anti-social activity that the non-geek world seems to think they are.