Column: Dust off some retro video games and don’t look back

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08/07/2015 5:00 PM |

gold Mario

I don’t think Nintendo’s newest gaming system can save the princess this time.

After becoming bored with the last-generation Wii system, my husband and I sold it at a garage sale. But a few weeks ago, we saw a display for a new “Star Wars” game and our interest in video games was suddenly rekindled.

After doing some research on the next-generation Wii U, we headed to GameStop last weekend with a fistful of money, ready to purchase one.

The newest gaming console doesn’t focus on movement interaction like the original Wii system, which we purchased the day it came out in 2006.

Instead of wands and nunchucks, the Wii U comes with one giant controller and a touchscreen.

“Wouldn’t it be great if that huge controller doubled as a Game Boy?” I thought while staring at it in the store. But no, it doesn’t work that way.

We also learned more about an insanely expensive gimmick called Amiibo. The scam works by getting you to purchase different miniature statues of video game characters and place them onto that huge controller to unlock special features in the games you already paid for.

Apparently, there’s even a black market for some figures, such as the elusive gold Mario.

Speaking of criminal, we also found out you can’t use that “magical” controller to play the old games we love.

My favorite game of all time is Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, which came out in 2004 for Nintendo’s GameCube system. I love how it focuses on a 2-D format with a great storyline and opportunities to play different characters — even legendary bad guy Bowser.

As of now, it isn’t possible to play that game on Wii U.

That was the final straw. The cons officially outweighed the pros for purchasing the new system.

And you know that new “Star Wars” game coming out in November? Well, it won’t be available for Wii U, and neither will other games like hockey, baseball and wrestling.

If we bought a Wii U, the clerk explained, we’d also have to purchase an Xbox One or Playstation 4 in order to play all the games we wanted.

That’s when we walked out of the store, our money burning a hole in our pockets. But our desire to play video games was still aflame. We decided to hunt for an original Wii system on eBay -— you know, like the one we’d just sold at the garage sale. At least that system works with the older controllers, which we also threw in with the Wii system at no extra charge.

Don’t get me wrong. The new games for Wii U do look great, but we decided we’d be just as happy playing the games we like — older graphics and all.

I grew up staring at 8-bit games while playing Nintendo — a passion that started at my epic seventh birthday party.

It was the only time I can remember my parents decorating the house for any of our birthdays. There were streamers, party hats and balloons. My aunts and uncles were there and even our karate teacher made an appearance.

When everyone arrived, I was told to cover my eyes. Upon opening them, I saw my grandmother’s old, small television with two fat dials and an antenna.

“Does it come with remote control?” I asked. There’s a VHS tape of this spoiled-brat moment, so I can say with 100 percent certainty this is how I reacted. While my younger brother and sister started playing with the knobs, my dad brought out a brand new Nintendo Entertainment System.

Our reaction was deafening.

There was also another surprise in the backyard. It was our first playground — including swings, a pull-up bar and a slide.

I was first to go down the slide. The video footage shows a birthday girl looking unamused with the slow, short ride.

But throughout our childhood, my siblings and I loved that playset, sometimes jumping off the slide and frequently acting out scenes from video games like “The Legend of Zelda.”

At night, indoors, we were determined to help the game’s main character, Link, in his quest -— as well as beat Don Flamenco in “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!” and find a way to win “Super Pitfall” and “Athena.”

As I grew older and video games became more realistic, with 3-D graphics, I lost interest. Just give me a good storyline in a 2-D format and my imagination can do the rest.

And the old button controllers were perfect — why mess with that?

I often can’t remember my own cellphone number, but I still know what to do to get 30 extra lives in the legendary 1987 Nintendo game “Contra.”

Tap along if you remember it. (I grew up with siblings, so I memorized the “Player Two” version): “Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Select, Start.”

Jen NuzzoJen Nuzzo is Times Review Media Group’s associate editor. She can be reached at 631-354-8033 or [email protected].

Photo Caption: This gold Mario Amiibo character is a rare find. The popular figure works with Nintendo’s newest system, Wii U. (Credit: Joy Gustavson)

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