Armagideon Time

Ho ho oh no

August 24th, 2017

Discovered while researching the slot car post a couple of weeks back: A 1988 holiday insert buried in the middle of an issue of Boys Life.

Who could’ve guessed “You’ll never outgrow us” was a sinister generational curse?

For some reason, my sense of history gets unstuck in a few places where video games are concerned. Even though I’m pretty knowledgeable about the scene’s timeline as a thing unto itself, I’ll still pull a double take when it intersects with that of some other area of interest. I’ll be reading an 1990 issue of Justice League and see an ad for some NES game and it feels like an anachronism. And it’s not just in a single temporal direction — it’s even money whether my baffled brain wants to decree it “too soon” or “too late.” No idea why, except that videogames had an extremely long and recurring shelf life for me up until the Saturn/Playstation era, so release dates bore little relation to associative ones.

One of the big factors behind my junior high friendship with Damian was that we were the only two kids in the entire school who owned a Sega Master System. When he went out and bought an NES, I felt betrayed (and envious once I got to see Metroid and Metal Gear in action).

My mom died on the last day of November. Because of the timing, Lil Bro and I ended up on the receiving end of a staggering avalanche of generosity. It came from all directions — family, friends, social workers, teachers, co-workers, neighbors. Every night there’d be a knock on the front door and the pile of clothes, books, games, and whatnot would grow higher.

My pal Damian dropped off a stack of Master System games that he’d grown tired of and had planned to trade in. The phys ed instructors at my high school gave me a swanky set of exercise gear (and then got pissy with me for not wearing it in class because I passed it on to my sibling). We ended up with no fewer than four portable cassette players.

I’m pretty sure there are still a few still-unopened artifacts of this incredibly touching period buried in my grandma’s attic. (She was very uncomfortable with it, as she didn’t like the idea of folks thinking we were charity cases.)


Related posts:

  1. The Long Game: Waking up from a dream
  2. SMS Saturdays: Farewell, Monster Land
  3. The Long Game: Pre-solid state

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