Category Archives: I Remember

It’s-a Me, Mario Doll!

Walking through the vendor aisles at the Video Game Summit this year, I came upon something that I haven’t seen with my own eyes since probably 1991 or 1992. Sitting together with a bunch of other classic video game memorabilia was a 1989 Super Mario Doll from Applause. Immediately after seeing it I was hit with a surge of nostalgia, followed by the suspicion that the thing was going to cost me a arm and a leg. Anything Super Mario Bros usually fetches a pretty high price, but I decided I would ask the vendor to see how bad the sticker shock was anyway.

“Hey man! Is that a vintage Mario Doll there?” I said.

“Yeah! He’s missing his hat, but he’s from the 80’s.” He replied.

“How much are you asking for him?” I said, getting ready to be hit with an absolutely ridiculous price.

“20 bucks.” said the seller.

“That’s it?!” I said.

Usually I don’t let my poker face show like that, but I was pretty happy with the price and decided to pick it up.

The first time I saw this Mario doll was at a video game rental store located in Crystal Lake, IL called Video Game Adventures. The store itself was pretty amazing, featuring a vast library of games to rent for all consoles and even handhelds. Games with blue tags only cost a dollar to rent for the weekend, where newer black tagged games cost 2 dollars to rent.

Located up front at the register was a glass display case with used Nintendo games and along with those games was the same Mario doll keeping watch over the grey cart goodness. I immediately asked if it was for sale, but the owner explained to me that it was gift to her from her daughter in celebration that she opened up the store. I can tell you that I coveted that thing every time I visited that store. Sadly, one day we went to Video Game Adventures to pick up some games for the weekend and the store was gone! It pretty much vanished without a trace and I was crushed.

I explained this same story to the vendor and I could tell that he felt really happy that he was able to hook me up with my long lost little buddy. I think I made his day as much as he made mine. Sure, by today’s standards this Mario doll looks pretty goofy; but this was my childhood Mario and I’m really pleased to finally have one.

Blaster Master and the summer of 88

Playing Blaster Master Zero has really brought back a slew of memories for me regarding the series’ first ever release on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The ominous music, along with its introduction cut scene captured my attention right away and within moments I was fully vested into hunting down a teenage boy’s pet frog who was going to lead his owner into a heap of trouble. A “heap of trouble” was quite accurate for myself as the player, as Blaster Master is a notoriously difficult game. My first initial rental of the game, I was only able to conquer the first two mutant bosses of the game and found myself stuck fighting the Photophage of Area 3; repeatedly with no defeat but my own. With my rental period over, it was time to take the game back with only a mere three stages experienced.

A few months later, the June sun would finally start bringing the warmth to the Mid-west and with that came more playing outside, away from the NES. That year was an incredibly hot start to the summer and my dad’s solution to beating the heat was taking my little brother, older sister and myself to the city pool. I’ve never been a great swimmer, but a dip in the pool hit the spot. After a few hours soaking up the water and the sun, it was time to head home.

Much to my surprise when I came home, my mother informed me that I had received a letter from Nintendo! Nintendo?! What could they possibly be sending me? My 6-year-old mind raced with excitement as my mother handed me the bright red envelope with the Nintendo Power logo plastered into every side of paper.

Thinking back to this moment now, this may or may not have been the first time I heard of Nintendo Power. It was it least the second time I was exposed to it in another fashion if there wasn’t an included advertisement for it with my Nintendo Entertainment System. The included tabloid mailer read of the wonders of Nintendo Power magazine with amazing tips, reviews and looks at upcoming video game releases. The thing that sealed the deal for me though, was a secret trick for Blaster Master on the back of the mailer!

With this trick, you could beat the mutant bosses of stages 2, 4, 6 and 7 with a single grenade. By throwing the grenade at the boss and pausing at the right moment, you could generate continuous hits that would zap the mutant’s strength to zero in seconds! While I knew this trick wouldn’t work for the boss I was having issues with; I DID know that I could get to it faster and thus have a better chance of defeating it. There was one issue however: I didn’t own the game and I would need to rent it to try this cool trick out. Another issue was I had no money, so this meant I had to ask my dad if it would be alright if we could rent Blaster Master even after he dropped money on taking us the pool and most likely McDonalds for lunch as well.

I get so nostalgic seeing this tip and it was included in various NES game boxes eventually too.

I think my dad could tell how genuinely excited I was to get another crack at the game and possibly even beat it this time with this new secret weapon we discovered. After mulling it over for a minute, he said “OK! Let’s go see if we can rent it!” and we were off to our local video store to grab it.

After that, my memories get fuzzy. I can remember nailing the level two boss with a grenade and cheering when the trick worked after we got home, but I cannot remember for the life of me how far I got after that. What I do remember though, was a perfect summer day. A day at the pool, a day with my dad and just how happily exhausted I was with all the events of the day. The memory of that day has a strange blue haze to it when I try to visually recall it, but it makes me smile thinking of those events.

You could say the day was…a blast.

PlayStation Turns 20!

I can’t believe 20 years has already passed since the release of the original PlayStation! Thinking about how much time has gone by made me dig out my PlayStation 1 systems and my top 5 favorite PlayStation 1 games!

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Gamer Logic’s Top 5 PlayStation 1 Games:

 

#5 – Bushido Blade

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As a fighting game fan who loved Street Fighter 2 and the many other fighting games available throughout the years, Bushido Blade offered players something unique that other games in its genre did not: 1 hit kills and body part damage. I’ll never forget when my friend rented the game and we spent hours trying the different weapons and attack stances. How can you not love a game that allows you to cut down your opponent’s legs and leave him a practically defenseless rolling stump? This game is a classic and if you haven’t tried it out yet, I suggest you do!

#4 – Resident Evil 2

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While I heard plenty about the first Resident Evil, it wasn’t until I acquired my PlayStation that I was actually able to play one and I started with the second game, not the first! I spent so many hours on this game, exploring both Leon and Claire’s missions and blowing zombies to bits. I had plenty of time back then to play games, so I I tried my hardest to unlock Hunk and Tofu, which I eventually did! Thinking back to it though, I don’t think I ever defeated Tofu’s mission.

#3 – Tecmo’s Deception

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I often get strange looks when I refer to this game as being one of my top 5, mostly because people have never heard of the series before. Up to the point of seeing it featured in magazine ads, I didn’t know too much about it either until I found it for under 20 bucks at a used game shop back in the 90’s. The day I popped it into my PS1 was the moment I couldn’t put it down. It wasn’t uncommon for me to spend almost 12 hours a day hooked to this thing if time allowed. There was nothing quite like it at the time and if you’re curious about the series; be sure to check out my video on it that covered the series!

 

#2 – Metal Gear Solid

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Seeing as it was one of the most popular games on the PlayStation, I don’t think I have to explain much about what Metal Gear Solid is. For me, this game brought back one of my favorite 8-BIT Nintendo games and brought it into a 3D world. It sucked away many hours of my life as played it over and over again. Metal Gear Solid not only defined what the PlayStation could do, but many of its mechanics would influence future games for years to come.

#1 – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

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The absolute reason I begged my dad for a PlayStation 1 was for this very title! Growing up with the NES and SNES versions of the games had a lot to do with wanting this, but seeing how it evolved from the other titles made me want it even more. The gameplay, the music and the mythos made this my favorite PS1 title for eternity!

 
Check below for more of our PlayStation 1 memories!

 

The Logically Thinking “PlayStation Memories” Podcast

 

I REMEMBER: PlayStation 1 (PlayStation 15 Year Anniversary)