My First Nintendo "Console"

Illustration for article titled My First Nintendo Console
Total RecallTotal RecallTotal Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.

I may have explained this a few times already, but growing up in Australia in the 1980s usually meant growing up without Nintendo. The NES was here, and people bought it, but it was never the sensation it was elsewhere. Most kids/adults played on computers or Sega machines.


That didn't stop me wanting one, though.

One of the Nintendo Entertainment System's problems in Australia was that, at the time, it was very expensive, and this being the years before we were all awash in disposable income and store loyalty cards and interest free purchasing deals, my parents simply couldn't afford one. We had a Commodore 64, and that was that.


Even though I really, really wanted one.

So they came up with a brilliant compromise. They bought me a Game & Watch Micro Vs. unit.

A later adaptation of Nintendo's pioneering handheld video game handhelds, the Mirco Vs. was an attempt at blending the simplicity of a G&W title with the multiplayer, control pad-using fun of a NES or Famicom.

First released in 1984, they came in this incredible clamshell design with the screen housed in the top, and upon opening you'd find these two little control pads snuggled underneath. Because this was the days before wireless technology, both pads had to be wired, Nintendo's ingenious solution to the storage issue being to have their cables "wound". When inside the machine in storage, the cords were wound inside the pad itself, and when you wanted to play, you could unwind them and the cord would emerge.


The game I had was Donkey Kong 3, a pretty simple affair in which both players had to buzz wasps with insecticide. There were a few others, like Donkey Kong Hockey, but yeah, they were Game & Watch games, they were all roughly the same deal. Move some thing around while avoiding or hitting other things.

Now, the asshole kid part of me knew this wasn't a Nintendo Entertainment System. I couldn't swap cartridges, it didn't plug into my TV, it hadn't cost hundreds of dollars.


The rest of me didn't care. I was, I think, six or seven. I had no idea these things existed before I was given one, I was the only kid at my school with one, and as a young male I loved how cool the thing was, with its opening case and weird wrapping cables. It was one of the best presents I ever got as a kid.

Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.

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What's wrong with Commodore 64? As much as I loved my NES and played it far more frequently than my Commodore 128 (once my family had both), I still loved my Commodore. It was a step up from the Atari 2600 but a step down from the NES. And the game library was very impressive!

The odd thing was, I don't recall ever hounding or even asking my parents for an NES. I remember being on vacation in Virginia Beach and my parents bought one for us. It was probably the only time I ever saw my father play NES, leaning back on a dinning chair, shooting at ducks.