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That New Console Smell: A Holiday Gaming Memoir

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The year was 1992 and I was a freshman in High School.  Christmas was fast approaching and with each passing day my anticipation for what I was going to receive as a gift from my parents grew. I usually got what I wanted for Christmas, not because I was spoiled or my family had a lot of money, but because I was reasonable in my requests and my parents were awesome.

The Super Nintendo had arrived earlier that year and, as an avid gamer even back that, that was what my heart desired. Sure, I already had a Genesis and was in ‘Blast Processing’ gaming bliss, but there was something in Nintendo’s arsenal that Sega lacked: Super Mario World. More specifically, the SNES / Super Mario World bundle! 

Like most kids that age I had an overwhelming curiosity for what presents I would be receiving, and I resorted to snooping when I thought I could get away with it. At the time I lived with my parents in a remote area that required a 25 minute drive into town for supplies, groceries, etc. So one day during Christmas break, while my dad was at work and my mom left to do some shopping, I went snooping. I quickly assessed the situation and figured I had a good hour and a half to investigate. I started with the closet of my parent’s bedroom and hit the jackpot immediately. There on the top shelf, concealed rather poorly by a sweater, was the Super Nintendo/Super Mario World Bundle! Yes! For a moment I felt a huge twinge of guilt for betraying my the trust of my parents,  but that quickly gave way to feelings of intense elation. I was getting a Super Nintendo!

Of course, discovering it wasn’t enough. I had to somehow play it. I beamed up at the box with a boyish grin and my heartbeat raced as I pulled it down from its hiding place. Could I get away with it? I had spent less than five minutes finding it – surely I could quickly plug it in and play it for a few minutes?  But what if my mom forgot something and came home early?  What if I got caught? Would my parents take it back for a refund and not get me anything that year as punishment? What if my dad arrived home from work early?

What if, schmut if. It was worth the risks. I carried it into my room and carefully opened the box.  That new console smell quickly filled my nostrils. I still love that smell even to this very day. Luckily the system itself was wrapped in an open-ended plastic sleeve which was resealable with a piece of adhesive, as was the actual Super Mario World cartridge. They wouldn’t be a problem. The controller was also covered in plastic (the cabling wasn’t) but I could easily press the buttons through the plastic. So far so good. I could literally play the system and return it to its box and my parents would be none the wiser. The only problem was the AV cables and power supply cables were fully wrapped in plastic and twisty tied. A horrible thought suddenly dawned on me: I would have to cut open the plastic. At least enough to free the cable connectors that would need to be plugged into the back of the Super Nintendo.

But then I had a vision. A vision of me on Christmas day unwrapping the gift, feigning utmost surprise and quickly taking the loot into my room and hooking it up before any evidence of my tampering could even be witnessed by my parents. Ha! Brilliant!  So I cut open the plastic and somehow managed to hook it up to my TV without undoing the twisty ties around the cables.

Firing up the Super Nintendo console for the first time filled me with adrenaline, partly because it was a brand new next-gen console, but mostly because I was being a sneaky little bastard and doing something I shouldn’t be. I quickly started a game and remember being instantly pleased and in awe of how colorful and detailed the 2D sprites were and how amazing the crisp, digitized music and audio sounded. I think I hastily played through one or two levels before deciding I had better reverse the process or suffer the possible consequences.

To this day my parents are not aware of my deceit but I’m sure they would find it funny if I could tell them. Overall it was one of the best Christmas gaming memories I have, and there have been quite a lot. What is one of your most cherished Christmas gaming memories? 


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