The lights are on
Power Member - Level 7
One of the most important contributors to my lifelong fascination with video games is my father. He doesn't play much, but he served as an enabler when he obtained a copy of the original Nintendo Entertainment System and gifted it to his sons. Without that and the dozens of hours logged into Duck Hunt, A Boy and His Blob, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, Maniac Mansion and many others, my gaming interest may have been significantly subdued.
Though I'm confident my hours with a controller dwarf his by comparison, his openness to the medium paved the way toward one of my most meaningful hobbies. Like many in his generation, video games were simply not a part of growing up. Typical activities in that era included collecting baseball cards, listening to rock music and giving civil rights to oppressed minorities.
Pong was released when he was 18, and the gaming industry has evolved tremendously since then. Despite my father's assimilation to these changes, he took solace with the fifth generation of consoles. The era of the first Xbox and Playstation 2 was never appealing.
To this day, the only games he plays can be found on the Nintendo 64. The graphical fidelity of the Nintendo Gamecube/Wii is too much for him to handle, and I'm not sure he can grasp the concept of dual-analog sticks. While those in my generation have progressively embraced changes throughout each console iteration, he was not called to do the same. As the years passed, our gaming lexicons have grown to be disparate - my vocabulary now includes terms like achievements, MMOs, QTEs and New Game Plus. His is limited to Points, Player 1, Continue and Game Over.
In honor of Father's Day, I'm looking back at the three games my dad still plays on his Nintendo 64. One is immediately recognizable, the other is a collection of classics from his 20s and the third is one most gamers do not recall. It breaks my heart to tell him that Nintendo did not announce any new N64 games at this year's E3, but with folks like him still in that market, maybe releasing a title for the antiquated system is not the worst idea in the world.
My oldest brother gifted this classic to his younger brothers on Christmas Day of 1997. Since my dad had always been a fan of James Bond lore, he took to this title instantly and now it resides in his arsenal. Having a parallel to the theatrical version enhanced our family's love for this game, making the many days of multiplayer match-ups memorable. I'm pretty sure he beat the game on Agent at least once, and if I recall, he was the one that introduced me to a key strategy in the Control level. Veterans will remember a section of the game where the poorly-equipped A.I. Natalya needs protection against a wave of enemies. Detonating remote mines against the first wave of opponents usually helped, as did being Natalya's human shield.
Namco Museum 64
A couple of years into the console life cycle, I sat around thinking about what I wanted for an upcoming holiday. I knew that a new video game would be on that list, and although I was not sure what I wanted, I figured something newer would be nice. With that in mind, I asked my parents to buy me any Nintendo 64 game that released in 1999 or later.
So, Mom and Dad complied by getting me Namco Museum 64, a game that was released in November of 1999, but of course featured games from decades earlier. Well played, parentals. Looking back, this seems like a very suspicious purchase, as my dad was a huge fan of Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga in his young adulthood. Our latest replay from this game was a round of Galaga in fall of 2012, which was a humbling moment as he schooled me every step of the way. We're not all awesome enough to get the dual ship bonus.
Waialae Country Club: True Golf Classics
This is the wild card of the bunch. While Waialae Country Club hardly stands out as one of the best golf games in history, it was an instant purchase for my fairway-friendly father. The game is rather ugly and an uninspired selection for golf aficionados. However, this was the only golf game on Nintendo 64 when it released in July of 1998, so fans of the sport did not have a choice.
Players could listen to some of the least colorful commentary imaginable, even for the world of golf. Take a perfect first stroke, and you'll hear the quality observation "He kept it on the fairway" and the always compelling "It's in the fairway." Land in a sand trap, and that will trigger "It's in a bunker." Yes, it was some brilliant writing that stood the test of time.
As you got closer to the hole, the meter that determined the power of your swing would show a neon red/yellow icon, indicating where to press A to land the most ideal shot. For some reason, we always thought it looked like a Band-Aid, so we've dubbed this as a legendary Band-Aid technology that set the standard for future golf titles. Joke as we may, however, this is still his most commonly played game.
There you have it - the three (and only three) games my dad still plays from time to time. Maybe one day he will spoil himself, get a Playstation 2 and fall in love with Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy X, but at this rate, the Nintendo 64's life cycle looks to be infinite. This Father's Day weekend, we may revisit one of these perennial options, but I doubt he'll be ready for some Grand Theft Auto or Mass Effect.
Do you and your father have any gaming-related memories or traditions? I'd love to hear them in the Comments!