Today, I want to tell you a little more about my retro world and my retro life and I decided to do that through the eyes and the words of my eldest son.
As you can read in the About RGL page, James wants to follow in my footsteps and write his own retro stories on this very blog. He has been asking me to publish one of his articles for a while… Honestly, he is only 11 and obviously still green, but starting off with a dad-son talk about our common passion, will definitely let him gain experience and be known by my readers.
Below is my interview with James, my favourite retro gamer or – as I affectionately call him – my Retrokid.
(I also call him RetroJames, but only when he defeats me in a video game or does/says something extraordinary.)
Andrew: 1. Please introduce yourself to RGL’s readers.
James: Hi everyone, my name is James and I am Andrew’s eldest son. I am 11 years old and I am a young retro gamer, according to my father’s definition.
I understood the actual meaning some time ago: despite my young age, I like playing old video games. But that seems absolutely normal to me… I grew up seeing my father playing video games from the 80s and the 90s and for years I thought they were the only existing games. When he bought me a PlayStation 4 and I saw the difference I could not believe my own eyes. I thought it was a joke. I am honest, I like new games so much, but the old ones are a true passion.
(Listen dad, can I not just say “the games I saw YOU playing?” I feel uncomfortable… How can I address you and talk about “my father” at the same time?)
Andrew: (In this case I am interviewing you and you are addressing my /our readers so for the next hour we have to pretend to not be father and son… Come on, we can do it! 😀 )
2. Now please tell me when you started gaming.
James: I do not remember exactly, I rely on what mom and you told me. I was one and a half years old and I wanted to maneuver myself the joystick or the joypad my father was using. I laughed like crazy when I saw that my movements affected the action on the screen. That I personally remember, I started to actively play (James: “Is actively appropriate, dad?” Andrew: “Yes, James”) when I was around 4 and as for the first video game that I have ever played…
Andrew: (Just stop there, that is the third question … Do not rush lol.)
3. What was the first video game that you ever played?
James: It was a video game that today is considered Retro… Back then, it was very popular: Mario Kart Wii, for the Nintendo Wii.
I started playing it when I was 4 and I stopped… No, I have never stopped, I played the other versions too, both the old and new ones and I think it is one of my favourite games ever. Definitely it is the game I am the most fond of. In retrospect, even then I was amazed, because until that moment I had seen my father playing only old titles on the Wii.
Mario Kart was colorful, instead!
I then recall that I gave you a hard time da… Er… That I gave my father a hard time when he came back from work. As soon as he set foot in the house I would say: “Let’s play toy-car daddy!”. I said that because my father had created a Mii that looked like himself and was his first choice to race. He never used any characters from Mario’s universe.
Mario Kart had officially changed its name, at least at home.
Andrew: I remember, you were slightly insistent 😀 , but also nice and funny. It was hard to say no. And then you were very good: after a week you won your first offline race. After two months, you placed 1st in an online race*… When it happened, your mother and I started screaming like crazy, we could not believe it… I took 6 months to win my first online race, you little phenomenon!
4. Do you remember your first online win?
James: It is just impossible to forget, because my parents have been talking about it for 7 years and have told it to all the people that I know. So I just cannot tell you if I remember it because it was exciting or because I have heard this story dozens of times.
I am joking, do not get mad. I am happy that I was able to surprise my parents and also that I learned to play early. It is just impossible to get tired of playing Mario Kart: every race is different, something new happens every time and you never know who is going to win.
Andrew: I agree, that is why – despite my passion for Retro gaming – I have always made an exception for Mario Kart, by also playing its newest releases. The secret is that, regardless of its inevitable technological evolution, it has never lost its cheerful, carefree spirit. It is a retro game inside!
Now that I have made this clear, let us go back to us.
5. What about your second game?
James: Haha, I knew you were going to ask me that… The truth is that since the first time I had the courage to play, this has been an endless journey…I just cannot recall that, I have tried too many. I have to say that maybe I have taken too many liberties at times, like when I would pull your Amiga 1200 or your Dreamcast out of the closet without your permission or when you were not at home.
Andrew: Okay, white flag here! Please stop saying “my father” and address me directly. 😀
That said, before getting cross with you for what you have just said (just kidding 😀 ), please answer the following question.
6. What do you mean by “having the courage to play” ?
James: I mean that I was ashamed to play in front of you… I saw you both as a teacher and as a master and I was afraid to look bad. If you recall, it took you a while to get me to try Mario Kart, even though I was dying to play it and the same went for other games: I preferred to practice on my own before playing versus or in cooperative mode.
Luckily I overcame this fear and now I am happy that we play together, also because I beat you often. 😛
Andrew: Do not cross the boss! You are forgetting about the times you asked me (and still ask) for help to kill a boss or clear a stage. In any case I must say that you are really good and the student will certainly become the master, but that has not happened yet! 😛
7. Let us go on: So you used to play with my beloved, precious retro machines when I was not here?
James: Daddy, I am so sorry, I know I should not have done it, but I assure you that I always handled them with extreme care.
Andrew: Come on… Again, just kidding! Did you think I had never realized that? Had I not known that we both handled objects with care, I would have hidden all of my beauties long ago, my dear RetroKid.
Let us play a game now (no, not a video game lol): I am going to name a few video game genres.
8. Just tell me your favourite title for each of them, deal?
James: Yes, Daddy.
Andrew: Let us start!
James: Uncharted! I played it on your knees.
Andrew: I do remember that. 🙂
James: Super Mario 64. I drove you crazy to get all 120 stars!
I remember that too… :-/
C. Puzzle games?
James: Puzzle bobble! When I won the tournament that you and your friends arranged in that pub, I was over the moon… The following Monday at school, every now and then someone stopped by to congratulate me on my victory… What a great feeling!
Andrew: So glad to hear that and well, your victory was exciting for me too. I did not expect that!
D. What about role-playing games?
James: I am going to name two: Dark Chronicle and Rogue Galaxy.
The former is also the first RPG I have ever played, the latter is the first RPG I have played and beaten by myself, without asking for help (just some advice).
I remember you did not want to let me play RPG because you thought the stories and the game modes were too complicated. You said I was too young to understand every aspect of such games.
In the beginning, I could not really understand anything. I was about to quit, but then you suggested that I carefully follow the dialogues and explore the menus and everything changed… You could have told me “I told you”, yet you gave me some very good advice and encouraged me to continue. Thanks dad!
Andrew: Thanks to you for having faith in me and not giving up.
E. Any racing Games that you like, other than Mario Kart? Maybe a racing simulation?
James: Not really, but I do like Super Sprint and I promise you that one day I will complete it …
Andrew: There are 85 stages James and some of them are almost impossible…
James: Mmm… I will try anyway. I reached the 42nd stage, almost halfway… I know I can make it to the end!
Andrew: Excellent mentality, good for you!
F. Okay last title: Soccer
James: Swos, Swos and again Swos … You introduced me to Swos when I was 5 and you started training me at 6. I asked you to do that, I wanted to learn to score your spectacular header combos and your banana shots.
I was afraid it would not rank first on your top 10 retro soccer game list. Regardless, I have to ask you something.
Andrew: What is it James?
James: Why did you leave SFG Soccer out of the ranking? It is super fun…
Andrew: Because it was released in 2009, it cannot be considered a retro game, at least for the moment.
James: But there is no online mode …
Andrew: good observation, but it is still too new in terms of technology, do you know what I mean? Anyway, I agree with you, it is a true gem and we are talking about an Indie video game.
James: Mmm, okay…
Andrew: No worries, in 10 years I am going to update the ranking … Or how about doing it yourself, maybe in 20 years? 😀
9. Now please tell me: Is there any other games that you would like to name among your favorites? I did not mention all the existing genres…
James: Yes, I was going to tell you… I will name them in no particular order: Excite Bike, Elevator Action, Crash Bandicoot, Golden Axe, Mario Party, Metal Gear Solid 2, Wii Bowling, Street Fighter 2, Bubble Bobble and WonderBoy in Monsterland.
Andrew: Just a couple… And I thought you were tired of answering. 😀
10. Well, last question now, anyway: what is your finest memory related to video games?
James: l have many, Dad: first of all, the first time I played together with my siblings and you. The 4 of us playing Mario Party 5… Too good to be true, but it was. What a blast! I want to thank you dad, because you have taught me from an early age that we should never be ashamed to do what we like. You would tell me: “Look at me: I am in my 30 thirties, yet I enjoy playing video games like a kid. This is because I associate video games with many beautiful memories and many beautiful experiences with my friends. I am serious when I have to be serious and I have fun when it is time to have fun. ”
It is just like that dad, I like to have fun: I have always tried so many things and had a lot of pleasant experiences.
Sport, music, video games… I have always been open to anything and I am happy I have such a mentality.
Andrew: No need to go on, you have already given me a very good answer …
James: But I would like to go on, I am not finished talking.
As I was saying, besides this, I would like to mention my victories in the tournaments that you arranged with your friends.
To be honest though, I had fun, even when I did not win. Do you remember the Wii Golf tournament, the one where I placed fourth? We were in this club and you had put a signal on the entrance door that read: “Maximum number of players: 16”.
The problem was that people kept coming and signing up. We ended up playing a 32-person tournament and we left the club at 10 pm rather than at 7. When you informed the club’s owner that you needed some more time, he did not want to have it, but then he saw that there was a nice, relaxed atmosphere and agreed.
At 9 pm he came up to us and said: “you can stay as much as you like, I want to see who wins!”
That day was unforgettable!
Andrew: I think that we can end this interview here and we are ending with a bang… Maybe you did not realize, but you said something special: you are young, but you are transmitting positive values here.
I am definitely biased, because I am your father, but when you talk about your love for your siblings or that you wish to play and have fun, regardless of whether you win or lose, I am just proud of you!
James: Thanks daddy… But tell me: is this interview over? It was fun…
Andrew: 11. Would you like to say one last thing?
James: Yes! I cannot wait for you to publish this article, I am very proud to have been interviewed. (I am a bit ashamed actually, but you keep telling me to not worry about it and that everything will be fine).
And then, I would like to confirm that one day I will write my Retro stories for your blog, it will be our blog!
I am not as pure a retro gamer as you dad – not yet at least – but I know what you mean when you talk about being in love with the past: we must never forget our happy childhood memories and – above all – we have to keep playing and having fun, in order to not grow old. This will allow us to maintain a positive attitude towards life and others.
For you, this is a way of life and I thank you for having instilled it in my siblings and me.
Andrew: Even if I wanted to, I could not ask you anymore questions, you moved me… Very many thanks
*In may of 2014 Nintendo Wii online play was discontinued, thus making Mario Kart Wii an only offline game.