Back in 1987 “Santa” brought my brothers and I a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and boy was that a game changer! Literally! Coming from the Atari 2600 to the NES was a mind trip. The usual sound bloops that I was used to was replaced with actual melodies and there were different sound effects. A lot of 2600 games would reuse sounds and hearing all these new sounds and music was a delight. For some odd reason my brain couldn’t grasp that I had to jump over the first Goomba in Super Mario Bros. Maybe it was all the colors, or at that time the impressive graphics. Once I caught on though I became the best NES player in our house.
My parents weren’t the richest folks. Most of the games we got to play were rentals. I have a lot of memories renting various NES games from different places. Back then though, most people (myself included) weren’t aware that some of these rental cartridges were filthy. The way some people treated them amazed me, still to this day even! Because these carts were dirty, eventually we all ended up with the “grey screen” or the infamous “blinking screen”. Of course they made tools that you could buy to clean the carts and the console itself, but I never got any of those. Sadly, our NES after only a year got harder and harder to get to work properly.
We decided to use rubbing alcohol despite what the warning label on the back of the carts. It worked great for awhile but soon the connectors in the console began to corrode. Luckily for us Christmas was just around the corner and you bet your wallets we asked Santa for another NES. Waiting for Christmas was hell though! If we messed with the NES enough and we were lucky we could get it going for awhile but it took some work. We still had our Atari 2600 to game with until Santa brought us our new NES.
Christmas morning 1988. My parents were the type who would let you open up all the small presents and save the bigger better stuff for last. We tore through our presents in anticipation of opening that brand new NES. I can’t recall everything that we got that year but we eventually got to the last present and it wasn’t a new NES. I was heartbroken. My parents then handed me a note that said something like: “Santa is very sorry for not having a NES for you on Christmas morning. My elves couldn’t keep up with the orders as so many kids wanted one. Santa promises to bring you one as soon as he can”. I later found out the real reason was they couldn’t find one in any stores that year.
Life went on and I got my NES fix from friends and of course I still had the 2600. Spring came and still nothing. I spent a lot of time riding my bike and doing kid stuff outside. One day after school I came in, dropped my backpack on the floor and headed into the living room. There it sat, in all of its glory on the coffee table. A brand spanking new Nintendo Entertainment System, complete with a cleaning kit! There was a note attached as well. “See, Santa didn’t forget! Have fun and you better continue to be a good boy!” I was the happiest kid on Earth. I quickly tore the box open and excitedly hooked it up! One of the greatest memories that I have and I shall cherish until I’m dead.
It’s a shame we didn’t know what we know now back then. Simple sand paper can take the corrosion right off those connectors. A pair of needle nose pliers can squeeze back together the loose pins and have your NES running like new. Heck you can even buy a new pin connector online now for six bucks and just about anybody can replace them. Oh well, had I of known that I wouldn’t have this awesome memory and I thank my mom and dad for being creative with the way they handled it. Thanks mom and dad!