The Nintendo 64 that I never won


One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life is to pretend that Goldeneye 64 was the best game that ever existed in the world.

As a child, we were a Sony house.  Sony TV, Sony stereo, Sony Walkman.  So of course, I got the Sony Playstation.  Now, keep in mind, I AM NOT COMPLAINING about the fact that I had a Playstation.  In my opinion, it was vastly better than the N64 and has filled my life with joys that I had previously not known (I’m looking at you, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2).

But this is the story of the irrational hopes and fears of a kid in elementary school.

The year was 1996.  As a subscriber to the Province newspaper for most of my childhood life, I often relished the day when the (biweekly? monthly?) video game article came out in the B section of this horrible newspaper.  Look, this was a time before the internet really took off.  It was really hard to find content about stuff you were interested in, unlike now where every unicycling hackey sack meetup group has a waitlist now.

So for the launch of the Nintendo 64, the video game article had a giveaway – all I had to do was answer this simple question:  Which character in Virtua Fighter is Canadian?

I mailed in my answer, and BOOM.  I felt like I already won.  I was going into Coles Bookstore and reading all the gaming magazines talking about the N64 games that were coming out and I picked what I was going to buy.  It was like an absolute certainty that this N64 was mine.  All I had to do was wait until all the other suckers had their chance and then me and Mario were gonna explore the kingdom in 3D until my parents yelled at me to go to bed at 10 pm.  This was fate.

What actually happened was that I had no fucking idea who was Canadian in Virtua Fighter.  And this was 1996 – I couldn’t just go “look it up”.  In 1996 I was reading books novels about Batman in the library because I couldn’t afford the comics.  This directly lead to my relatively advanced reading level in elementary school – but that’s another story.  Anyways, the answer was fucking “Wolf” and I didn’t get it right.  And to add insult to injury they fucking extended the contest for 2 weeks because no one got it right.  Yikes.

When they announced the winner and it was not a 9 year old Chinese kid, I cried.  I cried my little brains out.  It felt like a world was ripped from under me.  My expectations of playing Turok the Dinosaur Hunter had faded away.  My little gamer heart broke a little bit that day.  But that wasn’t the end of it.

The real heartbreak took place between 1997 til about now where I have to constantly pretend like I

  • A: Played Goldeneye 64 all the time
  • B: Think Goldeneye 64 is the best game ever
  • C: have to hate on anyone that doesn’t think A or B

And you know what, I really tried for a while to conform but after a while, I just realized that Goldeneye 64 was not that great.  The graphics were ugly, the user interface was super weird, and it made me dizzy.  Sorry, it just wasn’t for me.

But you know what was the most important thing that I realized?  you can’t force yourself to play a game that you don’t enjoy just because you want to fit in.  You just have to play your own.

Shift SMS onward.



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