Monday, April 20, 2020

Putting the Family in Family Computer

 Hope you all are doing OK out there. I’m doing fine.

We are under a kind of light lockdown here in Japan now. No school and I’m mostly working at home, and glad to still be working!

On a lighter note, the greatest Famicom related thing that has happened to me since i got my first one almost 12 years ago occurred over the weekend.  I introduced another little human being to my Famicom.

Its hard to believe but the little baby boy that I wrote about on here back in 2014 is now a wonderful little kid who'll be starting elementary school before too long!  He's even got an awesome little sister now too.  

I have only sparingly had time to play games since he arrived and had held off on introducing him to video games.  But with the lockdown and everyone home with little to do, and him being old enough to handle it, I decided to bring my Famicom down to the living room and hook it up to the TV for him (and for the whole family really, but mostly him).  It helped that it was a rainy weekend and we couldn't even play in the yard.

I brought a few games down that I thought he would like.  SMB, Ice Climber, Donkey Kong, Son Son, Galaxian, Antarctic Adventure and a few others.  And I just plugged it in and said "Lets play!"

And my son got about as excited as he gets on Christmas morning, it was great.

We played SMB a lot, my wife (a Famicom fan from her own childhood and my partner in Famicom gaming until parenthood made both of us, but especially her too busy) showed him the basics.

We played all afternoon. It is really fun watching a little kid play the Famicom for the first time. They move their entire body along with the controller.  So while playing Galaxian whenever he moves his ship to the left, he runs over to the left side of the room.  Then when he moves his ship right, he runs over to the right.  I had forgotten that such behaviour once seemed natural as a child.  It was so great to be reminded.

Son Son was my favorite, since its got a cooperative 2 player mode and we could play together at the same time.

At the end, he said the Famicom is now his favorite thing in the world.  Which was great, but also concerned me that I had accidentally rendered all of his other toys obsolete.  We noticed he was rubbing his eyes a lot that night, they got dried out from playing too long, another thing that I had forgotten happens to kids.  So we've instituted strict limitations on playing time after that.

One thing that I liked about it was that the Famicom is 37 years old, but he doesn't know that. For perspective, this is the equivalent of giving a kid in the early 80s a World War 2 era toy.  Weird.  Anyway, he doesn't care whether or not its old, he just knows it is fun, and his excitement is genuine and so great to behold.

I don't know how long it will last, but I hope to keep it going.  I haven't told him that I have like 800 more games for it (they are mostly in boxes stored in a closet right now).  Or that I have like 7 or 8 other consoles with hundreds of more games for them too.  For the time being the handful of games that I brought out are officially "The only ones we have" as far as he is going to know. And maybe I'll pretend to bring a new one home from work every once in a while and ask if he wants to play it with me.

Then maybe a year from now I'll pretend that they released a new version called the "Super Famicom" and pretend to bring that one home with a copy of SMB World, and hook it up and start again.

Anyway, this was kind of a fun distraction which I thought worthy of a blog post in the middle of this stupid pandemic.  I needed a pick-me-up, and this brought me one!

Stay safe and hope you are all doing OK. 


  1. This was a nice read right now. Thanks. I introduced my kid to NES last year and now we've played through a whack of Zelda titles. I just gotta get him playing more! He mostly likes to watch me play.

    1. Thanks, glad to hear from a fellow dad-retro gamer! That is funny that your son likes to watch you play more, mine is a bit like that with SMB because he wants to see what the next world is like but can't get there on his own yet!

  2. This is great, glad to see a new post and you introducing games to your kids. Mine aren't quite old enough yet and I worry about them getting addicted to it. I'll cross that bridge when I get there. 😬

    1. Thanks!

      I know how you feel, I've been agonizing about whether or not to let them play for a while because of worries about them getting addicted to it. If not for the coronavirus keeping them home all day everyday, I probably would have waited another year.

      I can though say that so far, so good. We've got three rules that are working really well so far:

      1) no more than 1 hour of games per day
      2) When mommy or daddy say its time to stop, its time to stop;
      3) No playing games by yourself (always together with mommy or daddy)

      The first two are self explanatory, but the third one I think is the key. It prevents the games from being an "isolating" experience and turn it into more of a "bonding" one, which limits the addiction concerns. My son (who will be 6 years old in a few months) loves playing them, but has been really good at observing the rules and doesn't fuss when we tell him to stop (mainly because he knows that if he does, he won't get to play anymore). Its a lot of fun playing with him too.

  3. It's wonderful to introduce Famicom to your son and he enjoyed playing those games. By the way, I think that your kids could have a chance to play "Super Mario Odyssey" on Switch, too. Switch is a great console for this generation at this moment for a whole family!!

    1. Thanks! We don't have a Switch but someday we'll probably pick one up. My son is crazy about Mario now.