When I was a kid we had "the cottage." It was a small cottage a few blocks from the beach a couple towns over the my step-father's dad had built with his bare hands. It was nothing fancy. The shower was outside. And though there were four bedrooms upstairs, they only had partial walls separating them. And it was blazing hot if you tried to sleep up there. But it was also quaint. It had a nice screened in porch that I spent so many weekends on playing my Game Boy. And extended family would each rotate a week that we'd stay there during the summer. Oh, and there was a NES at the cottage with only a small stack of games that ended up getting a whole lot of play each year.
Dr. Mario reeks of summer to me. In my memory, the only time I ever played Dr. Mario was those summer weeks. But damn, it was an easy obsession. Dr. Mario was never a solitary game for me back then. There was always someone who wanted the next game against the winner. And there was something about the game - like Tetris - that made non-gamers want in.
This weekend I'm wrapping up my winter vacation with my wife. That cottage is no longer with out family. Actually, my Grammy Nelson whom it belonged to passed away a couple of months ago. But revisiting Dr. Mario this weekend, I don't know... it was a nice reminder of those days. Remember the summer (or winter) vacations of youth? They were magical times that seemed to go on forever. Maybe because our young minds barely understood time. Or maybe because we were so young and without responsibility, that time really was in surplus.
I spent tonight running through the twenty main levels of Dr. Mario and it was a lot of fun. Of course this time it was solo. Something I wasn't actually used to. It was interesting to play this game in a more strategic, and dare I say - slower pace. I wasn't so worried about doing things faster than my opponent and that really opened up the game to a sort of weird zen space-out kind of vibe. It was actually quite leisurely.
I'm playing the original NES game via the Switch's Online Service and as expected, it's exactly as I recall. Funny enough I left the music on the default ("Fever"?) and my wife came over and listened for a moment and said I was listening to the wrong song. I switched to "Chill" and oh yeah, she was right. Haha.
Dr. Mario is not my favorite puzzle game. Not by a long shot. There's so many I'd put above it. For one thing, I way prefer falling block games. But still, there's something really special about it for me. At least as far as nostalgia is concerned. And to some degree, isn't that what a lot of this hobby is about? I mean, if I wasn't so happy to go back and hang on to those things that made me happy when I was young, I'd probably just be focusing 100% on new games. But there's just something special about these old games that help me hang on to what makes childhood so wonderful.
Maybe, just maybe I'm getting a little emo here. But that's to be expected I suppose. You see, my wife is twelve weeks pregnant with our first child right now and I heard its heartbeat for the first time this week. For the first time I felt magic in a winter vacation that those youthful ones waiting for Santa could never compete with. I just didn't know it yet. So I guess it was a good time to go back and be a kid again for just one night. I look forward to getting to show my child the sorts of games that meant something to me when I was a kid in the years ahead.