This week’s USgamer community question asks readers the first game they ever bought. I can answer that question; I remember the story well.
I was seven years old and recently discovered the concept of saving money. Previously, money was spent immediately after it was received on essentials like Ninja Turtle action figures or Super Mario Bros. activity books. However, after the Nintendo Entertainment System came into my life, I learned that video games were A) expensive, and 2) required saving money in order to purchase. We had an Atari 2600 before we had a Nintendo, but buying my own Atari 2600 games had never been desirable. In fact, I don’t even know if it ever occurred to me that I could buy Atari games. But once the NES came along, I was hooked. I had to have more, and that meant spending Christmas and birthday money on an NES game.
I knew exactly what I wanted. In those days, unless a game was lucky enough to receive coverage in Nintendo Power, the only information I had on it was based either on an advertisement, or a Sears catalog listing of the game that featured box art, a single tiny screenshot, and a vague description of the plot. And if there was one piece of box art, one single tiny screenshot, and one vague plot description that appealed to me most, they belonged to Dynowarz: Destruction of Spondylus.
I don’t really know the intricate plot details behind Dynowarz, but the important thing was that it was about a guy piloting a robotic dinosaur in outer space against other robotic dinosaurs. More importantly, it also graphically resembled the Godzilla Nintendo game, which I loved and we’d rented at least twice by then. I would have preferred to buy Godzilla if you could find it for purchase anywhere, so Dynowarz was the next best thing. But honestly, robotic dinosaurs fighting in space should have been the greatest game ever made, right? Also, it was spelled with a Y and a Z, so I knew it had to be good.
My family made an outing to West Park Mall, where a KB Toys and its inventory of Nintendo games awaited, including Dynowarz! I saved my money, and I was going to buy it! No force on the planet would stop me. Not even my brother, who pleaded with me to buy Snake’s Revenge instead and knew WAY more about video games than I did, could convince me otherwise. Soon enough, I made my first video game purchase ever. Dynowarz was in hand. The time had come for hours upon hours of robot dinosaur adventure. In space.
I finished the game that weekend. I was seven. I was seven years old and I finished the game in one weekend?! And that was sharing Nintendo time with my brother, who had just received WWF Wrestlemania for his birthday. I remember being impressed with the variety of weapons in the game, and even at a young age, I must have somehow managed to determine the best weapon for every possible scenario and exploit it, like a very young X-wing pilot.
Unfortunately, Dynowarz did not have lasting appeal. I probably played it a handful of additional times, and traded it to a classmate for the Nintendo adaptation of Jaws a couple of years later. Jaws wasn’t a good game, either; I obviously did not make good business decisions when I was young. I’m also the guy who sold Metroid to another kid in fifth or sixth grade because I was scared of it. Today, Metroid is one of my favorite games.
But that’s a story for another day.