I was walking through the store the other day when I passed a display of Xboxes bundled with a few games, and I thought, hmm, maybe I should get me one of those.

The thought lasted for about five seconds.

I’ve really only logged a short time playing these new-fangled systems, probably less than two hours total (and by new-fangled, I mean anything PlayStation or later, so PS2, Xbox, Game Cube). I have a very difficult time trying to play the games with any strategy or skill. The damn controllers have too many buttons. Two on the top for the index finger, then another four above the two that sit in the traditional thumb spots. Let’s not forget the attraction of the analog stick that Nintendo 64 (the most recent system I own, and I only acquired it to better my Goldeneye skills in an effort to try and better my dorm mates in college; I haven’t purchased a game for it in over two years and about the only thing I do with it is play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – still one of the better games I have ever played) introduced to us. I simply have no success trying to manipulate all those controls, and so purchasing a new system to help me enjoy the free time I don’t have just seems to make little sense.

But I wonder if, in the back of my mind, my nostalgia for those video game days of yore keeps me from trying to move into the present day.

I think I would rather go on Ebay and get myself an original Nintendo Entertainment System and a bunch of old games.

Video games these days, for all their graphics improvements and absorbing game play, simply don’t measure up for me to those 8 bits of pixilated glory that the original Nintendo gave me. I prefer the simplicity of Excite Bike and its two controls: accelerate and really accelerate but be careful not to overheat. Give me the quest of trying to prove that at some point my princess really won’t be in another castle, that at some point I’ll dump that dragon in the lava and actually find my girl. Entertain me with the attempt to play the American League All Stars on RBI Baseball and try to go through the entire line up with everyone hitting a home run. Let me put five fat guys on my team for Ice Hockey and watch me beat the sorry shit out of that computer team with their “well-balanced” line up of two skinny guys, two medium guys and one fat guy. I’ll kick your ass.

I’m sure the simplicity of the games makes me happier because I’m a simpleton. But Nintendo will always offer something the super systems of today cannot touch. Generational unity.

Right now, we have no less than three major systems competing for market share. In 1985, however, Nintendo was the only game in town, unless you count the clearly inferior original Sega IIe. As such, we had a collective Nintendo conscience.

I’d love to walk into a room filled with a bunch of guys ages 20-28 and start chanting melodically “Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start” and see how many people starting chanting with me. 30 guys, five continues and ultimate success at the original Contra. Throw a “Select” in there, find a friend and have endless debates over whether the machine gun, laser or spreader weapon was the best.

If we still had that generational bond, my friends would probably offer me demigod status because I still somehow remember, almost 20 years later, that 007 373 5963 is the pass key to go straight to Tyson on Mike Tyson’s Punch Out! (go ahead, try it, I promise it works; I honestly don’t know why my brain retains things like that but I cannot remember to pay my rent…).

Nowadays, I don’t see kids hanging around the video store waiting for that elusive copy of Super Mario Bros. 2, which just came out two days ago, to come back in so we could rent it for that night and stay up all night throwing vegetables at flying fish. Nowadays, I don’t see kids having debates over whether Bo Jackson or Randal Cunningham are the most unstoppable players on Tecmo Bowl.

Nowadays, if kids had a football game with only four possible plays, they’d call it a Tiger Electronics game and it would be sitting on the toy store rack with handheld Black Jack games and other “travel” diversions.

I know I’m dating myself, and most of the people who read this site are probably more hip and cool than I am and actually have the capacity to succeed at a video game with laser sharp graphics and 18 different player controls and combinations. I have to admit, a lot of this stuff does look pretty damn sweet.

But screw you anyway. Your generation will never have an Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start to call your own.