Cherry (Level 1)
Fun In The Basement (long)
What follows is a tale of plastic, concrete, and lots and lots of faux woodgrain. A tale of un-air-conditioned basements, kind neighbors, and dusty, abandoned video game consoles. A tale of...never mind, on with the story.
I grew up too late for the first and second generations of home consoles (though we briefly had a hand-me-down Atari 2600 in the late '80s), instead joining the NES party several years in (around the time Super Mario Bros. 3 was released), and eventually getting a Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. While these systems gave me and my brother countless hours of entertainment upstairs, I eventually found that there was more to video games than these then-modern systems, often while in the basement.
Around 1995, I made a discovery in the basement at my grandparents' house: inside a hollowed-out 1950s TV console in their basement sat a Mattel Intellivision, which had been abandoned several years back. It only appeared to have one game with it, Space Armada, but it provided hours of fun for me. I eventually was handed down two boxes full of Intellivision cartridges from a friend whose Intellivision consoles (they'd had three!) had broken down over the years. For many months afterwards, every time we visited our grandparents' house, I'd always run downstairs, fire up the Intellivision, and enjoy the blocky-looking games on their vintage 19" TV, taking in all the RF goodness I could before we had to leave. Eventually, I acquired an Intellivision of my own (donated to me by a kind neighbor), whereupon I brought the boxes of games home so that I could enjoy them in our own basement.
Eventually, I found my very first vintage video game console, a Super Pong Ten, sitting on the side of the road in a trash pile near our house. It's original box had seen better days, but the system itself worked (at least until the channel 3/4 switch goofed up awhile later). A couple of years later, one of my brother's friends donated an Atari 7800, along with a box of Atari 7800 and 2600 games. The AC adapter had seen far better days, but the system worked fine, and I got to explore this hidden gem of an Atari system. For many months, I got to enjoy the oddities associated with the oddball system, including how much better the 7800 games looked than the 2600 ones. Unfortunately, it's power supply eventually gave out, causing it to be set aside until a replacement could be found (which took several years).
Not too long afterwards, a friend donated a NES to me. Since controllers and games were much easier to find for it than for the older systems, I was able to build up a fair collection thanks to Funcoland's rock-bottom prices (at one point, I was able to get a couple of NES Advantage joysticks for $3 each!). Again, many happy hours were had playing 8-bit games during the era of Playstation and Nintendo 64 (which we had as a main system at the time; for all the grief it gets, my brother and I managed to have plenty of fun playing it). While the system inhabited my bedroom for a period of time, it spent most of it's life in the basement, where the Advantage and Max controllers often made for interesting gameplay.
A year or so later, I started getting into vintage computers, starting with the Commodore 64. I picked one up at a yard sale, along with a couple of boxes of game disks, for a couple of bucks. Even though the 64 only worked for a half-hour or so at a time, I was instantly hooked, and started a long quest to get a working one (which took several years, and the guts from three different C=64s). Along the way, I acquired a couple of Commodore 128s, a Commodore Amiga 1000, and several other vintage computers (as well as some other video game systems, such as the Magnavox Odyssey^2). Nearly every computer I acquired had at least one game with it, but they mostly saw use with productivity programs, being used to type letters which a modern system would normally be used for (I submitted many a homework assignment as a dot matrix printout during high school, in the late '90s/early '00s). After a move in late 2002, gaming down in the basement took a hiatus.
These days, while video games have taken a backseat to keeping the computers around the house up and running, I still enjoy the old 8-bit video games, and pick up systems and games when I come across them at yard sales and flea markets. I like to keep at least one console set up at a time within the limited amount of space I have to work with, typically my Atari 7800 (with it's working power adapter). In addition, I have an area in the basement where I keep all sorts of vintage stuff set up, including a Commodore SX-64. With any luck, I'll be able to get more classic video game consoles set up down there in the near future.
Anyway, that's my story in a nutshell. Hope you enjoyed it.
Last edited by AdamAnt316; 09-06-2007 at 02:28 AM.