Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, April 30, 2018


It has always been said that good things come to those who wait.  Having taken this advice to heart several times in my life, I'm usually content to sit back and wait for a lot of things.  Sometimes it'll mean the lines are shorter and things are less crowded, but other times it means the store is all sold out by the time I get there.  Such was the case when Nintendo released their NES Classic in the fall of 2016.

I never had a Nintendo Entertainment System when I was kid.  It seemed like all my friends and all my cousins had one, but I didn't.  It's probably why I never grew up to be a gamer.  it was common for my brother and I to rent one on rainy Sunday afternoons, but owning one was something that was never in the cards.  Every Christmas, I tend to tell the story of how I almost got one.

I was in junior high.  It was the time of the great console wars, when Nintendo and Sega were fighting for dominance in the toy aisles.  One morning, over the breakfast table, Mom was talking about how Christmas was coming, and that Santa was thinking about bringing us a video game console.  But Santa was having a tough time deciding between Nintendo or Sega.  To me, the answer was obvious.  Nintendo.  All my friends had one.  All my cousins had one.  It was the one we rented on rainy afternoons.  Nintendo was the clear choice.

But my brother, on that day, stood up and declared his affiliation for Team Sega.  See, in his youth, my brother was all about aircraft, especially military aircraft.  Top Gun was his favourite movie.  G.I. Joe was his favourite toy, and he had every G.I. Joe aircraft.  He even got the legendary G.I. Joe personalized figure just so he could fly those planes and helicopters himself.  And it turned out that Sega had a very popular and well-received flight sim called After Burner that he would spend countless hours playing over at a friend's house.  He just wanted a Sega for After Burner.

The discussion between the merits of Sega and Nintendo grew heated.  The heated discussion soon turned into a screaming match.  As the screaming match was about to become a fistfight, Mom finally broke it up and said, "Hey!  If you're going to be like this, NO VIDEO GAMES FOR CHRISTMAS!"  And thus my home went Nintendo-less.

Until I decided to do something about it myself.  I was already working my first job.  I was a paperboy, back when that was still a thing.  I remembered that, when I was younger, my parents got me a thing called a "bank account."  If I took the money I made off my paper route, and put it in this "bank account" instead of always blowing it on pop and comic books, I would eventually have enough money to buy my own Nintendo!  And that's what I did.  Even made a special trip down to Red Deer to buy it because I had an aunt who worked at Woolco and could use her employee discount to save me a few bucks.  But in the weeks leading up to that Red Deer trip, I decided to go with Nintendo's hot new console at the time, the Game Boy.  I still have it...and the second one that my parents got me for Christmas a few years later, because I played it so much I wore out the buttons.

As much as I enjoyed that Game Boy, it still wasn't a proper Nintendo Entertainment System.  So the NES Classic sounded like it was right up my alley.  Of course, I could see online that many hardcore gamers were poo-poo-ing it, saying that you can already enjoy many classic video games thanks to emulators and the like.  But the NES Classic was definitely geared for the nostalgia market, and folks like me, whose yearning never really went away.

But we all know what happened next.  The NES Classic sold out almost immediately.  It was the hottest toy for the holiday season of 2016.  I thought, "No worries.  We've seen this with the hot Christmas toys before.  Come February, all the stores will be re-stocked and I'll be able to buy one with no hassles."

But the stores never did restock.  Nintendo didn't anticipate it being so popular, and made it in very limited numbers.  It was a one-time only, limited edition thing.  But, Nintendo soon announced the SNES Classic.  Same thing, but with a Super Nintendo.  It came out in the fall of 2017, and did similar business to the NES Classic.  It looked like it would be good enough, but still no NES Classic.  I figured I'd take the same strategy.  Maybe Nintendo learned their lesson, and they'll actually restock in the spring.

About a month ago, I'd made a quick trip into Edmonton after work to pick up Thor Ragnarok on Blu-Ray, and to my surprise, there was one SNES Classic left on the shelf.  I thought about getting it, but, if you've been reading this blog for the past year or so, you know that I've become quite worried about my financial situation as of late.  So, I mustered up all my willpower, and said no.

Back on Saturday, I was back in the city, back at that same store.

Now there were three left on the shelf.

A post shared by Mark Cappis (@chaosinabox) on

It had been a rough couple of weeks at work.  The short version is half the office was on vacation, so I was burning the candle at both ends, covering for a lot of people.  I had paid bills earlier in the week, and was pleasantly surprised that I had actually, somehow, managed to come out a little bit ahead for the first time in a long time.  I looked at that SNES Classic and said, "Screw it.  Let's do it."

Even the clerk was surprised that they had some on the shelf when I waved her over to unlock the video game cabinet.  We wound up having a nice little chat about classic video games and sharing rumours.  Nintendo has already announced they'll be bringing back the NES Classic this summer.  The clerk heard the persistent rumour that Nintendo will be moving on to the next console and giving us an N64 Classic this Christmas.  Time will tell.

That was a really good trip to the city, and I had yet to accomplish my primary reason for hitting the city, which was to see Avengers: Infinity War.

Marvel Studios -- the movie studio arm of Marvel -- is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and Avengers: Infinity War is being billed as the climax of 10 years of movie-making.  Marvel has redefined the concept of a film franchise these days, by reintroducing the concept of the cinematic universe.  Having heroes from one film show up in another film to help out more heroes?  It sounds revolutionary, but as many moviegoers will say, Universal did it first with their classic monsters back in the 1940s.  And as Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige said in a recent interview, they weren't trying to revolutionize anything.  They just wanted to replicate what you see in the comics...that feeling that the Hulk might smash his way into the latest Iron Man adventure.  And now, it's all led up to Infinity War, where pretty much every hero that Marvel Studios has introduced to the big screen since Tony Stark declared "I am Iron Man" is teaming up to take down the Mad Titan Thanos.

Avengers: Infinity War poster

Bruce Banner falls from the heavens and crashes into the Sanctum Santorum of Doctor Strange, causing Strange to reach out to Tony Stark for help.  Banner has a message:  Thanos is coming.  Out in space, the Guardians of the Galaxy respond to a distress call, where they rescue Thor from the wreckage of the Asgardian rescue ship.  Thanos has laid waste to the remnants of Asgard.  Back on Earth, the disciples of Thanos attack Vision, attempting to extract the Infinity Stone from his body.  This brings Steve Rogers and his secret Avengers out of hiding.  While they may be scattered across the globe and galaxy, they being plotting against their common foe:  Thanos.  He is in search of the six Infinity Stones.  With all six, he seeks to wipe out half the population of the universe…an act, he believes, that will bring about a paradise.  Will our heroes succeed in defeating Thanos and save the universe?

Well, I hope you're up to speed on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because there is very little in the way of recaps.  We hit the ground running.  But the plus side to that is, pretty much the only new character introduced is Thanos.  As such, there's a lot of time dedicated to establishing him and developing as the villain.

But man.  We just move from one big superhero action set piece to another, with barely a moment to give us a chance to breath.  Plus, there's some nice callbacks and even a few surprise re-appearances from some characters that are nice rewards to long time fans of the franchise.  And it's got one hell of a cliffhanger ending to set things up for Part II, coming next year.

Avengers: Infinity War is a spectacular payoff to 10 years of film-making.  4 out of 4 nibs, full review on the website.

After that, it was time to head home and fire up my SNES Classic.  First I had to do some minor re-wiring to my home theatre set-up so I'd be about to route the audio through my stereo.  And then, I put my feet up, and started playing.

I haven't become completely wrapped up in it yet.  I just spent most of Saturday night exploring.  A little Super Mario World, a little bit of Donkey Kong Country, just kind of exploring the console.  As the weather outside right now looks kind of grey and rainy, I'll probably start having more fun with it.  Already getting tripped up on just the second level of Donkey Kong Country.

It almost makes up for the fact that I did have one major strikeout on this city trip.  No matter how hard I looked, couldn't find any of the new action figures for Solo: A Star Wars Story.  But if there is one thing Nintendo has taught me, it is patience.  

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