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Nintendo Nostalgia: The Passing of Hiroshi Yamauchi

If names like Donkey Kong, Mario, Power Pad, or Gameboy mean anything to you, then you may shed a tear for this news: Hiroshi Yamauchi, the Japanese businessman who took the Nintendo franchise from a trading card company to video game royalty, passed away yesterday from complications of pneumonia. Yamauchi, who was named the president of Nintendo in 1949 when he was only 22 years old, claimed that he knew nothing about video games, but he obviously knew enough to turn Nintendo into one of the most recognized — and successful — video game companies in history (you may be a Nintendo nerd if you recognize these games). For those of us who grew up watching Mario and Luigi destroy Koopa Troopas and rooted for Link to rescue Princess Zelda, it has been a sad time in the NOC offices.

To honor the man who gave us a reason to stay up past our bedtime playing video games instead of doing homework, a few of the Nerds reflected on our favorite Nintendo memories:

Julie Kang

I never upgraded to anything past 8-bit NES, but a favorite memory of mine was finally defeating Mother Brain in Metroid. And when Samus Aran takes an elevator back to the surface and starts glowing… OH MY GODS! SHE WAS A GIRL ALL ALONG!

She totally turned the tables on females in video games, as she wasn’t a princess who needed saving (and who always seemed to be in another castle). Instead, SHE saved the galaxy, from a female antagonist, even!

Jenn Fang

I had a knock-off Atari for years until I finally managed to cajole my folks into getting me a Super NES. you would not believe how many ass-whoppin’s Chun Li gave in my household.

I never learned how to use any other character — just Chun Li and those amazing quads that I still hope to achieve in real life.

Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria

R.I.P. Konami Code.

Trish Broome

I clearly remember spending entire Saturday mornings with my older brother playing Contra. Maybe it was because the main characters were military commandos (and I had a slight obsession with the Schwarzenegger movie of the same name), or maybe I secretly wanted the spread gun which fired five projectiles at once. Whatever it was, I loved it, and I would never look at simultaneous two-player games the same ever again.

Keith Chow

I was probably 10 or 11 years old when we got our first Nintendo Entertainment System. One of my earliest NES memories was sitting on the floor playing Donkey Kong 3 (the one with the bug spray. Bug spray?) with my parents and little brother. We’d all pass the controller around, taking turns trying to keep Donkey Kong away from the flowers. (Game plots were pretty ridiculous in the 80s.) Growing up in the South, we liked shooting at things so we were partial to Hogan’s Alley and Duck Hunt as well. We even brought the NES to the family restaurant, set it up on a television in the back office, and let everyone take turns at target practice.

Back then, home video gaming was so new and novel that it really was a communal, family activity. It’s hard to imagine families gathering around to share in video games today. The games seem so insular and solitary. My parents still play video games, by the way. It’s just that now they’re crushing striped candy wrappers on their iPads.

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