I suppose you could say that I'm a video game fan today thanks to my father. In the late 1980's Nintendo contacted the foam production facility that my father managed in order to create and produce the foam packing inserts that kept the Nintendo Entertainment System safe during shipping to your local store. As a part of the design process the company sent my father a NES unit to work with, a NES that found its way to my bedroom when it wasn't being used at the factory. Although in the end Nintendo decided not to use my father's factory for their foam needs and the NES had to go back to Redmond, the enjoyment of a good video game was instilled within me.
After becoming consumed by the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987 it was only natural that the want - nay, need - for a Game Boy would become a driving force in my mind in 1989. Nintendo Power suitably hyped the new gadget and the thought of taking Mario on the road during family vacations was practically a dream come true. My Game Boy was a holiday gift from my parents in December 1989, providing me with the Game Boy itself, the Battery Pak, pack-in title Tetris, and Super Mario Land. Initially the Game Boy may well have been an extension of my hand; for the first few weeks I had the little gadget, it seemed to always be with me: sitting on the sofa exploring Sarasaland, rotating tetrads by the pool, and eventually blasting Dr. Wily in the car. During the first few months of owning a Game Boy it was relatively easy to keep all the various game paks and accessories together, but as time went on it just wasn't possible for my small nine-year-old hands to carry everything. By this time I'd acquired a Light Boy magnifier light, Nintendo's Game Boy player's guide, and what seemed like a load of various cables. That's when my parents came to the rescue with a unique solution.
My father designed and built a special one-of-a-kind Game Boy storage case as a gift for my tenth birthday in 1991, a case that I still have today all these years later. I'm told that the outer shell is bulletproof as well as waterproof. Inside the case is enough foam padding to absorb collision shocks and each slot in the foam is sized to fit specific Game Boy accessories. There's slots for the Game Boy, the Battery Pak, the Light Boy, the stereo headphones, and more slots for game pak storage than I'd ever get around to filling (currently there are still two empty slots for games). Lift up the section of foam where the headphones are kept to reveal a compartment for insturction manual storage. Flip down the inner lid on the top half of the case to access player's guides, the game link cable, the Battery Pak's A/C cable, and the Game Boy cleaning kit. The whole thing is double-locked and, for stylishness, has an engraved nameplate on the side of the case. Every summer my parents and I would drive up the east coast of the USA on vacation, and for every trip there was a new Game Boy game waiting for me the morning we'd set off up I- 95 at four o'clock in the morning. After all those years of carting the case across the country on vacations from Seattle to Philadelphia it's still in excellent shape and is a testament to my father's ability to visualize, design, and build long-lasting, durable creations.
The Game Boy was there is times of celebration and in times of sadness. My family was fond of giving Game Boy games as gifts; they were affordable and were something I was sure to like. In 1990 came Dr. Mario and Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge for the holidays, 1992 brought the long- awaited Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins, and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening helped pass the time during the great blackout of 1993. In 1994 I lost an entire summer due to the onset of a chronic digestive illness and during my hospitalization my grandparents brought me Donkey Kong to help make the times between blood tests and x-rays enjoyable. Donkey Kong Land provide a bright spot to a rather disastrous vacation in 1995.
Technology and time marched on from there as I grew older and acquired new electronic gadgets to play. The Game Boy carries on, slightly battered but still just as fun as it was that early morning in December 1989. The Battery Pak's ability to hold a charge with being plugged into the electrical outlet is long gone, the Light Boy's lightbulb is a little dimmer, and the Game Boy itself has a little trouble displaying the pixels on the edges of the screen. The games themselves live on, however, as do my memories of the various ups and downs of the early 1990's. They're all locked inside a special storage case. Thanks, Nintendo. Thanks, Dad.