Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Blast from the Past

  It has been a while, as many things have changed recently, and I’ve felt my passion pretty much dry up.  This has made it quite difficult to blog, certainly to be interesting.  I’ve tried catching up with a few old chums, my word for bloggers who’ve inspired me and probably don’t know that I exist.  C’est la vie!  Turns out, the inspiration that I needed came not from the community, but from YouTube. 

  Today, I’d like to talk about video games and the expression “Blast from the Past.”  The origin of the expression lies in radio communications, as radio DJs would announce an old favorite song with this as its epitaph.  It heralds something familiar, and something can potentially transport you back to t-hat distant time and place.  It’s by convention a positive experience.

  Retrogaming is a subculture of the larger gaming community, focused on older games from the way things were in the bygone ages, typically arcade games, but I contend the same applies if, like myself, you background is a little more “four shades of grey” (that’s an epitaph that references the Nintendo Gameboy, by the way).

  And as to what brought about this emotional surge today?  I was searching online for victory music from recent games that I have cleared, reviewing my “score,” if you will, when I figured I would search for a YouTube video of Kirby’s 20th Anniversary.  The video itself is nothing special, Kirby walking a victory lap with series regulars, all from Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, flying in the background.  Backgrounds change, implying movement.  New instrumental arrangements of the first victory song play continuously.  The credits roll, in this version, all in Japanese.  Then some small things change, and I’m floored, defenceless.

  The song remains the same, but the arrangement is unmistakably Gameboy.  Give the video a watch if you fancy.

  When this happens, I am floored, tearing just a bit but unable to look away at the smiling, goofy faces of Kirby’s cast of friends (or are they breakfast?) waving goodbye.  No, wait.  Until we meet again.  This is a 20 year old franchise, you understand.  And I’ve been with them, and they with me, for all of that time.  And this scene sets such a warmth in the heart as cannot be measured, a cheer that cannot be described.  And for a moment, the mind clears, and all is well with the world.

  And then there is the coming down, the sense that I must be really messed up.  This is a blog about the hobby of video gaming, and a post that is all about feeling so good about hearing a 20 year old victory theme.  And then there is the lonely thought; no DJ will announce this on any radio, as only my fellow gen NES gamers would get the reference.  This is our song: okay fine, Nintendo’s song and Koji Kondo’s composition, but we get to borrow if as long as we don’t infringe on profitable copyright, blah, blah, it lives in the hearts of Kirby fanatics.  And how does it feel to be a fanatic of a fictional pink cream puff?  Kind of weird, actually.

  Ironically, the song is supposed to be a kind of pledge from Nintendo.  It is a way of saying “Thanks for 20 years,” and “Stay with us! We’ll be back!”  It’s a way of saying that Kirby is special to them too.  Grown men drawing their joy from a fictional universe where everything is smiling, colorful.  Happy.  One could say that I’ve experienced pressure to engage more in the real world, while the gaming worlds beckon home, to where I’ve always been happy.

  It’s been a great 20 years Kirby! 

The Phrase Finder, Gary Martin, 1996-2013, available online at

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