A Grown-Ass Man's Guide To Super-Hard Old Nintendo Games

This is a thing about playing old NES games that I couldn't beat as a kid to see if I could beat them now as an adult, but let me tell you this first: I had sex while wearing a Power Glove not that long ago. It's maybe the most impressive thing that I've ever accomplished in my whole entire life. The backstory to pull the first part together with the second:

In 1989, I received a Nintendo Entertainment System as a birthday gift from my mom and dad. I'd just turned eight years old. I opened it at my party, which we had at Peter Piper Pizza, which is a celebratory pizza chain in the Southern U.S. I don't remember a lot about that day, but I do remember that this boy named Cody was there. Cody was an overweight white kid that lived down the street from me. I didn't like him very much, but my parents knew his parents, so that's how that worked. Cody was actually the very first person ever to beat me up (not at my party, though), which is a thing that I'll always remember. He did so because I made fun of his ponytail, a transgression no different to him than calling his mother a whore. When I did so, he immediately punched me in the stomach and then shoved me on the floor. Don't make fun of Cody's ponytail if you meet him, is what I'm saying. He doesn't dick around with that.

At any rate, the Nintendo: It was extra dope and wonderful to open. The area where I lived as a kid, it wasn't a place for people with nice things, so for me, having one was a very meaningful thing. It was a sign of lukewarm prestige, like having a honey bun in prison or front-row tickets to a Bucks game. I cared greatly for it. I informed everyone that I knew that I had one. I remember I used to clean it and the games I had for it a couple times a day. I mean, I was only brushing my teeth, like, four times a week, but my Nintendo was fucking immaculate. I had a mouth full of cavities, but all my games started on the first try. That's a little thing called "having perspective." I loved that thing. And I always remembered it fondly.

So when my wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday a few years ago, I told her that's what I wanted: I said I wanted a Nintendo and a Power Glove and a handful of games. She bought everything from a vintage video-game store here in Houston, packaged it up, and gave it all to me. When I opened the Nintendo I said, "Oh, fuck. This is dope. Thank you." She smiled and said, "You're welcome." And then, when I opened the Power Glove, I said, "Oh, fuck. You found this, too. Thank you. Question: Can I wear this while we have sex?" And she scrunched up her face and said, "Eww. For real? I mean, I guess so. But you're going to wear it on your hand, right? You're not gonna try and wear it on your penis, right?" And so that's how Power Glove Sex happened.

Bro, have you ever worn a Power Glove while having sex? I can't recommend it highly enough. It's the most futuristic shit. It's like you're part of the Matrix. I kept tapping at the buttons and swiping my hand across the air like the glove was running some hyper-advanced sex program. It was a very A+ experience. Wearing a Power Glove makes everything better. I can't wait to go on a job interview and wear that shit. I might fuck around and end up the CEO of Apple.

But so now I had all of that stuff at my house. And while cleaning out some cabinets a few weeks ago, I came across everything. My sons, twin seven-year-olds, asked if they could play it, so that's what we did. I hooked up the Nintendo and then watched as we basically looped time back 25 years over onto itself.

I played the Nintendo sporadically over the next three weeks, ordering games from people on eBay and reading about tips and tricks on different forums and all that. It was neat. Then I had the thought:

When I was a kid, I wasn't that smart. Outside of, say, Kung Fu and Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! and I think maybe the original Super Mario. Bros., I couldn't beat any of the games I had. But I have a degree now. I've had things published by some very respectable places. I pay a mortgage. I'm a fully actualized man. The games I remembered having the most trouble with as a kid—could I beat them now?

And here we are.

The games:

A Grown-Ass Man's Guide To Super-Hard Old Nintendo Games

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

The point of this game is to become the best boxer that's ever been. It's also one of the top two or three NES games ever (competing only with Tecmo Super Bowl and Super Mario Bros. 3). It's basically perfect. And basically impossible. Even if you somehow managed to make it to Final Boss Level Mike Tyson, he knocked you out with one punch, because those bitches in the Nintendo Boxing Association or whatever didn't bother to set up weight divisions.

Did I Beat It as a Kid? No. I could get to Mike but I could never beat him. If you were to argue that Mike Tyson on Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! helped sear racism into the heads of a generation, you probably wouldn't be entirely wrong. Incidentally, if you were to argue that Mike Tyson in real life helped do that, too, you probably wouldn't be entirely wrong there either.

Did I Beat It as an Adult? Yes. Fuck yes. I've never had a better moment, other than the whole Power Glove Sex thing. And the best part: the unraveling. Mike, for all his power, is on a set punching algorithm or something. He starts the fights with a storm of his mega-punches (the ones that automatically knock you out), but it's always in the same pattern. He always punches at 0:06 on the clock, 0:11, 0:17, and then in five/six second intervals from there. So long as you don't try to punch him, he follows that pattern. He does it for a little more than a minute and a half. After he gets through throwing those, you have the rest of the round to tag him without fear of total annihilation. When I finally beat him (it probably took a good 40 tries), I jumped up and shouted, "HAHA, YOU FUCKING BITCH!" I'm sure real-life Mike Tyson would've appreciated the candor.

A Grown-Ass Man's Guide To Super-Hard Old Nintendo Games

Top Gun

The point of this game is to piss you off. Fuck this game.

Did I Beat It as a Kid? No.

Did I Beat It as an Adult? No. Not even close. Fuck this game. I couldn't even get past the first training. Have you ever even tried to land on the aircraft carrier? I threw this shit in the trash after 20 minutes. When you see Tom Cruise, tell him I said I'm glad Goose died in the movie.

A Grown-Ass Man's Guide To Super-Hard Old Nintendo Games

Contra

The point of this game to run around and shoot things. If you get hit once, you die.

Did I Beat It as a Kid? Yes, but only with the 30-lives cheat code so famous we named a whole video-game column after it.

Did I Beat It as an Adult? Shutupihateyou.

No. No, I didn't beat this game. You can't beat it without cheating. You can barely beat it WITH cheating. I did cuss a lot while playing it, though. The best: I was sitting in the living room playing while the twins were upstairs and the baby was wandering around looking for things to stick in the wall sockets. I kept losing, so I kept shouting "bitch" this and "bitch" that. I probably did that for a good five or six minutes. And then the baby, my beautiful little son, starting blurting out, "BISH! BISH!" over and over again. Babies are so dope, man.

A Grown-Ass Man's Guide To Super-Hard Old Nintendo Games

Battletoads

The point of this game is you're an alien toad that can walk and grab things, and so you walk around grabbing things and fighting. It's like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, pretty much by design.

Did I Beat It as a Kid? Nah.

Did I Beat It as an Adult? Nope. Everyone was talking hella bad about someone called the Dark Queen, but I didn't get to her. I couldn't get past the hoverboard level (you gotta ride this thing that's like a jet ski but not really a jet ski, and you gotta jump and dodge and whatnot). That's the same level I remember losing on as a kid. It's been 25 years and I still haven't figured that shit out*. My sons couldn't get past it either. Failure is our family legacy.

*Really, I think it's an unbreakable code. I'm not convinced that the level doesn't just go on forever and ever.

A Grown-Ass Man's Guide To Super-Hard Old Nintendo Games

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The point of this game is to make you feel like an asshole. I can't imagine that I've ever been madder at anything than I was playing this.

Did I Beat It as a Kid? Bro, get real.

Did I Beat It as an Adult? BRO, GET REAL.

The water level. Just way too heavy. I actually got past it a few times, but not without sacrificing no less than two turtles each time. (I always started with Raphael. He was always the first one to go. He was a total chump, and his weapon was hella weak. He had the sais, man. THE SAIS. He couldn't throw them shits or anything. You basically gotta be standing right next to the dude you're trying to avoid to use them, which is the dumbest way to design a weapon.)

There are these people that record themselves beating these old Nintendo games and then upload it to YouTube. There's a guy who beat the Ninja Turtles game in 25 minutes and didn't lose any turtles or even get hit more than twice (the electric seaweed from the water level got him). I watched the whole entire video. It was amazing. That guy, whoever he is, that guy needs to be in charge of shit. He gets things done. Iggy Azalea would've never happened if this Ninja Turtles fellow was running things. That's true and real.

Image by Sam Woolley.

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