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The beginning of my Contra review partially tells how I became interested in getting an NES. I was also interested in videogames nearly as long as I can remember (Pac-Man and Galaga were released when I was 3, which is when I would have first played them) and so was naturally disposed towards wanting my own home system. I remember seeing NES commercials, which were pretty weird, but still intrigued me. A really big factor in my interest was a really good friend that I talked with regularly: He had an NES, and often told me what it, and the games he was playing, were like.

After I knew I wanted an NES, I had to save up for it. I had no allowance, and, being a child, no job. What I could do was save the $5 I might get from relatives for holidays, find change on the ground, and do lots of yardwork for money, and, of course, save every penny I got towards buying my NES.

Eventually, I had around $85 saved up. The NES Action set cost around $100, plus tax. I counted my money repeatedly - which looked like a huge wad to me back then, and took quite a long time to count because I had around $5 in loose change, and even the cash was almost all small bills - until I convinced myself that I needed exactly $20 more to afford an NES, plus cover taxes. At the time, my mother was seeing someone who worked as some sort of repo man. He was planning a big job, cleaning up some jewelry store which went out of buisiness. He told me if I went there and worked with him that day, he would pay me the $20, and then take me to Children's Palace (a toy store that has since closed) to pick up my NES. (This was a pretty good deal to me: I had some tight-wad relatives I helped by moving lumber from their back yard [which was huge, a couple of acres large, at least] to the front via wheelbarrow, which they then used to do some gardening crap or something. After several hours of work, I got paid all of 2 shiny quarters.)

Anyway, after the looooong day of working, we were finally done and went to Children's Palace to get my NES. The cashier was annoyed as hell when I took out my envelope filled to the bursting point with mostly one dollar bills, not to mention my other envelope filled with change, which included quite a bit of nickles, dimes and pennies. After counting it out several times, the cashier told me I was short by a penny (!). I thought I wouldn't get my NES, until the person I was with pointed out that the cashier made a mistake (which, I think, was that the NES cost $99.99 without tax, not $100) and I, in fact, had exactly the right amount of money.

It was so late when we got home I hardly had time to play it after hooking it up, but I made up for that by playing it ever since.

Final Fantasy 4
Final Fantasy was one of my favorite NES games, and one of the biggest reasons I was looking forward to the Super NES was the release of Final Fantasy 2 (which I may or may not have known at the time was really Final Fantasy 4). My friend (mentioned earlier) told me all about it and I knew I had to play it. I was also a subscriber to Nintendo Power at the time, and I read and reread their cover story of Final Fantasy 2.

I thought the best chance of playing it would be to have my grandmother rent it for me. She lived close to a video store which carried games, frequently rented movies when I'd visit, and could sometimes be persuaded into doing favors for her grandchildren (the probability of having my mother rent the game for me would be exactly zero).

It turned out that when I visited her, she would be going to a family reunion at a park near where she lived. I figured I could get her to rent Final Fantasy 2 for me if I went and "acted good." I had gone to family reunions before, and they were painfully, mercilessly boring - it was just a bunch of adults who stood around and talked about asinine crap noone could possibly be interested in and had nothing for children to do whatsoever - but I was desparate to play Final Fantasy 2.

When we left, I did manage to get stop by the rental place. I ran straight to the SNES racks and picked up Final Fantasy 2 and ran back to her and asked if I could rent it. She looked at the title, and, heaven help me, asked if it was a porno (apparently not realizing it wasn't even a video tape at all, but a game cart). I got her to rent it for me, though.

Because I'd only have it overnight, I wanted to play it while level building as little as possible (none, essentially). As a result, this was the only time I ever really had trouble against the 3 Magus Sisters in the Tower of Zot, and after getting there, I was determined to beat them without spending any time at all leveling up. I eventually did, but it took me a few hours. I later ran into the same trouble with Dr. Unne, which was were I had to give up - without beating him - before I returned the game.

By now, I knew I really wanted Final Fantasy 2 more than any other game, but, sadly, it was totally out of my financial range and would be for a long time, no matter how much I saved. So, I asked my sister, who had a job then, if she could get it for me for Christmas.

Christmas rolled around, my sister visited, and, indeed, when I unwrapped her present, it was Final Fantasy 2! I was the happiest boy in the world!

Except that my sister, who had so generously given me that wonderful present, was sick, and was lying around incapacited most of the day.

That night, around midnight, I woke up and felt my stomache rumble a little bit. I tried to go back to sleep, but was unable to. After a few minutes of lying in bed awake, I knew I was about to throw up. I quickly ran downstairs and threw up most of what I ate for Christmas dinner. After sitting down, trying to relax for several minutes, I ran back into the bathroom and threw up the rest of it. For the next 16 hours, I threw up pretty regularly on a half hour basis. Because my stomach was nearly empty after the first two attacks, I drank quite a bit of water after each attack, and threw it all up next time. At least by then I was throwing up water and not digested food, so it didn't feel as disguisting coming up. After that I went nearly a decade before throwing up again.

After having my body purged by illness, the family was still sick, so we spent much of the next day lying in bed. The day after that, I was able to resume playing Final Fantasy 2.