To All the Game Systems I’ve Loved Before

I was born in 1974, so I quite literally grew up with video games. They’ve always been important to me, and other than reading books and comics, I suppose I’ve spent more time playing video games in my life than any of my other hobbies.

I thought it might be fun to provide a sort of timeline of the systems I’ve owned through the years. As a collector, I’ve tried to hunt down copies of each system, and for the most part I’ve succeeded. Astute readers might notice the obvious holes in my experience, like Sega’s Master System or Genesis. While these systems were never in my own home, I spent many hours playing my aunt’s Genesis (Altered Beast FTW).

Regarding the title of this post, my apologies to Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson. My dad played so much country music that some songs are still stuck in my head nearly four decades later!

1982: Atari 2600

The Atari 2600 was the very first gaming console we had in my family. Probably more than any other system we ever had, it was one that the whole family got in on playing. We had a regular 2600 in the early 80s, and a 2600 Jr. in the late 80s (a long story best saved for another time). I’m not sure what happened to the original, but I recall giving the Jr. to some family friends when we got an NES.

I got an Atari Flashback 2 about fifteen years ago, and it was a big hit with my kids. Despite the killer list of games on that system, I missed the tangible cartridge experience. When I learned about the Retron ’77, which promised ease of connection to an HDTV and was compatible with cartridges, I couldn’t resist purchasing one. For the most part I am pleased with the Retron ’77, but it seems to dislike paddle controllers, so I kept my eyes out for a real 2600. Finally, I got a great deal on a true Atari 2600 several years ago, and I’ve really enjoyed collecting games for the system.

1984: Texas Instruments TI-99/4a

The next game system I owned when I was a kid was probably the most unusual one on this list because it was also my first computer! I’m referring to the classic Texas Instruments TI-99/4a. As I posted a while back, I am now the proud owner of one of these beauties. The seller modded the system with composite output to make it easier to connect to a TV. Though I generally remember this system as the one I learned to program on, it saw plenty of use in playing games. I have particularly fond memories of playing Parsec and The Attack. And of course I typed in games printed in computer magazines and stored them on cassette tape, which sounds very odd now but was definitely a thing back in the day. The TI-99/4a counts as the second gaming system we ever owned. I’m beyond thrilled to own one again.

1988: Nintendo Entertainment System

Our family’s third video game system came in 1988 when we got a Nintendo Entertainment System. Ours came with both Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. As I was in my early teenage years during this time, and at the height of my D&D and fantasy obsession, I mostly used the NES to play RPGs like Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior. I’ve also got flashbacks to the incredible difficulty of some of the NES games, particularly the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! The NES I own now was a relatively recent pickup, found at a game store swap meet perhaps five or six years ago.

1992: Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Fast forward four years, and we move to my fourth game system. This wasn’t a family purchase, but rather one I used my own money on. In the summer of 1992, I had graduated high school and got my first job. My first paycheck went towards a brand new TV, my second scored me a Super Nintendo, and the third paycheck covered a copy of Street Fighter 2 and a gigantic arcade style controller for my SNES. This might be the game system I played the most, if you don’t count the PC. The SNES I own now, with most of the handful of games for it, was picked up at a garage sale going on twenty some years ago. The SNES remains one of my preferred consoles to this day.

1993/4: SEGA Game Gear

Not too long after I got the Super Nintendo, my brother and I combined our Christmas wish list one year and got a Sega Game Gear. It was our first handheld system. I loved the feel of the system in my hand, though the battery life was horrible. Since I had a job, I went overboard purchasing all the bells and whistles, including a TV tuner, portable battery pack, and dozens of games. During the pandemic lockdown, I found a Game Gear on Facebook marketplace and I’ve really enjoyed playing on one again.

1998: Nintendo 64

During the mid to late 90s, I mainly gamed on the PC. But when I began dating my wife in 1998 we purchased a Jungle Green Nintendo 64. I have many great memories with this system, particularly playing Gauntlet Legends together with my son. I’m not sure what happened to that glorious translucent green system, but I found a battered standard edition console about twelve years ago on Craigslist. A few years ago, a friend gave me his N64 and several games, and these are in far better condition than the one I previously had. I gave the extra console to my now-adult son and he’s collecting a few games for it now, too. Believe me: Mario Kart 64 is STILL great at parties!

1999: Game Boy Color

After stupidly selling my Game Gear at Gamestop at some point, I didn’t have another handheld system again until the Game Boy Color in 1999. I purchased one as a wedding gift for myself and played Pokemon Red on the beach during our honeymoon. (Yes, my wife is patient and long-suffering.) During the pandemic I purchased a fancy backlit Atomic Purple GBC, and enjoyed playing through Pokemon Red and Silver once again.

2001: Game Boy Advance

2003: Game Boy Advance SP

When the Game Boy Advance came out, I was an early adopter. What a wonderful handheld system that was (and still is)! Some of my favorite games of all time were released on the GBA: Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, Pokemon Ruby, and Metroid Fusion. When the Game Boy Advance SP came out, we got one, and with two systems, the boys and I could link up for trades or multiplayer. Over the past year or two, I obtained an original GBA and an SP, both with upgraded backlit screens that make them incredibly nice to play.

That takes us up to the past twenty years or so, which feels like a good place to stop. As you can tell, I’m very much a Nintendo fanboy, and love for their systems has continued to this day. Perhaps in the future, I’ll take a look at the rest of the game systems I’ve had, all the way up until the current generation, where I somehow have a PS5, an Xbox Series X, and a Nintendo Switch, but still consider myself a casual gamer…


  1. Interesting stuff mate, as I have twenty years on you I never got into video games, probably just as well as I would have got sucked in and never got to do anything else! HA HA !

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