Monday Memories: AOL Instant Messenger

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday, everyone!

We’re going back to the past in regards to today’s post. AOL’s instant messenger was alive from May 1997 to December 2017, and I remember using it so often to chat with friends after school during our early high school years.

AOL | Video Games | Gaming | Super Smash Bros. | Movies | RPG | Role Play | Doublexjump.com

Video games have always been a major source of inspiration for me. I started writing due to the Legend of Zelda. I started drawing due to Pokemon. Then there was a good friend and the Super Smash Bros. franchise helping me discover my passion of storytelling through the use of AOL instant messenger.

A couple of weeks ago, I was hanging out in Jett’s Stardew Valley stream and the chat went off on a tangent about AOL instant messenger and reminiscing about the good ol’ days of the Internet. Back near the end of middle school and for a couple of years in high school, my best friend and I tended to end our nights after homework chatting with each other about our school classes.

Somehow those AIM chats also evolved into role-playing with my friend taking on the roles of some of her favorite movie characters — like Professor Snape from Harry Potter and James Bond — and me playing some favorite video game characters, such as a multitude of fighters from Super Smash Bros. Melee, since that was the main game we played at the time.

That was actually the “setting” of our game. This sounds ridiculous as I type it out, but our AIM chat room was a “common room” set in between my friend’s boarding house for her favorite movie characters and the Super Smash Bros. manor. Not only would my friend and I talk, but we’d use different colored text to indicate what other characters were talking as well. We even had imaginary pets join our houses at some point because apparently we didn’t have enough characters clamoring for our attention.

With these characters, we went on adventures, crafting stories such as heading to a wedding venue for a couple of movie characters to get hitched to going to Hyrule to help defeat Dark Link. Dark Link in turn ended up being invited to the Smash Mansion, partnering with one of my original characters and turning into a pair of character archetypes that I use all the time in my novels now.

Creating these stories with each other helped us navigate through the middle school and high school transitions, and it was just a lot of fun to goof off with each other like that and virtually explore unknown worlds together.

Unfortunately, during the last couple of years of high school, our AIM conversations started to fizzle out with the need for jobs and filling out college applications. We grew up and moved on from our joint stories, but I still have the majority of our AIM conversations saved in an old flash drive. It’s nice to go back for a little spark of inspiration or just to reminisce again.

Do you remember AOL Instant Messenger? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Monday Memories: Game Start

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday, everyone!

Welcome to the first Monday of 2020! I’m being a little nostalgic today, mostly due to the new year and the fact that my birthday is coming up. I started thinking about where my love of gaming all began.

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I’m going to be 30 years old this year, at the end of the month, actually. I’ve literally grown up with the internet and video games before me, and I was thinking about when it all started. While I never thought I would outgrow video games, I never expected them to take as much of a priority in my life as they do now.

I’m certain no one in my family thought that, least of all my uncle that mainly introduced me to gaming. Poor Uncle Ricky enjoyed his video games, mostly around the SNES and Nintendo 64 era, and he was probably amused when I used to watch him play games like Super Mario RPG and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. He probably regretted introducing me to gaming when I used to bother him to play, particularly when I would “accidentally” wake him up during his napping for his third-shift at his current job.

(Eight-year-old me thought I was being clever, sneaking up to his room to see if he was awake, but making just enough noise so he’d stir.)

I did learn patience, of course, tending to wait until he was actually awake to play until his job and schedule changed. He wasn’t at my grandparents’ house during the usual hours I was there as often and, like most young men, he had a social life. My mother says I was a bit put off when he started getting serious with my now-aunt. Suddenly there was someone else vying for his attention and supposedly I wasn’t thrilled.

I never hated my aunt, obviously, but my older sister didn’t play many games and Rachel wasn’t old enough to have a steady grip on the controllers just yet.

It was around that time, though, that my uncle gave me the Super Mario RPG game, encouraging me to give it a try on my own. There were parts of the game that I was always nervous to try, restarting the game over every time I reached those certain parts until I learned to have the courage to push past those obstacles, and I try to apply that knowledge, that proud feeling of achievement that little-me had when I beat that game on my own.

He let me play Ocarina of Time at my grandparents house, using his nearly complete file so I could spend my time riding Epona through the vast (to child-me) Hyrule Field. Because of that, I went from the Hyrule Field on the N64 to Breath of the Wild’s expansive world on the Nintendo Switch, and I’m not slowing down anytime soon.

Due to my birthday coming up, the fact that gaming has been a major part of my life is cemented in my mind. Unlike video games, this is my one life, and I’m glad I started down the path I’m on. Being a gamer has done nothing but bring positivity to my life, and it’s only helping me further with my creative pursuits.

Who’d have thought it would all start with me being a little nudge-of-a-child and bothering my uncle to play “the Mario game with the guy in the cool cape?”

What started you on your gamer journey? Are you grateful for that start? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Monday Memories: The Electric Tale of Pikachu

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday, everyone!

With Pokemon Sword and Shield came the ability to have Pokemon Dynamax in certain battles in the game. Playing Sword and Shield, though, made me feel as if I’ve seen a Dynamax Pokemon long before the Galar region existed…

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We’ve been playing a lot of Pokemon Sword and Shield lately, which probably isn’t too surprising to those who know us. The newest gimmick, or form of battling, in those games involves Dynamaxing your Pokemon. Dynamax Pokemon are giant versions of themselves with increased HP and other stats for a few turns.

It took a little while, but eventually I remembered another, much earlier instance of a “Dynamaxed Pokemon.”

Pokemon, being the ginormous franchise it is, has a plethora of other mediums to reach the masses. Aside from video games and television shows, Pokemon also has a few different comic book and manga adaptations. I remember having a couple of sets of Pokemon comics and, after playing Sword for a while, recalled one such comic having a giant Haunter.

Doing some research, I found the comic adaptation. Called The Electric Tale of Pikachu, it was a four-volume Japanese manga translated for the west by VIZ Media (which, apparently, is the much cleaner version of the manga for international and younger audiences) that loosely followed the anime series up through the Orange Islands League. While I don’t believe we had the entire collection, we had enough of it for me to remember the giant Haunter.

300px-Black_FogNicknamed the Black Fog, this giant Haunter killed many — humans and Pokemon alike — by sucking out their souls using Dream Eater. In the comic’s timeline, Sabrina is the latest victim, falling unconscious when she attempts to defeat the beast after it began terrorizing Saffron City. The comic then depicts Ash, Brock, and a handful of other volunteers heading to the Haunter’s lair in order to battle it and try to capture it with a specially-made, enlarged pokeball. The Haunter used Explosion to escape the large pokeball, during which brings its health to nearly zero, weakening it enough to use a regular pokeball. However, when Ash attempts to throw an Ultra Ball at the giant Pokemon, the Haunter uses Self-Destruct, opting to die rather than be caught.

While I remembered the basic story line from when I read it as a kid, I honestly didn’t realize the depth of the story at that time. Before doing more research on it, I thought that the Haunter was caught at the end.

I honestly don’t believe I would have remembered this manga adaptation if Pokemon Sword and Shield did not have Dynamax Pokemon. The similarities are remarkable — the sheer size and power of the Pokemon, Haunter having a lair while Dynamax Pokemon have dens, having a team to bring down the HP of the Pokemon, enlarged pokeballs to catch the creatures — and I’m curious if it’s a coincidence or if someone recalled Black Fog from a comic back in the 90s.

Have you ever read the Electric Tale of Pikachu? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Monday Memories: Legend of Zelda Fanfiction

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday, everyone!

It’s NaNoWriMo — or National Novel Writing Month — an event that happens every November where writers attempt to write 50k words of a new story. Spending time on my novels reminds me of my old fanfiction that got me into writing in the first place.

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Anyone remember FanFiction.net? It still exists, of course, but I don’t hear too much about it as often as I hear about Archive of Our Own nowadays. FanFiction was one of the first writing sites that I joined, mainly so I could share some Legend of Zelda stories that I had created.

I was fourteen years old back then… damn.

If anyone’s curious, this was my FanFiction profile, last updated nine years ago today. Back then, we didn’t want our actual names on the Internet — which is vastly different from today, isn’t it? — so I merely went by “Krista” and Rachel went by “Sapphire.” The profile picture of Sheik was an old sketch of mine, as well. The solitary story that’s still up there hasn’t been updated in over ten and I still have the composition notebook that has the draft of the story.

As awful as my stories were sixteen years ago, they helped me to start this creative journey and allowed me to join my love of gaming with a newfound love of writing. The stories and characters in my favorite franchises are what keep me playing, and I discovered an outlet that let me stay in those worlds even after the credits rolled when I finished a game.

Looking back on that story at this point, I am both pleased with myself and cringe at the old writing. I’ve improved so much from ten years ago. And it all started due to me wanting to stay in the Legend of Zelda world past the end of Ocarina of Time.

Ever read fanfiction? What has been your favorite site to do so? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Monday Memories: New Genres

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

Have you ever thought of how you were introduced to certain game franchises that you continue to play today? Or how they may have shaped your gaming preferences over the years? That’s what this Monday Memories is about.

Video Games | Genres | Simulation | Sims | The Sims | Sims 2 | Doublexjump.com

While I don’t remember how exactly we got on the topic of Sims 2, one of my managers from a previous job — my job that I had probably about ten years ago now — mentioned how she had nearly every Sims 2 expansion at the time. I had heard of the games but never played them and she offered to let me borrow them.

Color me surprised when she came into our next shared shift with a giant garbage bag filled with these boxes of expansion packs that had about two to four CDs worth of programming in them. I cannot remember how long it took me to install every CD that she had onto my computer, using the key codes to ensure that they were legitimate copies and all that fun stuff. Pretty sure I did not have enough time to actually play the game that day before everything was installed!

Once I did start playing the game, I was hooked. Creating your own characters, building houses, and essentially playing God was amazing. Before Sims 2, I had never really played many simulation games. Really, the games I mostly played were RPGs or adventures with a bit of platforming thrown in here and there. Not having a definitive story in a game was a foreign concept to me, as most of my games have end goals. Some weren’t as definite, no — such as the difference between Ocarina of Time’s endgame to, say, Harvest Moon games were the goal is simply to have a thriving farm — but there was always something to reach for in them.

Sims 2 basically threw me a digital dollhouse, complete with cheats and mods crafted by brilliant people, and said, “Have at it.”

Sims 3 eventually came along and I jumped on it, being just as much in awe — if not more than — of it as I was of the Sims 2, and Sims 4 has been great fun as well. The simulation genre of games has evolved into one of my favorites, with me enjoying games such as Game Dev Tycoon and Tomodachi Life. I’ve even gained more of an appreciation for the Animal Crossing franchise. Harvest Moon games are arguably simulation games as well, yet the later ones became gimmicky enough with quests and stipulations to further the gameplay that the Sims series was refreshing.

It also went hand-in-hand with my writing. In the Sims series, I’ve always been able to create my own characters with personalities and quirks, watching them react to each other and giving me ideas on how the characters can interact in my stories can be insightful to my writing.

To think, this love of a video game genre started with my manager delivering them all to me in a garbage bag.

What game started an appreciation of a new genre for you? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Monday Memories: Storybook Weaver

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

Going down Memory Lane again this week with another Monday Memories. This time, it’s about an old game that has helped shaped my being even through today.

Monday Memories: Storybook Weaver | Video Games | Windows | PC Games | Memories | Storybook Weaver | Doublexjump.com

If you really know me, you’d know my loves are chocolate, animals, video games, and writing. It was actually video games — Legend of Zelda, to be exact — that inspired me to start writing. I still have my original Legend of Zelda fanfiction notebooks tucked away. They exist solely to prove to myself how much I’ve improved in writing over the years.

Yet, I recently remembered another game that had prompted my love of writing even before those old fanfictions became a thing. Way back in 1994, a game called Storybook Weaver was published for Windows and Mac computers. This game allowed you to create a story with pictures. The pre-made backgrounds and characters were available for the top half of the “page,” while the bottom half of the page was space for you to type your enticing tale.

My stories tended to be about three sisters who, of course, were based off of my sisters and myself. Our old dog Casey, an English springer spaniel, also tended to have starring roles in these stories. There were a plethora of sprites available to represent us all, including seasonal sprites in case you needed to have a snowy scene in your story.

Pretty sure part of my favorite aspect of the game was just imagining the pictures, creating my dream bedroom with the sprites while imagining a story to go along with it. Thinking on it, Storybook Weaver may have also been partly responsible for me dipping my toes into drawing.

Nowadays, my love of writing and video games are tied into this blog, but my writing also shines through my stuffed physical notebooks and digital documents folders. I have a handful of first drafts of novels complete and I’m focusing on actually getting better at editing and rewriting my stories to, hopefully, publish them — either online or, perhaps, in a more traditional sense — one day.

Never would have thought a little educational game from the 90s would have helped foster creativity in my life.

What game from your childhood has directly influenced you today? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Monday Memories: Ace Up My Sleeve

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

Technically, this memory is only about three years old. This post is a bit more personal and it took me a little too long to write and decide to share it. However, I believe it’s an important topic and it is certainly something that has shaped who I am today. 

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I am passionate about representation in media, obviously including video games. Gender, race, and especially sexuality need to be represented so they are normalized as much in media as they are in the real world.

The success of movies like Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel testify to the need of representation. The same goes for the later Pokemon and Harvest Moon games that allow female and darker skinned avatars. One of Stardew Valley’s biggest selling points was that your avatar could marry any love interest despite their gender.

It was due to a video game that I realized my sexuality.

Three years ago, a visual novel dating sim featuring the popular YouTubers from the groups Normal Boots and Hidden Block was released. Considering that the two groups were some of our favorite content creators — and the ones who inspired us to talk and share more of our love of gaming — we were excited about the game, and really enjoyed its the writing, art, and music.

One of the characters in the game is gay. He states it after the female avatar asks him to go to a festival with her. Literally, he says, “You do know that I’m gay, right?” complete with the music cutting out with a record scratch sound effect. The character is a fan favorite and was prominent in the fandom through art and stories.

It was through this fandom that I found out about asexuality, the absence of feeling sexual attraction.

I was in my mid-twenties and had never heard of this sexuality. Throughout high school, I’ve had friends and acquaintances who had come out as lesbian or bisexual, and we were always supportive of each other. I had believed I was completely straight, but as I got older, I realized I wasn’t looking at men the same way my friends were. They had… interesting stories from their college campuses about being with another and I couldn’t for the life of me see what the appeal was. I had fallen for a couple of men throughout my lifetime, ones that were easy on the eyes and made me laugh, but I had no interest in any more physical acts.

Then Asagao Academy came out, I met some fellow fans online, specifically Tumblr, and the representation of a positive LGBT+ character helped so many teenagers and young adults, people who had grown up without seeing much of anything other than the “default” straight way to be. Including me.

One day, someone I followed mentioned that she believed she was asexual. I was surprised at how relieved I was from the epiphany I had that the word asexuality fit me. It was closure that I never knew I needed.

I am a heteromantic asexual.

Asexuality is still a fairly new concept — rather, new in the sense that it is being talked more about — but it has gained rapid support within the past couple of decades. Despite this, asexuals still get flak both from the LGBT+ community — for wishing to be “special” or, especially in a heteromantic ace’s case, “basically straight” — and straights who are not allies. We’re only about one percent of the population, and it wasn’t until 2013 that asexuality was excluded as a mental illness in the DSM.

I spend my time advocating for representation in media and by being available and open to those who may need the support of a friend. I’ve connected with a handful of others online, ones who have reached out because they took a chance from seeing my LBGT+ positivity posts. I’ve spoken to fellow aces, transgender people trying to figure themselves out, and those who merely needed a stranger to listen as they navigated through their own labels. Most, if not all, of them are teens, and I hope that I can help just a little.

Because, while my memories of going through puberty consist of feeling like I was missing a puzzle piece, we should be moving forward with representation. There is no default hero, and all media — video games included — should showcase that. Strides are being taken, but it will still be a while before we’re all on equal footing. No one should have to grow up without being represented as the hero.

(Besides, think of all the years I spent unable to make asexual puns. All of those times I could have told people that I have an ace up my sleeve… because it’s me. I am the ace.)

Are there any video games that caused you have a revelation about yourself? Anything in particular that you would like to collect? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Monday Memories: Red, Blue, and Yellow

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

Today brings us back with another Monday Memories, this one dedicated to the Gameboy Color Pokemon games: Red, Blue, and Yellow. These games were introduced to me by a couple of close friends of mine from a couple of decades ago…

Kris_MMredblueyellow

Way back in elementary school, I was friends with a pair of twins.

Hanging out at their house, they had a Nintendo 64 hooked up to a little television in their parents’ bedroom. Thinking back on it now, I wonder if the parents had the console there due to being sure the kids wouldn’t spend too much time playing, but I also don’t remember them having any other television. That could also be due to our days — when not playing video games — being spent playing school, pool days in the summer, walking their dog, but I digress.

It was due to these friends that I was introduced to games such as Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, and Pokemon Snap, along with Pokemon Red and Blue for the Gameboy Color. I was just beginning to get interested in Pokemon, not really understanding the games themselves, but knowing that there was a cartoon and fun little cards that apparently had more of a purpose than just being pretty. I got suckered into the casual fun of taking pictures of Pokemon in Pokemon Snap and started asking for a Gameboy Color from the Easter Bunny with the Pokemon games.

The next time I had a play date with the twins, I just remember excitedly showing up at their house with my own copy of the games and Prima’s Official Strategy Guide for Pokemon Yellow. My friends were impressed, claiming that the Pokemon Yellow version was the “rarer” game (which, years later, doesn’t make sense but, hey, we were in elementary school). We spent much of that day with each of us on our respective Gameboy Colors, with each twin playing either Red or Blue and me playing Yellow.

While I unfortunately haven’t been in touch with these old friends in years — since they moved away before we even reached middle school — I do credit them as part of the reason why I enjoyed the Let’s Go titles when they came out for the Nintendo Switch. The nostalgia alone of seeing and hearing Pikachu by my character’s side throws me back to those times when I was sandwiched between my friends on the floor of their living room as we cheered each other on in battles.

I do wonder occasionally how they are doing. I hope they are doing well and, maybe, if they also have the Let’s Go Pokemon titles that they’re marveling at the evolution (pun intended) of the games as well as share this bittersweet feeling about a dissipating friendship as I do.

Do you have any old friends that you connected with over video games that you may not see as much now? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

Save the date! We’re doing a special Twitch Stream to celebrate the Nintendo Switch! You can learn more about it here.

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Monday Memories: Video Game Nights

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

It’s a holiday where we are, and we’re hunkered down at home due to snow blanketing the ground outside. It was the perfect weekend to just relax at home with some hot chocolate and good video games.

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When I first started gaming, I mainly played single-player games. Granted, I think back in the early 90s, when many consoles only came with two controllers, many of the games I picked up were only single-player. Aside from that reason, it was also because I was the main gamer in my family. I grew up watching my uncle play, but we didn’t play as much together when I started playing myself (mainly because, ya know, we lived in different houses and he was an adult with things like a job and taxes and probably some sort of social life that I never saw). There was some games I was able to rope my father into playing once in a while, and I remember watching my older sister play Super Mario Bros. occasionally but, until Rachel came along and was old enough to comprehend video games, I was on my own.

Thank God for Rachel, because if she didn’t get interested in video games, I don’t know if I would have continued playing. I adored the stories and the characters that I saved the world with when playing games, but it kind of sucked coming back to the real world and having no one to talk to about how you slayed the final boss with an epic sword attack to the head.

The majority of my friends weren’t into video games, or at least not as much as I was. The only console one friend owned was a Nintendo 64 and she only had Majora’s Mask and Goldeneye, and I’m pretty sure she only had the latter because of her love of the James Bond franchise. The former helped her understand some of my gushing of the Legend of Zelda series. Another friend shared my love of Pokemon for a while in elementary and middle school. A third friend was into video games almost as much as me, but it wasn’t something we spoke about too often. Video games wasn’t much of a topic among my friends, and I kept it as my own little hobby.

Until the Nintendo GameCube came out.

It was 2001 and I was eleven. Rachel and I probably got the GameCube for Christmas that year, and one of its first homes was in the kitchen porch, hooked up to the house’s smallest television. The GameCube library was one of my favorites from Nintendo, with one definite notable favorite: Super Smash Bros. Melee. It was because of this game that “video game nights” became a staple in my friend group throughout middle school and high school.

Everyone would show up at our house and take over the basement where the GameCube would temporarily be located and hooked up to the big screen television (thanks, Dad, for giving up your “room!”), and we’d all proceed to kick each other’s asses in Super Smash Bros. Melee and, when it came out, Mario Kart Double Dash. Pizza and chocolate were our diets for the night, and Mom loved the fact that we were all staying put at home instead of getting into trouble elsewhere. Even later, when the Wii came out, that console’s Smash Bros. and Mario Kart had a lot of hours put into them, even as we were all growing a little older.

I haven’t played video games with any of them since we left high school.

But remember that friend who only had the N64 with Goldeneye and Majora’s Mask? A couple of Christmases ago, she bought her husband a refurbished Wii with the sole purpose of getting Super Smash Bros. because of those video game nights at my house so many years ago, because of those memories.

I definitely miss those times, but video game technology has grown so much since I first became a gamer. While I may not be playing locally with old school friends any longer, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and game consoles these days, I am able to play with new friends in entirely different countries and that’s pretty damn awesome. Video games have become so much more than a hobby — it’s been the common thread between many wonderful friendships, both old and new, throughout the years.

Did you play a lot of video games with old friends? Did the games bring you closer? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around

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Monday Memories: Game Boy Advance

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday, everyone!

The Nintendo Switch and the 2DS XL are our current go-to consoles when it comes to playing games lately. Recently, however, I found my old Game Boy Advance during a cleaning spree, and I remember how much I used the old handheld…

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The Game Boy Advance was released in 2001 and I loved using mine over my Game Boy Color. The landscape screen for the games made it seem like the screen was so much bigger and I remember having the little worm light adapter hovering over the screen to make it brighter. The backward compatibility for Game Boy Color games was an added bonus.

I went through so many pairs of AA batteries when playing my Game Boy Advance, wearing it down while playing favorites like the Pokemon series, particularly Emerald, Sonic the Hedgehog games, Harvest Moon, and Fire Emblem. It was with the Game Boy Advance that I started my love affair with the Harvest Moon and Fire Emblem franchises.

Besides being home to some of my favorite old games, the Game Boy Advance was used quite often when Rachel and I were playing The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures for the GameCube. With the link cable to hook up the Advance to the console, Rachel and I had some awesome adventures playing a co-op Legend of Zelda. More often than not, I was diving forward to meet the enemies while Rachel was trailing along, picking up all the treasure I would leave behind. It was a good system.

The wireless adapter that came with Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen was also a treat, granting us a Union Room that allowed easy trading and battling. Granted, Rachel and I tended to be the only ones in said Union Room, but it was definitely easier than the link cables we had for the Game Boy Colors when it came to trading and showing off our teams to one another.

I found my old Game Boy Advance buried in one of my old desk drawers, with the cover to the batteries being gone and the batteries themselves all corroded. For the heck of it, I cleaned out the dead batteries and tried putting fresh ones in, but to no avail. The poor console was officially dead. Still, it was nice finding it, especially since I thought it got caught in the basement flood years ago (pretty sure that’s what happened to my Game Boy Color!).

Did you have a Game Boy Advance? What was your favorite older handheld console?

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