I’ve never been what someone would call a “gamer” by any stretch of the imagination. But, I’ve always loved video games. Since I was a kid, certain consoles hold a very special place in my memories – from our first Atari to the Nintendo. Nowadays, our current home is chock full of gadgetry, from Playstation to the Nintendo Wii, and though I veer more towards things like Wii Fit nowadays, I’m amazed at how far the technology has come.
I never realized how gaming was fully entrenched in the recesses of my memory until we got some “vintage” Nintendo games to play on our Wii system. We downloaded Super Mario Bros 3, which was the game I lost myself in as a teenager. From the minute we loaded up the game and the controller was back in my hand, it was as if a gamer-ghost from the past took over. Motor memory won and my body remembered every jump, every secret coin. I’m proud to say I smoked Mr. Dressed that night, much to his despair…
Even now, though I’m less of a player and more of an observer, one of my favorite things is to watch Mr. Dressed play one of his epic Indiana-Jones style games. I got completely lost in The Last of Us, to the point where I begged him to play it every evening so I could see how the storyline played out (If you haven’t played it, seriously do. Seriously).
So, when he told me a vintage video game museum had opened up in Perth, The Nostalgia Box, I was excited to don a favorite vintage dress from Oh Henry, embrace the nostalgia, and learn a bit about the gaming systems that started it all….
The Nostalgia Box is located at 16 Aberdeen Street in Northbridge and is (by their own admission) a crash course in the history of gaming. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I think imagined a small room with a few consoles that I would remember from my childhood. I figured Mr. Dressed would have a quick look, laugh at how far technology had come, and then scoot off for some fro yo. More of a novelty than an experience.
I was seriously wrong. The Nostalgia Box is set up like a proper, lovingly curated museum – there’s a wide room that walks you through the history of the personal game console, from the the 1970’s through to the 2000’s. There’s also a separate gaming area, where you can play some of your old favorites – Pong, Space Invaders, Pac Man, Crash Bandicoot and many others. And you end in the gift shop, where you can take home a few memories of your youth, indulge in a few novelty coffee mugs or nerdy hats, and snap a photo with appropriately game-themed props. Needless to say, Mr. D and I lost about two hours getting lost in the history and getting lost in the fun.
The museum is setup to walk you through the entire timeline of gaming systems, starting with the Magnavox Odyssey, which was the first ever released home video game console in 1972. They only sold about 20,000 units of the system, and was not considered a success by any stretch of the imagination, but this paved the way for all of the video game systems to come.
We then weaved through several familiar systems – including the Atari 2600, which was the first video game console to really explode in the marketplace thanks to Space Invaders. Atari was actually the first gaming system I remember owning (though I think we had a later model like the 7800, which wasn’t released until 1986. Showing my age yet?). I have so many fond memories of going blind playing Pole Position and Joust with my sister on our Atari, sitting as close to the tv as humanly possible, much to my mom’s chagrin….
We traveled through an incredible collection, with favorites like the Intellivision (which I never had but Mr. Dressed did) and Nintendo (released in 1983). I also met more than a few new faces, including the Telstar Colortron (1978) and the Vertex (1983). Some had keypads, some had joysticks, some came with rifle accessories or steering wheels (or even a short-lived Robotic Operating Buddy, in the case of NES), but all were hoping to dominate the marketplace of home gaming.
A few fun facts I learned from my journey through gaming evolution:
- Atari means “to hit the target” in Japanese. I think they can call that a success…
- Consumers were promised that Intellivision was going to release a keyboard that could turn your television into a home computer. This was never released, which caused an uproar amongst the public. There ended up being so many complaints to the FTC that Mattel was forced to make the keyboard available to a select few… (power of the people!)
- There were a LOT more home video game consoles than I ever realized. Some were just spectacular flops.
- Pac Man, developed by Namco in 1980, was originally supposed to be called Puck Man, which references his puck-like shape. But, they cottoned that high school vandals might change a single choice letter and branding execs changed his name right quick.
- The Nintendo was originally called the Famicom, which is short for Family Computer.
- Before Sony released the first Playstation, they actually worked together with Nintendo on a cd-rom add-on for the Super NES. They pretty much came to an agreement (to the extent that they made 100+ prototypes, called the “Play Station”). Sony announced the collaboration at Consumer Electronics Show in 1991. But, right before contracts were signed, Nintendo pulled a fast one and announced they were partnering with Phillips instead. Sony ended up pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and released the first Playstation themselves, which ended up being insanely popular. Meanwhile, the NES cd-rom ad-on with Phillips was a fail that never came to fruition. There is no better revenge than success…
Needless to say, we had an amazing time. I’m a total nerd who just loves learning, but I really appreciated such an incredibly curated collection of vintage gaming consoles (including a lot of original boxes, which was really impressive.) It also was a great opportunity for the Mr. and I to wander around Perth a bit – sometimes you can live in a city so long, you forget all that it has to offer.
If you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking out The Nostalgia Box and taking a stroll down memory lane. It’s not a free outing – admission is $15 for adults and $10 children (aged 10-15) and there is a Family Fare of $45 (2 adults 2 children) – But in my opinion, it was totally worth it for a really interesting and educational afternoon.
I love discovering lesser known places in the city I live – it serves as a constant reminder that no matter how long you’ve lived somewhere, there will always be new places to explore. And no matter how you categorize yourself – nerdy, cool, gamer, non-gamer – there’s always room for uncovering a hidden part of yourself.
What’s your favorite video game? Now I’m all hyped up to try something new…
Dress: Oh Henry Vintage (similar modern and vintage here, here & here)
Necklace: Laonato (similar)
Ring: ASOS (similar)
Handbag: Gift (similar here & here)
Shoes: Gift, Mix No. 9 (similar here & here)