It's funny how we all have little tiny hidden rage triggers in our minds. Just a simple word or phrase that sparks some old wound from your past that immediately sends you into a fury. As it turns out, for me those words today were "Nintendo Power Hotline". Fuck those guys. Seriously. I never forgave them for an incident when I was in elementary school, when the original Legend Of Zelda came out.
This is kind of where the "old" part of "Cranky Old Gamer" comes out. I grew up in the 80s. Young gamers today We didn't have fancy cheat sites, we didn't have GameFAQs, and I couldn't just go to Gamestop and flip through a cheat guide. You had to figure shit out on your own or you were fucked. The Playground Gods were the ones that knew how to beat level X of game Y, or knew where the hidden A was in game B. And for the 8 yr old life of me, I could not figure out how to cross the water. I assumed there had to be a boat, and had heard legends of a raft, but I hadn't found dungeon #3 yet.
I had my subscription to Nintendo Power. That hint hadn't been covered yet, but there was always the Nintendo hotline on the back cover. It was expensive though; you paid by the minute. And mom wouldn't let me call them on the house phone; if she saw the charges, I'd be grounded. So I formulated this big plan, saving all of my change for weeks. I got $5 a week in allowance; that got converted to change. Finally I had about $15. I only had one question, "Where is the raft?" So I knew that would be enough money. I gathered all my change in a bag, and during recess I walked to the payphone, dumping all of my change into the slot, HOPING it would be enough.
"Thank you for calling Nintendo Power Hotline!" Words cannot explain how elated I was to hear that. At that time and age, I may as well be speaking to a God. But I quickly realized, I wasn't speaking to anyone; it was a recording. And the automated voice kept talking. And talking. And promoting. This robot was taking up my precious seconds! DAMN YOU NINTENDO PHONE ROBOT! After it had done its best to convince me to subscribe to Nintendo Power and buy every game ever made, I made it to the phone menu and got down to a live agent. I was down to only a few quarters left (being a pay line, this was devouring my change every couple of seconds).
Finally the guy came on. I quickly explained to him that I didn't have much time, I NEEDED TO KNOW! Where was the raft in The Legend of Zelda, so I could cross the ocean!?
I will never forget his answer.
"Hmm. That, my friend, is a tricky one. The raft is a powerful object, it's not just going to be sitting around."
"Okay fine, great, I understand, but where is it?"
"You will find the raft in the last place you'd think to look."
I'd run out of change. That was the answer I'd saved and hoarded my silver for weeks to receive. I was 8 years old; I cried. I cried like a little bitch, and I am not ashamed to admit it. I screamed into the phone "I HATE YOU!"
I still play Nintendo games, but that one jackass put a black mark on the Nintendo name for me that will never heal.