My brother, John, came up from Normal, Illinois the other day to look for an apartment closer to civilization. But finding a place to live was not his only mission. No, he suggested that we find a pairing for Sky Kid, everybody's favorite backwards-side-scrolling biplane shooter for the NES. Sky Kid has you flying right-to-left, which is strange, but one gets used to it. The game involves dodging the bullets and shells of planes, boats, and artillery while picking up bombs and dropping them on enemy fortresses.
Oh, but how Sky Kid takes me back! Back to the day after Christmas in 1988. The day before, John and I had struck gold. Santa had dropped off a small television and an I.O.U. for a Nintendo Entertainment System. Apparently even Mr. Claus himself couldn't track down the ragingly popular video game system. It was a rough 24 hours, but the next day my father (acting as an agent for Santa, of course) tracked one down. From my own experiences tracking down a Wii, I can only imagine the relief that he felt. This relief was short-lived, as I recall, because upon bringing the Nintendo home and opening its box, we discovered that unlike every other system that we had heard tales of, this one did not include a Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt cartridge or a light gun. It did not include any games at all. I'm sure that the prospect of going back to the crowded shopping mall to shell out another $100 did not thrill my dad, but he did just that, and a couple hours later John and I were the proud owners of The Legend of Zelda AND Sky Kid.
In the years to come, we played both games for incalculable hours. Since Sky Kid allowed for two players to play simultaneously and was utterly impossible to beat, we probably played it much more than we played Zelda. Back then we were ignorant, and we paired Sky Kid with things like candy because we didn't know how awesome booze was. Because of John's fond memories of trying to stay up past our bedtime to eat candy and play Sky Kid, he suggested we pair it with rum and cokes.
I haven't enjoyed a rum and coke since I was a freshman in college. Not to say I haven't drank a few here and there, I just don't like drinking sugary, vanilla-y mixed drinks as much as I used to. John picked up a bottle of Kozi Bay Gold Rum from the grocery store. Upon tasting it, he readily admitted that he had made a mistake, as it was straight up nasty. Fortunately, combined with a little coke, a good amount of lime and a lot of ice, it was vaguely tolerable. So we sat down with our drinks and, courtesy of Wii's virtual console, took a boozy trip back in time.
I maintain that little kids are stupid. They don't even know how to walk straight, let alone pilot biplanes properly. However, the sheer amount of time that we put into Sky Kid back in the day must have given us a level of skill that did not come back to us instantaneously. We kind of sucked at the game. The rum and cokes help a little bit at first. The caffeine and sugar eased the tiredness I felt after a busy day at work, and the rum obviously honed my ability to fly a fighter plane. Starting over repeatedly, at first we got better. Then, a couple drinks into it, we started getting worse and not caring any more. This pairing made for a great nostalgic experience, although it might not work out that way for people who didn't spend hundreds of hours playing Sky Kid in their youth.
Thanks to my mother, father, and brother for sharing their Christmas memories.