My friend, Neil, had himself a Sega Genesis.
We'd spend hours on Evander Holyfield's Real Deal Boxing, Sonic 2, and the like.
I had a Super Nintendo. It was cool, but nothing seemed to impress Neil too much about the SNES other than Mario Kart and 007.
It was true; at the time Sega seemed to be the faster, flashier, rawer gaming system. And I had my tame, little SNES.
It had Mortal Kombat. But without the blood and guts.
Sega was clearly cooler, and I wouldn't have argued with that at the time.
Until one afternoon when I received a nondescript package in the mail with "Nintendo" as the return address. "How odd," I thought. "Nintendo is sending me mail."
I tore into the brown package with greed, and this is what I saw:
Not only was Nintendo sending me mail, but they were letting me in on an ace up their sleeve.
I put the video in my VCR, and I pressed PLAY. It started out with all this "Top Secret" talk, like "don't tell anybody about this. This is between us."
Brilliant marketing. Nintendo had located most anybody who had purchased a system and sent in their warranty registration cards.
Incredible. So I watched the video and mopped the drool from my chin with kleenex as Nintendo unveiled this beautifully complex, new game.
The graphics sparkled and popped as if they were from a different gaming system entirely. How amazing this all was.
Donkey Kong Country. Nintendo was on top of the game again, I could tell.
A few weeks later, I bought a fresh copy of GamePro to see that, yes, the magazine had given the game a shining review.
I had to have it, and I WOULD have it, as I began the biggest Christmas present begging campaign of my life.
Neil would be bested for sure. He'd admit it. SNES ruled, and I owned the system. I'd have something cooler than Neil for once. I licked my chops.
In the meantime, Nintendo, continued their massive publicity campaign for Donkey Kong Country, launching DKC-themed system packages that came with the game.
Sega took a roundhouse to the face, and Neil was about to take one too, as I picked up the phone to call him victoriously on a glowing Christmas afternoon.
Neil went over his list of presents with me, and I named mine, saving the coup-de-grace for the end.
"You got what?" he shouted. "Man, I've heard cool stuff about that game. Dude, when can I come over."
"I don't know," I said, feigning boredom at the very idea of it. "Probably never."
"I wouldn't want you to have to stoop to the level of SNES. I know you're above all that."
But he was over the next day, and I don't think we ate for about 14 hours of Nintendo ecstacy. My thumbs were bleeding after that initial session. Even 2-player mode was badass on this game.
Neil was blown away, and he did some serious begging, and I swear to God he owned an SNES with Donkey Kong Country about two weeks later. It had that effect on kids.
Leave it to Nintendo to break out one of its oldest cash cows like Mario, only this time they used Mario's former nemesis.
Nintendo turned DK into a good guy, though, a gentle giant of a gorilla instead of a kidnapping brute circa 1981:
I was never more proud to have stuck with Nintendo. Even when Sega Genesis seemed to be all the rage, SNES rallied for victory.
Nintendo took care of its fanbase, as evidenced by my Top Secret Donkey Kong Country promo Video.
And Neil was a born again believer in the Church of Mario.