Saturday, 25 May 2024

A Winter Gaming Adventure: Exploring the Wonders of Winter Games

In the winter of 1988, my family embarked on our usual Friday routine – pizza, movies, and an unexpected shopping experience. Unlike our usual mundane destinations, this time we were headed to the beloved Toys ‘R’ Us. Little did I know that this visit would lead to a gaming adventure filled with both excitement and disappointment.

A Trip to Toys ‘R’ Us

As my younger brother and I entered Toys ‘R’ Us, we anticipated the routine exploration of each aisle, enthralled by the endless array of captivating toys. Strategically evaluating the merits of each item, we silently crafted compelling arguments in our heads, hoping to persuade our parents to fulfill our wildest toy desires. It was my duty, as the elder sibling, to initiate the negotiations.

“Could we please get this?” I pleaded, showcasing my most convincing tone, referring to the toy captivating me at that moment. However, much to our dismay, our parents calmly dismissed each plea, unaffected by our desperate attempts. They were resolute in their mission to find a gift for a cousin’s upcoming birthday, leaving us to imagine the possibilities our lives would hold if only our parents granted us the freedom to indulge in our materialistic desires.

The Unexpected Surprise

As we approached the glass case housing the Nintendo games, my father surprised us with an unexpected question. “Why don’t you pick a game out, son?” he said, a knowing smile on his face, eager to witness our excitement.

Staring at the vast selection of 8-bit wonders, we froze. How could we possibly decide on just one game? We already owned popular titles like The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., and Metroid. My friends possessed coveted games like Castlevania, Rad Racer, and Ikari Warriors. It seemed more logical to wait and trade games with my friends once they lost interest.

In an era before game publications such as Game Informer existed, our choices were heavily influenced by word-of-mouth recommendations, gut instincts, and the allure of cover art. Aimless and lacking suggestions from friends, my brother and I narrowed our options to a shortlist that included titles like Slalom, Spy Hunter, and Winter Games.

The Appeal of Winter Games

The emphasis on athletic competition in Winter Games was no coincidence. My brother and I were highly active children, and the world was captivated by the XV Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. When the cold weather prevented us from playing hockey in the driveway, we eagerly watched the Italian skier Alberto Tomba dominate the slopes, the Jamaican bobsled team fearlessly racing against stronger competitors, and a young U.S. hockey team, led by the future New York Rangers star Brian Leetch, striving to recapture the magic of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team.

Pressured by time as our parents headed towards the checkout counter, we chose Winter Games primarily because it offered more than just one event. Why settle for Slalom alone when Winter Games promised skiing and other thrilling activities?

A Disappointing Revelation

With excitement coursing through our veins, my brother and I tore open the packaging and eagerly examined the instruction manual. Together, we studied each page, familiarizing ourselves with the controls, hoping to gain an advantage once we inserted the game into our NES console. Finally, as the car pulled into the garage, we rushed into the house, inserted the cartridge, and prepared ourselves for an extraordinary virtual Winter Olympics experience. However, reality fell short of our expectations.

Unbeknownst to us, Winter Games turned out to be a disappointment. The game failed to capture the essence of the Winter Olympics, leaving us feeling disillusioned. Our hopes of recreating the exhilarating events we witnessed on television quickly faded away.

Reliving the Adventure

Join me as I take you on a special episode of Replay, where Reiner, Dan, Tim, and I revisit the horrors of the worst gaming experience I ever had the misfortune of encountering. Together, we will explore the significant impact this disappointing purchase had on my future impulse buying decisions.

Winter Games


Q: How did Winter Games differ from your expectations?
A: Winter Games failed to capture the excitement and thrill of the Winter Olympics, leaving us feeling disillusioned.

Q: Did this experience influence your future impulse purchasing decisions?
A: Yes, this disappointing gaming experience made me vow to make more informed purchasing decisions.


My encounter with Winter Games at Toys ‘R’ Us taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of informed decision-making. This winter gaming adventure may not have been as memorable as the real Winter Olympics, but it served as a reminder to approach purchases with careful consideration. So far, I’ve managed to avoid making impulsive buying choices, thanks to this eye-opening experience.

Footnote: This article is titled in reference to the collection of non-fiction works by the late author David Foster Wallace, in honor of his unique writing style.