The Missing Link
It was a time of war and devastation. It was a time where armies of fans would rally behind banners of the hedgehog or the plumber, behind banners of the bandicoot or the swordsman-hero. It was a time when ammunition spent between the armies was measured in coins and question blocks, power-ups and points. It was a time when all looked to the most unlikely of heroes for inspiration, when the simple appearance or cameo would elicit the loudest of battlecries.
The olden days of gaming are long forgotten, the fields of war now the stuff of legend or myth. The heroes of yesteryear have all but faded, replaced by faceless leaders who are rarely remembered. The bullets are now ever so shy of being real, armies embracing the new technology of war over the olden ways and means. The battle plans have grown increasingly complex, and the goals of gaming generals have all been reduced to a single objective: supreme domination in every form possible.
This has been the face of war for years, and I have not been fond of it whatsoever.
Gamers as I who have achieved “veteran” status because of sheer age and experience will remember the days of gaming yore when battles were waged between Nintendo and Sega. At the forefront, all the grunts of the respective armies stood behind their two beloved generals; on the one side was the Prince of Blue Lightning, General Sonic Hedgehog; on the other was the Duke of Toadstool, General Mario Brother. The two, in true chivalric form, never… ever faced one another on the battlefield; instead the war was waged strictly between those loyal to them. To each minion in the armies, the other side was the Evil Empire that must inevitably be conquered, yet at the same time each man and woman knew that the other side was not inherently evil. Compromises were made under the treaty of nightfall when soldiers of both sides slept under the same roof and played together happily despite being against the rules and curfews of the houses. Concessions were made as points for each side were not only laid out in debate but also experienced in harmonious unison. The battle waged on forever it seeming stasis, but this was by design as the war was not to destroy one another; it was to challenge one another to provide the masses with ammunition of greater potency, items of war that also served as items of peace… and fun. For many years, this delicate yet glorious balance was retained without question.
Yet it was not to last until the end of time. Soon enough, another unlikely entered the fray; his name was General Crash Bandicoot, and his flag was made by the Sony Armada. With a completely new look, he too challenged the hedgehog and plumber, but this was not only a challenge to be based upon his own popularity but also the threat to change the world as all knew it, an industry revolution, one might say. At first, the other armies refused; the flag of the bandicoot yielded no power nor fierce loyalty, and few chose to abandon their original positions from the earlier days Great War. It was in the next moments to come when the War of the Mascot would gradually draw to a close.
With the bandicoot failing to garner support, he was withdrawn almost as quickly as he was commissioned. The flag was burned in response and quickly replaced with a new flag, one unlike any shown before: no figurehead appeared upon Sony’s banner, as had been tradition. Instead the new flag’s field was black as night with only four geometric shapes to decorate it: a purple square, a red circle, a green triangle, and a blue cross. It flailed within the wind as it was raised upon the flagpole, and, in defiance of Nintendo and Sega, they declared a new era of the war, one far advanced than the one that had existed since the dawn of the conflict, one which talked in terms of bytes, bits, and plastic discs. The early traitors were few at first, but slowly the new order swept across the masses like a fire upon the plains, the camp of Sega bearing most the damage in the ordeal, but Nintendo was not unscathed either. Sega gradually slipped to desperation and tried to adapt, but their efforts were too little too late, and their losses continued. The funeral took plcae shortly thereafter, Sega’s dreams cast into the jaws of defeat; their losses were mourned by many–even within the halls of the Nintendo barracks, their sibling army in the realm of ideas.
The old and new ways were then reduced to something no different than an old Western shootout between two rivals, each waiting for the other to make their move. As they waited for the next defining moment in the Great War, yet one more competitor entered the fray, this time waving a banner in the style of Sony. The army branded themselves with a great green X under the name the Microsoft Commandoes, and they waged war with both the remaining armies, but at an higher level, yet another war existed, a much more important war, a war that would shake the foundations of the world: the war of concepts, the war between the dying mascots and ever-advancing technology. Though the loyalties toward the portly plumber and the elven hero were as strong as steel, the minions within the armies were disillusioned by their former commanders, and loyalty was redefined in terms of technological prowess and potential rather than the simple love for the mascot-generals.
Within the planning rooms of the Nintendo Coalition, the days were dark during this time. Nary a moment went by when their army, bunkered down in one of their last safehouses, skittered against the brick of their building. The front was lambasted with mortar fire and gunshots with such frequency that the became almost more insult than injury. The old way was soon declared dead and forever replaced by the faceless warriors toting guns across the plains, mowing down every enemy in sight. At the same time while the dedicated few were holding Nintendo’s reduced borders, the leaders of the new revolution in the gaming world began work on their new battle strategies, creating programs and hardware that exceeded all imagination. These were clearly weapons, visualised in such quality and refinement that had never before been seen.
Were it not for the fierce loyalty to the mascot-generals, even still present within many of the turncloaks, this would have spelled the defeat of the Nintendo Coalition. Yet hope was once again created as Nintendo unleashed a new fury. It was not focused upon technological superiority but upon a weapon that neither of the others could hope to realise or even properly imitate. It was their secret weapon, something that no one could see coming. It would create rumours of a resurgance of the Nintendo armies… of a final response to the new order than Sony and Microsoft had created and built upon… and it threatened both those that had risen to challenge the once dominant army. Nintendo had been challenged and lost; now Nintendo was the challenger once again. The other armies wished to shun them… they wished to steal from them… and then they inevitably also wished to ally with them, hoping that, with their help, they might resolve the lesser struggle between the Sony and Microsoft armies.
The War of the Mascot was the first war that Nintendo had waged, and now everyone speculates whether or not this would be the second coming of Nintendo, if it would be Nintendo’s Second War, the Nintendo W-II.
The mascot-generals still live on to fight against the complete technological takeover of the gaming world. Only time will tell to see if they are successful in that quest.Follow This Entry