Guest Post: The Case of the Dead Batteries

There’s nothing worse than turning on a device and realizing the batteries are dead. This situation is far worse when you’re eight-years-old, and the dead batteries are blamed on you. The Super Scope for the SNES required a whopping six AA batteries. That’s not cheap.

What if it wasn’t your fault, though? What if you specifically remembered turning the Super Scope off when you left for school? What if you suspected someone else had screwed up?

Video games have always been a part of my life, long before writing and talking about them became my professional career. Growing up, there were always video game consoles in the house. They were always Nintendo consoles, of course. I don’t remember any particular reason we kept buying Nintendo-branded machines, except that we liked the NES so much, why wouldn’t we keep buying the machines we could play Mario on? Made sense at the time.

By and large, my parents weren’t interested in games. They weren’t against games, though. It was better described as indifference. My father spent his whole life working for Riddell, the company whose red-tinted logo you probably ignore when watching your favorite NFL quarterback on Sundays. Every once in a while, he’d play a football game with us. That was it.

My mom’s guilty pleasure was Tetris. When our family acquired a Game Boy, she became obsessed with the falling blocks. She claimed there was an “ending” to the game that involved a space shuttle launching. I’d never seen it, and still don’t know if I believe her. Where did she even get the idea there’s an ending? Was my mom sneaking looks at my copies of Electronic Gaming Monthly? This obsession lead to her doing ridiculous things like stuffing the batteries in our school backpacks to ensure she wouldn’t play the game while we were gone. She couldn’t control it.

Eventually, this subsided. The addiction was temporary. Tetris released its grip.

That is, until the Super Scope showed up.

If you remember, the Super Scope came bundled with a cartridge sporting several mini-games, including one called Blastris. Blastris was a variation on Tetris in which players would shoot the falling blocks, quickly changing their color. Can you see where this story is going? When the Super Scope came into our home, my mom once saw us playing Blastris. It didn’t take long for my mom to fall into the same trap. She was, once again, a Tetris addict, albeit one who was playing Tetris with a plastic gun strapped to her shoulder, an image that still makes me laugh to this day. I mean, she was doing this at home by herself. It’s amazing.

Even when you were turning of the Super Scope after you were done with it, the thing chewed through batteries, and rechargeables weren’t exactly a thing back in 1992. So when those six batteries died, it meant the Super Scope was out of commission for a few weeks. No Blastris.

(I wonder if incidents like this explain why my mom began buying huge, unnecessary packs of batteries from Costco later in life? When I stopped by, I would always grab a handful of AAs.)

There wasn’t one incident in particular that brought this story to mind, but I distinctly remember an incident where the Super Scope was dead, and my mom had accused me of forgetting to turn it off. This was before devices turned off automatically, obviously! But when I asked my mom whether she had played Blastris while we were at school, she gave me a look.

She had forgotten to turn the Super Scope off. As an eight-year-old, it was a mighty victory.

Because she’s the best, she went out and bought some more batteries. Thanks, Mom.

Patrick Klepek is the News Editor at Giant Bomb. Follow him on Twitter.

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