Nostalgia vs. Digital Reality: The Perils of Permanent Perfect Memory

Illustration for article titled Nostalgia vs. Digital Reality: The Perils of Permanent Perfect Memory

It's easy to claim that the stuff you liked as a kid was way better than the crap kids watch today, because you haven't seen it in years. But now you can, in better quality, even. Does it hold up?

I decided to check out three of my favorite things from my childhood: TMNT, Ducktales, and a Super Nintendo game called Bubsy. I haven't watched either of those shows or played that game in at least a decade, if not 15 years.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Memories: I loved this show. The turtles were total badasses but were also really cool. They fought really sweet enemies, like Krang, who was a brain in the stomach of a huge robot. They loved pizza, I loved pizza. It was perfect.


Realities: So these guys are basically just walking catchphrase machines, right? And how the hell do they never kill anybody when they're using swords and such? And I know this has been said before, but what would they do with April if they managed to land her? They very clearly don't have genitals. But really, this show is just ridiculous and nonsensical enough for me to not really mind it, as long as I keep myself in a gnarly early 90's state of mind.


Memories: I think Uncle Scrooge was in this, but not Donald Duck, right? And they solved mysteries? Which was the show with the rodent detectives, like that fat mechanic and the hot mouse? Was that a different show? All I know is that I loved this show and it had a really catchy theme song.

Reality: Oh yeah, Scrooge lives in that huge bank vault and swims around in money! What an asshole. And I totally forgot about this Launchpad character, who is a real buffoon. But you know what, this show is stupid but entertaining. Still stands up! Especially the theme song, which is as catchy and awesome as I remember it being. (Which I've got embedded up top.) Although man, Huey, Duey and Luey sure are a bunch of little misogynists. Give the ladies a break, guys.


Memories: This was an SNES platformer, and you were a sassy...bobcat, I think? I remember there being springs, I think, that launched you into the air. I have no idea who the bad guys were. But I played the silly out of both Bubsy and Bubsy II.


Reality: Man, is this game bad. I had no idea what was going on. There's no story or anything, not even a couple of lines up top giving you your motivation. And there's really nothing Bubsy can do other than jump, which he doesn't do very well. The controls aren't very responsive, which is made even worse when trying to play using a keyboard via an emulator. He's trying to collect orbs, I guess? And I didn't remember the bad guys because they're completely random. Oh, and did I mention the frog-launching minigame that was absolutely confusing and didn't tell me what to do at all? Fuck you, Bubsy.

So what did I learn from this little exercise? Well, for one, kids have really questionable taste no matter what era you're growing up in. So don't talk shit about iCarly if you grew up loving Rugrats. And sometimes maybe it's better to just rely on your fond memories rather than playing that piece of shit Bubsy game.


Memory [Forever] is our week-long consideration of what it really means when our memories, encoded in bits, flow in a million directions, and might truly live forever.

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I can't speak for anyone else, but shows like Ducktales, Tail Spin, Dark Wing Duck, Goof Troop and Bonkers stayed pretty much top notch even after years of sitting out in the open on Youtube in snippets and random full episodes. They didn't have the level of cheese that turned the likes of Thundercats into a pile of shit when you rewatched it in adulthood.

As a kid, I found myself not catching a lot of the humor that was a bit higher brow. Looney Tunes is a good example. Most of the WB lineup was the same way, and one may actually like them better now than they did then, because you can more easily appreciate the humor, or loved the storylines, like Batman Beyond and so forth.

I remember loving the first Mario games. After playing them again, turns out I still do, more than lots of games made now.