Demolished memories

“I can remember it very clearly” is a lie. Either you’re lying to yourself or you’re lying to another person. Dr. House always says, “All people lie.” I couldn’t agree more. And sometimes they even lie to themselves without realizing it. Nobody can remember anything exactly. Everything is always different. Always. And here is the proof.

When I walk past a large construction site, I have to grin. Not because I’m a boy who was dropped off at construction sites by his parents so they could have fun in the ball pit, but because wrecking balls remind me of the video games of my youth.

Over twenty years ago, a friend of mine wanted to play Turtles in Time on the SNES with me, as he should have. Of course I was up for it. I didn’t have an SNES myself, so I didn’t get to play this fantastic game very often, and I agreed. But I was like, “OK, maybe this time we’ll manage not to kill ourselves all the time in the Wrecking Ball level.” So we played Turtles in Time and I was amazed when the dreaded level didn’t appear.

There are indeed wrecking balls in Turtles in Time. Right in the first level, which takes place on a construction site. But the things just fall down from above and flatten the Turtles. We played through the game and the level from my memory stayed away. Strange.

At home I had to think about it for a long time. I used to have to do that myself, because at that time there was no Internet at my house and my Encarta 97-CD didn’t have an entry for “video games with wrecking balls”. But fortunately my brain was still working properly because I was young. At least, I thought that was the case at the time. I had the games mixed up! I hadn’t remembered Turtles in Time, but the SNES game Battletoads in Battlemaniacs. I had played that once with the same friend, too, and there was this level where you sit on a giant wrecking ball, are lowered down a tunnel, swing back and forth, and can kill each other that way if you’re not careful, and who’s careful when you’re young?

So I had that memory stored away for over twenty years afterwards. Mystery solved, funny story. This was the basis on which I had wanted to write this text. “Hahaha, someone is confusing a Turtles game with a Battletoads game. Funny. Great text, well packaged, fast shipping, nostalgia bonus, happy to do it again.”

Before I was going to start writing, however, I thought it would be a good idea to take screenshots for the title art. One of the wrecking balls in Turtles in Time, one of the wrecking ball level in Battletoads in Battlemaniacs. The former was no problem. The second was. I played a bit, but instead of wrecking balls, I only found a high difficulty level. Well, that doesn’t matter nowadays. There are video platforms. I watched a complete run-through of Battletoads in Battlemaniacs and found that there was no wrecking ball level. Oh well. Now what?

Encarta 97 still didn’t help. Modern search engines, on the other hand, did. “Video games with wrecking balls” was just one of the many search queries I entered, and at the same time made me question my life path so far. In this way, however, I eventually came across the game called Battletoads for the NES. In a video, I saw a level where the Battletoad lowered himself down a tunnel on a chain and was able to transform into some sort of wrecking ball.

That was it. THAT WAS IT! But… that was not possible at the same time. The friend I was supposed to have played this game with had never owned an NES! And why wasn’t anyone sitting on wrecking balls? And why were the graphics so different from my memories? How was all this possible? And why? Whatever possessed whoever to allow such a thing?

I immediately wrote to my friend and described the situation. He didn’t ask any questions, because it’s a really good friend, but helped me further: He had once borrowed an NES for a short time. He remembered the game and the wrecking ball level only after my inquiry and confirmed: We had played that together. So I was right. And wrong at the same time.

I feel better now. I must have carried that false memory around with me for twenty years without knowing it was false at all. I had confused the Turtles with the Battletoads. And then I had confused an NES game with an SNES game. And in detail, I had even added things to it that never existed. I was sure that one was sitting on a wrecking ball. I even had pictures to go with it in my head. A Battletoad sitting on a dark blue wrecking ball, swinging through the level. In SNES graphics. I remembered the animations. How the screen shook when the wrecking ball hit a wall. I even remembered the sounds the wrecking ball made.

I can still remember it very clearly.

Unfortunately, none of that exists. And I can do no more than accept this fact. And to overwrite the old memory with the new one.

This post is also available in: German