That Pixelation Effect

One of the most fondest memories I have towards gaming must be the one summer day when my big brother and I played Narc (in free-play mode) for the first time at the arcade of a certain theme park we visited every summer back in the early 90s. The premise of the game was basically “Miami Vice on steroids”: two cops, white and black, cleaning up the streets using a sports car (equipped with machine guns) as transportation.

Narc was cool, brutal, had an attitude, and above all, absolutely beautiful to look at with all the digitized sprites and smooth animations. And that gruesome violence that gave a whole new meaning for war on drugs was something novel back then. Using the rocket launcher never got old, one of the reasons being the gorgeous smoke trail it left behind.

And furthermore, it had this cool transitional pixelation effect in it when the criminals were “indentified” on a computer screen at the beginning of each level. It lasted only about a second, but it made a lasting effect on me nevertheless.

So, after playing Narc in that arcade a few hours, it became something as an obsession to me to have somehow that same exact gaming experience in home environment, and I ended up actually buying the Sega Mega Drive (Sega Genesis in North America) for that very reason.

Remember those Sega ads with “true arcade experience at home” –promises? I sure do.

Only later I learned that games were in fact far from arcade perfect conversions, but compromised and downgraded versions of their arcade counterparts, and as a cherry on top Narc, the main rationale behind my Mega Drive purchase, wasn’t even available on that platform in any shape or form, which broke my heart a little.

But when I saw Super Mario World running on Super Nintendo at a gaming store and it had in it that same exact pixelation effect I had saw in Narc, something moved in my chest. This could be it, the ticket to the Narc –experience I had waited for so long.

Later I did sold my Mega Drive and bought Super Nintendo to replace it, but not so much anymore for the hopes for Narc – I had already given up that idea a while ago as unrealistic – but for the Super Nintendo’s more advanced hardware that was capable for so much more, such as the pixelation effect. Still, the effect in question took me many times back to the moments of me and my bro playing Narc in that arcade, and at the same time, made me ponder the slightest possibility for Super Nintendo version of Narc, which, of course, never happened.

People often pursue to recreate things from their past that are just not recreatable. Moments in time are sums of infinite variables, and trying to recreate those moments to happen again is a doomed task. When trying to do so, it’s feasible to address only so many of the contributing factors. So, even if I’d managed to acquire somehow an arcade perfect Narc into my home back then, it still wouldn’t necessarly have brought back that feeling we had at that day, me and my bro playing the heck out of that game in that arcade.

We have to cherish the moments as they are happening, since when they are gone, they are gone for good.