Our brief glimpse into 1994 allowed me to relive a part of my life when things were comfortable and simple. The biggest concern I had was usually what to watch on the new cable system, when to finish my homework, or how I would pay for the newest issue of EGM. It was a time when my world was a few blocks big, arcade machines and comic books where everywhere, and where worries about career, life, and love were abstract, incomprehensible fictions in the face of the playground. 1994 was the last hurrah of childhood—of games during recess, of choosing sides in the Nintendo vs. Sega battle, of pizza, sleepovers and friends. When 1995 rolled over, I had lost family members, lost the friends that had been my elementary school life, and was, more and more, being pushed towards adolescence. 1995 brought quiet school days spent on the bleachers reading, a wardrobe of fat-concealing vests (handy for pockets as well as confidence), and the inexplicable afternoons where I would lock myself away, curl up, and just cry.
Somewhere along 1995’s march to middle school, I ran across EarthBound. That’s not entirely true, though. I had known of EarthBound because of the publisher’s extensive marketing campaign, which leaked a number of ads into Nintendo Power as a lead up to its release. As with other games I knew I would never own, EB was recognizable but not formed. I knew it was an RPG, in a time when Lunar: The Silver Star and Final Fantasy II/III were the only RPGs I cared for. I knew that it had gorgeously quirky Claymation ads, which weren’t part of the game proper. And probably most importantly, there were a number of Scratch-n-Sniff promos for the game that made everything just so silly.
It was a game with humor, and a game that smelled. That's what I knew. Now grown, I understand the importance of sense memory – how, neurologically, scents can enhance recall and, when paired with an experience, cause moments in our histories to become inexplicably conjoined. But as a child, smelly ad stickers were probably the best way to get my attention.