While attending UD, if you wanted to see first-run movies (meaning, new ones), you had to be prepared to either hike down Main Street to the Cinema Center, or actually drive somewhere.
Wayne’s World came out during my first year in college, and as I was a huge fan of the sketch on SNL, I really wanted to see it. My then girlfriend was also car-less and lived in Kent, but was able to borrow a car from her sister, I think -- her sister also went to UD, was a couple of years older than us, and lived in Victoria Mews. We caught Wayne’s World at Christiana Mall. Yes, I was indeed in Delaware, when Wayne Campbell unenthusiastically stated, “Hi. I'm in Delaware,” to the delight of the audience. The line has been repeated to death in the many years since. I’d also like to note that I was a big fan of Queen, before that movie came out.
Catching a second-run movie as a UD student is a lot easier. Second-run flicks are basically movies that are shown at a reduced price, because they’re at the end of their theatrical runs. In this age of almost instantaneous Netflix and DVD releases, however, that model might be close to obsolete.
Anyway, at a pre-Trabant University of Delaware, they’d show flicks in Smith Hall. Hey, stadium seating! Movies would cost you a buck or two, with your Student ID. I remember seeing Cape Fear and Rush there. The latter wasn’t a big hit, but well known for Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.”
Then off-campus there was a place called the Chestnut Hill Cinema Café, located in Chestnut Hill Plaza. It opened in March '94, and served burgers and beer and all that kind of stuff during the movie. The guy who opened it was Bob Weir (no, not from the Grateful Dead), who had previously run the…
State Theatre. (Though, I’ve also seen the “Theater” spelling.) When Newark natives talk about Main Street’s loss of old-time character, they usually cite the loss of “The State” in the late '80s as the beginning of the end. The place was closed and razed before I even got to Delaware in '91, so I never had an inkling it even existed. Okay, where was it? Just sit in Grotto’s. That’s where it was, basically adjacent to Harter Hall. The State had been an active “small town” theater for MANY decades, and was used for both films and live performances. Towards the end (the '80s), it was all about college town eclectic. Foreign films, B-movies, and most notably, the Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday night, for over seven years.
Video games. The GPA killer. I don’t think anything else comes close. Just to set-up this progression: as a child of the '80s, the system I had first in grade school -- and that EVERY kid had, for that matter -- was the Atari 2600 (Kaboom, River Raid, Yar's Revenge), and then later on in high school it was Nintendo (Super Mario Bros, Contra, Tetris, Double Dragon).
The original 8-bit Nintendo was still the prominent system my freshman year in Dickinson C, though I didn't bring mine to school. A lot of guys on all four floors had Nintendo in their rooms. Popular games were Blades of Steel, Double Dribble, and Tecmo Bowl (mind you, this was before Madden became the juggernaut that it is).
The next generation 16-Bit consoles were starting to take over at this time, and I remember one dude setting up a TurboGrafx-16 in the Dickinson D TV lounge! Not many of you will remember or have even heard of that system…
…as what really took over was the Sega Genesis. It had been out for a year or two when I started college, but really didn't take off until late '91, when Sonic came along. I bought the system over the holidays in '91, to keep me company at home during the long winter break. I didn’t bring it to school until the Fall of '92, when we moved into the Sypherd penthouse. There were A LOT of people in our room because of it, but really, there were a bunch of Segas in the dorm. Sonic of course was way popular, but this is when the EA Sports games started coming in strong.
Okay, fine, I also later got Super Nintendo. Which was Nintendo's 16-Bit answer to Genesis, and also a very fun system. Guys will probably remember that the game which propelled Super Nintendo was the Street Fighter II adaptation -- which at the time was really talked-up, how good the translation was. I actually didn't have that game...
...but my buddy Josh did. He had every game for Super Nintendo. Josh -- who happened to live in the Tower that got napalmed -- had the first game copier I had ever seen. You have to remember, that this was years before any of us copied on anything other than audio tapes, so the concept of copying an actual video game cartridge was unreal. For Super Nintendo, it was this thing you stuck in the cartridge slot, and then slapped the actual game cart into that...on the side was a slot for floppy disks, and you copied games. I think it took multiple disks per game, but man, was it worth it. Rent and copy.
Forget that, though. Mortal Kombat II was where it was at, for the rest of our college years. Yes, for Super Nintendo, not Genesis. We played the fuck out of it. Even though I lived in The Mill on Cleveland from '94 - '95, I parked the Super Nintendo at my buddies' place in Ivy Hall, where it got the most use (or maybe the word is "abuse"). My friend Kyle even found an MK II cheat guide online...and mind you, this was before it was easy to find that kind of stuff.
Well, the next generation console -- meaning, the first PlayStation -- came out a few months after I graduated. So, 16-Bit defined my college video game playing years. And I haven't owned a system since! Reason? Time and money. Two things I can’t currently afford to burn. Man…college.
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