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Some advice for the Nintendo 64 on its 21st birthday

From a 23-year-old who was there not long ago

nintendo 64 Nintendo

Hey, Nintendo 64 — buddy. Pal. I hear you’ve got a birthday today? Congratulations! How old you turning?

21? Hoo boy. That’s an age, alright. You’ve probably heard a tale or two about what it’s like to hit the big 2-1, and what it opens up for you. If you became an adult in the eyes of the law at 18, this is when you become one in the eyes of everyone else.

I want to temper your expectations a little bit here, though. Sure, the world opens up for you in a lot of ways in your 21st year of life, but there’s always a catch, my dude. Take it from me, a seasoned former 21-year-old: This is what you really have to look forward to.

You will drink

Let’s get this one out of the way. You can drink now — by which I mean, you can drink without anxiety now. No more relying on older people to buy cheap stuff for you. No more downing alcohol fast in dorm rooms before heading out to a party in your tiniest skirt. No more massive Sunday morning hangovers that last well into Monday. Go out to that bar and buy yourself a drink. Your friends PlayStation, Super Nintendo and Genesis would be happy to join you.

You will waste all your money drinking

This is key, N64. As fun as it is to go out on the town, it’s also costly. Say goodbye to those savings you’ve built up since turning 18; they belong to the bar now.

You will start going to clubs

Let me tell you something, Nintendo 64. While some nightclubs are open to 18 year olds (a refrain you’ll be hearing a lot), the better ones are for the 21-and-up set. But let me explore what I mean by “better.” By “better,” I mean the music is better. (Expect to hear some rad remixes of Ocarina of Time’s score.) The crowd is better. (Expect everyone to lose their minds when said remixes start playing.) The mood is better. (A hundred people screaming over Zelda music? It feels great.)

But this is all relative, because as a true adult now, N64, expect your fellow clubbers to treat you like one. If you’re a bad dancer, you have no excuse. And if you just want to be left alone by the people dancing among you, bad news — you never will be again, because ...

You will get your heart broken over and over

It’s now legal to get married without your parents having to sign off on it. That’s the thing about 21: Your parents have way less say over how you live your life. Not that I expect you to get on that wedding train so early. You do you! Find out who you like. Find out who likes you. Test the waters as much as possible now, but be aware that the waters are real choppy. You’ll have your heart ripped out of your chest and thrown onto the floor time and time again. Accept this reality. It will only make you stronger. (You already know this from losing to Jarek in Mortal Kombat 4 countless times.)

You will reinvent yourself

You’re not a kid anymore. I mean, OK ... you are, compared to all your new drinking buddies. But for intents and purposes, you’re grown up. And that means shedding your graphic tees in place of clothes that fit you, that age you, that say to the world, “I matter now!” No more oversized Legend of Zelda shirts, my friend; go for that classy t-shirt with the Mario and Luigi detailing in the pocket instead.

Reinvention is not just aesthetic. Your likes and dislikes can change, too. Only play platformers? You’re 21 now; try a first-person shooter instead. See how you like that genre. We hear Perfect Dark is pretty good.

You will make mistake after mistake after mistake and have no regrets

Nintendo 64, turning 21 feels revelatory. It feels like a significant step toward who and what you’ve always wanted to be your entire life. The shackles that bound you to childhood are now off; you can be as free as Mario in Super Mario 64, running around to the beat of your own drum.

But with freedom comes failure. It’s inevitable. Maybe you really, really hate Perfect Dark; maybe Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64 really are more your speed. And yet you traded all of those games away because you’re an adult now, and those games are for kids. That’s a common misconception, and one you may regret having — but you shouldn’t. Realize that this is an age of trial and error.

I want to be clear: As important as 21 seems right now, it’s no more and no less important than 20 was and 22 will be. You’ll keep growing, Nintendo 64; you’ll keep learning, and changing, and messing up. But for now, enjoy it. And please try to at least keep some money in the bank. Please.

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