By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Feb 09, 2008 at 9:47 PM

It's not a stretch to say for that guys (and some girls) of a certain age, most of our waking hours between about 1987 and 1991 were spent glued to a Nintendo in our bedrooms. I know that for me, I'd come home after a long day in junior high school, crank up the Sex Pistols and play Tetris, Metroid or Super Mario Brothers until those games worked their way into the plots of my dreams that night.

And this is probably the part of the blog in which you'll either click elsewhere or read on with retro enthusiasm. Because this weekend, I stumbled upon a Nintendo emulator for my MacBook. I found about every game every created for the console and started downloading in earnest.

Tonight, I loaded up these old favorites: Super Mario Brothers, RBI Baseball, Contra, Rush n' Attack and Excitebike. The weirdest part is that I remembered how to play these games almost 20 years after I bought the cartridges.

I came halfway to winning Super Mario Brothers on my second try, and it's not even "muscle memory," since a laptop keyboard feels nothing like an old keypad. Somehow, I remembered the "warp" tricks. It came flooding back quickly. I was 14 again. I've gotta say, it felt great.

This time around, I only played each game for a few minutes. While they can't compete with today's technology, it's astounding to see what frugal programmers did with these eight-bit titles. Contra, for example, is about 132k. That's about five words of dialogue in Grand Theft Auto.

Maybe if I could somehow find a USB Nintendo controller, I'd download the rest of the games I spent so many afternoons trying to master. Next up, however, is trying out emulators of Intellivision, Commodore 64 and Sega Genesis. We'll see if memory is as sharp on those platforms, too.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.