15–18 min read

For those who have for some reason taken to book learning, this time of year is one of excitement for the future and anticipation of the new. For the rest of us who want another option besides the traditional brick and mortar school, don’t romanticize Brat Pack 80s movies, or see the purpose of racking up a lifetime of debt in order to squander that useless Cinema Studies degree, there is another place to get an education, and it exists right in your very own Nintendo console! Welcome to Virtual Console University, where 30 years’ worth of classic video games is more than enough to pass on the tools necessary to make it in this non-pixellated world we live in.

Newcomers should consider starting with some of our our fantastic selections of 8-bit courses, but for those who are returning to further their studies and expand their minds through rotation and scaling, we offer a wide variety of next-generation subjects, courtesy of the higher-powered SNES department. Students will not only be pushed harder, but challenged to push more, as additional buttons are needed to wrap their brains around heady concepts like 360 degree aiming and something called power sliding. But it’s nothing our undergrads can’t handle!

So pick up a class list today and check out some of VC’s most popular programs, such as:

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Aviation 201: Pilotwings

No longer is being the spoiled offspring of wealthy country club parents a prerequisite to getting a genuine pilot’s license! Well, actually it still kinda is, but that doesn’t mean that Nintendo’s premiere flight simulator won’t give you a good grounding foundation in the basics before we leave it up to your own resourcefulness as for how to “acquire” a plane… Anyway, after training hard with the in-game Flight Club, pupils will be ready to fly circles around any completely flat island, provided that there are plenty of orbs and rings to guide them; otherwise it would just be anarchy. From Biplanes to hang gliders to some kind of rocket belt thing, Pilotwing‘s top-notch facility offers what at one time surely was some of the most state-of-the-art aerial technology in the world. For this reason all amateur aviators should keep there eyes peeled for any sign of espionage. (Full disclosure: there have been occasional kidnappings that must be resolved via attack helicopter. It’s really no big deal, but you know, in the event things go horribly wrong, we reserve the right to withhold final licensing)

On that note, the Pilotwings faculty takes safety very seriously, and all students will be required to pass numerous ridiculously dangerous skydiving tests to prove that they can fall out of a plane properly. According to our instructors, this is something that’s fairly common when flying vehicles that control so poorly, so those afraid of heights or having financial dependents should sign the release forms as soon as possible. Other than that, have fun with it and see who can rack up the most points!

*Flying is intense. To relieve stress, students are encouraged to participate in optional penguin diving or the birdman trampoline activities. Please note they are not weird at all.

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Paleontology 201: Super Mario World

What if a person could study extinct species by actually witnessing them in their natural habitat? Thanks to historical recreations like Super Mario World, students are given the ability to travel back in time, when man and dinosaur were both the best of friends and bitter enemies, working together to stop a family of giant turtle dragons from ruling the food-themed land and and helping the latter from atop a wooden ferris wheel. It totally happened. Lessons will focus on areas like prenatal biology, specifically how the color of eggs corresponded directly to the color of the being inside, as well as the accelerated growth certain adorable reptilian species exhibited, clearly an evolutionary trait designed as resistance to the many sunglassed predators roaming the ground, sea, and skies. The symbiotic nature between homo nintendonus and T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas that led to the domestication of the latter will be touched upon, including how it helped or hurt both species (an ethical discussion of the sacrificial use of these oblivious animals to reach arbitrary goals will form the basis for this), but this is science, not Jurassic Park. From cataloging the various jumping fish, fire-based flora, and the abundance of mysterious coins probably left by ancient aliens, there is a mountain of evidence to collect in Super Mario World. Those researchers who excel will be acknowledged on the famed Star Road!

*Extra credit will be given to those who formulate credible theories as to how these primitive beings developed various sports that are still played today. These true origins, clearly covered up by the government, could prove monumental when it comes to the history of trivial things. Dinosaurs with baseballs and wearing helmets? It really makes no sense.

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Business Management 201: ActRaiser

The business world is a brutal, unforgiving place, but aspiring CEOs can get the proper training in dispassionate decision-making right here with our very own awesomely-named god-simulator, ActRaiser. By assuming the role of a world savior who mostly just sits on a high throne and lords it over a group of pathetic dispensable minions below, students will get a feel for what it’s like to be in an upper-management role. In order to maintain that lofty status, the skill of delegation will need to be honed, and so each person will be assigned an ass-kissing yes man in the form of a cute little angel. Via this toadie, students will give orders to efficiently organize towns, increase production of crops, and genuinely terrify the populace into subservience with the occasional raging storm that burns down old, stagnant establishments and promotes more growth. Cutbacks can be difficult, but sometimes laying off or killing a few workers by lightening strike is just the thing that motivates the rest to take the initiative and seek out ways and items with which to help the boss grow even more powerful. Required reading will include Machiavelli’s The Prince.

All work and no play makes executives dull playboys, however, and so the importance of physical recreation will be a component. Traditional schmoozing activities like golf and racquetball will be replaced by violent excursions to the ground floor, where hacking and slashing budgets and monsters will hopefully relieve some of the stress and burden of being obnoxiously successful.

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Philosophy 201: Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts

There’s nothing like extreme conditions to bring out the innermost human ideologies, and there are few SNES games that can put one through the wringer enough to do that better than Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts. Instead of wasting time with endless debate and pointless study of ancient dissertations, students will be given the nearly impossible assignment of beating this god-forsaken game about the most fragile knight to ever pick up a lance and take on a demon army. Where does one stand after facing the relentless nature of a universe that wants nothing more than to kill you? This will be fully explored within minutes, represented by endlessly spawning monsters and zombies that absolutely will not stop rising from the earth, a stark look that will provoke the most ardent optimists into questioning themselves, especially after the cruel joke that awaits them at the supposed end.

Upon their inevitable rage quit (most likely during the first stage), a self-analysis will take place, as each participant will document their feelings about the world and their pitiful place in it, eventually forming conclusions that lead them to align with a particular doctrine. Though the most common result has traditionally been defeatism leading to nihilism, the occasional Zenist or Fanaticist keeps things interesting and provides a nice contrast to the futility. Those who display the extraordinary skill and perseverance (possibly acquired through an Objectivist view on life) needed to actually beat the game will be summarily taken into custody of the state and committed to an institution to be further studied and most likely experimented upon.

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Psychogerontology 201: Earthbound

Remember what it was like being a kid, bursting with the energy of youthful life and ready to take on the world? Neither do I, because like everyone else, I grew up and became lame. How did this happen, and what can be done to avoid such a fate? Well, short of finding a mythical fountain, nothing. But at least a semester with Earthbound will help provide a better understanding of this terrible inevitability, and maybe even grant the tools necessary to cope with the fact that we can’t stay young and cool forever. The class will relive the glory of childhood via Ness, a precocious young lad with an absentee father and a negligent mother who push their son out of the house and on a quest to defeat invading aliens on a mission to bum everyone out. This metaphor for the RPG-like grinding toil of adulthood isn’t cause for social services to be alerted, but instead a rite of passage where the young must leave behind their carefree ways and experience the burdens that will eventually wear them down. In a way, don’t we all do battle with the invading force of melancholy called life? Armed with nothing more than token childhood memories and some psychic misfits, students will wage a symbolic war against time and what it does to once-vivacious beings. Annoying Old Party Man, New Age Retro Hippie, and Over Zealous Cop are more than just enemies; they are glimpses into the future. Your sad future.

The science of aging is about more than just physical stages of development (though plenty of wistful references to life in utero are touched on). The sociological aspects can be some of the most difficult to deal with, and despite my generation’s music actually being the best ever, understanding how others may feel differently is important to growing old as gracefully as possible. Even The Runaway Five can’t escape a future of irrelevance, and with the Earthbound program students will learn to accept that all they can do to stay wide-eyed and innocent is pray. Though that probably won’t work in real life.

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All of these fine courses and more are available this coming semester at VC! Forget all those colleges that teach stuff with lectures or labs and sign up for the SNES curriculum today, online through your Nintendo Wii U or 3DS. Get your life back on track by playing video games!

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About The Author

Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy grew up in the hearty Midwest, where he spent many winter hours playing Nintendo games and watching movies while waiting for baseball season to start again. When he’s not writing screenplays to satisfy his film school training, he’s thinking about his next Legend of Zelda post.