The Forgotten Video Game Memories Hiding In Our Brains

The mind is a mysterious vessel full of things we know and, weirdly, things we’ve forgotten. My brain was cruising along as usual on Wednesday until a minute before noon when, suddenly, a Nintendo Switch press release reminded me of a passenger I had long forgotten about.

There in my email inbox was a subject line: “Nintendo Switch ‘Arcade Archives Solomon’s Key’ release date announcement.”

Solomon’s Key?

That sounds familiar. That rings a bell. That… wait. Was that the game that my brother and I played in an arcade in Disney World when we were kids in the 80s? Yeah, that’s the game. It rained that day. We weren’t familiar with this game, probably usually played Donkey Kong or Galaga, but in that arcade on that particular rainy day, this Solomon’s Key game had been set to be free to play for some reason. We didn’t need quarters! It blew our young minds—and apparently baked a memory in mind that I’d then forget for 30 years.

The memory is shallow. I don’t remember what this game was about, though the press release provides some clues:

Solomon’s Key is an action game that was released from Tecmo in 1986.

Players make full use of the ‘magic’ of the main character Dana to collect items in various stages and get the book called Solomon’s key.

I shot my mum a message this morning. Did she remember this? Disney? Free arcade game? All that rain?

She said it wasn’t at Disney World but rather one of the few trips we took to the Caribbean when we were kids. She says it was Super Bowl Sunday, which also rings a bell. Maybe the arcade owner set that game to free-play to rope people in because the tourists would otherwise be watching the game? Not sure.

I don’t recall if I liked Solomon’s Key. I don’t think I ever played it again. For a moment last Wednesday, I just sat there reeling, loving this idea that my mind knows about more games that I’ve played than I can instantly recall. I wonder what other gaming memories are packed into my brain’s lower decks, waiting for some other random incident to spotlight them again. I can at least predict that they’ll involve the machines I first played video games on—maybe the Odyssey 2 or Commodore 64. We owned those. Then again, maybe I’m forgetting something.


    The older I get, the more I find flashes of unbidden, long-shelved memories resurfacing. A certain smell, taste, tune, a video clip, overheard conversation, turn of phrase, striking of the light against a landmark, ancient product can send me hurtling back to the 80s, 90s, or 00s to eminently forgettable moments, lost to the swirl of brighter, more important, more noteworthy things.

    Sometimes I think about the aspects, angles of something I couldn't appreciate at the time, wishing I could walk back through time to investigate and appreciate a moment with the benefit of adult experience... other times it causes everything to blur together, seeing how much is drained of uniqueness and significance through similarities noticed over time.

    It wouldn't surprise me if even if the biological kinks to immortality could be sorted out, our mental filing system would need a dramatic upgrade to keep us from going insane.

    They made it free-play in the arcade because they knew nobody would play it otherwise.
    Solomon's Key was awful.

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