Switched Opinions: How Nintendo Won Me Back

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Posted June 13, 2017 by Chris Berto in Video Games

Nintendo and I have a long and interesting history. Like many of you, my first console was the NES, and with it I began my lifelong love with gaming. At an early age I fell in love with classics like Mario, Excite Bike, Contra, Paper Boy, and many more. As the only kid I knew who played video games, and with no insight into gaming magazines like Nintendo Power, I went largely uninformed on the games that would go on to shape the medium’s landscape. I had never even heard of Zelda, Mega Man, Castlevania, or Metroid until years later.

As time went by and new consoles became available, my parents bought my brother and I a Sega Genesis. It’s at this point in history that my relationship with Nintendo would begin to mold into curiosity instead of joy. My only connection to the house of Mario was my original Game Boy which was my Tetris and Kirby system. My memories of the SNES, N64, and even the GameCube all come from friends who owned the respective systems. Super Mario World, 007 Golden Eye, Mario 64, Zelda: Windwaker, and so many more were either skipped completely or enjoyed in the fleeting hours during middle school sleepovers.

These games and franchise continued to elude me as I moved from console to console; first the Genesis, then onto the PS1, PS2, XBox, and so on. My curiosity in Nintendo was only satiated through their handheld lines with various iterations of the Game Boy and spending copious amount of time at my friends house begging to play whatever new Nintendo game they had.

Fast forward to the year 2006, I am finally in place where I have disposable income. It’s the week of E3, and never before have I been so excited to hear about what Nintendo has planned. Finally, I’ll be able to join in on the conversations: Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, and so many other franchises I’ve missed throughout the years! I sit and watch with anticipation. Then this happened…

What. The. Fuck!? What the Hell was that? Motion controls? A divided joystick? 480p display in the era of 720p? I waited all these years to finally be at a point where I could buy my own Nintendo console, and they wanted to sell me a gimmicky waggle-stick with Mario attached? Where the Hell was the Nintendo I remembered from my childhood? Where was the Super GameCube or N64 2? I may not have owned my own, but the memories I had playing Mario Sunshine and Smash Bros sure as hell didn’t involve my friends and I waving our arms around like a bunch of crazy people. Where was the dedicated home console that just played awesome games with a normal controller? I was sorely disappointed.

Wii’s target audience

My relationship with Nintendo would continue to strain and only be eased by the existence of its ever impressive handheld. The Game Boy SP is where I beat many franchise staples for the very first time, several of which took place while I was deployed in a foreign land. Super Mario 3, Metroid Fusion, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, and Mario Kart: Super Circuit were my go-to Nintendo games for several years. I eventually moved on to the 3DS, and even though in its current form I’m not sure if my version is new or NEW or really NEW, it’s still home to some great Nintendo franchises that I’ve grown to love over the years, such as PokeMon, Super Mario 3D Land, and Mario Kart 7.

Mario Kart 7

I clearly must have been in the minority because the Wii sold like Nintendo was including free puppies in each box. I had my fun with Wii Sports, and while Nintendo did eventually release a Pro Controller, I still couldn’t get past the very gimmicky nature of the console. I missed out on several titles I still regret not playing to this day. But I made my decision: I was going to wait until the inevitable console reset, which came in 2012. Even knowing how far from Nintendo I had fallen, I was still excited to see what would follow-up the Wii. I could not have been more disappointed. The Wii U proved to me beyond all doubt that I was no longer the consumer Nintendo was targeting. My window into Mario had closed. My memories of Nintendo would be left to my childhood NES and handheld versions of some of the most popular franchises in gaming.

After a few short years, it became apparent that I wasn’t alone in my despair. The Wii U was a colossal failure, selling a “meager” 13 million units over its 5 year lifespan (the PS4 sold 18.5 million units in just over a year by comparison). It was time for Nintendo to abandon ship and prepare its next, and possibly last, home console in its attempt to regain the ground it had lost over the years. The world began to wonder just how Nintendo planned on bringing back that magical quality like only they can do. That answer came in the form of the Nintendo Switch.

SNAP.GIF

After an awkward press conference that attempted to show off JoyCons, HD rumble, 1-2-Switch, and a slew of other features that failed to impress me, I walked away from yet another Nintendo announcement feeling completely out of touch with the company. For the 3rd generation in a row, Nintendo was relying on a gimmick instead of just giving me a home console that could sit under my TV and play games. I don’t want detachable controllers, a handheld tablet, or HD rumble. I just want a Nintendo home console. But they insisted that mobile, on-the-go gaming was the way of the future. I’m sure that in cities where people commute on public transportation en masse, or for those who utilize air travel on a regular basis, the promise of a console that can be picked up, tossed in bag, and played anywhere was an exciting prospect. The story for me was much different.

Nintendo was selling an under-powered handheld console with the option sit it in a docking station with two gimmicky controllers JoyCons.

As a gamer who prefers to sit on his couch over gaming on the go, all of the bullet points that Nintendo were selling the Switch on acted more like deterrents. Simply put, I was ready to just write the entire console off. In the days that followed Switch’s presentation, I pondered a future where Nintendo dropped out of the console race altogether and instead focused on what they do best: making incredible games with diverse characters in worlds that beg to be explored. Nintendo the console maker was dead to me. I would patiently wait for the Switch to follow in the Wii U’s footsteps and fail so I could finally get to play Zelda on the next Playstation system in glorious HD with a real controller.

Zelda for PS4

We can all dream, right?

A few weeks after the Switch released, a friend of mine brought his new portable system over to my house touting how much fun 1-2-Switch actually was. I was skeptical. Having never played more than an hour or two of any Zelda game, I had no emotional attachment to Breath of the Wild, and 1-2-Switch seemed a distraction at best. Then I played them. Zelda was interesting, but it was also complicated and the control scheme was cumbersome; I could see the appeal, but I wasn’t sold. 1-2-Switch on the other hand caught me completely by surprise. Say what you will about the overall quality of the game, but the standout minigames are an absolute blast to play in a party setting. “Quick Draw” is the star of the show, but games like “Milk,” “Table Tennis,” “Eating Contest,” and “Baseball” are all great to play with a rotating group of people. At the end of the night, my interest had been piqued.

Perhaps there was more to the Switch than the gimmicky controllers and the portability of the system.

A few weeks later the same group of friends had come over and this time, the Switch owner had two aces up his sleeve: Jackbox Party Pack 3 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. When it comes to party games and selling the Switch as a console you play in group settings, Jackbox Party Pack is the sleeper hit on the system. Playing Quiplash with 5-8 people is some of the most fun I’ve had with any console game in years. If you haven’t played the game, it’s like Cards Against Humanity where all the answer cards require the player to make it up on the spot. With a group of fairly vulgar people, our responses sent several of us into tears. The other games are a riot as well, and we played for hours. Every single person there had a great time. When some of the more casual gamers left or grew tired of staring at the screen, it was time to bring out the big gun.

Playing Quiplash with 5-8 people is some of the most fun I’ve had with any console game in years.

I haven’t played a Mario Kart game since Mario Kart 64–oddly enough on the same friend’s N64 who know owned the Switch on which I was playing. With two full sets of JoyCons we went to battle in 4-player split-screen and the “fuck yous” and “who threw the blue shells” came pouring out within minutes. And then the nostalgia hit me. With a crashing wave of emotions I was transported back to 1996, sitting on my friends couch with a variety of differently colored N64 controllers in hand, staring at the giant CRT screen in his parents living room. This was the Nintendo I had been dreaming about for so many years. Could it really be that this “under-powered” portable tablet console I had so quickly sworn off was just the cure I needed for my Nintendo growing pains? I wanted more. I needed more.

soon…

The next weekend I went to my nearest GameStop and…they were sold out, as were Best Buy, Walmart, Target, and everywhere else I went looking including Amazon. The Switch was clearly a hit, and I needed to get my hands on one. I was obsessed. I had already missed the NES Classic, and I’d be damned if I was going have to wait for the Switch to be a common item on shelves. I went to message boards, Twitter, and Reddit in search of leaks or rumors of shipments hitting any local stores, and that’s where I found it! My local Target was scheduled to get a limited shipment of nine Switch systems in a few days. I informed my wife that I would be out of the house bright and early to make sure I didn’t miss out. She laughed. Unfortunately for her, I wasn’t joking.

Playing Zelda or Mario Kart while lying in bed with my wife, or while enjoying a healthy bowel movement can not be understated!

To keep the story short, I got my hands on my precious new gadget and immediately downloaded and installed Mario Kart 8 and Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Over the next couple of weeks I lost my mind to this portable masterpiece. I’m not talking about the software, though it is the conduit in which I experienced Nintendo’s masterpiece. The Switch was everything I didn’t know I wanted. Playing Zelda or Mario Kart while lying in bed with my wife, or while enjoying a healthy bowel movement can not be understated!

Toilet Gaming

The true reason behind the Switch’s success!

After 85+ hours, I have finally entered Hyrule Castle and defeated Ganon for the first time in my life as a gamer. I am now torn between feeling sorrow and joy. I am thrilled for having finally played and beaten Zelda, but saddened to know that I went three decades without having experienced this. Nintendo has done with the Switch what I thought to be impossible: They made me care about their platform as much as I care about their characters. I had all but written Nintendo off, and I have never been so pleased to be wrong about a gaming company. I’ve pulled a complete 180° on Nintendo, and I couldn’t be happier. I went from wanting Mario and Zelda to appear on my Playstation and Xbox to wanting every game I play to be playable on the Switch! The Switch is magical, and if you’re still on the fence about this console/handheld hybrid, I urge you to give it a try. Find a friend that has one and sit down with it for as long as they’ll let you.

Do not let this generation of Nintendo hardware pass you by!


About the Author

Chris Berto


  • ruefrak

    Switch is definitely getting off to a better start than I ever thought it would. I think launching with Zelda really helped and then having Mario Kart follow soon after. The Wii U didn’t launch with many “must have” games and by the time Mario Kart came out, people had already declared the system dead.

  • Si2k78

    “I went from wanting Mario and Zelda to appear on my Playstation and Xbox to wanting every game I play to be playable on the Switch!”.

    That says it all. Great piece!

    I don’t want to go back to the days where I was chained to my couch and TV. Being able to play a console game, then taking it out of its dock and continuing immediately where I left off is extremely liberating.