Fellow Nintendo fans, it’s time to rejoice as a new Nintendo console is on its way. New console launches are always the most exciting time for videogame fans, but especially for those of us who love the house that Mario built. I became a Nintendo fan from the minute I played Super Mario Bros., way back in the eighties. From then on I was hooked. Being introduced to The Legend of Zelda, Contra, Castlevania, Mega Man, Metroid, Punch-Out, and so forth was something I will never forget. The NES was the first gaming console that really had it all. It introduced so many different genres and was a real evolution of the Atari 2600. I mean Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy were so unlike anything else I had played before. Let’s not forget other classics like Maniac Mansion. The NES single handily shaped the entire videogame market into what we have today. How could you not be a Nintendo fan at this point in time?
When the Genesis arrived in 1989 it really was an impressive piece of hardware. One look at Altered Beast and it was clear that the NES was starting to show its age. In the end I barely cared though thanks to incredible releases like Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, and Super Mario Bros. 3. When the SNES finally arrived, it was my platform of choice until 1995. My brother and I enjoyed our Genesis, but the SNES was our bread and butter. I need not remind everyone of how many spectacular games were released on that platform. My favorite game of all time, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was released on the SNES for goodness’ sake.
These were the glory days for me, the time when I was the most happy with my videogames. It was as if the market was just where I wanted it. Magazines at the time were hailing this new age of 3D, but honestly I had seen some primitive stuff on our Sega CD, that didn’t blow my mind so I wasn’t too eager for the launch of the Saturn or PS1. It was first seeing Super Mario 64 that really changed my mind. That’s when I realized this new 32/64-bit era would be something else. What I didn’t realize at the time was that even though I owned several other systems, deep down I was a die-hard Nintendo fanboy. I wanted the N64 to dominate just as much as the NES and SNES dominated. I assumed it would have all the biggest games from all the biggest publishers. When I realized that wouldn’t happen, the PlayStation became my SNES 2, but again, deep down inside I was really hoping for miracles out of my N64. I used to say Ocarina of Time would be the greatest game ever, and then another delay would hit. By the end of 1997 I realized that even though I loved my N64, the glory days of Nintendo would not repeat themselves during this generation.
By the time the GameCube was officially announced I was transformed from this hardcore Nintendo fanboy into a huge Sony fan. I fell in love with so many amazing games on the PS1 that the PS2 was king from the second it was announced. Sure I loved my Dreamcast, but I knew the PS2 would be SNES 3 and have all the major hits. I wasn’t proved wrong either, but hope remained for Nintendo. When the big N secured the Resident Evil series as an exclusive I thought this was it, this was how they would reclaim the videogame throne, but alas it wasn’t meant to be and in the end the GameCube would actually come in third place behind not only the PS2, but also the new contender, the Xbox.
It was during this time when I joined the Nsider message boards and met everyone who works here on COE. We became a group of lifelong friends, all thanks to the power of Nintendo. It truly sucks that Nintendo closed their official boards because they had a community unlike any other. All of us had this passion, in fact, this love for Nintendo and that was the one place we could all share our thoughts and talk about the future. I don’t think any of us were blinded to the fact the GameCube really didn’t stand a chance against the PS2, but who cares, at the end of the day it didn’t matter as we could still chat about Link’s next great adventure or the upcoming reboot of Metroid.
Towards the end of the Nsider message boards news broke about the Revolution, which was the code-name Nintendo had for the Wii. Almost the entire community was super excited for what the Revolution might bring to the industry. Virtually all of us, even if we didn’t say it out loud, hoped the Revolution would bring back the glory days. All of us enjoyed the GameCube, but there were simply too few exclusives from third parties to contend with the juggernaut that was the PS2. That doesn’t mean we didn’t love Metroid Prime, Luigi’s Mansion, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (after much debating that is), and all the rest of the first-party gems. What none of us knew back then was that would mark the very last time Nintendo would go toe-to-toe with the competition in terms of a powerful tech-rich console.
The Wii really divided the Nintendo fanbase. From the second it was shown some loved the idea, but a lot didn’t. I remained unconvinced for years and years and only recently went back to play through all kinds of Wii games I missed. Am I now a believer in the motion controls, no not really, but that doesn’t mean the Wii didn’t have great games. The key difference with the Wii and all the other Nintendo systems post SNES is that I had no hopes, no dreams, and no prayers of it being the one system to reclaim the old magic. Ironically it was the market leader for four years, and remains the highest selling platform of the generation and in Nintendo’s history, even though personally it was my least favorite Nintendo console of all time.
So here we are today. I play countless PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games, I just built a brand new gaming PC where I can play the biggest and best PC games on the market, and we just got word the Wii U will hit on November 18th and officially begin the next round of console wars. So where does this leave me, as a gamer in his thirties, and a childhood Nintendo fan at heart?
I’ll be honest with you all, I’m actually excited for the Wii U, truly. The reason is that this new console, while surely not as powerful as the next round of PS and Xbox, is an HD console. I have always wanted to see my favorite childhood franchises re-imagined in high-definition. What will Zelda look like with glorious 1080p visuals? I saw what BioShock looked like, will Nintendo create an immersive and imaginative world like that? They have Retro Studios, one of the best developers in the world, will they let loose and create something truly unique? What about a 3D Mario, will we see new levels of detail unlike anything before? Will Metroid make a triumphant return? I could go on for hours here.
Do I think Nintendo will have another NES or SNES on their hands with all the latest franchises from all the huge publishers, no I really don’t. I think those days are likely behind them forever, but I do hope to see some improvements from the Wii days. I want to see them aggressively go after the core market, because that’s me. Above all though, I really just want to have a good time. I want the same incredible Nintendo experiences I’ve been having since the eighties. If Nintendo can do that, then I think the Wii U will have a very special place in my home theater setup and in my heart. I really want Nintendo to reignite that burning passion I used to have for the company. I don’t ever want to become a blind fanboy, but it would be nice to know that this new console has the chance to take Nintendo to all new heights. As a mature player, that is enough for me, and as a lifelong Nintendo fan, that excites me.
On November 18th I will have my shiny new Nintendo console, and for the first time in about five years I am super excited :)