I have a long history with Nintendo. My first game system was the Game Boy Color in 2001, and I’ve since owned the GameCube, Game Boy Advance, DS Lite, 3DS and the Wii, with the 3DS being my last Nintendo console, and the Wii being my last Nintendo home console (I skipped over the Wii U, opting instead to get an XBox One). I even have two world records from two minigames in two separate Nintendo DS games through Twin Galaxies (New Super Mario Bros. and Kirby Super Star Ultra).
But I haven’t played Nintendo games in a few years. Throughout college (2014-18), I played Super Smash Bros for the 3DS, which completely destroyed my rubber directional pad, and I played a few other titles, but starting in 2016, my life got so busy. I got a part time job at my local newspaper, which turned full-time when I graduated, and the Fall 2016 to Spring 2018 semesters were particularly hectic for me, as I was admitted into a fraternity and became the managing editor of my college’s newspaper, The Beacon, in Fall 2016; Spring 2017 I became that paper’s editor-in-chief; Fall 2017 I relaunched my school’s chapter of Her Campus, while serving as The Beacon’s features editor; and Spring 2018 I became the student trustee of my college, while maintaining leadership positions on Her Campus and The Beacon on top of my job and classes. I had little time to myself, and absolutely no time for any serious gaming, and thus, my 3DS went largely unused and collected dust in a box.
I tried to get back into it after graduation, but for some reason, I never was able to. That is, until I got a Nintendo Switch.
The Switch has everything I liked about the 3DS and the Wii, and it felt immediately natural. I spent my first day playing hours of “Super Mario Odyssey” and “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” I felt almost like a kid again, and it rekindled years of love for gaming that my XBox One could not. I bought the XBox One in 2017 during Black Friday, and chose it over a Switch because it was the cheaper console, and I’ve always deeply regretted that decision, as other than “Grand Theft Auto V” and “Spyro Reignited Trilogy” and “Halo”, I’ve gotten little enjoyment out of it.
I don’t know what it is, but growing up on Nintendo consoles, I crave action platformers and RPGs, and I guess part of me felt pressured to buy an XBox after growing up with kids that made the XBox and PlayStation sound like the best possible thing in the world. I tried to get into the first person shooter franchises they held in such high regard, but I just couldn’t break into them. I just kept feeling like, no matter how well made or technically proficient my XBox games were, I just felt like there was a lack of love in them that was always present in Nintendo’s offerings.
This is of course an overly broad sentiment 100 percent informed by my own biases with gaming, and if I kept searching through the XBox One’s library — or better yet, just got a PS4 like I should have — I probably could have learned to love shooters, and the games the supposed “Big 2” consoles have to offer. But after enjoying initially but getting painfully bored of “GTA V,” all the Halo games I missed via the “Master Chief Collection” (I know some of that has to do with the fact that those games had remastering issues) and “Doom” 2016, I had little desire to seek out other games, and I felt tired. I have an unopened copy of “BioShock Infinite,” a game I missed that I hear is excellent next to my XBox, and hopefully one day I’ll play it and enjoy it. But for now, it’ll take a backseat to my Switch.
For some reason, none of these issues have been present in my Switch, and I don’t think they ever will be, just like they’re not present with my old Nintendo consoles. Every now and again, I’d boot up the GameCube and have a great time. Same with my Game Boy Advance and 3DS, when the motion pad was still functional. I of course ran out of things to do in my old games and eventually put them back in storage, but I never felt the burnout I’ve felt with XBox.
I don’t really know how to describe my irrational love for Nintendo and why I regard even their oldest consoles as treasures. I think it’s tied to the fact that, since I can remember, Nintendo’s games have always been primarily about giving you a fun experience, with their focus always on producing good games and good hardware to service those games. They were never interested in the misguided graphics rat race Microsoft and Sony got sucked into, and while they’ve provided several breakthroughs in gaming, they never got lost pursuing realism for realism’s sake; they’ve always understood that gaming is a way to escape from mundane life for many people, and for me, that’s what always made their games and consoles so magical.
I remember in high school having many arguments over Nintendo’s merits versus Microsoft and Sony as console makers, in which we argued over graphical prowess and the “normal” gaming experience the XBox and PlayStation offered as if those meant anything. I remember how lowly people viewed the Wii and Wii U, but I still view those as fun consoles with great games just as fun today as they were back then. It’s strange just how much I want to play “Wii Sports” and “Mario Kart Wii” in 2020, but I don’t see that replay value with most games for the XBox 360 or PlayStation 3. Perhaps there are some that I haven’t thought about, but it seems like most games for those consoles either can be played on current-gen consoles pretty easily, or have current-gen sequels that update them to the point where their predecessors are obsolete, and unlike Nintendo, it’s not like the PS3 and XBox 360 offer completely different control and gaming experiences to the point where it’s worth gaming on them over their current-gen replacements.
There’s a lot I disagree with Nintendo as a business, especially their dubious fair use track record with YouTube critics and let’s players, but no one can deny that their games — and their consoles — for the most part are crafted with care, and the love their game designers have for gaming shines through in their products.
That’s something I really needed in 2020. This is not to dump on the PlayStation 4 or XBox — I know plenty of people that love those consoles, and I admit that the PS4 has some great games — but I just don’t think they’re for me. Maybe I would’ve had better luck with the PS4, but with that console being replaced by the PS5 right now, I missed that boat, and I have little desire to spend $300-400 to see what I missed.
Opening and playing the Switch on Christmas Day gave me a joy and wonder I haven’t felt on Christmas since I was a kid. Few things can compare to day one of a new game console, but it makes it extra special when it’s on Christmas, and I have my wonderful girlfriend, who bought the thing for me for Christmas, and Nintendo to thank for that.
It’s good to be back gaming on a Nintendo console.