What can I say? It’s freaking Nintendo. In the console wars of the late eighties and early nineties, I fought bravely on the side of the big N.
After the kid down the street got a Nintendo, I started begging my parents for one. They were reluctant to buy me one because they were afraid that video games might take over my life.
Anyway, they wouldn’t get me one, but on Christmas morning my aunt bypassed parental law and came through for me. I was the proud owner of my first video game system (the Atari 2600 I used to play during our trips to Maine in the summer doesn’t count, because it didn’t belong to me).
At first all we had was the Mario/Duckhunt combination platter that came with the system. So Mario was the meal of the day. Occasionally I would have to let my sister play, which annoyed me to no end because she used to be one of those video game players… you know the ones. The type that jerk the controller in the direction they want the character to jump, thinking that physical exertion would travel through the controller cord, and give the character that little added “oomph” that he needed to cross the gap?
But that was it. I was now a gamer. We’ll not count how many fucking braincells I killed blowing air into that NES when it wouldn’t work. If you owned one, you know what I’m talking about.
Some years passed, and Nintendo released their next generation system, the Super Nintendo Entertainment system. I mean, hello?! It was SUPER. How could I not own one? But I was older now, and my parents insisted that I earn it myself. So over the course of what must have been, like, twenty years (to a kid my age at the time) doing chores and odd jobs around the house, and convincing my sister to pitch in, we had finally saved up the money ($120 I think it was back then?) to buy the SNES.
And wouldn’t you know it, the very evening I get that last nickel to afford the system, I immediately run to my parents asking them to take me down to the store. I’ve never been a very patient person. They explained to me that it was too late and that they didn’t want to go out. My head near exploded. At least until my parents reached behind the chair and pulled out a shiny SNES system for my sister and I.
The games… sheesh, there were so many. StarFox, Super Mario, and of course, my favorite of all time, Metal Warriors (which is the only reason I still own a SNES today, just so that I can play that one game). The SNES era was a great time to be a gamer.
When Nintendo announced the Nintendo 64, I avoided the hype for months, much to the anguish of my best friend who was always trying to show me the latest Mario 64 screens. I do that often… avoid hype and news until something is just about to be released, to spare myself the months and months of agonized waiting and anticipation. But you’d better believe that we threw down our $315+ for the system/extra controller/and Mario 64/Pilotwings pre-orders.
The Electronics Boutique we frequented did a midnight opening just for the release, but neither my best friend or I were old enough to drive yet. My mother was nice enough to go the following day, the release day, while we were at school, and pick up our systems for us. As I recall it was a Friday, and I faked illness in order to skip school on Monday and continue playing Mario 64.
Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye (which actually became a staple in my life at one point… I used to play people for money. I was pretty fucking good), Zelda 64 (I was a proud owner of the pre-order gold cartridge), and too many more to list.
I bought a Gamecube later than most, and GC titles are a minority in my game library, but every single one of them has provided me with a fulfilling, fun gaming experience.
And that’s what I have always been able to count on Nintendo for- fun games. Other consoles have come and gone that offered different features here and there, but my Nintendo systems have always been a source of satisfying single-player experiences.
Thank you, Nintendo, and all of your exclusive third party developers, for providing me with Mario, Zelda, Metroid and so much fun over the course of my life. And thank you for building the foundation of what gaming has become today.