Seventeen; The number of Nintendo machines I’ve owned in my lifetime. From the many variations of Gameboy, to the more recent releases of retro machines in the forms of the NES and SNES, I’ve pretty much owned them all.
How can a man now in his 30’s be continuing a hobby that started in the single digits of his life
But what makes a Nintendo product so great? How can a man now in his 30’s be continuing a hobby that started in the single digits of his life? We grow out of almost all activities and forms of entertainment we enjoyed as a child, so what makes Nintendo any different? With the same characters, the same catchy music you whistle in the shower or on the bog. These are all questions I find myself asking every time I fork out money behind my girlfriends back to purchase the latest Nintendo tech. And yes, I have a girlfriend….
1990. My earliest memory of Nintendo was playing Duck Hunt on the NES with my cousins. I was 4 years old. Fast forward to the present and two recently opened but not yet disposed of delivery boxes can be found in my bedroom. One contained a Switch, the other a SNES Classic Mini. My interest has never wavered, the enjoyment never strayed, not even when in primary school when all the cool kids would play Sonic. You see, Sonic was fast—he was cool. Mario, on the other hand, was slow, slightly overweight and boring. “What can Mario do that Sonic can’t?” I was teased. I had no answer at the time, they were right, the best I could come up with to defend my beloved Mario was to ask how many batteries the Gamegear took compared to my Gameboy. A typically geekish reply—unsurprisingly, it wasn’t enough to change popular opinion.
Had I have known then what I know now I would have terrorised those little shits. I’d have mentioned Nintendo’s vastly superior character roster, the innovative ways to play games, the perfect difficulty balance for new players and veterans alike, and the many years of success over its then arch rival. Those many years of success however would come later down the line.
I was fortunate enough to own both a Mega Drive and a SNES, my older brother receiving one as a combined Christmas and Birthday present and me the other. Of course, mine was the SNES, and like the rest of the world we would argue about whose console was greater far more often than I care to remember. Although we owned and loved a console each, we did share when appropriate; Mario for Sonic trade weekend seemed like a fair deal, and as much as I enjoyed those weekends with the spikey hedgehog, I’d never ever admit it. Mario was my guy, Nintendo my team.
I could continue for pages and pages, mentioning some of the best Christmases’ I’ve ever had. The Christmas of 97 for example, the greatest of all. Sitting up until the early hours with my Nan watching me playing Mario 64. She had terrible arthritis at the time, which caused her to struggle with sleep. She would watch me jump around the Mushroom Kingdom without a clue of what was going on, yet still enjoy it. You see, that’s Nintendo, bringing families together. The vibrant colours, the catchy tunes as mentioned above, the facial expressions of its cast, it was enough to keep her watching, something Sega and Golden Axe just couldn’t do.
Bringing families together! Way before the Wii or the Switch made living room gaming easy for the whole family. Nintendo set that foundation early; they stuck with a formula and never once questioned it. For that I love Nintendo, to me it just represents a good time.
That Nintendo magic is the reason I fell in love with gaming
That Nintendo magic is the reason I fell in love with gaming. I owe it to Nintendo to stay loyal, but it’s not even a sense of loyalty that keeps me here. I want to be here! I want to play every Mario game that ever gets released. Their games, characters and universe never cease to amaze, their ideas remain fresh, yet they never stray too far from their chosen path. It makes me happy to this day. Starting up Mario Odyssey gave me that same special feeling I had when playing around with Mario’s rubber face at the start of Mario 64 20 years ago. So, thank you Nintendo, thank you for all the memories, both solo and with friends and family alike, and if my reflexes allow it, I’ll see you, Mario, Link and Zelda in another 20 years’ time.