Looking back on the Nintendo Wii U: Nintendo’s last true Home console

So the topic I want to discuss today, is the Nintendo Wii U Nintendo’s last true home console? I’m sure I’ve dabbled on this in the past and I’m probably going to talk about it more in the future but this is just sort of a brief look back.

With the release of the Nintendo Switch people are saying that Nintendo future is bright and some people are saying their future is in doubt. But I don’t think Nintendo’s future has ever been in question to me. They’ve been in pretty good financial shape since they released the Nintendo DS and honestly Pokemon.

So if the Nintendo Switch is a true hybrid console then the question is does it count as at home console and that’s what I want to consider.

I’ve owned every Nintendo Home console since the NES so for me I have a lot invested in Nintendo’s success because they keep making products that I enjoy buying. However I have not owned every Nintendo handheld I’ve never owned a 3DS and I’ve never owned a Gameboy Advance SP or a GBA micro. I have owned Nintendo DS, Gameboy Advance, original Gameboy, Gameboy Pocket, and Gameboy Color, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the handheld’s my main problem is the screens are too small. I have bought most of them for a couple of games and mostly for road trips. I rarely just sit and game on a handheld.

So to me I don’t really think of the Nintendo Switch as a Home console I do have the doc but I never got it and I don’t hook it up to my TV I almost exclusively play in tablet mode with the joy cons attached. No it’s not that I haven’t tried it in console mode I have I played breath of the wild in console mode but most of the games that I have don’t really require being on the big screen and they don’t really gain anything from being on the big screen the tablet screen is good enough and I like to multitask so I usually will have my movies or TV shows playing on the TV while I’m gaming on the tablet this was the one feature I really enjoyed about the Wii U I could sit and play Nintendo games on the Wii U tablet while still watching a show.

A few years ago I was in a discussion board on a Nintendo fan site and we were talking about what Nintendo should do following up the Wii U and I had suggested that they should just make a tablet with buttons that has HDMI out that can connect to a TV for me personally I felt that a product like that would you not both of Nintendo’s core demographics their shrinking console market and they’re consistently loyal handheld Market. For me it seemed like such a no-brainer that I thought if they did anything other than that I was going to be disappointed and not be interested in buying the product considering how disappointed I was in there last two home consoles.

So for me I was very excited when I saw the Nintendo Switch reveal and learned it in fact was a tablet with buttons and HDMI connecting to a TV the best part is the controller’s word attachable that wasn’t something I had consider Nintendo doing as a tablet I kind of feel like maybe Nintendo could put a little more into some of the apps at least get a few multi media apps but I think Nintendo smart to stay focused on the gaming demographic if they were to take Apple head on or Google, they’d probably lose.

So let’s answer the question what to me makes a Home console. Well I’ve always maintained that in order to be a home game console it has to play video games on your TV that’s the core of it the Switch does not play video games on the TV not in its base mode it don’t you have to connect it to a separate piece of Hardware that connects that to your TV so to me that does not qualify the Switch is a true Home console to me it is a mobile device that connects to your TV not a true Home console.

So then to me that makes the Wii U Nintendo last true Home console assuming that the Switch moves forward as their new business model that looks like that’s going to be the plan. So I want to do some Reminiscing on the Nintendo Wii U as Nintendo’s last Home console. I’m going to briefly run down the things that I did not like about the Wii U first and then I’ll end on talking about the things that I did like. The very first thing I dislike about the Wii U was the name I hated the Wii I don’t make that a secret and I did not like the fact that the Wii U was the replacement of the way I wanted them to get away from the Wii brand the we name the motion controls in the little Mii Critters and they didn’t do that.

Some people can look past the name and I was able to do that as well but it was a hard sell. The second thing I didn’t like is how it force you to create a me I didn’t like the Mii’s on the Wii and I didn’t like having to use them and I don’t like being forced to I’ve never liked when any company video game website or anybody forces you to do something I like toys I like options if you give me the choice to do something I might choose to do so if you tell me I don’t have a choice then I don’t want to do it.

The interface was exactly the same as the Wii but there was a slight alteration and had to really annoying me verse and me Plaza and you couldn’t turn them off I didn’t like that either it was just a little reminder that you had a TV screen full of means running around chattering and that Mii gibberish language.

Looking back on it the only other thing I didn’t care for was how you had to load it into Wii mode in order to access the Wii stuff but now that I think about it, the one benefit to that is it allowed you to continue accessing the Wii virtual console and we download games which I did continue to do.

I don’t want to get to negative on it because I did buy the system and I did enjoy it I understand why other people didn’t but it was fun it had some fun games so let’s talk about the things I did like I loved the tablet in the off TV play being able to sit in my recliner and playing a game on the tablet while watching a Netflix show on the TV I enjoyed that.

I also liked the Pro Controller it was better than the classic controller on the Wii. I like the eShop it was easier to navigate the search function was a lot more useful it had a lot more games and it had a few non-game apps that Wii didn’t have as many of those.

I did like the web browser better on the Wii U and once they finally got profiles I liked using the Netflix app on the Wii U better than using it on the Wii which to be honest I never used it on the Wii but my sister did so I know what it was like and I didn’t care for it.

That’s enough about features a game console is only as good as its games so now I want to talk about the games. To a non Nintendo gamer the Wii U was a Barren Wasteland that’s a fact. Fortunately for me I am a Nintendo gamer and it had quite a few games that I really enjoyed.

The first game that I enjoyed the most with Super Mario 3D World I played this game a lot and I even showed it to people and recommended it to friends.

I also played Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Captain Toad, both New Super Luigi U and new Super Mario Brothers U, Smash Bros. U, Dr. Luigi, Pikmin 3, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, the Wonderful 101, Hyrule Warriors, The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker HD remake, The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess HD remake, Mario versus Donkey Kong game, Splatoon, and Super Mario Maker. I had a few eShop titles like Shovel Knight, Pier Solar, a few others I can’t remember them all. Overall I was mostly satisfied with the games that I had I like most people there were a lot of games I didn’t enjoy those were the games I never bought and there weren’t very many games to choose from so they weren’t a lot of options.

I know some people will disagree with this but I’ll remember the Wii U a little more family than the original Wii but not as finely as the Nintendo GameCube I think I’m going to put it on par with the Nintendo 64 which is the system I like just a little tiny bit more than the Wii.

I think the end of the day it was a good system it had some good games it just had some marketing issues it had a few technical flaws that Nintendo couldn’t overcome and the biggest problem was it was a full HD console it was Nintendo’s first full HD consult and they didn’t know how to develop HD games.

Looking forward I think Nintendo is going to have a better time getting games out for the Switch because they’re going to be in the middle there going to be a little bit better and 3DS games but not quite as good as PS4 games and I think that’s Nintendo’s comfort zone.

The way you did have an assortment of accessories just not a crazy number like the Wii, but I didn’t own enough of them to really comment on that. The Nintendo GameCube was the last time I tried to make a Nintendo console my only console so I had a Wii U but I also had a PS4 and a PS3 so I didn’t really feel like I was missing out on anything I do think if you are a Wii U only console gamer you probably didn’t have a very good generation.

I think maybe in time I’ll start to appreciate it more for what it was and maybe Overlook some of its claws and maybe discover some of the hidden gems although I don’t think there’s that many hidden gems to discover cuz there’s not that many games.

I don’t want to speculate on what could have been or should have been or how it could have been improved I’ll just say that I had fun with it I’ll keep it around and I’ll be able to go back to it from time to time and reminisce without too many negative thoughts. At the time my biggest gripe continued to me the system being overpriced for what you got

When I bought mine Nintendo was running a special if you bought the deluxe edition it came with 3 games and any digital game you bought in the eShop you got like extra bonus points so I got a lot of free games just by buying the system so it worked out for me but I still think it was overpriced.

The games that I don’t own that I still want to pick up I can’t think of any maybe Paper Mario Maybe Star Fox I don’t care for Animal Crossing I don’t care for the Wario games and I won’t buy any of the games and have the Wii name in them, or depend heavily on the Mii’s.

I do have Nintendo Land but that’s because it came with the system and I’ve just never played it and I’ve never saw fit to sell it.

The rest of the games unfortunately if they’re on Switch like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe I just bought for Switch I think I’ll get them on the Switch I’m not interested in going back to the Wii U at this point. I guess there’s a couple of Sonic games that I haven’t played and I think there’s a Rayman game on the Wii U but I’m not 100% I think some of those games are coming to Switch.

I guess that’s all I have to say on it I’m enjoying the Switch and I know all look finally back on the Wii U in time. I don’t think it had as much potential as some of Nintendo previous consoles I think it was held back tremendously by the hardware and it was also held back by some of the Wii stuff but it was a good system not their best certainly not their worst.

Does the Switch success actually hurt Nintendo?

Right now the entire internet, at least the segment of the internet that pays attention to video games, is paying close attention the Nintendo’s newest gadget, the Switch. I have to say since November when they first showed off what the Switch was capable of I have been taken in. Full disclaimer, I love Nintendo and I typically do buy their machines. But I can safely say my buying habits do reflect the larger gaming audience as a whole so I will use that as a measure to make my point.

Each subsequent home console generation from NES, to Game Cube, Nintendo seems to lose some of their market share. As I have previously pointed out, while their home console base has shrunken over the years, their overall base has grown, partly because they have continued to find success in their handheld divisions. They had 1 outlier, the Wii, which was the first time they not only increased sales, but surpassed their previous record holder, the NES. This was a big deal for the industry because it proved that Nintendo’s philosophy they weren’t competing directly with Sony or Microsoft could be true.

Here is where my question comes into play. I already assume the Switch will be a success because it combines the handheld market with the home console market, obviously that is part of the draw. The reason that could spell success is not because you can take the home console games on the go, that IS NOT a new concept there have been plenty of other systems that did just that. The first notable one was the Turbo Express which let gamers play their Turbografx-16 console games on the go. Then there was the Sega Game Gear which had a converter that allowed you to play Sega Master System games on the go. This was followed by two more portable home console devices from Sega, the CDX which was a sort of, portable Sega CD player, it could connect to a portable screen if you had one, and the Nomad a truly portable Sega Genesis complete with 6-button layout.

Then there is the reverse, which has many gamers also excited, playing portable games on the big screen. This has a big draw because hand held games tend to be reminiscent of retro or classic games. Typically handheld machines were running on last gen hardware or two gens back. The Game Boy was sort of NES hardware and was released during the NES lifespan, but it was black and white only and ran on a much smaller resolution, so compromises had to be made. Game Boy Advance, released at the same time as the Game Cube, PS2-era power, was basically running on SNES levels of power with slight tweaks. Even the Nintendo DS, released just before the Xbox 360-era, was running on essentially N64 hardware in portable mode. This is key because to keep costs down developers have had to make compromises. This means that mobile games running on Switch don’t have to be targeted towards lesser hardware, but they can be tweaked for the mobile experience. I suspect Switch will attract those typical mobile and handheld games that have made past Nintendo handhelds so popular among their target audience. But again playing mobile games, or handheld games, on the big TV is also not new.

In the mid-90’s Nintendo themselves first dabbled in putting portable games on the TV via the home console, they did is with the Super Game Boy cartridge that ran on SNES hardware. They perfected this in the Game Cube era with the Game Boy Player which ran the ENTIRE Game Boy library ranging from Game Boy, Game Boy Color and the then current Game Boy Advance. Sony has even found some limited success with this by putting TV outputs as an option on their PSP and PS Vita devices, especially if you look at the PS Vita TV. So putting portable games on the TV is nothing new, and taking the home console games on the go is nothing new, then what does excite people about the Switch?

This is where it gets messy for Nintendo. Most gamers are banking on the Switch being IT from now on. The belief is Nintendo will merge their portable and home console divisions into a single development platform, they have already stated this as having been done. The reason this is exciting is simple. If you look at a Nintendo release schedule in a given year, they make a TON of great games and attract a TON of great 3rd party and indie support. They do, just not on a single machine. If you divide their handheld and console into TWO machines, releasing separate games and having two divided release schedule you force gamers to make a choice, buy the less expensive, lower powered portable expecting it to have the games that will satisfy you. Another option that fewer people have been making, buy the home console machine for the grander experiences and sit through long periods of droughts with nothing to play. The third option, something fewer people do but what Nintendo really loved, buy both systems to get the entire library. This is key because typically, or traditionally that is, the portable games differed greatly enough from the console games you really had to chose which experience you preferred. Starting with Wii U Nintendo began merging the two libraries. First instead of releasing separate versions of some games, a home versions and a scaled down entirely different portable version, like Super Mario World vs. Super Mario Land, Donkey Kong Country vs. Donkey Kong Land, Kirby Adventure vs. Kirby’s Dreamland, etc. This time they gave you ONE game and released it on both systems. They did this with Super Smash Bros., NES Remix 1 and 2, Super Mario Maker, and a host of others. Another reason the Wii U failed was the library was too similar to the 3ds, which was selling much better and had far superior support. Super Mario 3D World didn’t really offer much different of an experience as Super Mario 3D Land.

So what happens if Switch just gets ALL the games going forward does that automatically mean it will get ALL the gamers going forward too? Here is my pause for concern. If you take this through logically it can mean only 1 thing. Nintendo has basically given up on the true home console market and doubled-down on the portable scene. Their hedging their bets on a dedicated portable machine that can connect to a TV. A few years ago I suggested Nintendo should just make a gaming tablet that used real buttons on the sides and could connect to a TV via HDMI out and I was called crazy for that. My logic was Nintendo’s consoles suffer from lack of releases because Nintendo cannot support two machines, they do not have the resources, money, man power, tools, etc, to do that. If they had all of their teams making all of their games for one system, then they will have the BEST software library in the world and could dominate the gaming industry. They did this twice before, the first time was with NES, they had 90 percent of the entire gaming market during those years. Granted the market was smaller and vastly different then, they dominated because they had so many great games on the system. It was beginning with SNES they had to split their attention between developing games for two machines. It wasn’t as noticable then because the Game Boy was basically just a watered down NES, they could get their summer interns to port NES games down to the Game Boy while sparing a smaller team here and there to pad the schedule with original games. If you look at the classic Game Boy library it really was just an NES port machine those first few years. Even if Super Mario Land was a truly original game, that was about it, and even that was very small scale compared to their console games. Also console games didn’t require as much of an investment to make.

This split wasn’t really noticeable until the N64 and Game Boy Pocket years. This was when Pokemon gave the Game Boy line a second life, remember Nintendo’s intention was for the Virtual Boy to replace the Game Boy, when that failed to take place they scrambled to double-down on saving the Game Boy to stay in business. Then N64 games took a much larger level of investment and a longer time and manpower commitment to get made. They were GRAND, they were large, epic masterpieces, for the time, that rivaled the games Sony and friends were making. The problem was they took so much effort to develop instead of having 7 teams working on 5 console games and 2 portable games, you had 2 teams working on 2 console games and 2 teams scrambling to work on 1 portable game. These numbers are not exactly literal, I don’t know the inner workings of Nintendo, but I DO know from reports at the time and talking to developers over the years, they did consolidate teams and if you read the end game credits you start to see proof of this. N64 was desperate for games so Nintendo handed out licenses to so many partners to help out, which is why you had Rare, Hudson and even Midway making games for Nintendo using their characters, they had no choice they were understaffed and over worked. Thing’s only slightly improved with the Game Cube, droughts were less common partly because Nintendo designed the Cube with their developers in mind, to make developing as easy as possible to streamline the process, they also purchased some new developers to pad the schedule and reached out to even more 3rd party partners to get Nintendo games made using their characters but made by other companies. This time they had Namco and Sega and even Square and Capcom helping out. This was even noticable on the portables when Nintendo handed their most prized IP, the Legend of Zelda, over to Capcom! This was all proof Nintendo couldn’t make enough games to support their systems by themselves.

The issue came about as console sales declined, they couldn’t continue justifying paying developers for support and as costs increased due to going HD and games becoming more complicated and advanced, developers had to be more cautious where they put their money. Again it takes even more resources to make games in HD than SD, even the same exact scope of a game, so that is where Switch comes in.

IF Nintendo can once again consolidate all of their teams to making games for just a single machine, effectively killing off the home console division and merging the two into a single portable first with TV play as an option, then they have succeeded in solving their BIGGEST issue, release droughts. Even now the Switch is seeing fewer games up front than Wii U did, it does have more games announced and in development then Wii U did during the same time frame and from the looks of it, many more 3rd party partners are on board. The key is portables sell better and are easier to develop for and don’t directly compete with the other home consoles, so this allows Nintendo do finesse developers to make games locked to a console, say an exclusive like SF5, because if the contract says console exclusive they could argue Switch is not a console it’s a portable, they have done this in the past, Sony and Microsoft have allowed their games to be released on Nintendo portables at times neither of them had portables in the market. Sony moved away from this once PSP and Vita came along, but even companies that never make games for the home console, still make games for the portable because 1, its cheaper, and 2, the sales potential, thus profit margin, is greater.

In the short term this could spell great success for Nintendo, a unified machine that does everything, gamers have been wanting this ever since PC gamers got their wish with the coveted gaming laptops and even the rise of gaming tablets. This is where the concern comes about, can Nintendo compete directly with Tablets and Laptops and Mobile Phones if say Sony decides to make PS5 a dedicated gaming tablet with multi media features, 4K output, and a Blu Ray disc support? History has indicated that in direct competition Nintendo handhelds do better than Sony while Sony consoles do better than Nintendo, but that is because Sony has ALL the 3rd party support while Nintendo just does well on their franchises and key 3rd party support while being cheaper. In a scenario where Sony had all their games on a machine that was equal parts home console, Playstation dominance, and equal parts portable, PSP tablet but with Playstation support, and instead of asking gamers to chose which machine to get, which they chose the Sony console and Nintendo portable, largely because the Sony portable mostly plays the same games as the console, this could backfire on Nintendo.

In direct head to head competition with hardware parity, 1 device that plays ALL the games no separate machines, and all the franchises land where they land, Sony wins because a dedicated gaming tablet that has Playstation controllers and Playstation level of games and Sony levels of multimedia, would KILL Nintendo because let’s face it, Nintendo survives on their franchises alone but they struggle to get 3rd party support. If Nintendo finds success with this model, Sony does have the resources to play the same game but this time could win. Here is why.

PSP struggled to take out DS despite having better hardware not because it was too expensive or the market just preferred Nintendo but BECAUSE the PSP library was not different enough than PS2. Even though it has a few select exclusives, basically every game on PSP is just a perfect or near perfect portable version of the same Sony Playstation home game. Basically what the Switch is but PSP had to also compete with PS2 and PS3 not just DS. DS was it’s own thing, it played entirely different games or different enough versions of franchises it would stand on its own. It didn’t directly compete with Wii, it complemented it. Switch replaces the home console basically putting all of their eggs in one basket. This could eliminate the edge that makes their portables so attractive. It already removed the SINGLE most attractive selling point, low cost of entry, because it is trying to be both a console and a portable.

Sony could easily out do them, they already have years of developing mobile tech and making a truly dedicated gaming tablet, even higher priced say $399 or even $449, people would buy. I think a single Plystation device that doubles as a portable would sell more than a Nintendo device that does the same thing, when you consider how the Sony machine will get ALL of the games and Nintendo will just have their games and select partners. Nintendo’s portable machines would start selling less each generation and Nintendo loses the edge they had. This is of course assuming Sony follows up with a Switch-like device. I think Sony would do better to stick with home consoles and concede the portable market to Nintendo, a return of the favor Nintendo just handed them the home console market.

See with Nintendo, the other Japanese developer out of the home console space, Sony wins by default. Japanese gamers and console gamers that enjoy Japanese games have had to chose get the Sony machine first and pick up the Nintendo second down the road when price comes down, pick up the Nintendo machine first for the 1st party games and get the Sony machine for the 3rd party stuff later when price comes down, or do what MOST people do anyways, get the Sony console and Nintendo handheld. In a world where every gamer buys a Sony home console AND a Nintendo portable, Microsoft either loses or is forced to compete harder. Sony can handle Microsoft but in a world with a united Nintendo core base, 100-200 million strong die-hard loyalists, Sony would be facing trouble. So Nintendo needs to concede the console space to Sony and concentrate entirely on making Switch a TRUE 3DS successor and let the Wii U and console line rest in peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why to be excited for the Nintendo Switch

Just less than 2 weeks ago Nintendo dropped a bombshell on the entire gaming industry. They released a video that pretty much confirmed they are making the exact machine I have been begging them to make for over a decade, the exact machine I predicted they would make once I saw the Wii U. Okay they might have taken liberties with the concept but all I asked for was a powerful enough handheld console similar to DS that had TV output and could run semi-modern renditions of current games. Not only did they deliver on that they took it a step further.

The bottom line for those that don’t want to read a long article, is GAMES. This machine has the potential to have the strongest games line up for any Nintendo machine in years. Now read on for why I believe that if you dare.

But why am I so excited for a new Nintendo console if I have been so let down recently? For starters let me walk you back in time. I will keep this simple. In the early late 80’s there was no such thing as video games, there was only Nintendo. You invited friends over to play Nintendo, you went to the arcade to play next years Nintendo games, you watched Nintendo cartoons, ate Nintendo cereal, were duped into throwing away good money on the worst movie based on a video gamer simply because it had the name Nintendo on it. Then the world changed when Playstation came on the scene. Nintendo never faded away, contrary to popular belief they have actually increased market share and fan base every generation but they did it at a cost. The numbers don’t lie.

NES sold a whopping 90 million consoles world wide. Compare that to the less than stellar SNES, one of the most beloved and heralded as one of, of not THE greatest console of all time, barely sold over 55 million. You follow this up with the N64 selling a mere 33 million and the beloved, one of my favorites, the GameCube managed barely over 22 million and you get a picture Nintendo has been on the decline for years. Sure everyone points to the fluke that was the 100 million sales of the Wii as proof that wasn’t a case but then the mega flop that is Wii U died at a paltry 13 million and it took nearly 5 years to get there.

So what does that have to do with Switch?

Let’s wind the clock back one more time. The SNES barely sold 55 million units but in roughly that same time span the Game Boy sold an amazing 65 million units all on its own. Then while the N64 was barely pushing past 33 million the Game Boy color sold an impressive 45 million in the same time span. Along side the very small Game Cube user base was the very large GBA with a formidable 82 million units sold. Then there is the fluke years. Not only did Wii sell a phenomenal  100 million all on its own, it’s little brother the DS sold 155 million, besting even the world famous Playstation 2 for best selling dedicated gaming device, even if just barely. Why is that impressive? Because every hand held has had a 5 year lifespan, PS2 had a 13 year lifespan and PS1 had a 10 year lifespan. Oh and that failure that is Wii U and it’s pathetic, yes I said it pathetic, 13 million, well it’s counterpart has sold a respectable 62 million to date and it’s still going strong.

The point is if you look at just the console side it does appear as though Nintedo has been on the decline for nearly 25 years. But the reality is they have actually INCREASED user base every successive generation or at the very least maintained their minimum of roughly 90 million the NES launched.

So if you combine the handheld and the console the numbers are now much larger. Early 1990’s SNES/GB total is 120 units sold, or user base size. That is an increase of 40 million from the NES. The next phase was GBC/N64 (you could toss in the Virtual Boy’s less than a million but lets not) you get a number closer to 88 million, barey a 2 million decline from NES and a respectable number when you consider the POWERHOUSE that was Playstation 1 and the intense competition from Game Gear, Nomad, CDX, Neo Geo Pocket, Game.com, and you see a picture where that minor decline was really just a hiccup. Now the next phase, combined numbers put Nintendo at a very good 105 million for the GBA/GameCube, and yes many people owned Game Boy Players and relied on GBA connectivity with their Game Cubes so now even those numbers look good. Wii+DS is an incredible 265 million! So yeah for the 3DS/Wii U to be sitting at ONLY 80 million combined, all things considered, that’s still a feat worth noting.

Okay but I still haven’t explained how that will affect the Switch. Because true believers, it is BOTH a handheld and a home console. Why is that impressive? Let’s go back in time once again, the last time I promise.

SNES is the template for what a healthy Nintendo console library looks like, you had RPG games, fighting games, kids games, platformer and puzzle games, action games, quest games, maze games, cartoon games, ninja and martial arts games, if a game was made there was a very good chance it was on the SNES. But things took a dip with N64. SNES had a library over over 700 games released retail, and another 20-30 or so unlicensed games released via shady methods. N64 tops out at 297, and half of those are sports games. Not at all an impressive library. Sure it had some heavy hitters like Goldeneye, Mario 64, Smash Bros. etc, but come on no good Mega Man games, no 2D Castlevania, no Street Fighter, only 2 RPG games that barely qualify as RPG games the machine was a wasteland devoid of the kinds of games that gamers were flocking to the Playstation to get. But wait not so fast, Nintendo ‘gamers’ were still buying oh I don’t a little game called Pokemon that helped push the sales over the top. Okay you see the point? Now let me really make it clear. Even when 3rd party companies were dismissing Nintendo’s console they were still making great games for the handhelds, even Microsoft has made games for the Nintendo handheld even during the time Xbox was killing the console division.

Now imagine this scenario. You bought a GameCube, you took it home and oh crap you realize there are only 15 or so games to choose from, most are made by Nintendo and all the games you were wanted from Capcom, Sega, Konami, Rare, etc, were just gone. But those games were showing up in respectable SNES quality ports and sequels, where SNES was still the gold standard for game design, especially 2D, and suddenly if you have GBA and a GameCube you have access to a really robust library. The problem is buying a $200 + console AND a $100-$200+ dollar handheld well that is damn expensive. Many gamers are then forced to chose, which to buy first. The issue is gamers  had to split their money up so they go for the best bang for their buck, which turns out to usually be the handheld. Now not every gamer is going to buy both machines, most people don’t have that kind of money. Oh they do but they get the Nintendo handheld and the Sony or Xbox console. Well here’s is the kicker, the Switch is both.

What does that mean again? Basically it means that if you are in the market for a new Nintendo machine but you can’t decide which to get, the console or the handheld you look at the games. In the case of Wii U and 3DS you see a very similar library between the two so you decide 3DS is the better choice. But some people hate tiny handheld screens and do prefer to play on the TV, well if 3DS had just had TV output there would be no need for Wii U to even exist. That is the amazing part of the Switch, it means that you just spend the, presumably, $250-$350 dollars ONCE on one machine and spend the rest of your money on games. Now instead of picking the handheld first and getting 3 games and then the console next year and getting 2 games, you just spend all that money on 7-8 games, an increase of easily 2-3 games based on cost alone. The issue with Nintendo and 3rd parties is on console the games don’t sell because most people buy a Nintendo console for the Nintendo games and the Sony or Xbox console for everything else, or they stick with PC and Nintendo handheld. So in this scenario Nintendo is creating that means gamers will have more money to spend on the Switch games, companies will sell more games and make more money, that translates to them supporting the system longer. That is why I am excited for it. Not just because yeah I will finally be able to play Pokemon on a TV instead of a tiny screen, or that I will be able to take Smash Bros. on the go but because I truly believe this thing will easily do combined Nintendo sales, which will garner combined Nintendo support which to me means easily 80 million happy Nintendo fans all united under one platform playing all the same games, something we haven’t experienced since the NES days, you know before there even was a Game Boy and a handheld division.

Yes I am excited for the Switch, and based on the Pokemon Go craze I imagine many people the world over will be too once they learn what it truly is.

Chronicles of a Nintendo fan, the end of an era

Everyone has played Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, Duck Hunt, Wii Sports, or Pokemon at some point in their life it seems. A lot of people grew up playing some form of Nintendo. I wanted to chronicle my life as a gamer, my evolution as a Nintendo fan, and my recent decisions regarding the current state of the Nintendo I once fell in love with.

For the world it began in 1985 with the release of Duck Hunt/Super Mario Bros. combo pack. For me it began in 1987 at a laundromat in Delphos Kansas. A small town the people in the next town over haven’t even heard of. Up to that point I was an Atari guy, we had an Atari machine at our house we used to play the crap out of that thing, mostly games nobody ever remembers the names too along with a few favorites like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Haunted House, etc. My arcade experience was mostly confined to Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man at the local bar in town we sometimes ate at as it doubled as a restaurant. Then there I was sitting in a laundromat bored out of my mind begging my mom for quarters to play one of the video games they had in the corner. I don’t for the life of me remember what the other two games were but I do remember the one I dropped my $.25 cents into, it was a game called Donkey Kong featuring this tiny man jumping over barrels and climbing ladders. At first I hated the game, man it was hard compared to Pac-Man my previous arcade favorite, but something about it kept drawing me back.

I remember it was 1987 because I was barely 5 years old, I hadn’t started Kindergarten yet, I was living in Delphos Kansas and I was born in 1982 so it had to be 1987. I also remember having mixed feelings about the game. Then we moved to another town called Minneapolis, Kansas. It was New Year’s Eve going into 1988, my family was attending a party with some friends my parents had made, this kid named Marvin who I remember very little about. What I do remember is when I asked if they had an Atari they said no, I should have been bummed but what they did have was so  much better. They took me downstairs to the play room where they kept all their toys, had the TV set up for the kids and they was this VCR-sized machine with these funny gray “tapes” stacked up beside it and the kid was holding an ugly little square controller with 2 buttons playing a game I never seen before, it was called The Legend of Zelda. He let me try it out and I was hooked immediately. Forget Atari man I wanted one of these, what were they called Intendos? I wanted one so bad. I spent the rest of that year BEGGING my parents for an Intendo I needed an Intendo bad. (yeah I didn’t learn it was Nintendo until we got one, that Christmas.)

It was the Christmas that almost didn’t happen though. See my mom had promised me a younger brother and in April of 1988 she brought me home, nope not the brother she promised, but ANOTHER sister, I mean come on I had one older and one younger than me I was surrounded by icky girls I was ready for a boy in the house to help me tear the place down. Well needless to say the “bundle of joy” came along early enough in the year there was some doubt what sort of Christmas we would end up with. Turns out most of the fears were for naught as under the tree was a present in a HUGE box larger than any we as a family had seen up to that point. Christmas Day arrives and we tear into it me and my two sisters that were old enough to do so and BEHOLD the Intendo machine I been begging for! Yeah parents made me forget that my baby brother was missing some parts. Oh well plugged my gaming machine into the TV, powered up some Duck Hunt and blasted Ducks till it was time to go back to school. Yeah it was a year after I had gotten my first taste of Nintendo before we had one in our home but man it was worth it, my tiny little six-year-old hands couldn’t be seen without a Nintendo control pad in them for a VERY long time.

Fortunately for us there were not on, not two, but THREE stores in town that rented Nintendo games so I was lucky to get to experience so many “great” games ranging from the hotly anticipated Who Framed Roger Rabbit to the nobody heard of before Little Nemo, to a bunch of games I can’t even sarcastically pretend were good because honestly I totally forgot their names they mostly sucked. Still even if the rentals were hit or miss, we had one gem at home, Super Mario Bros. Not Mario Bros. no we had SUPER Mario Bros. In the 80’s Rad, Awesome, Ultra, Super, Radical, or Mega, if your thing didn’t have one of those words in the title it wasn’t really worth your time. I played that game to death, literally poor Mario died countless deaths on his quest to save the poor princess from the evil turtle.

I don’t know if it was coincidence or what but it also happened that my favorite cartoon at the time and accompanying toy line also featured some beastly looking Turtles, so I was able to “pretend” my Leonardo action figure was “King Koopa” and any Optimus Prime action figure was Mario and I could re-create my favorite “scenes” from the game over and over, with toys. It was about this time my hobby of Nintendo began to become an obsession the likes of which would dominate my youth for many years to come.

I enjoyed the early days of the NES tremendously, randomly renting one game after another as my parents were too cheap to buy us that many games, and the few they did buy were sadly from the bargain clearance rack which meant they usually were games nobody heard of or nobody wanted to play. I wasn’t complaining though man I loved that little gray box. I loved it so much my parents bought me a small black and white TV and set it up next to my bed so I could sit and play at night before I fell a sleep. I thought once I discovered Nintendo there was no going back the world had changed and Atari was quickly fading into memory.

My love of Nintendo even stretched into other areas of my life. I begged mom to buy Mario valentines day cards for my friends, I had Mario on my folders and notebooks for school, I watched the cartoon/TV extravaganza the “Super Mario Super Show” faithfully, even more so than my previously beloved Transformers. If Mario was on one channel and even Ninja Turtles, which I enjoyed, was on the other, Mario one every time. I even watched that movie, I won’t say the name you remember, and I was, well I liked parts of it, seeing Mario and Luigi on the big screen in their costumes was, um sorta satisfying, but, okay it was a mess of a movie that almost killed Nintendo for me but I sat in the theater hoping to enjoy it nonetheless, I even convinced my parents to buy a copy on VHS because as a kid I believed if I kept watching it would eventually get better. Yeah I was wrong sue me.

Things were progressing along just fine until one day I questioned Nintendo’s value to me. A friend of mine showed me his new game consoles, the Turbo Grafix 16. He bragged how it was so much better than Nintendo because it was 16 bits and Nintendo was “only” 8 bits. I didn’t know what the hell a bit was but if this machine had more of them it must be better. So I started looking through comic books to read Turbo Grafix ads and saw, it had a few games that looked cool. I started putting the work on my parents to buy me a new 16 bit machine and they shot it down dead with, when Nintendo makes one we will consider it. I thought that will never happen Nintendo is stuck in the past their machine is too popular there is no chance they will ever replace it. Of course I was 8 at the time what did I know. To be fair Super Mario Bros. 3 had just came out and well that game, 16 bit or not 16 bit, was a damn fine game that reminded me bits, what are bits, this game is FUN and fun is the name of the game. So  my interest in Turbo whatsitcalled faded and I plunged head first into my world of Nintendo.

Then everything changed in 1992. I was at another friends house who was showing me his newest toy, the Super Nintendo! Wait a Nintendo that was SUPER and not “regular” I had to have one. This put me on a quest to once again convince my parents I needed a new Nintendo player. Dad wasn’t falling for it, he just got the Nintendo three or four years prior, if they can’t last ten years he felt they weren’t worth the money spent on them. And so I waited. Christmas 1993 came and still no Super Nintendo under the tree. By this time I had begun to amass quite a collection of NES carts so I wasn’t exactly in a huge hurry to you know upgrade. That is until one fateful day everything changed for good, this time there was no going back. Sitting on the bus another kid showed me his new toy, the Sega Game Gear. My best friend at the time had a Game Boy and I already had dozens of those Tiger things at home so I was vaguely familiar with the concept of a hand held gaming device, but the tiny screens I just wasn’t sold. He was playing a game called Super Star Wars. I had played this game on NES and felt the Game Gear version definitely played better. Then he plugged in his Sonic cart. WHAT IS THIS? A “Mario” game that was actually as good as or even *gasp* better than Mario? Oh man I fell in love so hard with Sonic I immediately began to lose all interest in that lame Plumber from the Mushroom Kingdom. (This was the SAME Mario my mom had used to convince me cleaning the toilet was fun because “Mario is a plumber and plumbers clean toilets” yeah I fell for it, Doh!)

With my friends posters and Sega promotional material I now knew I had to have this new machine, the Sega Genesis. I had forgotten all about Super Nintendo and abandoned my quest to get one now I turned all my attention to Genesis. It was an easy sell, my parents were Sunday school teachers, the word Genesis is in the Bible it must be good right?  It worked, a little nudging, some careful planting of evidence and on my 12th birthday my parents gave me a Sega Genesis console with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 packed in! Whoo hoo I was happy. Yeah sorry Nintendo, Sega had Sonic, Mortal Kombat WITH the blood, Turrican, Shinobi, Streets of Rage, the BETTER Mighty Morphin Power Rangers games (shut up I was 12,) and it had not one but TWO totally amazing X-Men games and boy was I an X-Men nut by this time. The 16 bit wars were easily the best time to be a gamer and I loved drawing battle lines and picking what I knew was the right side, Sega Genesis all the way baby, it had games, it had Sega CD, it could play music, it could play Karaoke CD’s (didn’t know what they were but hey it could play them so it was cool!) Man I jumped on the Sega bandwagon so hard, to this day my online discussion forum handle more often than not is Sega Gamer 12, a throwback to getting a Genesis on my 12th birthday. Good times were had for a very long time.

Just like the transition from Atari to Nintendo then Nintendo to Sega I felt there was always going to be a newcomer to take out the old timer. Atari failed to make a comeback with their Jaguar, and even before it was announced I knew Saturn would bomb because it was over priced 32X and 32X was a joke, even I could see that at only 12 years of age. So where was I to go now that Nintendo had lost my interest? Don’t count the lovable house that Mario built out just yet my friends. Nintendo and Sega were battling it out in the home console and handheld market, Sega was killing it in arcades and I was a huge arcade fan, something was brewing that made me rethink everything. Virtaul Reality. We stopped calling it VR pretty quickly and then just called it 3D gaming but between Doom, Area 51, Virtua Fighter, Virtua Racing, Tekken, Cruisin USA, Killer Instinct, Star Fox, this new “VR-3D” gaming craze was upon us and I had to get in. The question then was which of the new 3D consoles was I going to set my sights on? There were four on the market or just around the corner.

It was middle 1995, summer, I had a job now I could save up my money and buy my OWN machine. No need to involve the parents anymore. I was saving up for a new 3D gaming box but which one do I go after? The Sega Saturn, and it’s blocky, ugly games that were not at all fun like Genesis? Or would it be Atari and..  not not even on my radar was the Jaguar sorry pass. What about Sony and their new fangled Play Station majigger? Not sure how much faith I have in a company known for making tape decks so I turned my attention to the one last hope for gaming, Nintendo Ultra 64, which was just around the corner. I enjoyed Killer Instinct and Cruisin USA in the arcades, I played the heck out of Area 51, and I was even starting to feel some nostalgia for Mario after playing Super Mario All-Stars at a cousins house that summer. This had me thinking Nintendo was going to be my next purchase. I saved up, went down to K-Mart in August of 1996 and put my N64 machine and Super Mario 64 game cart on advance layaway. It was going to cost me a whole bunch of money but I felt it was worth it I wanted 3D Mario.

The day before I was supposed to pay it off/pick it up something changed. My dad had taken me into this pawn shop, which introduced me to a whole new world of shopping I had never experienced before, and they had a complete working Super NES for a mere $40 bucks! I was like wow wait a second drop $250 on an N64 and ONE game, or take home this machine, a shoe box full of great Super NES games, and have money left over to buy 3 pieces of a 5 piece drum set? I had to cancel my Layaway, take that money to the pawn shop and load up on Super NES games.

With a Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis safely tucked away on my TV in my bedroom I was set for life baby. I was quickly reminded how much I enjoyed Nintendo games. I never fell for the 16 bit wars, I finally had both machines and I could honestly say they both gave me equal enjoyment over the years. Eventually this would morph into a half truth then Super NES would not only win out for me as the better machine overall, I would eventually settle on it as the greatest video game console, of all time.

Things were going good I was firmly back in Nintendo land. I grabbed me an N64 a couple short years latter, got a Game Boy Pocket then Game Boy Advance along the way, followed that up with an amazing and to this day very memorable Game Cube machine, got me a Nintendo DS and enjoyed it tremendously then suddenly Nintendo did the unthinkable, they made a machine I not only wasn’t excited for much, I grew to HATE. Unlike Super NES where the alternative was just as good for the most part, or the N64 where you kind of had to recognize it was your second machine with Playstation being the bulk of your source of gaming, now Wii was an entirely different beast. I quickly went from not that interested to HATING that worthless pile of garbage. I hated it so much that it was 3 years into Wii U before I could even consider getting it and despite having the same name, I personally felt it was the superior machine, it was the last straw for me. I never picked up a 3DS, I sold my DS when it became nothing more than SNES 2.0 with a few N64 remakes and a bunch of the casual crap flooding the Wii library. I realized my love was not for Nintendo the company, or even Nintendo products, it was always the Nintendo games and the characters within those games. I gotta say with Wii and Wii U I lost a lot of respect for the company, I began to lose hope and now just a few months away from their next machine, the NX, I just don’t think I can muster the energy to go through all of that again. This could be my final good by to Nintendo once and for all. Wii hurt me, bad, and Wii U didn’t do much to mend those wounds, in fact it just rubbed salt in a few cases and was barely a band aid at best.

I am here to say that barring a really mind blowing game that I absolutely can’t live without, that does NOT rely on some controller gimmick, and isn’t outrageously over priced outdated hardware, I am just not likely to even bother with NX and Wii U might be my last Nintendo console I ever buy, and if I sell it to buy more Game Cube games, which I might do, it won’t even be a console I own forever. I love Nintendo, at one time I loved them a lot, but I feel like the time has come to file for divorce and go our separate ways. Sony surprised me over the years consistently making the games and consoles I just wished Nintendo would and I figured I am done wishing Nintendo would JUST make a Playstation/modern Super NES and say to hell with it I am firmly now a Playstation gamer.

There is a chance I might buy that new NES Classic Edition console they just announced yesterday. Can they win me back? Only time will tell but as of right now I spend all my time gaming on my PS4 anyways, and I am saving up for a Playstation VR so it’s a long shot. I might download that Pokemon Go app in the meantime though.