Oh Nintendo. I type your name into Google and get almost immediately nostalgic. I see pictures of the Nintendo Entertainment System which reminds me of when my dad brought one home one Christmas, and my love affair with you began.
Some of the greatest, most enjoyable games I have ever played could be found on the NES. I vividly remember playing the original Super Mario Bros for hours on end, sitting with my brother to play Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll, and getting frustrated with Super Mario Bros 3! The early 90s were a time of greatness for Nintendo, and characters like Mario and Link (of Legend of Zelda fame, which I will get to presently), and waiting patiently for the next big game.
Whilst the NES sparked my enjoyment of all things Nintendo, it was the Super Nintendo (also known as the SNES) that solidified my love for the company. I first had the chance to play on one at a friend’s house, playing Super Mario World (a great game!) and I would go on to get my own SNES, and I would become entranced by The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, Mario Kart and so many more great games. I still have my SNES, and it still works, and the games remain as great as ever – obviously the graphics don’t compare to modern consoles, but the game play is as strong as ever!
It’s fair to say that Nintendo’s next offering, the N64, was a big leap for the company. As other companies were jumping from 16-bit consoles to 32-bit ones, Nintendo went from the 16-bit SNES – to the 64-bit N64. However, it could be argued that Nintendo also missed a trick by sticking to cartridge-based games rather than disc-based ones, and the general reluctance of Nintendo to allow games with gore and violence meant hardcore gamers went for Sony’s PlayStation. Nevertheless, the chance to get fully-realised 3D worlds on Mario and Zelda games was one that could not be missed, and I loved the first-person shooter Perfect Dark – a very atmospheric, immersive game.
Next up came the GameCube. For this, Nintendo moved on to discs at last – albeit small, micro-discs, and the Cube lacked several of the features of the PS2 and XBox (such as being able to play DVDs). Nintendo further cemented their reputation as a company for casual gamers, as once again, big, more adult-orientated games didn’t appear on the console. I enjoyed games like Star Fox Adventures, Luigi’s Mansion, and a few others, but honestly? The Cube wasn’t as great as it could have been. The Zelda game was good fun, but even that couldn’t save the Cube from mediocrity.
Nintendo’s next offering is arguably one of their finest, and it certainly changed perceptions of video games, pushing other developers in new directions. The Wii featured a unique new controller, that could be used on a very physical level to control games and characters, and the idea of moving as you play took off big time. I firmly believe the Wii pushed Microsoft into developing their Kinect service a lot sooner than they otherwise might have, and the similarities between the WiiMote and the PlayStation’s Move controllers are obvious. Nintendo opened up casual gaming in a whole new way with the Wii, and on top of that, some of the best games yet emerged on it. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (and Skyward Sword), Mario Kart Wii (fun but frustrating!) and a host of others meant the Wii was a huge success.
This is where I have broken with tradition, so to speak. I don't own a Wii U, and with the Switch just weeks away, I probably never will. This is a pity in some ways - if nothing else, I'd like one for the sake of posterity. There are also some good games for the system - Super Mario Maker is a game I would love to see launched for the Switch, but I guess we'll have to wait and see. Speaking of the Switch...
Soon I will be the proud owner of Nintendo's latest console - a very unique hybrid of a home console and a hand-held system. If circumstances had panned out differently, I'd be plumping for a Wii U about now, for one reason - Breath of the Wild, the new Zelda game, which looks to be possibly the most epic adventure yet. I will not lie - I am bubbling over with excitement about this one, and can't wait to see what it has to offer.