Like most of our community members, I grew up on Nintendo. I have joyous memories of trying to beat Castelvania, Milon’s Secret Castle, and several other titles over a span of several years. I didn’t know how the industry worked. I didn’t know Nintendo develops and licenses games to be played on it’s consoles. Everyone just said “Nintendo games” when referring to the products of other developers. My world was small – I thought Nintendo did it all.
When the SNES and Genesis came out, it was the first time I had to defend Nintendo. The more risky kids had a Genesis, while us white-collar kids had a Nintendo. The conversations we have today about video-game violence yield the same, closed-minded statements I made in defense of Nintendo: “blood in Mortal Kombat makes you violent.” Of course, I was repeating what my parents said. The same white-collar folks that allowed me to own a Nintendo. They didn’t anticipate what PCs were about to do to their young lad.
I was 12 when I first owned a PC. It was a 486SX running DOS 5.0 with Windows 3.1 layered on top. It was pretty obvious that Microsoft didn’t own every aspect of my experience. It had an Intel CPU and an HP chassis. Best of all, my parents had no clue what was possible. My friend came over with five 3.5″ floppy disks titled “game” which actually contained Doom II. The first PC game I ever played. It was everything Nintendo was not: violent, aggressive, and full of blood. I must have played every popular Doom-engine game. My first Star Wars game was Dark Forces. Eventually I was spending all of my spare time on the PC, learning how it worked and how to break it. Still, I loved Zelda on my SNES.
When the Nintendo 64 came out, my PC was outdated and Ocarina of Time was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. It got me through high school and my PC was just a slug. But I began to notice the Playstation. My friends were playing it – even the preppy kids. Then, on a fateful Sunday afternoon, my dad’s friend came by with a pickup truck full of spare PC components. Everything changed for me. I learned there are options! And the performance of my PC games varied based on my hardware options I chose to implement. And on top of that, I could now play games that required a third-party video card such as the Voodoo. These games were blowing away Mario 64 and even GoldenEye. Graphics are not the only factor to enjoying a game. But, come on, it helps. I began to drift from Nintendo. While I would go on to buy every console but the Wii U, and every handheld but the 3DS, I was on a direct course for gaming heaven.
If I were to define gaming heaven, it would be where I can play any game available and it would work well. I’m not completely there, but I’ve gone as far as developers can take a man. Sadly, for that 5 year old who thought Nintendo owned the video game world, I’m no longer excited for new ways to play the same games over and over again. Especially when they haven’t changed all that much. For most gamers, they have only 1 console. I cannot advise anyone to purchase a Wii U over older consoles such as the 360 or PS3. Those consoles have stronger libraries with more support from 3rd parties. They have social networks for playing with friends or meeting new ones. And they are home media centers for streaming TV, movies, music and photos. The list goes on.
Nintendo still makes excellent titles. And if I were 5 years old today, I would want a Nintendo-only world. But as a grown man who has seen better and has experienced what it means to play the games everyone is talking about – I see no reason to go back to Nintendo until they sing a different tune.