When the Gamecube came out in 2002 I bought it on the day of release with my brother, giddy from the money from my weekend jobs at a clothing chain and a youth centre. It was the first ever console that I bought brand new and so it has a special place in my heart. Even though it had quite a small library it did have some of my favourite games ever including Zelda: Windwaker, Resident Evil 4 (an exclusive at the time) and Metroid Prime. As the consoles library dried up I purchased a second-hand Playstation 2 specifically to play Ico. The game had me intrigued and so I brought a shrink wrapped copy of that game and the console one Saturday after work at the youth centre and devoured the game in a few days. Of course I played loads of other PS2 games but Ico was my in, a strange in to be sure.
I bought the Xbox 360 in 2007 and loved that system, it's online service was amazing and I played some phenomenal games including Bioshock, Assassins Creed 2, Gears of War, Red Dead Redemption and Deadly Premonition. However I noticed something; all those achievements and the quest for useless XP points was getting in the way of the games for me. The simplicity of the games were being diluted with fetch-quests and the search for random doodads, a lot of the games coming out had no respect for my time and I started to dislike them for this; why did I need a 3 hour tutorial on how to move my character around a screen?
When the Wii was released I was one of the lucky few who had pre-ordered at from Game and got it on the day of release. The system was a revelation and yes I am one of those people who have the story of 'my parents never played any computer system but they did play Wii Sports.' The image of my dad playing tennis with my older brother by waggling the Wii-mote around is a happy memory for me and not at all as sinister or sordid as it sounds. The Wii had some amazing games including Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Muramasa: The Demon Sword, Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 and Donkey Kong Country Returns but as usual the games dried up and the shovelware came in. When my wife and I moved to Cambodia for 2 years she bought me a cracked Wii and I had over 200 games on it. She went away for a girlie weekend and found me in a catatonic state, sleep-deprived and I'm sure a bit smelly as I am a completist and had stayed up pretty much the whole weekend playing loads of the games worrying about how I would complete them all. That is obviously not a good state to be in and so I decided to relax about games and not get caught up in the whole 'complete everything' spiral. I went back to the Xbox 360 but was very picky in what I played as so many were very padded experiences, I started critical pathing some of the games which made them still very worthwhile in my opinion. I also only played the Wii games I was interested in and completed pretty much all the ones I had wanted.
I then bought a Wii U and even though it has been a commercial failure, it has had some phenomenal games; Bayonetta 2, Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (which incidentally has one of the greatest soundtracks ever) and Rayman Legends. I've found myself more relaxed about my gaming habits and again have only played the games that have interested me and respect my time.
And so on to the Nintendo Switch. I've pre-ordered it and am awaiting it with bated breath. Even though many of my friends and colleagues are worried about it as they feel Nintendo's last few entries into the console market have been underwhelming, for me it doesn't matter. I play Nintendo games for the Nintendo experience. They very rarely create games that have fat and take liberties with your time. Their games are usually polished and refined to the highest degree and this is what I pay for.
I've found that even though I have more responsibility in terms of finances and family, Nintendo has been a constant. It offers me hours of comfort and pound or pound has given me more joy than any other media. I often get people asking me when I have the time to play games and the funny thing is that even though I don't have the time I used to have when I was in my adolescence or teens, I do have a spare couple of hours most evenings.
My daughter goes to sleep at 7 ish most nights and my wife is close behind at 8:30, being a lark whilst I am most definitely an owl. This means I get a couple of hours gaming in most nights and have smashed through tonnes of games in the past couple of years. I could spend a few hours working my way through tutorials on some 360 games but most Wii U games don't have long-winded openings and so I just jump in and there I am collecting bananas and trying to stop my island from freezing, or there I am trying to smash Peach off the arena with my Falcon Punch... it goes on.
Nintendo is a constant in my life and even though the company doesn't always get everything right, what it does to is provide a library of bonafide classic games that stand the test of time (for the most part). I hope that as my daughter grows up I can share my passion for gaming with her and show her the Nintendo universe and the wonders contained within.