25 June, 2011

Dear Nintendo

Dear Nintendo:

They say you always remember your first. I was 5 years old when I got my hands on (barely, have you seen the size of that thing?) the first generation Nintendo Gameboy system. It was heavy, it had terrible battery life, it was black and white, and it was glorious. I had more accessories for that thing than Paris Hilton had outfits for her little dogs – ironically probably smaller than the actual Gameboy.
I had the screen light attachment, I had the extra battery pack (similarly, also large), I had the cartridge cases, The Super GameBoy SNES cartridge, I had the custom Nintendo black Velcro carrying case complete with separate pouch for your spare AA batteries. I also had mad games because apparently as a little girl I would rather blow up vampires in Castlevania than belittle the feminist movement by playing with a plastic kitchen. I lugged this shit around like a chain smoking hospital patient with an IV out for a drag.
I had SNES at this time also, and due to my dad’s job, found myself literally swimming in Rubbermaid containers of SNES-headaches-caused-by-blowing-too-hard-because-your-game-wouldn’t-start games. Seriously, I work in technical support and if all my answers were as easy as “have you tried BLOWING into it?” I would make Steve Jobs look like Old Mother Hubbard and make him eat his shoe-house for breakfast.
Kids that grew up with the old school Nintendo cartridges should have lungs similar to Micheal Phelps, or a professional Saxophonist for the amount of raw lung power they exerted over the course of their system’s life. I knew a kid that played so much Nintendo, Environment Canada hired him to power one of their wind turbines… WITH HIS MOUTH.
Let’s not even get me started on the game quality. The SNES system was one of the very few systems to this day that is filled with fun, entertaining, and well published content. The games were innovative, inventive, fun, and even though most pale in comparison to Xbox or PS3 in the graphics department, the gameplay and narratives of these games could outlast even Richard Simmons in a Jazzersized game of wits.
Nintendo prides itself on being innovative; and every year it has done so. When the Nintendo 64 was introduced in my sticky little fingers it was like God Herself smiled down upon me and said “Go forth and climb up in the Facility bathroom vents, so as to evade your little brother in multiplayer mode. It shall be done.”  One could claim (and I'm going to) that Goldeneye was one of the most perfect games ever created in the history of mankind. I'm saying that as a gamer that doesn’t particularly go for FPS games, but the multiplayer mode on that bitch was arguably the best in existence. The pure pleasure derived from getting that Golden gun, and having your brother freak out and try to hide as you ran after him was priceless, and the insanity that was “slappers only” in the Caves level (you did it, don’t lie) made for 4-player birthday party hilarity.
If 007 was like a Frankenstein’s Monster mix of heroin and crack, 007 was like the Oxycodine to my Zelda habit; once Zelda 64 came out it was all over for me. Ocarina of Time is one of the best games I have ever played to date. It had a hero that I was inappropriately obsessed with, a time parallel that rivalled any other up until this point, and a typical Nintendo storyline that made you want to eat the plot with a spoon even if it were made of razorblades. I don’t know how Nintendo manages to come up with characters and plotlines that are so far and above any other publisher or company, but they do; consistently.
Once Majora’s Mask came out it was a shitstorm of comparisons to Ocarina of Time, but the beauty of Nintendo is that even as the second game, it wasn’t a direct sequel. New plot, new ways to involve the same characters, they even manage to take Link and reinvent his entire existence, yet still keep him the same; it’s a mindfuck of awesome to the power of Hyrule.
Nintendo pushes the bar every for every single game and console. Remember Pikmin for Gamecube? What an underrated game. The whole premise was ingenious, and the console as a whole was looked over in response to Playstation 2, which rivalled for the attention of pre-teens everywhere. “Nintendo doesn’t take technology into play when designing its consoles! There are no discs!” I heard this constantly when PSOne was introduced. You know what Nintendo’s retort was? Nothing. Because if you ever had kids you understand how much they give a shit about carefully placing your discs into jewel cases and not using them as coasters, Frisbees, or sitting on them so they crack in half. Have you ever run over a Nintendo 64 cartridge with your car? I have; that shit is as durable as an English nanny.
“But Nintendo doesn’t have a DVD player!” Nintendo isn’t a Swiss Army Knife, assholes. It’s a premium, quality generating content gaming system. If you want a DVD player go to Best Buy and shut the fuck up. Nintendo makes games. It designs its consoles around how best to run games; not play your Twilight Saga on Bluray. The truth is, the more your gaming consoles turn into media devices, the less concerned content creators will be with creating quality content for that system. It’s like buying a car. But wait - this car is also a motherfucking spaceship - so let’s focus on making this spaceship pimp-ass so all the hunnies come take a ride on it instead of finding out ways to make driving it on the road better. Do you see the direct correlation I'm laying down? The more shit you add onto a system, the more people will be complacent with shitty quality for its original purpose.
Take the iPhone. As a phone, it’s a piece of ass, but as a “media device” it shits rainbows, so people forget all about how fucking terrible of a phone it is. This is happening with gaming consoles; more and more R&D is going into making the ‘extra features’ like bluray better, and more and more of these ‘extra features’ are now considered standard. So when little snots go into EB Games and ask why the Wii doesn’t have a Bluray player or a complex online social media networking system and transactional sphere like Microsoft, you can tell him “because the Wii sucks Grandma’s balls, son!” But in actuality, no, no it doesn’t. It’s a game console, and it’s awesome at playing awesome and innovative games from Nintendo. Just because it doesn’t fondle your balls doesn’t make it less of a gaming console than the other big contenders.
Case in point: Zelda. Donkey Kong. Metroid. Mario. I don’t care what argument you have against Nintendo’s “technological Ludditeism”, it makes wicked fun games, and characters that you still have fun playing 25 years later. What else is out there? Two words: Duke Nukem. That test of time shrivelled up and died.
You want innovative? BAM . Motion controllers. “Oh Nintendo that’s shitty idea.” A year later BAM. Everyone has these fucking bad boys. Windwaker has cel shaded graphics? “TERRIBLE!” Oh wait what was that? The 2004 Game Developers Choice Awards and the Seventh Annual Interactive Achievement Awards gave The Wind Waker awards for Excellence in Visual Arts and Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction and pulling in a rating of 95%? (Wikipedia) BAM. Awesome.
In closing, Nintendo is like the Harry Potter of the consoles; it may not have the fancy bells and whistles that the other kids have, but it is the best at what it does. Also Snape kills Dumbledore. I'm assuming he’s Dreamcast? Let’s not go into that.

They say that you always remember your first. In my case I not only remember my first, but subsequent successors to which I can remember whole libraries of content, codes, hacks and cheats for these games. Ever catch yourself humming the tune to Mario? Of course you do. What about the DK rap? Well, maybe not so much, but the point I'm trying to make is that no matter what game or system you play from Nintendo, it has always come out on top as a first-class machine that plays superior content made by an pioneering company. And 20 years later here I sit looking at a cabinet time-capsule full of ‘firsts’, ‘seconds’ and ‘followings’, there is no doubt in my mind that the experiences I’ve had will ever wane from being number 1 to me.



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