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The Nintendo Experience - Part 2

In part 1 I told the story of the days owning Nintendo consoles from the 1990s era. This time I'll be talking about my teen years of owning the Nintendo consoles from the 2000s. So join me on this second and final part of....

The millennium had shown promise (and much impatience) from the wait with Nintendo's purple cubed system coming out. As I still had my Nintendo 64 sitting on a shelf right beside the clothes dresser with my T.V. atop it, I had a subscription to Game Informer with a preview section showing off the soon-to-come games that would be released for the new system, The Gamecube.

As more news surfaced on both the system and its games, my visits to stores like K-Mart and Best Buy led to checking out their shopping catalogs, and eventually as I was in the last semester and last year of Middle school in the summer of 2001, my stepdad went out of his way to buy a Gamecube for the both of us near the holiday season. My stepdad was a Metroid nut, and he immediately fell in love with Metroid Prime, and I played a bit of it too. I wanted Luigi's Mansion at one point, since it was a launch title, but instead I wanted to wait until after December to pick up Super Smash Bros. Melee, since its release date was at the 31st of the month. Both of the games provided great fun, even though the controller felt bulky.

Super Smash Bros. Melee was and still is, the definitive Super Smash Bros. title in my opinion. Even the director of the game said it's his favorite!

I probably had put over 50+ hours into Super Smash Bros. Melee after going through the game's Adventure, Classic, and All-Stars modes as all of the characters, so even without friends over it was a fun experience. I eventually did get Luigi's Mansion and another game from Nintendo, Pikmin but it wasn't bought by my stepdad or mom, but a gift from my uncle.

As time went on, my stepdad rarely put any time into playing games anymore and decided to leave the Gamecube system to me. And since I was dealing with more of an amount of homework being in High school I had less hours myself. On the plus side I was making low allowances again, so I began renting games like I used to. Super Mario Sunshine wasn't the Gamecube's premiere title like previous Mario games were on past Nintendo systems, as Luigi got the spotlight for the Gamecube, and it was the first rental I got for the system. I always called it Super Mario 64 2 as it brought Mario back into a 3D platformer, but like its predecessor it wasn't as memorable. I did like the setting that it took place in though, and it even inspired me to write a review for it for my English class. A few other games that I rented were either crappy movie licensed games, or third party games like Crash Bandicoot: Wrath of Cortex, and Mario Kart: Double Dash was soon my last ever Gamecube rental.

The years of the Gamecube lasted to the very end of my time being in High School, as 2006 led to the system's swan song title, the Legend of Zelda: Twlight Princess. This also led to the release day of Nintendo's next console, the Nintendo Wii. The low price of the Wii console would have made for an immediate buy, but for a whole two years I was without one. Zelda: Twilight Princess was a great way of tiding me over before it, as my brother gave me the Gamecube version during a visit. As for those two years in wait I eventually moved in with my brother and I got a Wii as a Christmas present, courtesy of a Secret Santa, but I wasn't expecting it, at all.

Much like how the Nintendo 64 came bundled with Super Mario 64, The Wii was bundled with an intriguing, user interactive game called Wii Sports. But before I could get to that I had to set up the settings on the console, as well as my uhh... my mii.

Nintendo introduced motion controls with this system, whereas you use a remote to navigate a pointer and certain motion with your wrist, and an analog stick attachment called the nunchuck, which you use with your left hand. Wii Sports was pretty much the pinnacle of the system as it was the perfect example of showing off the gimmick of the hardware. You could play a round of boxing with both the Wii remote and the nunchuck to throw punches, swing a tennis racket with both arms, and even play a round of golf with the Wii remote alone. The idea of Wii Sports isn't just making a simple body motion to perform an action, as the precise swing or throw really did matter in a game. If you swung a bowling ball and ended up losing your balance, the game really would pick up on the accident of your throw counting as your fault. Speaking of, out of the handful of sports games in the Wii Sports collection, bowling was by far the most played by me and my brother.

You wouldn't hit a guy with glasses would you? This was how my Mii looked when I first owned Wii Sports. Later when I got my Wii U I changed the hair style and added a goatee.

Since I was also a couple of years late with the Wii, I picked up Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros. Brawl as trade-ins from some Playstation 2 games that I owned at the time and thankfully it wasn't GameStop that I went to. Since the Wii remote ran on batteries I also felt that it was time that I bought a remote charger from GameStop ($20 if I remember correctly) and played those three games up until I was able to pick up a few more by 2011, when I finally got a legit job to not worry about trade-ins anymore. But by that time, the Wii went from revolutionary to a console that would be left in the dust with lackluster first party support and a slew of shovelware games.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, shovelware is basically rushed third party game software to make a quick buck. This is unfortunately the demise that Nintendo met with while Sony and Microsoft were still going strong. The Wii wasn't 1080p supported, and even that example alone is how Nintendo didn't do as well during the second half of the Wii's lifespan. Little did I know, Nintendo's next console would be coming out just a year after. In the meantime, I used what money I could to purchase classic titles that were in the Wii shop, Nintendo's digital download shop for games both current and on classic Nintendo systems before their next system would cause the online services to get shut down. I can't say I was wholeheartedly interested in their new system, but I was glad to hear that they were finally taking the HD route with it.

Just like with the Wii, I waited two years to bring myself to pick one up. I wasn't too excited for the library of games, and the Wii U's launch game, Nintendo Land wasn't as appealing as Wii Sports was. The miis were brought back for player customization, and it was a nice touch seeing that again. But the main reason that I bought a Wii U was because the controller could be used as a drawing tablet, and that was right up my alley. Not just that, but Nintendo introduced a new online community where you could share game posts and drawings, and it was a fun concept, well for me that is.

Posting art in Miiverse, the Wii U's online community was my main reason for picking up a Wii U.

But like I mentioned earlier, the Wii U's library was a bit iffy. Some first and third party titles were great, but I had to pick wisely. The game I got with my bundle was The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, with a digital version of the book "Hyrule Historia". But since this site has the physical book, I got that instead. Picking up this bundle was still a great choice because Wind Waker on the Gamecube became one of the rarest games ever due to its lack of sales, and it was an even better experience playing the game on the Wii U's little controller at the dead of night. When my savings account bursted with four grand, I decided to pick up several more games, including Game & Wario, Bayonetta 2, Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros., Splatoon, New Super Mario Bros. U, Super Mario 3D World, and the remastered Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD.

The digital shop of downloadable classic games even came back, and playing classic Nintendo games in HD resolution was probably the most of what sold me in owning a Wii U. But as time went on, Nintendo had been running low on sales, and they introduced these figurines called Amiibo where you scan them on the Wii U controller and unlock additional content in games. While it was understandable that production of the console was running low, it was sad to see the company take this direction to try to make an extra buck. I groaned when I saw Skylanders, and I had a hard time believing Nintendo trying the same concept. To make matters worse, shovelware-like titles had taken over their digital store, but this time they're from indie developers.

Even before Satoru Iwata's tragic passing from 2016, the company has fallen from grace since the Wii U's launch, and with the Nintendo Switch on the horizon, we can only pray that the support of third party companies will help keep the new console standing on its legs as there's been a great divide in consumers after Nintendo had to show what was to offer with the Switch's launch game lineup. Some viewers were won over, while others felt like it was a sick joke. But as I type this, there still isn't enough to make everyone (myself included) happy. So as a conclusion, it will remain a mystery in question.

Will the company finally reach out and deliver a successful experience again in the future, or will Sony and Microsoft dominate over it? Only time will tell.

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Hoju Koolander Posted on Mar 16, 2017 at 05:19 PM

As someone who stopped taking after the Super Nintendo, this series has been a great look at how Nintendo fared with their later systems. I just got the Marvel Disney Infinity game for my kids on the PS3, which I think is like Skylanders and it is really pretty fun. Especially for a guy who was always more into action figures than video games.

Benjanime Posted on Mar 14, 2017 at 03:50 PM

whoops, looks like i made a mistake. iwata actually passed away in 2015, not 2016.

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