The following couple of years went by in a blur of Nintendo goodness, stolen kisses behind the school bikesheds and summer evenings spent playing Manhunt in the local park until the sun disappeared from view. I devoured as many titles as I could, either by saving up my paper round money or swapping titles with friends. Super Mario Kart, A Link to the Past and Zombies Ate My Neighbours are the three that I remember most fondly. Obviously the earning potential of a paperboy in the 90s was very low, so I had to pick and choose my games carefully and I would not discover some of the best games of this period until I got my hands on Wii’s Virtual Console. However, I still look back on this period of my childhood with the utmost fondness because the sheer quality of the games was undeniably amazing.
In December of 1994 a colossal shadow (see what I did there?) appeared on the horizon and proceeded to tear myself and Nintendo apart. PlayStation arrived amidst a storm of advertising which pulled video games into the mainstream, adult realm for the very first time. Wipeout was accompanied by a soundtrack from the likes of Orbital and The Chemical Brothers, which to a teenager, gave the platform instant kudos. In addition to this, the introduction of Lara Croft as a highly sexualised figurehead was more than enough to entice curious young lads like myself. For the next couple of years I left Nintendo behind and hopped into bed with Sony.
Around this time I was also starting to be introduced to the wonderful world of teenage temptations and a number of absolutely hopeless attempts to gain the attention of the opposite sex. Other than Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil, video games fell off my radar for a while and, sadly, I hardly remember anything about the launch of N64 in 1997. My dad worked for a chain of video and video game stores at this time and one weekend when and my brother and I went to visit him, he had managed to obtain one of the company’s rental N64 consoles. I honestly don’t remember being that excited about this but maybe that’s just because I was more concerned with drinking cheap wine in the local park or returning to ogle the Gillian Anderson poster which had pride of place above my bed.
All of this was forgotten, however, as soon as I watched Mario take his first steps in his new, 3D environment. It’s not often one gets to experience a game which truly makes you feel like you’re catching a glimpse of the future, but this was one of those times and it’s still etched into my memory. The graphics, level design and silky smooth, 360 degree controls all combined to create a timeless, spellbinding moment– one which could only have been provided by Nintendo. My heart sank as I realised I had made a terrible mistake.
Christmas followed shortly after this and I was determined to inject some Nintendo back into my life. My brother and I pooled all of our Christmas money and, following a festive trip to visit my grandparents which seemed to last an eternity, we literally ran into town and returned with an N64, Star Fox 64 (complete with Rumble Pak) and International Superstar Soccer 64. What followed was a long period of pure gaming bliss. There are too many to mention but the highlights would have to be a Christmas Day lost to the majesty of a fully realised Hyrule field; completing GoldenEye‘s Facility level without triggering a single alarm and shooting Elvis repeatedly in the face whilst playing Perfect Dark. These are gaming memories sprinkled with stardust and I will cherish them always.
Time moved on, though, and my N64 was eventually left on the shelf to gather dust. A brief, seedy, fumble with a PlayStation 2 and Grand Theft Auto 3 was followed by a longer, more serious liaison with my Xbox. I then upgraded to a 360, and again, I’ll be honest and admit that I am still very fond of these systems; they provided me with some great gaming experiences. It was around this time that I also started becoming a real grown-up. I met my girlfriend, we moved in together, got a mortgage and eventually had two wonderful children. Playing games was no longer one of my main concerns and I mainly used my 360 for the occasional twilight game of FIFA between night feeds and nappy changes. We did purchase a Wii at some point, but it just sat next to the television, neglected and gathering dust.
Eventually, however, I grew tired of the annual Call of Duty and Gears of War sequels which too frequently relied on controversy and crassness. These games continually populated the upper echelons of the sales charts but they left me feeling cold and made me yearn for an old flame. In the end, I made the decision to sell my Xbox 360 and use the funds to purchase Xenoblade Chronicles, Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure, Kirby’s Epic Yarn and a host of classic Virtual Console games ranging from Chrono Trigger to Wave Race 64. I dusted off my Wii and was ready to once again lose myself in the world of Nintendo. I haven’t looked back since and a wonderful relationship has been rekindled.
Insert generic, pitiful apology here.
So, when all is said and done, I admit that I haven’t always treated Nintendo with the respect they deserve. I have made some bad choices and, on a number of occasions, I have allowed my head to be turned by attractive, seductive and more youthful alternatives. My only defence is that I myself was young and that each foray into the alluring boudoir of Sega, Sony or Microsoft has always resulted in a sense of regret and a longing to return to the warmth and comfort of Mario, Link, Kirby and co. This is a relationship which has survived the ravages of time and overcome my previous indiscretions. When I look into my future and see myself as a wrinkly, balding, increasingly grumpy old man who spends his days waiting for the sky to fall, I firmly believe I will still have a Nintendo console of some description sitting in my living room. I don’t think I can pay them any greater compliment than that.
Pages: 1 2