Before you go any further, this is not a “the Wii U sucks” article. Nor is this a “Nintendo is dying” article. I’m just stopping and taking a look at my past, looking for when I stopped being a Nintendo fanboy. Turns out, it happened quite a while ago.
I grew up with Nintendo games. I did. Sure, my dad purchased an Atari 2600 first, but that’s not where my childhood memories are at. My memories are with Super Mario Brothers 1 through 3. They are with Dragon Warrior 1 through 4. They are with Final Fantasy. They are with Marble Madness. They are with Pinbot. They are with Kid Icarus. They are with Duck Hunt. They are with Tecmo Super Bowl. I stayed away from every other console. I hated them and didn’t need them. Why? I was a fanboy.
My childhood memories are with Nintendo. And not just with the NES. My best friend and I must have spent days on end playing battle mode for Super Mario Kart. We went at it like two tie-fighters. Some of our matches lasted for over an hour, easily.
I haven’t been a Nintendo fanboy for years now. It wasn’t something sudden, I gradually lost faith in the Nintendo brand. It took awhile. I can remember when Nintendo first started to lose me: September 29th, 1996 when the Nintendo 64 came out. Up till then, I wanted to believe that Nintendo was the best system out there. I was still infatuated with games like Super Tecmo Bowl, Gemfire, Donkey Kong Country, and Liberty or Death. Nintendo seemed to know how to make fun games. And a lot of third party developers made mind-blowing games for the system.
All that changed with the N64. It was like Nintendo just stopped trying. I can’t describe it any other way. They were stuck in the past with cartridge games while the rest of the industry was moving to memory cards and disc games. Sure, cartridges felt familiar. But it was kind of archaic at that point. There were nice things like no loading times. But there were drawbacks as well, like games being far smaller than they could have been because of limited storage space.
No, I didn’t run out my home and purchased the PlayStation or Sega Saturn. At that point, I didn’t have the money to get any new system. But I watched and played the systems at my friend’s place. Sure, Nintendo made some pretty fun games still. I liked Mario 64 fine enough. Mario Kart 64 was fun. Same with Golden Eye and Perfect Dark. But something was missing. It took awhile for e to figure it out, but it eventually hit me. The third party games that I knew and loved weren’t there. They were on the PlayStation.
SquareSoft signed a seven game exclusive deal with Sony to make games for the PlayStation. Heck, Final Fantasy 7 was coming out for it rather than for the Nintendo 64. I learned about this deal when I went to a Cubs Convention. SquareSoft was demoing some baseball game, which was odd since I don’t recall them ever releasing one for the PS1. I talked with the representative there, very nice guy might I add, and he told me all about it. I was freaking shell-shocked by that revelation. Nintendo let one of the one prolific developers that I was aware of slip right through their fingers, losing them for who knows how many years! I knew SquareSoft couldn’t be the only one.
Not only was Nintendo seemingly stuck in the past, now third party developers were walking away from the system. I didn’t see how it could get any worse! But, surprisingly enough, it did. A week or two later, I learned about how Nintendo was total dick to Sony and tried to own the rights to the disc technology. Nintendo also demanded the bulk of the profits for the games the technology would use. I could see why Sony walked away and went into business for themselves. Heck, if Nintendo would treat a company like Sony that way, I could only imagine what they did with all the other companies. I believed, up to that point, that Nintendo was the ‘good guys’ that were all about fun and making games for gamers. They were all about traditional games. But that last illusion was blown away by their act of greed.
My naive vision of Nintendo was gone at that point. I wasn’t sure how Nintendo could bounce back, or even if they should. But, that was childish thoughts. Of course Nintendo would want to make a nice profit and control their product. It always kind of sucks when a product that I had faith in turned out to be not what I thought they were.
It’s why I can’t blindly back any console. What’s the point of doing so? Once I let go of my blind devotion to Nintendo, I saw that all consoles had something really good about them or had awesome games. Like Sega Saturn had Dragon Force, which was one of the most fun real time strategy games I’ve ever played. And the PlayStation and its successors had hundreds of video games that everyone loved. Why should I limit myself to one system when there’s an entire world of games out there?
Why should anyone?