The Big Break from the Big N: My Ten Year-Long Hiatus from Nintendo

Those who have been reading this blog for some time may know how big of a Nintendo fan I am. While I’ve been a big supporter of a lot of the The Big N and what they’ve done over the years, they only recently re-entered my good graces.

Over at PlayingWithThoughts, a recent article talked a little bit about the GameCube and the legacy it left. I wrote a long-winded comment that ended up sprouting into an internal debate of whether or not I even cared about Nintendo around the point that it launched. As I thought about it more and more, I realized that between the Nintendo 64 and the 3DS, there is a gray area where I really didn’t care much for what Nintendo was doing. Let’s dive in.

The GameCube launched in 2001, but I didn’t get one until Christmas of 2003, along with some Wavebird controllers, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Metroid Prime, and that “super weird cartoony Zelda game” Wind Waker. While all these games ended up being incredible and some of the best I’ve ever played in recent years, the disappointment at the time ended up putting a huge dent in my love for Nintendo. Heck, I didn’t even finish Wind Waker or Metroid Prime until about two years ago.

It’s around the time I started college that I began to focus less on gaming and more on my passion of computer programming. But when I was gaming, it was all on PC. Around this time, PC gaming had really picked up Steam, literally, as Steam became the go-to method for obtaining games. My grandparents had bought me a powerhouse laptop for college and I could finally play those higher-end PC games, so I got pretty deep into World of Warcraft and Starcraft, as I found myself having more fun with friends than playing GameCube by myself.

sad-link
My feelings exactly, Link.

Over the years, I picked up a decent collection of GameCube games, but most of them went largely unplayed. Even the popular ones weren’t enjoyable to me. Pikmin, which I have tried dozens of times to enjoy, just didn’t do it for me. I found it infuriating and couldn’t play for more than a half hour at a time, and could never even beat the second level. I tried playing it again about two years back, and still, nothing. Animal Crossing bored me to tears. To this day I never understand how people relax by doing errands for anthropomorphic creatures. Super Mario Sunshine? I never want to see that game ever again. I hated it. Super Mario 64 was such a perfect game and never once crossed that threshold into maddeningly frustrating territory. But Sunshine was a whole other beast and I barely got past the second world before rage-quitting. Years later and it turns out it wasn’t just me – that game is freaken difficult.

Years had passed, and my GameCube had gathered dust and been all but abandoned.

Around this time I also overpaid an eBay seller for a Nintendo DS, mostly due to wanting something portable. I wasn’t a fan of the touch screen controls, but mostly I just wanted to play the new Zelda games. Want to guess what happened next?

Yep – I hated both of them. The controls were garbage, the games were filled with menial tasks to fluff-up the gameplay time, every single thing about them I thought was terrible. Especially Spirit Tracks. To this day, I cringe every time I think about that game.

Now, this isn’t to say that the Nintendo DS didn’t have good games – much like the GameCube, it had some great ones, but the issue was that the first party games weren’t doing it for me anymore. A friend of mine introduced me to Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin which I played the crap out of and loved. Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime was another favorite. Final Fantasy IV was terrific. This was really a great system! You’ll notice though, that all three of those games (along with many others I enjoyed) were third-party. While I came to enjoy games like Mario Kart DS and Metroid Prime: Hunters in more recent years, still, I gravitated back towards PC, feeling disenfranchised with this beloved company I grew up on. To this day I don’t know exactly what happened that made me quit playing the DS, but having enough money to build a proper gaming PC was probably related.

Possibly, as you’re reading this, you can kind of see how I became a little more disconnected with Nintendo around this point. Which is why the next step was the final nail in the proverbial coffin.

It was the fall of 2006, and the Wii was being released. Suffering from a bad case of FOMO, or “fear of missing out” for the layman, a buddy and myself parked our butts outside a Best Buy in camping chairs, hoping to score a piece of the new Nintendo hardware to play the new Zelda game, Twilight Princess. Fast-forward 14 hours, and we finally had them!

Now, I tend to bring this up a lot, but as it stands now, in May 2017, I freaken hate motion controls. More than anything. I’ll play every game forever on a touch screen if it means I could rid the world of motion controls. I’m actually willing to do that for the good of humankind. They are unnecessary and atrocious in 99% of applications. Well back then, I had no opinion of them, because Nintendo hadn’t decided to slap gimmicks on to everything until the Wii. It wasn’t long before I realized, I despise motion controls. And basically every single Wii game was built around them. The Wiimote sucked, everything about it was terrible. I can already feel my blood pressure rising as a write this.

I eventually beat Twilight Princess a few years ago. On the GameCube. Yup, I restarted a 30 hour file that was saved at the beginning of the final temple just to avoid ever having to use those controls again. And I 100%’d it in 45 hours. Check and mate, Wii version of Twilight Princess.

wii-nobody
I don’t care what you say, no four people have ever done this.

All the games I ended up getting on the Wii were lackluster at best. I didn’t enjoy Super Paper Mario, although I do think it was a step in the right direction. Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, absolutely was not a fan of. Even third party games like Red Steel that looked so cool turned out to be terrible, and the sheer volume of shovelware built around this awful motion gimmick made me want to cry.

I promise there’s a happy ending here. First though, let’s list all the disappointments from Nintendo between the years 2003-2006:

  • The entire GameCube system
    • Pikmin
    • Zelda: Wind Waker (at the time)
    • Metroid Prime (at the time)
    • Super Mario Sunshine
  • The entire Nintendo DS system minus third party titles
    • Zelda: Spirit Tracks
    • Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
  • The entire Wii system
    • Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2
    • Super Paper Mario
    • Zelda: Twilight Princess (with the Wiimote controls)

That is a lot of invested money into things that I didn’t fully enjoy. Feeling burned when parting with money, especially as a young person without a lot of it, really stings. You know that, we’ve all been burned before. If I had bought a WiiU I’d probably never be writing here today. And of course, as discussed before, it’s important to note that especially in your teenaged years, your tastes change a lot. I was more into multiplayer gaming around this time, and I realized that Nintendo might have just not been my thing. But I tried to force myself to like it, to recapture the joy I had when I was younger. And that never works.

This long chain of disappointment turned me off to Nintendo for years to come. Almost ten years, in fact! It wasn’t until I went back to my roots, and started playing some Nintendo 64 games I never finished. I finished the train-wreck of Banjo-Tooie, and was about to start Majora’s Mask… when I realized something. There’s a copy of this for the 3DS? What the heck is the 3DS?! Is that the other iteration of that touch screen system I bailed on ten years ago?

Fast-forward to now – and Nintendo is back in my good graces. They absolutely killed it with the 3DS and have shown that when they have a good thing, they support the hell out of it. I’m confident in the Switch as much as it concerns me at times, but I believe they are in the right mindset to correct the wrongs of yesterday. It’s a huge amount of risk whenever a company tries to stir the pot in their established and beloved IPs, and Nintendo has learned firsthand that spin-offs don’t really do well. I hope they keep that in mind and go back to their roots, because that’s where the long-standing fans want them to be.

Either way, that’s my brief little history of my relationship with Nintendo: the Big Break from The Big N. As I tend to praise most of the things Nintendo does now, I think it’s important to reflect on where we all are and how we got here. As cheesy as that sounds, you need to balance out blind praise. And while the track record of Nintendo is anything but perfect, I still have quite a fondness for them, and hope they can continue to stay on the right tracks. So, the opposite of Spirit Tracks.

Have you always been a fan of your favorite video game behemoth? Has a system or series of games ever turned you off completely to a brand for years? Vent about it in the comments!

17 thoughts on “The Big Break from the Big N: My Ten Year-Long Hiatus from Nintendo

  1. I’m one of the few people that found the good in all the Nintendo counsels; yes, that means the Wii U too. I actually really liked the Gamecube when I was younger, and even know I suppose, and I remember spending hours on end playing Majora’s Mask, and even the Super Smash series. I personally haven’t touched a Nintendo Switch, even though I really do want an opportunity to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, because I feel like it will bring the portable aspect I loved from the Nintendo DS Lite, GameBoy, and the 2DS, with more third party games, such as the award winning Skyrim. I loved some of the motion control games of the Wii, such as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, or even the classic Wii sports. But I agree that some of the functions of the Wii remote are quite irresponsible and annoying to use, so I can see why you might’ve disliked the system as a whole. All I know is that I want Nintendo to hit it big again, stay ahead of the competition, because I know Nintendo has a lot to offer to gaming (as shown in the past, especially with hand held gaming). But thanks for your viewpoints of the long lasting company’s systems, it made me think a little more about the games the systems have to offer as a whole.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story! I love reading gamers’ stories such as yours. If you couldn’t tell, I love Nintendo a lot and haven’t ever really stopped loving them. I hope you don’t think that means I’m a blind follower though. I’m very critical of them, though it’s all out of hope that they succeed. I’m not a fan of all their practices, but I love their properties, their characters, their games. And if Nintendo was gone, there’d be an empty hole in my gaming life. The company definitely has its ups and downs, but I’m stood with it through the good and the bad. Great article! 🙂

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  3. Yea, GameCube did not do a lot to get me really hooked, and the wii pushed me away pretty hard. Also hated motion controls and just didn’t get interested in the titles for the system. I did enjoy the Galaxy games, along with the new Donkey Kongs, but most of my time was on PS3 and 360 at that point. Nice article!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Although I’m a genuine Sony Pony nowadays, I actually hated their guts from the very moment they came into the gaming scene and kept doing so for years. I despised and loathed them and everything they stood for; I deemed them responsible for having destroyed colourful 16-bit pixel and sprite art, only to replace it with ugly polygons and disgusting shade of browns. I vomited the genres that made them famous (and vice-versa), i.e. survival horror and 3D adventure games/platformers with fussy controls à la Tomb Raider. It took the release of the PSP and the Vita to change my deep-seated opinion of them; and had they not released these portable systems, I think I would still hate them to this day.

    Nintendo is a different beast: although I never really disliked them, they basically flew under my radar entirely between 1995 and 2011. Also, I’ve never been too fond of their home consoles (although I coveted the SNES in the early 90s) and have always been on board for their handhelds only. Nintendo handhelds drew me into gaming not once, but twice throughout my life; and as far as I’m concerned, they’ll always be the king of the portable hills. Which is why I fervently hope they will produce a 3DS successor, even though such an opinion is not popular amongst Switch fans.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After the 3DS, I don’t think Nintendo will release a dedicated handheld on a different architecture. What I _do_ believe is that they’ll release a ‘more handheld’ version of the Switch that’s more along the size of the 3DS XL. I don’t see anything wrong with that either – for them, it lets games get dual-released that are playable on different systems, and for us, we have the choice of a smaller form factor system that isn’t gigantic, at least relative to the 3DS.

      It’s like when Apple went from PowerPC to Intel. All it meant for the consumer is that they had more software options when software no longer had to be developed for two totally different architectures.

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  5. Imtiaz Ahmed

    I kind of turned away not only Nintendo, but gaming in general from around 2011-2015. Not nearly as long as you, but still a sizeable break. Not that certain games dissapointed me, just life kind of got the best of me, going through my last year of school and moving onto a job after. Life just kind of had it’s way of pushing gaming out. It was to the point that I didn’t even know the 3DS and Wii U came out. I literally only heard about it when my friend said “boy, nintendo is in trouble, they lost lots of money!” and I was clueless as to why.

    I got back into things a bit more when I actually dug up some older games on SNES and played through things like Super Metroid again. Seeing the game, experiencing all the events and hearing the music really brought back some great memories. From there I picked up a 3DS and a Wii U and now I’ve gotten back into the full flow of things. Actually more than full flow. I got a bit out of control on things like Steam sales and picked up more games than I could play and currently going through the huge back log.

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  6. Great write up man, personally I prefer the term “reformed Nintendo fan”. I loved my Snes and 64, and then the dark ages began. But all of that is in the past, because I love my Switch with my entire being. Don’t hurt me again, Nintendo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you on that! Hoping for the best with the Switch! I think they learned a lot of valuable lessons (most importantly, not relying on gimmicks to sell systems), so now that those are all out of the way, it’s all about the games.

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  7. I must say I’m surprised at some of the games that disappointed you, Galaxy 1 and 2 being the most shocking. But man, I totally agree with you on certain aspects here; motion controls are worthless and in hindsight I’ll probably never replay the DS Zeldas, not a fan of Super Paper Mario either. You bring up gimmicks and that’s what I meant in my GameCube post, I feel like it was the last system Nintendo made without being the Nintendo we know today. Sure it had the handle and weirdly small discs but they were focused on the games first.

    I’ve been more into Sony the past few months but Nintendo will remain my #1, despite their outrageous tactics.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s funny man, as I was reading your article I was thinking “oh man the GameCube was awesome!” Mostly thinking of great times spent playing Double Dash and Medal of Honor with friends. Then I had an existential crisis when I realized how many great games I missed out on!

      The price of the games these days is why I’m hoping for some GameCube goodness on the Switch VC. I owe it to myself to change my thoughts on the GameCube! Like you said, it really was Nintendo’s last normal console.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Aside from Metriod Prime 1+2, Double Dash, and Twilight Princess / Four Swords Adventures / Wind Waker, there are honestly not many. There aren’t too many games that would make me go out and buy the system again. The other games I did like were non-exclusives so I wouldn’t even count them, really!

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Robert Ian Shepard

    “Hau dar U tlk SMCK ’bout my fave de-velippur n00b!”
    Nintendo has always been my favorite, from the SNES era all the way up until now, but I think it’s totally healthy to be able to acknowledge that not everything your favorite company does is golden. I never picked up a Wii U, and I didn’t end up liking all that many of the Wii games I collected over the years. I too despise motion controls and preferred games that didn’t utilize them, and I 100% agree with you about Spirit Tracks. But I do think the Switch is a positive direction, and ultimately as long as Nintendo continues to make some games that are good I will still love them.
    As you stated, blind praise isn’t good. Unfortunately what I see from fans on every side of the spectrum (Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, PC, etc) is that they go all-in without acknowledging that every company makes mistakes. This is a good perspective to have and it’s cool to see that you were still willing to give Nintendo a chance again after being disappointed in so many games.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As long as Nintendo keeps the focus on the games as opposed to the gimmicks, I think the company can continue to strive! And I love how they are still sticking to the 3DS lineup by releasing more games and coming out with new console editions. Gonna need to buy that 2DS XL when it comes out! It’s just too gorgeous! Particularly with the awesome game lineup dropping this summer throughout the end of the year, most of which don’t even use 3D!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Robert Ian Shepard

        That and the fact that it will run the higher-power games without dropping frames or freezing up. Having the original 3DS is getting to be a bit of a bummer these days!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ouch! I had the original 3DS and eventually traded it in for a $100 credit towards the New XL Hyrule Edition. Any plans to upgrade to the 2DS XL? It’s a great price for the upgrade!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Robert Ian Shepard

            I want to when I have the extra money, if another handheld upgrade or entirely new handheld isn’t already announced by that point!

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