There’s a lot of heavy stuff going on right now, guys, for me and my friends. Bad news, terrible news, excellent news—real life stuff, you know?
So, naturally, I want to talk about video game consoles. This is serious business.
I didn’t have every new console when I was growing up. We had (I think) an Atari, then an original Nintendo, and then nothing. If we wanted to play Super Mario World or Donkey Kong or Final Fantasy VI or Sonic or any other game that was popular in the mid-1990s, we had to go to a friend’s house. And believe me, we found all the right friends with all the best game systems.
Then the late 90s rolled around and the N64 came out. I didn’t get the opportunity to play one until I was visiting a friend in Missouri in 1998, and she introduced me to Donkey Kong 64 and Zelda: the Ocarina of Time and a dozen other games, and I had to have one. I begged, I pleaded, and I finally convinced my parents to let me buy an N64 with my Christmas money.
What a glorious day it was. My mom and my brother were going to Abilene (yes, when I was a young lass in Texas, Abilene was the big city), and I sent them to whatever store had the best sale, and they returned with my sleek, glorious console with the giant controllers and those awesome cartridges that must now give millions of 30-somethings warm-fuzzy nostalgia.
I spent most of 1999 listening to No Doubt and playing N64 games. Zelda, Super Mario 64, Perfect Dark, the Star Wars pod-racing game… Good times.
Then I hit high school and I lost interest for awhile. Computer games, with their rich worlds and varied stories, were where it was at for me. I had a brief, torrid affair with a friend’s XBox, but that never went anywhere, and it wasn’t until college that I got to play PlayStation 2 games with my now-husband and was hooked all over again. This time it was Spyro and Kingdom Hearts and Champions of Norrath, but I realized my love of console games had never faded. It’s more immersive, somehow, just you and the controller and the screen, and you can lose hours and days in another world, jumping, racing, fighting, exploring, playing.
So when Nintendo Wii came out, hyping The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and a whole new method of play, I was intrigued. But it cost, like, $300, and I was a broke grad student and then a broke intern and then a broke reporter, and my husband said we just might be past the stage in our lives where we should buy console games, so I never bought one.
…until I had a steady, salaried job, that is. In 2010, in Santa Fe, I used my new smart phone to find Target. I went in, I went straight to the electronics section, and I picked it out: my Nintendo Wii, my secondary controller (hot pink!), and that (I thought) most glorious of all the gloried games: Twilight Princess. I rushed home to our 200-year-old house in New Mexico, I got it all set up, and my husband and I played Wii Sports for about two days straight.
Sort of. Well, we tried.
You see, that revolutionary new method of play wasn’t quite what we expected. It was tricky, and games often required fine movements to be performed with a controller that really had no precision. Aiming was tricky. Drawing was damn near impossible.
I played Zelda, but somehow I wasn’t hooked. I didn’t like having to position myself perfectly to be able to swing my “sword,” and the chicken-herding mission in the first five minutes of the game just didn’t do it for me, especially when it was so hard to aim the freaking horse at the freaking birds.
Eventually, the Wii started to collect dust, and then it became our Netflix player. More time passed, and it became our secondary Netflix player, relegated to the bedroom, where, unless we stood on the bed, we didn’t even have room to play the games.
So, yeah. The biggest purchase I’d ever made for myself, and it was a bust. It was years before I ever bought myself anything that cost more than $100 again. I toed the party line: no more video game consoles for us.
But the last few years have seen so many tempting systems. Xbox One with Kinect. PS4. And now… that freaking Nintendo 3DS with its cute design and its fancy 3D and its promise of access to dozens of old games.
As you’ve seen, I have rather rocky history with Nintendo. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it. And once burned, twice never-gonna-cough-up-hundreds-again, right? I’m not going to buy one. I’m not.
But it’s difficult. I feel like Charlie Brown, continually swinging at console systems and missing because my stupid controller just doesn’t have enough precision to make contact.
What do you think, readers? Where do you stand on video game consoles? Do you keep buying?