Video Game Culture Then And Now, And The Irresistible Appeal Of The Nintendo Switch
From the perspective of a once diehard turned quasi-gamer now ???
Right before any of us hit high school, playing video games was cool. I remember spending summers at my friend’s house—the only other girl in my class knee-deep into video games as I was—finishing Final Fantasy (VII and then) VIII, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and Tomb Raider or tiring ourselves out on the dance mat, playing Dance Dance Revolution. But puberty called for many, including myself, to modify our interests for the sake of fitting in and looking, well, cool. So I broke up with my PlayStation (skipped cosplay events) and got into things girls of my generation thought was at least socially acceptable, like boys and hanging out in malls.
Decades passed and it was only in college when I learned to give zero shits about what other people thought and do things I really, really like: play video games, which by that time had evolved to the PlayStation Portable (PSP). But between graduation and a below minimum-paying job, I couldn’t keep up with how fast (and expensive!) technology was changing. Who could afford switching consoles every other year anyway? Not me, or at least it wasn’t a top priority. That all changed when my partner and I got together and I became a mom. Of course my partner and I wanted to share the stuff of our youth with our pre-schooler, from the best 8 bit games of all time to the RPGs we obsessed with.
So we bought an Xbox 360. It wasn’t my console of choice but hey, the Kinect games particularly Just Dance, were pretty fun. The experience, however, wasn’t the same; we weren’t into what was cool and new then, and I couldn’t really find games that engaged me enough to finish them. They were either too hard, too serious or just not my genre.
But time is a circle isn’t it? The things we loved, liked and even hated many moons ago happen to find its way back into the mainstream. This time, pop culture was paying tribute to the 80s and the 90s, which meant the resurgence of Nintendo’s Family Computer (sorry, SEGA). This one’s straight out of my partner’s childhood but something we as a family enjoyed. Besides, the original Super Mario Brothers is a classic; it’s easily everyone’s gateway into the world of video games.
Enter: the Nintendo Switch—the best thing I spent my hard-earned money on recently
As feelings of nostalgia dipped and the absence of autosave annoyed me, my interest in the Famicom waned. I wanted a piece of the past but also the convenience and innovation of modern times.
Enter: the Nintendo Switch—the best thing I spent my hard-earned money on recently. But wait, and as Wonder’s art director Alex would say, “it came out three years ago!” Why am I only talking about it now? For one, I’m always skeptical about trends and I can’t afford an impulse buy. Initially, I wanted to get the Nintendo Lite because it’s cheaper and, you know, it sounds like a good fit for a sometimes-gamer like me. But I’ve asked enough people—Alex who bought hers the first time it came out, a group of hardcore gamers in the office and an acquaintance’s brother who said he’s never met anyone who regrets buying a Switch—to make an informed decision.
Two months of crowdsourcing, researching and computing how I’d earn the money back eventually led to the day after 12.12 at Datablitz (yes, I missed the sale). But why my family and I—mostly me because they can’t even touch it when I’m not around—like it is not rocket science. The Switch can be played at home or on-the-go, solo, with a friend or even a group of people. In handheld mode (my preferred mode), the grip and screen size are just right. Meanwhile, the detachable Joy-Con is perfect for multiplayer gaming and little hands that want to get in on the fun. Games can be purchased in physical copy or downloaded through the Nintendo eShop with some games available for free! And while serious players argue that there’s “little something for everyone” on the Switch (also because they are hard to please), I find its appeal and game options beyond adequate.
We’ve played three games and finished one in the two and a half months since we got our hands on it, rotating simultaneously between Lego The Incredibles, Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. That’s a lot compared to how much we’ve used the Xbox on average and more efficient in spend if I’m talking cost per use (who am I?).
But it’s the games (to think I’ve only played a few) that got me hooked. Mario Odyssey is exactly what I was looking for when I said I wanted a piece of the past and the present. The gameplay! The graphics! The outfits and costumes! You could be 5 or 38 years old and still enjoy it (assuming you are a casual gamer). Now Zelda, I’ve never played in my gaming history until Alex insisted I try it; BOTW is one of the best games there is she says. And though I wasn’t particularly in love with the humanoid characters or the animation in the beginning, I gave it a try and have since lost sleep when faced with shrine challenges and quests I can’t overcome or Lynels I can’t defeat. Thank the game goddesses it’s open-world; there’s always something to do. Also, I take back what I said about the animation or mini movies throughout the game. Everything about the graphics, the design, the beautiful expansive world is breathtaking. The game structure and its elements can and will engage even new-to-the-world players like myself for its non-rote approach. It allows gamers to ignore a quest whenever they want or rather, until they’re ready to narrow their focus and take on important tasks.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a game—a house in Hateno to build while I ignore the Divine Beasts—to play.
Got favorites or new games to recommend? Sound off below! Click here if you want to know more about the Nintendo Switch.
Art Matthew Fetalver