Why I decided to buy a Nintendo Switch
Opinion piece - How my gaming life cycle came full circle
Growing up I never considered myself a console gamer. I had a Super NES growing up but that was the last console I ever had. It was around that time that computing was becoming more mainstream and ubiquitous so naturally I began spending less time playing games on TV and more time on the computer, essentially trading in my controller for a keyboard and mouse.
It wasn't that I thought consoles weren't fun or enjoyable anymore, I was simply going through a phase of my life where I discovered online multiplayer games, which were flourishing at the time (think StarCraft, MapleStory, WarCraft 3 to name a few). I spent a lot of my teenage years playing these games while my SNES gathered dust in the corner. Every time I walked by the TV, I reminded myself of the memories I had playing while I was younger, and even sometimes even picking up what seems to be now a small SNES controller in my older, adult hands.
My gaming habits continued through my adolescence and into adulthood. By now, even the thought of consoles were absent from my mind and I had fully committed to the whole "PC Masterrace" mantra that I had been consumed by prior. I scoffed at all the iterations of consoles that were being announced, Xbox this, PlayStation that, Wii whatever, it all didn't matter to me as I had my trusty old PC. It was also at this time I was growing older and having less and less time to play, so I spent more and more time squeezing play time whenever I could, and even began watching others play in order to experience a pseudo gaming experience. Naturally this progression led me to the gaming website of Twitch.
For those of you who do not know, Twitch began as a website where gamers can view other gamers while they play video games. It has now blossomed into a website where individuals can stream whatever it is they are doing (it can be things done in real life, preparing dishes, gaming events, painting pictures etc.) to an audience whom they can interact with, in real time.
One of the specific gaming events that garnered my attention was the bi-annual AGDQ and SGDQ (Awesome games done quick and summer games done quick) events that happen every January and July. I wrote about it a bit in my previous article but to summarize, it is a gaming event that streams games in order to raise money for charity. The appeal of the event is that the games that are being played are being done as quickly as humanly possible, often with entertaining or hilarious restrictions being placed on the players.
After tuning in for a bit, I noticed that some of the games on the up-and-coming-to-play list were running were actually the games I grew up playing on the SNES! A wave of curiosity and nostalgia hit me as I couldn't believe it that these 25+ year old games were still being played, so naturally I continued to watch.
And I'm glad that I did. Witnessing those runners beat games in minutes, using a combination of glitches, shortcuts and an absolute total mastery of the games that I once spent hours and hours trying to beat as a kid was a humbling experience to say the least. I was enthralled by the way the players could push the boundaries of the game engine in order to accomplish these massive feats. To me, this was just the beginning of the re-introduction to console gaming. I had forgotten all about these games and never realized how in depth these games actually were, despite being a child at the time and believing that I was "pretty good" for being able to beat these games, I stood absolutely no chance at even coming close to matching these players in their skill at the game. So I continued to watch and watch, and the more I watched the more I realized I had much more to learn about these retro games I once played and loved.
Fast forward to this summer, I was watching SGDQ and was watching a bit of a Super Mario Odyssey speedrun I watched for a decent amount of time on how the player was throwing his hat and using it as a Launchpad to reach inaccessible areas by normal means, but I obviously had no prior experience in playing the game so closed out of it pretty fast.
By pure chance, that same week I went over to a friend's place that actually had the Nintendo Switch and Super Mario Odyssey and asked if I could try it out. I was blown away by how difficult it was to replicate what I remember seeing in that speedrun and it kind of brought back all those nostalgic feelings of spending countless hours as a kid, trying to clear a single boss/level/area.
After that outing, I began researching on the Nintendo Switch and the lost generation of games that I had missed during my adolescence. And after a ton of research, I realized the Nintendo Switch was the beginning of a revolution that kind of brought gaming to the age where mobile gaming reigned supreme. Nintendo had actually made a dedicated gaming console be able to be taken on the go. So I happily ended up purchasing my own Nintendo Switch.
It's understandable that not many of us have hours to dedicate to gaming for long periods of time. I myself alluded to not having enough time with all the things life was throwing at me, and I'm not alone in that regard. Gaming has been arguably shunned as an anti-social, nerdy type of subculture for the past generation but I feel that gaming has become more mainstream with the advent and popularity of mobile gaming and pick-up-and-play games, where individuals can play in short bursts. In this downtime where you're able to squeeze an hour here or 30 minutes there, the portability of the Switch becomes invaluable.
Not only was the Switch good for filling in that niche of being able to play a dedicated gaming console at opportunistic times, but it also revitalized a lot of the fun that I had when I was younger. A lot of Nintendo franchises are timeless in terms of playability and recognition, so there was definitely a strong feeling of familiarity among the characters and levels that I once loved. The moment I turned on the screen and saw Mario's chubby face, I knew I had made the correct purchase, and at least for the moment, that my gaming life had come full circle, being able to enjoy the best of both worlds.
So to answer the question in a nutshell, the Nintendo Switch definitely has appealing features in its portability, game library, and overall entertainment factor. But in my opinion, as someone who once played consoles and moved onto PC games, the portable ability of the Nintendo Switch to bring back the reveries of my childhood reigns supreme.