It’s funny how time flies. Especially when you're having fun. Like smoke through my fingers, though, time just drifts by, ungraspable, with little regard for me or those close to me. It dissipates into the ether. It's something that we barely notice as children, but it becomes all too familiar to us as we age.
As a boy, in 1990, I remember opening a large box on Christmas morning with my brother. Inside, we discovered a strange device called ‘Super Nintendo.' Along with it came the game Super Mario World. My father, brother and I spent the next hours working our way through Dinosaur Land and learning how to master our newfound friend, Yoshi. I played for hours with my father and brother as the latest U2 album resonated loudly throughout the house and Fox McCloud worked his way through space to Andross. When we moved to Oklahoma, I can vividly remember throwing oil barrels at crocodiles as Donkey Kong, only to go outside and throw actual empty barrels from a nearby oil yard with my brother. I was Donkey and he was Diddy, of course.
We later transitioned to Nintendo 64, where I fell in love with my all-time favorite game, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Finally, Nintendo’s Game Cube came out and I spent my time mastering Super Smash Bros. in an effort to demoralize my brother and become king of the living room. Eventually though, my time with video games was nearly up as I headed off to college. My last major memory was the day I met my wife…and asked her to come to my dorm room to play.
She stood me up, but I married her anyway.
Time passed, and eventually, my family grew. I’ve spent most of my time in recent years learning to be a husband, father, homeowner, and general working person. Luckily, the rush to find stability in our family life has slowed and found its equilibrium. This has left me with something special. Something I can spend more of with the boys.
On November 9th, Nintendo America flew me and my two oldest boys up to their US headquarters in Seattle to experience some of their latest and greatest. Some Boy and Sidekick – not yet exposed to the world of video games – were in for a real treat. After arriving at our hotel, the boys got a chance to play their first Nintendo device; the Nintendo 2DS XL. With a charge of the batteries, the boys were off playing their very first Mario game. They were instantly hooked. Of course, I did have to spend some time on the 2DS as well.
You know, showing them the ropes.
The next day, we got a tour of Nintendo headquarters itself. Now, I don't want to hurt your head, but I learned something that left me standing dumbfounded. Luigi’s last name is…Mario. Of course, that means that Mario’s full name is Mario Mario. I suppose that explains the title of the game Mario Bros. They’re both Marios. Like…whaaaaaaaat?
Also, I learned not to touch the small two-and-a-half foot statue of Mario in the museum. That’s a no no.
Then, during an open play session, where all the children were set off to play what ever game they desired, I found it. At a console, located on a far wall, the legend itself beckoned me from afar. It was being demoed on the new Nintendo Switch, something I had only seen in commercials. ZELDA! Like missiles, I launched my children in that direction. “Forget everything you see, children. Make your way to the game with the little man and the sword. Run! Run as fast as your tiny legs can carry you! NO! Do NOT look at Pikachu! That’s a trap…keep going!” After pushing down about a half-dozen five year olds, we made it.
The Joy-Cons were finally in my very own 32-year-old hands, along with Link’s destiny.
It was then that I realized I was still in love with Nintendo. It was as though, despite the passing of many years, the joy of Nintendo never left. I made sure to be a good father and let me kids have the first turn. They absolutely loved the expansive world with limitless possibilities, including the ability to climb random trees. I decided then and there that we had to have a Nintendo Switch in our home (after asking Chelsea if it was okay, obviously). She said it was, which I believe makes up for the fact that she stood me up in college.
I told Chelsea how it not only works on-the-go like a super-powered version of the other Nintendo handheld systems, but could be seamlessly connected to the home television for the whole family when you get home. It can even be played as a tabletop system, which would great when we find ourselves out camping. I didn’t tell Chelsea that I plan to keep it to myself when we travel, though. I mean, I’m the DAD, right? You can also monitor the Nintendo Switch via parent controls on a smart phone to set limits like download controls and access for times when you want to cut off play (like bedtime).
Along with my personal favorite game, there were a number of other titles around the room that looked amazing. Obviously, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was a hit not to be missed as well as placed at the top of any Christmas list. The new Super Mario Odyssey was a strong consideration for this year’s Christmas for the boys as it immediately brought back memories of my first Mario game and the desire I had to share that experience with my kids. Another really cool new game I saw was Splatoon 2. I had not seen “1” but from what I observed, this colorful game would be a huge hit with my 3, 5, and 6 year olds.
The baby, unfortunately, has to wait a few years.
I am so excited to finally have an excuse to get back into Nintendo. What a great reason to have kids, am I right!? Honestly, though, I'm really happy they have an opportunity to play and explore the worlds and characters I fell in love with when I was their age. To me, Nintendo is more than just a game. It’s a great way to have fun while learning to play together, working together, and challenging each other. I even love the way it helps promote hand-eye coordination for the boys as they increase their decision-making skills in order to solve the many games, puzzles and real time challenges.
Chelsea seems happy to have leverage to get the boys to do their chores. I’m even looking forward to playing some Mario Kart against her after we send the boys off to bed.
Time may be moving on, but Nintendo isn’t going anywhere for us.