Opinion: Back to Basics, Why I Go Back to Old Nintendo

A selection of different gaming consoles, controllers and games from multiple generations and companies lay stacked upon one another. This shows the contrast between modern gaming and what came before (Photo illustration by Phoebe Holm).

Almost seven years after the Switch and the recent release of the OLED model, production companies predict that the Nintendo Switch 2 will be released at some point in 2024. This will most likely be at a price point of $400. Some speculate that there will only be minor updates and patchwork that will be done to “improve” the console, hopefully focusing on fixing the cheap parts and faulty design used to construct the remote controls and docking station. Also, updates may correct the quality differences people have highlighted between games on the Switch vs. other consoles

But this all may just be wishful thinking. 

Don’t get me wrong, I got a Nintendo Switch for Christmas and love playing Mario Kart and Mario Party with my family and getting lost for hours on my virtual island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. 

But I will not deny the fact that the Switch is severely lacking in a lot of divisions, especially for its high price point – which has not changed since its 2017 release. At this point, the only thing it is good for is playing cozy Nintendo-brand games. 

If you want a console that you can play a multitude of different genres of games on, I would look elsewhere.

The Glory Days of Gaming

For a long time, people have cherished and collected older forms of gaming media. But to me, it feels like in recent years many individuals have been doing so in order to retreat to the nostalgic side of gaming – at least from the side of the internet I am on. With the everlasting skepticism of the video game industry and lackluster game and console production, it is time to talk about the glory days of video games. It’s time to go back to when I was young, even to before I was born. 

My not-so-hot take: The old Nintendo is better than the new Nintendo. I want to be transported back to a time of pure gaming enjoyment as a de-stressor and escape from all my college responsibilities. And the consoles and games that go along with them do just that. 

The Gamecube 

A pinnacle part of my gaming history is the beautiful purple box known as the Gamecube, a console released by Nintendo in 2001. I have distinct memories of my family crowded around the television screen competing to collect the most creatures on Billy Hatcher, or trying to collect the most bananas and win the most minigames on Super Monkey Ball. Also doing everything in my power to grind out the storyline and collect all the inventions in Scooby Doo: Night of 100 Frights. 

With games that are tailored to everyone, this console was great for both family and solo play, with classics such as Metroid, Mario Party 7 and Animal Crossing. It has a timeless quality about it, introduced more “mature” games such as the Resident Evil franchise and culminated entries to beloved series and games crafted with new concepts and experiences.

Back when the Gamecube was released, sales were low. This made it Nintendo’s second worst-selling console (before the WiiU) because of its lack of a DVD player, compared to the PlayStation 2 released at the same time. Regardless, today it is a very sought-after console on eBay and resale platforms, due to its library of console-exclusive games and the overall accessibility of its design

Part of what makes the Gamecube so memorable is the clunky, easy-to-use controllers, its large storage capacity, the wide variety of colors, its focus on collaboration play in the same room – instead of online – and it specifically being focused on being a piece of sturdy gaming hardware. Opposed to simply looking pretty and manufacturers cutting corners with cheap and knowingly faulty parts. 

The Wii 

Released in 2006, this was another console integrated into my gaming repertoire. It had completely different features than the Gamecube but had the capacity to play Gamecube games. So if gamers are looking to save some money and space, and want to play both Gamecube and Wii games, this is the console for them. Choosing the Wii will give gamers almost all the benefits of the Gamecube in addition to all the Wii benefits. 

This was also the console I spent a lot more time playing on. It is filled to the brim with saved files connected to beloved memories and was often an escape from reality in my childhood years. 

At the time of the Wii’s development and release, Microsoft and Sony were in a heated competition about hardware, graphics and “hardcore” games – which seems to always be the case. Regardless, the Wii came out on top due to its innovation, more quirky games, accessibility, affordability and fun for both family and solo play. But also due to its lack of interest in competition, it did its own thing and it worked out well. 

In terms of Mario titles, players were given Super Mario Bros Galaxy and its sequel, which added puzzle aspects and a new, captivating soundtrack. The console also gave players two new Zelda titles, Skywards Sword and Twilight Princess. My favorite Zelda has to be the latter, a subjective favorite of many fans. First released on the Gamecube, the Wii beautifully remastered it with detailed story development and a focus on making people care about the characters they play as and interact with. And of course, the Wii gave us arguably the best Mario Kart game ever, with the ever lovely steering wheel remote. 

There were also a handful of beautiful third-party titles that I played on the Wii that stick out to me: Okami, Red Steel 2 and an array of Lego-branded games. I spent a lot of time playing Skylanders with my brother, spending so much time trying to convince my mom to buy us more figurines to play as. I distinctly remember playing Lego Batman, loving every excuse to play as Robin. 

To this day I am scouring and adding to a list of different games I want to purchase for the Wii, instead of looking for ones for my newer consoles. 

All of these games introduced an array of different ways to play, with the solo Wii remote for some titles, or the use of the attached nunchuck with others, while supporting the use of the classic Super Nintendo controller and Gamecube controller.  

For really intense, serious gamers, this console is relatively easy to add mods to with certain software and relatively simple to add emulators for access to games. Overall, the Wii is probably the most cost-effective “old” gaming console because the hardware itself is relatively cheap and readily available since it was a highly sold console.

Other Nintendo Gaming Consoles

I spent a lot of my time playing games on the DS, Gameboy Micro and 3DS as well, and I love them for a lot of the same reasons that I love the Wii and Gamecube. So when assessing the stark differences between Nintendo’s older consoles and what they are producing now, it’s confusing to see where the company has been heading. 

Older consoles seemed to prioritize their users having full ownership of their games by primarily and almost exclusively selling physical copies of the games to their consumers. While consoles nowadays prioritize the “accessibility” of digital downloads and purchases without highlighting the fact that customers don’t truly own what they are buying. We see many companies and consoles producing games that are solely one-player or can only be multiplayer in an online setting. It’s almost as if companies are trying to wipe out the idea of family game nights, which is extremely isolating. 

That is one thing I applaud Nintendo for, continuing to produce games and consoles that people can sit together in one room, in person, to play together. There’s a strict focus on the products being toys, instead of the streaming boxes most consoles have become. Some of my best memories are from playing Mario Kart with my brother, mom and dad until our hands cramped up or one of us got sick of losing every time. It’s sad to see those sorts of opportunities be taken away by other consoles’ lack of co-op options. =

The Future of Nintendo

Even though the Switch is convenient for playing anywhere, this doesn’t make up for the other flaws. The price of the console and accessories you need alongside it isn’t justifiable for the functionality and quality of the product. 

Unlike the Wii and Gamecube, this console has shoddy third-party support. The Switch is heavily relying on Nintendo’s titles which don’t always satisfy everyone’s tastes. Causing them to lose almost a whole customer base and collaboration opportunities with other game production companies. I can only think of roughly five more games I want to purchase for my Switch, and they are all solely Nintendo brand games. But, I am struggling to justify the purchases because their prices range from $50 to $60 apiece. 

All I can hope is that Nintendo sees people’s love for their older consoles and reassesses what they are doing. Instead of riding on the popularity of Zelda and Mario in hopes people will buy their consoles – I hope that they can get back into the swing of crafting games with detailed storylines and games that take new chances, while also prioritizing entries to beloved series and adding exclusive third-party games instead of integrations from other consoles. 

As a college student with the enduring stress of responsibilities, I want consoles and games that will transport me back to a time that replicates the nostalgic feelings of my childhood, not something that continues to disappoint my eagerness. Until then, if you need me, I’ll be waiting for the return of quality Nintendo games and consoles.

About Phoebe Holm 14 Articles
Phoebe Holm is a junior from Boyne City, Michigan and a psychology major at Albion College. She is interested in understanding the human mind, writing about things that make her passionate and creating art. You can always find her listening to music and watching movies. Contact Phoebe via email at PJH12@albion.edu

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