I am a Nintendo fan. Years ago I could say that with a straight face. I grew up loving Mario, Link, Kirby, Samus, and even that yellow electric mouse that can only say its own name. When friends would ask me what game systems I had I would proudly boast, "Super Nintendo," "Nintendo 64," or "GameCube," not even caring that I didn't have a PlayStation or an Xbox. I didn't need these systems. All I needed was Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and enough patience to find every single spider in the game.
But lately that isn't the case. Now it feels like I can't have a Nintendo system without having another system to turn to while Nintendo is getting releases like - I can't believe I'm saying this - Babysitting Mama and its strange looking big eyed baby-mote. I now realize that the company I used to brag about has become the last on my list of gaming things to care about each year. It's almost a chore to have any of its products as I spend more time defending them instead of enjoying them. Yet somehow I can't make myself get rid of anything with Nintendo's name on it. Am I just fooling myself? Am I in love with the memory of a great company that doesn't exist anymore?
These thoughts stem from the recent anniversary of one of Nintendo's most beloved icons: Mario. He's still breaking blocks, shooting things with fireballs, riding dinosaurs and - of course - saving princesses. He's one of the main reasons why I stick with Nintendo, and I'm usually satisfied with this decision until a couple of years ago when Nintendo decided to appeal to the casual audience. I don't mind the "casual boom." Let's face it, Wii Sports was amazing for its time, and even the most "hardcore" players are enjoying Sony's Sports Champion and Microsoft's Kinect Sports. But Nintendo focused on the casual a little bit too much for me. At Nintendo's E3 conference in 2008 the biggest announcements were Shaun White Snowboarding and frisbee throwing to the digital puppy from Wii Sports Resort. The once-mighty Nintendo had become "the casual system," the one people would buy in an attempt to get non-gamers to play games. It became the "girlfriend console," the one men would buy so that their girlfriends would play videogames. As if the goofy games weren't shameful enough, now I had to be lumped into the casual "girl gamer" category because of Nintendo's sudden campaign to skip Mario and Zelda in favor of some balance boards and yoga mats.