Making the Switch from Console to Console: An NES Reflection

In the coming months and days until the release of Nintendo Switch, I’m going to be a bit nostalgic and take a look back at a lifetime of Nintendo innovation from console to console from my own experiences as I anticipate what Nintendo has in store in the very near future. Hopefully, you will be reminded of some of your own memories that stir your love for Nintendo as well.

The original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) released in the U.S. in 1985. While I was just a baby then, it was great to have a sibling seven years older, who requested an NES for his eleventh birthday and parents who came through! It was a great age to be imaginative by playing outside, but on the rainy days, sitting down with my brother for some Super Mario Bros., Rescue Rangers, Duck Tales, and many others. My dad even tried out the NES with Duck Hunt, while Mom would stay up until the early morning hours playing Dr. Mario (to this day, I’m convinced she’s the all-time Dr. Mario Champ)!

This was a console for the whole family. We could pick it up and play so simply without navigating menus or updating the console. Of course, there was always the blowing into the cartridge when it didn’t start up right away, but it always came through. In fact, mine sits proudly in my gaming room, still ready to be the center of attention for friends or family gatherings. I just quickly blow off the dust and it fires right up.

The NES brought about changes in the way my family viewed television, and I anticipate the Switch will change the way we view games. Remember kids, back in those days, we had huge tube TV’s that sat in ornate wooden boxes on the floor, which was the perfect height for kids sitting cross-legged with their noses as close to the TV as we could get. This made my mother question the safety for our eyes and still developing brains. Her solution was to limit time, interchange it with outdoor play, and set a strict four-foot distance between her kids and the TV when playing. This distance rule was enforced by placing a masking tape line on the carpet four feet from the oversized television. You can bet we sat right up to that line as we watched our television transform into another world controlled by our tiny hands on the hard rectangular controllers. It was magical.

Being seven years younger than my brother, I had significantly less skill when it came to gaming, and though it never kept me from playing, it did lead so some significant fights when I ran out of lives and he got to continue playing. Bring in the masking tape! We now had masking tape between us and could not cross that line if we wanted to continue to play. So, there I sat in my carpet spot boxed out with masking tape learning not only to play well with others, but also falling in love with the company that brought about a positive change in my family and life.

Although I was too young to understand how huge this was at the time, I can look back now and appreciate how Nintendo has been bringing people together for decades, and that has always been a core value for them. The Nintendo Switch shows promise of getting us out of our “box,” both literally and figuratively, by challenging what we think is possible in a video game and with social interaction.

As we look forward to more Nintendo Switch announcements and its release, what little we’ve seen so far seems like Nintendo is striving for the balance between bringing people together as well as bringing enough to the table for solo hard-core gamers. Let’s hope that’s the case!