The date is December 25, 2002. As the smell of fresh pine needles fill the nostrils and a warm fire blares from the fireplace, torn-up wrapping paper litters the living room floor, concealing the area rug as if it was a Christmas gift itself. Aside from a few stocking stuffers, having only received copies of both Shrek and The Sandlot on DVD, I anxiously looked around for any other presents that would have had my name written on them.  And then it happened. My dad briefly went into another room only to return with, as memory serves, a perfectly square box wrapped up in red and silver paper with “HO HO HO” printed all over it. My then-eight-year-old heart pounded as he set it in front of me. Tearing open the wrapping paper as fast as I could, I immediately shouted with elation as soon as I saw what was inside:

A brand new Nintendo GameCube bundled with Super Mario Sunshine, the number one item on my Christmas wish list.

This = Gorgeous

Flash forward to the night of March 2, 2017, 11:55pm. My eyelids twitched with exhaustion after having been at work all day and yet they were simultaneously wide with excitement. I was, of course, in line to pick up my reserved copy of the Nintendo Switch along with Breath of the Wild. As I exchanged my receipt for that smoothly-laminated red and white box, I felt the same sense of elation as I did on that Christmas morning all those years ago.

Love at first sight

As we draw closer to the release of Super Mario OdysseyI can’t help but think about all of those who will either be purchasing, or even luckily receiving, a Nintendo Switch (bundled with Odyssey, none the less) this upcoming holiday season, as they are about to relish in what is, without a doubt, the best Nintendo console since GameCube. (If we aren’t speaking in terms of sales, of course.)

This = Just as gorgeous

Legacies

First, let’s compare current and upcoming Switch releases to that of their similar GameCube franchises/counterparts:

The Legend of Zelda

The most obvious comparison is that of Breath of the Wild and The Wind Waker, both being the landmark titles of the Zelda franchise on their respective consoles. For its time, The Wind Waker was a sprawling adventure that now seems small in comparison to its gargantuan younger sibling. Both titles evoke an epic sense of adventure, giving their systems that much needed open-world game that every console needs. Unlike Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword, I’m 100% positive that in the years to come Breath of the Wild will be remembered just as fondly as The Wind Waker (if reviews are even indicative of that).

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These = Masterpieces

                                                   

These = Pretty good

Super Mario

I’m going to come right out and say it: I was never a fan of the two Super Mario Galaxy games. Sure, the gameplay was fun, but coming down off of the highs that were Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, both Galaxy games never quite fulfilled that inevitably insatiable want for a Mario game to be in a similar vein. So one could possibly imagine that for me to go through a figurative drought on both the Wii and Wii U (2 generations and roughly 11 years) without something that I viewed as being a “real” Super Mario game was undoubtedly disappointing for a fan of the series. But now we have Odyssey and I’m going to quote videogamedunkey on this one:

For Nintendo to come out and say Mario Odyssey is on this side of the fence (in regards to it being similar to 64 and Sunshine) is a pretty audacious statement.

Yes it is, Dunkey, yes it is…

…And I can’t wait.

 

Metroid Prime

Do I even need to say it? The fact that so many people claimed Nintendo to have won this year’s E3 with nothing more than a 43 second teaser logo for Metroid Prime 4 is a testament to the lasting power of the impression that those two original Prime games left on gamers. If Nintendo has truly turned a new leaf and learned from their unfortunate mistakes of the Wii U era (and by extent, even those of the Wii era with Other M), then I have no doubt that Metroid Prime 4 will be incredible.

In Reggie we trust

CustomRobo/ARMS

When I think about underrated gems of Nintendo’s yesteryear, the highly underrated CustomRobo for the GCN readily comes to mind. When certain franchises tend to skip a generational-console release, fans of Nintendo are always seemingly eager to proclaim the death of their beloved franchise (I’m looking at you, Metroid). I’m definitely guilty of this, as it seems that CustomRobo receives no love from Nintendo nor fans alike (aside from the occasional Assist Trophy in Smash Bros.).

Be it to my surprise, however, to reluctantly try out ARMS and have the gameplay be strikingly similar to that of CustomRobo, which of course inevitably inspired my immediate purchase of it. The split-screen multiplayer of CustomRobo was easily one of the best experiences I had with my GameCube; the different game modes combined with the endless customization of in-game characters allowed for hours upon hours of nonstop fun with my friends. The exact same thing could be said about ARMS on the Switch. I can’t tell you how much of a blast it has been to invest so much time into this game, whether my friends and I are choosing to simply duke it out in its 1V1 mode or having intense grudge matches in its volleyball mini game; it all has yet to grow tiresome, much like CustomRobo never did.

Uncanny

Splatoon 2 and Nintendo Embracing its Weird Side

When Pikmin was first announced as a new IP for Nintendo way back when (and even Animal Crossing to some extent), it was met with initial confusion.

What is this? This looks stupid. Why do we even need this?”

This was a quote of a peer of mine (who is older than me) after I asked him what the general consensus was among Nintendo fans during that time. Let Pikmin, being the behemoth franchise that it has become (two sequels, a handheld spinoff, and now containing a mainstay Smash Bros. character), serve as a constant reminder to those naysayers who always doubt new Nintendo IPs: Let Nintendo embrace its weird side.

Though it was initially released on what is deemed as a failed system, there’s no denying the similar path that the now-more-popular-than-ever Splatoon series has taken, miraculously finding its new home on the Switch with Splatoon 2. And though it doesn’t have the best online options nor the split-screen multiplayer “pick up and play” accessibility of ARMS, Nintendo proves through Splatoon that they know what they are doing when it comes to making great games with fun, addiction-enabling gameplay.

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…Uncanny?

Adult Oriented/Strictly for the Hardcore

With the recent announcements of third-party, hardcore M-Rated titles such as L.A. Noire, No More Heroes: Travis Strikes Again, DOOM, and Wolfenstein II, it seems as if Nintendo is trying to ditch the “overabundance of kid-friendly shovelware games” image that so haunted the Wii’s legacy for one that appeals more to the hardcore gaming crowd. Sure the Wii had its fair share of M Rated cult hits like MadWorld and No More Heroes, but it’s certainly not remembered for those (Seriously, did anyone actually play Call of Duty: World at War on the Wii?).  And yes, the Wii U had its hardcore-oriented Ubisoft ports along with the surprise that absolutely no one saw coming that is Bayonetta 2, but once again: Are those the titles that the Wii U is really remembered for? (Short answer: No.)

Now think back to the hardcore M-Rated titles (and also T-Rated titles) of the GameCube era: Resident Evil 4 (originally a GCN exclusive), Eternal Darkness, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, Killer7, the long forgotten yet criminally underrated Geist (surprisingly the only first party game aforementioned), along with many, many more.

Now, I’m not trying to say that the ESRB rating of a game has anything to do with how hardcore it is, but if you read that list and thought to yourself, “Woah, those were all on a Nintendo console?”, you’re not alone, as once upon a time they were. And now, if reading the list of those upcoming Switch titles had you thinking, “Woah, those WILL BE on a Nintendo console?”, well, it shouldn’t come as a surprise and yet it seemingly does. Why?

I think the title of this article is indicative of the answer to that question. The Switch is the best Nintendo console since the GameCube.

This is Geist. The game where you can use your
ghost powers to spy on showering women.

Nintendo: The Disney of video games, everybody.

The Future of the Switch

Sure there’s still no Virtual Console and the online features can be shoddy, but still, the beauty of the Switch is in its simplicity whereas there are no gimmicks, no pandering, and, just as the GameCube before it, it’s all about fun gameplay through amazing experiences. Based on the way things have been going, Nintendo has learned from their past mistakes. The Switch is still only a seven-month old baby and it has all the time in the world to grow. The online will be improved and the already amazing library will continue to expand (with Animal Crossing, Super Smash Bros., and a mainline Pokémon game undoubtedly on their way). If the Switch keeps it up, it might go down as the best Nintendo system of all time.