Today a great man has passed away. At age 85, Hiroshi Yamauchi, former President of Nintendo; the man who made Nintendo the video game powerhouse that we know today, has passed due to complications with pneumonia. This man is the sole reason why many kids (including myself) had an amazing childhood. Everyone has that at least one or two games that they’ve played over and over again and never got tired of. Or maybe it’s one console that, just by looking at it, brings back nostalgic childhood memories. That’s why I’d like to dedicate this article to Yamauchi-dono and show my appreciation by listing the top five Nintendo products that defined my childhood!
For those of you who didn’t know, Yamauchi-dono is the reason why Shigeru Miyamoto was given a chance to design and develop video games. When Nintendo shifted its focus from manufacturing toys (previously being shifted from Hanafuda cards) to video games, Yamauchi-dono decided he wanted Nintendo to take advantage of the technological boom and try to tap into the Western market. When the first couple of arcade games developed by Nintendo failed in America, Yamauchi-dono decided to put his faith in Shigeru Miyamoto’s pet project Donkey Kong, and the rest is history!
To start off this list I want to make something very clear, this is my top five products, this in no way reflects the rest of Project Otaku. It’s a personal list and does not reflect the interests of my fellow writers. So with that out of the way, let’s begin!
5. The Super Mario Bros. Franchise
I’m starting off with the Super Mario Bros. franchise. Who here has not played a single Super Mario Bros. game? Mario is probably one of the most widely known characters in the entire world. Growing up in the 90’s, the Mario Bros were everywhere. The game franchise exploded into a multitude of different areas, starting from the video game series, to a TV show and even got its own live action movie (which I hear Mrs Blunder loves)! As bad as it might have been at the time, I didn’t think the movie was that bad. I mean who can forget such memorable quotes as “How many Mario’s are there?” “Well there’s three, Mario Mario and Luigi Mario.” Okay, so maybe that one is bad but what about “Trust the fungus!”? Alright, I’ll shut up now.
The Mario franchise keeps churning out hits on every one of its consoles, from the staple Mario Bros platformers, to the amazing Super Smash Bros series, to the Mario Party series (number 3 was the best!), and let’s not forget Mario Kart! Sure, there are some bad games here and there *cough cough* Dr. Mario *cough cough* (don’t tell Mrs Blunder I said that), but overall the franchise has aged very well and that’s why it has earned a spot in my list.
4. The Legend of Zelda Franchise
At number four is another beloved Nintendo franchise, the Legend of Zelda! Boy, where do I even start with this one? This game franchise is so damn good that it’s intrinsically linked to every other spot on this list! From the very first time you meet that timely wizard who tells you “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this!” to when you finally show Demise who’s boss (which technically happens before you get the sword but let’s not get into that wibbly wobbly timey wimey Zelda stuff now…) the Zelda franchise has not stopped proving why it’s one of the most beloved franchises of all time. Zelda games have constantly push the boundaries in gaming, from headache inducing puzzles and amazing musical compositions, to those gut wrenching, controller chucking-ly hard boss fights! (It took me like three months to beat Ganon in A Link to the Past, DON’T JUDGE ME!).
The timeless quest never gets tiring and it never gets any easier either! I’ve played (and beat) just about every single Zelda game to date, and collectively with my staff at Nerdy Enough we own almost every game in the franchise including gold cartridges and digital versions of some of the games. I have so much Zelda paraphernalia that I could be a walking Legend of Zelda billboard, from my wallet to my book bag, a replica Master Sword and Hyrule Shield combo, Triforce imbued hats, and t-shirts (lots and lots of t-shirts). If I could have back all the money I have spent on Zelda merchandise, I’d be rich (but then I’d spend it all over again).
At number three (which might shock some people) is the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, also known as the SNES in the Western hemisphere or the Super Family Computer (also known as the Super FamiCom in Japan). There’s no telling how many hours I spent playing on this console. My first experience with fighting games came from this console in the form of the Street Fighter franchise, the Mortal Kombat franchise and let’s not forget Killer Instinct (C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!). This was the very first console I owned and I still own one today. The system was very durable which made it last very long and of course it had an amazing library of games!
From the first Super Mario World (or Super Mario 4) to the Donkey Kong Country games to the aforementioned Legend of Zelda franchise, the SNES had it all! This revolutionary console sported the Super FX chip which simulated 3D worlds using polygons, texture mapping and light source shading making games like F-Zero and Star Fox possible.
2. The Gameboy
Coming in at number two is the Gameboy and all of its subsequent variants. Having a Gameboy as a child really helped shape me into the gamer I am today. Walking around with your favorite game franchises in your pocket (or book bag depending on which type of Gameboy you had) was something to brag about. The main reason why the Gameboy is so high on my list is, and you might have guessed it, the Pokemon franchise. This game was so addicting-ly good that I carried it around it wherever I went. It made me get into the whole TCG thing and had me collecting Pokemon cards which subsequently allowed me to buy more Gameboy stuff when I started selling them to local stores (hustlin’ Pokemon cards yo!).
The sole reason for my love for the Gameboy is not Pokemon obviously – there are plenty of other games that I would never have known or played if not for this handheld system and its future generations. My all-time favorite handheld franchise has to be the Golden Sun games and in close second is the Fire Emblem series, and I would not have even heard of them had I not had a Gameboy. Of course having some other of my favorite franchises was also a big plus and having the multiple Zelda games on my handheld systems was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my gaming life.
1. The Nintendo 64
Finally, at number one, is the console I’ve played the most in my entire adolescent and now adult life! It’s none other than the Nintendo 64! There isn’t a day where I don’t grab my old N64 and fire up old favorites and play for hours. The N64 had one of the best and most diverse gaming libraries to date, I don’t know a single person my age who has not played Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 64, Donkey Kong 64, Star Fox 64 and of course Super Smash Bros., and those are just some of the more well-known games. We also had some other great games such as Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which is a game about a squirrel trying to get over his hangover. How is that not the most awesome shit you’ve ever heard for a video game story line?
Despite my huge affinity for the Zelda and Mario franchises, the game that I played the most of on the N64 has to be 007 Goldeneye! Often credited as one of the precursors to first person shooter games as we know it, Goldeneye was hours of competitive fun. I remember getting three friends over and just going at it for hours and hours. The different game modes made for very unique games every time. My staple rules were: License to kill (one hit kills) and no weapons (otherwise known as “IMMA SLAP THE SHIT OUT YOU!”). This was hilarious to me, since when you take off weapons all you can do is slap people and, if you’re a third person watching two people slap each other, you don’t see the hand – you only see one drop to his/her knees and hear the DUH NUH DA NAAA~.
There are so many good games that if I were to name them, all this article would be twenty pages long, but just so some people out there aren’t offended because I missed some I’m going to list a couple more of my favorites: Turok, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Wrestlemania 2000 and WWF No Mercy, Bomberman 64, Pokemon Snap, Pokemon Stadium, Kirby 64, Yoshi’s Story, Star Wars Rogue Squadron, Diddy Kong Racing, the Banjo-Kazooie series, Perfect Dark, Rainbow Six, Splinter Cell , and of course, Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.
That’s it for the top five Nintendo products that defined my childhood. Do you have a list of your own? Do you agree or disagree with me? Show us in the comments below! ‘Til next time!