Nintendo has played an essential part in my life for 27 years. From my NES beginnings to my current Switch addiction, Nintendo has been a household name in my family. I remember December 25th, 1993. Getting up bright and early, gathering around the tree, and unwrapping rectangular boxes. Three games were waiting for me that morning: Disney’s Aladdin, Super Play Action Football, and Super Mario All-Stars. I rarely got games outside of birthdays and holidays, so I cherished the newest additions to the Super Nintendo collection. Because I was an only child, my parents often played multiplayer games with me. Throughout my childhood years, Nintendo, Christmas, and my family were synonymous with each other. While we drifted apart over the years, Christmas is always the time that brings us closer together, all because of Nintendo.
The Nintendo 64 and GameCube kept us glued to the screen for hours. Mario Kart 64 and Mario Party were our addictions. From taking a massive shortcut on Rainbow Road to getting hurt rotating the stick Pedal Power, we loved the bonding time. On GameCube, we once spent 15 straight hours on Christmas day playing Shrek Super Party. The game was critically panned, but we had so much fun laughing and competing against each other. We didn’t need perfect games as long as it bonded us. Growing up was tough because I didn’t have brothers and sisters so anytime with my family was well-spent.
Wii Bowling and renewed faith in humanity
As with a lot of people, the holidays are bittersweet. Despite moments of happiness, there are also times of sorrow and depression. I’ve had holiday gatherings when I felt deflated. Before my grandmother’s death, there were plenty of close calls. We never knew how much time we would have with her, and then one year, something terrible happened. Because of her physical ailments, the doctors needed to amputate her leg. It goes without saying, but that year sucked. My grandmother’s health was deteriorating, and we didn’t know what to do. My cousin and I thought of something and brought it up to the family.
“What about getting her a Wii from Christmas?” we suggested. To our surprise, the family agreed, and that holiday, she unwrapped the popular console. We didn’t buy any games with it, instead, hoping that Wii Sports would be enough. Confined to her chair, my grandmother strapped the Wiimote around her hand and tried rolling the ball. As expected, the first few attempts resulted in failure. She was discouraged, and we initially thought the gift was a mistake. Fortunately, the fighter that she was, my grandmother never gave up. The first time that she rolled a strike, we just looked at the joy in her eyes. After that, she played Wii Bowling a lot! So much so that she could beat us without a struggle. When she was sick, I couldn’t help but be sad all the time. But when I saw her rejoice because of the Wii, I knew video games had power, unlike any other medium.
Switching things up
When Switch was revealed, I saved up money and bought an extra console for my parents. They took my Wii U to play Mario Kart 8, and I couldn’t let them do the same with the Switch. I knew they would love Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, so getting them a console seemed like a no-brainer. Unsurprisingly, they loved the console and played the stellar racer almost every day. Last Christmas, I decided to get them something new. I spent time wrapping Puyo Puyo Tetris, a game I adored, and gave it to them as the last present since it was for both of them.
They never heard of Puyo Puyo, but as avid Tetris fans, they were interested in the prospect of a new game. It was a hit because one year later; they’re still playing it. This year, I tried something different. I bought them four video games; Puzzle Bobble, Namco Museum Arcade Pac, Tricky Towers, and Overcooked 2. While the first two games bring my parents back to the games they loved when I was growing up, Tricky Towers and Overcooked 2 are modern experiences are not like anything they’ve played before. With Overcooked 2, I’m hoping that they can play a game that requires cooperation instead of the typical competitive game that they’re used to.
Bringing people together since the 90s
I’ve been playing video games since 1992. Through the ups and downs of life, video games always provided me with an escape. Whether through action heavy experiences, emotionally devastating narratives, bone-chilling adventures or platformers, video games always make me feel welcome. I can tell you how many times I played alone. Before online gaming, most of my time after school and on the weekend consisted of being alone in front of the TV.
Things change around the holidays. Christmas brings people together in often unexpected ways. It’s a time to show people how much you care about them. Whether loved ones or friends, there’s a gift for everyone. In regards to my family, video games have been what we share during the holiday. From spending time with my parents as a child to introducing the Wii to my grandmother to getting my parents into new games through Switch, Nintendo and Christmas have always been special to me. This year is no exception. People get older, and people grow apart, but there’s something so magical about the Christmas season that makes me happy. Regardless of where I end up throughout the year, one thing is for sure; Nintendo will always play an important role in my family’s life.