Remembering Mario: Nostalgia and Nintendo Wii

Some of you will remember that fateful day, circa 1991, when your big brother came home with a Super Nintendo system.  You gathered with your six siblings (or maybe you just had two) in the cramped family room for the reveal of the wondrous world of Super Mario Bros.

I remember forcing myself not to lurch my hands into the air as I made Mario leap over the gap.  I remember the feeling of awe as I watched my brother successfully jump from platform to platform.  I anxiously awaited my turn – though it disappeared as quickly as it came.

But since then I’ve had years of practice.  In fact, just today Ryan said “I’ve never dated anyone who was as good as Mario as you are.”

And he can only say that because I’ve been able to resurrect Mario from his defunct video-game-system grave on my new Nintendo Wii.

The internet ready Wii allows me to download hundreds of old games right in my living room.

Now, I admit, not all the games are as good as I remember.  The graphics in Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario Kart are grainy and rather hard to look at.  But somehow Super Mario World is perfect. It is clear — at least as clear as it ever was — and with the addition of the classic controller, I can kick that game’s ass like no game’s ass has been kicked before.

Part of me appreciates the nostalgia. Part of me is angry that valuable pieces of my brain are consumed with the location of the hidden key in Forest of Illusion 4.  Mostly I am just amazed at the brilliance of the business model.

With the advent of the internet, Nintendo is now able to sell games to me directly — for the second time in my life, I might add — from any of their previous systems, and convince me to buy a controller adapter to boot.

It’s brilliant.  In the past, old games were sold at garage sales or second hand stores.  Nintendo only profited once.  Now, they sell old games for $2-$10, with almost no effort or expense on their part.  These games haven’t been remastered or digitally altered. They are the same crappy graphics that they had in 1985, or 1991, or 1995.

Wii has changed the face of video gaming on many fronts.

The Wii was released at about the same time as the Playstation 3.  While the PS3 was competing on graphics for the “gamer” market, Nintendo’s Wii had simplified graphics, basic games and a motion sensitive remote.

Then the Wii Fit came along and suddenly Nintendo had created a world of video game fitness.  What’s more, since Nintendo created the foundation, other companies have made hundreds of games and components for fitness on Wii — that’s additional value that Nintendo didn’t spend a dime on.

In a world where technology gets exponentially more complicated and less inclusive, Nintendo has created a product that not only appeals to the traditional video game audience, but also to large portions of the general public.  Whether it’s fitness enthusiasts, kids, grannies or people who miss their childhood like I do, Wii is where it’s at.

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