This piece was originally going to be a sister article to my first gaming confession ever, a piece about how I have never completed a Zelda game. I was going to talk about how, try as I might, I’ve never had an affinity for Mario. But while that statement is true, it’s only part of a larger feeling that I have (or rather, don’t have); I have very little nostalgia for any old games or franchises. My gaming choices tend to be pretty rooted in the present.
Let me take a little time and clarify both my position and why I feel slightly ashamed of it. First off let’s start with the original subject of this article, Mario. I don’t hate Mario, and I don’t hate Nintendo, but I have absolutely no added respect for the Mario franchise over and above any other that I’ve enjoyed over the years. Mario receives no special reverence from me, despite being one of the most important gaming franchises of all time.
To me, Super Mario Bros. 3 was the pinnacle of the series. I owned that game, and I loved it. I remember it with great fondness. But every Mario since (and before, really) is just kind of the same thing to me. I realize that there are innovations and that the controls and gameplay are among the best of all time, but it still just feels like the same rehashed concept over and over. He’s a cute cartoon plumber, he jumps on some stuff, he collects some stuff, and he saves a princess who never seems to be there. That was riveting…when I was 8. I know that fans of classic gaming will gasp at a statement like that, which is why it’s kind of embarrassing to confess it.
The feeling goes well beyond Mario though. As I’ve mentioned before, I have no nostalgia for Zelda, and even less for Metroid. None for Castlevania, Contra, Donkey Kong, Crash Bandicoot, or even Metal Gear Solid or Final Fantasy VII. The last two games I mentioned there being two of the most influential gaming experiences of my gaming career.
Metal Gear Solid is probably the best example. This was a game that absolutely blew my mind when I played it. Words simply cannot express how cool I thought that game was. Then Metal Gear Solid 2 came out, and I hated the ending of the story and subsequently tuned out of the whole series. Chris, by contrast, has maintained this sort of reverence for a game series that had the same effect on him when he first encountered it. Where he developed a sense of franchise loyalty, I seemed to develop none.
The same goes for the Final Fantasy series. I loved VII, VIII, and IX, didn’t care much for X, and then tuned out. I subsequently feel no loyalty to that franchise either. If a Final Fantasy game comes out, and I think that it might be good, then I’ll play that one. If I like it, I might tune in for the sequel. If I don’t, who knows.
If you count up the hours I’ve spent playing different individual games, one stands high among the rest. World of Warcraft. Even that game elicits little loyalty from me. When I’m enjoying the game, I feel good about playing it. When I get bored of it, I put it down and simply stop caring about it.
I feel like, as a child of the 90’s, that I should have some deep affinity for products beyond the here and now. I should be telling you that Super Mario World or Super Metroid is the greatest game ever made. I should be extolling the virtues of Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64. The truth is that I don’t care about any of those game though. And even though I only listed Nintendo products there, it’s not confined to just that. There are zero games from before the age of 12 that I recall with any sort of reverence. I know I’m entitled to my opinion, and if I don’t like stuff I don’t have to be ashamed. But I can’t help but feel just a little ashamed that I’m not more nostalgic about an era of gaming that was so influential to the medium as a whole.