I’ve been a little critical of Nintendo of late, though I’ve been playing my 3DS often this past week. How could I not? The week has been pretty exciting.

But for a gamer, Nintendo is always one of those things that generates some sort of feeling. I’ve been a long-time fan of the company, from Donkey Kong and Game & Watch up to the 3DS. My grumbles with the company are meant more as that friend you have that is viewed as having a ton of potential, and you want to make sure that they meet up to it sort of thing.

I’ve been feeling it more lately. The 3DS, despite its rocky start, is the sort of experience that I want from Nintendo. With the tons of games built within the system, the care and bells and whistles packed into nearly every app, the now launched eShop with classic games (FUN FACT: You can turn the Game Boy screen to its original spinach green color, or set it to it’s native resolution complete with Game Boy border with a few simple button codes), the 3D movie and game trailers, AR Cards, Spot and StreetPass. the impending line-up of games, the promise of actual third party support, long dead franchises brought back from the grave, actual working 3D…. It’s pretty exciting. It almost feels like the 3DS is tailored exactly to my needs.

But we all have our first moment. Or in some cases, moments. I have a few of my own: Getting the NES for my 11th birthday. The first time I beat Super Mario Bros. The first time I played Legend of Zelda. Super Metroid. The Squaresoft games and Super Star Wars games on the SNES. Seeing Super Mario 64 at E3 ’96. Playing Ocarina of Time for the first time. There were games like Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Rogue Squadron. Trying to fathom the awesome of each successive Super Smash Bros. Camping out all night to get the Wii. Seeing games like Punch-Out!!, Donkey Kong Country Returns and Mega Man 9 come out. The list goes on.

I admit for a while that my faith in Nintendo was shaken by the Wii. After a respectable start with all my favorite classics coming out steadily on the Virtual Console, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl being the high point of the system, things… just sort of dropped off, and Mario fighting Sonic was the last of those “moments” for a while.

Mario Kart Wii lost me with it’s “Last place places first/Winners must be punished” AI. E3 ’09 still remains a head-scratching oddity and embarrassment. Nintendo’s website became a more sterile and boring place to visit. They closed down their forums. They handed off Nintendo Power to another publisher, no longer making it internal and “straight from the pros”. The Virtual Console, once a fountain of 3-4 classics a week, became maybe one game a month if fans were really lucky. Even third-party support, which was relatively weak since the Nintendo 64 days, was slower than ever. Even long-standing franchises, despite being good, still seemed to be very careful retreads of what worked before. Where was the ingenuity and risks in their traditional franchise titles?

The final straw was my Wii breaking down, and Nintendo letting some outsourced repair shop trash my system multiple times over, wiping years worth of data. Nintendo never did wrong. They always made things better. And Nintendo products simply did not break. My original NES, SNES, N64, Game Boy Advance, and Gamecube still all work like champs. And for my loss, Nintendo apologized by simply tossing me the old-style Classic Controller before sending me on my way.

And then, something happened. E3 2010. And with it came an exodus of beloved franchises Nintendo hasn’t touched in years. Kid Icarus being one of them. And I played a good number of “old friends” before the Wii started eating discs again, forcing me to stop, but I got to see some revised memories.

3DS put me back on the bandwagon. With what’s coming, Nintendo is seeming to return to their older sensibilities. All they need to do now is add a new Punch-Out!!, Metroid, and Donkey Kong to the “Coming Soon” list, and there’s not much more that I’d need. But the release of the eShop, and this week’s undoubtedly nostalgic Ocarina of Time update has put some more steam in the little system that could, but hasn’t just quite yet. But it’s gaining real momentum now, and I like where it’s going.

And even the next system looks to take third-parties again seriously, though a lot of the details still seem shrouded in mystery, and I’m still not sold on Super Mario Bros. Mii. But I will “wait and see”.

The 3DS is my newest “moment” regarding Nintendo. It came at a time where for the first time, I was starting to question the company’s direction and plans for “us”. the old guard. The people who hunted ducks and tried to figure out a cool-looking but difficult to use toy robot. Even if Wii U *shudder* isn’t what I want it to be, I at least know that Nintendo and I will remain friends on their portable side, a system that looks to be speaking directly to their long-time fans.

What are some of your “moments”?

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