In just a few short weeks, every game I bought a Nintendo WiiU for will have been made available for the Nintendo Switch, and in each and every case the experience has proven to be a dramatic improvement. This occasion has given me a lot to reflect on and think about and there’s a lot I could say about it, but there’s a particular set of emotions I want to focus on today. I’ve always believed that different sensations can remind us of memories and feelings connected to where and when we were when we first experienced them, and that this can be just as true for our media as it is for anything else. This is why we have to be cautious listening to a certain song when we are feeling a particular way (especially if we’re feeling sad) lest the two end up associated together in our minds forever. On the other hand, it’s also been my experience that, with care, those feelings can grow and evolve with us as we revisit them over the course of our lives.
I got my WiiU at the end of 2014, two years after it had launched. Even though it was usually not my style to buy a video game console as soon as it came out (the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo GameCube were my big exceptions), my delay this time was notable because I wasn’t even originally planning to get it in the first place. When it was first revealed in 2011 I initially thought the WiiU would make a good first step towards a future where mobile devices interacted with home video games, except within months Microsoft and smartphone manufacturers unveiled ways to literally do just that. This left the WiiU feeling a bit conceptually aimless and uncertain: The console’s concept was effectively that of a Nintendo DS tethered to a TV screen, which in hindsight seems inherently self-defeating (and this was far from the only thing wrong with the way that console was handled, but this is all water under the bridge), but more damningly for me there wasn’t a single game on the platform that seemed inspired, and this went on for *years*.
Meanwhile, I’d been alienated by the XBOX One (in a console launch that was arguably even more bungled than the WiiU) and my longstanding enmity with the PlayStation brand and its fans continued to drive me away from the PlayStation 4. I’d been into Steam gaming for a couple of years already and was perfectly happy throughout 2012 and 2013 with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as my only video game (although I decently enjoyed my time with Pokémon X at the end of 2013 too). In fact, I was starting to wonder if I ever needed another video game again, and got to thinking that maybe it was time for me to retire and leave this medium behind. I even deliberately skipped E3 in 2014, the first year I’d ever done that, because I was so dispirited I didn’t think any of the news would be worth the trouble of sitting through the press conferences.…