Nintendo hooked me as a kid. Can the Switch win over my son?

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By Ian Sherr

I vividly remember the first Nintendo game I played.

It wasn’t long after the 1985 debut of the Nintendo Entertainment System in the US. I was around five years old and at my babysitter’s house in Fremont, California. It was a sunny summer day, and we were calming down after playing outside.

My sitter, who also took me for my first ride in a classic Volkswagen Beetle, sat my younger brother and me down in front of the living room TV. She’d just gotten a Nintendo and wanted to show it off.

She pulled out the controller, flipped the TV to channel 3, then took a game out of its holding case. I watched as she blew along its bottom to make sure there wasn’t any dust.

Then she popped it in and turned it on. Music started playing and the title appeared: Rad Racer.

The game was crude by today’s standards, but my younger brother and I were mesmerized. We watched as the car on the screen sped up, moved around, steered past other cars on the road and eventually crashed.

Then it was my turn.

Crash!

I laughed hysterically.

Then I did it again — and again. I sped up as fast as I could, then veered the car off the course.

Crash!

I was totally hooked.

Few companies get kids as well as Nintendo does. And fewer still have such a deep catalog of the kind of engaging and fun games that have kept me playing over and over again for the past three decades.

There’s the silly boxing game Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (or Punch-Out!! as it was later called) on the Nintendo I started with. Or the cartoonish but beloved spaceship dogfighting epic Star Fox 64 on 1996’s Nintendo 64. There’s nearly every version of the racing game Mario Kart, too.

Now that I have an infant son, I’ve started drawing up a list of the nerdy stuff I plan to introduce him to. Nintendo games are high up there, alongside stuff like the Star Trek (except the odd-numbered movies) and Star Wars (sans the prequels — “what prequels?” I’ll joke.)

But now that Nintendo’s next-generation console, the Nintendo Switch, is coming to store shelves on Friday, I’m looking at the likely device my son might use when he’s ready to start playing his own games in a few years.

So, should I get him one?

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