In the first of a festive two-part series, some of your humble Nintendo Life writers share their favourite Nintendo gaming memories of 2013. In this first part we have three of our U.S. reviewers and news hounds, Ron DelVillano, Morgan Sleeper and Lee Meyer.
One of the strangest moments of 2013 for me was the first time I held a 2DS console. When Nintendo first unveiled the new hardware in a completely unexpected and unprovoked announcement, my reaction was similar to that of the masses:
“Why is Nintendo releasing an ugly 3DS without 3D?”
“What have we done to deserve this?!”
Then I picked one up.
Then everything started to make sense.
The 2DS is, without a doubt, one of the most comfortable handheld gaming devices that I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. I’m still not convinced on the way it looks, but if you haven’t had a chance to hold one, do yourself a favour and change that as soon as possible. Nintendo was also smart enough to release it as an introductory model on the same day that Pokémon X & Y launched. This is marketing at its finest, people.
At the moment of its announcement I truly believed that all hope was lost. I rolled over in bed, pulled the covers over my eyes, and tried to wake up from what I was sure was a late-night taco induced dream. Then Nintendo, once again, proved me wrong. Nintendo has, time and time again, restored my faith in the video games industry. To this day, the 2DS continues to impress me as the little console that probably shouldn’t, but could and did anyway.
1 A.L. (1 Anno Luigi Nostri, a.k.a. 2013) was a standout year in Nintendo gaming for me. I got to spend plenty of time with my new Wii U, for one, and I have fond memories of Nintendo Land sessions with family and friends, ringing in the New Year with Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed, and playing New Super Mario Bros. U in two-player co-op from squirrel-suit start to fiery finish. There was a bit of a dry spell after that, of course, but Earthbound was more than enough to make up for it. I'd been wanting to play through Ness & friends' adventure since I was a kid, and finally being able to set out from Onett on the GamePad was an incredible feeling. The game touched me more than I'd expected, too. After four or five hours of playing, I started over from scratch, naming the characters after my friends & I this time around; Ness' adventure became mine, and I'm still loving every minute I get to play of it! More recently, Super Mario 3D World really blew me away - I picked it up at a midnight launch and played to the wee hours of the morning before finally tucking in, cheeks sore from smiling at the incredible creativity and joy pouring out of every level.
This year was also when the 3DS really came into its own for me; Fire Emblem Awakening, Pokémon X/Y, HarmoKnight, and Luigi's Mansion 2 were all wonderful, ATLUS gave us two fantastic Shin Megami Tensei entries and two equally lovely Etrian Odysseys, and XSEED's Rune Factory 4 was a brilliant ray of beaming, optimistic sunshine wrapped up in an engrossing turnip-growing-cum-dating sim. I can't say enough about Animal Crossing: New Leaf, either, and all the wonderful untold hours (don't check my Activity Log!) I spent taking trips to the island with my sister and our friends, planting flower paths all around my little town of Twinseed, and meeting up with my then-distant fiancée for midnight walks along the virtual beach. The 3DS eShop also hosted my personal game of the year: Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale. It's one of the most transportative games I've ever played; I soaked up the whole story in one long session on a cross-country road trip, and every time we'd stop to get gas or a bite to eat, I had to take a beat and adjust to the fact that I wasn't actually in 1970's Tokyo. The atmosphere, sense of wonder, and subtle storytelling all came together perfectly to create a world I wasn't ready to leave when the credits rolled, and one I encourage everyone to visit at least once!
Finally, one of my very favourite gaming memories from 2013 was heading to the Nintendo Experience at Best Buy back in June. My sister & I drove for almost two hours to the closest event, and when we saw the Disney World-esque line running up to the demo unit, we were worried we might not even get a chance to play at all. After 10 minutes in line, it didn't matter; everyone was so excited just to be there, and to be among fellow Nintendo fans, and the 4 hours (!) we waited in line flew by as we StreetPassed, swapped stories and memories with new friends, and joined in an 8-player game of Mario Kart 7 that continued for over an hour as we worked our way towards the Wii U. By the time we reached the controller, our frantic minute with Mario Kart 8 was a fun but totally tangential part of the experience. We still keep up with friends we met there, and I like to think that says a lot about the Nintendo difference - from StreetPass games and Animal Crossing's online connections to same-couch multiplayer on the Wii U, it's all about having fun and bringing people together. Happy holidays, everybody, and here's to a wonderful 2014!
Nintendo has a special place in my heart. Although I regularly play games for other platforms — Vita is my latest — I still get butterflies in my stomach when Nintendo takes the stage at E3, or releases a new Nintendo Direct, just as I did when I first booted up my Nintendo 64 in 1996. 2013 was filled with moments like that, the latest being the 18th December Nintendo Direct — was ANYONE expecting Hyrule Warriors or Dr. Luigi?! Nintendo started the year off in much the same way, with a January Nintendo Direct revealing titles like X, Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem, the (still mysterious) new Yoshi title and a slew of amazing 3DS titles.
I got goosebumps the first time I played Fire Emblem: Awakening. Here was an incredibly deep, intense strategy RPG I could get lost in for hours, and the opening cinema and early battles were positively enthralling. The ending was similarly affecting — but I won't spoil that here. But the defining 3DS experience of 2013 for me is, without a doubt, Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Animal Crossing's long been a series I've wanted to love; I tried getting into the Gamecube version back in the day, and Wild World was one of the DS's first online experiences, but I have never been able to stick with it for too long. That all changed with New Leaf; the new gameplay mechanics introduced with being mayor, as well as the personalities of the characters and the sheer scope of "stuff" to do has kept me busy for the past six months.
Off-screen, I finally picked up a copy of Hyrule Historia, and I'm glad I did. As someone who spent months on end trying to find the rumored Triforce in Ocarina of Time, reading canonical lore and learning of the split timelines was the culmination of years of speculation and theorizing. Of course, A Link Between Worlds has now brought up countless other questions; you should play it to see what I mean!
2014 is looking just as promising. I can't wait to see the tricks Nintendo has up its sleeve, and I'm sure I'll be sitting here gushing the same way next December.
Check back tomorrow, when Tom Whitehead, Dave Letcavage and Lewis Childs share their memories. Let us know some of your memorable moments of 2013 below!