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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I spent a lot of money on Nintendo in 2014


It's the end of October, which means only two more months until the end of the year. November and December become a spectacle of deals and discounts in the video game world. Every major publisher and platform have blowout end of the year sales, and before we know it there won't be any money left to spend on our loved ones, because it all went to video games.

That is, if you have self control. I, when it comes to buying video games, do not. I have been getting better. This year, despite the amount of money I've spent, I exercised a lot of self control. I avoided a majority of Xbox Live sales and specials, most notably their Spring sale. I haven't bought anything on Steam this year with my own money; I only purchased the original Half-Life for under $5 with credit in my account I obtained from selling Steam trading cards. I also managed to avoid the Steam Summer sale completely (which took a LOT of self control).

I curbed my enthusiasm to rebuild my legacy consoles, notably my Gamecube and N64. I probably bought less than five games combined for those systems. And thanks to Pokemon XY; my 3DS collection hasn't grown beyond that and Super Smash Bros. (but I will be buying Pokemon Alpha Sapphire). All in all, trying to stay under my budget of $520 for the year seemed obtainable this year. That is, until I bought my Wii U. Then the spending just wouldn't stop. And it's not over yet...

I haven't calculated my total purchases for the year of everything I bought video game related, but going off of my Wii U purchases alone at this moment, I've spent $477.59. And I'm not done yet! I am most definitely getting Super Smash Bros. on #dayone, and I've already pre-ordered the Gamecube adapter and special Smash Bros. themed controller. I won't go into specific detail about each of my purchases, but I've kept a record of my Wii U purchases in a Google document you can find on the top of my blog called "Collection". I'm still working on that by the way so it's not an accurate reflection of my entire collection, but all the Wii U information is up to date.

What amazes me about this spending is how quickly and unexpectedly it happened. The sole reason why I bought the Wii U, was to take advantage of the Mario Kart 8 bundle. Originally, I had told myself that I was going to wait until a potential Super Smash Bros. bundle to get a Wii U. But Mario Kart looked so damn good and I made a last minute decision to go out and get it the day it was released.

You got a free download code for one of four games if you got that bundle, and I chose Pikmin 3 because I knew my daughter and I could play it together (she's a big fan of Pikmin). I instantly fell in love with the system and these games once I got it. Finally I was experiencing these two franchises in glorious HD, and the Wii Gamepad was surprisingly light and had a beautiful screen resolution. I knew I would benefit greatly from off screen TV play, and right away I was reaping the benefits whenever my wife or kids wanted to use the main TV; it didn't interrupt my online racing with Mario Kart 8.

A month after I got the Wii U, my family and I moved to an amazing apartment in the downtown city area of Buffalo. This was perfect timing, because in the Summer I have Friday's off of work, and with a spacious new apartment and the glorious Mario Kart 8 game, I began inviting a bunch of friends over every week. The main attraction was Mario Kart 8, but a lot of other classics were played: Goldeneye, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and even Mario Kart 64. We played a lot of Mario Kart 8, and even though we didn't plan to, ended up playing a lot of N64 or other Nintendo games.

For my birthday in the Summer I was gifted a couple of games for the Wii U, and my collection was steadily growing in a few short months. I took advantage of the eShop E3 sale, because when does Nintendo have sales? 33% off in any other sale (i.e. Steam, XBLA, Humble Bundle, etc) is something that you pass over instantly. You instead seek out that 50% to 75% or more discount. Very rarely does Nintendo hold sales on their own digital downloads, so a 30% off discount on a major Nintendo game like Wind Waker HD feels as good as a 75% off sale on Steam. I know mathematically they are extremely different, but math can't explain my feelings, man.

Also since I bought a deluxe Wii U, I was automatically enrolled in the Digital Deluxe Promotion, and I had a couple of $5 eShop cards waiting for me. So I bought Earthbound. Then I had a bunch of Club Nintendo points racked up with the new system and all the gifted games I received, as well as the one I purchased (Wind Waker). So I redeemed some coins for Super Metroid. I was quickly building a collection of Wii U games (that I wasn't playing because of Mario Kart 8) but I was excited that I was getting all these new games so soon after I got the system. The fact that I only bought two of the eight games in my collection added fuel to the fire, and I felt the need to get a few more games before I was satisfied.

After buying the Xbox 360 (almost nine years ago!) I decided that whenever I buy a new system, there would have to be ten games part of it's library that I would want to OWN before buying it. I made this decision since I went a few years before I started to really enjoy my 360, because there wasn't a whole lot of games that interested me for a while. I know I wanted to wait until Smash Bros., but when Mario Kart 8 was released, there were ten games I knew I wanted to own. It was a win-win situation. I never expected within a couple of months I would own most of those ten games. To put it in perspective, there are way more than ten games I know I want to own for my 3DS, but as of now I only own five.

When I was younger, my parents bought me a system and maybe an extra game to go along with it. I would have these two games for months until I got another game. I thought I was really lucky when I got the N64, because within six months I had four (FOUR!) games part of my collection. Little did I realize that afterwards I would go a whole year and a half before I got my fifth N64 game, or any new game for my SNES, Game Boy, or Genesis. It was a tough time financially for my parents, and therefore no new games.

Even when I bought my first system with my own money (the Gamecube) I went almost a year before I was able to reach past five games in my collection. When I got old enough to hold down a job, the power to buy games was in my complete control. But with great power comes great responsibility, and to this day I still struggle with my spending habits. Spending almost $500 in less than six months is nothing to sneeze at for me, regardless of how much money other people may spend on the same system. At the end of the day, with a family and bills to pay, $500 is a lot to me.

But here's the thing, even though I know I grew my Wii U collection a little too fast, and broke several of my own self imposed rules, I don't regret it. I haven't been this excited for a system in a long time. Last Steam holiday sale I bought $60 worth of great games, and I haven't touched them since. I received the Zelda 3DS XL bundle with a Link Between Worlds, and I love that game, but I haven't invested any other time in my 3DS beyond Pokemon. Even Super Smash Bros. hasn't completely torn me away from it, because my hands start cramping up after a while. And if I do buy a game that's discounted on the Xbox 360 marketplace, it's almost out of forced habit because I used to do it so much. Now I don't get as excited about sales because I don't get excited about my 360.

For some reason, all my excitement for gaming is coming from my Wii U. Whenever I do get a chance to play games, I go right to my Wii U. I've unlocked everything in Mario Kart 8, and I still hop online to race people. I bought Hyrule Warriors #dayone, because why the hell not? I don't remember the last time I YOLO'd so hard in a game purchase. I didn't need to buy it #dayone, I could have waited until next year, but I didn't. I was so pumped to play a game like that because it's such a new experience I can only get with my Wii U.

And pretty much every game on my Wii U can be played with my daughters in the room. I don't like to play violent games in front of them, which is why I've barely put any hours into GTA V and several other of my mature rated games. But Donkey Kong Country, Wind Waker, etc. these are games I don't have to hide from them. In fact, I love that they get exposed to these type of games because I also grew up with them. And we can play them together! It's not just Pikmin 3 my oldest enjoys, we play all the Wii U games that have multiplayer. My wife even plays with the Wii U! Which is rare, not because she doesn't enjoy games, she does, but she struggles with the controls on games that rely on two sticks. But Super Luigi Bros? Oh yea, she plays that, so much that we completed it together!

There's a lot to love about the Wii U, but honestly once Super Smash Bros. drops, I know I will be on that for a long, long time. I feel I was in a rush to buy and play all these great Wii U games, because I didn't want to miss out on them before Smash released. Once that game comes out, I know it will be hard for me to want to play any other game when I can go online and play For Glory hours at a time. If it wasn't for my hands hurting after about an hour of the 3DS version, I probably would only be playing Smash 3DS until Smash Wii U. Anyway I've broken many rules of mine because of the Wii U and Smash Bros.: I've gone over my yearly budget, I've bought games when they were released #dayone, I've bought games at a discount less than 50%, and I've bought games before I've finished recently purchased ones.

But all that doesn't matter (for now). In the past few months, I've had more fun playing the Wii U than the past couple of years with my Xbox 360, Steam, Wii, etc. I've been excited for a few games in the past few years, but nothing like what I'm experiencing now. So yeah, I've put a lot of money into the Wii U this year, but I don't regret it. I consider it an investment in my gaming happiness. Too long have I felt burdened by the games I've own. Somehow, some way, Nintendo's new system has made playing games fun for me again.

It might be the classic franchises and gameplay hitting all my nostalgia buttons. It might be the long wait until I was able to experience solid online features, DLC, or even the HD graphics for these games. Nintendo's been behind the curve for a long time, and now that they are catching up; it's only benefited their classic franchises and help thrust them to contemporary gaming. I never felt truly blown away the Wii, because it was still a few steps behind PS3 and Xbox 360, but the Wii U does a lot of things better, and feels like a console of it's time.

I consider the money I've spent now on the Wii U an investment, because I probably won't buy anything for any system after Super Smash Bros for a long time. And if I do get tired or need to take a break from that game, I have all the rest of my current Wii U games to complete or play again. And then of course, there's that Zelda game coming next year, no big deal. I know I won't be spending much if any money on games for the rest of 2014 after Alpha Sapphire and Super Smash Bros. But the money I have spent on games this year, a majority of it on the Wii U, has been money well spent.

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