I put a bit of thought into what games I might consider my white whale and while there are certainly some juicy choices, I found that my biggest white whale is the Wii U and, to a lesser extent, Nintendo. Nintendo was my first great love in the world of video gaming. While I'm not the only one, I feel I'm in the minority when it comes to current opinion of the company and their latest system.
I consider Nintendo, first and foremost, a provider of first party content of the highest quality. I am by no means tired of Mario, Samus or Link. The content has never been a problem for me, so much as the way I am expected, in the last 20 years (has it been that long?) to control the content. To explain why I feel so strongly about this, we're going to have to do a bit of time travel.
The N64 was the first system I had actually purchased for myself with my own money. It was a proud moment that I won't forget during the ride home. This passenger was surely to bring me the greatest experience in the history of gaming for anyone ever. I had seen the release games in Nintendo Power and the graphics were, by far, better than anything I had seen and I couldn't wait to get my hands on Mario in 3D. Once I did, however, I felt something I hadn't felt in my Nintendo gaming life. Disappointment.
My first glance at the controller had me tilting my head like a dog and squinting my eyes a bit. I shook it off and started unwrapping everything else in the box like a kid at Christmas discarding the socks and looking for the RC car. Once assembled, I powered it up and held it in my hands for the first time. I turned it on its side and upside down, finding all the buttons and wondering which of the three handles I should hold with only two hands. I can't recall how long I owned the system, but I know it was less than a week. Lucky for me, return policies were a bit less stringent back in the day.
Flash forward a few years. That Sony system I had all but ignored for my love of Nintendo had nestled itself nicely in my bedroom. Having watched Link and Mario from a distance, there was a twinge of disdain for Nintendo for not allowing me to play with them. Sony had already provided me with these amazing dual analog sticks for a while now and Nintendo reveals their next system, the Gamecube. I distinctly remember wondering what was wrong with that little nubby analog stick. I had decided to put my fear and anger, however small, away and try my hand with Nintendo again.
This time, the controller only had two handles and the addition of another analog stick. Off to a good start. The Gamecube lasted noticeably longer than the N64, but not because I cared for the controller, no. At this point, I purchased the system from a store that did not allow the return of opened merchandise. The Gamecube sadly collected dust until one fateful evening when I discovered a peripheral cable that allowed you to use a Playstation controller on the Gamecube. Brilliant! I then became friends with Luigi and his haunted mansion, Tom Nook and a plethora of others. This was too little to late, however, as Sony would once again pull me back with more and better third party releases.
In the holiday season of 2006 Nintendo released the Wii. Having gone through a couple of 360s in the past year, I had thought to myself how high the hardware quality had been for Nintendo consoles. This time, however, the controller was a major pull for me and I had pre-ordered the system the first day I was able. The controller was simple and had a new functionality that hadn't been done before. Sony's cocky attitude of "you should want to work overtime to buy a PS3" and "People would buy our system even if it didn't have any release games" combined with a $600 price tag had me intrigued with a system that could potentially do more and cost so much less.
As I unwrapped the Wii and began assembling all the necessary parts I began to feel a bit of the same excitement as I did when unwrapping the N64 ten years prior. This time, however, I held the wiimote in my hand for the first time, feeling like a Jedi who had finally finished assembling his lightsaber. I even waved it around making the lightsaber noises and imagining the first Star Wars game that would use it to its full capabilities. For now, though, I'd be forced pretend it was a tennis racket and try not to destroy my TV.
For the first few months I admit to having quite a bit of fun. A year in, the Wii began collecting dust save for occasional first party releases that would refresh my excitement for all of about a week. At some point I remember thinking about how it was losing trade-in value each day. I remember trading the system in for the value of a single game with no regret. The novelty had died with no real use of the motion function to kept me interested at all.
And now we come to the white whale. To this day I feel the Wii U had the least inspired name and I continued to find negatives as time went on. I purchased a Wii U day one with absolutely no expectations. I saw the controller as a tablet with buttons, a d-pad and a couple of analog sticks. The functionality of playing games on the controller while the TV was being used for something else fell completely flat when it wasn't a system functionality, but a software functionality. I can't recall a single third party game that allowed you to use that function and only a handful of first party games that did. Tack on the inability to have a second tablet controller and the fact that someone had to use a modified wiimote for all other controllers and here I was, trapped with a system I would inevitably trade in.
Yesterday, I once again came into possession of a Wii U. It came bundled with a game both my wife and I had been excited about, Super Mario Maker. So far, the game has not disappointed and uses the functionalities of the tablet controller about as well as anything could. This time, I have my wife to play with which, I'm hoping, should help me overcome any hurdles by helping me try games I wouldn't have otherwise considered. This time I'm determined to love Nintendo and their Wii U. Even with a new system on the horizon I have seen releases for the Wii U I've wanted to get my hands on. Monster Hunters, Xenoblades and gun toting squid people(?) so I grab my spear, "from hell's heart I stab at thee." I see upcoming games like Mighty No. 9, Star Fox Zero and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (a game I have yet to play in any capacity) and I lift my spear, ready to conquer this white whale, "Thus, I give up the spear!"
Let's hope I end up as a metaphorical Ishmael.