I have a friend I’ve known for over a decade. Over that time we’ve remained close. I was a groomsman at his wedding and we text pretty regularly. Every couple months we go to a concert or something together. I’ve spent time with his wife and their son too, a fair amount before the pandemic, much less during, and now more again as things have eased up.
That son just turned 7, and over the last few years he has become obsessed with Mario. He watches Youtube videos, desperately begged to see the movie, and clearly acknowledges him as his #1 favorite character of all time. What he doesn’t do is play the games, because they don’t have a Switch. My friend and his wife were casual gamers when they were younger, but fell off of the hobby over time, and didn’t buy any consoles after the Gamecube.
Last weekend I met my friend and his family at a park and chatted with him and his wife while their son ran around a playground. His birthday was coming up that Friday so I casually asked what they were planning on getting him for a gift. They said they hadn’t decided yet. I nodded and we moved on. A little later my friend went to go pick up lunch for everyone and I was left alone with his wife. As I would later tell my friend “I did what any red blooded American man would do if left alone with another man’s wife. I talked to her about the Nintendo Switch.”
My friend had previously told me that they didn’t buy a Switch for their son because money was tight due to a few issues I’m not going to go into. I knew those issues had passed and so I asked her whether they’d considered buying a Switch now, since they didn’t have a present picked out. I did point out that there would likely be a successor console coming out next year, but there are advantages and disadvantages to picking up a console late in its life, especially one like the Switch where there’s already more software than you could play in a lifetime available. I noted that their son was wearing a Mario t-shirt and just casually asked if there was another reason they didn’t want to get a Switch for him, like because they were worried about school performance or whatever. She said she didn’t have a particular reason and it was worth considering.
It wasn’t until I was on my way home that I realized my horrible mistake. I had gotten distracted by the boy’s Mario shirt and his love of the Mario movie and had forgotten to even mention the Amico! After all these people were the prime Amico demographic. A young family of non-hardcore gamers who were price sensitive. They were even interested in couch co-op because I mentioned to my friend’s wife that a Switch lite was cheaper and after I explained what it was she said “No, I think we’d rather spend a little more so that we can all play on the TV together.” That’s the Amico dream!
A few days later my friend and his wife texted me and said they’d decided to get the Switch but they needed some help figuring out which one to get since they didn’t know the difference between the OLED and standard model and they wanted to know if any of the versions came with a game. I explained to the best of my ability and pointed them to some price tracking websites and then I made my Amico pitch. I told them that instead of getting the kid a Switch, which is on its way out anyway (though admittedly the boy is obsessed with the upcoming Super Mario Wonder to the point where he’s made his mom watch the trailer multiple times, and that’s without even knowing he was getting a Switch) they could get a cheaper console where no game would be more than $10. Admittedly it has been delayed a few times and it has no release date but we are assured it’s still coming, and right now you can buy physical products that aren’t games but might become games if those games are ever finished!
Plus a bunch of 40-50 something men without kids have said that it’s even more exciting for kids than a Switch would be. And instead of having to buy expensive controllers (though admittedly there are lots of cheap options for Switch at this point) you could play games with your cellphone!
She asked how Mario on a cellphone would even work and I explained that the system doesn’t have Mario but it has even better characters like Finnigan Fox (who is admittedly on the Switch under the much worse name of Rick) and…Evel Knievel? There are probably some other characters. The nameless fish from Shark! Shark!? Plus every game is multiplayer and you definitely can’t say that about the Switch or Mario.
She said “I used to like Mario Kart, is there a Mario Kart on Switch you can play split screen?”
I said “Yes, but not all the Mario titles can be played multiplayer.”
She asked “But can’t we just buy the ones that we can all play together?”
I said “I don’t think that’s how it works according to Tommy.”
Then she asked “Who’s Tommy?” so I changed the topic. Their son has also gotten into Sonic a little recently so they wanted to know if there were any Sonic games on Switch and I was forced to admit there were a lot of them.
A few days later I found out that they did buy their son a Switch after all. Apparently he cried when he saw what it was. They thought they were tears of joy but I knew they were tears of sorrow at not getting Amico physical products. I felt so bad that I sent them a Nintendo cash card to buy the kid a copy of Li’l Gator Game. It was only later that I realized that not only is that a 1 player game but it’s 3D playing, which is a violation of the 10 commandments. My villainy knows no bounds.
What I have done to this young man is unforgivable. He is stuck with Mario Maker 2 (the game he wanted most because he has seen it so much on Youtube) instead of playing Biplanes. Well, not playing Biplanes because that’s impossible, but at least enjoying the box art, which is even better if you think about it.
I failed. I failed. I failed my friend. I failed the next generation. Most importantly, I failed the intellivision Amico. And I have to live with that. I didn’t even get to pitch them on the certificates of achievement that get emailed to you that you can print out for your wall if you have the high score on the monthly leaderboard. I didn’t even tell them that the Amico comes with Farkle. You know, the stuff that kids really want. I’m sure I’ll get beat up here and I have it coming. Sometimes you reach for those Astrosmash stars and just end up with a well deserved Backtalk Party.
NOTE: Some of the above interaction was, just like an Amico launch date, fiction but unlike an Amico launch date it was based on a true interaction, and I did mention Amico! They just laughed at me and asked if you could play Super Mario World on Switch.