In the magazine business, the Back Page is where you’d find all the weird goofs that we couldn’t fit in anywhere else. Some may call it “filler”; we prefer “a whole page to make terrible jokes that are tangentially related to the content of the mag”.
We don’t have (paper) pages on the internet, but we still love terrible jokes — so welcome to our semi-regular feature, Back Page. Today, Kate, Ollie, and Alana attempt to build the perfect console out of the discarded parts of Nintendo’s technology…
Psst. Hey. Are you bored of the constant Switch Pro rumours? Tired of your five-year old Nintendo Switch feeling like a last-gen console? Longing for the days of autostereoscopic 3D, motion controls, and massive purple cubes in your living room?
Well… so are we, and that’s why we (Kate, Ollie, and Alana) have come together to create the ultimate console, out of our favourite bits of all the previous Nintendo consoles (excluding ones we didn’t feel like talking about, like the Virtual Boy, and spinoffs like the Nintendo Switch Lite and the Game Boy Micro). It’s all very democratic.
(Oh, and Nintendo, if you’re reading this, we’re more than happy to help out with the design discussions when you realise we’ve struck gold.)
We’ll begin with the newest console, the Nintendo Switch, and work backwards chronologically all the way to the NES…
KATE: Alriiiight, let’s dive in. We’ll start with the Nintendo Switch, the most recent console and probably the… best?
OLLIE: Yes, definitely the best.
ALANA: No arguments here. But this could be a tough one. The Switch has so much going for it.
KATE: Especially because we don’t know what we’re taking from other consoles yet. I’m imagining this ending up like the Homer car.
ALANA: Perfect then.
KATE: What do I like most about the Switch? Probably its hybridity. Being able to play it in bed or as a normal console is pretty cool, and even though it means a significant downgrade in the console’s capabilities in terms of FPS and graphics and all that, I think it’s worth it.
OLLIE: Yeah I think that’s a given, definitely! For me, I don’t play much in docked mode; I’m a portable guy, through and through. I reckon the Switch’s best feature *right now* is probably the OLED screen (if you’re lucky enough to own one). It’s just beautiful!
ALANA: Now I’m the opposite of Ollie and mostly play docked! But the choice is the key part. And if that OLED screen is part of the deal with the hybridity, I think I’d be even happier to play handheld a bit more often.
KATE: I mostly play handheld, too. It’s easily the best of all the handheld consoles – it’s not got a tiny screen like a Game Boy, it’s not got the flimsiness of a DS, and it’s got a much better catalogue than the PS Vita and PSP. Can we just take its handheldiness? Is that a thing?
OLLIE: Yes. HOWEVER… If we’re going to do that, we need to make sure it doesn’t creak all the time with those Joy-Con attached. If you twist it even just a tiiiiiiny bit, it sounds like a ruddy PS3 controller. Very flimsy.
KATE: I think that’s a case for taking the hybridity instead. As a handheld-only console, it’s not got the best build quality! (And it does not stand up to being carried around everywhere, as I have tested…)
ALANA: Plus there are also some very good controllers or buttons down the line. We have options, this is only the first pick!
OLLIE: Let’s go hybridity. It’s the most sensible choice here, I think.
ALANA: Maybe Nintendo will make a mid-tier upgrade of our Frankenstein console, so you’ll get that OLED screen!
KATE: I think you’ll find it’s Frankenstein’s Monster’s console, actually.
FINAL CHOICE: The Nintendo Switch’s hybridity
OLLIE: So my choice for the Wii U absolutely needs to be the Miiverse. There’s just nothing in terms of hardware that I think needs to be preserved in any way!
ALANA: Yeah, I’ve been wracking my brain with the Wii U and struggled to come up with anything until you brought up Miiverse. I miss Mii stuff on my Switch a lot!
KATE: Easy. Done. Miiverse it is. I was also struggling to come up with something good about the Wii U… that wasn’t done better by other consoles. Sorry, Wii U.
FINAL CHOICE: Wii U’s Miiverse
KATE: I do love the 3DS. But when I think of things that it has that are unique to it, I think… the 3D? But I don’t want a console with 3D! It was cool at first, but quickly became a gimmick.
ALANA: The 3D was pretty quickly forgotten about too, and 3D stuff makes me more motion sick! So I don’t really mind leaving that behind. I think I have to give a mention to StreetPass here – I know some of the video team will be happy to hear this! But with Miiverse already on the docket, the two would pair together quite nicely.
OLLIE: Two words: HOME THEMES.
ALANA: Oh no, I’m actually upset I forgot about this. Okay, yeah, I don’t even mind these costing a couple of quid a go like on the 3DS.
KATE: Aw yeah, StreetPass rules. But I never leave the house any more – especially not with this Frankenconsole we’re making – so I think it might be a weird inclusion. Themes, though. I love themes.
OLLIE: Yeah I agree that StreetPass was awesome (still is – sorry, Video Team!), but themes you can enjoy for life. Like, literally for life. I’ve got so many and I’m not even sure which one I’m using right now… Maybe Metroid? Hmm. But yeah, themes all the way.
ALANA: I do get a little bit of joy every time I boot up my 3DS and see my Boo theme and hear the Haunted House music from Super Mario World playing in the background. Ahh. Yeah, sorry StreetPass.
KATE: My theme is just “Horse”. It’s from Harvest Moon. It is a picture of a horse.
FINAL CHOICE: The 3DS’ Themes
ALANA: Gosh, do we just jump in for the obvious here and go motion controls? My heart, though, is saying Virtual Console. An actual storefront where I can buy retro games.
KATE: Alana, you fool! It’s the music for sure!
ALANA: That can come with it, surely!
KATE: Yeah okay. I’d say we’re bending the rules, but there are no rules. Let’s just take the whole Wii shop. Wii eShop? WiieShop?
OLLIE: Yeah, I was going to say, it needs to be the music. You’ve seen the “Wii Shop Wednesday” video, right? It’s marvellous. And it shouldn’t be limited to the Wii shop either – the music needs to be present everywhere. Home screen. Settings. In-game. EVERYWHERE.
ALANA: A whole Twitter account won’t let me forget about Wii Shop Wednesday, and I don’t want to forget either. If the music is going to be everywhere, then we miiiight have to sacrifice the store – but I can do that for something as perfect as that music.
KATE: This Frankenconsole comes with a brain chip that plays the Wii Shop Theme on loop! Haha! Yay!!!
ALANA: I’m never in a bad mood when I hear that theme. Let’s go with it.
FINAL CHOICE: The Wii Shopping Channel (and theme)
KATE: This is the one I was looking forward to, because if you will permit me, I will take: The game catalogue.
ALANA: You know, I would’ve said PictoChat if we didn’t have Miiverse already… because otherwise, I’m struggling. I don’t want touch controls (Super Mario 64 DS *shudders*), and I don’t like the buttons either – especially on the old model. That library is hard to argue with.
OLLIE: I’m going to be cheeky and say the GBA cartridge slot… Then I can say something different for the actual GBA! Paaahahahahaha.
ALANA: So, if we say library… does that mean only DS games will be playable? Or do we just have to wait for ports of other games?
KATE: Uhhhh yes. I think so. If we have to pick one catalogue, we should probably pick Switch, but we already did that one, so DS it is!
FINAL CHOICE: The DS’ catalogue of games
OLLIE: I’m going to start off with something really niche that I reckon only myself tinkered with back in the day: the removable GameCube logo on top of the console! I used to print out custom images, cut them out to size, and pop them into the plastic casing. So much fun!
KATE: THE WHAT
ALANA: I did this too! I have a Four Swords Adventure thing in the middle of mine.
KATE: You learn something new every day…
ALANA: It’s so fun! We do only have like, digital customisation at the moment with the 3DS themes. But I want an excuse to mention the small discs. I think GameCube discs are adorable and if Nintendo ever went back to a disc-based console, I want GameCube discs to come back in fashion!
KATE: We didn’t pick the hard cases for 3DS so I guess we can have this one, but… I thought there would be loads of cool things to nick from the GameCube! Like, um, the handle. Or the intro jingle, if you can call it that. Or the colour. It’s been a long time since we’ve really had purple tech!
OLLIE: I always felt the GameCube was the most ‘Nintendo’ of Nintendo consoles. So many cool things to nick from it! I’m gonna stick with the removable logo though, I just had way too much fun tinkering with that thing. I’d swap out the image at least once a week.
ALANA: The handle is maybe my second favourite thing after the discs, but I love the logo too. I just love the GameCube really! Do you think the handle helps the hybridity we already have or would it make it harder to pack away?
KATE: I think the handle was pretty useless even on the GameCube. Me and my brother had a special GameCube bag, so I don’t think I ever even used the handle!
OLLIE: I just never took the GameCube anywhere, so the handle was just kinda there for me.
ALANA: It makes moving consoles around easier! And it’s quirky. That’s enough for me (okay, okay, fine).
KATE: I’m fine with taking the removable bit, which I’ve just found out (through searching) is called a “jewel”. I really like consoles (and technology in general) that have bits you can fiddle with, and I feel like the last time I had that was the 3DS. I was constantly fiddling with the stylus and the case!
ALANA: I didn’t know it was called a jewel. Very fitting. The crowning piece of our frankenconsole. Though I know we have a little ways to go still.
FINAL CHOICE: The GameCube’s removable logo jewel
GAME BOY ADVANCE + SP
KATE: Uhhhh. I like… the… hm. It’s getting a bit harder to pick out unique things as the consoles get older.
ALANA: This is a tough one! I like the GBA a lot, but the only two things I love about the hardware are the ‘crystal’ consoles and the flip-top SP lid. I’m struggling to think of anything else because it’s all peripherals or stuff that modern consoles have built in now (back lights…)
OLLIE: Yeah this is a tough one…
KATE: I was even going to say that we should take the tribal patterns from the SP just for that nostalgic hit of terrible 00s fashion, but I don’t actually want that.
OLLIE: Hey, I have that one! A lovely fellow gifted it to me when I worked at GAME. I used to own the NES GBA SP though and that was truly beautiful… Sigh.
ALANA: Oh I’ve always wanted the NES one! It’s gorgeous. Hmm. I’m still thinking about GBA stuff, and the eReader totally just came to my head. Which, again, is a weird peripheral, but otherwise we’re going to have to go for something else, or the lovely, crunchy chiptunes.
KATE: Oh, I’ve got it! The transparent GBA!
ALANA: Oh I think I called them crystal ones, oops! That’s what I meant. I miss clear hardware where you can see all of the insides! I have an Xbox 360 controller like that.
KATE: Oh, you did already say that, didn’t you! Okay, that’s two votes for cool transparent plastic.
OLLIE: I suppose we’ll have to go with that! The only other option is to go for the form factor of the Game Boy Micro. We take everything we’ve mentioned so far and make it TINY.
ALANA: That thing is TOO tiny!
KATE: I can’t say that I miss the 90s thing of making tech mega-teeny, even if it was cute.
OLLIE: Transparent / Crystal shells it is, then!
FINAL CHOICE: Transparent plastic shells
GAME BOY / GAME BOY COLOR
KATE: I think we should lump these together, for the sake of not making this list one-third Game Boys. Games Boy.
OLLIE: Oh boy!
ALANA: Oh no, I think this is another tough one. Look at how far handhelds have come…
OLLIE: Link cable! Who needs online functionality!
ALANA: Haha, I thought about bringing that for the GBA but WiFi is too good.
KATE: Thinking about it, I feel like the GBs were the last time that gaming was vertical.
ALANA: I think you’re right! I definitely prefer things ‘wider’ though. Just digging around though, but because the original GB took batteries, didn’t it have a really good battery life? Not something I can say for the Switch (which is fine), but something that doesn’t need charging once a day or something would be good.
KATE: I don’t know a lot about batteries, buuuut – yeah, I agree, my battery-powered consoles would last forEVER. Pop some rechargeables in that bad boi, add a charging port (I think that’s how it works???) and you’re good forever, right?
OLLIE: Batteries is a solid pick, certainly, BUT… Game Boy Camera. I mean, come on.
KATE: Oh, I wasn’t fancy enough to have a Game Boy Camera.
OLLIE: Neither was I, but this is our chance, Kate!
ALANA: Oof, I do have a soft spot for the Game Boy Camera… okay, I have one more suggestion from the NL archives (2021…). There’s a Game Boy that survived the Gulf War. So durability might be a thing here. I’m terrified of dropping my Switch because I’m clumsy. I need the durability of a Nokia phone at all times!
OLLIE: That’s a good one, yeah! I’ve seen that Game Boy, it’s gnarly. We definitely need good durability, the Switch looks like it could crack at the slightest knock.
KATE: I’m constantly in Gulf Wars so this would be fab.
FINAL CHOICE: The durability of the Game Boy
ALANA: The impulse to say the C buttons or the controller as a joke is hard to resist… I think someone’s going to shout at me for suggesting it, and also suggesting it as a joke. But seriously, the Rumble Pak? This was one of the first rumble features, wasn’t it? Okay it was a chunky add-on, but it’s a huge development.
KATE: I unironically love the N64 controller. And I think we should take the Rumble Pak + the controller as a package.
OLLIE: I’m happy with that! I don’t like anything about the N64, so I’m taking your steer on this one. Awful console.
ALANA: Awww, poor N64!
KATE: I would fight harder for my beloved piece of game plastic, but I’m just happy to have my say. The controller has really great hand-feel, to coin a term…
OLLIE: Let’s go for the controller and the added Rumble Pak then. I suppose. Or we could skip it entirely. Awful!
ALANA: Let’s take some nostalgia and history with us then and move on!
FINAL CHOICE: The N64 controller
ALANA: I was going to say, despite this being one of my favourite consoles, I don’t know what I would take! But manuals is an EXCELLENT choice. I think older game manuals in particular have so much character to them.
OLLIE: Happy with that one! The manuals are absolutely next level.
OLLIE: Actually, wait. WAIT. We need those coloured face buttons. Red, blue, green, yellow. We need ‘em.
ALANA: I think plenty of North American readers would not be happy with that! But god I love the EU/JP controller a lot. Is the SNES and Mega Drive era the last time consoles had visual regional differences?
OLLIE: Hmmm… I think so. No doubt there will be something that will be pointed out by one of our dear readers, but it’s too much research for a Tuesday afternoon. And everybody knows the coloured face buttons are objectively superior!
KATE: But… but the manuals…
ALANA: I do love the manuals… the N64 controller has colourful buttons??
OLLIE: Nah, not the same… Fiiiiiiine, we’ll take the manuals. Sulk sulk.
FINAL CHOICE: The SNES’ game manuals
OLLIE: I’ve got the perfect suggestion for this one! You can actually slot the controllers onto the console on the Japanese Famicom. So… There’s that.
ALANA: Hmmm, I want to give a shout out to the NES Zapper. Cool little peripheral that. Plenty of Duck Hunt playing back in the day with that. I miss light guns…
OLLIE: Light guns need to make a comeback! And not half-baked implementations like House of the Dead Remake – like, a proper light gun.
KATE: (mumbles) I didn’t own a NES but I like the Famicom colours…
ALANA: The red Famicom controllers are cute, too! But we have a controller already… The NES is just tough because it was the first. It really just needed to work and innovate for the time. Hey, maybe R.O.B. can make a comeback. Maybe be our frankenconsole mascot.
KATE: I’m always down for more mascots.
OLLIE: I didn’t even consider that! Let’s go for R.O.B then, I’m happy with that.
KATE: Sorry, NES fans!
FINAL CHOICE: R.O.B. the robot. From the NES. Yeah.
Our final console:
Acts like a hybrid console, like the Switch, but with the durability of the original Game Boy. It has a transparent plastic shell like the Game Boy Advance, and you play it with an N64 controller (presumably when it’s not being a handheld console?).
It has a removable, customisable logo like the GameCube did, can be customised further with home themes like the 3DS, and lets you build your own Mii and have it represent you in the social-media-like Miiverse, borrowed from the Wii U.
If you want to buy games, you’ll have to head to the shopping channel from the Wii, which only features games that were on the DS. Also, every game comes with a physical manual, like the SNES. Everybody loves the console, because it has beloved NES bot R.O.B. as its mascot featured prominently on all TV adverts.
So there you have it. The perfect console. It cannot be beaten.
If you have better suggestions of what you’d take from each console generation… let us know in the comments!