The Hierarchy of Nintendo Players

It’s been fifteen years since I received my first Nintendo game, and in those fifteen years, I’ve changed as a Nintendo enthusiast. I’ve matured in the way I play games, and occasionally find myself reminiscing on how I used to play games, compared to how I do now.

At times I parallel my reminiscing to how a middle aged man playing on his company softball team would reminisce on his high school glory days playing baseball. I like to think my case isn’t as depressing, but I can save my personal psychological analysis for another article. I came to a conclusion that helped put me at ease. Even though my experiences have changed in playing video games, it isn’t necessarily for better or worse. What I hope to do with this article is highlight the individual stages, or hierarchy if you will, of a Nintendo player. This hierarchy will range from beginners, young and old alike, receiving their very first Mario game, to the rare legends who squeeze every drop of content out of a game and can boast achievements such as finding every green star in Mario Galaxy 2 without the help of online sources.

The different groups that I have included in this list fall into three tiers. I know breaking this up into tiers seems to imply an elitist mindset that being in the higher tiers makes you a better all around Nintendo consumer and person (which it inconsequently does), but they’re only in place to help break all of these groups into a respective subclass so that there’s at least some organization.


 Tier One: Baby Mario

The baby Mario stage represents the introductory phase of Nintendo players. It encompasses the interval between playing your first Nintendo game, to the point where you start diversifying your Nintendo library with sequels, spinoffs, and separate series of Nintendo games.


An accurate representation of everyones first fateful steps into the realm of Nintendo


The Blank Canvas

At a certain point in each and every Nintendo player’s life, we were all once blank canvases. The blank canvas is someone who has recently started down their path of merriment into the world of Nintendo, and is just having their first experience with a Nintendo game.

A blank canvas could be any new player from a child who just received her very first Nintendo game as a present, to a man in his mid forties picking up his first Pokémon game to relate with his son. At this stage, players go into games with no experience or knowledge on what lies ahead of them, and in a way, that’s what makes it so special. No matter what series, or even title within that series you started out with, you get to go into it with a form a blind bliss that will slowly start to fade with every Nintendo title you play from then on. This in many ways is the most important stage in the hierarchy of Nintendo players, mainly because it is the starting point that each and every other stage originates at.

I’m going to try my best not make the other stages sound as cliché as this one, and limit my use of the word merriment to one per article (no promises), but the reason I call it the blank canvas is because all Nintendo players starts here. And while we all may be at different or similar stages within this hierarchy, we all once shared the same blank canvas.


 The Branch-Out Stage

Ok, so you’ve gotten your first taste. You’ve experienced the light. You want more. You’re now in the phase that parallels drug addiction the closest, which bear with me is a good thing. Before I continue with this analogy, I’m going to go ahead and say that in no way does Nintendo, or the act of playing Nintendo games, lead to or condone drug addiction.


In any way, shape or form…

If you find yourself in the branch out phase, it’s too late. You’ve experienced the fine-tuned quality of Nintendo games, so how can you go back? You can’t. Accept it. Say you just beat Mario 64. You’ve thrown Bowser by the tail into the very last bomb, and it’s time for something new.

You’ll start with something similar. Maybe test the waters with a few more Mario related titles. Your friends are talking about Super Smash Bros, so you think you’ll try that. Before you know it, you’ll be branching out to things outside your comfort zone. You’ll wake up one morning and find that you now own Ocarina of Time and Pokémon Stadium. You didn’t think it would happen so quickly, but you’re fine with it. You’re still at the point where you’re experiencing new series for the first time. It wont last long however, and the good news is that that isn’t a bad thing.

Tier two: Mario

This is when things get interesting. In the Mario tier, the single and linear line of the baby Mario will begin to branch off now into different, specialized subcategories. You’ll begin to find your niche as a Nintendo consumer, and begin to settle down with what you’re comfortable with.


Welcome to the show. Each new member gets a javelin

Genuine and new experiences with series are things of the past aside from the occasional exception, and even the series that you do find yourself trying for the first time are series that you have done research on, and know what you’re getting into. Essentially, you’re trading the blind bliss that accompanied you on your first few ventures into Nintendo, with comfort. It is a separate, yet equal experience that you’ll find changes the way you play games. You’ll figure out how you want to play the upcoming Pokémon game before it even comes out, whether that entails you planning out your team months in advance, or going in with as little knowledge as possible.


 The Single Series Die Hard


For some reason you two will be missed. Not by many, not by me, but by some… maybe

Like all of the subcategories within the second tier, the name spells it out. These are the players who’ve found their comfort zone, and it just so happens to be a single series.

Some SSDHs never experienced the branch out stage and found themselves sticking with the series they started with, some branch out for a short amount of time only to return to the original series that first marked their blank canvas, and some even branch out until they find a game series that’s perfect for them. Any series can contain this type of player, however, some series seem as if they were made for them.

The optimal type of series that would cater to a SSDH is one that can simultaneously draw in a beginner audience, while also managing to withhold and sustain a hardcore community. They usually contain a thriving online community, and can boast a skill ceiling that can only be glimpsed by the most competitive of players. Games don’t necessarily have to meet all of the criteria listed above to draw in the SSDH audience, but one game that manages to do it, is Super Smash Bros. Smash Bros managed to make people care about the Ice Climbers, more than the Ice Climbers series ever has. It manages to bring in a flood of new players with every iteration, while also managing to provide top-level fan service for the seasoned veterans, which in turn is what allows the Single Series Die Hard community to thrive.

 The Throwback Gamer

Everyone knows this person. They’re essential for every college dorm to thrive. My first year college experience wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t had the chance to bond with my hall-mates over irresponsible amounts of Super Smash Bros Melee and Mario Kart Double Dash.

To fit the description of a throwback gamer, one must only own Nintendo hardware that dates back at least two generations. Because of the 3DS and Wii U, Game Boy Advance and Gamecube games are now considered to be a part of the throwback library.

The Throwback Gamer is the easygoing Nintendo Player. With no interest in the future or current iterations of Nintendo titles, they don’t get disappointed like a SSDH would be by a lackluster sequel, or fed up with repeated marketing failures like a Modern Console Owner would be. Just like the SSDH, they’ve found what makes them happy in the Nintendo world, and that happens to be the games they grew up on.

Some would argue that the throwback gamers are a depressing instance of individuals desperately reaching back to their early days of Nintendo play, in hopes of getting the feeling of initial wonderment and merriment (sorry, I tried) that came along with their first few Nintendo experiences. But because I’m not a cynical psychoanalyst, I like to have a different perspective. I see the throwback gamer as someone living under the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. Instead of putting their hopes out in the open to either be crushed or spared by the newest installment of their favorite series, they stick with what can’t and won’t disappoint.

 The Modern Console Owner

This is the core stage of the second tier. While the SSDH and Throwback Gamer stages are dead ends in this family tree-like hierarchy, The Modern Console Owner presents itself as the next step in the linear line of Nintendo phases that eventually leads to the third tier. They’ve put a certain amount of trust into Nintendo and what they have to offer, and only time will tell if they made the right decision in doing so.

The Modern Console Owner is someone who has figured out the series in which they enjoy the most, but are also willing to try the newer types of games that Nintendo is willing to offer. This section includes the largest demographic in the second tier, and because of that, offers the largest variance. This variance can range from the blind consumers who are willing to follow Nintendo into a fiery abyss, to the meticulous fans that won’t purchase a game without doing proper and extensive research on it beforehand.

 Tier 3: Dr Mario

This is it, the third tier. You made it. What was once a mindless activity has now evolved into a process. A process you revel in. You look at your once blank canvas and see how far you’ve come. At one point it was like all the other blank canvases, but now it’s yours. No one else has the same canvas as you. You’ve spent years decorating it with unique experiences and preferences, making it your own. There are still subcategories within this stage, but take them with a grain of salt because they only highlight some of the frequently seen components of the hardcore Nintendo community.


Tier three bows to no one. You have become death, destroyer of worlds.

The Hype Train Conductor

If you often find yourself enjoying the anticipation for a game at an equal or greater level than the game itself, then you may be a Hype Train Conductor. This is the type of Nintendo consumer who not only does extensive research on the games he or she buys, but has learned to enjoy it. The release date of long awaited games like Super Smash Bros becomes a second Christmas for you, because why shouldn’t it be? It’s been six years since the release of the most recent installation. Over the past year, you’ve most likely scoured the Internet; feeding off of every leak and Sakurai picture of the day you can get your hands on.

As a Hype Train Conductor, you feed off of anything that can get the locomotion going. You find yourself going on Nintendo news related websites on a daily basis, hoping for any type of rumor or teaser to get you excited. In extreme cases, you’ll find yourself in a perpetuated cycle of latching onto any game you can get excited for, only to be mildly disappointed by the release, due to having an overabundance of pre-existing knowledge of the game.

After you’ve put an irresponsible amount of time into researching and tracking the game you’ve been anticipating, it only makes sense to get the highest return on your investment of time. And the only way to get that high return is to drain every bit of content you can out the game, which brings me to the second and last subsection in tier three.



The Completionist

For a completionist, the fun doesn’t begin until after the credits roll. That’s when your role comes into play, which is to accomplish every challenge the game has to offer. And after all’s said in done, and you have all the green stars, all the star coins, or all of the mirror mode trophies, what is there to show for it? Do you do it for the quick digital screen of congratulation, because if so, you may lead a more depressing lifestyle than you let on, but we both know that’s not why we do it. The reason so many Nintendo players put so much time into these games is for the challenge, accomplishment of being in that one percentile of people who reached the 100% finish line, and the feeling of genuine excitement when you know that you just completed every challenge the developers threw at you.

 So that’s the hierarchy of Nintendo players. If you made it to the end of this, I applaud you for it. There’s a lot more I’d like to include, but for the sake of space, I’ll have to save it for another time. If you think that there’s another subcategory or tier that belongs on this list, please feel free to let me know in the comments. I hope you enjoyed it but if any aspect of the hierarchy infuriated you or you thought was blatantly wrong, just remember that I’m just some guy on the internet with an opinion, and don’t take it too seriously. Happy gaming.

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About The Author

Feature Writer

Eli Hile is a feature writer at Always Nintendo. He likes spreading his opinions and knowledge on all things Nintendo, and is currently a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Aside from logging countless hours into Pokemon and Super Smash Bros, Eli enjoys playing tennis or golf with friends.