Nintendo for Christmas. Should you?

Nintendo entered our lives in the last year, a console given to my son, by an almost teenager who had up-graded. I had, grumpy, initial reservations. Not sure that I wanted my five year old playing on a game console. Visions of a child lost for hours, possibly turned into a gaming zombie by the following Tuesday.

My partner had no such reservations. He is a long time Nintendo fan, for him it’s about moderation and access to technology that develop skills. He was right. My son hasn’t become obsessed or addicted to his Nintendo. Sometimes he plays and then weeks go past and he doesn’t, his interests elsewhere. Nintendo has been brilliant for his problem solving skills, it’s taught him to take risks and that it’s ok to fail, you just try again.

We started by buying the Toy Story game, the console had Zelda already and we were given Madagascar. My boy negotiated the games with very little help, quickly working out how to navigate around. The games average around £20 to £30. Getting the right one provides hours of play. My tip would be to consider your child’s interests and read reviews before purchasing.

Unexpectedly, it’s been great for his fine motor skills. Those little buttons require dexterous movement and as a consequence his hand-writing has improved. Initially, he struggled with hand writing, as many boys do. It wasn’t a strength and over the summer holidays he resisted practicing his writing. However, during the holiday when we were on long car or train journeys he played on his Nintendo.  Nintendo made travelling much more relaxing, less of me trying to entertain a lone 5 year old. He took it camping and played when he wanted some down time.  When he returned to school in September he won a gold for hand-writing. Proud and surprised, I wasn’t sure where the improvement had come from. Until recently, when a friend, whose child has difficulties with fine motor skills was given specialist advice; that a Nintendo would help improve those skills. That child now has our old Nintendo and I came to appreciate the benefits of a little Nintendo more.

Over the summer my partner brought the Super Mario game, he says it’s brilliantly designed. My son fell in love with Mario and Luigi. The two of them sit on the sofa giggling over the game, taking turns to play and I began to want in.

A few weeks ago we went to a Nintendo event in London and I watched my son play Super Mario on the Nintendo Wii U. Gaming but telly sized. The benefits of multi-player were explained to me, the console that allows players to be played together and continue should someone decided they’d like the TV off or want to watch something else. I began to see this as something we could enjoy as a family.

Nintendo got in contact and offered to send us some goodies for Christmas. I hoped for a cuddly Mario. What we got was a Nintendo 3DS XL and an Nintendo Wii U. Yes, I was shaking when I opened the box. The rest of my family were beside themselves with thrilled excitement.

Predictably, my son loves his new Nintendo 3DS XL, his old games are all compatible. He likes the size and the feel the dual screen and the thumb wheel for steering. The 3D function, for me is slightly freaky and my boy isn’t keen. However, it’s important to note that Nintendo don’t recommend use of the 3D feature for under 6’s. It’s easy to turn off and on and can be turned off via parental controls.

As a non-gamer, I don’t fully ‘get’ how the games work. However, both the Wii U and 3DS XL are straightforward to use and we’ve easily found the parental controls and set them. For me, that is important and my advice to any parent purchasing a device that connects to the internet is familiarise yourself with parental controls and set them. We also chose to set limits on gaming time.

A great thing for us has been game swapping with friend’s children. A chance to try games. It’s good to see the children discussing points of the game, collaborating to get to different levels of a game and, yes they do all sit in a row and play quietly.  There are ways to join the games but we can never find the cables. The 3DS XL has wifi technology which will make that easier.

The Nintendo Wii U. Came with Lego City game. It’s humourous and revolves around a character called Chase and his relationship with the Lego City police. Mostly, my son gets Chase to hijack cars in a “sorry, Policy emergency style” and takes them for a drive. This isn’t the point of the game but it makes my boy belly laugh and I love his joy.

We also received a copy of Wii U Party for the Nintendo Wii U. It’s crammed with multi-player games, we’ve yet to explore it fully but plan to spend time together as a family on cold afternoons over the Christmas holidays playing games. I’ve purchased Super Mario 3D World for Wii U. It’s a joint Christmas present for my son and his Dad. I’m slightly excited. I may yet become a Super Mario fan.

There is masses of functionality on both devices and I’m not the person to review that effectively. However, if you do want to read a through review of the Wii U written by those that know, I suggest to pop over to Chris at Thinly Spread’s blog and read what her teenage sons had to say.

I’d recommend Nintendo for Christmas and beyond. For us, it’s family friendly technology and I fully anticipate hours and hours of fun.

Disclosure: We were generously sent a Nintendo Wii U Lego City Limited Edition which retails at £249. and Nintendo 3DS XL at £179.99 with no obligation to review/blog. However, I am genuinely enthusistic about Nintendo. All words and opinions are my own.


  1. Cat (Yellow Days)

    I think there are a lot of skills to be gained from gaming. It’s all about moderation, isn’t it? There are so many consoles out there now but I do think Nintendo seem to be the best for young children and families. E is getting a 2DS for Christmas (like you I wasn’t keen on the 3D feature, clever as it is) which I think he will love. We’re thinking of upgrading our ancient Wii to a Wii U but I’m not sure if the controller will be sturdy enough to withstand 3 year old T’s ‘enthusiasm’ so might put that off until he’s a bit older.

    1. helloitsgemma

      Totally agree Cat and thank you for comment. Moderation is so important. 
      The hand controllers are very sturdy but the bigger controller might not be so 3 year old proof. 

  2. Ruth (geekmummy)

    I think the Wii U is a brilliant family console – I love the way we can all play together and the games are very easy for the kids to understand. We’ve had loads of fun with Nintendoland that came with our Wii U and this year have bought our 6 year old daughter her first Wii U game for Christmas – Disney Infinity 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.