Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 14, 2017

Was the Switch designed for the Malstrom gamer?

As the Hype Train crashes into the abyss of disappointment, the Internet Consensus mutters about only a few games they like on the console and how they aren’t really feeling it. But if you look around, there is a breed of quiet gamers who are absolutely digging the Switch and its launch library. These are the former gamers.

Usually when a Nintendo console comes up, I have to separate my personal gaming interests from the market interests. What I like isn’t necessarily what the mass market likes and vice versa. But when I look back through gaming history and those like me, there is a correlation of what I like and Nintendo being on top. There is also a correlation of what I do not like and Nintendo being in the gutter. For example, I love the Wii. Many hardcore gamers hate it. Wii sells gazillions. Another example: I hate the Gamecube. The hardcore gamers love it. The Gamecube bombs. For the first time since doing this site, I’m going to have to integrate my own personal interests into the market survey since I believe the Nintendo Switch was designed…

…for Malstrom.

Dos Equis Gifs to the World laughing sarcastic dos equis the most interesting man

And for gamers like Malstrom.

Now, I see you are skeptical. Nintendo is tight lipped on their strategy. But there are too many ‘funny coincidences’ that seem to be occurring. After all, who was the NES Mini for? For the hardcore gamer? For the casual gamer? Or for the FORMER Nintendo consumer? It has to be the latter. And the NES Mini is STILL sold out.

I want to briefly talk about some of my experience with the Nintendo consoles since I think that behavior may be playing a role in the Switch.

NES- I loved the NES and feel awe over its mystery and innovations. I rented every NES game ever made. But the games I owned were very few. Today, my small game library is identical to what is considered the ‘classic’ NES games. I bought the best as I am sure many others did too. I don’t think there was any NES game I didn’t really like. I really loved Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Tetris, Dr. Mario, and the RPGs. I loved the co-op games like Contra and Life Force. I suppose I didn’t like the little girl games. That is all I can think of.

Gameboy– Same story as NES but the games seem way less interesting. I had a much, much smaller library.

SNES– My ‘passion’ for Nintendo dropped with the SNES. Loved Mario, Zelda, Metroid. I really got into the RPGs on SNES. The kid games on the SNES were licensed shit and weren’t as awesome as NES Ducktales and Rescue Rangers. The sports games on SNES seemed to be losing me. Most of all, the games were getting longer, longer, and longer. Final Fantasy 6, which to this day I consider epic, takes about 30 hours to beat. That is long enough! The Bomberman games on this thing were AMAZING, and I still play them to this day. Street Fighter 2 was legendary back then.

Virtual Boy– No way would I touch that!

N64– Controller looked like a spaceship. Where are the games? I don’t want Mario in 3d! Where are the RPGs? I never got the N64.

Gameboy Advance– Missing the X and Y buttons which made me refuse to consider the system. How could Nintendo be so stupid?

Gamecube– Completely wrong! Fucked up controller. Mario Sunshine was a pure wreck. Wind Waker was Zelda destroyed. Smash was cool but annoying. I’d only try Metroid Prime out after the lifecycle which I liked. But Gamecube did everything wrong. I never considered the machine.

DS-Finally! The X and Y buttons are there! But the launch line up was terrible with Mario 64 DS (which I passed up when it was originally launched) and tech demos as launch games. But then DS revealed a NEW 2d Mario. Then Mario Kart DS. Then Final Fantasy 3 (RPG! Yay!). And other games. I bought it after buying only a SNES as my last console. When I bought the DS was right before the DS Lite came out and when the DS truly exploded dwarfing everyone’s expectations.

Wii– Bought at launch for Wii Sports, Twilight Princess, and Virtual Console. The launch line up of Wii games I tried to like but were actually not that compelling. Many Wii games weren’t that compelling which was distressing as I really wanted to like them. The Virtual Console was the killer app for me for the Wii. It introduced me to Turbografx 16 games which, years later, I would spend hundreds of dollars to get a Turbografx 16 actual console.

3DS– 3d orientated handheld? The fuck? Absolutely not!

Wii U– Wanted the 2d Mario, but this console was a disaster. The controller was too damn big. No RPGs. Mario Kart looked really cool. Hyrule Warriors looked really cool. Rayman even looked cool. Everything else? Meh.


With that in mind, you can tell that my experience with Nintendo consoles has been either…

a) non-existent

b) tepid (enjoyed a few games, but felt the system was targeting someone else)

The game console that I absolutely loved was the NES, Gameboy, and maybe the DS. Wii’s software wasn’t really aimed at me. Wii Virtual Console was godly. Godly!

The Switch is very confusing to me because once I get past the paid online, high entry price especially for accessories, I am finding the software library to be all my type of stuff. Aside from maybe the SNES, this is (from my interest viewpoint) the best launch line-up I have ever seen for a game console.

“But Malstrom,” you say. “I am a Hardcore Gamer.” (Audience goes “Oooohhhhhhh!”) “And as a Hardcore Gamer, I am sitting on my Internet Throne and I have cast judgement on the quality of this launch line up by only one factor: how I feel about it personally. There are only TWO games I want for it: Zelda and Mario. The rest can go to hell!”

So what you are saying is that most of the game library doesn’t appeal to you?

“Yes.”

And that you feel sad because there only a few games in the library that you want?

“Correct.”

Well… WELCOME TO MY WORLD FOR THE PAST THIRTY YEARS!

You goddamn hardcore gamers believe every fucking gaming library should appeal to you. It isn’t enough that the Sony and Microsoft consoles cater to you. No. EVERY console must cater to you. If a console appeals to non-gamers, such as the Wii, then you get into a hissy fit, cry out that all gaming is dying, simply because one console didn’t place you as the primary audience. You’re not a Hardcore Gamer. You’re a Hardcore Asshole. Gamers would want a wide variety of games out there.

What’s odd is that none of the game library would be too interesting if they were not on cartridges. The fact that they are on cartridges has boosted the value of them considerably. Discs are crap and do not store well. I prefer my console to have no moving parts in it.

“But the handhelds always had cartridges.”

This is true. But with the 3DS, I think Nintendo alienated my market audience. We simply don’t value 3d for the sake of it being 3d.

So now that we have a HOME CONSOLE with CARTRIDGES, this has unlocked the potential of a new market for Nintendo: the former gamers. (Before you think I am going off the deep end, remember who the NES Mini was aimed at. And keep in mind that it is still sold out. This market does exist.)

Here are the games I will be picking up (already pre-ordered):

Launch (March 3):

1-2-Switch
Just Dance 2017
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Skylanders: Imaginators
Super Bomberman R

Breath of the Wild is not for Ocarina of Time fans or Wind Waker fans. Breath of the Wild is for the original NES fans with its ‘open world’ and all. Don’t you see? This is the first Zelda made with ME in mind.

Super Bomberman R is a Switch exclusive which Nintendo somehow got Konami to make and saved it from being a dead franchise. Bomberman is my favorite console game. This Bomberman isn’t just some multiplayer download only game. It is a full fledged Bomberman! In retail! When was the last time we saw this? Generation 7 on the DS? Again, this game screams for me. And Nintendo somehow did something to get it. Why is Nintendo doing this to reel in a gamer like me?
March/Spring:

Arms (Spring 2017)
Has-Been Heroes (March 2017)
I Am Setsuna (March 2017)
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (April 28)
Puyo Puyo Tetris (Spring 2017)
Snipperclips, Cut It Out Together (March 2017)

These games may not be day one, but they are fairly immediate.

Never played Mario Kart 8 and this seems to be the definitive version of it. Note that it has a real battle mode in it. Which type of gamer wants that? Not the ‘casual gamer’. It would be the old school Mario Kart gamer. This is my market. Fuck, they even added THE FEATHER. I’ve been wanting the feather back forever. Who played with the feather? The Super Mario Kart version. The 16-bit gamers. This Mario Kart 8 Deluxe isn’t just a port, it is aimed squarely to reel in the Malstrom gamer.

I am Setsuna seems to be a old school type JRPG I’ve never played. Could be cool. Nintendo consoles without RPGs just haven’t been satisfactory so I am glad this is here, port or not. Note that the JRPG would not be aimed at the ‘non-gamer’ or even at the hardcore gamer since hardcore gamers already played it on another system. Could this be aimed at the Malstrom gamer? Maybe.

Puyo Puyo Tetris is also right up my alley. Do I have to explain this one? Tetris is iconic to the gaming experience of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. I’d rather play this than your AAA Piece-Of-Shit Game Industry game.
Summer:

Rime
Splatoon 2

Rime is an indie game with stylized 3d. It is an open world game where it seems it has some puzzle solving. Check out the video below. There is something about this game that is putting it on my radar. Looks like some talent is making it. “But it looks like an artsy fartsy indie game.” It may be just that. Let’s give it a chance.

Above: Way more interesting than your Hardcore AAA Game Industry shit game.

As for Splatoon 2, I missed out on the first so the second one could be fun. Much of Splatoon 2 will depend on Nintendo’s online service though. If I go Switch without online, goodbye Splatoon 2!
Beyond/TBD:

Disgaea 5 Complete (TBD)
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 (2017)
FIFA (2017)
Fire Emblem Warriors (TBD)
Minecraft (2017)
Minecraft: Story Mode (TBD)
Rayman Legends (TBD)
NBA 2K (2017)
New Shin Megami Tensei (TBD)
Skylanders Imaginators (TBD) (why is this listed twice? Is it or is it not a day one launch game? Stupid journalist!)

Disagae 5 (above) is way too anime and creepy… yet…. the Japanese madness in it overrides it. This is the complete version with all the DLC on a cart. If this game is entertaining, it would be entertaining for 100s of hours. I’d pick it up just to see. The review above really showcases the madness.

Minecraft needs to be on cartridge for me to buy it. No download buys! Not when there are cartridges as alternative!

Rayman Legends I missed last time so a quality 2d platformer would be welcome.

 

Skyrim (Fall 2017)
Sonic Mania (2017)
Steep (2017)
Super Mario Odyssey (Holiday 2017)
Syberia 3 (TBD)
Ultra Street Fighter II (2017)
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017)

Skyrim I’ll take. Sonic Mania is a new 2d Sonic that looks cool. Xenoblade 2, hopefully a quality RPG, will be good.

The new 3d Mario will be well produced and is interesting since it is different from what was before. I might even get it. But for now, no.

Take a look at this Street Fighter 2 game. They could put in Street Fighter V or something, but they do this instead. Look at the trailer!

 

Who is this aimed for? Not for the Hardcore Gamer. Not for the non-gamer. The trailer specifically says it is for YOU, the SNES fans.

Damn.

This Nintendo console wasn’t designed for you guys. It was designed for me. I have become the PRIMARY TARGET.

This suggests that a new Metroid would be a Super Metroid-ish one. We will see at E3.

Nintendo is doing an interesting gamble with the Switch. The Switch is definitely a Blue Ocean console. But the Blue Ocean isn’t the non-gamer, it is the former gamer.

Just from this list alone, I get 13 games (!). And some of the announced games weren’t on this list such as Dragon Quest Heroes 1 and 2 (which I am definitely getting). Dragon Quest Heroes is like Hyrule Warriors except better. The fact that there is two for one on a cartridge makes it an absolute high value cartridge.

You know more games will be announced at E3 for this year. Most of the time, game consoles launch in the fall so this spring launch is a little unusual.

The objective of this post is not to put my interests on a pedestal but to highlight that while YOU may not like the launch line up, other people do. And those people who do, such as myself, may be the actual target of the Switch. I look at the Xbox One and PS4 libraries and see virtually nothing I’d want, certainly nothing enough for be to jump the hurdle into getting the hardware.

In the first few months, I’ll have a new Zelda, Mario Kart (new to me), and Bomberman. That’s insane to me. From my perspective, this makes it the best launch line up I’ve ever seen.

Then there are some other games that aren’t appearing on this list that I want to check out like Reddout or even some downloadable ones (Stardew Valley, Binding of Isaac, etc.). Hell, even Terraria on it for another go might be fun. Fuck, there is too much to play even though I have some of these for other systems.

I am old enough to say that even though I had Archon, M.U.L.E. and Ultimas on PC, it didn’t stop me from loving them on the NES. You guys were in diapers then or non-existent and do not realize that porting a game to another system is not a bad thing and is not without precedent.

“Oh no!” said the asshole from the past. “This game is already out on the Commodore 64, and I played it. Why do you want to buy this port years later? Stupid casual gamer! LOL I am so funny!”

Archon is a great game. Why shouldn’t it be ported to the NES? You can play it on the TV which is different.

“What a doofus!” says our asshole from the past. “This is a port from other consoles and PC. Why are you playing this?”

Because it is a good game?

Switch has successfully differentiated itself in that a game on Switch means it is also semi-portable. It gives games like Skyrim a unique value which many people will prefer the Switch version.

I think Nintendo has something here. I see the Switch as closest to the DS in its lifecycle. It is going launch OK, stagnate, then really pick up steam and avalanche in sales. In a few years, the Switch could be a monster.

“That can’t happen!”

And last generation, you thought Wii U wouldn’t flop so hard after the Wii.

And the generation prior, you didn’t imagine that the Wii would take off after the Gamecube disaster.

I do not know about other countries. I am only thinking of America. Keep in mind that as I say this, 3DS hardware is still selling well and that NES Minis are still sold out and keep selling out.

It is important to consider that gamers like myself never used the DS as a handheld. We used the DS as a Switch. We played the DS in our homes, in the middle of things, lounging on the couch, etc. The Switch could tap into that lifestyle very strongly.

And with the cartridges, I see enthusiasts going bonkers over trying to collect them.

Honestly, aside from the paid online and the higher than expected entry price and accessories, I am not seeing any buzzkills. The game packaging looks slick and well done. I want to buy these games. I want to collect them. There are no Miis and the game menu doesn’t make me feel like a child.

Once we play the Switch and have it in our homes, our opinions will calibrate with that experience. For now, I am giving a bullish rating to the Switch.

Image result for gladiator thumbs up

In later posts, I’ll go into the macro-economics surrounding the Switch, what seems to be the perceived strategy, and so on and so forth. I think Switch has DS potential. Keep in mind that the DS took a year and a hardware revision before it took off to heaven. Switch may take time to get there. But the Switch already has some VERY nice software already that makes it impossible for me to resist (e.g. Zelda, Mario Kart, Bomberman plus RPGs plus comfort games of Minecraft, Terraria, Binding of Isaac, etc.).

Do not underestimate the Switch. Do not underestimate Nintendo.

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