Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 3, 2017

Email: About Nintendo’s Online Service and Netflix-like gaming service

It is now time to read an email.

Malstrom tears open an envelope and pulls out a folded paper. He straightens it out, and he holds it up to the light.

Let us read it together, reader. Ahem…


Hello Master Malstrom,

While paying $20 a year seems tempting to play unlimited amounts of classic NES titles like Metroid, Zelda 2, Mario Bros. 3, and hopefully Castlevania (assuming 3rd parties be on board). I want to know if we can play these titles on the GO and locally since Nintendo is so high on using both uncomfortable joy-cons for 2 player gaming.

They haven’t even announced if the games are live streamed or download like the Xbox Game Pass. Also, I want them to give us an option to buy them if we want to opt out of their online service. Just too many questions for this service.

Thank you

Unlimited amounts of classic NES titles? Where are you getting this? No one is saying that. And what makes you think you will be able to play single player games on this service? Ho ho, you are a funny emailer!

Everyone keeps looking at this issue wrong. You keep seeing the retro games as a product to be consumed in some way. Nintendo sees these retro games as a tool for a larger company objective.

What is the purpose of a Nintendo game?

“To give me fun,” squeals the reader.

No. The purpose of a Nintendo game is the purpose of the First Party game. This purpose is TO SELL THE HARDWARE. That is it. That is its job. You can go into it more and say the first party software is shoring up a type of brand or reputation too. It is Super Mario Brothers, Zelda, and Metroid that made the NES ‘magical’ after all. But ultimately, first party software is to move hardware.

The purpose of retro games to Nintendo is going to be for the company’s objective… which will likely be ‘moving hardware’.

Look at this Polygon article. It says Nintendo doesn’t have much in plans for ‘Virtual Console’ but is happy to tell us about playing a few NES games online.

I have a question.

Malstrom raises his hand.

The reader calls on Malstrom. “Go ahead.”

Why use NES Dr. Mario? Why not another version of Dr. Mario such as the WiiWare version that DID INCLUDE ONLINE MULTIPLAYER!!!!? Why use NES Super Mario Brothers 3? Why not the All-Stars version of it? Besides, Super Mario Brothers 3 isn’t much of a multiplayer game aside from its awesome battle-mode.

None of this makes sense if you look at it from a games-centric point of view. But if you look at it from a company-centric point of view, it all makes sense. Nintendo sees old games as fodder for its company objectives, not for YOUR enjoyment.

“I disagree!” snaps the saucy reader.

Then let us observe some history.

Retro Experience Begins on NES

Nintendo ported its arcade games to its console, the NES. This was part of Nintendo’s transition from being arcade maker to console maker.

Here is Donkey Kong Classics, a type of All-Stars of Donkey Kong. However, it is not arcade perfect. Donkey Kong is missing an entire level! Other elements are missing. Nintendo did not care. Why? The purpose of Donkey Kong was to sell the NES hardware, not to give tribute to the game.

All-Stars SNES

Nintendo used the old Mario games, gave them a gloss of 16-bit paint, and put them on the SNES to push SNES hardware.

“No, Malstrom. They did it because it was a tribute to Mario games.”

haha no.

Above: If only the girls came with the game!

Super Mario All-Stars is to push the hardware. Nintendo and Sega were tight competition in America during the 16-bit era.


Animal Crossing on Gamecube

You could play the NES games on Gamecube. This was a slick way for Nintendo to see if there was any market interest in these old games.


NES games on Gameboy Advance

Iwata put out the NES Classics Series with the NES or Famicom special edition GBAs as well as GBA re-designed with the flip screen. The old NES games were selling the GBA.

What should be noted here, as well as ports of NES and SNES games to GBA and DS, is that HOME CONSOLE DESIGNED GAMES WERE SELLING FINE ON HANDHELD. A forewarner to the Switch.


Virtual Console

Starting with the Wii, Nintendo began selling the old games digitally.

Above: Hey, it is GAME MASTER MIKE! Mike is such a sucker!


NES Classic Mini

NES Classic Mini was a Christmas gift for 2016 since Nintendo literally had nothing that year. NES Classic Mini also brought back gamers from the NES Era.

The problem was that the NES Mini was selling outside that market group. Nintendo was stunned. NES Classic Mini was discontinued because it had fulfilled its purpose to the company of being a 2016 holiday item. It was never meant to be a permanent product.


Future of Retro Games

Nintendo will use these old games however they think will help them best. Since the Switch is selling out, Nintendo likely doesn’t think the Switch needs a Virtual Console. Besides, it has Neo Geo games on there already.

Nintendo is likely looking at a long term trend where games become services and are using their NES games as the starting point to create such a service.

What WOULD be cool is if the games were redone All-Stars style with HD, additional levels, etc. But that is thinking that the game is the product but it isn’t! The product is the service. In the same way, Virtual Console wasn’t the product, the Wii was the product. You bought a Wii to get to the Virtual Console. You bought a GBA to get to NES Classic Series.


My reaction

Go get the original hardware and games. To hell with all this Virtual Console crap.





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