Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 20, 2018

Email: Switch development as a “unified pipeline”

Hello Master Malstom!

Long ago (perhaps even prior to the Switch), I remember you highlighting how Nintendo said the Switch would allow for a unified development pipeline of the “handheld” (Game Boy, DS, 3DS) teams and the “console” (SNES, N64, Wii, etc) teams. This would increase the total number of software, ideally. Nintendo themselves brought this up several times leading up to the Switch launch and during the early months of the Switch’s lifespan. Seemed like a great idea.

However, you also brought up in one of your recent posts (“I do not like the direction Nintendo is going”; Sept.15th) that Nintendo’s output on the Switch only appears to be robust, but it is an illusion:

By having one console, the Switch looks like it is more robust since it is combining both handheld + home console first/third party support. This is very illusionary

What if the promise of a “unified pipeline” was a trick all along? Consider how Nintendo once whined about how “hard it was to do HD”. Even they admitted that they were unprepared for HD software development. Making games was hard work again! And profit margins weren’t as wide because you had to actually invest in the art assets and sound design of your games. Poor Nintendo…

Ah! But Nintendo is smarter than all of us stupid gamers. They are geniuses, remember? So, they unify their pipeline onto one system so that they can make fewer games! Ha! They can diddle around with side-projects (like porting all the Mario & Luigi games to 3DS for some reason, or porting Kirby Epic Yarn to 3DS for some reason) and take as long as they want on bigger games while the 3rd party developers bring the cream-of-the-crop of the last 10 years of gaming to this system.

I read that Switch surpassed 1,000 titles (including eShop) this year which is pretty close to 3DS’s ~1,200 games (including eShop). The difference is that 3DS has been out for 7 years. Switch has been out less than 2. Over 1,000 games in less than 2 years. Nintendo doesn’t care at all about putting out a reliable pipeline of their own games. They’re printing money right now, laughing at their good fortune.

Unifying into one pipeline also traps us: what if Metroid 4 is Sakamoto’d? When Other M came out, at least there was still Hunters on DS and the Prime Trilogy on Wii. Now it’s all “one system” so there will only be one Metroid. Excited about the new Yoshi Crafted Whatever? Well, you’d better like it because there won’t be an “alternative” Yoshi option on the “handheld” line of systems to flee to if you don’t enjoy the “console” Yoshi game. You don’t like the next Fire Emblem? Well, that’s what you get! Nintendo wants to spend all its time on Pikmin 4 (which we know is a thing) and Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Animal Crossing instead of putting out hard-hitting franchises. They’re already back to Gamecube nonsense! Too bad if you don’t like it, though. Unified pipeline, bitches!

This is likely my last console generation as well. I have big libraries for Saturn, NES, Genesis, PS2, etc. etc. etc. that will last me forever. The Switch will be a good sendoff console, the last, most-profitable, most tone-deaf system ever made by Nintendo before their hubris puts them out of business. Indie Third parties will finally flock to it with all their best titles and the cream-of-the-crop Western 3rd party games will find some way to be ported (Doom, Skyrim, Fortnite, Civ 6) because they don’t want to leave easy money on the table. But Nintendo will be too stupid to understand why it’s all happening.

You should write more about older systems. I really enjoyed reading through your review of TG-16 games. I think a lot of people other than yourself are trying to build a small-but-respectable catalogue of old games because they’re seeing the writing on the wall, too. It’s not about collecting for value. It’s about owning a little library of games while the industry gets more mediocre and crumples in on itself in 10 years.

Writing about older games is a priority for me. TG-16 game reviews will resume. I do have some Switch games to review (but I do need a break from some of these games… ugh).

The console games I absolutely intend to review is the NES. NES games are the most mythologized ones in existence. How often do you come back to them? The answer has surprises for me, and it will have surprises for you, the jumping, jolly, and jubilant reader.

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