Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 9, 2019

Email: All the ports

Dear Master Malstrom,

In a recent post, you asked why the Switch is getting so many ports. I couldn’t help think of on old post of yours from years back in which you complained that no one wants to make games anymore. I have mixed feelings on ports as I like being able to play the very best games. So I was happy that the Switch got a number of Wii U ports/sequels (Zelda BoW, Mario Kart, Hyrule Warriors, Splatoon 2, Smash) but other ports really annoyed the hell out of me (Bayonetta 2, Toad Treasure Tracker and especially NSMB U).

I’d be happier with ports if developers showed a little more ambition. Instead of simply rereleasing recent games, there are games from the past that I would love to see be remade with updated graphics and other features such as online. Three big ones for me would be Star Wars Rogue Leader for Gamecube, Vigilante 8 for N64, and one of the old THQ wrestling games.

Most of these older games didn’t have the bloat that so many new games do (another thing you recently complained about), so this approach might resolve that problem as well. It would also be less expensive than creating a brand new game from scratch, and you could justifiably charge a higher price for an updated port. But updating old graphics would require real work, so I’m guessing most developers would rather just port recent games that are graphically good enough.

This type of level of heavy porting has been seen for non-unique Nintendo handhelds (not Gameboy because what can be ported to Gameboy?). GBA had gazillion of ports from NES/SNES/Genesis ports. But that was fine. The games were now ‘handheld’. When Nintendo went DS and then 3DS, the unique output and input made it trickier to dump ports (but game companies still did so such as with Chrono Trigger DS, Dragon Quest 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.)

Ideally, I believe in a three legged stool is best for a console’s library. One third of the console is older games (prior generations) ported over.  Another third of the console’s library are sequels. And the last third of the console’s library are brand new games.

The NES largely nailed that stool. Ports would be something like Donkey Kong or Mario Brothers or Space invaders or Pac-Man. Great games, great ports, and they sold well. New generations could get into them. Who wouldn’t want a game console without Pac-Man? But we saw brand new games such as Super Mario Brothers or Zelda or Metroid. Then you have sequels such as Super Mario Brothers 3 which isn’t exactly ‘new’ new, as it is a sequel. It was big, but not Super Mario Brothers 1 big.

SNES did decently in this ‘stool’. Remember that ports include arcade ports. Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games then were ports. Other ports could include Super Mario All-Stars, Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris and Dr. Mario, etc. SNES had tons of sequels from Castlevania 4 to Super Mario World to Super Metroid to Link to the Past. In terms of brand new games, SNES is a little quieter. You have Donkey Kong Country (and its sequels). You have Chrono Trigger.

In any really good console, you’ll see all three represented somehow.

Switch is mostly just ports (of both Wii U, last generation games recycled at full price, and indie games) and sequels.

Has Nintendo ever made an original game for Switch? Think before you answer.

Zelda: BoW “Wow!” is a Wii U port. Super Mario Odyssey is a sequel to 3d Mario. Xenoblade 2 and Splatoon 2 are sequels. Metroid Prime 3 is a sequel. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a sequel.

What is the point of only one developmental platform for Nintendo and not getting any brand new games? Sequels aren’t exactly ‘brand new’ in terms of consumer excitement. I know you are re-using assets and ideas from the older games. Where’s the new stuff?

“The Switch library is so awesome… omg!” No, it is not. It is a port machine mostly with some original Nintendo sequels. My PC game library is more awesome than Switch library and has ALL those Switch ports plus more. PC gaming is mostly port gaming.

What I’m trying to say is that the NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, etc. systems feel unique because they had that type of 3 legged stool, they also had brand new games that defined the system, that defined the excitement over the time. If you were to ask me what is cool about Switch, it is going to be ‘making older games into handheld form’. That is fine for handhelds, and has always been the case, but even handheld consoles, even Vita, had more original content that defined the system. Switch feels so soulless, so empty. The only way Switch library can be seen as ‘great’ is to pretend the ports don’t exist on other systems (!). Too many Nintendo fans are doing this.

These companies want to charge you $60 for a game that is being charged $20 or lower on other systems. That is the bottom line of it. They see you guys as suckers. And with people jumping up and down and having orgasms over paying premium pricing for ports of games half-decade old, the game industry is right to see the Nintendo audience as suckers.

Remember when the game industry said “Nintendo audience doesn’t want to buy third party games!” The reason why their crap didn’t sell was because it was crap. They were poor ports or poor games. Today, people seem to buy any port.

I do think the cartridge format is highly increasing software sales. I also think Switch’s minimalist way to get into games also is a huge plus (don’t have to ‘install’ the game like on the PlayStation and Xbox).

Ports are fine, but there will never be a great console library with nothing but ports. The console library will have no uniqueness. What sets Switch library from other consoles? Nintendo games still. And those Nintendo games are all sequels to existing Nintendo games.

“But Malstrom! Do not forget about 1-2 Switch!”

I think EVERYONE wants to forget *that* game.

Image result for 1-2 switch cow milking

Above: The only original game for the Nintendo Switch. *cries*

“But Arms!”

OK, I’ll give you that. Switch is the ARMS machine. Now I’m even MORE depressed…

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