Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 17, 2017

NES Golf soon to become the Best Selling Console Game of All Time


Hidden on every Switch firmware is a NES emulator. Within that emulator is a game called ‘Flog’ which is Golf backwards. In NES Golf, we can see support for joycons.

What does this mean? It means Nintendo developers are having fun. I can hear them laughing all the way from Kyoto.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 16, 2017

Big Bull is coming to Switch

Supply issues are masking it, but I believe Switch has a Small Bull and Big Bull phase similar to the DS.

The Small Bull is the first year with early adopters wanting games like Zelda: BoW “Wow!”, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and some other titles.

“But Nintendo is sold out of Switches, Malstrom.”

I know. This is why the Big Bull scares me.

Image result for wall street bull

Above: Big bull!

You can track a hardware’s trajectory with its software. Look at where the software is taking us. Already, you have games like Zelda and Mario Kart 8 just humming in the background driving sales years from now. Add in software such as Skyrim and other RPGs (Octapath, etc.) that unlocks more market. Add in software such as Doom that unlocks other markets. Look at Arena of Valor. The world’s biggest moba. 80 million players on it in China. Will that unlock a new market? Maybe.

Nintendo’s Direct was amazing to me. I did not expect this much software to come out so soon. And this is STILL the first year of the console.

Mario Kart. Zelda (actual good Zelda). Splatoon. Minecraft. Indie games. Retro games. Nintendo already has an amazing  library for Switch (I know people didn’t see that during the launch, but that is why I am the Malstorm and they are not.). I see the upcoming software pipeline as being Even More Amazing. And I am not even considering something like Mario which could be really good or blah (I assume blah but Nintendo defied my expectations with Zelda).

I want to play Rocket League on the Switch. I want to play Terraria on the Switch. There is all this software I want for it. And we are still not done with the first year! Do people realize how big this Switch is going to get?

During the NES era, I remember the software pipeline. The first year of NES software wasn’t bad. It was the black box software. Some really, really good games aside from Super Mario Brothers were on it such as Wrecking Crew, Balloon Fight, and that fighting game from Irem. A year later, we got Metroid and Legend of Zelda among other games. But it was 1988-1990 where we got flooded with software (in the good way). The NES wasn’t just hot. It just took off to another level.

Right now, we are not at the flood. The flood of software I expect to come in 2019 and 2020. I expect Switch Version 2 Hardware to come out in 2019.

Nintendo really has its software ducks in a row for Switch, I am sorry you analysts cannot see this. Best Zelda game ever (arguably), Mario Kart 8, some really fun games like Bomberman to Binding of Isaac, and that was just the first few months. It is going to take me a while just to digest the games I want for the first year. God help us gamers for the second, third, and fourth years of Switch.

I see Switch entering Big Bull within a year from now. I think Nintendo will have production issues with Switches for YEARS. What if China goes nuts over its favorite moba being on Switch? What if there are, say, 30 additional million Switches sold in China alone? You laugh reader, but remember that China is now the world’s top movie market.

Nintendo gained a talent from 7th Generation of unlocking new markets. They haven’t yet displayed this power yet with Switch, but I expect more markets to be unlocked fueling growth years from now.

We are in the Switch Era now.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 16, 2017

Email: Metroidvania VS. Ridley Scott

I agree actually, that people are too focused on the now-commonplace metroidvania definition of lock and key design. You would see it in the indie games. “It’s a sidescroller and you need X to get past Y, it’s just like Metroid!”.

For SR’s part, I think Mercury Steam did drink that cool aid. This is what I mean by safe. Design-wise, this is nsmb levels of familiar.

The difference is the much higher difficulty, and real good atmosphere. Enemies actually lunge at you, and do a lot of damage. You die a lot. You fear you won’t make it to the next save point. They a cool thing with a boss where you don’t get a good look at in two encounters before the actual fight it.

As for doors, I will say that Metroid doors are really dumb. Those big circular slabs where you turn in your Metroid DNA to unlock the next area. You have nonlinearity getting the Metroids but the door besides being lame limits exploration.

I’ll replay super metroid soon, and I’ll be able to compare them. But maybe that’s the problem. I’m comparing this to super, not the original.

What is Metroid but a 2d side-view Open World? The idea of Metroid being ‘locked in one part until you get weapon to unlock door or area’ came much later.

In the original Metroid, it felt limitless.

Gameboy’s Metroid II may be ‘linear’ with confined areas at a time with the quicksand, but keep in mind its hardware. It is Gameboy! What other games on the Gameboy were even possibly this massive or free? The quicksand of Metroid II was more of a ‘this is a portable game, the player won’t have as much attention span’ type issue.

Terraria feels more like a Metroid game than does modern Metroid today. I think the 2d Open World, which is Terraria, has a sizeable market demand as demonstrated by Terraria’s sales despite Minecraft’s success.

Remember the lost worlds of Metroid? They were programming errors, but our imagination was that Metroid’s world was limitless. We didn’t imagine Metroid to be a ‘get item to get to next area’ game. Not even Zelda was that! (until later)

The reason for Breath of the Wild existing is that Nintendo finally popped out of the definition that Zelda was a game where you were stuck in an area until you got the ‘next item’. Once they did that, only then was Breath of the Wild possible.

I fear Metroid will not exist until Nintendo starts to consider the definition of Metroid to not be ‘item you get that opens up another area’. Metroid is not a bunch of doors to be unlocked!

We thought new areas were available doing this. We never saw items as ‘unlocking’ new parts of the map. We saw items as us breaking the game. And this video above is us breaking the game and seemed legitimate.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 16, 2017

The Alternative Console

Nintendo producing more NES Minis and SNES Minis creates a puzzle to the conventional way of looking at the console market. We can clearly divide the game market into PC Gaming and Game Consoles. I have always argued that PlayStation and Xbox are actually dumbed down PC Game Machines masquerading as consoles, but that is another story. In the handheld line, we have a similar divide of Mobile Gaming and Handheld Game Console.

But what if this is wrong? Clearly, we cannot have a handheld and home console divide as definitions of the market if things like the NES Mini and SNES Mini keep selling. Nintendo didn’t even think they would sell this much. Something else is going on here.

What if our conventional wisdom is wrong? What if it is time to rethink the concept of home console and handheld console?

The way how I think is that I come up with a theory. Then, I write down the theory onto a metaphorical punchcard. I then place that punchcard in an equally metaphorical Game History Machine. The Game History Machine filters that theory throughout the decades of gaming. If there is data in the history that contradicts it, the punchcard gets spit out as false. If the data in the history confirms it, lights come on.

Right now, lights are coming on.

The first part of the theory is that the divide between handheld and home console market is the actual wrong definition of the divide. Aside from the NES and SNES Minis of today, it is important to remember that handheld consoles appeared only in the latter 1980s. There are still decades before it. And where do the arcades fit in this grand scheme of things? The arcades may be no more, but they were the original trailblazer.

Instead of the divide being between home and handheld gaming, what if the divide is something else? What if the divide is between NORMAL GAMING and ALTERNATIVE GAMING. Or to be more precise, TECHNO-GAMING and ALTERNATIVE GAMING?

Consider one market where gaming used the latest technology (of the time) to make the coolest games. But the problem with the latest technology is that it has limitations. Alternative gaming absorbs techno-gaming’s ports and becomes a breeding ground for starter / indie games.

Consider Generations 1-4

Techno-gaming was the arcades. This was gaming. PONG started in the arcade. Street Fighter 2 started in the arcade. Pac-Man started in the arcades.

But the home version of PONG was, essentially, a port of PONG. It was PONG played at home. The game was OLD by then. People didn’t care because they didn’t have to go to an arcade to play PONG. They could play PONG at the comfort of their own home. (Maybe I should call this Comfort Gaming?)

What skyrocketed the Atari 2600 was the home port of Space Invaders. There were many original games for the Atari 2600, but many of its big hits were ports from the arcades.

Throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s (three decades! Significant amount of data), one looked to the arcades to see the future of gaming. The home consoles were where you got the arcade ports. Then, the arcades went away.

But is it a coincidence that the arcades went away at the same time during the rise of the Gameboy? I remember a shift. Game consoles then began to be seen as the ‘future of gaming’. The handheld systems then began to be seen as the place for ports and cheap made games. In other words, Gameboy would be seen as two generations behind the current Nintendo console. The N64 had Gameboy Color which had NES ports (such as Super Mario Brothers and Dragon Quest 1 and 2). The Gamecube had Gameboy Advance with SNES ports (such as Link to the Past, Super Mario World, and Yoshi’s Island). The DS had N64 ports (e.g. Mario 64). And so on.

The Sega Game Gear made a great run on the Gameboy. Yet, the Game Gear also was the home of generation old ports.

Sony’s failure of the awesome selling PSP and not as awesome selling Vita had to be more than ‘console software on a handheld’. I think Sony couldn’t embrace the idea of handhelds being the Alternative Console, of being the place for generation old ports.

The Switch is obviously getting ports and ‘alternative games’ from more powerful consoles. But it feels we are in another change in the Nintendo ecosphere at least. The new ‘alternative console’ for the retro games and such is going to be these NES/SNES Minis. I imagine next generation, they will be able to download and buy small indie games too.

Nintendo wonders how people, such as younger generations not affiliated to the NES or SNES eras, desire to buy a NES and SNES Mini. The answer is in the Nintendo handhelds that sold NES and SNES era games and software to a new generation not raised in the 8-bit or 16-bit.

What I am saying is that the Color Gameboy and the Gameboy Advance WERE the NES/SNES Minis of their era. The ‘Classic NES Line’ that Iwata put together for the GBA was a NES Mini of a sort.

My favorite generation was 8-bit. In Malstrom’s world, Nintendo console is FULL of third party games as the NES was. And in my world, many of these third party games were PC game ports and downgrades from PC-gaming. Some of the ports were from games many years old. Shadowgate was a PC game port for example. Wii almost felt like this before the game industry went ‘all casual’ on the machine. Switch is beginning to feel NES-like in that.

Most of the NES games were not ‘original titles’. Many were arcade ports or PC gaming ports. Many NES games were not the definitive version to play that game. God help anyone playing Ultima on the NES or Overlord.

Switch has blown up the divide between handheld and home consoles. It is time to reassess if that divide was real to begin with. And the question I ask is: what was the true divide? Why does at any point in gaming is there one market for the ‘techno-advance’ and another market for the retro and indie games? Keep in mind that a market can be both. Home consoles today are retro repositories for PC games.

Arcades -> Home consoles

Home Consoles -> Handheld Consoles

PC Games -> Home Consoles

Consoles -> Cheap Mini hardware?

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 16, 2017

The Worlds of Origin Table of Contents

You think you know the Open World, but you do not. Only one game series can truly claim credit for creating, innovating, and evolving the Open World with each iteration: the Ultima series.

Ultima’s influence on the games industry is difficult to exaggerate. The games were discussed at great length in almost every gaming magazine of the day, and ports found their way on virtually every viable platform. Countless people active in the game industry today were inspired by these games and their developers to pursue their careers, and plenty of talented coders and artists contribute their energies to making unauthorized remakers of their favorite games. [snip]

Compiling a list of commercial games that have been inspired by Ultima would be a formidable task indeed.

-Loguidice and Barton. Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time. Page 350

The Ultima series has been discussed in many ways. It has been discussed as in the contexts of ‘story timelines’, of technology’, of business, of Richard Garriott’s hero worship, and so on. But I wish to discuss the Ultima series from the context of the Game World (currently called ‘Open World’ in differentiation to linear models whose phrase of ‘open world’ will vanish in time as people of the future lose that differentiation of ‘linear’ as we know it). It is the Game World that comes first; things like the ‘story’ or ‘setting’ are how to ‘process’ that Game World.

Origin of the Open World

Take a look at the above video. For Role Playing, start at 9:11. The conclusion is at 10:38.

The conclusion? Ultima is the original Game World.


The Ultima series more or less invented or defined all the classic computer role playing game tropes, and even went on to influence games more broadly. Though the series was computer-based, its general mechanics became likewise imprinted on the console RPG market thanks to its influence on the mechanics of the Dragon Quest franchise (and via osmosis, to a lesser extent the Final Fantasy franchise). IV and VII, in particular, had an impossibly huge influence on general RPG mechanics and open-world games, respectively.

TV Tropes entry on Ultima (Emphasis above is from TV Tropes, not Malstrom)

The Game World is Role Playing. It is not Role Playing with stats, but actual Role Playing in that you are free in choices of your actions. It is this that creates the ‘Game World’ for the world is ‘open’ for the player to go anywhere and do anything.

Disclaimer: Some may disagree by titles of certain Ultima games with ‘Open World’ that may not be considered ‘Open World’ such as VIII or IX or some titles are far less popular than others. What is being considered is the dough, not whether or not the bread properly rose in the oven.

Ultima games are up to 40 years old. Very few people remember when they were new let alone those willing to write about them. The reason for talking about them now is there is no need for gaming to re-invent the wheel when it has already been invented.

World 1: Tiled Graphics

World 2: Multi-Era

World 3: Detailed Immersion

World 4: Transcendent RPG

World 5: NPCs That Live

World 6: Perfect Scale

Worlds 7: Survival

World 8: First Person

World 9: Virtual World

World 10: Story and Narrative

World 11: Dark Mythos

World 12: Online

World 13: 3d


Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 16, 2017

Worlds of Origin Introduction

Related image

Dear Reader,

With the success of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a renewed interest has occurred over the Open World video game concept. Even as I write this, I read a story that the Final Fantasy XV director wants to make an Open World game in the quality of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But in order to look at Zelda: Breath of the Wild or the future, we must look at the beginning.

I have written a book for you: the Worlds of Origin. It is a look at the birth of the Open World Game Genre.

The reason why I wrote it is to counter people saying, “The Open World is new! Novel! We have never seen this before! OMG!” whereas we were immersed in the Open World as far back as the early 1980s. I also wish to undo the damage Spoony has done. In order to understand the Open World, we should start at the beginning.

But very few of us can look at the beginning. Do you remember buying video games in the year 1983? Sure, there were awesome games like Archon, but they were not an Open World. Video games were very mysterious then for computers were still new and mysterious. But only one game series specifically defined itself as making the Open World, and with each game applied the technology of the time to take another iteration at the Open World. The only people who know are the oldest of gamers and the elder game developers… and even they may have forgotten the wonders in plain sight at the time.

In this ‘book’, you will find more that shed light on the origin of the Open World. What I think people will find fascinating is the connection of dots between these original worlds and the games they play today. They will be startled to discover the inspiration of some of their favorite classic games.

The book is all written and ready to go. “Then you need to put it up!” I will release one chapter per week.

You’re only getting the table of contents for now. The first chapter and each occurring chapter will be released each Friday evening. 

“What!?” howls the reader.

I intend to release the chapters like Godiva chocolates. I’m taking a page from Nintendo. hahaha

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 16, 2017

The Bridge to Making Your Own Business

Most businesses fail. Now I know why. When you factor out financial stupidity (“derp derp, let us spend more than what we make”), there is another answer.

In terms of being an employee, your income represents a desired skill. A highly desirable skill represents a much higher income.

You want to master that skill first, become very productive with it, and then split it off into its own company.

What people do incorrectly is say, “I work at retail store. So I made a business making youtube videos.” That is not going to work. “I work as a waiter. I made a business making a mini-brewery. Buy my beer!” That is not going to work either.

High income skills leverage into successful businesses. What are some high income skills? There are technical skills. There are sales skills. There are even marketing skills. The point is, you want to hone those skills first and then spearhead it into a business. You don’t found a business without having those in demand skills. Anyone can do it which means there are TONS of those type of businesses. There are tons of mini-breweries and youtube channels out there.

Many people want to go this route because they read Kiyosaki books. But what they do no realize is that Kiyosaki developed a HIGH INCOME SKILL at Xerox of being the top salesman. He could take that salesman skills and leverage them to make a company.

“But if I already know how to do the skill, why do I need to make a company?”

Peak productivity in this skill is required in order to hire employees. How are you going to help your employees out with problems when they arise? How are you going to help raise the productivity of your employees if YOU do not have peak productivity yourself?

My Old Man Advice to those who want to make their own businesses and all is to first go out and get a High Income Skill. If you cannot grind to get a High Income Skill, a business is going to be too much for you anyway.

Above: Clip from the movie Jobs

There is a great comment on this video which says: “What was Steve doing at Atari?” Most people STILL don’t know that Steve Jobs was an employee at Atari. Steve Jobs was a technician at Atari. Steve Wozniak, his friend, was also a technician but at HP.

Above: Steve Jobs experience at Atari

The point is that Steve Jobs obtained a high income skill at Atari… particularly in shrinking electronics.

What does Apple do today? People focus on the flash, but not the fire. Even today, Apple is shrinking electronics. Steve Jobs needed that skill in order to make Apple.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 16, 2017

Email: DOOM physical version to require download for Multiplayer mode

…and I love it.

I hope this is the new trend in the Gaming Industry moving forward. Cut the bloat (online multiplayer) and make it optional. People who buy physical know that multiplayer servers on a game will be shut down 10-15 years from now anyway, so why force a mode on the consumer which will is planned for obsolescence. This is one of the most pro consumer decisions from the AAA industry I have seen in a long time.

This is good. Online multiplayer components can be downloaded from the Internet all day. But the single player and local multiplayer shouldn’t (aside from the odd bug fixes that can arise).

Bethesda is an interesting game company with interesting people inside it. I think they are old school gamers at heart. They didn’t get to be at their success today by screwing the customer experience.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 16, 2017

Email: Samus Returns

– Doesn’t feel like Fusion or Zero Mission, but doesn’t feel like Super either. Feels almost like Prime, not from being in 3D but from sound design. Q

– Well into the game and no Sakamotoisms in terms of story. No Samus monologues, not even in the introduction.

– 3D environments looks good in action, and much better on 3DS screen than when watching a trailer. Only 3DS game where I actually leave the 3D on, it makes the background come to life. Would still prefer 2D.

– Music good

– Controls are good, but need to be acclimated to.

– Difficulty is well-tuned. Enemy strength roughly keeps pace with your power growth. The melee counter is easy to whiff, and enemies are much more aggressive than in GBA Metroids.

– Later Metroids shred through your power tanks like nothing, but can likewise be finished off quickly with Super Missiles.

-Linear in that you have to clear an area before moving to next (which is lame), but pretty nonlinear within each area.

Overall, I like it. People said Ori and the Blind Forest and Quacamelee were good metroidvanias but I knew better. Unless Hallow Knight and Axiom Verge are actually good (haven’t tried), this is the first real Metroidvania since Order of Ecclessia (2008). This definitely felt safe though, which could only be expected after Other M and Fed Force. I’m sure someone sat Sakamoto down and told him to stop being Sakamoto. Be sure to pick it up if they port to switch.

I’m old enough to have bought Metroid II: Samus Returns the day it came out on GAMEBOY! I know what Metroid is, and it isn’t comparable to any Castlevania.

People need to get their heads out of their ass about the ‘metroidvania’ gameplay aspects. Metroid is the Ridley Scott vibe of video games. The fact that there are DOORS on SR388, the homeworld for Metroids, shows the lack of details from the developer. Metroids don’t use doors, Sakamoto! They have no hands!

It is just boring to watch. What is with all the melee moves anyway? Why are Smash Brothers moves making their way into Metroid? Fuck you, Nintendo.



Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 14, 2017

Nintendo Direct 9/13/17

And now a message from Satoru Iwata:

Related image

“Hello everyone! I am Satoru Iwata. I used to make video games. You may be wondering, ‘Iwata! Why are you haunting that Sean Malstrom blog?’ It is because only through this blog that I can repeat a quote I have said before: the first year of games for a game console defines its reputation. Once the reputation is put in place, it is very difficult to change it. After one year of software for the Gamecube, the Gamecube got branded a ‘kid’s console’, and it didn’t matter if games like Metroid Prime or Resident Evil 4 came out on it. The Wii got branded ‘casual console’ despite any other software for it.

“Oh, and how do you like this launch window? Bahahahahaha!”

*Iwata fades away*

Gentlemen, what can we say to that? When Ghost Iwata speaks, we have to give him the floor. But he is correct. Switch launched in March 2017. This direct takes us to one year to March 2018. There are many games here. Switch is in a very good place.

It is interesting how consoles reputations evolve. My favorite example is the Turbografx 16. Out of its early library, Blazing Lazers ends up being a big hit. So the Turbografx 16 becomes flooded with shmup games and becomes the shmup console. While Switch does have games like Mario Kart 8, the identifying game of Switch is actually Zelda: BoW “Wow!”. Zelda BoW “Wow!” is a massive single player adventure.

Is it not a coincidence that all the games I saw I wanted in this direct were massive single player adventures too? Oh, if they appear on carts, they will be mine.


Xenoblade 2

Octopath Traveler


Wolfenstein 2

Dragon Quest Builders

Mario Odyssey (even I seem intrigued with its ‘adventure’ freeform style)

I may even pick up Rocket League and the Nintendo Arcade games. Even Golf Story.

So I see seven games I want. Seven. Granted, some will suck, some won’t be on carts or carts plus downloads meaning they aren’t really on carts, etc. But this is not bad!

I consider the SNES first year lineup to be the best ever. The game are still fun to play to this day (unlike, say, PlayStation 2 launch games). Switch is surpassing it. People argue that many games are ‘ports’ such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. I argue, “So was Super Mario All-Stars. So was Gradius 3. So was Final Fight. So was Populous. So was Sim City. So was Super R-Type.”

I am sure our good friends, the hardcore gamers, and their buddies, the game analysts, will tell us how Nintendo is doomed, how they have no games, and that saying anything contrary that makes you a cult-member. They said the same when the Switch launched. Look at where we are now. I think the upcoming pipeline is very good. People who bought the Switch for Zelda BoW “Wow!” have many more single player adventure games to look forward to play.

Before, we saw the small bull. Soon, we will see the Big Bull.

And kudos to Nintendo for selling more NES Mini and SNES Mini. You guys at Nintendo said no one wants to buy these ‘old games’ anymore. What have you to say now?

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