Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 14, 2018

Zelda 5 is coming to Switch in a few days

Some games look complicated to market ‘depth’ and ‘content’ but are actually simplistic and shallow. These are most AAA games.

Then there are games that look simplistic and shallow but are actually massive in content and depth. Such a game is Hyrule Warriors.

The Wii U game, which I played extensively, is REALLY good. By ‘good’, I mean I keep coming back to play to it. The single player campaign is actually really fun, let alone all the other ways to play such as Adventure Mode. There was DLC which I didn’t get. Then there is the 3DS version which adds more content with more DLC. ALL of that in the Switch version plus rebalance and better frame rates. The dirty secret is that Hyrule Warriors Switch is actually a game of $100+ value. I’ll probably play it more than Breath of the Wild.

There’s just so much going on in Zelda 5 here. WTF is with the fairy allies where you can give them outfits and shit? That must be a 3DS thing? When most gamers play this, they say… “This is…. soo much…”

Which game gives you more bang for buck for hours of play? Hyrule Warriors or Breath of the Wild? I think Hyrule Warriors is a better value for money honestly.

This is also the only Zelda game that gets anywhere near the intensity of Zelda 2. Tons of combat. Plus, tons of campyness which is even more fun.

Japanese version is already out, and the feedback is that the definitive version is very good. I’ve had it pre-ordered.

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Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 11, 2018

Email: How are you so sure?

I’m trying to understand where you’re coming from regarding the Switch’s online “Virtual Console”-like service. You wrote that ” If Nintendo wishes to prosper, they should allow their customers to prosper”. But imagine if someone had adopted that same stance towards Netflix back when they first launched their streaming service (e.g. “Why would consumers want to pay to watch movies they won’t own, that they can only watch when there’s an internet connection?”).

Not only is Nintendo adding additional value to these games—they never specified that this was all about online multiplayer, so they could also be adding things like online leaderboards, achievements, item shops with new powerups, etc. to Mario 3 and Zelda—we’ve been running under the assumption that this games will be streaming-only. To my mind, that makes no sense; of course Nintendo realizes that people will want to access these games on the go, so it’s possible, if not likely, that despite what they’re saying about no Virtual Console, these games will be downloaded onto your console and playable with the extra features disabled when offline.

People always ask me ‘how can you be so sure’? It just boggles my mind why people do not look at Nintendo’s moves appropriately.

“They could be adding all these things to the classic games…” No, they aren’t. That would be a waste of money. And the more they add, the less classic they become. I think Nintendo’s experiments with altering the classic games is what they put the remains of those experiments as the Nintendo Remix games (which are incredibly terrible).

The Netflix analogy doesn’t work because Netflix’s business model didn’t impact movie sales as much as it did rentals. Blockbuster goes out of business. Hollywood Video shuts down. Netflix started out mail order and only later went to streaming.

I also know that streaming games isn’t the future due to various reasons, but one of them is how incredibly hungry the market is for the NES and SNES Classic Minis. The look of the console as well as the original controller design was paramount to their success.

Streaming games also won’t help Nintendo sell new games. The profit is in selling software, not streaming it. Nintendo is only going to put up classic games that are ‘disposable’ to them. If Nintendo has a choice of streaming a Gamecube game and selling you a remastered version, they will sell you the remastered version. With Gamecube games like Luigi’s Mansion coming out, it is a tell that Gamecube games will never be coming to the online service at least for some several years. Why? Because Luigi’s Mansion, a launch game for the Gamecube, was remade with the intention of selling for years.

The classic games are nothing more than a distraction from the point that Nintendo is putting online multiplayer behind a paywall and they do not have to do so. Nintendo is making record profits, beyond anyone’s imagination, and online is free. Nintendo made tons of profits in prior generations when their online is free. Do not get distracted by the Classic Games; keep your eye on the ball.

The difference of you paying for NIntendo online versus today of not having to pay? Cloud saves and some thirty year old NES games. This is not a good deal for the customer.

Luckily, I won’t be playing online games for Switch. Only losers pay for online gaming.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 10, 2018

Email: Nintendo’s Virtual Console Service

Dear Master Malstrom,

The more I think about Nintendo’s online service for VC games, the less I like it. Does this mean we will be streaming these games? If so, then if the internet goes down, the game does down, right? This would also mean we can’t play the VC games outside of the house where there is no internet connection.

I’m guessing Nintendo crunched the numbers and calculated that they can ultimately make more money if 20 million (or 50 million or 100 million) Switch owners are paying $20 a year than they could by selling the VC games in bundles on carts, but I think Nintendo should consider how much money they could lose by doing this. I’m guessing there are many people out there who may only want to buy a Switch for VC games and only if they can physically own them.

Making the online service free would be a nice perk since most people think it’s a rip-off to charge for online anyway, and giving customers what they want (i.e. classic Nintendo games on carts) is always good for business in the long run. But of course Nintendo never seems to do what is good for business in the long run…

Readers, please stop thinking about Nintendo’s console strategy and go tell everyone on the Gaming Message Forums, especially those who haven’t been paying attention for the past ten years such as on Reddit, etc., to not think about Nintendo’s console strategy either. A pollution of posts are being belched by Switch fans who just cannot understand what Nintendo is doing with its online and think that if Nintendo only knew what the market knew, they would change gears immediately.

Nintendo views its classic IP game collection as a ‘mushroom power-up’ such as in Mario Kart. It is a Turbo Boost to whatever strategy they are doing.

When do you use the Mushroom Power-Up in Mario Kart? You do it when you are behind or when you come to a nice straight-way and want to get ahead. This is how Nintendo uses classic IPs.

Classic IP will be used to boost hardware sales. When 3DS was tanking, here was Virtual Console ambassador games so first adopters don’t get pissed about the lowering of cost. GBA got a classic line up to boost the SP model sales. Wii U got a generous Virtual Console because Nintendo was trying to salvage that hardware. The Classic Minis boost profits before the Switch was out.

The classic IPs have one purpose and one purpose only now: to accelerate adoption of Nintendo’s online service.

In twenty years, when Nintendo does 3d gaming again (which it will, I know this because I have Delorean), Nintendo will use Classic IPs to, once again, grease the skids to accelerate that plan.

Classic IPs are not a pillar but a supplement in Nintendo Strategy.

Do I agree with this? No. But if Nintendo was listening to people like me, it wouldn’t have made 3DS or Wii U in the first place.

It’s not that Nintendo doesn’t get your desires for a Virtual Console. It is that Nintendo simply doesn’t care. Nintendo is about Nintendo’s interests, not YOUR interests. And this is why it will fail. If Nintendo wishes to prosper, they should allow their customers to prosper.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 8, 2018

Email: Nintendo’s Retro Game Service

What are your thoughts on the Netflix-Style platform Nintendo is planning for its online service? Tbh, I’d have preferred to buy the games, but in reality do we even own these games anyway? Digital licenses that get delisted after a couple years anyway?

Most third parties seem to have their own line of Virtual Console service nowadays (Neo-Geo games under the Arcade Archives line, Sega AGES coming in the summer), or are putting out their own physical collections (Capcom with Mega Man and Street Fighter, SNK with pre-Neo Geo anniversary collection). Could Virtual Console have survived on first party titles alone on the Switch?

There is still appeal for these games, and I personally think it’s a risky move that could pay off big. Everyone expects that Smash Bros to be the selling point for people to pay for the Nintendo Switch Online service, but $20 a year to play a growing library of NES and SNES games with online functions? I think that’s a bigger selling point to me.

Classic Nintendo relying on its old library to push a new service like this. How much this devalues the old IP remains to be seen.

I vote with my money. I just boycott it. It is the only true way to ‘communicate’ to Nintendo.

I didn’t buy the Switch for online gaming. I bought it for Zelda BoW “Wow!” and other such single player games. There are great multiplayer games on the system, and I play those LOCAL MULTIPLAYER.

What classic game could you possibly want to play over the Internet? The only one I can think of is Street Fighter 2 which is already being done through Capcom’s two titles for the Switch. There are NO great multiplayer retro games in how we define multiplayer. Bomberman is already on the Switch. Co-op games like Double Dragon and Life Force are better local multiplayer. These games weren’t designed for online multiplayer, and it will show.

Someone name for me some retro games that will be awesome to play online multiplayer. I am waiting…

“I can play co-op with my friend.”

Too bad you can’t communicate with your friend. We don’t even know how the online will work. It may just be putting you with a random person. Nintendo doesn’t give a shit about this, so why should you?

Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 8, 2018

Nintendo’s Laughable Online Service

Jonathan Goldsmith is back and better than ever.

Above: Malstorm is never surprised by Nintendo

One month ago, Malstrom said:

Why would Nintendo do this? [putting their classic games onto their online stream service] It is because it is CHEAP and EASY and FAST to do. Nintendo has done it before. Nintendo also likes to milk IP before altering it (hence the Classic Minis). And Nintendo wants to push their online service. You need software for that, and Nintendo needs more than just Smash.

Nintendo won’t put the classics on a cartridge for you when they can get more mileage of bundling them with a new platform. In this case, it will be the online platform.

Almost a year ago, Malstrom said:

Source: Fils-Aime: What we’ve said is that as we communicate the specifics of the Nintendo Switch online service then at that point we’ll communicate what it is we’re doing with our legacy content.

What does legacy content have to do with online? NOTHING. But Nintendo is interested in using you guys to pad out their online service.

I’ll stick to the original carts. Screw this.

OVER A YEAR AGO, Malstrom said……

You guys are going to keep being disappointed until you see how Nintendo looks at its old VC games.

VC games, to Nintendo, are not a product but a ‘wild card’ tool.

Oh no! 3DS is in trouble! Lower price! But what about those early adopters? Declare them to be ambassadors and ‘give them’ all these ‘free’ VC games. See? VC games as tool.

Oh no! Wii U has no games as the system fades! Therefore, Nintendo launches VC games on it. VC games are a tool, not a product.

On Switch, the purpose of VC games will be to push Nintendo’s online system. Watch and see!

I know Nintendo better than they know themselves!

Now the question everyone is asking on the Gaming Message Forums (ugh) is…

“Does Nintendo not know how shitty their online service is? How can we communicate to them?”

You do not understand, dear reader. You can communicate all you want to Nintendo, NINTENDO DOES NOT CARE ABOUT ONLINE!!!!

And by online, we mean the standard that you know. They don’t care about it. Nintendo would rather re-invent online gaming than play follow the leader.

But I point to Steve Jobs’ response to networking. Yes, the networking standard wasn’t defined by Apple. But Steve Jobs knew that. He admitted, “This was the standard customers were used to,” and Apple had to adapt to that standard. This was back in the beginning of the second Jobs era when Apple was teetering towards bankruptcy.

Some game companies have done extremely well by embracing online. One game company is called Blizzard Entertainment. The more they embraced online, the bigger the company got. Warcraft 2 was such a massive hit, that Blizzard even put demos of Kali on the CD! Blizzard then makes Battle Net for games like Diablo and Starcraft. And then, Blizzard goes further with the service. Eventually, Blizzard makes a MMO called World of Warcraft. You know the story.

But there is another game company that did not see the future of gaming as online.

“What was the future of gaming did they see, Master Malstrom?” asks the innocent reader.

This future of gaming, they foresaw, was 3d. Oh yes. And I do not mean 3d graphics. I mean 3d outputs. 3d inputs. 3d everything!

This company was Nintendo.

The more Nintendo embraces 3d, the further Nintendo’s fortunes fall. N64 was a fall. 3DS was a fall. Virtual Boy was a fall off a cliff.

Shigeru Miyamoto bet the company on the wrong horse. And he is extremely bitter about it.

The reason why Nintendo doesn’t care about online is because they are obsessed with 3d. It is a sick obsession. If you want Nintendo to start progressing with their online, you need to attack their efforts at ‘more 3d’ and ‘more virtual reality’.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 2, 2018

Email: Nintendo under collective leadership?

Dear Master Malstrom,

I urge you to read the following article:

https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2018-05-02-nintendo-shifting-away-from-individual-leadership

According to the story, Nintendo has been run under collective leadership ever since Yamauchi stepped down in 2002. By collective leadership, this means that one person does not have the authority to make sweeping changes in the company. This would likely explain why Nintendo has stubbornly refused to set up personal accounts for digital games we buy. It also likely explains why the developers have been allowed to make games they want to make rather than games that the market wants.

To me, the idea of collective leadership sounds like something that inevitably leads to disaster. If no one person has total control, then who is responsible for anything?

What say you?

And what if that one ‘leader’ suddenly dies? Then you have a crisis. This is what happened when Iwata died. Kimishima was president because they had no one else lined up.

Instead of a Nintendo Pope, we have a Nintendo Council. I expect the ‘Game God’ syndrome of game development will also end. This is why Zelda BoW “Wow!” was not dictated by Aonuma of whatever interest his son currently has.

Image result for yoshio sakamoto

“Remember me?”

“I am Sakamoto! I am Game God! I, alone, define Metroid. Metroid is about Maternal Instincts! Yarrrghhh…..”

man GIF

Above: The ladies are excited that Malstrom is talking about Nintendo Investor Q/A. [Reader: But Malstrom, the ladies are always excited when you talk…] An observant reader!

Here is the PDF of the English translation. Oh, how I hate how websites try to ‘spoil’ it by putting out quotes before the official translation. They, of course, miss the good stuff.

As always, unknown to Nintendo, my microphones were there at the Investor Q/A.

Kimishima: “Our consumer base in Asia and the Middle East is growing, and there is no denying that “Other” region sales are increasing. The cause behind this growth is the expanding number of people who have access to Nintendo IP through our smart-device business.”

Very interesting. Smartphone games are leading to Asian growth, not Western growth.

Kimishima: “In this second year, the initiatives we are planning come from our recognition that we also have to challenge ourselves to delivering Nintendo Switch into the hands of consumers who have never played a Nintendo platform before, and to those who have played before, but not recently.”

I read this as 2d Mario. No other game can pull such people. Maybe another Wii Sports, but not after the failure of Wii U Sports.

“Kimishima: “Changing environmental factors, including the activities of other companies, can impact the Nintendo Switch life cycle. So the benchmark is not whether Nintendo Switch sales can surpass total Wii sales, but rather how we adapt and respond to changes in the market and strive to continue selling Nintendo Switch as long as possible.”

This is a giant tell that Nintendo expects Sony to put out a direct Switch competitor. We know Microsoft won’t do it.

“Kimishima: Even so, there are also many consumers who purchase only packaged software, so I do not see digital content taking over all of sales.”

What he REALLY said:

Kimishima: Even so, there is The Malstrom who only purchases physical versions. This guy is unreal! And there are so many like him! We must bow to The Malstrom!

hahaha, I have too much fun with these things. This is a full support for physical not going away… ever. (ever is about a couple decades in Console Time).

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 29, 2018

Email: Videogames as a temporary phenomenon

Hey Sean,

-Thanks for scaring the shit out of me. Yes, yes you’re right, the forums are swamped with middle-age people.

I now find that fact incredibly distracting. Am I wasting my time developing the next great game everyone will be talking about?

They say nobody under 30 goes to the cinema anymore.

On the other hand, the facts are these. Cinema movies are absolute trash, I wouldn’t even pirate it. -And so are the AAA games stinking up the PS4 and Xbox. I find the Sony and Microsoft offerings incredibly boring.

Sure, we have plenty of screens.

Can’t we just blame awful products?

There’s still a market for games out there, in a general sense, right? Phenomenons can still happen?

But what now?

Tell me everything is going to be ok.

What is amazing about the gaming market is that, for the most part, they will be attracted to QUALITY. How do you define quality? Look at it from a craftsmanship type of way. Look at the indie game phenomenon (which isn’t really new as ‘indies’ have always existed).

Minecraft turned one man into a multi-billionaire. Toy aisles are filled with Minecraft merchandise. Minecraft never went through Steam. I would look at how Notch, early on, sold and marketed his game. He went on radio shows around his town, went to gaming dens, and marketed himself as a ‘gamer’ more than a ‘developer’. And he even wore a fedora.

Sonic Mania was made by someone who backwards engineered the craftsmanship of Sonic games and made something new with it. It was a successful Sonic game complete to Sega’s surprise.

Celeste was made by someone who practiced and studied early video game mechanics.

Stardew Valley was made by someone who studied and mastered the craftsmanship of Harvest Moon type games.

Axiom Verge was made by one person in hopes of raising money to cure his son’s cancer. (This should be publicized more.) Obviously, he mastered the craftsmanship of Metroid mechanics to do it.

Gamers will respond to high craftsmanship. And the good thing is that, today, craftsmanship sells forever. Your game will not become obsolete. Only bad games become obsolete.

The classics we know such as Mario, Zelda, and Metroid were great only because we never saw games with such amazing craftsmanship. Compare them to the Commodore 64 library, and there is no comparison.

I keep being reminded of an interview with the developers of Homeworld… long before the game came out. They said, paraphrasing, that they were so inspired by the high quality of games like Metroid, the feeling it would give you, that they wanted to create something of such awesome. And they made a game that people remember.

You know, there is an interesting thread running down throughout Iwata Ask interviews. I see it with other very successful people in other fields. It is this:

Their goals and dreams exceeded their skills. They had no idea how to do it. But faith is just fear in reverse. While the long stairway to success appears daunting, you do it one step at a time. By throwing themselves into the mix, sometimes Iwata would intentionally do it to them regardless (haha), they had to figure out how to do it as they did it. The secret of craftsmanship is that the harder you work, the smarter you get. It is like an author who is demanded by the publisher for an outline of a book. The author gives one, but then deviates from it. The publisher doesn’t care because the resulting book is better than anything in the outline. The process of development changes things.

What time does Miyamoto leave work? It is later than we think. He would stay all night if it didn’t give him health problems! Obsession is a good thing.

If I gathered all the game developers in a room and asked them a question, “Why do their games sell ten times better than your games?”

Someone might reply: “They are smarter.”

So if we gave everyone in the room a standard IQ of 100, how do we get ten times that? I have heard of 150 IQ, maybe 200 IQ, but not 1000 IQ. So it is not intelligence or smarts that got them where they were.

Someone might say: “They worked harder.”

So you work 8 hours a day, and they work 80 hours a day? No. It is not work that made the great game.

“Then what is it, Malstrom? Tell us now.”

Hunger, gentlemen. It is hunger that leads to the greatness. Mega Man 2 developers were not supposed to create Mega Man 2. They were, instead, supposed to make a Baseball game. But they stayed up at night and worked on Mega Man 2. They hungered for the game. Mega Man 2 sold so well, Capcom did not complain.

You can use this example for:

Street Fighter 2

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Super Mario Brothers

Ultima IV

Diablo 2

Warcraft 2

And on and on it goes.

How hungry are you for success?

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 28, 2018

Email: Is Nintendo about the money?

Hello Master Malstrom.

I was reading an interview with Giles Goddard (https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2018-04-27-meet-the-man-who-smuggled-the-demoscene-into-super-mario-64), who worked at Nintendo.

This is the curious line:

They asked him: “Has Nintendo changed that much since?”

And this is his answer:
“It’s much the same. It did change a bit after Iwata-san passed away. Now it’s very focussed on money. Iwata was adamant that their core philosophy should be on the game, not on the money. Now it’s almost entirely the money, which does worry me a bit.”

Furukawa, the next Nintendo president, came from a finances background.

So, direct to the question: can we dream with an ambitious 2D Mario again? This will be the end of 3D Mario, Aonuma’s Zelda, Pikmins…?

Focus on the money is not really a bad thing. This means that they will make games that we really want to play.

What do you think?

Have a good day.

Nintendo is always about the money. I think the context of Iwata is that Iwate had a very bad problem with letting ‘game god’ developers do whatever the hell they wanted. “Now is the time for 3d!” and we got the 3DS (helped designed by Miyamoto). We got the Wii U. We got Metroid: Other M. Iwata was a developer, and he worshipped developer culture. The Iwata Asks interviews was an enshrining of the development process.

The Amiibos were nothing but the money. Luckily, the Amiibos have dialed back down as Nintendo is flush with money.

I welcome a profit seeking Nintendo. This means they will make games that SELL. This means they will not go, “Hey, we know 3d specific hardware doesn’t sell, but we’re going to do it ONE MORE TIME because NOW IS THE TIME FOR 3d!” They will instead ask, “How does this make us money?” Nintendo became incredibly arrogant with the Wii and DS success which had them do whatever the hell they wanted: resulting in Wii U and 3DS. 3DS was not a DS 2, it was more of a N64 to the SNES. And Wii U was not a follow-up to the Wii, it was more of a Virtual Boy follow-up.

Nintendo’s desire for money is why we have the Switch and games like BoW “Wow!”. Since Breath of the Wild has outsold all Zelda games (perhaps not counting re-releases of the other Zelda games), then we should see future Zelda games more like BoW and less like Skyward Sword. Is anyone upset by this? I don’t think so.

“Oh no! The new Nintendo president is a businessman! What does this mean!?” Every Nintendo president has been a businessman, including Iwata. People were just so stupid to think that because Iwata was once a game developer and kept putting that context forward, that Nintendo presidents are supposed to be creative game developers too. Wrong.

Making video games is very, very hard. People who are good at them are rare. Nintendo wants those people to be making games. For those who are not that good, they cover other parts of the business. Miyamoto’s talents would be wasted as Nintendo president as the job of the Nintendo president is to fly around, talk to investors, and go through corporate earnings.

One of the actual reasons Iwata was chosen as president by Yamauchi was Iwata’s youth. The Nintendo president must fly around a ton, and Yamauchi was too old for that crap. Also, a younger person represents stability within the company. It is an absolute quark that Iwata died since he was so young. Nintendo didn’t even have a plan in place should the Nintendo president die! Kimishima was put in place because they had to have someone in place. Kimishima was the transition president. I’m sure the Nintendo Board created a system now where they can better deal with disruptions such as the Nintendo president suddenly dying.

I am not worried. Two things I am worried are…

A) Nintendo has not demonstrated in their history to not be stupid after sales success.

B) Nintendo is currently trying to diversify their revenue outside of gaming.

As far as (A) goes, Nintendo may do very well in Generation 9. But in Generation 10, Nintendo makes all the wrong decisions and ends up with another Wii U or Gamecube. Nintendo just can’t handle success. They become convinced they are geniuses and start doing STUPID stuff.

One great thing is that the new Nintendo president has said that projects will not be done just because you are ‘genius game maker’. Thank goodness! Perhaps the Game God is dead? Instead of Nintendo making Game Gods, they make God-like Games. They make games that are so awesome, they sell forever and always. We have enough ‘gods’. We don’t need more of them. Part of the reason why Metroid: Other M was so bad was because I could tell Nintendo was propping up Sakamoto. “Sakamoto is Game God! Trust the Sakamoto!” I am an original customer of Metroid. I know Metroid. And ‘maternal instincts’ Metroid is not Metroid! By removing the ‘Game God’ nonsense, this may prevent Aonuma from making Zelda games about Whatever-The-Hell-His-Kid-Is-Interested. Kid likes trains? Next Zelda game is about trains. Kid likes birds? Next Zelda game is about birds. So stupid!

(B) is more ominous. If only I could be invited to listen in at the Nintendo Board! Nintendo has publicly said that video games used to be seen as rare and precious, but are becoming less and less so. With the greater proliferation of computer technology, video games are no longer as special. No longer as mythical. The cultural power of the video game is waning. And Nintendo said this over a decade ago.

We already know Nintendo thinks home console game consoles have no true future. Switch is abandoning the home console where you need a TV. And sure enough, more and more screens are in our lives than ever before. Smartphones, tablets, you name them.

But is Nintendo’s quest to diversify outside video games a peek into their crystal ball where they think video games will go away? Maybe. Look at any game forum and be struck by all the middle age people there.

Seriously, how many video games do we need? We probably own more video games today than we can ever truly play. Our backlog list is endless.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 28, 2018

Email: An honest Labo review

Dear Master Malstrom,

I think I finally found an honest Labo review.

https://www.cnet.com/news/nintendo-labo-switch-weekend-children-hellspawn/

Hahaha. Entertaining review.

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