Posted by: seanmalstrom | February 3, 2019

Email: Not playing unfun games

You make a great point about not playing games if they are not fun. A few years ago I started playing Ocarina of Time again and I quit during the Forest Temple. The game just isn’t fun, but it has the reputation of being one of the best games ever. There is this sort of mentality that you *have* to play through it at least once, but I don’t care. Who am I trying to prove something by playing a game I’m not enjoying?

Recently my brother told me he was playing Ocarina as well, and his reaction was the same as mine: he was not having fun. I just told him to stop playing if he didn’t like it. So you haven’t played this “obligatory” game? Who cares.

I think this idea of playing games to completion comes from how expensive games are, especially if you are young and can only get one or two games per year at most. You spent 60$ on this game and you aren’t getting a new one anytime soon, so you better damn well play it and you are going to like it. I played through all of Wind Waker back in the day, because this was the game I had spent 200$ on (you have to count in the cost of the console as well). Of course Wind Waker was a great game, or at least that’s what I had convinced myself of. Today of course I have access to many more games that I would rather play any time over Wind Waker.

When Final Fantasy XIII came out people were saying “it gets good 20 hours in, when the world opens up”. Seriously, twenty hours? You could beat several games which are fun from start to finish in that time. But of course if you spent 60$ after years of hype, and perhaps bought a console just for it, then you will suck up those 20 hours and you are going to like it.

This is why I have come to like “arcade-type” games. You turn it on, play as far as you can get before running out of continues and that’s it. Then you come back later and you perhaps make it a bit further than the last time. You keep chipping away at it bit by bit, and maybe some day you will beat it, but probably not. And that’s still fine, because the fun comes from playing the game, not from hitting the goal by spinning the hamster wheel long enough. I think games like the NES Zeldas hit a really nice sweet spot, they have a goal to complete, but it is still about the journey, not the destination. It is just more satisfying to hit an end goal than to have the same level on endless repeat.

I think the ‘Keep playing for X amount of hours, and you will like it…’ is certainly driving much of this.

The origin of ‘play for X amount of hours’ has to do with understanding the gameplay. Once you click with the gameplay, then the game becomes ‘fun’. The problem wasn’t the ‘game’, it was just you understanding the ‘game’. An example would be a young person playing Super Mario Brothers for the first time. They die to the first goomba. They want to quit the game. I say, “Keep playing.” Then they discover how to ‘jump’. Then, Super Mario Brothers makes more sense and the game becomes realized.

However, this is not the situation that is going on with most games. All games are written like RPGs these days where they hope you get invested in the characters and story so you want to play through to see what happens. Of course, this is not how RPGs actually are (and have been co-opted to mean ‘Cinematic Games’ instead.. i.e. “This game has giant shitty story because developers suck at making novel gameplay…”).

From the 8-bit/16-bit era, a rental was long enough to know whether a game was ‘fun’ or ‘not’.

Today? I’d give a game an hour or two. That is demo time. Some might be even harsher and demand only 15 minutes. However, this ‘play for 30 hours and then the game gets good’ shit needs to stop. Final Fantasy 6, in its entirety, was 30 hours!

“Gamers are older, today, Malstrom,” sniffs the Hardcore Gamer. “They don’t have time to replay games.”

Yet, they have time to play games, they don’t like, for dozens of hours because the Internet Gaming Forum told them to do so. No, the reason why they have huge backlogs is because they have more spending money and keep buying shitty games ‘because the Internet told them to do so’.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | February 3, 2019

Without replay value, a game is not a game

Look at this Resetera thread: “Have games outgrown ‘replay value'”? I offer that thread as an illustration of how little critical thinking (or any thinking) goes on with Gaming Message Forums where everyone tries to develop a ‘Hive Mind’.

The fatal flaw is thinking, ‘We only replayed games then because we were younger. Today, we are older and have less time.’ OR ‘Games back then were expensive. Games had to be replayable.’

The quality of a game is its replayability. A bad game is a game that is predictable and gets boring to play. The essence of a game is… gameplay. This is true for any sorts of games be it video games or board games. The fact that this is even a conversational piece or being outright denied on a developer/industry saturated game industry really shows you how the Game Industry Hive Mind thinks.

Take the NES library. Most of the games are not replayable. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE BAD. In fact, we ignore 650 of the 700+ games of the NES library not just because they are BAD but because of lack of desire to replay them. Thus, the assumption is that NES games are replayable. Sure, of the 50 or so GOOD ones, yeah. There are TONS of bad NES games.

“The SNES games are so replayable.” When you stop replaying Chrono Trigger, Super Metroid, and Contra III and play the other hundreds of games, you find TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE games you only want to play once if at all. There are many terrible game in the SNES library.

There are many terrible games in the Genesis library too.

In fact, there are terrible games in every console’s library!

The reason why ‘replayability’ doesn’t matter anymore, or why game websites dropped it as a review category, is because the ‘non-replayable’ games today ARE terrible! Do you think the hype ends with just the pre-sale? Oh ho ho no. The big companies want you to think that the HUGE blockbuster game you played, and never want to play again, was INCREDIBLE and CUTTING EDGE in culture and taste. The truth is that it was a bad game.

Some might say, “But Malstrom, games are getting longer which is why it is harder to replay them.” There is truth in that. Octopath Traveler took 100 hours from me. This, alone, keeps me from replaying it. But then again, Final Fantasy 6 took 30 hours (which is huge compared to other games of that time), yet I replay that game consistently as well as other 16-bit JRPGs. Why is that?

I find Starcraft to be more replayable than Starcraft II. We can go through the reasons, but I think it is simply because Starcraft is a better GAME. Starcraft 2 erred by becoming a better EXPERIENCE (either in story, in ‘E-sports’, in player ‘style’, something).

Tetris is a great GAME. But Tetris is a terrible digital ‘experience’. No scrolling. No story. No characters. Blocky graphics. And all they do is just keep falling! All they do is FALL, FALL, FALL.

Minecraft is a great GAME. But Minecraft is a terrible digital ‘experience’. Where is the story? Where are the cutscenes? Why are all the graphics looking like a blocky N64 game? Who would ever buy this shit? This is the Game Industry mindset. This is why the Game Industry did not create Minecraft.

The current market demand for ‘Open World’ games has nothing to do with ‘Open World’ as is commonly defined. The demand for ‘Open World’ is actually an appetite and desire for GAMING to return to Game Industry games. The problem with the Zelda franchise was not just that the games were becoming linear, it is that they ceased to feel like games at all anymore. Cutscenes with puzzles is not much of a game. Breath of the Wild is more of a *game* than many other Zeldas have been. It is also interesting to watch people play BoW “Wow!” because true games reveal personalities of their players. Cheaters cheat. Risk takers take risks. Defensive people play defensively.

Forget about games for a moment. Most PEOPLE do not have replay value. You talk to them once, and you do not want to talk to them again. They do not play the GAME OF LIFE, they only want to experience it. Therefore, they become not interesting. They do not take risks. They do not adventure their mind to ‘unapproached’ subjects. They’re just boring.

And boring people are the developers behind boring games. And who likes boring games? Boring people do. “Hey, I got to buy every game that comes out so I don’t miss a DIGITAL EXPERIENCE. Gosh darn, why do I have 500 games on my backlog? Derp derp…”

It looks like the rumors were true. Take a look at this…

When I watch videos like this, I actually yell at the screen. But let us, as they say today, ‘unpack’ this.

It is not enough to say Nintendo wants their games to sell as many units as possible. Nintendo is unique among game makers as they are a platform holder, and, as it appears they see themselves now, a collection of intellectual properties. I believe Nintendo is shifting to value the integrity of these IPs more than ‘software sales’ or ‘hardware sales’. In the long run, interesting IPs offer more business options for Nintendo (such as the amusement park and other merchandising) than being a forgotten Beanie Baby or Cabbage Patch Doll toy fad. Nintendo should have enough history by now to really come to this conclusion.

Take a look at Zelda. Zelda, as a series, has a very high ‘pedigree’ of IP and quality standard especially when the series began. You know this because people did not say “This is an action game”, “This is an adventure game”, “This is a RPG game”, no, they said, “It is a ZELDA.” High quality IPs are spoken as their own genre. “It’s a MARIO GAME.” “It’s MARIO KART.” “It’s ZELDA.” And that was all we needed to know. We knew what Zelda was. But Zelda lost popularity further on (comparing sales numbers directly is a no no when you are talking a time span of DECADES and different markets) because of one reason: the IP was losing its integrity. Zelda was little more than some ‘puzzle/adventure’ gameplay with Zelda bells and paint put on. If I replaced the graphics and sound with something else, these ‘Zelda’ games could have been any other game. But you cannot do that with the early Zeldas since the gameplay is so distinct. You can change the graphics and sound and people would still say it is Zelda. With Breath of the Wild, Zelda returned its IP to its former integrity. Only as that as a consequence, Zelda BoW “Wow!” sells big numbers. But even better, the game doesn’t stop selling. It will still be selling DECADES from now. Meanwhile, Skyward Sword is met with a yawn.

Nintendo may not always be making games and hardware in the future. But yet, Nintendo’s greatest ‘fortune’ is its collection of IPs. Nintendo may think, currently or in the past, that the definition of their IP is the Mickey Mouse type character on the cover of the box. But, it isn’t. It is the gameplay that makes the IP and gives it its true feel. When I hear ‘Mario’, I think of jumping around in a platformer. With ‘Zelda’, I think of exploring a world gathing items and weapons and going into dungeons.

So what of Metroid? The fans keep demanding it, yet the sales numbers aren’t there. But the sales numbers do not reveal everything going on. I don’t think Nintendo’s canning of Metroid Prime 4 to restart it with Retro is simply because they didn’t like where the quality level was at. If that were true, Nintendo would have cancelled Metroid: Other M, Metroid: Federation Force, and (hate to say it), Metroid: Samus Returns (and yes, that game is not quality). Yet, now, they are cancelling what I think is JAPANESE DEVELOPMENT work to go for developers from Texas (yee-haw). Does this represent a shift in how Nintendo views Metroid? I think so.

I believe Metroid: Other M was a take on ‘expanding Metroid’ to target new audiences… especially women. I have no idea what was going on with Federation Force. Samus Returns’ quality is difficulty to understand since it is trying to remake an older Metroid. Most people do not differentiate where the old Metroid ends and the Sakamoto begins.

Metroid doesn’t sell for two distinct reasons. One, it is in a Red Ocean market. There is intense competition for ‘sci-fi’ alien games where you run around with a gun. This competition is super saturated on the Xbox and PlayStation consoles (as well as PC). Remember that when the granddaddy of FPS games came out, Doom, the year was 1993 which was after the SNES was out. The second reason why Metroid doesn’t sell big numbers is that it is a game designed for advanced gamers. However, this does not necessarily stifle its sales numbers. I think the first reason, the red ocean of space hunter games everywhere, is what is sucking the oxygen out of the room for the Metroid flame to breathe.

“But Malstrom, why should Metroid be made if there is a red ocean?”

Why should Switch have a FPS, say Fortnite, if it is on every other system?

The point is, there is a market for these type of games. If there are zero of these type of games on the console, this market won’t be on the console at all. Yes, there is intense competition from other platforms. But it is better to show up to fight than cede the playing field entirely. Nintendo, as an entire company, then gets placed with a reputation branding as ‘for children’ or ‘dah casual’ or something else.

The Nintendo fans love Metroid so much because Metroid is the only sci-fi Nintendo game. Let’s look into why Metroid, as an IP, is so cherished. There is precedence:

In the arcades, competition was extremely intense. The customer could step left or right and be in front of a competitor. Games had to be flashy and eye-catching. Controls had to be simple. Pac-Man, Centipede, and other games had very simple controls. PONG sold while Space War didn’t because of the simplicity factor.

Then came one game that wasn’t simple at all. It had this button scheme:

Image result for defender button layout

WTF!? You have a LEVER on the left. A button that says reverse. Then you have FIVE MORE buttons. One of them is ‘hyperspace’…

This is the control scheme of Defender. This ‘complicated’ game was a huge hit which boggled the arcade analysts back in the early 1980s. Why? If you were an experienced arcade game player (like I was, ahem), you couldn’t get your rocks off by playing more Pac-Man or Donkey Kong. You needed something more. Defender scratched that itch. Defender is an extremely challenging game even for arcade games. You will die almost immediately. Advanced games like Defender kept arcade gamers in the arcade and from getting bored.

In 1986, Nintendo released this game:

Image result for metroid nes box art

Here’s the commercial:

The commercial is very revealing. They use an older kid, somewhere a teenager. The teenager in 1986 would have grown up not with NES (as it was current) but with the Atari 2600 and those Gen 2 consoles. This is why he uses the NES Advantage controller. The reason why NES Advantage controllers were everywhere was because this teenager and older grew up with joysticks, not the D-pad. The NES Advantage use is telling us that this is for experienced gamers. The ad blasts about the ‘challenge’ of Metroid.

Is Metroid, for the NES, a challenging game. Fuck yes.

Was it a challenging game in 1986? Or 1989? Fuck yes.

Many youngsters started NES gaming with Super Mario Brothers. They then went to Zelda, Mega Man, Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. Some went to Metroid. But most of the Metroid players were those who were gaming prior to the NES. If Metroid was not on the NES, the system would have been less interesting.

Metroid is the platform equivalent to Defender. The sound effects and graphics are just as out of this world. The challenge is extreme yet addicting. Metroid is such a troll of a game. Metroid routinely uses fake bosses, fake levels, and keeps messing with your mind.

Metroid was so popular from that single game, it earned its right as the third of the Nintendo triumvirate next to Mario and Zelda. Metroid was so well known that it got featured heavily in Captain N: The Game Master.

Image result for metroid captain n game master

Above: The bad guys of Captain N. Mother Brain, from Metroid, is the big bad guy. King Hippo (why is he blue?) is from Punch Out! Eggplant Wizard is from Kid Icarus.

Not long after Gameboy came out, Nintendo released this:

Image result for metroid 2 box

Metroid 2 was well received. Considering the Gameboy’s limitations, it is amazing this game exists at all. This game was ‘huge’ for the Gameboy especially when the Gameboy doesn’t do scrolling well at all.

Out of the Gameboy library, Metroid 2 is one of the most challenging games. It certainly isn’t a game you give to a kid.

As for Super Metroid, I think that is when the series began to fall apart. Super Metroid didn’t make the same splash the first two games made. One reason was increased competition, a red ocean. But as someone from that time, Super Metroid was just too damn easy. I could beat the game in a rental! This ‘easiness’ certainly made the game age extremely well. When people view Super Metroid today, they are seeing the ‘aged extremely well game’ but not the Metroid market in 1994. Imagine if there was a ‘second quest’ of Super Metroid that was more challenging! People would be thrilled. Metroid is meant to be challenging.

The best selling Metroid is Metroid Prime for Gamecube. Some scoff and say it was because people thought they were buying Nintendo’s ‘Halo killer’. But Metroid Prime 2 and 3 also sold, though not at the same number as the first one. Without Metroid Prime, the Gamecube’s library would be thought much less, and I doubt many gamers would have trusted Nintendo to buy the Wii.

Have you noticed all the Metroid fans out there are experienced Nintendo gamers? Metroid is critical for Nintendo because it keeps those gamers to their system. Mario won’t do it. Zelda may do it. But many gamers gain experience and drift to another console or to PC gaming.

So what is Metroid’s worth? It is anchoring experienced gamers to the Nintendo platform. People say, “You keep playing Nintendo because of nostalgia!” It’s actually for Metroid. We play Metroid. Then we replay Metroid again and again. Metroid is the ‘experienced gamer’ game which is why it keeps singing to us.

Note how my take on Metroid is very different than the ‘Metroid means open world 2d platformer where you get lost and explore everything in dark atmosphere’. The reason why is because there are numerous other games like that… today and when Metroid came out. Zelda and Metroid share very similar gameplay trajectories. Both allow ‘freedom’ yet make you get items and weapons to advance further in the world. While one is fantasy and other is sci-fi, there clearly has to be a distinct difference between Zelda and Metroid as no one recognizes the two as the same. So what is it? Zelda is for the low experienced gamer. Metroid, however, is for the higher experienced gamer.

I always saw Mario games as the introduction to games for new players. How many people grew up on Mario?

Zelda is different from Mario not in that Zelda is HARDER, but Zelda is the game you live inside for a while in order to beat it. Zelda has a distinct world to inhabit.

While Zelda and Metroid both have distinct worlds to inhabit, both have puzzles, both have new weapons and items, both have backtracking and interesting atmospheres, Zelda and Metroid go separate ways when it comes to their target audience. Zelda goes for the less experienced. Metroid goes for the highly experienced. Mario may be Nintendo’s milk, Zelda may be Nintendo’s beer, but Metroid is Nintendo’s wine. Metroid raises the platform to another level (i.e. the level for the advanced gamer).

What is Retro’s demo?

I don’t know. But my idea for a new Metroid would be a sci-fi version of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Zelda BoW “Wow!” has all the gameplay dynamics that would be perfect for Metroid. Although Metroid has its tunnels, it also has a glorious planet overworld. Metroid Prime 1, 2, 3, all running on Gamecube or Wii hardware, are severely limited by that hardware. They had to use tubes to load the assets in the next room. Also, sci-fi assets are less extensive on hardware than fantasy. For example, in fantasy the trees must make sense. In sci-fi, the trees can be off-color, weird shaping, and still be considered ‘great!’.

After seeing the response of Zelda BoW “Wow!” with everyone and its sales, I suspect Retro went this course. And Nintendo would be impressed with it because if Metroid uses the same gameplay magic of Zelda BoW “Wow!”, it will make Metroid far more interesting and popular. It also saves Nintendo from making another Zelda BoW “Wow!” since they have Retro make one with Metroid Prime 4.

At least, that is my theory. I highly doubt Retro will do the Gamecube style of ‘tunnels everywhere so we can pre-load assets!’ because the hardware is at a level where they don’t have to do so. I think Metroid Prime 4 will be more Tallon Field and less ‘Magma Caverns’ if you know what I mean.

Above: This is what we want.

Money quote: “Nintendo Switch generated the highest December-month hardware dollar sales for a single platform since the Nintendo Wii in December 2009,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “And it achieved the highest December unit sales for a single platform since December 2010.”

I cannot find a list of UNITS for December 2018 for Switches sold. However, we DO know the uniters for December 2009 sold for Wii… around FOUR MILLION.

“Where were you nine years ago, Malstrom? Huh? HUH?”

I was right here on this blog. I blogged the 2009 numbers  when it happened. As I said then as I said now, it was a magical moment. Because Nintendo sold so many? No. It was because Miyamoto was wrong. Miyamoto stopped making 2d Mario because he didn’t want to make them anymore. Nintendo probably thought no one wanted to buy a new 2d Mario. After NSMB DS blew up the DS hardware and software, a NSMB Wii was made with Miyamoto spearheading the four player simultaneous multiplayer.

NSMB Wii sold like hotcakes. Reggie Fils-Aime was already declaring that Wii had hit over the hump for its lifecycle and would only decline from here on out. Yet, on December 2009 for NPD, Wii made a record that has never been broken. Not even by Switch in 2018 DESPITE a *much* better economy and a larger population than in 2009.

Guys, do you have any idea how ‘magical’ that December 2009 was? Miyamoto and old guards at Nintendo were DEAD WRONG about 2d Mario. The numbers were there. The entire game industry and the ‘critics’ thinking all 2d games were irrelevant had egg on their face. No, the only 2d game they liked was Little Big Planet (and where is that franchise now?) because Sony published it.

Smash Brothers Ultimate is, from what I hear from Smash fans, a very worthy game to the series. But you know what else? Smash Brothers Ultimate is a 2d game. While people celebrate the big Switch sales numbers, let us remember that it came from a 2d game. Ever since the mid-90s, we were told to ‘shut up’ and ‘take it’ because ‘2d is dead, everything must be 3d’.

To all you Industry Men out there, to all you game developers out there telling me, a consumer, to ‘shut up’ and not ask for ‘archaic gaming like 2d gaming’…. you have been weighed. You have been measured. And you have been found… wanting.

Hey Nintendo, how about making some more high profile 2d games?

Before I forget, you know another Switch 2d game that sold extremely well (blowing past all expectations)? Octopath Traveler. You fuck-tards at the Industry, all you ‘experts’, all you ‘gaming critics’ on youtube and on the Gaming Message Forums, told us that we did not understand the RPG. You told us no one wanted a game like that, a game that hearken back to RPG 16 bit roots. You guys were wrong then too. In fact, you guys are wrong all the time. You should do your analysis the opposite of what you normally would do and your probability would go up… just like Opposite George.


Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 16, 2019

Email: About Battlefield 5 poor sales

Hi Master! I’m glad you’re back! You’re the only game news source that matters!

Just sharing: had you heard about the EA’s Battlefield 5 poor sales? Here are some highlights:

But, at the end of the day, it appears to be just a bad game.

If your game is creating political polarization, then it isn’t much of a game. Games are FUN. Even TALKING politics during gaming is like putting turds in the punch bowl. The reason why the game is ‘bad’ is because making the game ‘fun’ was not the focus. Something else was.

This goes with all games. Many times, a SERIOUS STORY is the focus. This is why the game isn’t fun because that wasn’t the focus. When Sakamoto said, “Other M was to explore Samus Aran’s maternal instincts,” I knew the game would flop. The FUN of Metroid should be the focus. ‘Maternal instincts’ does not sound fun to gamers, and it certainly is not why people buy Metroid games.

Why do people buy games? To have fun.

I think one reason why younger game developers do so well in game development is because they have not been corrupted yet by the politics, the bureaucracy, and so on. Innocently, they just make ‘what is fun’. They then make tons of money. Old developers marvel at their ‘genius’ and never consider that maybe it wasn’t genius that propelled the kids but anti-genius that stiffed them.

Instead of focusing on the ‘genius’ of gaming, why not focus on the ‘anti-genius’? How do you make a bad game? You don’t see too many videos on that! But I’d say the best way to make a bad game is to not focus on making a game. Make it a movie. Make it a novel. Make it a sermon.

It’s amazing that a massive company like Electronic Arts loses so much money off of not understanding basic fundamentals. I marvel at how these companies can just allow their franchises to go down the drain. Nintendo very nearly does it too.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 16, 2019

Email: The Prodigal Malstrom Returns

Dear Sean,

I’m glad to hear from you.

I had to start analyzing events like, “what would Malstrom think?”.

My father passed away in October last year, so it was a bit of a double blow to also “lose” one of my favorite analysts too.

You need to train another Malstrom.

Take care,


I think there is much more interest and people doing analytical or historical or thought provoking pieces about gaming. This is how the situation was in 2005…

People looked at sales numbers but only in the context of ‘console horserace’.

Saying ‘power of console hardware doesn’t translate to sales’ was considered extremely provocative. It is not the power of the hardware that matters, it is the power of the console’s SOFTWARE. Software SELLS hardware, not vice versa. Today, no one argues these things, and they are accepted as background fact.

Liking ‘2d Mario’ was to be ridiculed. Don’t you know? That is OLD Mario. Get with the times! You only like that because of nostalgia! Then NSMB DS and NSMB Wii came and blew everything up. If THAT didn’t show 2d Mario wasn’t viable in selling software AND hardware, what was? You’d have to go to Wii Sports or Tetris to find more hardware selling power.

Complaining about 3d Mario got tomatoes thrown at me from the Nintendo crowd. Today, it is accepted there are people out there, even Nintendo fans, who prefer the 2d incarnations over the 3d.

Zelda was never truly criticized aside from ‘Wind Waker graphics’. Aonuma was always ‘genius’. And, of course, Ocarina of Time was the ‘best’ so every Zelda had to match that formula. Zelda got stuck in a rut that Zelda fans weren’t really seeing until Skyward Sword. With Breath of the Wild, they made a prototype of 8-bit Zelda and started the ‘gameplay’ roots from that. This was the right idea. This is what we’ve been screaming about forever. Breath of the Wild gives me that same feeling of original Zelda than any other Zelda. Zelda 2 is masochistic with awesome music and incredible combat. Link to the Past I was actually disappointed first time I played through it. “That’s it?” Still a great game, but it felt like the better graphics were retarding Zelda into linear tunnels with ‘puzzles’. Breath of the Wild is the step in the right direction. No one disputes this.

There is much more interest in gaming history today.

One thing more recent is the blowout hits of NES and SNES Classic Minis. Nintendo was stunned. Apparently, Nintendo obtained market data showing that YOUNG PEOPLE wanted the NES and SNES Classic Minis. They couldn’t believe it. They thought only nostalgia 30 year olds wanted those old consoles or older people. But it backed what you knew and what I’ve been hammering here forever: classic games are truly classic. They belong to the ages. Everyone wants to experience a genuine classic.

My challenge for this blog is to write things that no one else is saying. If other people are saying it, why bother reading the blog? Why would I bother writing a blog that says what other people are saying? So I must continually move the pillars. The way the pillars are moving is towards more interest in the ludology or deeper understanding of games. I think there is hunger to dive into the abyss of game making and why classic games are classic (and not because of the year they came out).

Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 16, 2019

Email: Welcome back

I was going to wait until this weekend to send a checkup email. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Really, your blog and this email address are the only means of contact so I kept telling myself that you’ll eventually update or that if something had of happened an email wouldn’t do anything. I’m glad you’re doing better for yourself now.
Hmm… OK. Happy New Year.
Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 15, 2019

2019 Mission: Clearing out the Backlog

Due to my increase in salary, I have bought the entire 3DS and Switch library.

No, really!

And I am currently in the process of building a $3000 PC mean game machine. It will play Star Citizen on max settings because Chris Roberts games always makes me buy new PCs.

“How can you clear out a backlog?”

This is the question, is it not? I have a question for the reader. Why did we not have a backlog in the 8-bit or 16-bit generations?

“We rented games.”


“Games weren’t as long.”

But we still didn’t play them to completion. Who played Silver Surfer for NES to completion? The game was impossible!

The point is that my old school habits were to RENT the entire game library and buy the games that I loved to play. And I would buy the sequels when they came out. For example, I rented Mega Man 1. It was interesting game, but it was not worth buying. I rented Mega Man 2 and lost my shit. I bought Mega Man 2 and then PRE-ORDERED Mega Man 3 before it came out. Then I bought Mega Man 4, got disappointed, and stopped buying Mega Man.

The point is to not play games to completion if you are not having fun. The concept of ‘completion’ is not a gaming one, but one of the Gaming Industry put in for their shitty Cinematic Games.

Thoroughly playing a game doesn’t not mean finishing it. I just play it until I cannot play anymore. Then I toss it out.

Unfortunately, I buy all the games. Good thing I bought physical so I can SELL the shitty games.

So I am going to go through my stack of 3DS and Switch games and NOT PLAY games I discover are not fun. If a game doesn’t grab me within 4 hours, at least, then I declare the game is terrible and not worth my time. No exceptions.

I do not care what ‘hype’ the game has online.

I do not care what ‘reviews’ the game has.

My quality threshold is the game calling me back. If a game cannot do this, then it is not really a fun game, is it?

*bump* Hey, are you still alive, or has the meat finally killed you? :)


I am still alive and well. I am also eating nothing but meat, and I do not cheat. I now look DECADES younger.

Above: Doc Brown got rejuvenation. I just ate meat.

I notice I attract younger girls now. Had a 24 year old all over me. But it may also be due to my vastly increased income salary. (How do women figure these things out? They have a nose for it.)

I think my ‘break’ was good because I need it after OVER A DECADE being on this page… and because the content needs rejuvenation. Doing game development will give me a different tack to put on with these games.

One thing I can say: Iwata was right… back in 2005. Video games are no longer special. When you realize that YOU can make a video game… it just doesn’t’ seem as cool. Nevertheless, I’ve been carrying a concept for the past few decades for a game. I’m going to see it through. Who knows, maybe you might even buy it for your Switch.

I do not recommend game development for anyone unless you are young or have some ridiculous idea you want to do. Game development is extremely difficult, ultra competitive, and is not as profitable as doing ANYTHING ELSE. I am doing this to extinguish a torch as much as to carry one.

There is a dead genre out there. And, as arrogant as it may be to say, I believe only I can carry it forward. Arrogance is actually useful. You must be simultaneously arrogant and humble. Arrogant is good during the creation phase. You keep going. Humble is good during the editing phase. This goes for every form of entertainment creation.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 15, 2019

State of Gaming

What has been going on since I have been away?

Answer: Not much.

Smash Ultimate came out and appears to satisfy the over-hyped Smash fans. I like Smash, but I am not a ‘Smash player’. People more familiar with the franchise can better describe Smash Ultimate’s quality. As a single player game, it is kinda lame. But that is to be expected. I appreciate Sakurai putting on a single player mode to the game to balance out the game’s great multiplayer. When you have awesome single player and awesome multiplayer in a single game, you get what I call The Perfect Game. There are not many Perfect Games out there. Some of the Bomberman games (like Bomberman ’94) that have compelling single player design, matched with the extraordinary multiplayer, qualify as a Perfect Game. Games that can be played both single player and multiplayer also qualify such as World of Warcraft. If your friends aren’t on, you just go do something by yourself. A game I like to throw up as a ‘perfect game’ is Star Control 2 (which a junction was placed upon Stardock… *snark* *snark* *snark*). A game like Contra would qualify as would Super Mario Brothers 3 and NSMB DS (multiplayer on that thing is ridiculously fun) and NSMB Wii.

I have been playing some games lately. Let me give you some impressions.

Phantasy Star Ages

I bought and played through ALL THE WAY on Switch. I missed out on Phantasy Star and kept hearing it described as a RPG series such as Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy. Sega gamers wax much nostalgic about the game.

It. Sucks.

I’m sorry, but it does! It has nothing to do with the game’s age. The issue with Phantasy Star 1 (I haven’t played the others) is everything to do with Ultima. People who liked Phantasy Star obviously played it before Ultima. Why? Phantasy Star is nothing but an Ultima clone.

“Phantasy Star is different because it is sci-fi.” So is Ultima. Ultima I and Ultima II had sci-elements such as using hovercraft to roam around the overworld. In Ultima II, you could go to different planets. Phantasy Star’s sci-fi is NOT original.

“But Phantasy Star had first person dungeons.” So did Ultima I, II, III, IV, and V. Ultima 0, Alkabeth, was nothing but first person dungeon. The crass sci-fi elements and the first person dungeons is a game screaming that it is copying Ultima.

Ultima I and II had a crazy amount of sci-fi and other elements mixed in. But in Ultima III, the series matures and crystallized around a Lords of the Rings type fantasy concept. It is this fantasy concept that Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy copied going forward. Phantasy Star, for whatever reason, is copying Ultima I and II!!!! OK, it has the Wizardry party, but come on!

I liked the music of the game. But everything else was bad. There is a reason why Phantasy Star 1 did not catch on in the West. To be fair, Dragon Quest 1 and Final Fantasy 1 didn’t really catch on either in the West (Dragon Quest will never catch on in the West hahahaha). I think Dragon Quest 1 and Final Fantasy 1 are still interesting and enjoyable to play today in large part because of their cohesive fantasy universe. Phantasy Star makes no sense. Why do I have a talking cat as a party member? And why does that cat stop talking when I get it? WTF?

Again, the music is fantastic, and I love the backgrounds (such as the mountains). Nice touch. But the game is clunky as hell and is extremely overrated even in 1988. While I thought Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy had a cute charm to them, they seemed like ‘kiddie’ RPGs (though Final Fantasy 1 was wickedly cool with that aesthetic for whatever reason). In 1988, I was playing Ultima V which just shit on all the ‘JRPGs’. When I played Final Fantasy IV, I was like ‘WHOA, what is this?’ as the MUSIC and game story had really improved. 16-bit was when JRPGs really found a differentiation from Ultima and other PC RPGs.

I’m going to skip Phantasy Star II. Don’t need to grind.

Phantasy Star III seems like a trainwreck. I’m going to avoid.

I do intend to play Phantasy Star IV. I do have the Genesis Collection for Switch as well as have the original for Genesis. I will let you know if the game holds up to the great RPGs of the 16-bit Era (Final Fantasy 6, Chrono Trigger, etc.). I actually played Chrono Trigger first in the year 2000 so I got into way after the fact.


Smash Brothers Ultimate

I’m currently playing the single player and now I am asking… “Why am I doing this?” I’m not exactly having fun. This game seems designed for a younger person. Seems that there are lots of mobile influences in it. Maybe I should just stick to normal battle mode instead of ‘bizarro RPG mode’.


Bravely Default

Since I loved Octopath, you’d think I would be totally into this. Nope. The game is slow, tedious, and doesn’t seem balanced right. This game seems overrated. I’d rather just replay Final Fantasy V. Then again, the tiny 3DS screen doesn’t help.


Metroid: Samus Returns

I’ve started this but have not gone far. I’m about ready to turn it off for good.


How can Sakamoto mess this up? There are BIZARRE design choices in this. Why is there melee combat? It is a ‘button timing’ thing which may be connected to Sakamoto’s past doing rhythm games or something. It is not fun. And it doesn’t make sense in the game. Why doesn’t someone from Nintendo catch Sakamoto’s shitty decisions? Super Metroid’s controls are STILL fine. Just use that. Make wall jumping easier, maybe, but just use Super Metroid’s controls. This isn’t that hard. But Sakamoto fucks it up as he does everything.

Since I haven’t gotten far, maybe this is explained. But why the fuck are there ‘doors’ and ‘elevators’ on SR388, the homeworld of the Metroids? Metroids do not use doors. Metroids do not use elevators. The additional stuff like ‘background with lights that come on as you kill Metroids’ is just stupid. This game makes no sense. And I bought Metroid II when it was released on Gameboy.

Samus Returns simply isn’t fun. I feel like Sakamoto is trying too hard to turn Samus into a ninja. I do not want emphasis on acrobatics, I want emphasis on exploration and atmosphere. I want a coherent game universe. Why am I punching monsters when I get hurt if I touch them? Sakamoto is so worthless. Even fans can make better Metroid games than he can.

And no, I am not bashing Sakamoto. Samus Returns is on fire sale everywhere because no one wants the damn thing. The first three Metroids held their price (OK, not Super Metroid but that is another story).

I want good Metroid, Nintendo. Not Sakamoto shit.

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