Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 15, 2017

“Was that you, Malstrom?”


Folks, a gentleman never tells.

I don’t play games. But when I do, I play the Switch.

Image result for most interesting man in the world

Stay playful, my friends.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 14, 2017

Starcraft 1 Remastered coming?

Here are the rumors.

I’d get it, if true. I would get it for the MULTIPLAYER, not for the single player. Starcraft 2 is amazing at one thing: single player campaigns.

I beta tested Starcraft 2 and played it throughout all its expansions. It DID get the attention it needed when it was released. Why was the game not fun? To make the complex understandable, I will point to two things.

ONE: The Zerg, which is really what Starcraft is about, was radically changed in Starcraft 2. In Starcraft 1, the term ‘zerg rush’ became famous. In Starcraft 2, Zerg are a reactionary race. Starcraft 1 Zerg is so much more fun.

TWO: Base management really, really sucked in Starcraft 2. For Zerg, you had to time the Queens to inject the hatchery at the right time to get maximum larva as well as expand the creep. Protoss had warp boosts. Terrans called down MULES.

The issue wasn’t the APM, the issue was what the APM was being used on. Starcraft 2 required high APM just to manage your bases! Starcraft 1 doesn’t. All that extra APM goes into army micromanagement.

The problem with Starcraft 2, as well as Heroes of the Storm, is the game director making terrible, terrible decisions.

I would love to see Warcraft 1, 2, 3 be remastered especially the single player campaigns. Warcraft 3 is still an extremely awesome game. I wonder if the Remasters would fit Blizzard’s concept of making ‘smaller games’.

BTW, Master Malstrom is in the Starcraft 1 credits under the term ‘Old School Kali Boys’. Kali preludes We helped Blizzard test out patch 1.2 for Warcraft 2 after all.

The following comes from an EDGE interview with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild director Hidemaro Fujibayashi…
On the gameplay roots of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

“It didn’t come to me right away as a fully formed idea. For a long time, I went from idea to idea before I finally reached what I think are the very roots of Breath of the Wild’s gameplay: the idea of cliff climbing and paragliding back down, the keyword ‘survival’, and the idea of ‘creativity of combination’ whereby players make use of things that happen when their actions interact with objects placed on the map – for example, lighting wood with fire to create a bonfire. It was this root gameplay that I then submitted.”

On developing for the Switch in comparison to the Game Boy Color and Advance

“The Oracle games and The Minish Cap were 2D pixel-art games released on the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance. Compared to the Wii, Wii U or Nintendo Switch, graphically they can’t even begin to match up the kinds of animations, the text we can show, the audio, and storage space are definitely not comparable. The most notable difference is simply that we can no longer ‘fudge’ things when it comes to anything graphical. What we have previously left up to players’ imaginations can all now be shown for real, so continuing to use our previous methods of expression would lead to some very odd experiences for players. It might be more fun for players to see how we maintained a balance by playing the game and seeing for themselves.”

What games inspired Fujibayashi when developing Breath of the Wild

“I was rather inspired by playing Minecraft and Terraria. I was able to learn from the gameplay and the possibilities found in. I could learn from the sense of adventure, exploration and how it inspired curiosity.”

And there it is, folks! Minecraft and Nintendo are pretty funny. I tested Minecraft out when it was in alpha and raved about it on this very blog, comparing it as a spiritual successor to the old NES games like Zelda, Metroid, and such. Those classic NES games did revolve around BLOCKS too. On NPD sales charts for America, Minecraft would consistently stay around #8 while titles appeared and fell off the list for years. I kept saying, “Why is no one talking about Minecraft?” Eventually, Iwata brought up Minecraft at an esteemed Investor Q&A. Minecraft sells too good to NOT HAVE on the system. Minecraft also sells incredibly well with children. Nintendo console has to have Minecraft. Terraria too.

But what was Terraria inspired? Here is the answer:

– Which games have particularly inspired you?
“Minecraft is the obvious one, but I also consider games like Liero, TLOZ: A Link to the Past, and Dwarf Fortress as definite inspirations too!”

*gasp* That is a non-Aonuma Zelda! *gasp*

This is Liero for those who don’t know:

Above: Looks way more fun than Western AAA gaming!

With these Switch sales, we should ask, “What is the Golden rule for consoles? What is Console Business 101?” It is: SOFTWARE SELLS THE HARDWARE. or… PEOPLE BUY THE HARDWARE TO GET TO THE SOFTWARE.

It is not so much the switch that is selling, it is a game on it that people want. What game could this be, dear reader? Could it be 1, 2 Switch? Could it be Just Dance 2017?

“It’s Othello!” says the dastardly reader.

I think you solved it, reader. Switch sales must be due to that incredible demand for Othello.

Above: Still more interesting than Western AAA gaming!

As Nintendo’s business began to go south starting in 2008 and especially after 2010, I began talking more about software. How do we fix, Zelda? Or Metroid? People angrily told me, “Talk about business like Blue Ocean Strategy. Why you talking about Zelda?” Talking about the software IS Nintendo’s business. Games people want will drive the hardware sales. No one wants Aonuma Zelda. No one wants ‘baby baby’ Sakamoto Metroid. Nintendo can do better.

Breath of the Wild shows that quality software can really drive hardware sales. Can it last forever? No. Wii Sports didn’t last forever. It wasn’t the Wii that was selling, it was Wii Sports that was selling. Wii Sports just happened to be inside the Wii box! Nintendo is going to come out with more games.

“Oh no!” cries the reader.

Yes. Nintendo cannot have the Switch sell on Zelda forever.

“Does Nintendo know this? Do they know they must make more games once the appeal of Zelda wears off?”

Oh, they know. This is a momentum based business after all. All this has been planned. It is amazing how hard it is to make a quality video game, let alone an entire fleet of video games to launch one after another to support and grow a game console. It is very, very, very hard!

BTW, did you know that Notch made a game in 48 hours that is Zelda 1 and Minecraft hybrid called Minicraft (or Minitale)?

For comparison, here is the Zelda 1 prototype of Breath of the Wild:

I don’t see anyone going back to Aonuma’s puzzles/NPC games for inspiration. Why is that, reader?

Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 14, 2017

Email: Some interesting perspective from your old post

I was looking for the afore-mentioned post of yours, where I thought you described BotW before skyward sword. Turns out it wasn’t you, but was rather one of your readers describing where he thought Zelda Wii would go. He talked about Mini-dungeons and more exploration/adventure in the overworld.

But, what I did find, was this old post of yours. It seems to be the one where your first found out Aonuma hated the original LoZ.

What I find so interesting here is the big picture this post from the past provides. The direction of Skyward Sword was cemented and Fujibayashi stayed the course. BoTW, then, was able to break the cycle of Aonuma Zelda. Fujibayashi didn’t have that bias against old Zelda. When Skyward Sword sold less than Wind Waker even though it was on the Wii, he had no devotion to the Aonuma formula. In fact, his favorite game seems to be the original! Aonumas influence seems to be limited to the NPCs and story; Beedle and the Dye shop owner are straight from Wind Waker, yet there’s no character cameos from any other game, unless you count the Old Man.

I never bought Skyward Sword so I haven’t truly played it in depth. Same with Metroid: Other M. I already know it is a turd, I’ll skip it. Life is too short. Readers tell me, sobbing over their lost time, over these terrible games.

I also never bought a 3DS or a Wii U, yet somehow kept this page going through that generation. That’s not easy to do!

It’s clear Aonuma has limited influence with Breath of the Wild. He wasn’t even allowed to put in a ‘message to his son’.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 14, 2017

Email: The State of Gaming

Hi Sean,

I’ve heard you talking about Reggies “State of Gaming” speech, well since I started reading your blog after I found the Birdmen-article sometime 10 years ago. But I never saw that speech.

I found a video of it today and I liked it.

For the interested reader.

Silly emailer. ALL my readers are interested. I do not have any non-interested readers. What do you think this site is? Gamepro?

But yes, this is the speech. Nintendo doesn’t talk like this anymore. When I first saw this, I went OMG, they are spilling the beans! All the game journalists saw this didn’t understand what was being said. Game developers don’t really think in business terms so they glazed over this too.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 14, 2017

Nintendo Switch sells 1.5 million units

In other words, Switch sells out of its launch units.

“But why does this matter, Malstrom? Sure, the Wii sold the same at this time, but so did the Wii U!”

There is one critical difference between Switch and Wii and Wii U. Wii and Wii U launched during the holidays. The Switch launched during March.

THAT is what is noteworthy.

Did you know that EVERY Xbox system launched during the holidays?

Did you know that EVERY PlayStation launched during the holidays?

Why is that? Why don’t console manufacturers launch during the non-holidays so the early-adopters can be satisfied? The answer is because they are too scared.

To answer those who are saying there is ‘nothing to see here’, that is incorrect. The fact that Switch sells so well when it isn’t holiday season is very significant. Analysts are noticing this too. So is the Game Industry.

The hardcore gamer? No. The hardcore gamer is sooooo stupid, they are trashing the Switch and Zelda for irrational reasons. They cannot say Switch is ‘destroying gaming’ like Wii did with Wii Sports. So what are they going to say? They can’t say shit.

Did you know that the PS4 STAGGERED its launch? The Switch didn’t.

“Why are we turning this into a competition? OMG, pls stop!” says the hardcore.

No one is doing that. We are just looking at numbers… all the numbers. But the hardcore are scared to death of their beloved PS4 (haha) being overshadowed. Of course, it is overshadowed. PS4 is Generation 8. Switch is Next Gen. PS4 is a generation behind… an obsolete machine which is why the PS4 Pro is coming out since Sony is scared PS4 players will switch to PC gaming.

Eurogamer is asking why Switch games cost more than on other platforms.

But there are two inconsistencies here.

First, Nicalis who is publishing Binding of Isaac has the game only a few dollars more. They say the physical release cost is $4-$5 more. Nicalis is publishing only in America which may be why the costs are what it is, and why Eurogamer didn’t talk to them since they aren’t properly ‘European’.

Second, physical doesn’t have to be retail. Physical can be mail order. We don’t care about the game being sold on retail, we just want a physical option. If the game is offered physical by mail, it will sell, and it can be a higher price.

Do you know the surest way to get physical carts a separate price from digital? Declare the physical carts to be ‘special edition’. It would be TRUE.

Here. We. Go!


Generation 9 folks!

Dos Equis Gifs to the World score dos equis the most interesting man

Konami says they would revive other franchises if Super Bomberman R sells well. What franchises would these be, reader?

Reader gasps excitedly. “Why, they would be…”




“But Master Malstrom,” says the reader, “Bomberman is a Hudson IP, not a Konami one. What of the Hudson IPs that could come over?”

This is an excellent question, reader! Let us see…


Adventure Island!


Image result for soldier blade

Soldier Blade!
I think two things would highly influence Konami’s choice in their next franchise to pull forward. First, does it sell it Japan? These are japanese companies, and they like what they like.

Zelda being a hit on the Switch shows that Switch consumers want action RPGs. What if Konami brought Neutopia back and put it in a 3d format as a type of Breath of the Wild clone? You never know, reader! You never know!

I wouldn’t be surprised also if a 3d Castlevania RPG is made similar to BOTW.

Zelda is the Switch killer app. I bet it leads to a flood of BOTW clones like how Blazing Lazers made Turbografx 16 a shmup console. Switch may become an adventure/RPG game console.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 13, 2017

Emails on BoW “Wow!”

All my friends and I are talking about having different experiences with it. One of us mentioned finding a blue horse that’s really fast or figuring out a cool recipe or some trick they used to take down a hard foe.

Skyrim was the last game where I remember everyone having unique experiences. So many modern games try to emulate this with big empty sandbox worlds but too often this fails because these open worlds don’t have anything interesting. That’s what happened with No Man’s Sky.

Yes this is what Zelda needed: getting away from the “get a thing. Go to new area. Get new thing.”



Greetings Master Malstrom!

Switch is region-free. Make sure to create a JPN account to access the eShop. You can download demos not available in the West like DQ Heroes I & II and Puyo Puyo Tetris. PPT totally fits your recent description of “addictive PC demos back in the day”. The demo supports up to 4p multiplayer! In a demo! It also has a Vs CPU mode and Swap. I’ve put at least 6 hours into it between my kids, my wife, and my friends. It is an amazing party game!

Anyway, breakable weapons in BoW is a feature that follows what you’ve described as the soul of Legend of Zelda: arcade values meets Western RPG. I don’t know if you’ve played any recent AAA open-world games, but a huge problem is bloat and garbage. You end up carrying around so much junk. Breakable weapons means you will never run out of reasons to pick up a weapon. There will always be value in gear, even at the end of BoW.

That’s a big departure from AAA “get this epic DLC weapon with a 3-paragraph lore description” mindset, which encourages the player to horde and covet and cling (unhealthy mental habits).

Breakable weapons in Zelda means the bad players will lean heavily on high-stat weapons, use them up, and overall progress through the game will be slower. I think “journalists” complaining about the weapons breaking too fast just suck at the game! Get better and then you won’t always have to use your best gear, obviously. Better players can save good weapons for harder fights while taking out mobs with common equipment, thus progressing through the game faster. A lot of durability is lost when you hit trees, rocks, and enemy shields. In other words, if you’re rushing into battle and blindly mashing the attack button, your weapons wear out faster. But instead if you are circling the foe, exploiting the environment, and using good timing, your weapons don’t wear out. Duh!

Thing is, temporary power ups and weapons were always a “thing” in the 80s and early 90s. You didn’t get to keep that awesome Dragon in Golden Axe. It was temporary. You don’t get to stay Star Mario forever. Many PC RPGs from that era had durability and weapon breakage. It was considered realism.

What happened later is hardcore gamers began tying their emotional wellbeing to video games. Can’t show off the best weapon in the game if it has durability, right? Can’t collect and equip all the best gear in the game if it breaks, right? Durability demands that the player lets go of obsessive min-maxing.

Personally, I think it was a brilliant design choice.


World of Warcraft Vanilla had weapon durability, but you didn’t destroy the weapon. It forced you to go back to town to repair it. This also happened with armor too.

I don’t see weapon durability as removing bloat but creating it. There are tons of ‘tree sticks’ I keep skipping. I hate how I can’t get excited over a new weapon because I know they are all temporary.

How strange it is that bombs are infinite but the sword is finite!


I am way deeper into the game now (remember, I had a headstart, but I won’t spoil anything!), and I agree with the other emailer about the game making me feel like a child again. Your impressions on the first 10 hours of the game were also spot on with mine at that timeframe, especially the part about feeling like you are playing a classic.

This is not a perfect game, I can detail flaws with it, flaws that only really became evident after spending a lot of time with the game anyway, but I cannot criticize anything it is doing in terms of bringing Zelda BACK. This is the game the series needed, I didn’t really think it would happen.

My best guess for a best-case scenario when it comes to Zelda was Nintendo seeing the demand for Classic Zelda, and then thinking “we shall bring Zelda back to its roots!”, what they’d do then is they’d make a NSMB with it; taking the original game, making new maps and dungeons for it, and giving it an HD makeover, a New Legend of Zelda sort of thing. Now, I’d still buy the hell out of that and I’d enjoy it… but BotW is not a simple and straightforward retreading, it’s not just bringing Zelda back to its roots in terms of its spirit and premise, but also taking it forward into the future in such a massive way that it puts it straight ahead of the pack again in a LOT of what it’s doing, and I’m talking other games from other companies in the genre, this is golden cartridge material.

It’s not just a return to form or roots, it’s also looking at its place in 2017 and aware of what contemporaries entries into the Action Adventure/RPG genres are doing, so its goal to me doesn’t seem to simply deliver a retro Classic Zelda experience in 3D, it’s to actually take Zelda into the future and into where it should be.

BTW have you seen the hardcore Zelda fans message boards? Now I won’t say this is everyone of them, but there are a lot of fans of Aonuma style Zeldas who are kicking and screaming about this game. “This isn’t a real Zelda”, they say, haha! Now isn’t that a good sign if there ever was one? Zelda is definitely back on track. I don’t even know how it happened, I wish I was inside Nintendo to hear the talks that went on between SS and this, it’s like going from water to wine, a complete 180 that feels like a miracle. This game is the antithesis of Skyward Sword, anyone who legitimately enjoyed Skyward Sword (if they exist) will most likely hate this game.

I’m cautiously excited for the future of Nintendo as the old influences like Aonuma and Sakamoto start to die off inside the company and give way to the young generation of developers.

There are only SIX Zelda games.

Zelda 1:

Legend of zelda cover (with cartridge) gold.png

Zelda II:

Zelda II The Adventure of Link box.jpg

Zelda III:

The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past SNES Game Cover.jpg

Zelda IV:

A sword stands over a shield, and goes through the letter "Z" in the title "The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening".

Zelda V:

A sword and shield—the latter bearing both the three triangles of the Triforce and the bird-like Hyrule crest—are positioned behind the game's title.

Zelda VI:


Everything else is a spin-off… i.e. not a REAL Zelda game.



Breath of the Wild is NOT an Aonuma game…or at least not totally (in response to another emailer of yours who said Aonuma surprised him with this game).

BOTW is Hidemaro Fujabayashi’s baby.

Who is Fujabayashi your Malstromites (readers) might wonder?

He’s the guy who directed Minish Cap, Skyward Sword and now BOTW.

So if BOTW does well enough to spark a cultural videogame revolution as the original Zelda’s did then he’s the man who deserves all the credit for that and not the hack non talent that is Aonuma.

BOTW in a sense would be Hidemaro Fujabayashi’s “third times a charm” game in that his other two games were decent (Minish Cap) to Meh (Skyward Sword) whereas BOTW if it is shown to of been a wild success in the upcoming sales charts and via cultural shift demanding more open world Zelda games and possible themed breakfast cereals + cartoons will then quite obviously be his “Amazing” game ie his legend maker game that turns him into a “game god” as you put it though you rightly tack on derision to the term since gamers should be focused on the quality of the game they are playing at the time and not encouraging developers to worship themselves via gamers missplaced worship of them.

Personally I think BOTW is a tiny step in the right direction via it’s vast open world but other things I have problems with are what has caused it’s user score on Metacritic to plummet to a Skyward Swordian 7.5.

The game makes the same exact mistake as Skyrim did which is to have a barely there nature based soundtrack rather than strike the sweet spot of Elder Scrolls Oblivion and have a vast compelling and enthrallingly rich musical background soundtrack that conveys beauty and deep loss along with a whimsical nature.

People often remark whether Star Wars or various other movies would be as successful as they were/are without said famous soundtrack/s behind them and I think said people have a point that soundtracks really add to certain entertainment products be they movies or videogames.

A real opportunity was missed here in BOTW on the soundtrack score.

Nintendo should’ve just ponied up the cash and hired Jeremy Seoule and had him collaborate with Kondo and hit that same sweet spot as Jeremy did in Oblivion but with a decidedly Zelda esque Hyrulian theme that played on all of our memories via it’s familiarity remixing old tracks as well creating new one’s with a memorable Zelda sound to set whatever mood the game was going for at the time.

Other than that criticism BOTW’s combat is severely dumbed down Skyrim (seriously if you’re going to rip off the game do it’s weapon breaking combat right)

Also the enemies are pathetically easy to the point I could believe Aonuma had directed the game himself if I didn’t know otherwise.

Anyway I’ll save off on saying anymore for now until I beat the game and properly review it on in full.


I feel BoW “Wow!” is a shift toward the right direction. It still has one foot stuck in the past. Once we place both feet where it needs to be, we will have something truly awesome.

I like the term for shrines to be ‘puzzle bunkers’. They feel like a different game.


Don’t know if you’ve figured this out yet or not, but it’ll probably be useful to either you or some of your other readers.

Do NOT hold down the sprint button! Tap it. By tapping it you can run at about the same speed as sprinting, and by practicing the timing and keeping a beat you can make the stamina meter last way, way, waaaaaay longer. The game got ten times better for me once I realized this, so I thought I’d give you a heads up in case you weren’t already aware of it.

As much as I hate tutorials and the like in games, I kind of wish the game had just told me I could do this earlier. Would’ve saved me lots of time.


More emails await to be posted, but I am tired, and I need to sleep.


Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 13, 2017

Cucco is greatest weapon in Breath of the Wild

Cuccos also don’t break!

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