It's a Weird Time for Nintendo Fans
It’s a strange time to be an old-school Nintendo fan. For me, my love of Nintendo started with the NES. Technically I loved Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., and Punch-Out!! in the arcade, but I didn’t really associate them with Nintendo, they were just cool arcade games. But once I played the NES at my friend’s house, I connected with the brand, and it was fun because when it came to home consoles, they were the unrivaled kings at the time. Atari was on its way out, and the Master System never really got much of a foothold here in the States, so not only did I like Nintendo, but everyone else did too. The 16-bit wars were also pretty fun. Yeah, the Sega Genesis pulled ahead for a time, but Nintendo was never really “down.” It was a tight race. Then Nintendo pulled ahead in that generation and my (admittedly ridiculous) fandom still felt great because Nintendo being on top, or at least being in contention for the top, meant they got almost every good game. Unless it was made by Sega, chances are the best games in the market were either also or exclusively on Nintendo’s platforms. But that all changed around 1994-1995.
Man, remember when stores looked like this?
When Nintendo decided to stick with cartridges and double down on what’s considered some less than savory business practices, they opened the door for a fresh competitor to take a sizeable chunk out of their market share. The PlayStation brand was a perfect storm of affordable technology, smart business moves, and undeniably cool marketing. Sony did what Sega had failed to for years; dethrone Nintendo as the #1 video game platform on the market, and Nintendo has yet to return to the top spot. They haven’t had a console that 3rd parties flock to since the 90s. Think about it. The Virtual Boy didn’t make many waves. The Nintendo 64 came strong out of the gate but was quickly trounced because of the difficult and expensive cartridge format. The GameCube for all its wonderful games never even came close to catching the PlayStation 2 in the sales department. The Wii had incredible console sales numbers, but the vast majority of console owners barely used the thing for more than Wii Sports and Mario Kart. The Wii U was proof that the Wii name was considered toxic by the gaming community as a whole, in addition to some really confusing messaging regarding what the darn thing actually was. Because of these reasons and a whole lot more, Nintendo loyalists have missed out on a ton of really incredible games over the years, especially if they never went out and got themselves a PlayStation or an Xbox to fill in the gaps for them. But with the Switch, that all seems to have changed.
In the past few months, old-school Nintendo fans like myself have seen things that have made our heads spin. Night Trap, a game that Nintendo previously said would never appear on their systems, shipped for Nintendo Switch. The Crash Bandicoot N-Sane trilogy, a title that consists of 3 games basically designed to be Mario killers, not only made it to Nintendo Switch, but sold an unreasonable amount of copies. Katamari Damacy, a game that had “Nintendo charm” written all over it but was a PlayStation 2 exclusive, was just announced as a console exclusive for Nintendo Switch in the form of an HD remaster called Katamari Damacy Reroll. And let’s not forget what’s probably the biggest deal of them all, Final Fantasy VII is coming to Switch next year. This was the game that basically put the nail in Nintendo’s coffin back in the day. FF7 started life an a Nintendo 64 game, but moved over to PlayStation after Nintendo decided to stick with cartridges instead of moving to CDs, basically making the game Square wanted to make at the time an impossibility. They even ran ads about the fact that the game wouldn’t be possible on the Nintendo 64. Square and Nintendo eventually made up, and plenty of Final Fantasy games have made their way to Nintendo’s systems (particularly handhelds) since, but VII has managed to never find its way to the big N in any shape or form, until now. I’m not even a fan of the game, but if they release a physical copy, I would absolutely buy it simply because it represents just how much different things are for Nintendo these days. Well that, and the humor of having Final Fantasy VII on a cartridge.
Seeing this game on a cartridge after this ad would be pretty sweet.
What sets the Switch apart from the Wii is not just that the consoles are selling, but that the games are too. And 3rd parties have taken notice. With most companies taking a “wait and see” approach to putting games on the Switch (and really, who could blame them after the Wii and Wii U?) the Switch’s library has been pretty odd. There are of course some heavy hitters, but 3rd party offerings have been mostly indie games and late ports. I’d be willing to bet that’s all going to change in the next year or so since everyone will have had plenty of time to start making their big projects work on Nintendo’s little hybrid that could, but with the landscape being what it is, maybe it’s time to see if we can’t get some of the other stuff Nintendo has missed out on over the years to come over to Switch.
First, let’s go back to the 16-bit generation and Konami’s amazing Genesis output. After some time putting their stuff almost exclusively on Nintendo’s platforms, Sega’s new found foothold in the market inspired Konami to put some serious muscle into the Genesis, and it resulted in some absolutely stellar titles. I have no hope of TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist finding its way to Switch thanks to its licensing status, but their other big games, Rocket Knight Adventures (and its sequel Sparkster), Contra: Hard Corps, and of course, Castlevania: Bloodlines, have all never found their way to Nintendo systems. A sequel to Rocket Knight Adventures appeared on SNES, and the Contra and Castlevania brands have never really been strangers to Nintendo owners, but these specific iterations have been lost in time ever since. With the Sega Genesis Collection on Switch announcement still missing these titles, it’s past time Konami got these games back in the hands of gamers, and the Switch is the place to do it.
Richter is amazing. His Smash appearance needs some more context.
Speaking of Castlevania, as a long-time Nintendo fan, it wasn’t Final Fantasy VII that made me finally break and buy a PlayStation, it was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and to this day, that masterpiece of a game has never graced any flavor of Nintendo platform. The game even got an enhanced port on the Sega Saturn, but it’s never been ported to Nintendo. Instead, the Nintendo 64 wound up with the less than stellar (and stupidly named) Castlevania and (less stupidly named) Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness. After that, Nintendo gamers wound up with arguably the best Castlevania has to offer on the GBA and DS, but SOTN just never happened. It’s past time for that to change. With Richter and Alucard appearing in the new Smash Bros., there’s never been a better time to get their games in the hands of Nintendo fans. There’s even rumors of a “Castlevania Requiem” coming to PS4 containing Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood. Konami would be crazy, absolutely crazy, to not bring that collection to Switch.
Then we have Chrono Cross. This one doesn’t just need to come to Switch, it needs to find a home everywhere. Chrono Cross wasn’t exactly what any of us wanted as a follow up to the absolutely incredible (and always associated with the SNES) Chrono Trigger, but it was a pretty great game on its own. This title needs the HD treatment, even if it’s just a basic upscaling. Nintendo fans LOVE Chrono Trigger, and I’d be willing to bet not a small number of them have never played Cross because it’s basically relegated to PS1. It deserves a remaster, and it should be on Switch. Then someone should make a third Chrono game because Chrono Trigger is amazing.
The idea of portable Portal is very enticing.
The Portal games are some of the very best ever made by anyone on any platform. They’re masterpieces, both of them. They would certainly fit right in on Nintendo consoles (as proven by the recent and awesome Bridge Constructor: Portal). But they’re currently locked on PC and last-generation consoles. There’s no modern port of either Portal or Portal 2, and that is a travesty. Like Chrono Cross, I don’t just want these games on Switch, I want them on every console forever. They’re classics that should be played by everyone. But especially on Switch. They would be such a perfect fit for the system.
Lara Croft has flirted with Nintendo a number of times over the years, but when the series rebooted itself in 2013 with the excellent Tomb Raider, Nintendo’s platforms were nowhere to be found. But with the first two games in this trilogy running on Xbox 360, there shouldn’t be much of a reason they can’t come over to Switch. Nintendo fans love Lara (at least I think they do) and those new Tomb Raider games would be outstanding to play on the go.
Similarly, the Kingdom Hearts franchise has more than just flirted with Nintendo, they’ve had exclusive installments on their handhelds. Those games have all been ported in various HD collections over the years, but they all started life on Nintendo’s platforms. Still, none of the numbered Kingdom Hearts titles have come to Nintendo, and that’s complete insanity to me. That series has Nintendo written all over it. Can you imagine how many people would buy the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX collections on Switch? Kingdom Hearts III looks beautiful and all, but it doesn’t seem like something that wouldn’t still look pretty amazing on Switch. Am I nuts? It’s weird that the Kingdom Hearts series proper hasn’t landed on any Nintendo plstforms already, right?
I could really do this all day, rattling off stuff like modern Street Fighter games, a Metal Gear collection, Legacy of Kain, Marvel vs. Capcom, and more, but instead I’ll end on Sega, because if you’re an old schooler, there was nothing quite like the Nintendo/Sega rivalry. When Sega went 3rd party and we got our first glimpse of Sonic Advance, the video game world seemed upside down. Sonic showed up in Smash Bros. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games spawned multiple sequels. Other Sega franchises landed on Nintendo platforms too, including a humongous catalog of Master System and Genesis titles on their Virtual Console service. But a few of their games skipped over Nintendo (and PlayStation for that matter) and I for one think it’s time that was rectified. Jet Set Radio Future, Shenmue II, Toe Jam & Earl III, Crazy Taxi 3, and Panzer Dragoon Orta were all Xbox exclusives, and each one of them is well worth playing, even today. Shenmue I and II were recently re-released on Xbox One and PS4, but not Switch. Shenmue really seems like something Nintendo fans would go nuts for. Jet Set Radio Future, and the Dreamcast original too for that matter, have a huge cult following and would fit right at home on Switch. Toe Jam & Earl are coming to Switch later this year with the awesome-looking Back in the Groove, and the first 2 games hit the Virtual Console service back in the day. The third game is the only one modern gamers don’t really have access to, and really, what’s stopping them? The Crazy Taxi games should absolutely be collected and packaged for sale because they’re fast, stupid fun. Perfect for portable play on Switch. But finally, and most importantly, Panzer freaking Dragoon. Orta would probably be the easiest thing to upscale to HD and port over, but if I’m being completely honest, that whole series needs the HD remaster treatment, especially Saga, and it all needs to land on the Switch. That franchise is incredible, and I think it would finally find the audience it deserves were it to land in the hands of Switch owners. We love our rail shooters. Heck, it’s all we’ve wanted out of a Star Fox game since the Nintendo 64 era. And traditional RPGs most certainly have a home on Switch. Just look at how well Octopath Traveler and Ys VIII are doing. An HD remake of Panzer Dragoon Saga would be amazing, and it landing on Switch would be absolutely perfect. Sega’s got a ton of great franchises ripe for remastering and reimagining on Switch (Burning Rangers, Comix Zone, Skies of Arcadia, etc) but Panzer Dragoon is at the top of my list. Someone needs to make it happen.
How has this game been so unattainable for so long?
Yes, there are folks out there who want every game ever on Switch. I can’t say i’m not one of them, but there are some I want more than others. Of course I want to see big new games hit the system more than ports, but I honestly think both can coexist, and for a lot of people, many of these games are brand new experiences waiting to be had. With Final Fantasy VII making its way to Nintendo, anything is possible. I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see what the future holds. But there’s no denying just how weird it feels being in this position. It’s been such a long time since my console of choice has had this incredible a backlog of games for me to get through, and honestly, it feels pretty good.