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GoNintendo Thought: A tribute to Pac-Man on his 40th anniversary

Happy 40th, Pac!

I couldn't let Pac-Man's 40th anniversary pass by without a few kind words. The industry owes a lot to what that little guy achieved! Hopefully my words do the iconic character justice. As always, thanks for reading

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The video games of today are endlessly complicated beasts. Putting them together takes teams of hundreds, if not thousands of people. The mechanics behind them are multi-layered and include tons of moving parts. The visuals are pushing the limits of what today's hardware can do. Storylines are multi-faceted and nuanced, filled to the brim with a variety of characters and personalities. Even the controllers we use for these games are daunting; jam-packed with more buttons than we have fingers.

Seeing how far we've come compared to 40 years ago is pretty crazy. An insane amount of progress has been made in those 40 years, with technology and developers moving at a breakneck speed. Hardly any other entertainment industry has seen such huge advancements in a relatively short amount of time. That evolutionary machine of hardware and software is only going to keep churning, giving us games that are more complex, visually impressive, and impossibly huge.

Is the push forward towards new gaming horizons a good thing? In a lot of ways it is, as its important for the industry to move ahead in order to see what's possible. Be it a new idea or new hardware, the next best thing could end up becoming a major milestone for the industry, showing us a path to the future. These innovations and expansions pave the way for other big ideas, more ingenuity, and things we've never thought possible in the world of gaming. With that said, there's one element from early games we better make sure is never lost.

Here on May 22nd, 2020, the 40th anniversary of Pac-Man, it's important to look back on where the game industry was all those years ago. Technology was extremely limited compared to what we can achieve today. If you wanted a game that looked or sounded "real," you had to envision it in your dreams. The industry just wasn't capable of providing those types of experiences at the time. That said, a game like Pac-Man did something that a lot of today's games fail to remember. For all the pretty visuals and sophisticated content, all the gameplay mechanics and impressive sound, some games forget to put fun above all else. That's something Pac-Man had in spades, and still has to this day.

You don't need a super-complicated idea to create something fun. It's certainly true that big, branching gameplay ideas can lead to an amazingly fun experience. We've seen plenty examples of that throughout the years. The thing is, back in the days of Pac-Man, fun had to be the focus of games. Visuals were rudimentary, sound was literally one-note sometimes, and the hardware powering games was limited in what it could do. This gave developers an extremely small amount of room to create something that could entertain players. It takes a lot of talent to work up something enjoyable in such a limited environment, but Namco managed to do just that.

The ideas at play in Pac-Man couldn't be any simpler. You're a character stuck in a maze, and all you have to do is eat up pellets. Steer Pac-Man through the maze, and avoid the evil ghosts that are out to try and get you. If one of the ghosts touches you, it's game over. Outside of your reflexes, the only other option you had to keep Pac-Man alive were Power Pellets, which could be gobbled up to give Pac-Man ghost-busting power. Throw in some fruit scattered around a map for bonus points, and that's pretty much it. You have the entirety of Pac-Man's gameplay described in a single paragraph.

Pac-Man may be extremely simple by every sense of today's standards, but it nailed the one thing that's more important than any other. The game is really fun...the addictive kind of fun. You plop in one quarter and you see how far you can make it. Eventually you lose all your lives and you hit the Game Over screen. You sit there, staring at the darkness, and you feel a thought creep into your head. You consider pumping in one more quarter because you know you could make it a little further. You could do a little better and lock in a high score. You could move a little quicker and see what the next level has to offer. In all its simplicity and ease of play, you've become hooked.

I want to stress that today's games are extremely fun as well. There are hundreds of games each year that work their way into player's daily lives, and they provide a ton of joy. Developers work their butts off to create experiences that bring smiles to faces and get people talking, and many of them do a fantastic job with that. There's an unbelievable amount of fun and engaging content to play in today's industry, and more is sure to come. With all that said, you really have to marvel at what Pac-Man pulled off 40 years ago with such a limited set of tools. What's even more impressive is that we're still talking about Pac-Man to this very day, which is what every developer and publisher hopes to achieve with their games. A very limited few hit that mark, which only elevates Pac-Man's status higher.

With Pac-Man, Namco created something timeless. It provides a fun experience no matter what the generation is. Some games are very much the product of their generation, be it through the tech powering it, or the gameplay mechanics used. They're found to be fun by millions at one time, but then the titles lose their luster as time marches on. Pac-Man, for forty years now, continues to find woo players and keep them engaged. It goes to show just how perfect the original play mechanics are, and how a laser-focus on fun can create something that survives for ages.

While there have been a huge amount of Pac-Man spin-offs over the years, Bandai Namco continues to return to Pac-Man's classic play-style to attract gamers. That's because the gameplay of original Pac-Man nailed it the first time around. Take a look at something like Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 Plus on Switch. Compared to the original Pac-Man, Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 Plus has greatly enhanced visuals, a huge jump in sound, online connectivity for high scores, and many other tweaks. When it comes to the gameplay though, things are very much the same as the original Pac-Man. There may be bigger mazes or a few new gimmicks on stages, but by and large, Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 Plus offers a very similar experience to what we got 40 years ago. It's refined and reworked to be sure, but the heart of Pac-Man beats loudly in that game.

You also can't beat the ease of play with Pac-Man, which is yet another reason why the game remains as popular today. Anyone can pick up and play Pac-Man. All you need is a method of movement and you're pretty much done. Grab the joystick and move up, down, left, and right. There's really nothing else to it. That ease of play does a wonderful job in eliminating a barrier for non-gamers. Today's controls and control schemes can be downright impossible for someone who doesn't play games, leading to a fear of giving games a chance altogether. Put that same person in front of Pac-Man, and you can have them on their way in a matter of seconds.

These are the reasons why Pac-Man continues to remain popular 40 years later. It's easy to play, both in terms of gameplay mechanics and controls. It offers up a great challenge, especially the longer you play. It creates an addictive gameplay loop, pushing you to give it one more try after a Game Over. It really is one of the few examples of a 'perfect' game, if there ever could be such a thing.

Great game design is absolutely timeless, remaining fun no matter how many years have passed since its debut. Throw in ease of play via controls and you have something really magical. A game that anyone can play and enjoy, no matter the skill level. Creating something like that is absolutely magical, and it really doesn't happen often at all. Pac-Man may be 40 years old, but he's not showing his age one bit. The core Pac-Man experience still provides thrills, laughs, smiles, and flat-out fun. It achieved something that very few games ever will. It has stood the test of time, and nothing is ever going to take it down.

GoNintendo Thought: What is keeping Netflix off the Switch?

Tuning out

I've been meaning to write about this one for awhile now. Such an odd situation, and there has to be more to the story than we know. I'd love to get some insight into this one. It's one of the big Switch mysteries! As always, thanks for reading.

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The Switch has become quite a success, most recently hitting 55 million units sold worldwide. Nintendo has to be extremely happy with how the Switch has done, and the platform no doubt has multiple years ahead of it. There are already thousands of games on the platform, with countless others being added every single week. There's no doubt that every single Switch owner has a deluge of content to enjoy, so long as they're willing to jump around the Switch eShop or Nintendo.com to find what's available.

What about when those Switch owners don't want to play games, though? For at least a decade now, many have looked to gaming platforms as makeshift media hubs, where they can turn to watch all sorts of streaming content. Sometimes you don't want to play a game, and you'd rather kick back with the family and watch a TV show or movie. There are indeed options for that kind of content on Switch, but for some reason, a major part of that puzzle is missing.

Even before the Switch released, fans were wondering what sort of streaming services would become available on the platform. The question of Netflix coming to Switch popped up pretty much instantly. When fans and the gaming press started to dig a little deeper, you could see the situation was looking a little murky. It seemed no one could provide a straightforward answer as to whether or not Netflix would come to the platform. That was launch though, and many expected things to be ironed out within the first year.

Here we are 3+ years into the Switch's lifespan, and there is not a single hint of Netflix coming to Switch. In an age when streaming services seem to pop up every month, Netflix still remains the king. They're the go-to streaming service that even your parents know about and watch. It's the big guy on the market that caused a big shift in traditional TV viewing and started to worry cable companies. It's the company that put the wheels in motion for the streaming service onslaught that we're being hit with now. Not having the world's biggest streaming service on Switch feels like such a missed opportunity.

The more you dig into the situation, the stranger things get. Take a look at Nintendo's recent hardware and Netflix availability. We first saw things kick off with Netflix on Wii, which required a physical disc to get things going. It wasn't the best option, but it worked for millions of Wii owners for quite a long time! Netflix also came to the Wii U, Nintendo's ill-fated Wii follow-up. The platform didn't really get much love from traditional game companies, but Netflix was there to make a good showing. Netflix even became available on the 3DS, which seems like the platform least suited to what Netflix offered, but it came over regardless. All those platforms were supported by Netflix, yet it's nowhere to be seen on Switch. Why in the world is that?

The messaging from both Nintendo and Netflix is mixed at best. Nintendo spouts their usual line about streaming services when asked about Netflix, saying the apps are "generally developed by the service providers and not Nintendo." Not really an answer to why the service isn't there, but that's standard Nintendo. When it comes to Netflix, we've seen the company say there are no plans for Netflix on Switch, only to follow that up multiple times by saying they are interested and have been "exploring the opportunity." Basically you get every answer under the sun, but none of them give a clear picture as to what's going on.

The most confusing response on the situation came from Scott Mirer, Netflix vice president of device partner ecosystem back in 2018. When Mirer was asked about Netflix on Switch, he had this to say.

“In the case of the Switch, they [Nintendo] were very focused at launch not on video-use cases, but on gaming cases, video was not a priority for them. Whether that changes over time, we have a great relationship with them and look at the possibility of [supporting] the Switch. We each have opportunity cost around that, but at some point, it might happen.”

That statement would make sense if the Switch existed in a bubble, but it doesn't. This statement was made after Hulu had already released their app on Switch. As far as I can tell, Hulu came to Switch sometime in November of 2017, and the statement above came from March 2018. While Nintendo may have focused on gaming first on Switch at the get-go, they clearly are okay with some streaming services coming to Switch. While Hulu isn't as popular as Netflix and the content it provides is slightly different, there's no doubt it's one of the streaming superpowers. If Hulu can be on Switch, why does Netflix have to be left behind?

There's another tiny wrinkle to the story that adds in a bit of irony. While Netflix's streaming service isn't available on Switch, games based on their properties are. Switch has played host to games based on Stranger Things, Narcos, The Dark Crystal, and more are on the way. We've even seen some of those games hit Switch before they went to other platforms. Whatever is causing Netflix proper to keep their service off Switch certainly isn't an issue when it comes to their video game branch.

It's a truly odd situation. Looking at statements made and the lack of support, you'd have to think there's some kind of bad blood here. Something that happened behind the scenes that irked Nintendo or Netflix. Perhaps Netflix tried to get on Switch day one and couldn't, and when they saw Hulu hit Switch first, they decided to take their business elsewhere. It would certainly be a petty decision if true, but that's 100% my own speculation. It just seems so weird for Netflix not to be available after a string of supported Nintendo platforms. I'm absolutely convinced there's some negativity behind the scenes that we're just not privy to.

Will Netflix ever come to the Switch? It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility, but it seems more unlikely now than ever. If Netflix hasn't done it by now, what would convince them to do it? They've already heard from a large group of Switch owners who want the service, and that wasn't enough to overcome any unknown issues or push them to deliver. It's definitely more of a "fingers crossed" situation at this point. A lovely surprise if it came over, but no one is holding their breath.

People today have numerous devices where they can stream Netflix to their heart's content. From other consoles to digital media players, smart TVs to mobile phones, there are plenty of options to pick from. Chances are if you have a Switch, you have another device that can play Netflix as well. It might not provide the versatility of a Switch version, but it is what it is. I guess for Netflix, that's good enough for now.

GoNintendo Thought: Could Switch be the platform to help Pikmin find next-level success?

Plucked from obscurity

We saw the Paper Mario rumor come true last week, so why not focus on another rumor that's been making the rounds lately? Is Pikmin going to make its way to Switch in the near future? We certainly hope so, and would love to see it find some success. As always, thanks for reading.

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Nintendo is known as having some of the strongest franchises in gaming. Mario is a household name that rivals the popularity of Mickey Mouse. The Legend of Zelda is a franchise that gamers far and wide know, and recent installments have set new sales records. Pokemon is an unbelievable phenomenon that has been crushing it for over 20 years now. These are mega franchises that continue to drive Nintendo's sales into the stratosphere, and bring in new fans at every turn.

Now not every franchise can be a mega-hit. For every big-name brand, there's other characters and series' that still bring in the money, but on a smaller scale. Pilotwings is a perfect example, as hardcore Nintendo fans know and love the franchise, but it's not something the wider base of Nintendo followers are all that into. The same goes for something like Chibi-Robo, which definitely has a group of players that truly appreciate it, but it's not bringing in fans by the millions. While these franchises are still important to round out a portfolio, they seem quite unlikely to top the sales charts in the future.

Then there's a franchise like Pikmin, another of Nintendo's titles that hardcore fans know of, but gamers in general might not be aware, or have any interest in it. Pikmin is indeed a strange one when it comes to attention, as it's definitely bigger than Chibi-Robo, but it's not anywhere near the success of Kirby, Metroid, and so on. It floats somewhere in the Nintendo ether, bouncing back and forth between popular and ignored. While not a completely unknown by any stretch, Pikmin has never gotten a major moment in the gaming spotlight. The question is, will that ever happen?

When you take a look back at Pikmin's history, you can see why the franchise has struggled to find footing among Nintendo's biggest and brightest brands. The series debuted on the GameCube, which was a platform beloved by millions, but it certainly didn't amass a major install base. As we've seen with other Nintendo platforms, the size of the install base for a console/portable can really limit the reach of a game, and unfortunately for Pikmin, it didn't have the best vault into the gaming market. A sequel to Pikmin followed up on the GameCube later in the system's life, making for a bigger install base of potential customers, but a smaller number of gamers who were looking to buy new content for the system.

After that, Nintendo followed up the GameCube with the Wii, their most successful home console to date. The system was a bona fide hit with gamers and expanded audience alike. It was the perfect platform for Nintendo to reach audiences like they never had before. Unfortunately, Nintendo decided not to release new installments for the Pikmin franchise on the system. Instead, they created two "New Play Control" re-releases for Pikmin 1 and 2, which were pretty much the same games as on GameCube, but with a new style of control. These titles, while certainly not a flop, didn't do much to woo in new customers. Even worse, New Play Control: Pikmin 2 didn't come to North America until 2012, 3 years after it hit other regions.

Then, in the worst bit of luck yet, Nintendo decided to create a new Pikmin game for the Wii U. Pikmin 3 is an absolutely fantastic game, and it really put the Wii U's GamePad to excellent use. The game was praised by review outlets across the board, with a few calling it the series' best entry yet. Sadly, the Wii U never found any notable success when it came to hardware sales. That meant games like Pikmin 3 had a smaller pool of potential customers to pull from than ever before, which is an absolute shame.

Then there's the footnote of Hey! Pikmin, which came to the 3DS in 2017. Rather than the next true installment in the franchise, Nintendo cooked up a spin-off with Arzest. This release, while completely new, seemed to rub a large majority of people the wrong way. Those who weren't familiar with Pikmin found the game to be overly simple and repetitive. Pikmin fans who grabbed the game found it to be a restrictive and watered-down experience as compared to the main series. Not exactly the finest moment for the series according to many.

That short history brings us up to today, where fans are wondering what's next for Pikmin. There have been rumblings for a long time now about Nintendo's next release in the franchise, with Nintendo even confirming that Pikmin 4 was a thing. All the way back in 2015, Shigeru Miyamoto himself said that Pikmin 4 was "actually very close to completion." That was followed-up by a Nintendo statement in 2017 saying that the game was "in development." Whether that was a shelved project or Hey! Pikmin was never clarified, leaving fans to wonder just what on earth happened.

In recent months, the rumblings of a Pikmin game on Switch have been growing. Various corners of the internet shared stories of Pikmin being in the works for Switch, and a release not being far off. Just recently, reports have said that the Pikmin title coming to Switch will actually be Pikmin 3 Deluxe, a revamp of the Wii U entry that never got a real shot at finding an audience. Nintendo has done a number of Wii U to Switch re-releases, with almost all of them being a sizable success over the original versions. While previous rumors have been a bit iffy, the sources behind this one certainly make it seem like Pikmin 3 Deluxe is a real thing.

While Pikmin has struggled since it first launched on the GameCube, we could be nearing the perfect storm to take the franchise to the next level. The Switch is quite a success so far, and it continues to grow. Switch owners have proven that they're more than willing to grab Wii U re-releases, so there's no reason to think they wouldn't do so for Pikmin 3 Deluxe. The Switch also plays host to a larger base of traditional gamers who are definitely more likely to pick up a game like Pikmin 3 Deluxe than the expanded audience players that also own the platform. Throw in the Switch's multiple methods of input, and you could see how Pikmin 3 Deluxe on Switch could be the perfect place for the franchise to flourish.

The only thing that really stands in the way of Pikmin's success is Pikmin itself. The game is a real-time strategy/puzzle title, which isn't exactly a genre Nintendo dabbles in too often. It's also a genre that is going to be more limited in its appeal as compared to platformers or action/adventures, which is certainly where Nintendo's bread-and-butter is. The genre demands a laser focus on what you're doing, as there are real costs to your second-to-second decisions. One minute you could be wandering around in a peaceful environment collecting resources, the next you're losing 50 Pikmin in battle with a giant beast. This risk/reward approach might be appealing to some, but the gameplay mechanics could prove too stressful for others.

That's not to say Nintendo can't find a way to bring Pikmin to the forefront. Again, all it takes is a perfect storm, and we've seen that happen somewhat recently. Fire Emblem games outside of Japan were pretty much an afterthought, and any release that made it to NA/EU just didn't seem to attract much attention. Things got so dire for the Fire Emblem franchise that Nintendo was ready to call it quits, but they decided to give things one last shot. That desperation brought out Fire Emblem: Awakening, the installment that single-handedly turned Fire Emblem into a major franchise worldwide. The 3DS was the perfect platform, the changes to previously harsh gameplay mechanics enticed newcomers, and the marketing campaign was top-notch. Nintendo found that special combination of all elements to make a breakthrough installment that is still paying off to this day.

There's no reason to believe this couldn't happen with Pikmin on the Switch. If Pikmin 3 Deluxe is the real deal, it has a good shot at becoming the best-selling installment in the franchise. As stated earlier, some of the puzzle pieces are in place. The Switch is a success, customers are snatching up games, and Wii U ports are doing very well. With the right marketing push and a few quality of life changes to assuage fears, Nintendo could finally give Pikmin a bump up in their roster of franchises. If Pikmin does come to the platform, it's going to be really interesting to see how Nintendo spreads the word.

The only thing that's 100% certain about the Pikmin franchise is that it definitely deserves more attention. The games have been critically praised from day one, and they without a doubt show Nintendo's amazing attention to detail, unique approach to gameplay, and whimsy that only they can cook up. The universe is a joy to explore, the characters are equal parts adorable and intriguing, and the series provides an atmospheric experience unlike any other Nintendo titles. There is indeed a place in the market for Pikmin, and hopefully the Switch helps the series find its way.

GoNintendo Thought: Dear lord, please let PGA Tour 2K21 on Switch include motion controls

Driving the point home

Who knew I'd have reason to write about sports this week?! Not exactly my forte, but I do dabble from time to time! When it comes to golf, I'm more than willing to offer up my two cents! As always, thanks for reading.

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There is an overabundance of golf games available on the Switch. By my count, there are 14 titles on the Switch that have something to do with golf. There are a lot of mini-golf titles, as well as games that take the mechanics of golf and turn them into puzzle-style experiences. If you're looking for golf games that are 100% golf through and through, you have four titles at best. There's Arcade Archives: Golf, ACA NeoGeo Top Player's Golf, ACA NeoGeo Big Tournament Golf, and The Golf.

I've played both Arcade Archives: Golf and ACA NeoGeo Big Tournament Golf, and I really enjoy both of them. They're obviously classic releases, so they could only do so much in replicating a realistic golf experience. I'd say they're certainly more in the arcade class for golf games, and I suspect it's the same for ACA NeoGeo Top Player's Golf. As for The Golf, it seems like a budget approach to the Everbody's Golf (or Hot Shots as it used to be known) series on Playstation platforms. Doesn't look bad by any means, but not exactly something you could consider a simulation.

If you wanted simulation golf games, you had to turn to EA. They started off with PGA Tour Golf all the way back in 1990, and for a long time there, they cranked out yearly installments with Tiger Woods as the cover athlete. That takes us all the way up to 2015, when EA released Rory McIlroy PGA Tour...and then they stopped. Ever since then, EA ventured away from golf games, leaving the market wide-open for a big-name simulation competitor.

A few options did crop up in the time between 2015 and 2020, with the best ones coming from HB Studios. That company created the "The Golf Club" series of titles, which saw official partnerships with the PGA. HB Studios certainly knows their way around golf games and have created some highly praised titles that aim to be simulation-style experiences. 2K actually teamed up with HB Studios on The Golf Club 2019, and it's clear they were impressed with what the team could do. That's why they're partnering up again for PGA Tour 2K21.

The last time we had a realistic golf game on a Nintendo console was back in the Wii era. For a solid number of years, EA was putting out yearly installments of Tiger Woods games on Wii. There was even a time when the Tiger Woods games sold best on the Wii, as compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3. While the Wii outings may not have looked as good as the Sony and Microsoft counterparts, they certainly provided a gameplay experience you couldn't get on those other platforms. The Tiger Woods series on Wii let players use the Wii Remote to go through the realistic motions of swinging a golf club.

Now some people hate motion controls and others love them, but there's no denying that it makes sense to include a motion control option in a golf game. Nintendo did it right from the get-go with Wii Sports Golf, and EA obviously wanted to capitalize on that success by providing an experience that was more realistic both in terms of traditional golf, and control schemes as well. EA even included support for the Wii Balance Board to bring the immersion to a whole new level. There were plenty of games on Wii that used the Wii Remote for nothing more than waggle, but the Tiger Woods series certainly wasn't one of them.

I've been playing golf games ever since the NES, and my appreciation for them has stayed the same. Arcade-style, realistic, or somewhere in the middle, I love them all. There's just something so relaxing about playing golf games virtually. The fact that you can take it easy mentally while playing a golf game makes things so soothing. Planning out your shot, checking the wind, picking your club, lining up your aim, and so on. You're at your own pace, and there's something really methodical about it all. Taking the time to line things up perfectly and seeing a shot play out just as you wanted it such a satisfying feeling.

While I love golf games that use traditional controls, I was head over heels for the Tiger Woods series on Wii. It was, and remains to this day, the only yearly sports installment that I was actually excited about. I don't follow traditional sports, and that goes for golf as well, but I honestly love playing golf games. Having the Wii Remote as a way to more realistically interact with the game of golf seemed to good to be true. Sure, the motion controls weren't perfect, but you could work around the hiccups and have a really satisfying experience. I will never, ever forget my time with those Wii titles.

Ever since then, I've felt a void with golf games, especially on Nintendo platforms. I'm always down for retro golf and arcade-style experiences, but I still wanted something that would inch more towards the realistic side. With EA bowing out of the golf game long ago and The Golf Club series not supporting Nintendo's platforms, I was really left stuck in a rut. All I could do was sit back and wait patiently, hoping that some day a similar experience would come along. Thankfully that day has arrived, and on a Nintendo platform that seems absolutely perfect for it.

Details on the Switch version of PGA Tour 2K21 are pretty much non-existent right now. We got the first press release that confirms the game is coming over, and it also states that the Switch version is going to be digital-only at first. Other than that, it's a standard press release for all versions of the game. This actually makes sense, as 2K has done a good job of making sure their sports outings on Switch measure up features-wise with the PS4/XB1 games. There's no doubt that PGA Tour 2K21 is going to be exactly the same.

With that said, I really hope 2K and HB Studios put a little extra effort into PGA Tour 2K21 on Switch. I would imagine that everyone is thinking that along with traditional controls, the game will allow you to use a Joy-Con like a golf club. The Wii Remote did an excellent job as a golf club stand-in with the Tiger Woods series, and the Joy-Con is a much more sophisticated device when it comes to motion controls. There's no reason why PGA Tour 2K21 couldn't utilize the Joy-Con to offer up an even more realistic control experience compared to the other platforms. It seems like a no-brainer to me, and it also seems like a feature a lot of players would want. That said, we've heard nothing about it, which makes me just a tad nervous.

If PGA Tour 2K21 releases and somehow doesn't have motion controls, I'm going to consider it an absolutely huge missed opportunity. I have absolutely no issue with traditional controls, but I would very much prefer to have the motion control experience. As I said, for all the companies that crapped out lackluster waggle experiences on the Wii, the Tiger Woods series showed how motion controls could truly enhance some games. I have no doubt that PGA Tour 2K21 would be a better game with motion controls than without. Obviously motion controls won't matter for portable players, but to ignore the docked players because of the portable player base would be a travesty.

Outside of the worry about motion controls, it will still be extremely nice to have a simulation golf game on the Switch. While the Switch has its sports games, the library isn't as big as it is on other platforms. Things are getting better as we move forward, as you can find simulation basketball, soccer, tennis, baseball, and a few others in the mix. Still, having another major outing with PGA Tour 2K21 will go a very long way on the platform. Its something Nintendo fans haven't had in an extremely long time, and will certainly make the platform that much more appealing to newcomers.

What we do know for sure is that PGA Tour 2K21 is in capable hands. HB Studios has proven themselves extremely knowledgeable when it comes to golf, and they also have shown that they have the skills to make a great golf game. They've done it multiple times in the past, and they'll no doubt do it again here. That said, this is the highest profile golf game under their belt yet. This could be the debut of a yearly series for 2K, and the naming certainly indicates that. It looks like 2K is betting big on golf becoming a yearly heavy-hitter for them, so this debut outing needs to really drive it home.

Will the Switch version have motion controls? Is HB Studios handling the Switch versions themselves? Will all the bells and whistles be on Switch? Are we going to run into another debacle similar to WWE 2K18? There's still plenty of questions to ask and things to consider, but I remain cautiously optimistic. I honestly believe that PGA Tour 2K21 could end up being a killer app for the system, so long as it's taken seriously. Tiger Woods more than left its mark on the Wii, and Wii owners were happy to support that series in droves. Could the same happen with PGA Tour 2K21 and the Switch? We'll find out come August 21st, 2020.

GoNintendo Thought: Remembering Super Mario RPG on its 24th anniversary

The birth of a new genre for Mario

I wrote this feature late last night. Turned out to be really great timing on my part! That's the second time this has happened with my 'Thoughts' features. Do I have magical prediction powers?! I better choose my next topic wisely! As always, thanks for reading.

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I will never forget the months leading up to Super Mario RPG's launch in 1996. I was just 14 back then, but I was already a lifelong Nintendo fan. I followed Nintendo and their adventures across their various hardware, and couldn't wait to see what was next for the company's biggest names. That of course included Mario, as I was always eager to see what the plumber's next big game would be.

That's when I found out about Super Mario RPG...and my heart sunk. This wasn't going to be a traditional Mario game or even a standard spin-off. This was a foray into a completely different genre for Mario, as Nintendo and Squaresoft were partnering up to make an RPG. 14-year-old RMC was absolutely terrified of RPGs back then. Playing games where you had no direct control over your movement in battle, and you had to fight using menus?! How in the world could that ever work?!

I had not played a single RPG up to that point in my life, save for a very quick spurt with The Final Fantasy Legend on Game Boy. My cousin got the game as a gift, and he had no idea how to play it. He turned to me for some advice, and I was completely lost. I vividly remember staring at the screen and having no idea what to do. What were all these menus? Why was there so much text? How do I move and fight back!?

This is why I broke into a cold sweat when I first found out about Super Mario RPG. I had played every Mario game up to that point, as any self-respecting Nintendo fan would! That said, Mario hadn't ever been in an RPG before! I honestly didn't know what to do. Was this going to be the first Mario game I didn't play? Was Nintendo going to turn Mario games into RPG-only affairs going forward? It was quite a scary time for me!

I followed every single bit of coverage for Super Mario RPG that came out after that point. Obviously that came from magazines back in the day. I would read blurbs about the game's mechanics, new features, and everything else. The Final Fantasy series was mentioned countless times, and each time I came across it I became more nervous. This really might be the first Mario game that I just wouldn't be able to play.

After a lot of soul-searching, I decided I would give the game a shot when it came out. I owed it to myself as a Nintendo fan, and I owed it to Mario as well! That said, I wasn't going to ask for the game as a gift or trade in other games to get it. I was too afraid that I would be mentally unable to play the game, not being smart enough to comprehend what was going on. I decided I would wait for my local video game rental store to stock the title, and then I'd grab it for a week and try my best.

After a bit of patience on my end, the day arrived. I went to the rental store with my parents and ran to the game section, as I always did. Sitting on the shelf was one copy of Super Mario RPG. I studied the box intensely, still unsure if I wanted to take the plunge. After weighing the decision a million times over, I decided to pluck the box off the shelf and bring it up to my parents. I had sealed my fate, and I was diving into a whole new world that I knew I wasn't ready for.

I can't lie...my first few hours with Super Mario RPG were extremely rough. I was trying my hand at completely new type of game for the very first time! I was used to running and jumping on enemies, having complete control over my character, and being able to move away from enemy attacks. Super Mario RPG was like learning a foreign language. It just seemed to make no sense to me.

My first major hurdle in the game came from Croco, who comes up within the first half-hour of the game. To this very day, I remember getting killed by him over and over...and over. I honestly can't remember what I was doing wrong, but I know that he was taking me out almost instantly. Hell, I was having trouble getting to him, let alone having enough health to take him on! After hours of trying, I honestly thought that this was the end for me. I just wasn't capable of playing Super Mario RPG, and RPGs in general weren't for me. They just didn't click, and sadly, I wouldn't be able to accompany Mario on his next adventure.

After giving the game a rest for a day, I decided to start fresh. I wanted to clear my mind and come at things from a different perspective. I went back and re-read some magazine snippets and tried my best to take my time and really understand what was going on. Even though I knew struggles were ahead, I wanted to take another whack at things.

The second time around went...better. It wasn't perfect by any means, but I did end up getting past Croco. I kid you not, I felt like the king of the world when I took him down. I remember throwing my fists in the air and cheering to myself with a huge smile on my face. That lasted for a few seconds, and then reality set in. If I had that much trouble with Croco, who is the first hurdle in the game, how in the world was I going to be able to tackle what was ahead?

Soon enough, I was met with an even greater challenge. I made my way to Mack, and he made Croco seem like the easiest battle ever. I couldn't believe how long the battle with Mack would go on for, and I saw no possible way to get past him. The day before, I thought Croco would be the end of me. Fast-forward a day, and Mack had me wishing that I were fighting Croco again. How in the world did people play RPGs and get anywhere?! This seemed like absolute torture to me!

I went through the same process over and over again. I would try to beat someone, feel like they were impossible, and then take a break for a day. I'd come back the next day refreshed and with a cooler head. This helped me to make progress, albeit very slowly. Back in those days, RPGs definitely were far outside of the realm of what I was comfortable with, but I was learning. Anyone watching me play would have required the patience of a saint, but thankfully, I was going the adventure alone. I stumbled at every opportunity, but I kept getting back up.

I convinced my parents to let me keep the game for a week longer than initially planned, and they obliged. I kept cranking away at the game, understanding it a little bit better, and gaining a minor appreciation for how everything played out. I was still scared the entire time I played, and I struggled everywhere you possibly could, but I was compelled to push on. Even though I didn't consider Super Mario RPG as much fun as a 'regular' game, I couldn't deny that it had its hooks in me.

By the time the end of my second week came, I had made it up to Monstro Town. I think that's a little less than halfway through the game, which just goes to show how much trouble I had playing it. I spent time with Super Mario RPG every single day I rented it, but that still wasn't enough to get me more than almost halfway. Still, I had finally cracked the seal on my RPG vacuum. I was learning how the genre worked, and finally understood why people enjoyed the style of gameplay. While I wasn't chomping at the bit to play Final Fantasy, I at least could see how people were intrigued by it.

I'm really glad I put time into Super Mario RPG all those years ago, even if I didn't beat it on my initial playthrough. I would eventually wrap up the game many years later, thanks to a used copy I picked up. Still though, playing Super Mario RPG was the right decision on my part, because Nintendo would indeed return to the RPG genre. Super Mario RPG left such a mark with players and Nintendo themselves, which is why the Big N would eventually return to create a Mario RPG of their own.

While Nintendo and Squaresoft had a falling out for numerous years after, their pairing gave us Super Mario RPG, which would definitely define at least one of the paths ahead for Nintendo. Nintendo got to work on their own Mario RPG a few years later, which they initially dubbed Super Mario RPG 2. That name got dropped before launch, as Nintendo decided to go with a name more fitting of the game's style. That title ended up being Paper Mario, which launched a whole new series of RPGs for Nintendo that continues on to this day.

You have to think that Super Mario RPG also paved the way for the Mario and Luigi series, which is quite close to the SNES original as well. Yet again, another RPG series for Mario that proved to be extremely popular for Nintendo, and has received multiple installments throughout the years. Even with all of its innovations and changes over the years, you can definitely see how the Mario and Luigi series was inspired by what Squaresoft and Nintendo did on the Super Nintendo.

Without Super Mario RPG, who knows what would have happened? Would Mario have ever dabbled in the RPG side of things, or would he have continued on with traditional outings, and sports/racing spin-offs? We'll obviously never be able to know for sure, but I'm happy that we live in the timeline where Super Mario RPG is a thing. It showed that Mario could be the star in a completely new type of game, and Nintendo fans were willing to follow him there. It birthed a long-running series of spin-offs that have sold millions upon millions. Super Mario RPG let us get to know Mario better than ever before, and all the RPGs since have done the same in expanding the universe.

Nintendo has had countless milestone games in their history. Titles that really helped usher in new eras in the video game industry. Games like Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are always thrown around as titles that changed the landscape. Those experiences are definitely deserving of that title, but I think Super Mario RPG is as well. While it may not have been a mind-blowing revolution for the RPG genre, there's no denying how hugely influential and important it was to Nintendo themselves. Without that game, there's little doubt the entire Mario landscape would look very different.

GoNintendo Thought: The pressure on Retro Studios with Metroid Prime 4 is immense

Metroid Prime 4 is likely the most high-profile game Nintendo fans are waiting to see, outside of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2. There's a LOT of pressure on Retro to deliver, and I thought I'd take a dive into that. As always, thanks for reading.

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Nintendo fans are always eager to see what the Big N is doing next with their franchises. Nintendo has built an unbelievable library of software over the last 40+ years, and they somehow always seem to deliver. There's a reason why Nintendo's characters are beloved and long-running. Nintendo and their partners put an ungodly amount of time and care into these experiences, making sure they're not only fun to play, but that they also feel like a Nintendo game. Whatever that magic behind-the-scenes formula is works, and Nintendo continues to wow fans with sequels to this day.

There's always pressure on any developer when coming up with a title, but things are a little different when it comes to Nintendo. More often than not, devs are working with franchises that have been growing for decades now, and have received some of the highest marks and rewards the industry has to offer. The weight of that success has to weigh quite heavy on all involved when a new installment is being cooked up. Nintendo often does a lot of the heavy lifting themselves, but they also partner up with a select few companies to help them achieve things they might not be capable of on their own. Case in point, Nintendo's second party partner, Retro.

As far as gaming goes, Retro really hasn't been around super long. They came into existence in 1998, and they officially hooked up with Nintendo to work on Metroid Prime in 2000. That said, Retro certainly proved that they were up to snuff when it came to developing. Working alongside Nintendo, they created the Metroid Prime series, which is one of the most highly-praised and lauded runs in Nintendo's history. Nintendo themselves said that Metroid Prime wasn't something they felt they could tackle on their own, and they wanted a Western dev to work with to achieve the next step for the Metroid series. Right out of the gate, Retro proved they could be that partner, and set an incredibly high standard for themselves.

Ever since, Retro has been doing phenomenal work. They continued to work with the Prime series to create two more stellar installments, and then shifted things over to the Donkey Kong Country series. While Metroid Prime took Samus in a new direction, Donkey Kong Country Returns was the return to a classic gameplay formula for Nintendo. Once again Retro took the reigns, and what they cranked out was beyond impressive. While Retro proved they could head in a bold new direction with the Prime series, their work on Donkey Kong Country titles showed they could not only emulate past experiences to great success, but innovate with them as well. Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze not only feel like the classic DKC series, they actually surpass the classics in some ways. Nailing that feeling while providing new experiences, all while not breaking the vibe...it's ridiculously impressive work from Retro.

Metroid and Donkey Kong...that's the body of work from Retro so far. They've done a bit of work here and there for Nintendo on other titles, but haven't taken the lead on a project since Tropical Freeze launched. Many have been eager to see what Retro could do with something brand new, or perhaps how they could innovate with another classic Nintendo franchise. For awhile there, we got to speculate on what Retro could be doing next, as things were extremely quiet. We still aren't quite sure what Retro was doing for a number of years there, but we certainly know what they're doing now. Retro is returning to the Metroid series for another Prime installment, and it's likely going to be their most anticipated and important title ever.

Nintendo was trying out something experimental with the development of Metroid Prime 4, and it just didn't pan out. In a very surprising move for Nintendo, they released a video statement on the game's development. Rather than hiding the behind-the-scenes troubles, Nintendo confirmed that Metroid Prime 4 needed to be completely retooled from the beginning. The project would start fresh once more, and Nintendo was bringing Retro in to pick up the mantle once again. This was met with an absolutely huge groundswell of support from fans, as they'd been dying to see the Prime series continue with its original developers.

This is where things get interesting, though. Yes, Retro has worked on three Metroid Prime titles, but that was Retro as of 2007. Its been 13 long years since Retro created a new installment in the Metroid Prime series, and the company has seen a lot of turnover since those days. Countless devs who were instrumental in creating the Prime installments have since moved on to other companies, and in some cases, even opened their own studios. There are still some developers within Retro who were a part of those Prime games, but by and large, Metroid Prime 4 is going to be the creation of a Retro that's in flux.

Could the new Retro tackle this project with ease? Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is proof positive that a more recent Retro Studios is more than capable of creating a AAA experience. Again, there's sure to be a number of employees who've left the company since Tropical Freeze's days, but it does give us a more recent snapshot of the company. There's talent there, and with Nintendo's guidance and oversight, there's a very good shot they could crank out a 4th installment in the Prime series that really wows. That said, there's another element to this saga that needs to be addressed, and it's the one that really piles on the pressure.

Back in 2010, Nintendo released Metroid: Other M, which was a collaboration with Team Ninja. Metroid: Other M was a bold departure from the Prime series of games in just about every way. The gameplay took things back to a more 2D-style approach, albeit with plenty of 3D areas to explore. Gameplay was focused on quick-paced action and fancy moves, rather than the more methodical and calculated approach of the Prime games. When it came to story, Metroid: Other M was jam-packed with voiced cut-scenes and melodrama, where as most of the Prime series let the story play out through the environments and isolation aspect, with a few story beats sprinkled in.

Metroid: Other M was given lukewarm-to-good reviews by the gaming press, but that was nothing compared to the reaction from fans around the world. Longtime followers of Samus and her journeys were not happy with the game at all. While there were gripes about certain gameplay elements, it was the story aspect that really rubbed fans the wrong way. Samus went from a stoic, self-assured bounty hunter to a character that seemed extremely insecure and wishy-washy. The story itself was filled with characters that seemed at odds with the franchise before it, and it all played out as something akin to a lackluster anime. It was not the story fans wanted, it wasn't the portrayal of Samus they expected, and it left an absolutely massive black mark on the Metroid series altogether.

Regardless of how you personally feel about Metroid: Other M, there's no denying a huge backlash followed the game. That point in time for Nintendo marked a turn for Metroid that is still being felt today. With so many fans let down by Other M, they were now more eager than ever for Nintendo to provide a new installment in the Prime series. As the months went on, calls for a new Prime only grew, and fans were becoming restless. They wanted to know what Retro was up to, and why a new installment in the series hadn't been announced.

Unfortunately for Nintendo, things went from bad to worse with Samus' next game, Metroid Prime: Federation Force. After waiting 5 years for a new Metroid game, Nintendo's reveal of Metroid Prime: Federation Force took fan rage to a whole new level. Metroid Prime: Federation Force was a spin-off for the Metroid franchise that played something like a Monster Hunter game in the Metroid universe. The focus was on 4-player co-op with missions and boss battles. Fans made it extremely clear that this is not what they wanted, nor was it what they were waiting for. This release only made the calls for Prime 4 that much louder, and the rage from fans more intense.

Side note: Personally, I greatly enjoyed Metroid Prime: Federation Force. I never thought it deserved the negative backlash it received...at least not to the degree it got. I feel the reaction to that game was more about fan expectations of what should come next, rather than how the game itself was. I still feel bad the game never got a shot with some fans, but it is what it is.

While the reaction to Metroid Prime: Federation Force only served to enrage fans more, we've since seen one more Metroid game release in Metroid: Samus Returns. Again, while this wasn't the new Prime game people wanted, it was at least more of a return to form for Samus. Metroid: Samus Returns was a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus on Game Boy, and it was much improved compared to the original. It also had a lot more in the way of the atmosphere fans expect from a Metroid title. While it released a tad late in the 3DS' lifespan, those who did play the game seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. It wasn't the big fix that Metroid fans needed, but it was a nice band-aid to cover up the wound.

That journey brings us up to today. We're 13 years removed from the last Metroid Prime game, and the anger that stemmed from Metroid: Other M can still be felt. There's pressure in creating any sequel, but the amount that's flying around Metroid Prime 4 is extremely dense. I think it's safe to say there's never been more pressure on Nintendo and Retro to deliver. There was certainly concern about Metroid Prime before it came out, as it was something completely new for the series. That said, there was also excitement about the new direction, and early coverage did a ton to assuage fears. We were also living in a different time, and social media wasn't a thing. Developers didn't have a live-stream of all the anger, hate, and worries of every gamer around the world, which only intensifies the situation today.

We often wonder if games can live up to the hype. Nintendo has done an excellent job of somehow managing to meet the hype, if not surpass it time and time again. The same goes for Retro, which has knocked it out of the park with everything they've touched. Can the two sides team up once again to create a masterpiece in Metroid Prime 4? It's certainly possible, and Nintendo will no doubt make sure this next outing for Samus does a lot to repair the damaged relationship with fans. You can bet Retro will be doing their best as well, going out of their way to not just deliver the game fans want, but give us some new things we haven't even thought about. No matter how Prime 4 is received, no one will be able to say the final result comes from two teams that didn't try.

Metroid Prime 4 is easily the most important release in the Metroid series to date. What happens with the franchise from here on out is going to depend on Prime 4's success. The restarted development process is pressure enough, and would make for an interesting story in and of itself. Throw in the fan disappointment with the series in recent years and the immense amount of time that's passed, and it's hard to imagine a more stressful situation. In the eyes of most fans, Metroid Prime 4 needs to right the Metroid ship.

We'll most likely see something about Metroid Prime 4 in the not-too-distant future. That's no doubt a moment Nintendo and Retro are quite worried about. They need to show something that's absolutely pitch perfect. Until then, us fans would do well to step back, take a deep breath, and be ready to take in what we see with a level head. Hopefully whatever we're shown will wow us. It's happened before with the Metroid series, and it can certainly happen again.

GoNintendo Feature: We chat with WayForward to learn all about Shantae and the Seven Sirens!

Shake my hips and whip my hair, it's a new day!

Shantae is returning to Switch with a brand-new adventure on May 28th, 2020 entitled Shantae and the Seven Sirens. We're huge fans of the Shantae series here at GoNintendo, and we're sure you guys are too! That's why we reached out to WayForward's Matt Bozon to chat him up about the mystical genie's next outing. Check out the interview below to see what new tricks Shantae has up her non-existent sleeves this time around, and learn about some behind-the scenes tidbits you haven't heard anywhere else!

A huge thanks to Matt Bozon and the whole WayForward team for working with us on this interview. Also, another thanks to our Patreon gang for submitting a question!

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GoNintendo: We've heard that the original idea for Shantae and the Seven Sirens has been kicking around for quite some time. Why was now the time to take on this adventure?

MATT: The previous game, Half-Genie Hero, was Shantae’s first console-specific outing. So we wanted to make it a good starting point for new players who weren’t caught up on the lore. With Seven Sirens, it felt like the right time to strike out in a brand-new direction and get Shantae away from the usual sights and sounds of Sequin Land! If this is your first Shantae game, no problem...it’ll be all-new anyway! But if you’ve played all four previous games, get ready to see things shaken up a bit!

GoNintendo: Shantae and the Seven Sirens has had quite the unique release schedule, launching in two parts on Apple Arcade, and then coming to traditional platforms later. What lead to this approach?

MATT: Our goal was always to launch simultaneously on Apple Arcade, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and Windows PC. Apple had presented us with a great opportunity to be part of Apple Arcade launch. But development ran late, and since we were committed, we opted to release the Apple Arcade version in two parts. It wasn’t planned exclusivity, but more of a desire to be part of an exciting new platform. So, we’re very grateful to fans who waited patiently for the game to be completed. I hope they will be very happy with the end result!

GoNintendo: We know that Shantae makes her way through an underground city this time around, but what other unique aspects await players in this outing?

MATT: Seven Sirens is a large, interconnected world with multiple towns, much like the original Shantae game. Stand-alone labyrinths are also back, and this time the player’s transformations are instantaneous, somewhat similar to the abilities in Pirate’s Curse. Some of the monsters known to roam Sequin Land return to fill out the enemy ranks. But there are new tropical-themed ones unique to the island. This is important, because defeating monsters can cause Monster Cards to drop, which can grant Shantae a new ability. Knowing your monsters is key to maxing out or customizing Shantae’s abilities. Magical upgrades are a mix of old favorites and fresh new ideas, and transformations are all-new aquatic-themed creatures. We’ve already shown off the Dash Newt, Gastro Drill, and Bonker Tortoise. The story is very different as well. Rather than focusing on Shantae’s rivalry with Risky Boots, it revolves around Shantae’s new Half-Genie friends, and a terrifying encounter with the Seven Sirens. As with previous games, Shantae’s friends are there to add humor and hijinks, but there are intense and creepy encounters, too. The Sunken City is often a suffocating and dangerous place, and players will feel that each time they return to the welcoming warmth of the surface world. This is a very different game compared to Shantae’s past outings.

GoNintendo: What tweaks/updates can we expect in Shantae and the Seven Sirens on consoles as compared to mobile?

MATT: When the console version launches, it will bring some additional features which will also arrive on iOS, TVOS, and Mac OS. There have been many quality of life improvements, and some more animated cutscenes, too!

GoNintendo: Will Switch-specific features be utilized?

MATT: Yes, the Switch version supports HD Rumble!

GoNintendo: You're working with different composers on Shantae and the Seven Sirens than with previous installments. What led to the change-up?

MATT: That’s true. Near the end of Half-Genie Hero, WayForward audio lead Jake Kaufman left to start up a new music studio, Mint Potion! We’ve continued working with Jake and his team on Cat Girl Without Salad and Vitamin Connection! But we’ve also expanded to include new talent, like Megan McDuffee (River City Girls), and Bravewave (Bloodstained, Spidersaurs, Shantae and the Seven Sirens). In Seven Sirens, you’ll hear music by Granblue Fantasy’s Professor Sakamoto, and tracks by Maddie Lim (OK K.O!), Gaven Allen (Mummy Demastered), and Daily Chiptunes composer Mark Sparling! We can’t wait for you to hear it!

GoNintendo: What feature are you most proud of in Shantae and the Seven Sirens?

MATT: The Monster Card collecting aspect is really fun, and creates a lot of new ways to approach the game on subsequent playthroughs. Shantae’s new animal forms are also very fun, and are incredibly fast — especially when combined with certain Monster Card combinations. But, outside of the gameplay, I love the opening animation by Studio TRIGGER. I’ve probably watched it a hundred times, and just can’t get tired of it!

GoNintendo: Shantae and the Seven Sirens features animated cut-scenes, which seem to fit ridiculously perfectly with the Shantae world. Truth be told, the original animated intro for Shantae and the Seven Sirens brought a tear to my eye! What lead to this decision, and is there any chance at all we could see standalone Shantae animated shorts in the future?

MATT: Thanks! This was the result of Shantae creator Erin Bozon (Futurama), who produced remotely on our side, and Naoko Tsutsumi (Little Witch Academia) who produced Studio TRIGGER’s efforts directly. Trigger was encouraged to go wild with the designs, and what they made was truly awe-inspiring. We would not hesitate to make animated shorts, or a TV show, if the opportunity presented itself!

GoNintendo: Is there ever any desire within WayForward to take the Shantae brand and work on a spin-off? Something in a new genre, or perhaps an adventure that focuses on one of the side characters?

MATT: I’d love to do this someday. The Shantae universe has so many fun characters that it’s getting difficult to include them all in a single game!

GoNintendo: Shantae retains classic game trappings while expanding with new ideas, and getting fleshed out with gorgeous cut-ins, animated segments, and more. As the series continues to expand, what is the one core aspect that's important to retain going forward?

MATT: I find that it’s extremely important to be true to the Shantae character, and to the fans who love her. Shantae is naive, hot-headed, cheerful, shy, loud, outgoing, weak, and powerful all at the same time. And she’s always growing, searching for whatever it is she feels she must one day become. She has highs and lows, fights for what she feels is right, sometimes makes mistakes, and always promises to do her very best!

GoNintendo (Bonus Question): As a longtime Shantae fan, I would love to see the dancing mechanic return from the first game. I loved actually having to input button presses to perform a dance correctly and then transform. Why did you move away from that, and could it ever return?

MATT: We moved away from that because we received a lot of feedback after releasing the original Game Boy Color game. Some players loved platforming and adventuring, but could not play a rhythm game to save their (or Shantae’s) life. If we ever decide to remaster the original game, we’ll need to bring it back and make it something that folks less rhythmically inclined can still pull off. Sounds like a very fun challenge!

GoNintendo Thought: Why don't more games remind of where you were/what you were doing in-between play sessions?

Refresh my memory...

Writing this piece made me realize how old and lame I am. Oh well, I guess it happens to all of us. Hopefully my sentiment still resonates with a few people! As always, thanks for reading.

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Video games have come a long way since they first burst onto the scene. The first video games were experiences that could show you everything they had to offer in 5 minutes, if not less. You had one screen, one objective, and that was about it. Sure, there were exceptions to the norm, but by and large, most games were simple "high score" affairs that could be easily understood by even the most uninformed player.

As the game industry ventured forth and hardware became more powerful, developers started to stretch the limits of what was possible. Games could be sprawling, scrolling adventures instead of single-screen affairs. Game stories went from non-existent to rivaling the amount of text found in novels. Players were given multiple objectives to tackle, along with plentiful side-quests. As technology was improved and developers learned more, the limits of gaming became nearly impossible to foresee.

Fast-forward to the industry today, and games are bigger and more involved than ever before. There are certainly games in today's age that can be played in a single sitting, but by and large, the vast majority of titles offer up hours upon hours of content. Gamers didn't want to pay $60 for a 3-hour game long ago, so developers started to cram in as much content as possible, and then tack on even more through paid DLC. It's very rare to have a game nowadays where there's not enough to do, and instead, its become about the player having enough time to do it all.

I remember cranking through games like none other back in my childhood. Outside of school and a few household chores, I had a ton of free time to do as I saw fit. If I wasn't hanging with friends, I was playing games. There simply weren't enough games to keep up with my insatiable appetite. Even games that offered multiple hours of content would be done and dusted in a week, and I was already looking for the next big thing. I honestly remember being frustrated with there not being enough games to rent!

Now as a 38-year-old man, I am on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Free time is an all-time low, unfortunately. There's work and other obligations to take care of, and finding those free moments to play games is becoming harder and harder. Sadly, as much as I don't like to admit it, I sometimes lack the energy to play games as well. I absolutely love playing video games...probably more than ever, but sometimes the day is so long and you're so spent at the end of it that taking a nap/going to bed is an option too good to pass up.

I know I'm in the same boat as millions upon millions of people. There are more gamers than ever before, but so many of us lack the time/energy to really sink our teeth into an experience. Sometimes we get an hour or two during the week to play something, and then we have to hope that next week we can squeeze in another session or two. I've felt that motivation countless times. I'll think about getting through the work week just so I can have a few more hours to sit down and play a game.

If I do get to hop back into a game a few days after playing it, I consider myself extremely lucky. Sometimes it's a week or two before I can dive in again, which leads to the big problem. I can't tell you how many times I've finally found a moment or two to return to a game, and once I fire it up, I realize I have no idea what I'm doing. In a matter of days, I've completely lost all clue as to what's going on, and I'm left with very little to figure out my path ahead.

I used to hear older family members talking about this when I was a kid, and I thought they were crazy. Uncles and aunts who would be playing a game/watching a TV show/reading a book, only to have something get in the way for a few days. They'd come back to it and find themselves unable to pick things back up. They'd lost the plot somewhere along the way, no matter how much they thought they could sneak back in. It just didn't make sense to me as a child, but nowadays I can see just how dumb I was!

There are some options you can turn to in the hopes of getting back into the game, but they're not perfect. If you find that you've forgotten a game's controls, you can usually head to an options menu and get back into the groove. If you've lost your path ahead on the next objective, or have no idea what you just completed, you might be in worse shape. Sure, you could hop online and look for a FAQ/guide to help jog your memory, but sometimes that's just not enough to do it. You'll read snippets and end up even more confused than you were when you sat down.

Game developers have had the ability to fix this for years now, yet it's something that is pretty much a rarity. Some developers have taken pity on those with little free time and bad memories by including elements that recap what you were last up to. While I know there are a handful of games out there that do this, the one that comes to mind most recently is Dragon Quest XI S. I cannot tell you how helpful that feature has been.

Every time you jump back into Dragon Quest XI S, the game will give you a recap on the major things you did last time you played. There's a ton of snippets the developers wrote to chronicle the player's journey, as all players will have to go through the same main story beats to get to the end point. With that in mind, Square-Enix was able to keep track of what you last did, and feed you a refresher when you got back to the game. In just a matter of minutes, you're back up to speed with what you did, where you need to go next, and why.

This feature is an absolutely godsend, and has saved my butt countless times. There were times I would play and have plans to jump back in the next night, but three weeks would pass before I'd get a chance. It didn't matter one bit though, as I knew that reminder would be there for me when I finally had another chance to play. These little reminders took away a big fear that comes with playing games nowadays. When I do have a chance to play, I worry that the next time I come back to the game, I'll be too lost to pick it up again. Dragon Quest XI S makes sure that's never the case.

I understand not all games can have this feature, but I'd think that the vast majority could implement some aspect of this reminder. Also, while I love the feature and would like it in all games, I believe it should be an option that can be turned on or off. There are players who have plenty of time and don't have to worry about losing their place. They don't need to be reminded of what was going on, and these features would just get in their way. Let the player turn these reminders off, but make sure the data is still kept track of in the background. That way if a player does end up needing a bit of help, they can just flip a virtual switch and have their recap ready.

With so many games aiming to be more inclusive nowadays (and rightfully so), I'm shocked that we haven't seen developers addressing this issue. Free time is always at a premium, and anything that'll help me remember what I was doing gives me more time to actually play the game. With how system updates work nowadays, sometimes you don't get to actually play a game until hours after you expected to. You hate to go through all that, get the game ready to go, and then waste even more time because you're drawing a blank on what's next in gameplay goals.

It really does seem like such a simple fix, and I can only hope this feature becomes more standard as time goes on. Video games can provide hundreds of hours of gameplay, along with so many different ways to play. Sometimes it's a bit too much to ask players to remember everything they did, keep all the characters in mind, recall complex controls, and dive back in without issues. A few helpful hints and reminders could go a very long way to easing players back in, and will also make sure they're not afraid to revisit after weeks have passed. It's a quality of life feature that's long overdue, and would no doubt be applauded by the majority if included.

...and yes, I know this post makes me sound like an old man!

GoNintendo Thought: Nintendo's journey from Wii U to Switch has been amazing

A Cinderella story

Following their latest financial results, Nintendo has officially gotten themselves out of the Wii U hole and climbed back to the top of the mountain with Switch. It's been one hell of a journey, so why not look back on it? As always, thanks for reading.

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What a difference a few years makes, right? Not that long ago, Nintendo was seriously hurting when it came to the home console side of things. The Wii U failed to capture a meaningful part of the market right out of the gate, and it struggled for its entire truncated lifespan. That platform just never caught on, and really put the pressure on Nintendo to deliver something new fast. Doing something new is easy. It's doing something successful that's the hard part.

Many a Nintendo fan will say that the Big N is at its best when its back is against a wall, and Nintendo was definitely backed into a corner with the Wii U. Nintendo certainly didn't plan for the Wii U to be a flop in the market. No company would ever think that way, but the Wii U likely tanked faster than Nintendo could have ever imagined. A short lifespan and a very small library of software meant Nintendo really had to swing things back in their favor with the next hardware outing. Would Nintendo once again prove that they shine brightest in the face of adversity?

Obviously no one knew what Nintendo was going to do for a Wii U follow-up, but plenty of people were already sounding the death knell for the company in general. Another thing Nintendo fans know is that Nintendo is always doomed. No matter how many years of success they have, how many millions of hardware units they move, or how many pieces of software they sell, the Big N is always just one step away from falling into its own grave. With the Wii U really stumbling in the market, countless armchair analysts were saying Nintendo was done and dusted.

Longtime fans knew different, and figured Nintendo would be able to cook up something that could bring in a bit more appeal. They've done it before and they'll certainly do it again. Nintendo is never one to give up, and they're always ready to tackle any challenge ahead. Nintendo couldn't guarantee a success with their next piece of hardware, but you can bet they analyzed absolutely everything that happened with the Wii U and made all efforts to do the exact opposite with the Switch.

When the Switch was first revealed, there was an intense amount of excitement. That was something the Wii U never really had. Nintendo fans may have been interested in what the Wii U could do in terms of gameplay, but the larger gaming public was intrigued by the Switch's reveal. That first segment where you see the Switch taken out of its dock and the Joy-Con are attached is a real 'wow' moment. It was an instant way of showing those who ragged on the Wii U that things would be different this time. Everyone wanted the Wii U to be a system that would let you play your games on the go, rather than a system that let you move roughly 6 feet away from your TV. Within 30 seconds of its debut video, Switch showed that Nintendo was listening.

The rest of that trailer was absolutely perfect as well. We saw Nintendo exclusives like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Splatoon 2. There was footage of mainstream third party successes like NBA 2K and Skyrim. The ease of play for local multiplayer was undeniable. Nintendo even showed off a more traditional method of input with the Switch Pro Controller during an eSports segment. The trailer was slick, jam-packed with information, and brought with it an excitement that was palpable. This was the trailer Nintendo needed to get things going on the right foot.

While the sentiment from the gaming public was largely positive, there were still those who were wondering if Nintendo could pull it off. Would Nintendo actually come back from the dark days of the Wii U and have another console success? Even after the Switch trailer, there were still outliers who weren't so sure. The important thing to note is that they were indeed outliers. The majority of people who checked out the trailer were eager to learn more. They were excited by Nintendo's new games, wanted to see more about playing Skyrim on the go, and needed to know what other features this quirky system would pack in.

Before we knew it, Switch launch was upon us. Nintendo had spent months and months going over multiple aspects of the system, and they'd done all they could to convince gamers to become early adopters. Actual launch week wasn't going to be a challenge, as Nintendo's system almost always face near sell-outs at launch. That was the case for Switch, just like it was the Wii U. The real question on everyone's lips was whether or not the system would keep selling. Could Nintendo keep the momentum going when the Wii U fell so hard?

Once the system launched, the negative voices started creeping back in. Among gamers and press alike, there were complaints about a shallow launch lineup in terms of both quantity and quality. Some said the lack of plentiful launch titles showed that third parties had no interest in Nintendo again, and the system would get even less support than Wii U. Others mocked the Switch for having a collection of ports, saying no one would want to grab a new system that offered so much in the way of old content. These voices were a bit hard to get away from online in the early launch days, but they served an important reminder. Sometimes the smallest groups have the loudest voices.

The months rolled on, and the Switch seemed to be gaining more ground. Systems were still hard to find months out, and more games were trickling in. Nintendo themselves proved that they realized just how important a solid software roll-out was when it came to their own offerings. Nintendo made sure to show players what was on the way soon, and what would be hitting later in the year. The library started to take shape, and it was a veritable who's who of first party favorites. Some of Nintendo's biggest and brightest stars were getting brand-new games or revamped ports. This caused even more interest in the system, more sales overall, and more attention from all sorts of developers.

Things really started to take off when devs/pubs realized that Switch owners were eager to get their hands on content of any type. It was an audience that would gobble up a traditional RPG just as much as they would an indie platformer or visual novel. The people who owned a Switch were willing to try something new, and support those games in a big way. Whether it was a port of a previous-gen game or something brand-new for Switch, audiences were ready to dive in. More and more developers started to take note, and they moved from considering Switch support to seeing it as a must-do situation.

It seems that the Switch's most defining feature was the one that wooed countless gamers, and that holds true to this day. The ability to play on TV or on the go was something quite irresistible for gamers. Being able to take console-quality games with you to play anywhere you want was pretty staggering. This one feature made old games feel new again. People who loved playing Skyrim on their PC or console were excited to have that same experience in the palm of their hands. It was a fresh way to experience content that you knew you loved, and you could play it seamlessly on your terms. Having that versatility is something any gamer can greatly appreciate.

Nintendo's approach to Switch is still paying off today. Switch owners continue to jump in on content from any genre, leading to many Switch releases selling best among multiplatform efforts. Playing docked and undocked has become a godsend for players with busy schedules, and remains just as appealing as it was on day one. Nintendo is still cooking up new installments for their big-name franchises, while also pumping out off-beat experiences like Ring Fit Adventure and Nintendo Labo. Nintendo's entire approach to the Switch shows just how much they've learned from Wii U, while still holding onto their fiercely independent spirit.

It's pretty crazy that Nintendo saw a path forward in the Switch. Before we knew what the Switch was, plenty of people would have told you that portable gaming was dying, and no company that valued its place in the business would pursue it. As usual, Nintendo ignores the trends and does their own thing. This is always going to be a "for better or worse" situation, but this time Nintendo's decision was definitely for the better. You really have to appreciate just how willing Nintendo is to roll the dice each time, be it with new hardware or software. You never know what they'll do next.

The story of the Switch is one of redemption. Nintendo soared to unseen heights with the Wii and DS, creating to platforms that simultaneously took the world by storm. Millions of new gamers were created, and audiences widened like never before. From those great heights came the fall with Wii U. Nintendo somehow followed up one of their biggest successes with one of their most damning failures. As a fan, it truly hurt to see that happen, but we all knew Nintendo wasn't down for the count. They weren't going to give up, and they were once again ready to give things their all with the Switch. Thankfully, the Switch turned out to be the Cinderella story Nintendo needed.

The Switch can already be considered a success at this point, but there's more to come. Nintendo has other big-name games in the works, and we are probably only at the halfway point for the system. Following another 20+ million units sold in the last fiscal year, Nintendo has shown that the Switch certainly has staying power. No matter what happens from here, the Switch can always be considered a success. The question is just how high will it climb? Will it reach the high watermark of the Wii, or will it peter out towards the end like the 3DS? Time for the armchair analysts to once again debate the future. All I know for sure is that no matter where things go with Switch, I'll definitely be along for the ride.

GoNintendo Thought: The Sims franchise seems like it would be a great fit for Switch

Are you game, EA?

Another thought dedicated to EA? I had to after the comments they made! There's a glimmer of hope for honest-to-goodness support around the corner. Sure, it could be a fool's hope, but I've often said that I'm a fool. As always, thanks for reading.

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Here's a jumping point for a feature I never thought would happen. Against all odds, it seems that EA is finally going to give Switch a bit more attention. We know that Burnout Paradise: Remastered is coming to Switch in June, the Brazilian classification board recently added a listing for the original Unravel on Switch, and just hours ago, EA said they're bringing multiple titles to platform. We don't know if those 'multiple titles' include ones already mentioned or even more titles, but either way, it does seem EA is turning up their Switch release knob ever so slightly.

We want to quickly mention the situation with Crysis Remastered. While EA was indeed the publisher on the original Crysis, it seems they aren't involved with Crysis in any way, shape or form. They're not mentioned in the press release, there's no EA logo on the official art, and EA makes no mention of the game on their website.

There's always a chance that the 'multiple' reference would be EA talking about yet another barely-updated version of FIFA, but it does seem that the company is very cautiously dipping its toes into Switch waters. They've certainly taken their time to warm up to Switch, but the evidence for giving the platform a go is mounting at this point. The install base is big and ready for content, the audience is wide and willing to try out multiple genres, and the desire for EA brands is certainly there. Now all EA has to do is actually put together a Switch release with some effort behind it, and they might see some decent success.

Without a doubt, EA is going to take a long, hard look at their portfolio to see what could work on the platform, and what should be skipped. There's certainly arguments to be made for quite a few franchises, so long as EA releases fully-fledged installments, rather than half-assed ports. The Need for Speed series would most likely work, but I'm guessing EA is going to see how Burnout: Remastered goes first. There's plenty of room for more sports titles, and I'm sure some of the install base would welcome a new Madden. Switch fans would no doubt be excited for a Battlefield release, but it doesn't seem likely they'd dedicate resources to a Switch-specific version. Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Titanfall, Star Wars...the list goes on and on. There's pluses and minuses for all those franchises, but there's one that seems like it would have the best chance of any to find success. The Sims series seems like a perfect fit for the platform.

If EA were to move on a Sims title for Switch, I'm sure some fans would be disheartened. Many hear of EA support coming to the platform, and they're expecting some of the action-heavy franchises I mentioned above. There's nothing wrong with having interest in those titles, but I really don't know if EA would be willing to take that leap. They've had some action-oriented titles on previous Nintendo platforms, and while the quality was certainly arguable, all EA most likely noticed was the lack of sales. Things are different when you look at The Sims franchise. That's one brand where EA has had quite a bit of success on the Nintendo side of things.

When you look back at the Wii and DS library, the amount of Sims-related content is pretty staggering. On Wii you had The Sims 2: Castaway, The Sims 2: Pets, The Sims 3, MySims, MySims Agents, MySims Kingdom, MySims Party, MySims Racing, and MySims SkyHeroes. On the DS there was The Sims 2, The Sims 2: Apartment Pets, The Sims 2: Castaway, The Sims 2: Pets, The Sims 3, The Urbz: Sims in the City, MySims, MySims Agents, MySims Kingdom, MySims Party, and MySims Racing. Between both platformers, there was an insane 20 Sims titles!

EA very clearly found an audience for the Sims franchise on Wii and DS, which they drove right into the ground. That said, before they started really cashing in and churning out low-quality efforts, the franchise had its fans. That's likely due to the success of both platforms, as well as the audience that owned each. Sure, there were plenty of traditional gamers that purchased the Wii and DS, but there were expanded audience players as well. Sounds a bit like the Switch, doesn't it? Things on the Switch are certainly geared more towards the traditional gamer, but I think it's fair to say the platform has the biggest expanded audience potential when compared to PS4 and XB1.

You can bet that the mega-success of Animal Crossing: New Horizons has also caught EA's interest. While The Sims and Animal Crossing are quite different, the two certainly share a few mechanics. There's the life management aspect of both games, as well as the ability to design and create your own content. Obviously the construction and decoration of environments is a thread between each franchise as well. With Animal Crossing: New Horizons dominating the sales charts, EA would be pretty silly to not see some potential for their own life simulation brand.

That's not even to mention how the Switch itself seems like a fantastic platform for The Sims in hardware alone. While traditional controls have been proven to work just fine for Sims games, the inclusion of a touch screen on Switch makes the gameplay that much better. Being able to use that tactile aspect to plan out a living space would be a breeze, providing something much closer to the mouse experience PC players are used to. There's also the aspect of being able to play at home or on the go, which would do wonders for The Sims as well. Play at home and do your big construction work or house planning, and then play on the go when you need to take care of your humans or jump in on some item shopping. Throw in the social aspect of the Switch, where you could bring your Switch to friends houses for local in-game visits, and you really start to see how The Sims on Switch could be something special.

Again, it seems like all the pieces of the puzzle are there. A platform with a sizable install base, hardware that could elevate the experience, players who would likely enjoy what the Sims is all about, and a social aspect you couldn't get on other hardware. I'm not an industry executive, but it seems like an absolute no-brainer to me. It all comes back to EA's willingness to put in the work. If they really were willing to give it their all, put their best Sims devs on the franchise, and aimed to make an installment that played to the system's strengths, I have little doubt they'd have anything other than a hit on their hands.

If EA does decide to bring The Sims to Switch and go all-out on development, they need to be in our face about it. They need to do interview after interview where they drive that point home. We need to both see and hear that they're taking The Sims seriously on Switch. Players who have been burned by previous EA ports on the platform need to be lead around by the hand and shown just why things are different this time around. It's not going to be an easy task, but it can be done, so long as the effort is obvious. Switch players know the Sims will never look as good on Switch as compared to other platforms, but as long as the gameplay is there and the effort shines through, success can be found.

Will EA ever bring The Sims to Switch? I think I've made a good argument for why they should, but I can't say for sure it'll happen. For all I know, EA could be revamping some other franchise for the Switch, or maybe cooking up something completely new. Again, there's still part of me that thinks they're teasing nothing more but another FIFA, but boy do I hope I'm wrong on that. We're at the very beginning of seeing the tiniest shred of further attention from EA, and I don't want to get too optimistic. We've been here before, and we've been hurt a million times over. All we can do is sit back, cross our fingers, and hope for the best. It's your move, EA.

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