Saturday, January 13, 2018

Nintendo Switch - The Port Machine

Ports, ports, ports, come buy some ports!
Ports, ports, ports, come buy some ports!
Ports, ports, ports, come buy some ports!
Ports, ports, ports, come buy some ports!
Ports, ports, ports, come buy some ports!
Ports, ports, ports, come buy some ports!

It's no secret. The Wii U was a commercial failure with only 13.56 million units sold in the five years of its sad existence. The Nintendo Switch on the other hand seems to be a big success, where it already sold over 10 million units in less than a year and set records in various countries. The consequence? Nintendo's going to port all the good Wii U games over to the Switch. And here's a list of what this already covers, Nintendo published games only:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Mario Kart 8 DX
  • Pokkén Tournament DX
  • Bayonetta
  • Bayonetta 2
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
  • Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition

Of these games I own Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U. So, all of them except for Pokkén Tournament. And with that a good chunk of my Wii U library already exists on the Switch as well, some of them as superior versions.

All these ports are certainly nice for those, who didn't own a Wii U before. And to be frank, it seems like the Switch's target market are people, who haven't invested in any video games in the last five years, because it's just re-rolling everything from the last generation. For those, who did invest in a Wii U, however, this might leave a bitter taste, because it seems like skipping the Wii U was quite lucrative. Nintendo is teaching the people that no one should have bought a Wii U in the first place.

I suppose, it's not a big deal with straight ports like Breath of the Wild, Bayonetta or even Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, where I wouldn't classify the Funky Mode as a meaningful addition for someone, who has owned and completed the original game. This clearly caters to people, who didn't buy the game before, while I'm perfectly happy with my Wii U version. But in case of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe there's the excellent Battle Mode that everyone already wanted on the Wii U back in 2014. They could have added this via DLC, but they didn't. Nintendo purposefully left this as an incentive to buy the new Deluxe version on the Switch, while the Wii U version was simply left as inferior. And it's similar with Pokémon Tekken.

In case of Hyrule Warriors there already has been the Nintendo 3DS version with Hyrule Warriors: Legends, which had many new (DLC) contents that didn't make it to the Wii U. At least the Wii U version still had the coop mode and the better graphics, but now even that became obsolete with the Definitive Edition on Nintendo Switch. This one basically becomes a "best of both worlds" with combining all features and merits of the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U versions.

It's also likely that there's going to be Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Switch, which combines Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS in a similar fashion. It would come with all the DLC, all stages of both versions and probably also a shiny new Adventure Mode and some new characters.

And this is really an answer to the phenomenon, where the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U were cannibalizing each other. The systems had similar interfaces and lots of similar games, where there were even games with different versions on both systems like Hyrule Warriors or Super Smash Bros. 4. The Nintendo Switch now aims to combine handheld and home console and with that some dual version games get combined into one as well... At least future games on the Nintendo Switch should be relatively safe from triple releases, if Nintendo keeps focusing on one system from now on.

Third party support so far also seems to be ports mostly: Minecraft, Rocket League, Stardew Valley, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Doom, Wolfenstein II - The New Colossus... to name few. At least Bethesda on Twitter is taking it with humor:


Well, the strong exclusives on Nintendo systems often came from Nintendo themselves, while it's certainly nice to have all these games on the Switch available and to see so much 3rd party support for a change. And the list of Switch games is getting longer and longer.

Anyway, one interesting question remains: will Nintendo port even more games? Super Smash Bros. 4 seems to be a given, but what else could make it to the Switch? What games might even remain as Wii U exclusives?

Super Mario seems to be doing quite well with staying exclusive so far. Super Mario Odyssey is already out and a new 2D Mario for Switch is apparently in the works as well, while New Super Mario Bros. U and Super Mario 3D World will most likely remain as Wii U exclusives. The same probably goes for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, which heavily used the Wii U GamePad. Only with Super Mario Maker Nintendo might not be able to resist, after all this got ported to the Nintendo 3DS already.

Following Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2, another candidate might be The Wonderful 101 by Platinum Games. There already had been rumors about it and I wouldn't expect much from such a port, however.

An often request seem to be the Zelda HD remasters: the Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD. You know that Nintendo has arrived in easy money heaven, when fans are asking for ports of ports. However, those two will likely remain as Wii U exclusives and not just because the Wii U has to keep something. Both titles focused quite a lot on utilizing the Wii U GamePad for their interfaces, though you can play both games just with the Pro Controller. But they also added new features based on Miiverse, where the Wind Waker HD had the Tingle Bottles for ingame Miiverse communication and Twilight Princess HD featured a collection of Miiverse Stamps. All of this would have to be cut from the ports, unless Nintendo finds some replacement usages for the bottles and the stamps.

Instead it's more likely that Nintendo will deliver a new Zelda HD remaster for the Switch: Skyward Sword HD. The Joycons are predestined to bring this game back with improved graphics and maybe some new features. Talking about Wii games, there could also be a remastered HD version of the Metroid Prime Trilogy to accompany Metroid Prime 4. But of course such remasters would take more time and money in development, so we shouldn't expect as much here as with all the Wii U ports.

Ports, ports, ports, come buy some ports!
Ports, ports, ports, come buy some ports!
Ports, ports, ports, come buy some ports!
Ports, ports, ports, come buy some ports!
Ports, ports, ports, come buy some ports!
Ports, ports, ports, come buy some ports!


wintercoast said...

I understand your bitterness. I've been having to re-purchase a lot of Wii U titles, too. I wish there was eShop integration like there was on some rare indie titles between 3DS and Wii U, where the Switch eShop would recognise if I had already bought it from the Wii U eShop, and thus at least give me a discount on the superior version.

That said, it's not about me. It's about making sure all those players who didn't play on the Wii U get to experience these AAA 1st-party games. And it's easy money, because it's a lot easier to translate a Wii U game into a Switch game than build a Switch game from scratch.

I guess it comes down to the same math you were doing with Breath of the Wild and the Switch last year - at what point is it worth buying the game a second time? For Breath of the Wild, it sounds like your math has until now lead to "when there's a specially-designed Switch Console with the game boxed in."

Likewise, "when is it worth it to buy a 60 USD-title I've already spent nearly 200 USD on (Hyrule Warriors)?" I think it's worthwhile to me because of HD dlc adventure mode costumes, but that's because I'm a little crazy.

I'm not sure Nintendo's really thinking about this question for you or me, or else they'd give us discounts. I think they're thinking, "let's introduce Alex-Skipped-on-Wii-U to the game."

TourianTourist said...

Don't mistake my cynicism for bitterness. I'm not really angry about this. Of course this is about Nintendo selling things to Alex-Skipped-on-Wii-U and co. Of course I can understand the business decisions behind these ports. The first paragraph should have given this away. But it's not really that simple and everyone who's claiming that all these ports are simply made for people, who didn't own a Wii U previously, don't get the full picture.

I'm shining some light on my/our side of the coin. Why is Alex-Skipped-on-Wii-U getting a shiny new Battle Mode in Mario Kart 8, while Wii U owners can't even get this through DLC? Does Alex-Skipped-on-Wii-U deserve this more? I don't think so. Something like the port of DKC Tropical Freeze seems more catered to that audience with its Funky Mode. You wouldn't miss this feature in the original and it's clearly targeting "non-gamers" as the audience. I certainly don't mind this port and I'm perfectly happy with my Wii U version of this game.

To be honest, I also don't mind buying these excellent games a second or even a third time as much, because I do have the money. Hyrule Warriors is one of my absolute favorite games and deserves every penny. I just feel really overwhelmed, because I've spent over a thousand hours completing the Wii U and 3DS versions, where all of this work would start over on the Switch. Because like you I'm a little crazy about this game and I want all the contents in HD, too. But I can't without buying this new version...

I feel similar about Mario Kart 8, where I would have to get three stars on every cup again... It's not as much work, but still. I already did that on the Wii U and I would prefer it, if that version already had all the contents. Battle Mode was big letdown back then. Why do I need to buy MK8 DX to get the real one?

And I do own a second copy of Breath of the Wild already, by the way. I got the game for Wii U, but I also bought the Limited Edition for the Switch with the Master Sword statue. I'm a collector when it comes to Zelda, so I'm not a stranger to buying the same games multiple times. It's just that in the last years it felt like Nintendo has taking advantage of this one too many times. :D

wintercoast said...

Right. I'm in a similar boat, though I decided over the Master Sword and just for the map+sound selection (though now I wish I could get the map from the new box set, ugh!).

It would be nice if Wii U got more support, but I just don't see it ever happening now. Just a few random 3rd-party titles every now and then. Nintendo's done with the console, though they haven't forgotten it - Nintendo Minute was playing several wintry levels on Wii U titles in a recent video!

I'm ready to move on too, but it is a shame. I invested a lot into my Wii U, and didn't get all the features promised (or many that were were yanked from me). But like you, not bitter as much as hopeful that a more unified account system going forward can help against that in the future.

Outburst said...

I own the Switch and Wii U (and the Wii before it). I don't play anything other than the Switch but my kids will go back to the Wii U to play Smash Bros and some Mario games. They even occasionally take advantage of the dual-boot option and start up some older Wii games, or homebrew.
I would have preferred to see the Switch be able to also boot the Wii U OS but there seems to be too many roadblocks, such as game disk differences and how tightly they lock down accounts.
We don't regret our purchase but my kids do sometimes look envious when spying the giant wall of games for other systems.
Ports can be nice to have - we like Rocket League - but I don't think people buy consoles for ports.