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No, Nintendo Doesn’t ‘Need’ Third Parties

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The need for Nintendo to attract third parties has been severely overstated, given what niche the Switch is trying to fill in the console marketplace. Far from the PS4 look-a-like that we expected, the Switch is another Nintendo console that challenges industry norms. As a result, much doom and gloom has been perpetuated about how its innovation will turn away third parties. However, rumor of the Switch’s need for third party support has been greatly exaggerated.

The truth is, ever since the Nintendo 64, Nintendo’s marketing has fallen out of touch with most third party developers and with most gamers. Nintendo consoles have remained secondary purchases for most gamers, even when Nintendo has attempted to satiate developer’s desires for better graphics with more powerful hardware, as with the GameCube. Despite such an increasingly obvious trend toward second-class consoleship, the way that Nintendo markets toward consumers hasn’t changed, until now.

With the Switch, Nintendo is finally admitting that, despite how neat it may be to play Skyrim on an airplane or NBA 2K at an actual basketball court, they aren’t targeting first console purchasers anymore. Instead, they are marketing the Switch as a complementary console for PS4 and Xbox One owners who wish to play Nintendo exclusives. Due to this shift in marketing strategy, third party games, as means to attract consumers to purchase the Switch, have lost much of their puissance. Add to that the fact that Nintendo chose as its console’s main chip an aging ARM processor instead of the more commonly used x86 architecture, and it becomes evident that their focus is on the experiences that they can craft instead of trying to compete with the Xbox One and PS4’s level of third party support.

This may not seem the wisest route for Nintendo at first glance. After all, wasn’t one of the Wii U’s greatest failures the fact that it didn’t have enough third party support to even muster a Madden or FIFA release past the first year? Not exactly.

The Wii U failed, not primarily because of a lack of third party support, but because it sold poorly and was sold for a loss even a year after launch. The added cost of the GamePad didn’t help either, costing Nintendo around $79.25 per console, an incredibly high price for a peripheral that was abandoned by most developers less than two years after release. Nintendo has lived and even thrived through consoles that sold poorly, the N64 and GameCube’s sales were anemic. The Wii U came after a poor 3DS launch that cost Nintendo millions, was marketed poorly, and had less than a year headstart over the PS4 and Xbox One. It wasn’t Nintendo’s first failure, but it was by far their most ill-timed.

Third party games, in reality, have had little to do with the sales of Nintendo consoles since the Nintendo 64. The GameCube had more third party ports than one could shake the proverbial stick at, and yet it still managed to sell less than the original Xbox, a console that, despite its graphical fortitude, was not known for good sales. The Wii had massive third party support, but in an ironic turn of events, the majority of those games were shoddily constructed shovelware that did little to change the preconceived notion that it was a console for children and the elderly.

In fact, the Wii U may have suffered from its initial focus on third party games. By overemphasizing the release of old, mid-generation games that were already popular with consumers on other consoles, while simultaneously failing to secure third party support much past launch, Nintendo seemed even more out of touch with consumers’ wishes. If they were to make the same mistake with the Switch and overemphasize the small commitments that companies like EA have made, they would appear just as laughable as they did five years ago.

With the Switch, it seems as if Nintendo has finally recognized that, for the most part, gamers buy Nintendo consoles for Nintendo games while continuing to play popular third party games on another console, or a gaming PC. In the past, Nintendo’s handhelds have succeeded as secondary consoles, not because they had ports of popular AAA games, but because they had great Nintendo exclusives, popular indie games, and a smattering of third party titles not available on any other platform (Bravely Default comes to mind). With their next system logically, but not officially, replacing both the 3DS and Wii U, it stands to reason that they should use the same strategy with the Switch and attempt to leverage their strength with handhelds to bolster poor console sales.

At the end of the day, Nintendo’s greatest strengths lay within itself. Their franchises are instantly recognizable to gamers and non-gamers alike. If they can successfully utilize that consumer recognition, then there is no doubt in my mind that the Switch can reverse the downward trend Nintendo’s consoles have been stuck on for the past twenty years and deliver a truly memorable console. If they avoid the temptation to switch things up but instead play to their greatest strength, their games, the path back to relevance becomes that much clearer for Nintendo.

Although a gamer since before I can remember, there is not a better definition of me than these three words: Christian, moderate, and learner. I am steadfast in my Faith, my Beliefs, and in my Opinions, but I am always willing to hear the other side of the discussion. I love Nintendo, History, and the NBA. Currently a PhD Student at Liberty University.

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. ???? ??????

    February 19, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    the author is a retard.

  2. John Cal McCormick

    February 20, 2017 at 9:03 am

    “The Wii U failed, not primarily because of a lack of third party support, but because it sold poorly”

    Obviously there’s a lot to unpack in this article, and it’s fair to say that I disagree with basically all of it, but this sentence in particular caught my attention. What does this mean? That’s not “why” the console failed. That’s the conditions for failure. It’s the effect, not the cause. It’s like saying that John Lennon died not because somebody shot him, but because his body could no longer sustain life.

    This article is kinda indicative of a problem that Nintendo faces on a wider scale. There’s too many people willing to perform mental and semantic gymnastics to try and put a favourable spin on everything they do, ultimately to the detriment of the product. Yes Men don’t ever help. Looking at a product objectively (or as objectively as one can) and critiquing it helps. The Wii U failed for numerous reasons, including but not limited to third party support being non-existent.

    No console in history has been a hit without third party support. I’ll reiterate; no console in history has been a hit without third support. And so ignoring all evidence to the contrary and just defiantly proclaiming that Nintendo will be fine without third party support isn’t going to help anybody. It’s the sort of thinking that leads to this site featuring articles in five years time entitled “The Switch failed not because it didn’t have third party support, but because people didn’t buy it.” And it’s the sort of thinking that means that Nintendo won’t get any better. Their staunchest fans are contributing to their downfall, by dismissing all criticism as “haters gonna hate” or coming up with increasingly elaborate explanations for why their chosen console failed.

    • Izsak “Khane” Barnette

      February 20, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      Excellent comment, John. What I am saying is that there is no need for Nintendo to attempt to market to a consumer base that is fully saturated.

      • Izsak “Khane” Barnette

        February 20, 2017 at 4:10 pm

        In my opinion, a lack of third party support was a tangential reason, at best, for the Wii U’s failure. Developers most likely would have dropped support after the PS4 and Xbox One’s release due to hardware constraints.

        • John Cal McCormick

          February 20, 2017 at 4:45 pm

          The problem isn’t – inherently – lack of third party support. Theoretically a system could be a success without it. It just needs other things to balance in its favour. The problem is that Nintendo doesn’t have those things in their favour. They’re sat in a very perilous middle ground.

          They want to be a second console. Okay. That’s a direction. It makes sense. And it’s actually one I’d advocate them going full tilt for. So why is this console selling at a premium price? Why is the accessories so expensive? You can’t tell people that your product is a second console, a sidekick to their PS4 or Xbox One, and then try and sell them it for more than either of those consoles are going for. Optically, it’s so, so bad. Marketing-wise, it’s a big ask to make that make sense.

          Alternatively, they can go the premium console route. They’re already priced like that. But they don’t have the third party support to back that up.

          They’re stuck in the middle. They’re not fully in either camp. And that’s exactly the same problem the Wii U had. And like the Wii U, it’s happening because of what I think are poor decisions in hardware design.

          It might pan out, but as someone who’s been watching trends and marketing and the business side of the industry for many years now, I’ll be surprised if the Switch is a hit. You can never really predict these things because you never know when there’ll be that lightning in a bottle moment, but the Switch looks like it’s caught in a very dangerous middle ground, and I’m not expecting it to be a hit.

          • Izsak “Khane” Barnette

            February 20, 2017 at 6:55 pm

            That’s a pretty detailed breakdown of their business strategy there, and I agree with some of your points. I admit that my heart sank a little when they announced it would be $300. After all, there are Xbox One and PS4 bundles that come with games for that much. However, after the Wii U sold for a loss well after launch, I think they prioritized making a profit off of every console over consumer outreach.

            One could argue, I suppose, that if they didn’t include portability, then they could have sold a more powerful console for cheaper, but I think that misses the point.

            Nintendo has always prioritized innovation over typicality. The NES had R.O.B, the SNES, had the Super FX chip, the N64 had full 3D graphics, the GameCube had analog triggers, the DS had dual touchscreens, the Wii had motion controls, and the Wii U had a tablet. I think for them to make a generic, even if premium, console would be an affront to their true nature as innovators.

          • John Cal McCormick

            February 21, 2017 at 9:42 am

            I’ve never really understood the “Nintendo has always been the innovator” argument. I mean, sure, they do play against type. But a) some of those “innovations” are just Nintendo pointlessly reinventing the wheel to be wacky, and b) their hardware “innovations” have resulted in every one of their home consoles selling worse than the one before it with the sole exception of the Wii.

            The point that I’m making is that Nintendo’s business strategy seems to need a change. Just saying, “Yeah but this is what Nintendo do! They innovate!” isn’t the solution. It’s not the answer. It’s actually the root of the problem they face.

            Without getting too in depth for the sake of this comment not being an essay, look at the commercial viability of the Switch, in your opinion, and then take a look at the only Nintendo console to break their downward trend in sales figures, the Wii. What’s the biggest difference between the two?

            You might say that the Wii has an easier concept to grasp, and I’d say that’s certainly a contender. But the most stark difference for me is the cost. The Wii launched at $250 and came with a game. The Switch is launching at $350 (I think?) with no game. So it’s basically $400.

            You mention Nintendo cutting out the portability to make a more powerful console, but do you really think that is the best strategy?

            Like I said before, Nintendo is in a weird middle ground. For me, unless they can capture the public consciousness – which is an incredibly difficult thing to predict or pull off – like they did with the Wii, then they need a sound business strategy. Somehow I don’t think a handheld with an HDMI Out port is on the same level as the inclusive gaming mantra that the Wii had.

            So you’re left with a number of options. If Nintendo is going to embrace their position as the second console of choice for gamers, a place where they don’t need third party games and the console is solely used for first party Nintendo games, then they need to be cost effective. For me, removing the portability of the console is something that they definitely should have considered, but I wouldn’t have made the console more powerful at all. I’d have done everything I could to lower the cost.

            A Mario and Zelda machine shipping at $200 is a no brainer. That’s a compelling price for a second console. It doesn’t matter how powerful it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s on par with PS4. Nintendo does incredible things with underpowered tech. They’d make great looking games that played well.

            But that’s not what they’re doing. They’re selling a premium console. A console that is more expensive than the competition on the market right now despite being less powerful. They’re not the cheap second console or the PS4 competitor. They’re the worst of both worlds – an expensive console that can’t compete in terms of raw power, and doesn’t appear to have the strong backing of many developers.

            If the Switch was a budget console then I’d agree with the title of this article. But it isn’t. And I think it’s delusional to just assume everything is going to be okay when there’s a huge amount of evidence to the contrary. Hence, I think they do need third parties.

          • Brent Middleton

            February 21, 2017 at 8:53 pm

            The Switch is shipping for $300.

            It’s in an interesting middle ground, I agree. But then again, so was the Wii. It was less powerful than the PS4 and Xbox One, and it wasn’t supported with AAA third party releases at launch beyond one single title–Call of Duty 3. The Wii was able to sell based on its form factor and first party software (namely Wii Sports) alone. The third party devs came running afterwards.

            Nintendo’s portable line has succeeded much in the same way. Form factor and first party software (mainly Pokémon, Mario, Mario Kart, etc.).

            No one wants watered down versions of For Honor or Mass Effect Andromeda on the Switch. Not receiving AAA multi platform support (aside from the major sports franchises already confirmed) isn’t going to be the death of the system. Instead, like Wii and Nintendo’s handheld line, third parties will need to bring software specifically made for the Switch if they want to sell on the platform. And those games will come if the Switch is successful on its own merits, just like the handhelds have been.

            The Switch has the form factor and first party content down. It has much better marketing than the Wii U, which was it’s greatest fault. It also has tons of indie support, which is interestingly taking the place of traditional third party’s on the console.

            Is the price ideal? No, but it’s also not very expensive for a new console. It’s $50 more than the PS4 and Xbox One, but those have been out for 4 years. People have had those systems or their friends have had them for years now. The newness of the Switch combined with its form factor (the main appeal of the console) is going to see it do well. Zelda will hold launch down, Mario will hold holiday. Indies and games like Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe & Fire Emblem Warriors are going to fill any software droughts, another huge problem of the Wii U.

            Is it going to be a Wii-sized hit? Of course not. But it’ll do well. The Switch is far from doomed to the Wii U’s fate. The third and fourth months will tell a far better story.

          • John Cal McCormick

            February 21, 2017 at 9:34 pm

            This is precisely my point though. Sort of.

            Nobody wants to play the rubbish version of Mass Effect or a port of a game that came out months ago on other systems. That was the Wii U approach to third party support that went down like a lead balloon.

            The point is that they have neither parity with the other consoles or price reflective of their nature as the second console. The worst of both worlds, as it were.

            The Wii, as I recall, shipped with Call of Duty, Madden, Need for Speed, Rayman Rabbids, some licensed rubbish (rubbish that sells, though), that awful Tony Hawks spin off, Red Steel, and some lesser known third party stuff like Trauma Centre. Then first party wise it came bundled with Wii Sports, which for all intents and purposes was all the Wii was to much of the casual user base getting one as a Christmas present, and a Zelda game for the hardcore.

            The Wii had a lot more going for it in terms of obvious commercial appeal AND it had the attention of third party publishers.

            The Switch looks very expensive, despite the fact it’s cheaper than the price either it’s competitors launched for, because it’s entering the fray midgeneration. That’s perfectly understandable but it also doesn’t change how bad the optics of the situation are when you can pick up a PS4 or Xbox with all of the most popular games on the market for less than the cost of a less powerful Nintendo system that pretty much has Zelda.

            I’m not writing the Switch off. I just think writing off the importance of third party support is something that Nintendo fans quite often do without actually looking at the grim realities of the situation, and the historical evidence that suggests the contrary.

          • Brent Middleton

            February 21, 2017 at 10:10 pm

            I see where you’re coming from. The launch is definitely lacking, though I’d argue that the Switch has pretty obvious commercial appeal. The Swich can recover after launch though, like the 3DS did.

            The Wii only became attractive to third parties when it took off–which it did because of it’s motion controls, Wii Sports (which showed off those motion controls) and price. The handhelds do well because they’re convenient alternatives to sitting in front of a TV, and they have killer aps like the Pokémon series.
            The Switch has a unique form factor like both of these–it just needs a Wii Sports or Pokémon–esq killer app.

            The Switch could not have supported current gen third party support and been a hybrid without costing hundreds more than it does. It could’ve been a premium-priced powerhouse, but people would then complain about the $400-$500 PS4 Pro-like pricepoint and just stick to the cheaper current gen console’s for their third parties. They could’ve gone for a $200 Nintendo-only machine like you say, and that’d be interesting, but then it’d be competing with its own still-thriving 3DS line.

            I think that because of their timing, and the position the Wii U put them in, they had to either wait a few years until the PS5 etc., or straddle the middle now and try to succeed based off the form factor of the system (like they did with the Wii and like they do with their portables) instead of harnessing the power that would let them support AAA third parties. Because of the Wii U’s fate, they were basically pushed into a corner mid-generation.

            If it does well on its own, third parties will come with great exclusives like so many did on the DS and 3DS. The Switch just has to prove itself somewhat on its own first.

            It’ll be interesting for sure. If it fails after launch, Nintendo would be wise to have a price drop and push Mario at holiday to give it a second chance, similar to the comeback story of the 3DS after its abysmal launch. We’ll see!

          • Izsak “Khane” Barnette

            February 22, 2017 at 1:01 am

            I completely agree. The 3DS got to an incredibly slow start, but picked up pace when the price was cut. As I say in the article, the Wii U was by far their most ill-timed failure coming not only in the middle of a generation but also when they could have used a much needed financial boost after having to sell the 3DS at a loss.

          • John Cal McCormick

            February 22, 2017 at 8:53 am

            The Switch can definitely recover. It might not even need to recover. It might be a huge hit. But the 3DS recovered thanks to a combination of serious price cuts and the eventual arrival of big games. I question how much room Nintendo has to move with the price of the Switch. I’m pretty sure if there was any wiggle room it’d already be cheaper than it is.

            The Switch does need a killer app but it’s very difficult to see where that could come from. It certainly doesn’t have one at launch, or one that has been announced yet. Wii Sports was a very easy sell because it used the unique nature of the hardware perfectly and anybody could grasp the concept immediately. What could you possibly do to take advantage of the Switch hardware, which when you boil it down is really just changing screens? Not only that but Wii Sports was affordable, and came packed in with the console. For a lot of people who bought the Wii, Wii Sports was all it was.

            I know that the Switch couldn’t achieve parity with PS4/Xbox One and remain cost effective, but that’s why I’m questioning the entire focus of the console, if they want it to be a huge success. If all they want is to sell respectably and be their own thing then the Switch will be fine. It can hit Wii U sales. Probably even Gamecube sales. Maybe. But word on the street is that internally they think it’s so special it’s going to be a Wii-level hit and that’s absolutely bonkers to me.

            The focus of the console just seems askew to me. Regardless, it’s going to be super interesting watching it all unfold. It’ll be of little consequence to me since I’ve already decided I won’t be picking one up until Mario hits, but I’ll be interested to see how it’s selling once the novelty of launch wears off and the hardcore Nintendo crowd have already bought theirs.

          • Brent Middleton

            February 22, 2017 at 11:59 am

            I’d say Super Mario Odyssey will be their killer app at holiday by showcasing that you can take a huge triple-A anywhere. Zelda will already do this, but Mario might do it better. That combined with a $50 holiday price cut and it should be fine. It doesn’t need a pack-in in its first yea, it just needs to enter that holiday impulse buy range, and for a console $250 would be the sweet spot. Announce Smash Switch with all the Wii U DLC included for early 2018 and it’ll do fine.

            Probably not Wii numbers, but because of all the improvements in marketing and expected software droughts over the Wii U, I’d be hard pressed to see it do that poorly. It’s seemingly poised to hit Xbox One sales numbers in its first few years, and while that won’t be stellar, it’ll still be respectable. But who knows. The 3DS did 60 million. Crazier things have happened.

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Game Reviews

‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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Games

The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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Games

‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

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Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

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