On this week’s podcast, we talked about the recent Nintendo Switch Nindies Showcase and the impending deluge of content on its way to Nintendo’s latest platform in the next year. We also talked a lot about Ubisoft’s Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, and how surprisingly Nintendo it feels, despite being developed at Ubisoft. We loosely began a conversation about where Nintendo should lend its properties next, and what we could imagine for them but after the mics turned off I kept thinking about the talk we had.
With such a strong interest and dedication to independent developers on Switch, Nintendo has opened the door to a new home for many developers who previously found an audience on PlayStation platforms – specifically Vita. Many of those same developers were on Steam even before Vita and PS4. If you look through Steam today, you’ll find a really saturated market; It’s one that for a small developer is really hard to stand out. If you’re lucky, someone will discover your game and play it for a large YouTube audience. More often than not, many of these games go unheard of despite their quality. We’re seeing more independent developers partner with small publishing outfits like Devolver Digital and Adult Swim Games, where they receive some financial backing and a whole lot of marketing power. With so many games released on a platform like Steam or even PlayStation Network at this point, that marketing power is everything for a developer looking to have its game discovered.
Since the release of the Switch, I’ve spent more money on indie games than I have on anything else on the platform. It’s a lot like the middle years of the Vita, where my love for the hardware pushed me to find new games to spend time with. Because of the early adoption for both Nintendo and developers on the platform, it means that discovery is at a high. I’m finding new things to play because they’re there, and games aren’t getting buried in a mess of releases. It’s within this space where creators are able to take more risks and make games that do something different and unexpected. Often, there’s a simple gameplay hook that lives at the core and builds outward from there. There’s a very Nintendo mentality to a lot of indie games and a lot of the beliefs behind their creation.
If we really are seeing Nintendo open its doors not only to indie developers but also to third-party partnerships with its properties, I think that indie developers should be the next ones to get their hands on Mario and his friends. We are seeing a taste of this later this month, as developer Mercury Steam is bringing Samus back to life with a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus on 3DS. This type of partnership is exactly what Nintendo should continue to explore.
On launch day of the Switch, I downloaded Fast Racing RMX. It’s from developer Shin’en Multimedia and is very much in vain of F-Zero. It’s not a perfect replica, but so much of its design and gameplay is unapologetically inspired by Nintendo’s long abandoned racing series. I hope that somewhere, there’s a conversation happening between the two companies about Shin’en Multimedia reviving that series. Its ability to create a replica independently can only become even greater if provided the partnership with the original creators.
The team at Yacht Club Games has been one of my favorite developers since I first played Shovel Knight in 2014. Even prior to the founding of the company, the folks at Yacht Club were creating fantastic work at WayForward. While they’re busy finishing the fourth and final campaign in the Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove package, I’m sure the developers are brainstorming the next project. With how much growth and change you can see in each iterative release, Yacht Club Games has proven itself and it’s talent in creating classic-styled platforming games. While Nintendo’s internal teams are creating the next big 3D titles, why not hand the reigns over to Yacht Club Games and see what they could do with Super Mario World 3 or another game designed to emulate the 16-bit era?
Sega saw a tremendous amount of success last month with the release of Sonic Mania, a game born from a small team. Rather than shut down any efforts by Christian Whitehead to create a fanmade Sonic game, Sega hired him to create one. The final product is magnificent and the best thing to have Sonic in the title since somewhere in the 1990s. It would be a shame to see it stop there for Sonic but a shame to see a company like Nintendo not attempt to do the same. These developers have studied Nintendo for years and are going to make games inspired by Nintendo games. It’s only one step further to hire them to go all the way. With a partnership like Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and Metroid: Samus Returns, I imagine that we’re only seeing the beginning of what is to come.