Tetris, Punch-Out, and Preservation. AKA I’m killing time until Monster Hunter Rise.
So, I’ve mentioned a while back that the flow of new games coming out over the early parts of the year was gonna be slow. I wasn’t expecting it to be this slow. The main game that I wanted to talk about isn’t going to be out until later this week. Literally. Monster Hunter Rise doesn’t come out until an hour after I usually publish on Fridays. So for the last week, I’ve kind of struggled to find things to play and talk about because it’s all I can think about really. Which is where Nintendo Switch Online comes in.
In the near three-ish years I’ve owned a Nintendo Switch, I’ve never paid for the online services they’ve provided because I felt I never had a game on the Switch to Justify it for me. The demo for Monster Hunter Rise changed that. It also gives access to a collection of NES and Super NES games as an archive for keeping subscribed. It’s neat because it both got me thinking about archiving and preservation efforts in games (a topic I know about, but am not an expert), how much the games industry has no interest in preserving their history unless they profit from it, and how much the Punch-Out games still slap and how much Tetris 99 currently slaps.
When I saw that the first thing I could do was finally play Tetris 99 online, I did just that. It’s Tetris Battle Royale with 98 other players all vying for that coveted Tetris Maximus (99’s equivalent to the Victory Royale and Winner Winner Chicken Dinner).
As someone who considers themselves okay at Tetris, Tetris 99 reminds me that I’m bad at Tetris against other human beings. While I’ve not won any games there have been games where I clear the top 50 and even crack into the top 20. This is good because those are balanced by the games where I get eliminated super early. The game anticipates this and gives you the option to immediately start matching with other players and it can lead to playing upwards of 10–15 games a sitting if you’re me and want to win. It’s a fantastic feedback loop that I’m shocked works as well as it does, and serves as a nice companion piece to Tetris Effect; which was the most laid back and zen a Tetris experience has ever been.
When I’m not smacking people/getting smacked in the mouth with Tetriminos, I’ve been going through the archives of older games available in the NES and SNES Classic services. They add new games to each every month and are accessible as long as you keep the sub going. It ranges from the obvious stuff like the Original Super Mario Brothers games, Metroid, and Legend of Zelda, to weirder, more out-there shit like Crystalis by SNK, Rygar, and even the original Gradius. It’s a Netflix for games style thing I was hoping Nintendo would do for years and while there’s some missing stuff (Mega Man is understandably absent because Capcom put out their Legacy Collections), it works.
It also reminds me that earlier this week, the PS3, PSP, and Vita stories are getting shut down later this year and years of games are gonna go up on smoke. It’s unfortunate and a shitty thing if you live outside of North America, Japan, Australia, and Europe, the only four places in the world where physical copies of games are still a viable alternative. It gets me thinking about how most games don’t get a chance to be old. And I mean old in the sense that it shares a space in the collective culture where the younger generations are at least aware of it. Because aside from a few big properties, that doesn’t get to happen. Unless you turn to…less…than reputable sources. In which case, emulation solves that problem if you’re willing to jump through some hoops to get things running, but the lack of legit alternatives in cases such as an entire ass storefront being shut down is a bummer to see. Some writings and individuals are more in-depth and well-versed than I am on this, so I’ll share some at the bottom.
On less of a bummer note: The Punch-Out games are still fun. They’re still some of my favorite sprite-based animation from those eras of games and purvey the perfect amount of information despite being somewhat stereotypical in their depictions of different cultures (those games came out in the ’80s and 90’s respectively, doesn’t excuse some of the more messed up ones, but it contextualizes them). They are both somehow easier and harder than I remember because I can clear minor circuits and most of the major circuits of each game, then I get to the #1 contenders matches and I get stomped. It’s more about pattern recognition than anything else, but it’s so damn good at that that I feel like I’m not getting shafted when I lose.
But yeah, this has been less of a traditional What’s Good About and more a word soup to kill time before Monster Hunter. I appreciate you sticking until the end.
Here are a few good places to start on the overview of game preservation https://gamehistory.org/