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Tetris 99 Is a Hit

Tetris 99 is fascinating both as a piece of game design and as a phenonmenon. It’s a well-timed deconstruction of the battle royale genre and also an interesting (and by early accounts, successful) experiment in console online service models. I’m a little embarassed that I didn’t predict how big a hit it was going to be, writing it off after playing it once - though in my defense it doesn’t explain its badge system at all and that’s where basically all the strategic depth lies.

I’m happy for Nintendo, but I’m also a little worried about what lessons they’re likely to learn from this. All the previous incentives for subscribing to Nintendo Switch Online have been met with some criticism: You can play games online, but that was free before the service was introduced. You can back up (most) saves to the cloud, but you still can’t back them up via USB. The NES games are neat, but are a tiny set of ancient games we all already have.

I’d love for them to really ramp up the legacy content - put out a bunch of NES/SNES/N64/NGC/GB/GBC/GBA titles. That already wasn’t looking likely, but now I’m worried their takeaway will be “When we put out a few new free NES games, people complain, but when we put out battle royale games, people love us! Clearly we should focus on the latter.”

This might even be the correct takeaway, but it’s definitely not the approach I personally prefer.