Skipping ropes, Mario and Fire Emblem. Question: what do these things all have in common? Everybody knows Nintendo is a limited availability monster.
Limited print runs of games and collectible editions are nothing new in the world of gaming, but Nintendo has taken things one step further by inexplicably making the digital versions of said games equally as fleeting.
Back in June, Nintendo released Jump Rope Challenge as a freebie on the Nintendo Switch eShop storefront. Made by a small team of developers during pandemic lockdown as a way of keeping fit, Jump Rope Challenge uses the Joy-Con controllers to simulate using a skipping rope.
The catch? Jump Rope Challenge was to be removed from the eShop by the end of September. Not even transitioned to paid software, just straight up yanked off the digital storefront. In a surprising move, September came and went, with Nintendo instead announcing Jump Rope Challenge would remain indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the long-rumoured Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection featuring three of Mario's most popular 3D adventures released on Switch in September as part of the Italian plumber's 35th anniversary celebrations.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is not only a limited physical release game, but bizarrely also a short-term digital release. Sure, creating a finite number of physical copies is palatable, but why on Mushroom Kingdom is the digital version also slated for removal by 31 March 2021?
Although Nintendo is adding a patch mid-November, there's still no word they'll renege on their original plan for Mario like Jump Rope Challenge.
As if this decision wasn't baffling enough, the accompanying Super Mario Bros. 35 battle royale game for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers will also disappear back into the green pipe from whence it came the same date as Super Mario 3d All-Stars. Which is a shame, considering it's a pretty good game with scope to grow much like Tetris 99 has.
Undeterred by the gaming community's collective confusion over the forced scarcity situation, Nintendo announced Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light for a December release on Switch. This is a pretty big deal, considering it's the first time the original Fire Emblem will officially see the light of day outside of Japan and in English.
You can probably guess what comes next.
Yep, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light will only be available until 31 March 2021 — both its fancy physical edition, and the affordable $9 AUD digital version. A game never before launched in the West. Good grief, Ninty, what are you doing?
With how often Nintendo do things so starkly different to their competitors, it's as if their offices blare Frank Sinatra's "My Way" on repeat to drown out the sounds of what people actually want.
In fact, Nintendo's at serious risk of becoming the rug emporium guy of the gaming world, shouting 'limited time only!' at anyone and everyone, reminding us that these offers must end soon, when in reality they'll never truly go away.
What are the odds, like with Jump Rope Challenge, the house of Mario will backflip come March next year and keep the Mario 35th anniversary games plus Fire Emblem on the eShop due to 'high demand'?
At the very least, some transparency into why these limited-time decisions have been made would be appreciated, otherwise it smells an awful lot like a tactic to create false demand and have us all hastily reaching into our wallets.
Nintendo, just stop with this faux limited-time crap, and let us buy and play games at our own pace.
Who would've thought going into 2020, we'd start by panic-buying toilet paper, and end it by panic-buying Mario and Fire Emblem.