Benny Kong's Pickups in 7 Months

My Nintendo Switch Pickups of the Last 7 Months

The ones that are following me on Twitter, Instagram or keeping up with the blog, may have noticed that I haven’t been that active for a good portion of the beginning of the year 2020. Or let’s be more precise: In particular in the months of March – May 2020, especially during the uncertain and difficult events that started in Asia, spread to Europe, then to the United States and soon locked up pretty much the entire world, I went a bit on radio silence. The last time I shared my pickups was in February 2020 and haven’t shown much of my new additions since. So why haven’t I talked about my pickups on a monthly basis as I usually do? Or haven’t I bought any new video games? Keep reading and find out!

Home Office, Video Games and Economy of Scarcity

To me it is honestly (and luckily) not a new situation to work from home. Over the last years, I mostly worked more days per week remotely than spending time in the office. Of course there were also occasionally working weeks with a lot of physical meetings or business trips, but in general I had the freedom to work wherever I wanted to work from. But it’s a totally new scenario when it’s a recommendation to not only work from home but to stay (the fuck) at home, only to leave the house for the absolute most urgent and most important necessities and practise social distancing. It was a scary and unknown situation, especially in March, April and May 2020!

Often my girlfriend and I got up in the early morning with the intention to buy certain goods in the supermarket or drugstore, such as packed (spelt) bread, pasta or the obvious toilet paper. We were basically lining up in front of the store around opening time, but found ourselves leaving the store empty handed again. Sometimes this happened for several days in a row. Before the real world situation was officially declared as a pandemic, we usually also did our grocery shopping online and used services such as Amazon Fresh* or local food shopping in Germany such as Rewe Online, but during these times in Spring 2020, delivery services were booked out for weeks. Most of the food delivery services even stopped accepting new clients and were only serving regular customers. After several weeks of not being able to order online due to booked out slots, we could finally place a food order again at some point. It felt a bit like normality is coming slowly back.

But not only certain goods (and services!) were scarce! Also FIAT money, like the Dollar or the Euro were scarce – what resulted in crashing markets in March 2020. All major markets, such as the equity market, precious metals, cryptocurrencies or commodities were taking significant hits and investors were panic selling. Since I’m very interested in markets in general, I dedicated a lot of time in paying close attention. So markets started to become an intensive hobby for me in Spring 2020. I used this time to educate myself further, and opened up for instance an account with Trade Republic** Europe’s mobile and commission-free broker*, to trade directly via my phone.

So all of this kept me busy! But there was also a situation with our DHL delivery driver in March 2020 that made me think: We were standing in the stairways, roughly 3 meters away from each other, waiting for his scanner to reboot, while our driver was telling me that his current workload increased tremendously:

People are ordering now basically everything online, currently I’m only managing half my route in time. 

Back in our apartment I looked at my shelf and then in my excel sheet: There were 113 physical Nintendo Switch games in my collection, the majority still sealed, and a huge backlog of games I’m very excited to play. And Animal Crossing New Horizons around the corner! So do I really need to add more games to my collection – and cause my delivery guy more work? And maybe the cause why other people don’t get an immediate order in time, just because my delivery guy dropped a new game delivery at my house? No! I decided that I did not want to be part of the problem, that I want to be happy with the games that I already have and that I wanted to limit myself to only order what really matters.

But by writing this, it’s important for me to state that everybody has different priorities and different needs:

For one, a certain Nintendo Switch game is a necessity as it serves as the perfect item for distraction purposes during these difficult times, whereas for others the same game is just a collective item in the collection, which can also be added later. And for others it’s essential to add a certain game now to the collection, as collecting is the distraction and brings the joy. So we are all different and have different needs – both gamers and collectors. My personal decision to hold back a bit with buying video games is solely based on my individual situation. And that’s mainly also why I haven’t shared that much content on Twitter in spring 2020, but still enjoyed to see others posts on new additions.  

Hardly Any Pickups in April, May and June 2020!

In April 2020, there was no single game delivered to my doorstep, while in May 2020 I added Tetris 99* (because of the included Nintendo Switch Online membership) and Super Rare GamesWorld of Goo (SteelBook version) to my collection. In June 2020 I picked up some more games, but this was just driven by the fact that I did get a huge parcel from Limited Run Games, containing 7 limited print releases that I ordered a pretty while ago: 

Talking about Orders in 2020: A Comparison to 2019

When you are collecting limited print releases, then you know that very often there is a huge time gap between pre-ordering a game and actually getting the game. The Limited Run Games that I received in June 2020, contained in fact pre-orders from November 2019 and January 2020. So with my decision in March 2020 to not hunt down every limited print release, the result (meaning less pickups) will be visible in a couple of months and will not have a direct impact on my additions (and on my delivery guy’s work!) during the pandemic started in Spring 2020. But I really tried to discipline myself and held back in general with my Nintendo Switch orders! That’s the numbers of games that I ordered the last months:

  • March 2020: 2 LRG games (I ordered Animal Crossing New Horizons in February 2020) pre-ordered
  • April 2020: 1 LRG game pre-ordered
  • May 2020: 1 SLG game pre-ordered, 1 general release (Tetris 99)
  • June 2020: 1 LRG game pre-ordered (Shantae!)

As you can see, I really limited myself with new orders in the months of March-June 2020 and only bought basically 6 games in 4 months – which is on average 1,5 games per month. In the same time frame last year, meaning in March-June 2019, I placed orders for 35 games, which averages in 8,75 games per month. So just by looking at these numbers, I can proudly say that I definitely slowed down with ordering new games! That’s a start.

However in July 2020, I placed some more orders again (8 games), which is of course also sometimes (too often!) driven by the releases from limited game companies that you simply just don’t want to miss. So in July 2020 I pre-ordered for instance the Limited Run Games’ Star Wars Episode I: Racer Classic Edition, The friends of Ringo Ishikawa or Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl Classic Edition, and I pre-ordered Untitled Goose Game*.

August 2020 was again a quiet month for me (I only ordered Chroma Squad from Super Rare Games), while also September 2020 was not that busy either: I only ordered the obvious Super Mario 3D All-Stars* release (which is also a limited print release – check my blogpost on this release here) and Tokyo School Life as well as Donut County.

Let’s look again into my ordering behavior of 2019 to better evaluate if I was really able to decrease the amount of Nintendo Switch game orders 2020: 

  • March – September 2020: In these 7 months I (pre-) ordered 19 Nintendo Switch physical games, what is equivalent to 2,71 games per month
  • March – September 2019: In these 7 months I (pre-) ordered 67 Nintendo Switch physical games, what is equivalent to a whopping 9,57 games per month

I hope these numbers above speak for themselves and show that I really changed my collecting behavior and that I limited myself with (pre-) ordering new Nintendo Switch games!

But now to the moment of truth: Which games did I add to my physical Nintendo Switch library during the last 7 months?

My Additions to the Nintendo Switch Collection between March and September 2020

Finally! After talking about plans to pick up less Nintendo Switch games, ordering numbers and lots of other things: The data we are all waiting for:

Benny Kong, what did you add to your collection between March and September 2020?

Over the last 7 months, I added 22 physical Nintendo Switch to my collection, which consists now (as of the time of writing) of 135 games.

In case you are wondering because you counted 23 games on the picture: I don’t count my duplicate Super Mario 3D All-Stars copy twice. In exceptional cases, in which I prefer to buy one physical copy to play and one copy to collect that I keep sealed, I count the game only once.

Along some pickups, the physical games came even some little goodies, such as a sticker, a keychain mini-case or a CD soundtrack, which is always a great value added:

To me, an important measurement for future decisions of buying or not buying normal retail releases is the size of the backlog and the spare time to play video games. So out of the 22 games that I picked up over the last 7 months, I only opened 4 physical games to play them: Meaning, I just played 18% of my new additions. 

I have friends that break the seal of every new game and play it briefly directly after they picked it up. On the contrary, I usually only open a game when I plan to play it for the next days/weeks. So the picture above represents my playing behavior: Usually I’m trying to 100% a game before I’m moving on and starting the next one. Hasbro Game Night* or Animal Crossing New Horizons* are exceptions here obviously, since I haven’t 100%’ed the games yet, and will certainly not do so. 

To conclude this blogpost:

In the course of the last 7 months it was important to me to slow down a bit with adding new Nintendo games to the collection. When looking at my Nintendo Switch additions at the same timeframe last year (March-September 2019), in which I picked up 55 Nintendo Switch games, I consider my plan as a success: As I only added 22 new games, I was indeed able to slow down a bit.

What about you? How many (physical) Nintendo Switch games do you add to your collection on average on a monthly basis? Do you give yourself a certain budget or do you just buy whatever you like? And also super important: Are you trying to save up some money – and even better: Invest some money in Bitcoin (or other cryptocurrencies), Gold, Silver and stocks? Happy to learn your strategy! 

Affiliate link: In case you haven’t bought the mentioned items yet or just you would like to support the blog, using my affiliate links for Amazon or PlayAsia would mean a world to me. Not to get rich, just to get the blog going. Thank you for your support!

** Sign-up for Trade Republic with my personal invitation link and receive 15 €: https://ref.trade.re/h03qsx7x

Super Mario 3D All Stars Benny Kong

It’s Mario Time – Super Mario 3D All-Stars Announcement Time

It has been rumored for quite some time over the course of 2020: A notorious Super Mario 3D Collection will hit the Nintendo Switch. Obviously one of the worst kept secrets in Nintendo’s video gaming year 2020 so far!

First brought to light by VGC back in March 2020 and eventually announced by Nintendo during a dedicated Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct on September 3, 2020, we finally know the what, and the when: The long-rumoured Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection will be available for Nintendo Switch, September 18, 2020.

Cued in by a “It’s a me, Mario”, the Super Mario 3D All-Stars announcement trailer answered some essential questions on the contents of this collection.

Get Ready for Mario’s 35th anniversary with Super Mario 3D All-Stars for Nintendo Switch!

First things first – what can we expect? The collection will include optimized versions of following classic 3D platformers:

  • Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64, 1996): improved picture resolution, 4:3 visuals (720p docked and portable)
  • Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube, 2002): higher-resolution, 16:9 visuals (1080p docked, 720p portable)
  • Super Mario Galaxy (Wii, 2007): 16:9 visuals, 1080p docked, 720p portable.

All 3 iconic games will feature Joy-Con controls as well as Pro Controller support. The bundle will also contain an in-game music player mode that allows you to listen to a catalogue of 175 timeless Super Mario tunes.

It’s feels super-right to finally have these three Mario titles from three different console generations bundled up for Nintendo Switch:

Interestingly it seems that Nintendo never revealed a blockbuster game with such a short notice: Based on the day of the announcement, Super Mario 3D All-Stars* will hit physical and digital shelves only 15 (fifteen) days later. And another super important fact:

The collection will be available as a limited-run retail edition and a digital version that will be only on sale until March 2021. This limited-time only aspect caused a lot of polarization among both players and collectors and will be discussed later on in this article.

No Love for Super Mario Galaxy 2?

Since the idea of a Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection first leaked, the aspect whether Super Mario Galaxy 2 will be part of the collection or not was speculated heavily. As we know now, at the time of writing, the Wii game from 2010 will not be included in this Nintendo Switch 35th Anniversary celebration edition. This is surprising, since for many players, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is considered better than its predecessor, Super Mario Galaxy:

One leading opinion for Super Mario Galaxy 2 as the better overall game is that the level design is by far more creative, there are more stars to be found, it’s the longer game and Yoshi makes his debut in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and introduces new gameplay mechanics. As I actually haven’t played Super Mario Galaxy 2 myself yet (but I have it in my Wii collection), I can’t take any side here.

So why is Nintendo excluding Super Mario Galaxy 2 from Super Mario 3D All-Stars? And more interestingly: Why hasn’t Nintendo even mentioned the Wii game in their entire Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct? Everybody that doesn’t know better, could claim Super Mario Galaxy 2 doesn’t even exist.

For sure, Big N doesn’t need to justify their decision why not re-releasing a certain game, but gives us players and collectors certainly room to speculate now.

Looking at the commercial side, Super Mario Galaxy 2 hasn’t sold that well as Super Mario Galaxy did (7.41 Mio. units vs 12.8 Mio.). But Super Mario Galaxy 2 outperformed Super Mario Sunshine regarding sales units (6.28 Mio.). This could be based on the fact that the Wii has a much bigger installation base than the GameCube has. Nevertheless, I don’t think that Nintendo’s decision to not include Super Mario Galaxy 2 in the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection was a sales-driven one. To me it seems that Nintendo may have further plans with Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Maybe there is a new Super Mario Galaxy 3 in development, and to market this release most efficiently, we will get a separate Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 collection to create momentum? Or we might even get an entire Super Mario Galaxy collection, including Super Mario Galaxy 1 -3? Or maybe more realistically – but still wishful thinking: There are still a lot of ideas that haven’t been used for Super Mario Galaxy 2 and we will get a Super Mario Galaxy 2 – The Lost Galaxies release?

I’d love all of that! But I honestly wouldn’t appreciate when the only reason why Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not on the Super Mario 3D All-Stars cartridge is that Nintendo can release the title separately later on. For sure Nintendo could have ran into some development delay and haven’t managed to finish the Super Mario Galaxy 2 remaster to be ready for the 35th Anniversary collection.

Or Nintendo simply didn’t want to flood the market with too many Super Mario releases and overwhelm players with too many options? But when, when not during the Super Mario’s 35th Anniversary celebrations?

My Thoughts on the Limited Run Aspect

Another controversial aspect is Nintendo’s limited-run policy on this release: As we learnt, Super Mario 3D All-Stars will only be on sale from September 18, 2020 until March 2021, physically and digitally. The physical boxed version is a limited run print that can be bought as long as supply lasts, whereas the digital version will be removed from point of sale at the end of March 2021. These practices arouse a lot of question marks among the Nintendo community, but is not completely new:

In 2010, Nintendo released the Super Mario Bros. 25th Anniversary collection for Wii. The compilation contained the four classic Super Mario Bros. games from the NES area, combined together with a booklet detailing the history of the series and an audio soundtrack of the platforming games of the Mario series.

But the interesting part of the story is that the collection was a limited run as well: Despite the “Limited Edition” aspect, Nintendo issued re-prints of the Wii retail version under the Nintendo Selects label in 2016. However, this 2016 re-release did not contain any bonus material though. So can we maybe expect that Nintendo will also be doing a re-run of the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection at some point? Time will tell.

So what the physical limited print is concerned that’s not completely new. But today we are also talking about a delisting of the digital version of Super Mario 3D All-Stars at the end of March 2021, which is being criticized a lot. In general one could argue that special anniversary collections are quite common in all industries – may it be music albums, clothing, cologne, or even cars. All kinds of brands are bundling up certain goodies to celebrate a variety of occasions, and customers can benefit from these special offers. Are these certain purchase opportunities extended, special collections are usually not purchasable in the way they used to be in this special timeframe. One was lucky to snag this limited edition, whereas others were missing out (and are complaining now).

Although we are mainly talking about physical goods here, I think honestly, that this also can apply to digital goods: 

Nintendo is giving us a window to buy a special product to celebrate Mario’s 35th Anniversary – so should I still be able to buy this dedicated 35th Anniversary product in 2023, when Mario celebrates his 38th birthday? Maybe there will be even a better product out in three years?

The fact that Nintendo is releasing three iconic platformers in one collection at a fair price, should be considered as a gift – and not being taken for granted. All three games could be also released individually at a later stage, but that’s usually not that handy from a customer standpoint as having the games bundled up in one collection. We don’t know what plans Nintendo has for all of these three games in the future. But one’s for certain: Nintendo needs to protect their titles’ individual value, their Intellectual Property (IP), and not dilute the value by having too many releases out there. The argument that Super Mario Sunshine sees its first digital re-release since the GameCube release in 2002, supports this value protection approach.

Nintendo is entertaining us with Mario games since 1985 and provides us with tons of hours of gameplay – but Nintendo is also running a successful business that needs to be sustainable. And protecting the business’ IP by carefully balancing the amount of re-releases per title, is an essential aspect and understandable approach in my mind.  

My Verdict on this 3 in 1 Collection

I think it’s great to finally have these three iconic 3D platformers with Super Mario 3D All-Stars on one cartridge – or available as one download. And that’s why I also pre-ordered a physical copy (actually even two physical copies for collecting purposes), and given the limited nature of this release, I even consider buying the digital version. 

Since I only 100%’ed Super Mario 64 so far and never finished Super Mario Sunshine or Super Mario Galaxy, I’m really looking forward to revisiting these games on Nintendo Switch. My plan is to play them all in chronological order to witness the evolution of Mario’s 3D adventures at best.

As Super Mario 64 is one of my favorite games of all time, I can’t wait to play it on Nintendo Switch – despite the fact that I beat it a couple of times on my Nintendo 64, and completed the game even on the Wii U back in 2016. Nintendo also released a digital version of Super Mario Galaxy for Wii U in 2015, but since you were required to play the game with Wii Remote and Nunchuk, I never purchased that version digitally for Wii U. The motion controls aspect was actually the reason why I was never that much into that classic game from 2007. So I’m really excited to dig into the game – playing with my Pro Controller. What Super Mario Sunshine is concerned, this is the very first time that we will get a ported version of the GameCube platformer – what may explain the hype on this release. And also my hype – as the Benny Kong guy, that never finished the game back in 2002.  

But there are also some downsides of Super Mario 3D All-Stars:

As highlighted earlier, there are a lot of criticisms that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not part of the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection – and I’m honestly disappointed here as well. The fact that the platformer is missing may be due to several reasons, but there are even some scenarios, which will make it up to us. So even though Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not included in the 35th Anniversary collection, doesn’t mean necessary that the game will not be released on Nintendo Switch at some point. 

Another downside of this Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection we are getting for Nintendo Switch is the aspect that the package only contains optimized versions of the games. At the time of writing we don’t know exactly if Nintendo has some surprises planned since we only know the trailer so far, but currently we are promised higher resolutions and an optimized gameplay experience for Nintendo Switch.

I honestly also thought that we will get proper remastered versions, such as Activision’s Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy* or Spyro Reignited Trilogy* which are actually remaked versions – often also categorized as remasters. But to me, we have to differentiate between a remaster, which is usually just some (quick) fixes and improvements of the resolution, e.g. HD coat of paint, additions of new effects, improved interfaces etc, or a full remake. The amount of work for a remake is considerably higher, since in Activision’s case, the games were built from the scratch using a different engine, what’s the reason why the Crash or Spyro Trilogy versions are absolutely stunning and provide a gorgeous visual improved experience, as you can see below:  

Honestly I also wished that at least Super Mario 64 will be a remake, instead of only applying resolution updates and releasing it as a remaster – what is basically an enhanced port. It’d have been so amazing to see new assets such textures for walls or the grass, as Nintendo demonstrated already in the Mushroom Kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey:

Wouldn’t this be wonderful? I was really hopeful that Super Mario 64 will be a remake, giving the gratitude of this game – and the occasion, as it’s Mario’s 35th Anniversary. And! Nintendo is not new to remakes! Nintendo also remade the Super Mario Bros. series from the NES and bundled them into a Super Mario All-Stars collection for the Super NES in 1993. 

Not only had every game in Super Mario All-Stars been remade; brand new and totally redrawn graphics utilizing the rich colour palette of the Super Nintendo, Nintendo also added the western release of the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, presented here as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, to the collection.

That’s exactly what most of us also wished for Super Mario 3D All-Stars for Nintendo Switch: Getting a remake with some gameplay goodies, such as additional playable content, instead of an optimized remaster with a music player.

So what about you? Are you happy with Super Mario 3D All-Stars? Have you pre-ordered already? Which game will you be playing first? Let me know in the comments section!

* Affiliate link: In case you haven’t bought Super Mario 3D All-Stars yet or just you would like to support the blog, using my affiliate links for Amazon or PlayAsia would mean a galaxy to me. Not to get rich, just to get the blog going. Thank you for your support!