Top 10 ports I want on Switch

The Nintendo Switch seems to be a hit. With just over a year under its belt, it has sold just under 20 million units – already over 6 million more than the poor Wii U ever sold in its entire lifespan. While the Switch has some impressive original software, the main drive behind its success appears to be its play potential. Gamers finally have a modern portable that feels amazing (and can double as a home console).

I own a Switch and I love it. I take it with me on the T and hook it up to my TV when I’m home. I have no doubt that Nintendo will continue to bring original quality content to their platform for the foreseeable future. So today, let’s not talk original content – let’s talk ports. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a video game port is simply a game that was originally made for another system before being “ported” over to a new one. For example – Bethesda’s DOOM originally came out for PS4, Xbox One, and PC before being released – or ported over – to the Switch.

All right, now that we have the terminology out of the way – let’s talk ports!

Child of Light

Ubisoft appears to have a weird relationship with Nintendo at the moment. Over the past two console generations, the companies have presented together as friends, but the Ubisoft library on Nintendo consoles has been…lacking. One of the first third parties to endorse the Wii U – the company quickly backtracked, cancelling a project and moving exclusives Rayman Legends and Zombiu to wider markets.

One game that the Wii U did receive was Child of Light. An indie-style 2D adventure RPG that was quaint and charming, Child of Light isn’t a classic by any stretch – but I remember enjoying my playthrough. It is a light-hearted, simple game that would feel right at home alongside many of the indie darlings already on Switch.

I feel like Ubisoft has some really low hanging fruit here when it comes to increasing their revenue on Switch. I could see this game selling really well if priced between $15 and $20.

Assassin’s Creed IV

And speaking of Ubisoft, let’s give another of their recent classics some new life. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag has already sold over 5 million units – on PS4 and Xbox One. That’s right, just the remastered editions. Clearly this is a game that fans love and are willing to double-dip for.

If we’re all honest, Assassin’s Creed seems like a series suffering from fatigue. Few intellectual properties successfully transition from generation to generation (remember Prince of Persia?) and, until they add significant gameplay adjustments or just set a game in Japan, I personally feel like the future of the franchise is less than exciting.

So why not relive the glory days? Having a pirate adventure on-the-go sounds pretty great! If Ubisoft is feeling bold, they can even throw in an Assassin’s Creed Classic Trilogy collection as well.

The Mass Effect Trilogy

Hey remember that time EA released Mass Effect 3 (and only Mass Effect 3 – minus DLC) on Wii U? Me neither. Let’s all join in not remembering that event by enjoying the full trilogy on Switch. Mass Effect is in a bad spot right now. The once A-list series suffered a less than stellar ending in Mass Effect 3 before releasing the equivalent of a Disney direct-to-DVD sequel in Mass Effect: Andromeda.

The brand needs to rebound and EA has already released a trilogy package for 360 and PS3. The Switch can handle it, and the move would remind gamers of all the fun they had with the first three games…while not talking about the 4th.

I know I would buy it, but I’m also a huge fan. I mean – I did write a fan screenplay.

Soul Calibur II HD Edition

So, some time ago Namco re-released Soul Calibur II  for both Microsoft and Sony. This version was dubbed Soul Calibur II HD Online and featured both previous console exclusives Spawn and Heihachi. That’s great and all, but they missed the best exclusive.

Despite having a much small install base, Soul Calibur II for the Gamecube nearly outsold its PS2 rival. Why? One word: Link. Link fit into Soul Calibur II like Kratos fit into Mortal Kombat. Given that Nintendo is trying to bolster its presence in online gaming, getting a remastered port (with all three exclusive characters) would be a boom. Not to mention Nintendo seems to have a good relationship with Namco – working with the company on Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS.

Red Dead Redemption: Definitive Edition

Let’s be real for a second. We all know that Red Dead Redemption II will never come to the Switch. I love that little system but it is nowhere near powerful enough. So, while Nintendo owners nurse the pain of not being able to take the latest Rockstar adventure portable, why not toss them a bone from memory lane?

The first Red Dead Redemption is an amazing game. In my opinion, it is the best experience that Rockstar Studios has created so far. And, since it never got a PC port, people don’t have an easy way to play it right now.

Taking Red Dead Redemption – along with all of its amazing DLC – on-to-go sounds fantastic and a profitable fit for both Nintendo and Rockstar. With Bethesda reporting solid sales numbers from its early Switch endeavors, there appears to be a market for mature gaming on Switch. Adding the original Red Dead Redemption would go a long way to bolster said offerings.

The Monkey Island Classic Trilogy

Once upon a time, LucasArts existed. Not only that – they made games! Even more unbelievably, most of those games were gems; classics of timeless quality and appeal. With the news that one such product, Grim Fandango, is coming to the Switch, we can only hope that LucasArts’ other classic adventure game series isn’t far behind.

Playing as a pirate is fun, Guybrush Threepwood taught me that. The Monkey Island series had three stellar entries before falling off into obscurity. These share would fit in well alongside other quirky games like Night in the Woods and Golf Story. I don’t know who owns the rights to these three games – but given that two have already been remastered (and the third is available on Steam), I can’t imagine it would be too difficult to get them working on Nintendo’s newest hardware.

Fallout: New Vegas

While rumors of Fallout 3 on the Switch have existed for some time, I haven’t heard as much talk about the other, arguably better Fallout game of the 7th generation. This is likely due to Fallout: New Vegas having a more complex ownership. Developer Obsidian Entertainment partnered with Bethesda to create the post-apocalyptic romp through the wasteland, and getting both publishers to sign off on a remastered version may take some doing.

Regardless, New Vegas is a gem among modern RPG games. Bethesda has already enjoyed success with Skyrim on Switch, so bringing in its old Fallout library makes sense. If we do see Fallout 3, I can only hope that a New Vegas announcement is soon to follow.

Alpha Protocol: Remastered Edition

So far, I don’t think my list has been unique. Most of these potential ports have been discussed on other sites at some point in time. But now, here is one that I am almost certain no one else will have talked about – because most people don’t remember it…because it wasn’t super great when it first came out.

Alpha Protocol was an attempt by Obsidian Entertainment to launch its own IP – back before the days of Pillars of Eternity. It was a spy RPG in the vein of Mass Effect, where the player took on the persona of a secret agent, and every choice impacted story progression. And, in terms of story – it was fantastic! I remember playing it and being really absorbed, loving how I was always a jerk…but I could decide exactly what kind of jerk I wanted to be. To offer a modern comparison: It is like how CD Project Red handled Geralt in The Witcher 3.

The problem was the combat. Released close to Mass Effect 2, Alpha Protocol felt slightly worse than Mass Effect 1. The skill tree felt unbalanced, with certain abilities like hand-to-hand combat feeling under-powered and useless in boss fights. The resulting gameplay issues turned critics off, and the game sold less than 1 million units.

BUT – I maintain that it is still mostly a good game. One that could be fixed with less than a year of work. It might not become a classic, but Alpha Protocol could enjoy a second life on Switch. Several other games have already seen similar revivals on Nintendo’s new system, so – if I worked at Obsidian – I would at least consider it. Great stories are timeless – and Alpha Protocol had an immersive plot.

Star Wars: Rogue Leaders HD

Once upon a time, a company called Factor 5 made some great Star Wars games on Nintendo systems. If you’ve ever played Rogue Squadron or Rogue Leader, you’ve sampled their work. Then, as with many game companies, they hit bad luck and, ultimately, went bankrupt.

What makes this story worse is they had a completed game set for launch on the Wii that just didn’t happen. LucasArts was notorious for cancelling promising projects in development at the time (never forget Battlefront III) and Rogue Leaders became just another casualty.

Which is a darn shame because those old games are great and, since Disney took over the franchise, there has been a shortage of quality Star Wars video game content. How amazing would it be to throw the fans a bone by releasing an HD version of a game that was already intended to be a remaster of a classic Gamecube title? Talk about minimal work for maximum gain.

There is money to be made here – Disney just needs to move on it:

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

I’ve tried to leave Nintendo games off this list. For one thing, I firmly believe that every Wii U classic will be on the Switch at some point because, you know, money. For another, I wanted to be more creative. That said, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker remains my personal favorite Zelda game.

The treatment that Nintendo gave it for the Wii U was superb so, I simply ask – bring to the Switch man…come on. I can only put so many hundreds of hours into Breath of the the Wild. The work is done – the game looks amazing – let’s just get a move on.

And that’s it for my list. If you’ve made it this far – thanks for reading. If you were expecting something more literary from me – sorry for this offshoot but I’m a gamer as well as an author. Don’t worry, I’ll have something book-related for you soon!

A couple of honorable mentions real quick: Can we get the original two (or three) DOOM games on Switch…and where is Resident Evil 4? I thought Capcom had a quest to put that game on every system.

The many origins and inspirations of The Dreamcatchers

This is the third post on the creation of The Dreamcatchers. I already wrote on the initial origins (where the idea came from, how the dreamcatchers’ appearance was based off Marvel villain, Dr. Doom) and how the book took on a new identity as it evolved, but today I wanted to do a deep dive. Let’s talk more about everything Dreamcatchers, answering so many questions. My goal is to provide you with an inside look at my writing process and even my inner mental workings.

So, without further ado – let’s talk about The Dreamcatchers!

Character names

Every author will tell you that a character’s name matters. It becomes part of their larger personality and an easy mental association as you write. Having the name nailed down can call to mind a fully formed image of the character in your mind.

“Oh, I’m writing about so-and-so! That’s easy! They look like this and they act like this because of what happened years ago, plus this person they met…” You get the idea – the name becomes a mental bookmark in your brain. It marks the start for a chapter detailing your entire character.

So choosing the right name matters. When I began writing Dreamcatchers, I wanted to convey that most of the main characters weren’t human right away. So, I chose names that, for the most part, sounded very alien to me. What better place to start than one of my favorite video games of all time, Mass Effect.

Vakarian Dreamcatchers
“I’m Garrus Vakarian and I was an inspiration for The Dreamcatchers!”

To better humanize Dreamcatcher – give him a life outside of his job – I decided to name him after long-time wing man and BFF Garrus Vakarian. This name grab served another purpose besides honoring a game series. I wanted Vakarian to be balanced. Garrus is always a constant in the Mass Effect series – a character who can be depended on time and time again. That was also my vision for Vakarian. At his best, he is in control and there for his fellow squad mates – just like Garrus.

When it came to the other nefiri, most came to me as I wrote, without one single source of inspiration. There were three exceptions. Fidel, a.k.a. Duckie, was named after a close friend of mine – using her last name instead of her first. Romaniuk has similar origins.

Then there was Zarel – specifically his codename, The Midnight Phantom. When I was younger, I used to attend a camp in Maine called Birch Rock Camp. This place had local legends – stories the campers and counselors told to entertain ourselves. One of my favorites was the Midnight Phantom, a prankster who would move stuff around during the night. You could always tell he’d been there because he would leave his initials – MP.

Since Zarel was intended as a comic relief, I felt that the Midnight Phantom was a natural fit for his codename. In regards to his appearance – I went a different route: ‘

Gorefiend Zarel Dreamcatchers
It’s tough to get captures from old games but Gorefiend’s picture is in the upper left.

Warcraft II was my favorite video game growing up, in large part due to its incredible art style. One NPC – Teron Gorefiend – had what looked like a disfigured face, hidden largely by a scarf and his hood. This image has stuck with me throughout the years and, when the time came, I felt it was a terrific basis for Zarel’s facial structure.

Quick side note: Gorefiend’s yellow hood also inspired the choice of female dreamcatcher garb.

The technology

Part of what I loved most when writing The Dreamcatchers was their technology. On the one hand, it’s very traditional fantasy. A big part of this is the lack of traditional firearms, which made sense to me since there is no gunpowder in their world. To compensate, many dreamcatchers still use bows, namely crossbows. But this does not mean they’re outdated.

At every other turn, I wanted the nefiri to come off as a technically advanced race. Part of it is there world structure. It isn’t easy to navigate the Nether, and Inspiration is even more hazardous. To get around, the nefiri had to be hardy and capable of building impressive machines.

Some of this notion came from Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series. I’ve always loved how he blended the fantastical with the technological, so I sought to strike a similar balance. If Colfer’s faeries could adapt to a challenging world, then so could my nefiri.

Dreamcatchers damsel pod
The damsel pods were based off of damselflies and have similar designs.

The villain

Incubus was a lot of fun to write as well, in part because he was one of the rare points when I got to project beyond the The Dreamcatchers. To all of you who have trouble understanding what exactly he’s talking about, all I can say is – just wait. After you read The Night Terrors, go back and check his dialogue. You won’t be disappointed.

I knew early on that I wanted him to be a shapeshifter. This comes from my own experience as a lucid dreamer. When I was fighting back against my nightmares, I noticed the more persistent ones had the ability to change forms, adapting to whatever would scare me the most. How nice of my subconscious to put in that extra effort.

In regards to Incubus’ appearance in the Inspiration, I used two primary sources. The first was Hayao Miyazaki and his demons from Princess Mononoke. The second once again came from Marvel. Anyone watching recent movie trailers might have seen this one:

Venom and Carnage are my two favorite Spider-Man villains. I love how their bodies change to fit the situation (like arms turning into weapons). When I was thinking of how Incubus’ skin should look outside of the dream, the texture of the symbiote was in my head.

The music I wrote to

A lot of authors listen to music when we write. I’ve always found that it helps shut out the world and allows me to focus more on the story in front of me. My goal with musical choice is to have it enhance the scene I’m writing. For starters, when Tony and Vakarian fly, I wanted to use something inspirational. The initial teaser music for How to Train Your Dragon 2 was a perfect fit:

Vakarian’s final showdown with Incubus was another moment very charged with musical influence. The initial fight in Inspiration had multiple parts. The showdown with the omen was inspired by part of the Transformers: Dark of the Moon soundtrack. Vakarian’s fight with Incubus came from a sampling from V for Vendetta.

As for the fight in the Dream itself? Well, that actually came from The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I loved all the imagery surrounding Bard and Smaug. The idea of this single lone warrior against an overwhelming force really summed up what I wanted the final fight to feel like. As much, the music from this scene also factored into The Dreamcatchers finale:

Lastly, we need to talk about Tony and Fidel’s victory moment. Since the book has just come out, I don’t want to go too much into spoilers. For this particular point, I reached back to one of my favorite scenes as a kid and used the corresponding music:

So there you have it! There’s more – so much more to say – but I hope this has satisfied at least some of your curiosity when it comes to the novel writing process. Writers are like sponges. We absorb the art around us and transform it into something new (or at least try to).

Writing a novel is a process, equal parts inspiration from without as well as within. Not all ideas fit together well, and that’s part of the trick. I don’t think I ever would have used anything from Dragonball Z in a “serious” story but for a fantastical adventure like The Dreamcatchers, it made perfect sense.

As a storyteller, feel out ideas by tone and try to group them accordingly. You’ll find it may help!

That’s all for now. If you’ve bought a copy of The Dreamcatchers –  thank you so much for reading it! I hope you found it as entertaining to read as I did to write. I’ll leave you now with one teaser. A look ahead to The Night Terrors. As with Dreamcatchers, I’m using music to help write certain scenes. Here is one of the tracks I’ve been listening to a lot:

As always, if you’d like to get your own copy of The Dreamcatchers, it is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Ta ta for now!