Nintendo Life Mailbox
Image: Nintendo Life

Welcome back once again to the Nintendo Life Mailbox. My word, it's been a full year since we first opened up our inbox to your missives! Time flies when you're anxiously awaiting word on Nintendo's next console.

Yes, it's time for issue 12 of our letters page. A relatively light offering this month — you're all obviously otherwise engaged with the many games May has delivered. The future may be uncertain, but the great games keep coming.

Got something you want to get off your chest? We're ready and waiting to read about your game-related ponderings. Each month we’ll highlight a Star Letter, the writer of which will receive a month’s subscription to our ad-free Supporter scheme. Check out the submission guidelines at the bottom of this page.

Ready to dive in? Let’s-a go!

Nintendo Life Mailbox - May 2024

"the big port" (***STAR LETTER***)

When the Switch came out, we got a lot of Xbox 360/PS3 era games ported to the Switch to help sell this new portable console. Skyrim was the big third party port that I remember being shown at the Switch reveal. What PS4/Xbox One era title do you expect to be the big port for the launch of the Switch 2?

We've had some PS4 games come to Switch already, which blurs the lines, so it would have to be something pretty ambitious or celebrated to grab attention. Without just flipping open the Best PS4 / Xbox One games pages from our friends across the network, my mind first jumped to Elden Ring. Actually, it first jumped to Bloodborne, but that isn't happening.

Elden Ring, though, depending on Switch 2 specs, could theoretically happen. The PS4 version runs well from what I hear, so a special edition featuring all the upcoming DLC and, I don't know, exclusive Luigi armour or something, could be a Skyrim-level reveal event for Nintendo. FromSoft wouldn't even have to make it in time for launch — Skyrim didn't — but I can't think of a more exciting known quantity to take that Skyrim role this time around. There needs to be an element of 'Wow, that studio is putting that on a Nintendo console!?’ and an old Assassin's Creed just doesn't get the pulse racing.

There are loads of others that could fit the bill. Red Dead 2, FFVII Remake, perhaps. Cyberpunk 2077 would make for a headline. But if Nintendo is looking for a surefire hit to make the hardcore contingent pay attention, FromSoft is the studio. - Ed.

Elden Ring PS5
Yes, I know this is the PS5 version. Quiet, you. — Image: Gemma Smith / Nintendo Life

"shoot the Pokémon with lasers"

I have had an idea of a really cool Pokémon expansion for Super Nintendo World. You would use the wristbands to “catch” Pokémon with animatronics around the park, and there would be Pokémon Snap style rides synced to the band where you try and shoot the Pokémon with lasers to catch them as you go past. There would be Pokédex screens around the park where you would tap to see your collection.
The idea came to me in a dream!

I could see it, although Pokémon feels big enough to warrant a park of its own — certainly more than a tiny section in an already cramped Nintendo World. Wandering around, going to the Poké Mart, heading into caves with your pals and battling 'mon, staying out of the sightlines of loitering trainers ready to blow you away with their Lv.2 Weedle. Photo ops with a sleeping Snorlax. Could be fun.

The Phanpy in the room, though, is Pokémon GO, which essentially lets you battle and catch 'em all without having to fly anywhere or pay ridiculous ticket prices to wave your wristband at an animatronic Squirtle. - Ed.

"instantly gratifying type"

Recently, I read an article on the quality of the books we are reading. At one point it said, "There is the instantly gratifying type... more like a video game. Then there is entertainment that makes you work for it... more like taking a long walk in the woods...." I am going to be brutally honest here: I AM TIRED OF THIS TROPE. Yes, I love the great outdoors, I understand the benefits of them, etc., etc. But why are *all* video games bad for you? This author later acknowledges "good for you" films, so it is not as if she has a bias towards screens in general. But again and again, we are told "Video Games will Rot your Brain" but never "Video Games can tell Beautiful Stories." I have been playing TotK, and you cannot tell me that does not have beauty in it's open world. You can't tell me that Unpacking has nothing to tell us. You can't act like Hollow Knight isn't a gorgeous work of art. I just wish that more people could see the wonder in gaming....
Thanks for your time.

It's frustrating when 'video games' are used as shorthand for a dirty dopamine hit while you're taking a break from other more worthy, artistically enriching pursuits. Then again, I also bristle when people discuss Video Games As Art™ and The Last of Us is all they've got. Nothing against that game or Naughty Dog — they do beautiful work — I just feel that making TLOU the poster game for the medium’s artistic and narrative achievement is, in an way, equally narrow-minded. Emotive cutscenes and film-quality acting and dialogue make it more easily relatable to critics who didn't grow up with games but have accepted film as ‘art’. What Naughty Dog has achieved is important, but it’s also a limited example of how games impact, mould, and reflect our society and culture.

It's the same with anything with which we’re unfamiliar, though. Perhaps there's a subtle artistry and variety I'm just not perceiving in thousands of reggaeton tracks that all sound near-identical to me. Maybe there's a whole world of joy and sorrow and excitement to be explored in ten tall men running from a hoop at one end of a court to a hoop at the other end, and then back again. And again. We're all guilty of dismissing things that don't immediately capture our imagination. You've just got to be open to new experiences, encourage others to be the same, and don't get too disheartened when someone in mainstream media cites Space Invaders as the beginning and end of video gaming's artistic potential. - Ed.

Nintendo flatlay
Image: Gemma Smith / Nintendo Life

"visiting the idea"

Dear NL,
Given the state of the industry and recent events involving the mass layoffs and closures of successful studios, would it be worth visiting the idea of a Union? I'm sure one probably exists but doesn't get much attention. This leads me to recall the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes. I know I could be over simplifying many issues developers face when I say that unionizing all developers could solve many of their problems. It would be difficult to coordinate such an endeavor and it could very well fail, but I would rather try than suffer through the status quo.

Across the games industry, unions have been mobilising recently, with QA workers taking the lead in various instances. It's great to see and we need more of it, especially given how dire the landscape is, and there are some encouraging signs. People are exhausted and angry when an industry this large can't take care of its people, when its long-term wellbeing and growth are sabotaged by thousands of job cuts. Who in their right mind would get into gamedev knowing how even the biggest, most profitable outfits will drop you at a moment's notice?

The big companies will always resist, but safeguarding employee rights and aiding workers who need info and support should be a no-brainer for anyone who cares about the medium and the people behind the games we play. For anybody who wants to know more about unionisation, Polygon has a nice zine-style article covering the topic that's well worth a read. - Ed.

"Soulslikes for beginners"

Does anyone on your team have any recommendations for "Soulslikes for beginners" like me? Perhaps games like Dark Souls I could train myself on? Because I do want to get into games like the aforementioned Dark souls, but they're so different from what I usually play that I find them hard to get into.

After considering this for a good while and throwing the question around the office, I really think going to the source is your best bet. (Well, not the source, but the source of the genre moniker.) There are alternatives and similar-feeling games, but there's no easy way in — Dark Souls is the gateway. You'll either click with it or you won't.

The trick is giving yourself time to settle into its groove, and approaching it differently from other 3D action games. They might look similar but they have a radically different design approach. If you start playing with your hack-'n'-slash hat on, you're going to get immediately frustrated — it's simply not that sort of game. Slow and steady wins the race; building your character, learning about your enemies and environment, and experimenting with equipment. Mechanically, there's a lot to digest, so those aspects should be your focus initially, not 'getting through' an area. There's an element of grind to it, but there's nothing like the sense of discovery and skill-building that comes from learning the game. Then you can focus on exploring.

And don't be afraid to summon help! The online multiplayer aspect of those games is incredible. - Ed.

Dark Souls - Artorias Plush Fangamer
Image: Zion Grassl / Nintendo Life

Bonus Letters

"Hi, I wrote up this document and was wondering if you were interested in posting about it" - JP

Let's open that up and have a little loo—OHMYGODMYEYESMYEY— - Ed.

"What Professor Layton games are available for my Nintendo switch? Are any new games coming?" - Wendy

This may have come to the wrong address, but hey. Right now only Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires' Conspiracy - Deluxe Edition is on Switch, unfortunately. I know, it seems weird. Roll on Layton and the New World of Steam next year. And how about a Layton Collection, Level-5? - Ed.

Professor Layton
Image: Level-5

That's all for this month! Thanks to everyone who wrote in, whether you were featured above or not.

Got something you'd like to get off your chest? A burning question you need answered? A correction you can't contain? Follow the instructions below, then, and we look forward to rifling through your missives.

Nintendo Life Mailbox submission advice and guidelines

  • Letters, not essays, please - Bear in mind that your letter may appear on the site, and 1000 words ruminating on the Legend of Heroes series and asking Alana for her personal ranking isn't likely to make the cut. Short and sweet is the order of the day. (If you're after a general guide, 100-200 words would be ample for most topics.)
  • Don't go crazy with multiple correspondences - Ideally, just the one letter a month, please!
  • Don't be disheartened if your letter doesn't appear in the monthly article - We anticipate a substantial inbox, and we'll only be able to highlight a handful every month. So if your particular letter isn't chosen for the article, please don't get disheartened!

How to send a Letter to the Nintendo Life Mailbox

  • Head to Nintendo Life's Contact page and select the subject "Reader Letters" from the drop-down menu (it's already done for you in the link above). Type your name, email, and beautifully crafted letter into the appropriate box, hit send, and boom — you're done!