I’ve spent much of the last week staring at the Switch eShop page for the Grandia HD Collection willing myself not to buy it. For me, it is probably the most alluring recent release on the system, a collection of two classic RPGs I’ve never played and aren’t easily accessible, available on the most pleasant and convenient console. That’s like catnip to me.
Something about the Switch makes me believe I can play anything, that buckets of free time will just spring from the system’s dock for me to scoop up and take with me as I play the thing in handheld mode. My pile of unfinished 3DS role-playing games should disabuse me of this notion, but you know what? The 3DS isn’t getting Baldur’s Gate ports.
Because of the unique combination of the Switch’s popularity and my own self-delusion, I get way more excited about old games popping up on the eShop than new ones. Sure, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is swell. I’m about 32 hours in, and having a great time. But my PS1 copy of Final Fantasy VIII was rendered unplayable by scratches and I never got a new one, so I’m very much looking forward to finally finishing that game after years of somehow never getting spoiled. (Let’s ignore the fact that I bought it on Vita, because I am ill.)
I can’t help it. Every week I log on to the eShop to see what’s new and what’s on sale, and I’m almost never looking for actual new releases. I’m looking for ports and remasters, like they were some obscure VHS release of a TV show I watched in the ‘90s.
The Switch has turned me into a kind of digital flea market enthusiast, coming by every week to see if I can nab some rarity or old favourite I missed out on, a habit I maintain religiously even though what I usually see is just a pile of junk hoping to fool you into thinking it’s something you might want.
I’m a little conflicted about this because I personally loathe the way publishers make people re-purchase games they already own for convenience, and console manufacturers spotty track record of backwards compatibility. Video games should stick around in an accessible way, you know? To me, there is a distinction between a re-release like the Grandia games — not exactly impossible to get a hold of, but not easy—and one like Final Fantasy VII, which feels like it has been re-released on a new platform every year for the last three years.
At this point, I don’t really know what new release on Switch I’m truly excited about. I know there are some—Astral Chain, get at me—but what I want to know most is what old, hard-to-play-now game is going to make it to the system next.
Maybe someday I will find my dear old frenemy, Chakan: The Forever Man, once more.