Interview #014: Brian Cooper - Japanese Nintendo (@japanese3ds)
Thank you Brian for letting me speak with you today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi JP. I’m just a relic of the British home computer scene and later joined the console warz in the 90’s! Seriously though, I’ve been a Nintendo fanboy for three decades now and just ended up writing about the games I like five years ago. This evolved into my current news focused website.
What was the first console/game you remember playing?
The first game I played was Jumping Jack - a really basic stickman game for the ZX Spectrum. The first dedicated gaming system I bought was the original Game Boy, so the first actual console game would likely be Tetris by default! I did play with friends as a child who had NES’s and Master System’s so I may actually have played the likes of Super Mario Bros. or Psycho Fox before Tetris. I’m not exactly sure!
What is your fondest childhood video game memory?
Probably my first The Legend of Zelda game: A Link to the Past. One day I stayed up literally ALL night playing the game and looked like an extra from Zombies Ate My Neighbors the next day at school! The game was the first really story driven game I’d played and really propelled me into becoming a huge JRPG fan.
Let's talk about your website, www.japanesenintendo.com. From release date info to sales to reviews, you seem to encompass it all when it comes to the Nintendo Switch. However, for those who may be learning about this for the first time, what made you want to provide these services?
Well, reviews I really struggle at as I don’t find time to play games as much as I like to! For the rest though, I try and cover everything to the extent that I as a fan would like to read. There’s still so much I would like to add to the site however (mainly a comprehensive list of all Japanese 3DS games, similarly to what I have done with Switch and Wii U), but sadly don’t have time.
As I'm sure you're aware, the Nintendo Switch continues to grow, both with digital and physical releases. How do you keep up?
I’ve really had to cut back on a lot of content. Mainly a lot of smaller games receiving patches, and a lot of indie game announcements from North America and Europe. As for Japan: I work a couple of night shifts at least per week along with seven day shifts and an actual real job!
From everything you do for your site, what is your favorite piece of information to collect?
Animal Crossing (and back in 2013 - 2014, Tomodachi Collection) is my zen game. Pocket Camp is obviously not New Leaf, but it’s really calming both playing it and writing about it. I really enjoyed doing the Collectible Badge Center posts when that was active too! Hopefully Baito will return to Switch (other than as a Smash Assist). One thing I don’t like so much is having to watch livestreams. Nintendo Directs are usually fun (but frantic to cover!); most I feel are just too long, and I have never enjoyed watching people playing games!
I learned about your site through Twitter, where you are constantly providing links to your updated information. However, do you have an e-mail blast or another way for your followers to get notified? Would you consider an e-mail blast?
I wish I had time! I don’t have any email lists whatsoever, have done nothing further than create a Discord account and am completely behind on the video bandwagon due to lack of time. It’s literally just my blog and Twitter for the most part, with my part-time podcast that I’m still trying to get better at!
Let's "switch" gears a bit and talk directly about the Switch. The console's been out for a little over a year and a half. What do you feel Nintendo is doing right?
Almost everything initially. The 3DS didn’t have western support as it was handheld only, the Wii U didn’t have any support for many, many reasons, plus the Game Pad failed at being a tablet substitute.
The Switch has support from all corners now:! The system has enough power to appeal to most (and not too much where it wouldn’t be cost effective to manufacture), it has the ability to be played as a handheld or home console (and the fact that it works incredibly well at both), it appeals to worldwide players and developers, and the fact it has so very little competition. It’s the next machine that is logical to buy for 3DS, Wii U and even Vita owners, and it’s the perfect second system to own if you’re a PC, PS4, Xbox or even mobile gamer. Having one of the best games ever in Breath of the Wild, the Mario Kart port, a new Splatoon and an awesome Mario game in less than eight months was a feat probably unmatched in their 35 year console history.
What area(s) do you see improvement for?
The next big hurdle is online. It’s a huge potential source of income and is essential for future business. Unfortunately a lot of fans have experienced Nintendo’s drip feeding of Virtual Console content with no reason to believe this won’t be the case this time. A lot of fans remember the downtimes when 3DS had a huge sale a year or two ago, and Splatoon 2 and Pokémon Let’s Go not supporting cloud saves is really a cause for concern.
The 2019 release window really needs to be better than this year’s. 2018 wouldn’t have been a problem if Labo really took off, but that wasn’t the case, so Kirby has been the biggest game and will be until Mario Party. A new 2D Mario, Animal Crossing or even a Monster Hunter 5 in the first half of next year would alleviate any issue over 2019 as Yoshi and Fire Emblem alone will not be enough. The new Pokémon RPG should help take care of Holiday 2019.
Are you more of a physical or digital collector?
I’m half and half! My impatience means I buy most big releases digitally so I can play them a few hours early. A lot of quirky Japanese games I get physically. If I could afford to, I’d love to re-buy a lot of my digital purchases physically, but that’s hardly a realistic scenario!
Since the launch, what are your top five favorite games?
Ooh, that’s such a tricky question and my answers are likely pretty vanilla: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, Octopath Traveler and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are probably top five. Japanese third party games that need a shout out are Penguin Wars and Kyogeki Quartet Fighters (Quad Fighter K). Both are awesome games with unbelievably good soundtracks!
What game(s) are your currently playing and what are you most looking forward to?
Well Pocket Camp of-course! On Switch, I need to get back into Octopath Traveler, having so much fun in Koro Blaster, I’m playing the whacky Minna De Kuuki Yomi and getting started on Waku Waku Sweets!
Games I’m looking forward to include Smash and Pokémon as obvious choices, but also the SEGA AGES series, the new Sumikko Gurashi game, WORK×WORK, Neko Tomo, and the three Nari Kids Park games!
Is there anything else you'd like to share today?
I’d like to thank everyone for their support of Japanese Nintendo. I often read about how many people are hateful and vitriolic online, yet most people I interact with are respectful to others which is a really healthy environment to be in. There’s also plenty of exciting things in store for my blog - something really special that I’ll hopefully pull off in 2019, if not 2020, so I hope most of you will join me for the ride!
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