We attempt to prove how many ports is just too much using made-up math and judgement.
While the game lineup on the Nintendo Switch has been a fantastic one, a common complaint has been that it is reliant on ports, whether it’s something from a third-party like Skyrim or Witcher 3 or the myriad of Wii U ports like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Tokyo Mirage Sessions. Riffing off of the baseball concept of the Mendoza Line, we introduce to you the Portdoza Line - the percentage of ports and remakes that is deemed “too much” by our staff by using a simple formula. I’ll explain the methodology and figure out what recent year of Nintendo’s publishing is the “Portdoziest.” Hell, maybe we can all chuckle and extend it to third parties on the Switch in a future post.
I’ll take a selection of games and split them into four categories: New Game, Full Remake, Enhanced Port, and Straight Port. New Game is self-explanatory (hopefully). Even if it’s a formulaic sequel, as long as it’s a brand new entry, it counts as a new game. Full Remake represents your Link’s Awakenings and Metroid: Samus Returnses. Sure, one of those is a little bit less of a brand new experience, but if you’re gonna do a full-on remake, that’s basically like a new game. Enhanced Port is a bit of a judgement call. Dragon Quest XI S is for sure an Enhanced Port, but for example, I won’t quantify Tropical Freeze as an Enhanced Port (Funky Mode be damned). I might wind up being more ruthless with this and if you’re so inclined, feel free to make your own Portdoza Number with your own rulings. Lastly, Straight Ports are what it says. It’s when they take your game as it was on another platform and more or less just put on another console with maybe a new hat or all of the previous DLC. Game of the Year editions on new consoles are Straight Ports by our metrics.
Each of those categories will be scored accordingly:
- New Game = 0 point
- Full Remake = 0.5 points
- Enhanced Port = 0.75 points
- Straight Port = 1 points
All of those points will be tallied and then divided by the total number of games to create the Portdoza Number. If that number trends above 30%, then we’re above the Portdoza Line and that means we’re rolling in ports.
Before we get to the deeper research here, let's take a quick glance at 2020 so far (and what we know of). We are three months into the year and have a decent idea of what the entire first half will contain. I will always remain optimistic for something shocking and cool in the next three months (and there are usually shadowdrops around E3 - whether it happens or not). We did have those Mario rumors the other day, which would be super cool, but would also ramp up 2020's Portdoza Number. Here's where we stand with what is officially known, however.
Nintendo's 2020 (So Far)
- New Games: 4 (Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Good Job, Clubhouse Games, and Bravely Default 2)
- Full Remakes: 1 (Pokemon Mystery Dungeon)
- Enhanced Ports: 1 (Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition)
- Straight Ports: 1 (Tokyo Mirage Sessions)
- Portdoza Number: 32.1%
It is hard to fully judge 2020, but from what we know, this might be a potentially heavy port year. Based on the first half so far, it would be the second highest Portdoza Number from the past five years. If the current lineup holds as is until June, half of Nintendo's output will be ports and remakes. Of course, we don't know what the rest of the year will bring. There are rumors of numerous Mario ports and remasters, a new Paper Mario, and a whole lot more. The cynic can even look to the fact that there are still Wii U games left (seriously!) that Nintendo can port to Switch. Here's hoping they figure out a way to make Nintendo Land or Wii Party U work, or at the very least remember that Super Mario 3D World and Pikmin 3 rule. An optimist can dream of playing Bayonetta 3 and The Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild by year's end. A crazy person can imagine Metroid Prime 4 launching by the end of 2020.
2020's story is yet to be written, though with the coronavirus looming large over the game's industry, it might change quickly. Either way, I'm hopeful this Portdoza Number will level off somewhere in the late teens or low twenties.
Alright now - Let's get down to ful years and check out 2019.
- New Games: 16 (headlined by Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Luigi’s Mansion 3, and Pokemon Sword/Shield
- Full Remakes: 1 (Link’s Awakening)
- Enhanced Ports: 2 (New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe and Dragon Quest XIS)
- Straight Ports: n/a
- Portdoza Number: 10.5%
2019 was, kind of surprisingly, really strong for Portdoza standards. Most everything that came out from Nintendo was a new game, including some strong entries in marquee franchises like Fire Emblem and Pokemon as well as cool new projects like Ring Fit Adventure and Tetris 99. Link’s Awakening definitely stretches the spirit of the full remake idea as it is, at the end of the day, a very faithful remake of the Game Boy game. On the other hand, the amount of additions to Dragon Quest XI S makes it feel like Enhanced Port is too limiting, but hey, I’m probably being too generous with calling Peachette and the other tweaks to New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe enough for Enhanced Port status.
Also a final note: I’m not counting 3DS games for 2019 because, honestly, totally forgot the 3DS had new games in 2019. And I think judging by the reported sales numbers of 3DS games in 2019, everyone else did as well. But in the interest of full disclosure, three Nintendo-published 3DS games came out in 2019, one full remake (Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story), one new game (Yo-Kai Watch 3), and one enhanced port (Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn - though I say that under duress because I think the 3DS port is actually worse). If we factored those in, it raises 2019’s Portdoza to a still very respectable 14.5%.
Next up, 2018
- New Games: 12 (headlined by Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Sushi Striker, and Mario Tennis Aces)
- Full Remakes: 1 (Pokemon Let’s Go)
- Enhanced Ports: n/a
- Straight Ports: 8 (including Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker)
- Portdoza Number: 40.5%
2019 might have surprised me but 2018 might have just proven the port feeling right. Nintendo’s 2018 shattered the Portdoza Line, winding up well above the 30% threshold at 40.5%. Even being generous with Enhanced Ports wouldn’t send it below the Portdoza Line. Hell, even factoring in the 3DS game (which were once again excluded because Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers likely sold poorly and I’m upset so that means we’re not counting it here. Related: that game is awesome), the Portdoza Number is still above 35%.
In the grand scheme of things, however, I’ll be generous with the Switch’s high Portdoza Number in 2018. This is the second year of a new console and it’s a little evident Nintendo frontloaded 2017 to make a huge impression for the system’s debut. For most consoles, the Portdoza-heavy year might be year one, but Nintendo switched it to the sophomore year. It meant there was a little bit of a sophomore slump, but everyone was too busy playing Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2, and Super Mario Odyssey to care.
On to 2017!
- New Games: 20 (headlined by Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and a bunch of 3DS games you forgot about)
- Full Remakes: 3 (including Metroid: Samus Returns and Fire Emblem Echoes)
- Enhanced Ports: 2 (including Mario Kart 8 Deluxe)
- Straight Ports: 4 (including Pokemon Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon and that third version of Yo-Kai Watch 2 you had to Google)
- Portdoza Number: 24.1%
First things first, the Switch had a much stronger year if you separate it from the 3DS. The 3DS had a Portdoza Number of 27.6% by itself, a number acceptable for a system that late in its life but definitely toeing the line. The Switch in 2017 was only hindered by an overall low amount of games, landing a Portdoza of 15.9% with only a pair of ports (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Pokken Tournament DX) to its name. This was, overall, a great year for Nintendo.
The Switch managed to pull off one of the best debut years for a system ever with essentially a system-selling hit every few months and the 3DS still put out some strong titles even in its final relevant year. The 3DS lineup featured a trio of strong remakes with Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, and Metroid: Samus Returns. It also had a smattering of original titles that are probably better than your gut says they are in Ever Oasis, Monster Hunter Stories, Hey! Pikmin, and Miitopia.
- New Games: 24 (headlined by Pokemon Sun/Moon, Star Fox Zero, and Metroid Prime: Federation Force)
- Full Remakes: 1 (Dragon Quest VII)
- Enhanced Ports: 2 (including Super Mario Maker for 3DS)
- Straight Ports: 1 (Twilight Princess HD)
- Portdoza Number: 10.7%
2016 blew me away with the variety and freshness of the lineup. However, 2016 was probably overall one of the worst years in recent Nintendo history. This was the gap year before the Switch with a Wii U lineup peppered with monkeypaw wishes like Paper Mario: Color Splash and Star Fox Zero. A 3DS lineup with Fire Emblem: Fates, Pokemon Sun & Moon, and Metroid Prime: Federation Force. This is a capital-W weird lineup, but also one with a lot of brand new games and under-the-radar gems. Pocket Card Jockey and Picross 3D Round 2 might be my two personal favorite 3DS games. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is an excellent Wii U RPG. Rhythm Heaven Megamix rules. Kirby: Planet Robobot might be the recent peak of the franchise. We got a new Style Savvy, more BoxBoy, and a well-made remake of a bad Dragon Quest game (sorry fans of Dragon Quest VII). This has the lowest Portdoza Score (10.7%) of any other tracked year, but it’s also probably a year every Nintendo fan could point to and be like “that’s one to forget.” Maybe, we love ports. Maybe we feel strength from the familiar as we try new experiences that might be something we don’t want.
- New Games: 28 (headlined by Super Mario Maker, Splatoon, and Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash)
- Full Remakes: 1 (Majora’s Mask 3D)
- Enhanced Ports: 2 (including Xenoblade Chronicles 3D)
- Straight Ports: n/a
- Portdoza Number: 6.5%
2015 might not have been the flashiest year, but in terms of raw new games quotients, it’s a rousing success and handily comes in as the lowest Portdoza of this five-year stretch. We can knock the Wii U era all we want, but you know what? 2015 was the system’s creative peak, with likely the top two Wii U games of all time releasing in Splatoon and Super Mario Maker. Even the projects that didn’t crack that upper echelon still had noteworthiness, whether it was Xenoblade Chronicles X, Fatal Frame: Maiden of the Black Water, Yoshi’s Woolly World, or everyone’s favorite punching bag Devil’s Third. We can just ignore the November releases that were bolstered by Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash and Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival. The 3DS was nearing the end of its peak, but even still, a handful of interesting games (your mileage may vary) came out. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. launched (and flailed). Tri Force Heroes was interesting. I’ll die defending Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash. BoxBoy debuted. Stretchmo rules. 2015 was a year that, in retrospect, might have shown that Nintendo still had it as they bided their time for Switch.