Before we begin, I have to explain that I’m in the beginning of an epic battle. Think of me as Link – naked ripped cel-shaded Link in Breath of the Wild. I just ran out of the Temple of Resurrection. You see Hyrule is Youtube. And that bastard algorithm is Calamity Ganon. You – that would make you my Kurok seeds. Now I’m not saying you look like a Kurok seed at all – anyway, I could go fight Ganon and get my butt kicked, but I need some more space for weapons and shields. ! That means this video is a shrine?! Anyway – watch this video all the way through if possible, like, subscribe, even comment. Youtube hates new accounts, and I’m fighting an uphill battle to get more viewers to these videos. Your individual action affects how Youtube sees my videos more than you even know. So that means my Instagram is a Sheika Tower…?
My son Fox had been begging for a “Tendo” Switch for months leading up to Christmas 2019. All he wanted was Kirby and Cappy, Minecraft and “HOOigi’s Mansion.” I had a struggle with whether to buy him physical games or digital. He developed his love of games via my modded Wii and my Xbox – which most games are digital. He could just select a game and go. But then I thought back to my first gaming memories and remembered loving the boxes, the manuals, the cartridges. UHNH! Keeping my Gameboy and my top 6 games in my nifty carrying case. I felt I had to go physical for his first set of Nintendo Switch games.
Christmas was a hit, Fox received everything he asked for, Kirby, Mario Odyssey, Luigi’s Mansion, and Minecraft – all in physical form. The first several days were filled with requests to swap out games for him – his little fingers struggled to push the game in hard enough to release/lock them into place. I had bought some digital games for myself and loaded them onto his Switch for him to play as well. After a while I noticed I wasn’t really getting asked to swap games anymore. He was still playing his Switch, but he would opt just to play whatever game was in the console at the time rather than swap it. He liked being able to jump in and out of different games, the way he did with my other consoles.
I was in a bit of a predicament. I had gone all in on physical games for him, but his attachment was to the ease-of-use of digital games rather than the experience of selecting a game, inserting it and committing for a period of time. Even not seeing the game always on the home screen would lead him to jump up when he remembered a game that had been packed away in its case for a while.
This was my shot to switch to digital before getting completely underwater – his birthday was coming up and he had a short list of games that he really wanted to play. Importantly, several were digital only releases.
Now there’s this one big part of birthday parties, especially when you’re 5 years old – opening presents. Several of his gifts were going to be these digital games so I needed to figure out a way to have him open them as he would a physical game.
I started looking for blank Switch cases – which is surprisingly harder than it should be. Luckily Nintendo typically sells them in sets of 5 for $6.99. Although fair warning the Switch cases seem to have disappeared from the Nintendo Shop in the last 3 months. Even my order doesn’t exist in their system anymore. But there’s plenty of other places to get them, like this listing on Amazon.
Next, I started searching for the artwork for the games – list games – here’s where it got a little tough as well. There were several that I found just by typing in “game name cover art” – several more can be found via the NintendoSwitchBoxArt subreddit – there’s a lot of fine people over there doing good work, putting out designs, taking requests and discussing this whole little interesting world. There are two sides to this whole thing as well – people who provide high quality scans of retail labels, and people who create custom covers either as alternates or for games that do not have retail releases. The subreddit has a lot of the custom/hard to find covers while sites like Moby Games has the scan files for retail games for various regions. Please note that a lot of times the Moby Games scan quality was very very poor. Often I would just switch to Google Images and see if I could get high resolution versions or pieces of art from different regions even.
Now this next part is crucial – a Reddit user by the name Hopper2004 created an amazing Photoshop PSD file that contains fully editable universal Switch box art elements: the label, the spine, the Switch logo, even editable ratings and back cover elements. If I was missing parts of covers, I could quickly throw some gameplay screenshots, type the game name on the spine and print it out. I printed them out onto cheap glossy paper with a budget printer and was actually shocked with how good they came out. Trimmed them out and slid each one into the empty case.
Now are they perfect? Not at all – I am missing publishers on the spines, have wrong rating info on the backs, a few have low resolution parts that were just hard to find and I didn’t have the time or patience to make it perfect. Also I did not attempt to print the inside artwork for any of the games. Did my five-year-old notice as he was tearing open game after game after game? Not at all.
Side note- he felt like he hit the jackpot, not realizing that a lot of the games he was requesting were deeply discounted – sometimes under $8-10. I use a site called Deku Deals – if you have a Switch and are not using it, you’re wasting money. I added all of the games he wanted to my wishlist and waited as his birthday approached and picked them up as they dipped to their lowest price ever – which is a notice you can opt to receive. Only one game out of six or seven did I have to pay normal price for.
Since I was buying these games through his account – I had to set my Switch Lite as his primary Switch so nothing auto-downloaded, and trained him not to ever go into the eShop, which was punishable by death.
His birthday was Minecraft themed, in case you were curious. His new set of games get tons of play, and he still has his little case for the 5-6 physical games he originally received. But I have a stash of blank Switch cases for the next special occasion and I’m constantly adding games that he talks about to my Deku Deals wish list.
It’s really a great little system, and I feel good knowing that I’m making something a little custom for him to open. The small amount of extra work that goes into it really makes it feel more personal as a gift to him.
In case you haven’t noticed, I prefer digital games nowadays. I know I’m in the minority, especially with more hardcore gamers, but dude I’m so lazy. And I get legitimate anxiety about booting up games – adding another manual step and I’d never get to actually playing.
How do you gift games? Only physical? eShop or other marketplace gift card? Do you do what I do and print out custom cover art for your 5 year old? If so we should probably be friends.
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