As with any industry and media, anyone who doesn’t write for you/with you/for the same outlet you’re with, are the enemy. They’re your competition and to help them is a sin. It’s something we’re told, but at Miketendo64, we chose not to abide by that notion and it’s not because we’re naïve, but because we’re gamers and not the kind who hurl abuse at you when playing online. We don’t want to crush our opponents and make them feel like nothing. Gaming is meant to be fun and so can be reporting game news, so instead of having competition, we have friends. We have outlets we respect and outlets that we like to engage with and since we’ve already posted our Japanese Nintendo interview, it’s time for our SwitchWatch one.
James and Juan are a great bunch of guys and long before they had a team in place a website to call their own, they had a YouTube channel, (which they still have) that publishes some really great video reviews and the chats and with those guys, are just the best. So, like with Brian, we saw to it to interview them and it is now time to spread the brilliant word of SwitchWatch:
In typical interview fashion, granted we know you guys quite well, would you be so kind to begin proceedings by introducing yourself to our readers? What is your involvement with SwitchWatch? And who are you and what do you get up to when not doing SwitchWatch?
Juan Romero: Thank you and of course, I am Juan Romero, one of the co-founders of Switchwatch. Well, time is very limited for me as I have a full time job in finance, a family with a 3 year old child and Switchwatch is my passion so any spare time goes into it. However, any time I do have left I like to spend with my family watching a movie or going out and having a picnic.
James Romero: Hi, I am James Romero, the other co-founder of SwitchWatch, Juan and I are cousins with a shared passion. When I am not playing the Switch or doing something related to it I have a full time job in IT, a wonderful girlfriend and I have a passion for cooking as well, I find it a good way to unwind.
Expanding and Year 2 of SwitchWatch:
Miketendo64: For the sake of asking it, what prompted you to start SwitchWatch in the first place and now that you move into Year 2, is there anything you’re hoping to do for this year, compared to the last one?
Juan Romero: It’s a good question, I have been gaming since 87 and gaming has always been something I loved to do. For me, it’s always been a great escape, a way of transporting yourself somewhere else. I have always enjoyed film and gaming and I think both have a correlation. Both are great mediums to tell stories but in games, you often get to be part of it and interact which is what I always enjoyed. I always had a strong opinion on games but only one other person shared that passion as strongly as me. My cousin James and so when the Switch released we knew that was the right time to launch our channel. In terms of Year 2 I will let James explain but I just wanted to add that having Brian, Lachlan and Jen for the website has been a big help and well Jordan for YouTube has been huge for us.
James Romero: In terms of hoping to do moving into Year 2 we absolutely want to continue our focus on reviews and gameplay videos on the channel, we have hopes of expanding the website to be a top resource for Nintendo Switch News and features beyond what we have on there so far. Bringing Jordan on was great for us as it means we have 3 dedicated people to produce YouTube content so we want to explore how we can take advantage of that, perhaps a few features or some slightly different content to supplement what we already do. Watch this space!
The SwitchWatch Name and Owl:
Miketendo64: And since we brought up why did you start SwitchWatch, how did you decide on the name and the inclusion of an eagle with your logo?
Juan Romero: The name came about because the name we originally chose was taken. (Originally we chose Switch it Up.) So, we had to rethink it. After a lot of thought, we thought about watching out for new games and reviewing them so the name was born. James came up with the original logo a pair of binoculars to signify watching. Eight months in we wanted to evolve the logo. Our designer designed a new pair of binoculars but he had also designed an Owl for another site unrelated to gaming which I had seen in his portfolio.
When I saw the animal something clicked. It was then that James and I discussed a complete change in logo and concept. An Owl is always watching so it was a natural fit for our brand. We told our designer what we wanted and when the initial design came through we knew it was the right fit. We also liked the fact that in the space an animal was different.
An Eye-Opening Experience and Fan Feedback:
Miketendo64: Having formed last year and starting your own website, SwitchWatch is on the up and up and you just recently hit 10,000 subscribers. How does it feel to be able to grow so quickly and are you still enjoying your foray into the world of video game media?
James Romero: It feels great, it’s always positive seeing our hard work turn into views and subscribers, we read every comment and get a lot of good ideas and tips from the viewers as well as inspiration. I know we all still love the Switch and enjoy making content that helps people make decisions on which games to purchase and whether something is worth their hard earned cash. On a personal note, I’ve enjoyed the experience of getting an insight into the games industry that we were not exposed to before and look forward to delving deeper into it as time goes on.
Juan Romero: It’s a question many friends and family ask. The truth is, growth is usually a consequence of very hard work although it’s not always the case. Many hours go into each video we produce. Looking back, our first 50 videos were us finding our way so to speak and identifying how we wanted our channel to be. It’s not something that happens day 1. It’s a continuous evolution and improvement. Now after 12 months our videos have a certain structure which was born out of trying lots of things. Some worked some didn’t. The beauty of YouTube is the continuous feedback from our watchers who will always point out things we can do better which keeps us hungry to seek improvement with each new video. I love what we do and more so now than ever.
The SwitchWatch Video Review Process:
Miketendo64: Being as though you started as a YouTube channel and reviews are still very much so a big part of what you do, what is your process for doing a review? How long does your video reveals often take to make and do you have a favourite part? (Hitting publish on YouTube doesn’t count.)
Juan Romero: Hahaha hitting publish is a real release and is actually a fantastic part. My process is very structured and I don’t tend to deviate too much. Playing the game is usually the best part about being a reviewer. Although we have to constantly take notes, pause and think about how we feel about the game we are playing. I record all the footage at the same time. I will then play in hand held and take panning shots and handheld footage. Once I have completed the game I take all the notes and then formulate my review and write it up for the website. Once that process is finished which is the hardest part for me, I get onto recording the audio part of the review. This takes a good 1 hour to record and edit. Then I take all the recorded footage and match the footage to the audio. This takes 2-4 hours depending on the game. So playing the game, writing, and producing a good quality video is around 20 hours on average. Obviously, if the game is larger, then more time is spent playing it so can be anything upwards of 40 hours. Those games are a 7-10 process.
Impressionable Review Games:
Miketendo64: Given the number of games you guys have been able to review, after a year of being in the biz, what 5 games stand out to you the most? (You’re more than welcome to pick games you absolutely loved, found insanely bizarre and left an impression on you for whatever reasons you wish to give.)
James Romero: Stardew Valley is a great game, period. Outlast 2 highlighted that the Switch is not a console just for kids. Splatoon 2 is a game that is so fun to play with friends. Kingdom New Lands is an example of a game that plays perfectly on the console, it was a good game before it came to the Switch but found its perfect home here. Lego Worlds was a learning curve, I consciously made a decision to review it with its target audience in mind – children.
It’s something we have always aimed to do which is review something not just for ourselves but understand who a game is aimed at and frame our review in that light – funnily enough to this day it’s one of our most popular reviews
Juan Romero: Celeste is one of the best Indies in my opinion. It is such a stunning game with a wonderful soundtrack. Game just clicked with me on all levels. Zelda was such a stunning start to the Switch’s life and such a stunning game. Splatoon 2 is a game I love to play with friends and still play that when I have time. Naruto because of the story and it was a great trilogy and Attack on Titan 2 as its just pure fun!
Downtime Games of Choice:
Miketendo64: As important as it is to play the games we’re given to review, it is also important to take time and play the games we want to play. So, when not playing the “flavour of the week,” what games do you guys like to play on your downtime?
Juan Romero: Splatoon 2 is the one I tend to load up in downtime just because it’s quick and easy and those Splatfests always keep me coming back for more.
James Romero: My guilty solo pleasure is The Elder Scrolls, I completed on the Xbox when it first launched and have sunk about 100 hours into this one, mostly whilst I was on holiday.
SwitchWatch Game Nights:
Miketendo64: When having a team all over the globe, it’s a bit hard to organise an “in-person” game night, but we do what we can. When was your last in-game Game Night? What did you play and do you play with your team much online?
Juan Romero: Last game we played online was Payday2 with Brian. Our team are all over the world so they play Splatoon a lot. James and I often get together to play games but they usually end up as reviews. Last game was Death Road to Canada.
SwitchWatch the Earlier Years:
Miketendo64: Being as though we’re well aware of your Nintendo Present, what was your Nintendo Past like? Any favourite consoles, games and memories you care to share?
Juan Romero: Spent a crazy amount of time on both the NES and SNES. So many games from that time which were just amazing and still hold today. Of course, Mario 1 2 and 3 took a lot of my childhood time. These were games I would complete over and over again. Zelda at the time took my breath away as a teen and I guess when the Switch came out Breath of the Wild did the same. Even going back to the Game Boy. I lost so many hours to Tetris. One of my favourite of all was Castlevania from Konomi. Something about that game stirred the imagination.
James Romero: Good ones from Juan there, some others that stick out on the SNES were Star Fox and Street Fighter, later on Pokémon on the Gameboy and Goldeneye on the N64.
Miketendo64: Having attended Rezzed earlier this year, how did you find the event, did you bump into any viewers of yours and is there another gaming event you’re looking forward to attending this year?
Juan Romero: We didn’t bump into any viewers, interestingly most of our viewers are based in the USA. I did however attend the hairdressers just a few days ago and was recognised one of the hairdressers. He is an avid PS4 gamer but saw one of my recent vids and instantly recognised me. Was very odd as it’s never happened to me. In terms of Rezzed, we are looking at EGX Birmingham next. We loved the event but it was more about meeting the devs and publishers and understanding a bit more about their passion behind the games. Of course, playing them was fun too.
Top 10 Favourites:
Miketendo64: In no certain order, what are your 10 favourite games of all time?
Juan Romero: Man tough question and I will probably miss a load but I loved Turrican 1 & 2 on Amiga 500, Sonic the hedgehog on Megadrive, Castlevania most of them lol, GTA on PlayStation, Mario 1 2 and 3, Zelda Breath of the Wild, Resident Evil 2. There are loads more but they are 10 off the top of my head.
James Romero: I could tell you the games I would love to come to the Switch! Final Fantasy 7, Command & Conquer, Magic the Gathering: Arena and Gran Turismo.
Coming Soon to Switch:
Miketendo64: Is there any game you’re most looking forward Switch-wise?
James Romero: Shin Megami Tensei is the one I am most looking forward too.
Juan Romero: I love Indies so for me it’s Dead Cells and for first party games it has to be Mario Tennis. Love tennis and think this could be a multiplayer dream. SMASH is the other obvious game.
E3 Hopes and Dreams:
Miketendo64: E3 is around the corner, is there anything you and your teams as gamers would like to see revealed?
James Romero: More details on Pokémon Let’s Go.
Juan Romero: There are so many games coming to Switch that nothing would surprise us. Although if GTA were to be announced I think many would be very excited including me.
Miketendo64: It’s been a pleasure having you guys. Is there anything you’d like to say to ourselves and our readers? The final word is all yours!
James Romero: Thanks for having us! It’s great to reach out to your audience and we always welcome feedback so don’t be shy!
Juan Romero: Thanks for having us on, we really appreciate it!
Incidentally, the SwitchWatch guys also did an interview with Miketendo64’s own Mike & Jack, which you check out for yourself, with the link below: