Category Archives: Gaming

The Nintendo Switch- first impressions

Well, the Switch is here and I’ve seen it in action. So let’s give you a few first impressions.

  • The interface is closer to that of the PS4 and Xbox One than the Wii U and 3DS series. The default colour scheme is once again pure white but black is also avaliable in the options menu.
  • One can now switch (ha ha) easily between user accounts, represented by an avatar. This avatar can be customised by combining preset backgrounds and stock Nintendo graphics or the user’s Mii. There are plenty of background colours but stock art is somewhat lacking. This feature is clearly to prevent Little Johnny from seeing a picture of Donald Trump’s penis while playing Mario Kart.
  • The easy switching does have its drawbacks- one must now confirm one’s credit card details with every purchase. However this is understandable because nobody wants Little Johnny using their stored details to buy Super Overrated, Overhyped Game 5 for £too much.
  • The tablet screen is a lot heavier than I first assumed. However, it is still very portable. The screen is more like a mobile phone than a 3DS, responding to fingers as well as to stylii.
  • The cartridges are around the size of PS Vita ones. So keep them safe!
  • The framerate is far higher than the Wii U, as you can see when comparing Zelda versions.

Okay, something that doesn’t have anything to do with Trump for once

I’m close to taking on the Elite Four in Moon and am doing my customary grind beforehand. Yet it’s no fun when you’re always at the risk of SOS battles (“the wild Wailord called for help!”).

These can turn a simple thirty second battle into a ten minute slog. You’ve defeated the other Wailord and are going to finish off the original. But wait! “The wild Wailord called for help!”

NOOOOOOO!

And you’ve got ANOTHER Wailord to contend with! Yes, there is NO LIMIT to how many times a Pokémon may call for help. Sure, it increases your chances of getting a shiny, but I’m not here for shiny collecting just yet. And the chances are still in the 1/1000th range at 255 calls for help from what I recall.

To avoid SOS battles you must either defeat easy opponents in one go for minimum experience or hit them with a status move. Right now, the only pure status move in my party is Yawn and that only takes effect one turn later, meaning the wild Pokémon can easily call for help at the end of the current turn. My beloved Arcanine’s Flamethrower only has a small probability of burning. I should take Raichu out of the PC and use her Nuzzle.

But if you don’t have any status moves in your party, you’re screwed.

Thanks Game Freak.

Link of the day

If you like Pokémon and plush toys, or are just hankering for a blast from the past, take a butchers at the PokePlushProject on Flickr.

The curator seeks to “catch ’em all” in the toy department, which is a mean feat considering the latest games bring the grand total to 802 and new plushies are being made daily. I wish sem good luck with that.

And yes, that “Growlithe” you may see is apparently official merchandise. Must be the rare Burned Form.

 

TPCi surprises the world

In case you missed it (which you probably have) The Pokémon Company unleashed Pokémon Duel, a mobile game avaliable in Japan for close to a year, upon a western audience today.

Let us ignore the game proper at the moment and discuss the release mechanic. There was no indication that it was going to be released today or even at all in the west. There was no fanfare, no sign of it in the App Store front page, nothing. I even checked the free charts and nope, nothing. I assume TPCi was going for word-of-mouth but, despite the fame of the IP, it seemingly hasn’t caught on.

Now to the game. It is a turn-based strategy not unlike chess with the objective to make it to a panel at the other player’s side. If two figures come face-to-face, they are to battle. Both players spin for a move and the strongest one hits. One may use “plates” to enhance move or field effects and it is possible for the virtual figures used to play to level up. Pieces may also be surrounded by two opponent Pokémon, causing them to faint without any need for a battle. Fainted figures are sent to a Pokémon Centre and cannot be reused for the duration of the battle. From the one game I played it appears that only one panel is needed to be occupied to win, which seems a bit underwhelming particularly as this is not a children’s game but an easy-to-get-into-hard-to-master strategy.

I shall formulate a more concrete opinion as I play more, but it appears to be a recipe for failure. Are they seriously trying to harm the hot Pokémon property through this and the endless cutscene fest of Sun/Moon?

To wait or not to hit the Switch?

Let’s face it, the Switch looks great in action but the launch is about as promising as a dog poo sundae. Let’s see why:

  • Only four titles confirmed. Yes, one is a Zelda game but that’s barely enough, especially when it’s also avaliable on Wii U and when the other titles include a minigame collection that should come as a packin but somehow ISN’T and the 50,000th installment of the Skylanders series.
  • Games cost £60 each.
  • £280 for a partially portable console. If you’re so concerned about playing Zelda on the go, grab a 3DS and Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask for half the price.
  • Paid online after a trial period. Nintendo has offered free online since early last DECADE, and that gave it an edge over Sony and Microsoft in the multiplayer department. Iwata knew that there were many gamers who were having enough trouble paying their ISP bill. Now Iwata’s dead, many of his best ideas have gone with him. It’s said that Nintendo could fail to turn a profit for FIFTY YEARS and still have enough money to thrive, so then why price out people who otherwise couldn’t afford online gaming?

So I’m in two minds whether to buy at launch. Online will be free until autumn and Skylanders are avaliable cheaply from most good toy shops (and some bad ones too), but sixty pounds for a game whose core mechanics have never changed since the first installment. There are other things I’m wanting more than that at the moment. And I still have my 3DS and Wii U with Wii U games in particular coming down heavily in price. I think I may wait until September when Splatoon 2’s out and my degree is completed but free online ends around the same time.

Hmm.

 

 

 

Switch presentation thoughts

Well, Switchmas has come and gone with many questions answered and leaving many new questions unanswered.

The presentation itself was evenly balanced between showing off new software and advertising the features. The “joycons”- the micro pads that attach to the sides of the console- come in standard grey, blue and red with a detachable wrist strap and include a motion sensor that can apparently accurately simulate an empty glass full of ice cubes, NFC capability and and an infrared camera that can measure real-time shape, size and motion of objects. During the Yamauchi era, Nintendo were apprehensive about online interactivity in gaming and only the Gamecube marked their first baby steps into the medium. Now they’re taking it in their stride- possibly even too far- with the capture button on the left joycon that can take still images of gameplay and upload them to social media.

Confirmed new franchises include Arms, a boxing/wrestling hybrid which utilises both joycons, and 1-2-Switch, a collection of party games. Shinya Takahashi said at the presentation that Nintendo took influence from all its prior home and handheld consoles to create the Switch, but 1-2-Switch goes further and takes influence from Nintendo products dating back to 1976 with its Wild Gunman minigame. 1-2-Switch will be a launch title (I can see it being a pack-in) and Arms will follow shortly after. The highly-rated Splatoon will be getting a sequel in the summer, and an all-new Mario platformer will be released in time for Christmas. Super Mario Odyssey again takes a cue from Nintendo’s past, harking back to the days where Mario was said to be from Brooklyn with a New York-influenced city in the real world- New Donk- as the primary setting. Unfavourable comparisons with the Sonic Adventure series have already been levelled at it, but I think Nintendo can do a lot more with the open sandbox mechanic than Sega did. Other titles include the long-anticipated Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, an update to the top-selling Wii U game including previous DLC, improved graphics, new characters and new arenas. New entries in the Xenoblade and Fire Emblem series rounded out the first-party offerings with third-party titles including No More Heroes, Skyrim and FIFA also revealed. A short video at the end of the presentation teased several games currently under development including what is believed to be a new entry in the F-Zero series.

But here comes the bad news- online play, for a long time absolutely free on Nintendo systems, will only be free for a limited time followed by payments. Battery life in portable mode will range from two-and-a-half to six-and-a-half hours depending on the game being played. Apart from BOTW, the launch lineup looks very weak And finally, it will set you back a cool US$299 or £280, with games apparently retailing for £50-60 a pop in the UK. The console is very good boasting revolutionary new features, but these disadvantages are major hinderances which could lead to low takeup. Nintendo discontinuing the Wii U instead of repositioning it as a budget family console as it did with the original Wii won’t help either.

Sun/Moon snark

Szin: Whew, that was a tough battle… now to the Pokécentre for some rest! 

NPC of the day: Here’s some crap for beating me. 

Szin recieved some crap!

Szin put the crap in the Items pocket, making the bag smell rather awful.

*Hau arrives*

Hau: I’m just here for the hell of it. If you missed us saying the first five thousand times, we have to go to Sum’wher Town and find the Team Skull grunts or whatever.

*Rotom Dex activates for no reason*

Rotom: What he said, Szin.

Hau: We have to go to Sum’wher Town and find the Team Skull grunts or something! Let’s go!

NPC of the day: Yes, you have to go to Sum’wher Town and do that. But before you go, let me heal your Growlithe. 

*cutscene finally ends twenty minutes later*

Rotom: Remember, we have to go to Sum’wher Town and find the Team Skull gruntzzz! Bzzt!

Szin: *takes right turn to Sumother Town*

Kid: Sorry, my Stoutland is a real thorough kind, please let him get all the stones before you go through, okay?

Szin: *dreaming of Kanto Fried Stoutland*