Tag Archives: preview

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.
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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.

Nintendo Switches it up

So after months and months of anticipation and rampant speculation, Nintendo finally delivered details of what was codenamed the NX. And once again, they’ve not only pushed the envelope but completely torn it up.

The Switch’s main selling point is that it functions as both a handheld and a home console. This is illustrated perfectly in the introductory video showing a man playing Zelda while his dog is bothering him for a walk. The man goes over to his Switch and slots his joypad in to convert it into a handheld unit that instantly continues the game he had been playing. Well I say handheld, but there’s at least one other way to game on the go. Up to two players can play outdoors by detaching the sides (the poorly-named “Joy-Con” controllers) and using the screen’s built-in prop. This also allows for up to eight people to play locally wirelessly. According to a Nintendo spokesperson, the screen is the main unit and the dock is just used for TV output and charging. I’m pretty sure the dock will able to play Wii/U discs though.

The console uses 3DS-style mini cartridges, implying backwards compatability using a TV as one of the screens. I am assuming the handheld screen is a touchscreen but there was no stylus shown in the video. The design is remarkably simple and not too clumsy given the complex mechanics involved, but I have no doubt there will be an updated version somewhere along the line. Once again, Nintendo has foregone graphic superpowers to push the primary function. There does seem to be some improvement over the Wii U though, particularly in colour. And what’s more, the very name is a work of art. Short, simple to remember, and gets the idea across. Rolls off the tongue too. “Hey, you wanna play some Switch?” sounds natural even mere hours after the reveal.

Nintendo have released a number of publishing partners for the console. Some of the names aren’t surprising, including Sega, Capcom and Bandai Namco. Others though are well out of left field- EA, Bethesda and Activision amongst them. Other names of interest include Ubisoft, Konami and Codemasters (yes, they’re still around). In recent years, Nintendo consoles have suffered from a lack of decent third-party support, especially as regards more “hardcore” titles. Such a strong lineup promising a diverse range of games is a big step forwards though, and could very well make it a massive seller.

So my first impressions? Despite the two-in-one function being rumoured for a long time, Nintendo still managed to surprise in that regard. I certainly wasn’t expecting being able to remove the sides of the Switch for home-style gaming wherever you are. And the best part? More is to be revealed. Tablet functionality has also long been rumoured, will we be getting that too?

I’m saving up already.

First impressions of Pokémon Go

Well, Pokémon Go is finally out in the UK, and I of course downloaded it faster than you can say “Pika”.

First things first- you sign in with either a Pokémon Trainer Club or a Google account. Due to the maintenence going on in the PTC at the moment, I suggest a Google account. After this, Professor Willow (who makes the serious fashion faux pas of wearing running tights under cargo shorts) gives you an ample amount of Pokéballs and you catch your first Pokémon- either Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle. After this, you’re free to travel across the land searching far and wide.

This is where the disadvantages become glaring- the game does not play in the background, so you have to have it open at all times which can be a serious drain on battery with saver mode on OR off. Furthermore,there are currently some major server issues that can completely crash the game but I expect this to be fixed shortly along with the inability to collect items from Pokéstops (real world landmarks including churches, schools and parks). Finally, I am presently unable to review the gym function as it requires a minimum level of 5.

But these disadvantages are relatively minor. There are very few thrills above being able to catch Pokémon IN REAL LIFE. We all dreamed of it as kids and now it’s a reality. Catching Pokémon earns YOU experience this time around, and as mentioned above you can enter gyms at level 5. There are at least three gyms within a short distance of me, but I’m unsure of what team I should select. Instinct- oh yes I act on instinct. Mystic- goes well with my preferred MMORPG class. Valor- I’m a coward but I do like Moltres. In the meantime, I’m very much enjoying being able to transcend the boundary between our world and that of the Pokémon.

In conclusion, it’s looking good so far but I will have to spend more time with it for a more thorough review.

Gotta catch ’em all!

Some late thoughts on Pokémon Go

So E3 has come and gone and with it some major Pokémon news.

The item I want to discuss is Pokémon Go, the new augmented reality game for smartphones. Like Miitomo, it’s completely free, but there is an optional Bluetooth-enabled “Pokémon Go Plus” accessory which allows you to catch Pokémon without opening your phone. Unfortunately it retails for £34.99 and the same in dollars. It’s just a piece of plastic usable in one smartphone game! I have seen Bluetooth accessories in shops for one measly pound!

Onto the game itself. The object, of course, is to “catch ’em all”. There are over 100 Pokémon avaliable for capture in the game, and what types appear depend on your real world location. So if you’re at the beach, you will find water Pokémon. While this in itself is a novel concept, many players live in areas where there is little geographical diversity. Some don’t even live near museums or monuments where “Pokéstops” (the equivalent of Pokémarts) are located.

Of course, I am waiting for the final product to be released before I formulate a full opinion. What I’ve seen of it is very good, but the limited world of most players might prove to be its downfall.

Pokémon thoughts

To be honest, I’m a little underwhelmed at the latest Pokémon Sun/Moon reveal. While I accept that it runs on the same hardware as X/Y and thus major technological advances cannot take place, it looks to be a near clone of the Generation 6 titles, just set on not-Hawaii.

Now for the setting. The real-world Hawaii has only one major city in Honolulu (or as the anti-Obama brigade likes to call it, Mombasa). I am very used to the vastness of Lumiose in XY, which is based on Paris. The Paris urban area is 1,098 sq. mi. whereas Oahu Island only has an area of 597 sq. mi.. To make the central city of Alola bigger than Lumiose would require some artistic licence. While I believe that some artistic licence on geography, as has happened in previous games, can be good, there is no way in my mind that Alola’s hub can be bigger than Lumiose. I think the lack of major cities may be a good thing in the end, but I’m reserving judgment for now.

There is something that caught my eye though. The Pokédex.

The Pokédex is now a Rotom!

sun_moon_rotom_pokc3a9dex_artwork

Get your Rotom running! (Picture: Nintendo/TPCi)

This promises a “whole new way for people and Pokémon to communicate”, and I think this will be the selling point. There has already been a taster of the new Rotomdex’s capabilities- it will have a QR scanner that enables you to register Pokémon, allowing you to view their habitats. This is the logical extension of an app released for the 3DS several years ago, where one could scan a QR code and get a full Pokédex entry.

However, as I said at the beginning, I have a feeling Generation 7 will not deliver the goods and be a rehash of Generation 6. We were begging for the franchise to be put down after Generation 4 flopped, and I can see this all over again. For the love of Arceus please, Nintendo/Game Freak/TPCi, don’t screw this up.