Tag Archives: Nintendo

The Nintendo Switch, 3DS and Me

After an unexpectedly long hiatus (more on that at the end), I am back to writing, this time around my thoughts on the recently announced Nintendo Switch and how it has unexpectedly led me to rediscover just how good my 3DS can be.

I think it is safe to say that for anyone who considers gaming a hobby of theirs a new console launch is a very special time. The weeks and months of speculation building up to the announcement tends to get people excited even if they have little intention of buying the console. None encapsulates this better than the Nintendo Switch. Everyone knew the Wii U had not really met expectations and Nintendo was beginning work on a rumoured console-handheld hybrid dubbed simply ‘NX’. The rumours went on for months, when rather unexpectedly the console was announced as the Nintendo Switch in a brief event last October promising more information and the ability to try the console in January. I am likely not the first person to suggest this, however I would not be surprised if Nintendo had never planned to make the announcement they did in October. Instead their hand was forced by a surprising number of leaks from the normally pretty water tight Nintendo which meant it was better to publically announce the console early than risk a full blown leak.

So January 13th came and with it the big presentation, I personally did not watch it live owing to it being on at a soul crushingly early 4am. But I awoke the next morning eager to find out what the most innovative of the three big console makers was doing next. First and foremost the rumours were true, the Nintendo Switch was a hybrid console, the ‘Switch’ itself is a large tablet screen with controllers which can be attached to the sides or used separately allowing for ‘portability’. The console also comes with a dock that you plug into your TV, slot the Switch into its dock to see whatever game you were playing on the tablet appear up-resed on the TV. To many people it appeared to be the true culmination of what the Wii U began with its somewhat limited off TV play feature. So first impressions were good, the general concept was intriguing and Nintendo was doing its best to make its marketing as clear as possible (more on that later though). Furthermore as people from outside Nintendo got their hands on one for the first time, many people’s concerns were laid to rest, the screen was crisp and vibrant despite 720p resolution and crucially the transition from dock to tablet and vice versa was near enough seamless.

But for the sake of some sense of balance I will now touch on a few on the ‘missteps’ I feel Nintendo made with the Switch. First and foremost the launch line-up. Now do not get me wrong the games announced for this first year are extensive and varied. However if you buy a Switch on day 1 you only have around 5 games to choose from, with the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild likely being most people’s choice. Whilst I am no businessman it would seem to make a lot more sense to wait and release the Switch during the Christmas period, with better sales and a broader selection of games. Speaking of games (again) the decision to not bundle the game 1-2 Switch with the console baffled many, myself included as it is a mini-game collection basically playing the Wii Sports role for the Switch. Furthermore the pricing structure for the games seems questionable in places, I am looking at you ARMS. Next we have something of the elephant in the room, online service. As many will know Nintendo has always been a little behind in terms of online infrastructure compared to Sony and Microsoft. Though when Nintendo announced an online subscription service similar to PlayStation Network and Xbox Live people wondered if they had turned a corner. But as with many things Nintendo, the idea was there, but they were let down by the execution. For example it has been announced that the Switch will allow voice chat and the ability to have group chats, friends lists etc, kind of expected nowadays but we will take it. Oh but wait this is done via a mobile app and not by the Switch itself… Yet more bafflingly if rumours are to be believed while Nintendo will offer a free NES/SNES game to subscribers each month like PS Plus or Games With Gold, you only get to play the game for a month then it is removed. So close yet so far eh Nintendo? Lastly I want to touch on the aspect that caused perhaps the most controversy, the price. The Switch was announced at £280/$300, this is without a game included. As many were quick to point out you can buy a PS4 bundled with games for less than this, so why buy a less powerful alternative? On this point, I would direct you all to read an article by Chris Scullion about how Nintendo should be marketing the Switch as a handheld not a home console. https://tiredoldhack.com/2017/01/19/lets-not-piss-around-the-switch-is-a-handheld/(warning strong language). As for my views I will not dispute it is a lot of money, especially when you factor in the cost of the additional hardware. But if the price really bothers you that much, firstly no one is forcing you to buy one and secondly just wait. If you aren’t desperate for one at launch, wait and it will likely go down in price and begin to be bundled with a game, thus limiting the financial impact slightly.  

Overall, once the dust had settled, my feelings on the Switch could be summed up as: “That’s a really interesting concept, taking your games anywhere, I might not buy one straight away but it’s a consideration for the future” Following this thought however, that little rational voice in my head made two very important points:

  1. You don’t do much long distancing traveling, you are never far from your PS4, what’s the point of a more portable console?
  2. YOU OWN A 3DS THAT IS SITTING IN A DRAWER WHICH YOU NEVER USE!

This realisation coupled with the fact that I had hit a bit of a wall in my current console games, caused me to brush off my 3DS for the first time in a while. The only real use it had over the past year or so was acting as a controller to allow me to play Super Smash Bros for Wii U. But now it was time to use it as a console in anger once again. I attempted to carry on playing Ocarina of Time 3D, then remembered why I stopped playing. (Look the game might be utterly amazing, but I just can’t get into it, the gyro controls especially) I’ve had slightly better luck at replaying A Link Between Worlds, though it’s taken some adjustment to get back into a Zelda and handheld mind-set, but I’m enjoying that a great deal. More interestingly however is that I have recently purchased Terraria for the 3DS. Now I owned this game on PS3 and enjoyed it immensely, it was the perfect time sink, great for listening to podcasts and such. I am hopeful that provided the controls work effectively the 3DS could be the perfect platform to play Terraria. Long story short, if I do end up going through some sort of 3DS resurgence I would not be surprised if the next Nintendo console I got was not a Switch but actually a New 3DS, but time will tell.

Now on to the last aspect of this article: ‘me’. Firstly an apology for not having written anything for this site in over 7 months. It was my intent to write more regularly, however I got caught in a situation whereby when I had more time to write I was lacking inspiration, whereas now I have a few ideas for articles but struggle to find the free time to write them. In short, life gets in the way. My podcast Gamers Without Borders has continued though, although in more recent times has had to move away from weekly episodes once again owing to my schedule, but I intend to continue with both that and this site, it will just occur on a more ‘as and when’ basis.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed this piece and I hope to be back soon!

 

 

Thanks For The Memories, But Your _____ Is Evolving!

We all possess gaming memories of some sort, but the question is, how much have our memories and nostalgia warped our perception of these games? Secondly what does the evolving nature of online games mean for this? Trust me this is one evolution you can’t stop by Pressing B.

So how has this all come about? Well one of my favourite games of the PS2 era was Ratchet and Clank, it was a great little action platformer with some unique weapons and environments. So understandably I was overjoyed to hear that a HD collection of the first 3 Ratchet and Clank games existed so I very quickly got myself a copy (This article will act as something of a review of this game)

As I started playing the first game, the illusions I’d built up for this game were completely shattered and it really started to annoy me. Don’t get me wrong it’s still a great series but it has some pretty major flaws. Its greatest problem is the check-pointing. Throughout the games you’ll find yourself running gauntlets full of enemies, you make it to the end, then accidently die and bam, and you’re right back to the start and without any more ammo. It just really sucks the fun out of the game and ends up artificially extending it. Furthermore Ratchet and Clank suffers from an issue similar to my problems with Ocarina of Time 3D: the saving. Instead of remembering your exact position in the level/planet the game will behave like you have just started the level, meaning large chunks of time are wasting getting back to whatever point you were at. Another gameplay issue, the camera, as well as attempting to automatically adjust, it can also be manually adjusted with the analogue sticks, the problem? It’s never quite right, it’s allows just a bit out. In some types of games this isn’t really an issue, but with platformers that isn’t the case, you need decent camera positioning to help time jumps etc. This is an issue is exacerbated in the Ratchet and Clank series, on a number of occasions you’ll have to walk on walls and the ceiling, at those points in particular it’s a real nightmare.

What struck me most replaying this game, is something my nostalgic memory of the game obviously didn’t include is how much of a Metroid-vania style game this is. Quick explanation, Metroid-vania, style games named after the Metroid and Castlevania series refer to games where you’ll often be in the following situation:

At the moment you can’t open this door, you go to the next level and find something that allows you to open said door, if you go back and open the door you’ll find an item of some sort, you might not need this item straight away to progress in the story but at some point in the you’ll will have to go back and get it.

Playing Ratchet and Clank I forever found myself having to go back to the same places just to open a single door to get something new which felt kind of repetitive. Worst of all the game never informs you if this item you’ve got will be needed at some point or if it’s just some random extra item. While I can certainly take a step back and see why some people like the Metroid-vania genre of game, I personally don’t, I prefer my games a touch more linear and structured so I know exactly what I need to do next time I want to play. Now credit to Insomniac games it appears they may have listened to people like me, when we reach Ratchet and Clank 3, affectionately called ‘Up Your Arsenal’, in which missions are clearly marked as part of the story or optional. Is this an improvement? Frankly no, it feels like they went too far the other way, abandoning the Metroid-vania aspects for a much more linear progression, shame really.

It appears I’m not alone when it comes to nostalgia giving you false impressions about a game, I got in touch with my friends over at the ‘One Track Gamers’ podcast (Details will come later) and they had much to say.

Cory fondly remembers playing Donkey Kong 64 and its “awesome gameplay” What about now? I’ll let him explain: “the controls are just garbage […] camera is bad” Oh dear he seems to suffering from a similar problem as me. He went on to rather perfectly explain reasons identical to the ones that made me want to write this, “the nostalgia doesn’t live up when you play it ever, just better off in your memories” Is Cory right, should we leave old games in the past and not ruin our memories? Well game publishers don’t seem to think so, re-releases of games are incredibly common these days and frankly getting a bit excessive. Recently announced was Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection for PS4, a HD re-release of the first 3 Uncharted games, and let’s be honest those games aren’t that old, the first one came out in 2007, I could understand re-releasing a game after a significant anniversary like Nintendo did with Pokémon Gold and Silver, but Uncharted? I don’t think so.

Although fellow One Track Gamer, Amanda highlights the other side of the nostalgia debate “I still appreciate it (an old game) with the flaws. This is certainly true and I somewhat subscribe to the theory, for example the first thing I bought in the PlayStation Store on my PS3 was the PS1 classic Crash Team Racing, yes by modern standards the graphics are terrible but that doesn’t bother me because I had so much fun with that game while I was growing up.

So perhaps the answer about how does nostalgia affect games is simple, it depends on the game. If it’s a game we love and treasure, we’ll continue to love it and overlook it flaws, while if it was a game we just liked we’ll probably find ourselves picking holes in it.

Now at the beginning of the article I mentioned the evolving nature of games, you might be thinking, games don’t really evolve, I buy a game in a shop play it, could come back to it in five years and it’ll be the same. Frankly you’re pretty much right, yes we have internet connected consoles these days, but those updates are usually bug fixes or bits of DLC, the fundamental basics of the game don’t change. But there’s one type of game where that’s not the case, they constantly evolve and change, yes, I’m talking about online games.

To help illustrate my point, I’ll be using Valve’s Team Fortress 2 as my example to show just how much a game can change.

17th September 2009, a momentous day, why? It was the day I bought Team Fortress 2, in the early days I loved that game, it’s art style, the range of classes and weapons led me to put over 300 hours into this game. One particular fond memory was a little server running a map called ‘Breakfloor Sawmill’ I couldn’t tell you how much time I sunk into that one server with a little group of friends, but sadly for reasons unknown that server is lost to the mists of time.

December 17th 2009: The evolution of TF2 with the introduction of in-game crafting. This was one of the major new features added into the game that I actually supported, yes it devalued some of the rarer items but for the most part it meant those dozens of Force-a-Nature’s in your backpack finally had a purpose. (This is a plight any TF2 player can sympathise with) However from here onwards, things go horribly, horribly wrong.

March 18th 2010/May 20th 2010/April 7th 2011: These 3 dates mark the ‘Community Contribution Updates’, players could now have weapons and items they’ve made be added into the game. Now I’m not saying involving the community of a game is bad, it really isn’t, it’s just this led to the game being flooded with items, thus the influence of the in-game economy starts to grow…

June 23rd 2011: TF2 goes Free to Play. This was one of the contributing factors for me abandoning the game, I really don’t agree with the F2P model. Yes I not going to lie gaming can be an expensive hobby, but Valve didn’t need to do this it had a huge fan-base of people who paid for the game. Why don’t I like F2P? Firstly it devalues the contribution of the players who previously bought the game, yes we got an game item (Woo-hoo) (!), really think something like an old, cheap Valve game i.e. original Counter Strike might have been better. Secondly, it creates two tiers of players, the paid and the F2Pers and let me tell you to this day there is still animosity between the two groups. It’s not beneficial it’s made the community divided into ‘us’ and ‘them’

September 6th 2011: In-game trading is introduced. Now once again in the early days this wasn’t really too much of an issue, if you wanted to trade items you could go to dedicated trade servers and do just that, perfect. But then the influence of trading started to spread beyond the confines of trade servers, you could be playing a nice game of Capture the Flag, you get a new item, you just kind of ignore it. You are then bombarded with trade requests from players asking if you up for a trade, ruining the game experience. This was a sad day for TF2 in my opinion, the day the game became less about having fun and more about the in-game economy.

There are probably better examples of the ‘evolution’ on online games, this just happens to be an example somewhat close to my heart.

I really hope you enjoyed the article, just want to say a big thank you to the ‘One Track Gamers Podcast’ for their contributions, they’re a great weekly gaming podcast, find them on iTunes, Podbean and many other places. Secondly if it all goes as planned, yours truly will be making a guest appearance on ‘One Track Gamers’ , where I’ll be discussing a few things I’ve got planned for the site in the coming weeks, you’ll have to listen to find out…

What Nintendo did well

First off, apologies for the lack of posts: This was caused by 2 things, 1 there was a lot of F1 content to cover and 2 I’ll be honest I was stuck for ideas. But I’ve decided to do a more positive Nintendo post in response to my previous negative post.

Important Update: I’ve finally set a date for the Ocarina of Time review, this will be around the 1st or second week of June. Basically that’s because I’ve got exams to revise for, so I cant’ spend my Easter playing games, it takes up too much time. However I will be doing some smaller posts like this, if I get the time. Anyway to business…..

The Wii

wii

The Wii is proof that thinking outside the box can work. I was given the option, not long after the Wii’s launch, to buy either a Wii, Xbox 360 or PS3. I ruled out Xbox as I hadn’t had any experience with them. I ruled out the PS3, because I was thinking it’s just a slighty better version of my PS2. It was simple the Wii’s motion control was an entirely new idea, which caught my eye, so I bought one. I feel one of the Wii’s/Nintendo’s best moves was Wii Sports: It was a simply easy game, designed purely to show off what the Wii could do and it did that, and got people interested. Now I’m not a Wii U owner, but basically the Wii U’s Wii Sports was Nintendoland. I’ve not played it but many say it’s good because just as Will Sports did, Nintendoland is just a showcase of the Wii U’s features . But that can’t help the drastically poor sales of the console.

Nintendo going in a new direction/Old game remakes

In recent years Nintendo wanted to branch out and try new things for their traditional series. My god did they deliver… 2 key games

Super Mario Galaxy

SuperMarioGalaxyWallpaper1024

This game not only took the Mario franchise in a new direction, it improved it even more, huge open worlds, creative level design, epic soundtrack

It also proved to gamers just what the Wii could do, it may not be stunning HD, yet the visuals in that game where staggering. In proves that Nintendo knows what it’s trying to achieve, and then they just get on with it.

Zelda on handhelds

LetsTryThis

When it was announced there was a Zelda game planned for the DS, people got very concerned. Basically many people loved the sheer size and opportunity to explore of the Home Console games, but people began doubting you’d get the same feeling on a handheld. Not only did this work, but there are lovely little bits that felt unique compared to the console versions. For example the fact that the bottom screen of your DS is a map, which you can annotate with the locations of treasure etc.

Old Game Remakes

Whenever Nintendo announces they’re remaking old games for a new console. You get those annoying people who say, “Nintendo is out of new ideas, so is just re-using old ones”

That’s totally not true, they do this to allow a new generation of gamers to appreciate older games. Personal example, The N64 was a bit before my time I never played any games on it. When Nintendo announced a re-make of Orcarina of Time, I wanted it, not because of the load of fantastic reviews for the new version. But because so many people say it’s one of the best if not the best N64 game and I wanted to find out what in the fuss is about. Thanks to advancing technology the graphics of the remakes are better than the originals. So they’ve made an already brilliant game even better.

Nintendo are good at adding in nice little, things that make you smile in their remakes: Take Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver, the remakes of Silver and Gold (duh)

pokemon-heart-gold-and-soul-silver

Anyone who’s played Pokemon Yellow for more than 2 seconds knows that Pikachu, and only Pickachu would be behind the player and walked with you.

However in HG/SS this was expanded upon, now whichever Pokemon was first in your team would be behind you as a 8-bit sprites, any of them.

220px-HGSSgameplay

Keep up the good work Nintendo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nintendo Mistakes

Firstly, I’m doing this to attempt to expand the blog. I’ve been thinking of odd little things that Nintendo have done that are/were terrible. I sense a flame war coming on…

New Super Mario Bros Series

mario bros

 

This particular series, has a number of titles, New Super Mario Bros, NSM Bros 2, NSM Bros Wii and NSM Bros U. My issue here is that those 4 games are the same game, even Nintendo themselves have admitted the core idea hasn’t changed. I know Mario is a key franchise for Nintendo, but it seems like they’re making Mario games because they feel they have to. The few times Mario has gone outside the box, i.e. Super Mario Galaxy it worked very well. When it comes to Mario, take some more risks Nintendo!

Super Smash Bros 4 Character Roster

Super_smash_bros_for_wii_u_3ds_

I admit I’ve already ranted about this a bit in my Mario Kart 7 review, but this is a slightly separate issue, the Wii Fit Trainer has been annouced as being in the game. My problem here is that, all previous Smash Bros characters, you can kind of imagine those people fighting. But the Wii Fit Trainer? C’mon, it just doesn’t feel right.

In other Super Smash news, i’m annoyed that we won’t have a Subspace Emissary-type single player. I’ll admit the cutscenes and plot was epic, however the presentation was afwul, I think it stemmed from using a fighting game engine to try and make a platformer. But I think Nintendo should’ve giving it another go to be honest.

DSi XL Resolution

nintendo-dsi-xl

This is a pretty nerdy thing, so I’ll keep it brief. When the DSi XL was launched, people loved the bigger screens. But in order to keep costs down, Nintendo chose not to alter the resolution, this means that some games you could tell they where looking a bit stretched. Annoyingly this was most noticeable on games where the bigger screens where a major plus point, looking at you, GTA: Chinatown Wars.

The Wii U

WiiU

If you’ve been reading the news in recent months you’ll know that the Wii U is really not doing well at all, here’s my theory as to why.

Nintendo is known for trying to keep costs low for its products, so in order to keep the Wii U cheap, after including the expensive to make Gamepad, the quality of the console itself suffered, no HD. What Nintendo should have done is put the majority of the budget into the actual Wii U console and then put the remaining money into the Gamepad, the risky bit. This meant that if people didn’t like the Gamepad, at least you had a high quality console to fall back on. But because Nintendo sunk the majority of the money into the Gamepad, it’s meant that people haven’t liked the concept and the console to fall back on, is not very good. Hence terrible sales.

The future…. The lifespan of the Wii was 6 years, so we’ll guess that in theory the end of the Wii U’s lifespan will end in 2018. However unless something changes I think Nintendo may kill it off early. This isn’t the first time Nintendo has done this, they abandoned the infamously terrible Virtual Boy early to work on ‘Project Reality’ AKA the N64.

 

Odds are, my next review will be Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D and not Pokemon X/Y, sorry.