Nintendo Switch Review

 

     After years of experimentation, Nintendo has finally hit onto something with their latest console.

     The Nintendo Switch had an uphill climb from the word go. Nintendo hasn’t done itself any favors in recent years in combatting their biggest criticisms, and as the Wii U had shown, gamers weren’t entirely on board with their experimental approach to console design anymore. Sure, the Wii sold just under the PS2 world-wide in terms of sales, but Nintendo hasn’t had a hit since. Well, unless you count the 3DS.

     See, despite their shaky stance in the home console market since the start of the 2010s, they dominated the dedicated handheld market with an iron fist. Even the “low” selling 3DS managed 60 million units its six years on market. I’m sure one of the higher ups noticed this trend. “Take what we’re good at, apply it to what we’re not,” seems to have been the design mantra behind Nintendo’s latest piece of tech.

(The Switch with the Joy-Con Controller, assembled in the included Joy-Con Grip. Yeah, it’s tiny.)

     Enter the Switch, a handheld/console hybrid that somehow manages to take everything Nintendo was ever successful at (motion controls, multiple controller configurations, portability) and mash it into one Frankenstein of a machine. And I mean that in the best possible way it could be taken. What the Switch is supposed to do it does FLAWLESSLY. Switching control schemes or going from docked console to portable mode is as easy as the cool little ads targeted at millennials makes it look.

(The tablet pictured is the console itself- the dock merely outputs it to a TV at 1080p.)

     The Joy-Con controllers are certainly well designed (if a bit small), and miles ahead of what the Wii Remotes or PS Move controllers are capable of producing. Yes, they are motion controllers, but if you’re more of a traditionalist the bonus Joy-Con grip that’s included or the separate Pro Controller offer perfectly fine alternatives to the motion mayhem. I didn’t have the opportunity to test the controllers in a two-player game, unfortunately, so I can’t speak for one of its biggest selling points. Though the idea of having a competitive showdown somewhere out and about while the console is in tabletop mode is certainly a cool idea, I doubt this will happen to me very often. Your mileage may vary, particularly when Mario Kart 8 Deluxe drops.

(The Joy-Con controller.)

      The actual hardware of this device is certainly nothing to scoff at, but be warned: This does not buck Nintendo’s habit of using well-worn tech for their devices. Your standard PS4 or Xbox One will still run laps around this thing, but we’re at a point now in gaming tech where the lines are becoming increasingly blurred. The difference between gaming generations has shrunk, and beyond the nitty gritties of framerates and HDR, you’re not going to see a substantial difference.

     Let’s not forget something important though- despite how Nintendo is marketing this thing it is more of a portable gaming tablet with the ability to be docked on a TV than the other way around. And when you consider that- it’s something to behold for sure.

(The console in portable mode, with the Joy-Con attached.)

     I had recently mentioned in a belated New Nintendo 3DS review I had done that it was Nintendo’s most confident product to date. Scratch that, because I truly believe the Switch can take that crown and run with it. In every way, it oozes the “it” factor that the Wii U lacked. It does exactly what it sets out to do (and does that incredibly well) and the big N can’t be faulted for that. Time will tell if this machine really saves Nintendo from gaming oblivion, but if the early sales numbers are to be taken as any type of indicator, they may just finally have another well-deserved hit on their hands.

 

FINAL VERDICT

     If you don’t mind the lack of power in comparison to the other gaming giants, then the Switch has a whole lot to offer. It is essentially the Nintendo Fanboy’s dream machine- a hefty throwback to the confidence and “cool” factor Nintendo still had back in the 90s. Not since the N64 have I savored over a new Nintendo machine quite like this. Welcome back guys- after a couple of misses you finally nailed it.

8.5/10

Pros:

  • PORTABLE!!!
  • The 720p 6.2-inch screen is vibrant enough and games such as Breath of the Wild look gorgeous on it.
  • The Joy-Cons are surprisingly comfortable for their small size, and the included grip accessory makes it dead simple to enjoy traditional controls- if you don’t want to shell out $70 for the pro controller, that is.

Cons:

  • Accessories are borderline offensive in their pricing. Go ahead, look them up.
  • The battery life isn’t fantastic- six hours’ tops, less if it’s a bigger game. I’m lucky to net 3 on BOTW.
  • Though not a problem for me, there have been reported connectivity issues with the left Joy-Con controller.

 

Kero Blaster: Who you gonna call? The Cleanup Frog!

   

   Kero Blaster is an indie title that I recently played and beat in normal mode that I thoroughly enjoyed. The indie game was developed by the same company who made Cave Story+ on steam, so it comes from a pretty good background.

The basic idea of the game is pretty simple in a way, you play as a frog in a side-scrolling  game shooting guns, defeating monsters, and bosses in a few different levels. However there is a lot more in the game as well when it comes to power-ups and more that you can purchase, both gun upgrades and life upgrades. Each time you ‘game over’ you end up in the hospital where you have a chance to buy from the medical store, or if you encounter the store in a level you can shop from both the medical and weaponry ones.  The weapon upgrades are your typical ones, though the max upgrades are very powerful where as if you focus on one early in the game you can most likely make it through the game pretty quickly.  The medical ones are a bit of the usual, though there is one that I find fascinating. The game’s life system runs on a  heart-based hitpoint, plus the usual lives as well. You can add how many lives you have of course, but also you can get a one time use jar that when you run out of hearts on that life it will give you a certain amount of hearts back. It actually reminds me a lot of the ‘guardian angel’ that you can get in League of Legends, where you don’t get all of your life back but you get enough to last  you to make it past the obstacle usually.

Some may say there are ‘only’ 7  levels in the game, however  these aren’t short levels. Many of them have mini-bosses for you to kill, though luckily after you kill them once they don’t reappear, making it a bit easier to get through the level. The length of the last level is one to drive you crazy though, at least it did for me. It took me a very long time to get through it because of how far back it throws you if you get a gameover in the last level.  For many of the levels and areas you can use any of the guns, but certain obstacles require certain ones. For example you have to use the fire gun to kill most of the ice enemies and to destroy the iceblocks. So as you can pick a favorite gun sometimes you will have to switch, luckily you can switch anytime with a push of a button.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the game though, because I highly recommend you guys try it . I had a lot of fun in the game and beat it during my stream,  and when that happened it unlocked a hard mode which I did not check out. The game features replay ability just because of how the difficulty system is. Also the graphics are simple ones, but I enjoy them, they remind me of older 8  bit games.  There are some frustrating areas but nothing game breaking, and nothing that stopped me from playing the game. So to sum it all up, this game is a great buy especially with the controller support! So check it out on steam for 9.99!

High Strangeness, Indie RPG

Not too long ago I tried out an indie RPG game that was given to me called High Strangeness. The game luckily has controller support, though it was only partial which made it a bit awkward at times causing me to hit the wrong buttons often since it was registered as an xbox controller.  Even so the controls were pretty good, the rest of the game was a bit of good and bad.
highstrangeness moving    The basic premise of the game is that you are a guy, Boyd, who is moving and has to chase down his cat,Abydos, when it runs away. However when you do find your cat you end up being taken to an alternate world where everything looks ‘odd’ to you, which I will explain in a moment. In this place you are made to find a few items for a sick man, and then you are told about things called Crystal Skulls. It turns out that the Crystal Skulls are filled with extreme power and you have to find them in order to save all of the universes. The storyline is relatively simple and pretty easy to see through at times figuring out the basic ending, however the dialogue is set up pretty well. You have your cat, who can actually talk, and your old boss at the cd store who were both sent to  watch over you in your world. The cat tends to be rather rude at times, which just seems to match the way cats act usually. They can be all lovey dovey but at times they are just like ‘ugh you’, which Abydos matches perfectly with his dialogue. His boss,  Anna, in the beginning is just his friend however when he is taken away she  acts a bit jealous and unsure of him it seems. The twists and turns in the personality of the characters is rather interesting, often it can be pretty humorous at times as well.

highstrangeness transition

     The characters are interesting ones, however there is quite a bit to cover over the gameplay. As I mentioned before the controller support isn’t the best, which makes choosing your weapons and such a bit awkward because the actual selection button is not the one you would think it was. Personally I would think when you select your weapon you would use the button that you use to use that weapon, however you use the main weapon button instead the other button just exits out of the menu. Beyond that though the game is a bit actiony and puzzle based however most of the puzzles once you figure it out the first time it becomes very easy to solve the puzzles later on. The fact that they basically reuse the premise of some of the makes a few of the puzzles very annoying because they are long, using one of the most interesting features I’ve seen.  One of the main features in the game is the ability to switch perspectives in the game, from 16 bit down to 8 bit and back. As  I mentioned before things looked ‘odd’ and that is because when you get to that world you see everything as 8 bit. The transition  feature is interesting and makes for some nice puzzles, however the ones where you just have to switch to see a very long path is annoying because you can not switch back until you are through. I love this feature in the game however  there are issues I have with it, sometimes when it switches over the bright colors hurt my eyes quite a bit. For example towards the end of the game there is a nice area that is full of blues, however when you switch to 8bit it hurt my eyes terribly and I had to get through it quickly.

 

All in all this game was pretty good , even if it was a short one to play. It is one that in my opinion is worth the 5 dollars, there are some twists and turns in the game and interesting changes in gameplay throughout it. From action to stealth this has quite a bit of decent gameplay available for you to try.  I highly recommend trying it out, click here to check it out on steam.