My Super-Late Nintendo Switch Review

Unless you have been either incredibly lucky in getting a pre-order or even luckier finding one in stores, you’re probably wondering if the Switch is worth all the buzz and attention it’s been getting. Hell, I’m sure that for some of you, you’re probably wondering what took Nintendo so long to make a new console, not realizing the Wii U has been around. Welp I was one of the lucky ones who not only got a Switch, but I also have had no problems with it. I can also safely say that without a doubt, this is one of the most important console releases in years.

When you look at the current state of gaming, it may not shock you that apps and smart devices are now being counted as game consoles as well. In fact, they are the reason many people wanted Nintendo to just give up and go third-party a few years back. I have never wanted to embrace smart devices as game consoles. I hate the Free-to-play model, and I loathe the luck-based bullshit surrounding these Gachapon-style RPGs. But then something interesting happened and that was Pokemon Go. Nintendo embraced the mobile device and made something that could really only exist on that hardware. Now, you might think I was pissed off, but to be honest, I realized that exposure to a Nintendo IP on a smart device could fuel interest in the rest of Nintendo’s brand. It’s actually a good thing. The smart device creates different experiences that you can’t really find on console, at little to no financial risk to the user. People embraced it, and it’s definitely here to stay. Now why am I mentioning all this? Well….

Thanks to the rise of the mobile game space, it’s a little less clear just what exactly is a game console. If you ask Sony, they feel it’s something to bridge media platforms in order to create all-in-one devices, sort of like a weaker version of a PC – only, this plugs into your TV and is dedicated to playing your games no matter what. If you ask Microsoft, they look at Sony and say “whatever they do, except with a green tint and better online functionality”. If you ask Nintendo, they don’t really seem to offer much of an answer. That is, until you actually play on the Switch for yourself.

The Switch looks exactly like a tablet. You can connect your controllers to the edges and make the ultimate portable console, or you can connect it to your TV and do some traditional gaming. The important thing to remember here is that it looks like a tablet. Nintendo saw that the smart device has changed gaming. Nintendo is asking the gamer, with the Switch, “What is a game console?” If you look at the start up screen, it’s very minimal. It shows your game library and a couple of icons at the bottom, one of which is for the E-shop, where you can obviously buy more games.2017031201232000-57B4628D2267231D57E0FC1078C0596D You can’t surf the internet on it. You can’t use different apps on it like you can on your phone/tablet, and yet it looks like a smart device….Why?

I believe it’s because Nintendo is reclaiming what it means to be a dedicated gaming device. They wear the smart device as a kind of mask to hide what lies beneath: Nintendo’s interpretation of what a game console should be. Let’s look at the games that Nintendo  launched (not the third-party ones): The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Snipperclips, and 1-2 Switch. These games were released on purpose to send a message. If you look at Zelda, it’s a game that has nothing but an open world to explore. This is something that has been done before, but it feels so amazing to be doing it in Hyrule. I’m dying more times than I ever have before in a Zelda game. I’m completely lost and unsure of where to go. I’m slightly overwhelmed by how gigantic the world is, and yet, it is one of the most sublime gaming experiences I have undertaken and it’s one I won’t soon forget. Snipperclips is a game that looks childish and stupid, but requires constant communication with the person you are playing with. You have to work together to solve the puzzles, and more importantly, you have to speak to illustrate your idea for what to do as a team. 1-2 Switch, despite its slightly hefty price tag of $50, will give you memories that you won’t forget because of how ridiculous you look playing these mini-games with your friends. With these games, Nintendo is saying that gaming is inherently a blank canvas, full of open ideas for the gamer to explore and see what they, as individuals, like and don’t like. However, Nintendo feels that one thing games should be is inclusive for all people and gaming skills, so it’s vital for Nintendo to create experiences that can only be had by playing next to the person and not just communicating digitally through the internet. That’s what I meant by the Switch treating its tablet structure as a mask. It’s using its tablet appearance to tell us that these devices have indeed changed our lives, but we may have lost how to communicate in person as a result. For Nintendo, it’s also never about graphical power or teraflops of their console; it’s about the unique memories and experiences that can be had with its hardware.

So what has my time with the Switch been like? Magical. Mesmerizing. Incredible. Not something I will forget. I think it goes without saying (but I’m gonna say it anyway) that if you have even the slightest interest in gaming, you should buy one. It’s probably the greatest game console to come out in a long time.

Do you own a Switch? Is there anything else you would like to know? Feel free to leave comments!

The PlayStation 4 Pro Has Been Announced!

Unless you have been living under a rock you undoubtedly have heard the news that the rumored PlayStation Neo is real and is in fact called the PlayStation 4 Pro. This “new” console (if you can even call it new. I’m not even sure what new means in this generation anymore) will support true 4K specs and will naturally allow for developers to make some better looking games. Should you be excited? My response is no. In fact hell no. You should be skeptical that this will lead to any innovation in the industry.

I am of the opinion that better graphics do not make for better games. Games are truly great when their gameplay or stories or both are compelling and engaging. When you look at gaming that way graphics are not that important in the overall scheme of things. Take a look at Shovel Knight, Cave Story, The Binding of Isaac, Axiom Verge these Indie games do not have realistic boundary pushing graphics but are wildly fun to play. They are also very successful, popular and have been released somewhat recently. It’s really difficult to gauge what Sony and Microsoft, with their Scorpio, see in this generation of gaming. It’s clear that they no longer believe in the somewhat dated, yet functional process, of having a dedicated games console for 4-7 years and then replacing it with something new and hopefully stronger. The benefit to this has always been that the first 2 years will be the growing pains cycle where developers will usually not release anything worth while they try to figure out the console’s advantages and disadvantages. More often you get games that don’t look to nice, function a little obtusely or just don’t age that well. However the upside was that once that period was over you had access to better games. Games that made you wanna buy them and have a blast playing. Once that happens that’s when I consider a gaming generation to have truly begun. For example, for me that did not start until I finally played Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Once I finished it I felt that I had truly come in to this current generation.

Of course with the Scorpio and PlayStation Pro looming I can’t help but feel there is no reason for these consoles to exist so damn early. Look 4K looks amazing. It really does. But to apply it to gaming now would be a mistake in my opinion. All it will succeed in doing is making games much more expensive to produce. This will in turn make publishers more conservative when it comes to the types of games they make. So don’t be surprised if everything that ends up being made is a shooter of some sort. It’s the genre that is arguably the most popular currently. So any new IP that could be made will just follow the path of genre stagnation. Now I’m not trying to jump on an anti shooter bandwagon but come on. So many games now are shooters and even more are first person. Trying to appeal to as many people to recoup the cost of development is not necessarily a good thing. Do you really want to be in a world where Uncharted 4 gets another re-release in the same generation? That’s what could happen. Games just released will get re-releases to take advantage of 4K.

It’s pretty obvious that both Sony and Microsoft are looking now to compete with PC’s in terms of raw power and processing. This is not a smart strategy at all. Why? Because no matter what gaming box Sony or Microsoft make it’s ultimately going to be outdated by the tech advancements of tomorrow and I do mean that quite literally. Like how as soon as you buy a computer within a week it’s already technically outdated. When you are competing with a platform whose parts are constantly evolving you are forgetting the key concept of having a dedicated gaming platform. GAMES. PC’s are our gateway to the internet, our business tools, things students use to write papers or thesis'(sometimes even pirate), a communication tool to loved ones, a device to process high amounts of information at high speeds and yeah it can play games too. PC’s have to be constantly updated because the world demands that of them. Their upgrades dictate the software that we use. Not our games. To apply this logic to game consoles pretty much means you want to nickel and dime the consumer or market yourselves to a very small group who have the expendable income to buy all the things needed to take advantage of these upgrades. Not to mention that the games made will be compatible across all the “weaker” consoles too. But for how long? Even games made on PC’s stop supporting certain video cards after a while so what does this mean for the PS4 Pro and Scorpio? Seem stupid yet?

There is a lot to dislike about this. But at least the PlayStation 4 Pro will be able to play those 4K movies right? Nah apparently it won’t but the Xbox One S can? Boy I sure do miss gaming from my childhood.

 

 

 

Our Purpose is Defined by the Era We Live in

Apparently this is the first post I am making to this here site of mine. As such I’m not entirely sure what the hell I should say. I could always go the route of the good ol’ introduction and say “Hey, wassup my name is Phil and I kinda love video games”. But honestly I have said that so often that I’m not even sure what that means anymore. I think it comes across pretty well given that I’m name dropping Outer Heaven and using it as a means to establish something more. Hey wait a sec…I think I got what I can talk about.

-ahem-

Welcome to Outer Heaven Reviews. This is something I made because of how much Metal Gear has inspired me over the years. However it isn’t just Metal Gear that has had such a deep affect on me. There have been quite a few games actually like EarthboundPersona 3 Portable, The Metal Gear series (obviously) and more. But enough about my love of video games. What I would like to state here is what you can expect from me which are my thoughts on various topics that range from, and mostly, video games to maybe movies and television shows. Honestly if something strikes a cord in me I’m gonna do my damndest to write about it.

I guess now is a good time to say why. Well I learned a whole hell of a lot about media (I was a Media Studies Major and am currently in Grad School!) and the many ways it shapes and is defined by our society. If it’s one thing I have learned after college it’s that a lot of people take media and its technology for granted. What I have here is an earnest attempt to maybe change that. My long term end goal is to create some kind of place where anybody can start or participate in discussions of all kinds of media from all over! Like Outer Heaven there would be a mix of people from all walks of life coming in and starting dialogues with others. Hell we could then review the media we consume as opposed to privileged few who seem to decide what’s good and what’s bad. Why can’t we do that for ourselves then?

So that about sums it up. I’m a guy named Phil who loves video games and would like to write about Media (mostly games though).I should also mention that I do run a YouTube channel where I do playthroughs of games that I enjoyed. That you can see of on the side somewhere.

You’re probably wondering why the picture below is here right? Well WordPress used it in it’s “First Post” draft and I happen to like it but I feel that something is missing from it…

post

much better

Much better.

-Phil