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!

Nintendo Switch!! (The NX Revealed!!!)

Unless you have been living under a rock these past few months you have undoubtedly been berated by nonstop rumors and speculation about Nintendo’s new console code-named the NX. What could this device Nintendo has been cooking up be? What could NX stand for? What would become of the Wii U? Ok that last one was an easy one. The Wii U, despite my unending love and appreciation for the console sold terribly and needed to be replaced badly by something consumers can understand. So enter the many many many months of guessing. Thankfully Nintendo has decided to finally show off their new concept in this preview.

 

Now I am completely excited for this new console…though I’m not too crazy about the name. Switch? I dunno it just doesn’t scream hype to me. Then again neither did Wii or Wii U or hell even the Vita. Whatever in time I’m sure I’ll be fine with it. What you saw here was that it is a sort of hybrid console. Essentially it’s a home console you can take on the go. Pretty exciting stuff. Especially since Nintendo is not actually splitting their resources between a separate home console and portable. They have bridged the two together in part thanks to how popular smart devices have become. Not to mention the removable controller features. I hope this doesn’t negatively effect the rumble capability of the Switch. I really value a good rumble. Also I hope that replacement controller parts won’t be too expensive. But all that will be released with time so for now I’m really excited for Nintendo. I can’t wait for the Switch to be released. Hmm actually it doesn’t sound so bad now. The Switch. Ok I can see what you were going for Nintendo.

Now with all that outta the way there are some things that I hope Nintendo will do with this machine. In fact I have a list so here are my 5 wishes for the Switch.

1) A Virtual Console that is updated much more frequently with new games from various publishers/developers and that uses our Nintendo Accounts so we won’t have to buy the same games over and over and over again. Plus it helps to always have something to play on the console.

2) A really solid price. To be honest I don’t think the Switch should cost more than $250. This is mostly because due to the portable nature of the Switch it can be assumed that it is not going to be a graphical powerhouse like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Both of which start at around $299 (with the “fat” Xbox One gong for less I imagine). So Nintendo has to keep in mind the expectations that people have now when it comes to power. $300 will get a person a PlayStation 4 with the best graphics but will they pay the same, or perhaps more, for essentially a weaker powered concept? Keep in mind that the Wii was only $249.99 when it launched as well.

3) Backwards Compatibility. It’s really difficult to see how it can work with the Switch but I’m gonna assume that it will not be backwards compatible with the Wii U. At least not physically. As in if you bought a digital title and its linked to your Nintendo Account (which I really really hope keeps these things in mind!) you can play it on the Switch. Maybe the Switch can connect with the Wii U gamepad? I’m not sure. It probably won’t. However due the use of cartridges for the Switch I wonder if it can play 3DS or DS games through it’s cartridge slot. Again I’m not too sure but it would be cool. Or they could release an add on for such features similar to what they did in the 90’s with the Super Game Boy for the Super Nintendo. This will also help in adding value and content to the Switch as well.

4) Constant content. What I mean by this is a reason to turn on the console. Switch is not just a name or an adjective describing the console. It’s also an action. Now in the preview trailer it was pretty clear that “switch” meant the ability to switch between displays to play your home console games on the go. But I wanna see switch evolve further. I want this console to enable people to truly switch to a Nintendo product when they go out. For this to happen Nintendo needs app support beyond what is obvious and expected. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video are nice but it would be pretty cool to see Nintendo support things like Spotify, Social media apps, their own mobile games and by extension (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) other mobile games. This would make it so that while the average Switch user want’s to play their Nintendo games on the go they also would not have to lug around other devices beyond their phone. Although if they did maybe they would realize the value in having real games, as opposed to just mobile games, on the go?  Plus it would be helpful in keeping your phone battery fairly charged. Though the Switch’s would probably drain fairly fast. Hmm I’m assuming this battery life will be at least 5 hours. It would be great if it were 8 or at least if Nintendo allowed us to buy stronger batteries in the future. Is that a separate wish though? I dunno Let’s just make the battery life wish a branch off the content one. They go hand in hand after all….right?

5)  Different colors. Now I know this is probably the most superfluous wish here but I’m getting tired of every new piece of tech being black. Hell white somehow seems to be a more refreshing color but even that is getting boring now. I always appreciated how the Gamecube had different colors and let’s not forget that Nintendo’s portables always eventually got new colors as well so maybe just maybe the Switch can launch with a red or blue or hell green. I dunno don’t just go with black. Though I will admit this isn’t exactly a deal breaker so let’s just move on.

So that’s about it. Are you excited for the Switch? I am. Though truthfully I just wanna play Zelda. Breath of the Wild can’t come out soon enough!

Let’s Talk About the Digital Economy

I was on my twitter feed the other day and I came across an article by Vox that, how should I put this, made me very annoyed (I’m putting that lightly mind you). Stating that Pokemon Go is everything that is wrong with Capitalism is like saying Sesame Street is everything that’s wrong with modern day values. It just doesn’t make sense. The only reason such an article would exist is because of the viral popularity that Pokemon Go has achieved and piggybacking off it for clicks and ad revenue through angering fans of Nintendo and Pokemon.

Now the article describes real life problems that have been occurring for quite some time now. Various tech companies create products or apps that exist to suck out as much market value as possible all without benefiting anyone involved. They exist simply to please the shareholders and continue to rake in billions as opposed to being satisfied with millions. Now I’m gonna use Uber as an example here because while its a mega popular app and makes traveling so much simpler it also treats its workers terribly and severely underpays them. However because the app is so popular regular taxi companies cannot even come close to competing. What’s even worse in this case is that Uber does not think of itself as a taxi company but rather a tech company. Crazy right? Considering that when someone says the word “uber” images of a car arriving in  5 seconds more than likely come to mind. Here’s a more concrete example of what I mean.

That’s the Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Pay close attention to what he says around the 5 minute mark in the video. He calls Uber a tech company and that they are now experimenting with self driving cars from Tesla. Tell me something reader. How the hell does that remotely benefit the taxi industry or even help drivers? It doesn’t. It will probably take away an entire industry of jobs thanks to the ability to “push a button and get a ride”.

Companies and apps like these are really the problem here and even then they are just a by product of this Digital Economy that values growth above all else. While I can attempt to deconstruct the Digital Economy here, I believe Douglas Rushkoff does it best. In his book Throwing Rocks At The Google Bus he says:

Not even Google’s investors, officers, or the infamous 1 percent are to blame for the growing inequalities of the digital economy. Silicone Valley executives and venture capitalists are simply practicing capitalism as they learned it in business school and, for the most part, meeting their legal obligation to the shareholders of their companies.

So the digital economy is nothing more than a direct result of capitalism doing what capitalism does best. Maximize the value of something and take as much money from it before sucking everything else dry. That’s the real culprit here. Capitalism that does not work for the common good of humans anymore.

Now is Pokemon Go guilty of this? No it isn’t. Not even close. Do you know why Vox? It’s because Pokemon Go has done so much good for the betterment of people’s lives and looking at things from a nickel and dime perspective devalues what it is that Nintendo stands for. They are a company yes. Though personally I do not consider them a Tech company, they are primarily a Games company. That is they seek to enrich the lives of everyone, especially children, with their creations, especially, their games. It’s what makes Nintendo timeless. Hell it’s what makes me so adamant about defending them from this blatant accusation that they are negatively affecting the local economy. But wait. Is that even true? Is Pokemon Go somehow helping small businesses?

  1. http://www.marketplace.org/2016/07/11/business/how-small-businesses-are-profiting-pokemon-go
  2. http://time.com/money/4402662/pokemon-go-small-business/
  3. http://www.pcmag.com/article/346047/pokemon-go-how-the-pokeconomy-is-changing-business-one-lur

Wow would you look at that. Trust me when I say that’s only the surface being scratched when it comes to Pokemon Go. With that said it’s time for me to go out and see if I can find myself a Ghastly hanging out in my local Pizza shop.

Nintendo’s E3 2016

Now that E3 is officially over and I have collected my thoughts from what Nintendo has shown I can safely say that once again they have reignited a passion within me with what the have done with The Legend of  Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I always thought it was a bit risky focusing so much on just one game but it seems to have worked out. Breath of the Wild for all intents and purposes looks to be the game that I have wanted to play for along time. I am so excited to play it. Go check it out if you have not already!

My only gripe is that I’m not too crazy with the voice telling Link to wake up. Now I am open to Zelda characters having voices I’m just not crazy about this one voice. But aside from that this game looks incredible. The scope of it is just overwhelming and I know i have used the word “creativity” in previous posts but this game has it. Remember how enraged I was with Microsoft for talking teraflops and graphics? Nintendo has shows with this game that even without flopping you can make a game look so beautiful without having the latest tech. It’s something that I value in my game. I will always value the creativity in an art style over realistic graphics (though that is not to say I hate realism. Some games make it work beautifully).

I am also convinced that this game is somehow gonna be The Legend of Zelda’s Phantom Pain. I say this because I can’t stop seeing parallels between the two games. Link can sneak around to get the drop on enemies. Also look at Link’s hair! Doesn’t it look familiar??

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Yeah I know my shit!

MMHMM! Still think I’m crazy? Alright well guess what? Link can use his shield to essentially snowboard on mountains right? Welp you know who else could slide down mountains?

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I cannot unsee the “links” (pun intended, sorry!)

Not to mention of course that they both awaken after a long time has passed get dropped into a massive open world and are expected to make the legend come back to life. Plus you can make both Link and Punished Venom Snake shirtless and can’t they both climb pretty much anything? Well Snake couldn’t climb on everything sadly, but Link can! He makes Spider-Man look like an idiot.

As you can probably tell I’m beyond excited for this game. It’s coming out on both Wii U and NX in 2017. Apparently both versions will be identical. I could say more about Zelda but honestly you’d be doing yourself a favor scrolling up a bit and watching the trailer some more. This game is going to be amazing. I CANNOT WAIT!

Nintendo also showcased a plethora of other games including Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, which look good as well. I’ll be buying myself Sun when it comes out and will more than likely take Popplio.

However there were two 3DS games that I’m also looking forward to. The first is a New IP called Ever Oasis

All I know for sure is that I get to make an oasis in a desert with the most adorable little characters ever. I should also mention that I’m really glad that the main character is a little child of color. You can choose the sex too! It sorta reminds me of Secret of Mana a bit which makes sense given that Koichi Ishii (Director of Secret of Mana) is heading Ever Oasis  as well.

The second 3DS game I am highly anticipating is Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past. Aside from having the coolest title I am also a huge Dragon Quest fan.

I’m really happy that this game comes out on September 16th. That way I don’t have long to wait! I just realized that although I love Dragon Quest, I have yet to beat any of them. I know I know it’s bad but I have this habit where I make it really far in a game and then life happens and I end up not going back to finish it. In my case this has happened with like 4 Dragon Quest games. So I guess I better get off my ass and finish a few right?

Anyway that about sums up my E3 impressions. Overall this was not a particularly exciting E3 for me but what Nintendo has done with Zelda saved it. I love Nintendo and as a hardcore fan of theirs it’s great to see that despite the internet and 3rd Party developer’s hating them, they can still make an incredible game that makes every other game look crappy. OOH shots fired. But yeah ZELDA IS COMING WOOOOOH!!!!!!! Ok I’m done now.