Category Archives: News

Reactions to 01/13 Nintendo Switch Presentation!

Well, first of all, the Nintendo Switch presentation was amazing.  I was nervous going into it, because it had to lay the foundation for an important console.  The Switch is Nintendo’s future in an uncertain time.  This presentation needed to win over some fans.

Let me start off with some partial cons here.  Not everything about the presentation was perfect.  Nintendo is switching to a paid online multiplayer model.  I don’t think this is a bad thing, mind you, since now that money is flowing into the infrastructure, it’ll likely improve the service.  Although I’m going to miss being able to play games online at no cost.  If it keeps Nintendo competitive, though, I have no objection.

Another issue is that the Switch is going to be $299.00 US.  Again, this is a reasonable price point at launch, and Nintendo isn’t making the Switch at a loss.  But it also means that it’ll have to compete with PS4 and Xbox One price-wise, so it’ll have some work to do to justify 300 bucks.

The Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch! (Photo: BagoGames via Flickr)

The Switch has a seriously low portable battery life, only 2 -6.5 hours depending.  I was hoping for a solid 4-8.  The Switch’s gimmick of home-to-portable console seems like it’s in danger now.  Lastly, it also seems like apart from Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the Switch will have a fairly weak launch lineup.  All this worries me.

Now onto the good stuff.  The Switch is packing some great technology, including HD rumble that delivers extremely detailed vibration.  The new game Arms is planning to capitalize on this technology with a sort of multiplayer Punch-Out!! style.  The Switch has a virtual console, as we saw, with a promising lineup.  Above all, it promises a LOT of great games in just this coming year.

Breath of the Wild gameplay
Gameplay of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WIld! (Photo: BagoGames via Flickr)

Breath of the Wild is looking more action-packed, compelling, and beautiful than ever.  Personally speaking, this is new-favorite-game material.  Super Mario Odyssey, the new open-world 3D Mario platformer, is exactly what I wanted Nintendo to do with the series.

Skyrim is confirmed as coming to the system, and Nintendo is set to release Splatoon 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles 2.  These are now two of my most highly-anticipated sequels.  Splatoon 2 is offering a wealth of new content and portable play, and the new Xenoblade is stunningly beautiful and looks like it’ll tell a great story.

Koei Tecmo is also making a new Fire Emblem Warriors title as a follow-up to Hyrule Warriors.  I’m extremely excited for this, because I predicted the announcement of Fire Emblem Warriors and I think the two series are a great fit.  More is coming on the 18th in a Fire Emblem Direct, so keep an eye out for that!

Overall,  I have a lot of faith in the Nintendo Switch after Thursday.  Nintendo trades on good games, and the Switch looks like a return to roots.  From here onwards, it’s important that Nintendo keep giving out information on its games, and announcing new, interesting games.   I personally can’t wait to see how the Switch does, and I’ll keep reporting the news as I see it.

Nintendo Switch: Our Thoughts and What We Know

Yesterday morning, the video game market underwent a legendary change as gaming giant Nintendo revealed details about its newest console, the Nintendo Switch.  Formerly codenamed the NX, rumors circulated about the platform for over a year, teasing everything from cartridge-based game publishing to a hybrid design combining handheld and home console elements.

WHAT WE KNOW

As it turns out, just about every rumor turned out to be true.  What we saw in the reveal trailer for the Switch is an incredibly ambitious piece of hardware.  The Switch is teasing multiple controller setups, including dual miniature Joy-Con controllers for on-the-go play, custom pro controllers, and a lightweight 6-inch tablet controller that allows you to take a game on the go seamlessly, like a handheld console.  Two NS owners can also sync up their tablets, which are the core components of the console, for team-based multiplayer.

Switch games will be on cartridges, much like they are on the Nintendo 3DS.  At first glance, this may seem like an old-fashioned choice, but according to BidnessEtc, it may be a great decision in the long run.  Cartridges hold up better than discs, make no noise while being read, allow for faster load times, and even have more storage per card.  To demonstrate, a massive Wii U game like Xenoblade Chronicles X only takes up about 3.6 GB, and most 3DS game cards already have 8 GB of space.

Since the Switch is a hybrid console, its use of cartridges will allow for much-needed storage of large AAA games that will have to be portable as part of the console’s design.

Not much is currently known about the console’s specs, although its GPU is a custom build from Nvidia.  Nvidia has released a blog post expressing their happiness with their Switch build.  Apart from this, we’re yet to find out about the resolution on the tablet screen, the consistency of the Switch’s frame-rate, or most importantly, about its maximum battery life.

Unsurprisingly, Nintendo has also confirmed that the Switch will have amiibo support just like its predecessor.

The Nintendo Switch logo!
The Nintendo Switch logo!

WHAT THE SWITCH WILL NEED

Battery life of the Switch’s various portable parts is the most important question in my opinion, because this is what will make or break the console’s extraordinary portable gimmick.  If the Switch is going to be practical, its users will have to feel free to use its many control options without having to constantly buy new batteries or bring the controller back to its charging dock.

I think that it would be in Nintendo’s best interests to make the Switch the ultimate mobile machine.  In a time when mobile gaming is continuing to grow and push gaming further into the mainstream, the Switch should become a must-have for people who want to carry games wherever they go but don’t necessarily want to use their phone.  That’s why I think it should feature some kind of platform for open-source software development.  Basically, an app store where developers can come to present their games and apps to the public through the Switch.  If Nintendo can partner with some of the best developers in the mobile market and encourage people to buy the Switch for the best mobile gaming experience, we could see sales that could give the Wii a run for its money.

Most of all, the Switch needs great games.  It looks like it will be re-releasing Wii U games, but it will need to shoot for the trifecta of a good game library: strong launch titles, great first party IP showings, and third-party support.  From what little we know right now, the NS is looking strong on all three, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild being shown off and a new Mario title being teased.  TechCrunch has released a long list of third party developers who have also been shown to be partnered with Nintendo Switch, including EA, FromSoftware, and even Bethesda Softworks.  This list is a good sign, but the Switch will have to sport some big new releases, and end the trend of major companies developing games only for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.  Nintendo has always had incredible exclusive IPs, so if it can branch out into third party releases, it might re-take the spotlight.

It may be that the Switch can even compete with the likes of the iPad, depending again on battery life but also on the variety of software and apps it makes available.  If it can combine the console experience and the tablet experience, it could have an even more massive influence on technology than expected.

MAJOR QUESTIONS

The big question that remains in my mind has to do with Nintendo’s plans for game development in the future.  This is really the first true hybrid console to ever exist, combining the handheld market and the home console market.  Until now, these two markets have remained separate, and have built up their own separate IPs.

Now, it may be disappointing to some major Wii U fans, but I can tell that the Switch is about to make the Wii U history.  The big question is, what will be the future of the 3DS line of handhelds?  Now that we have the Switch, which is technically portable, is the 3DS going to become defunct as well?  Nintendo has said that there are many more 3DS games in the pipeline, and this is to be expected, but what about the future beyond the 3DS?  Will we see a merging of the two markets, with games like Dragon Quest and Pokemon becoming part of the home console market?

This could have a huge implication for the way the company makes money in this next console generation.  Will NS games be more expensive because they double as home and console games, or is the transition so seamless that games will cost the same, or even less?  If that’s the case, does that mean that the NS will be crazy expensive for all the tech it’s packing?  This could easily be, since President of Nintendo Tatsumi Kimishima has stated that the console won’t be sold at a loss.

As I said earlier, the trailer showed several Wii U games being played with NS technology, but they aren’t original Wii U releases.  Nintendo has confirmed that the Switch isn’t physically compatible with Wii U or 3DS games.  For example, Mario Kart 8 showed extra characters like King Boo, and Splatoon has different hairstyles and idle animations on its characters.  Since no Wii U disc being used, this could mean that Nintendo will be continuing its tradition of re-releasing its most popular titles on its next generation of consoles.

This would actually be a shrewd decision from Nintendo.  It would help people to remember the best aspects of the unpopular Wii U generation and carry them into the next generation along with everything new that the Switch will bring.  Then again, that brings up the question of which games will be carried over, how much will they cost, and what will be new in the re-releases?  Will Super Smash Bros. 4 be ported to NS with new characters, perhaps?  Only time will tell.

We’ll need to know more about the Nintendo Switch before determining how competitive it will be in the tech and gaming market.  Regardless, it looks like an incredible machine, and I was personally giddy watching the trailer for it.  Nintendo has always been innovative in its development of new consoles, and this machine could set the new standard.  Nintendo has stated that more details on specs and pricing will come sometime next year, and we can’t wait to hear more!

My Thoughts on E3 2016, Part 3: Nintendo

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Nintendo’s E3 presentation was in good hands with Reggie Fils-Aime at the helm!

I had no idea what to expect from Nintendo going into E3 2016.  Although a few interesting titles like Paper Mario: Color Splash or Ever Oasis spiced up Nintendo’s showing, a whole lot was riding on Pokemon Sun and Moon and Zelda for Wii U/NX to make allow the Big N to keep up with the frankly stellar performances of its competitors.  And yet somehow, they managed to deliver despite having only two games, a true example of what JonTron termed the “Nintendo hadoken.”

Let me lead with the one I’m less excited about, and that is Pokemon Sun and Moon.  There are a lot of steps forward being taken in this game that I love.  For one thing, I love the enhanced 3D models and the fact that you can see 3D models of whatever trainers you’re fighting.  The fact that Zygarde is coming back into play with different levels of power has me stoked – finally this guy is getting the attention he deserves.  The Battle Royal mode is also fascinating, and adds an interesting new dimension to a battle system that’s been normally trainer vs. trainer until now.  The new Alola region is also gorgeous, home to some pretty cool looking new Pokemon, and the legendaries are amazing, although I’m most excited about Magearna for its Steel/Fairy typing.

But the big money is coming from the true reveal of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  I’m going to just say it, this game looks lit.  I genuinely think BotW is going to set the standard for Zelda in the years to come.  I’ve never seen an installment take this many risks since Wind Waker, and in my view, it trumps even that game pretty cleanly in terms of innovation and variety.  We see a level of freedom that hasn’t been seen since the first ever Zelda, tempered by many inspirations in between like Elder Scrolls and Shadow of the Colossus.

This game gives you the bare minimum story context before letting you loose on the overworld, an overworld TWELVE times larger than the one seen in Twilight Princess, one of the largest the series has seen to date.  You can climb, hunt, forage, cook, fight, ride, pick up weapons and armor to suit the environment…this game allows the player to do leagues more than Zelda has ever allowed before.  Top that with improved physics, gorgeous art style, and a dynamic story wherein the player can complete the game without learning much of anything about the world, or get the full experience by exploring.  Throw in some amiibo compatibility, including using the Wolf Link amiibo to make the wolf your temporary companion, and you have a nostalgia arrow that’ll go directly to my heart.

All I’m really left hoping for is that this game has a rich offering of sidequests.  Previous entries like Majora’s Mask had excellent sidequests that were extremely rewarding for how they gave unique, unpredictable items that proved useful in different situations.  Other games, like Twilight Princess especially, had sidequests that were entertaining in large part because of interesting characters and missions that took you all across the overworld.  In an overworld as large as Breath of the Wild’s, I hope to see sidequests taken to a new level – I want to see mysteries and interesting questlines, huge battles and cool gear.  Also, as a last mention, I hope the classic green hat and tunic are at least possible to find somewhere in the game.  But if this game is able to fill its shoes, it will redefine one of the most iconic series of all time, maybe even beating out Twilight Princess as my favorite in the series.  It was unquestionably the game of the show for me, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

My Thoughts on E3 2016, Part 2: Sony

Sony's press conference was full of surprises and promise.
Sony’s press conference was full of surprises and promise.

Sony’s press conference leads me to believe that the PS4 is about to become the leading platform for cinematic, poignant, and hard-hitting video games.  From the next installment in the God of War franchise, to Hideo Kojima’s undeniable collaboration with The Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus, to a series of VR experiences of all kinds, it looks like Sony is aiming to evolve in the position it’s always had, pushing the boundaries of the stories video games tell.

So what really got me going at the press conference?  Well, just about every other thing.  God of War looks like it’s about to go in an interesting and hopefully more narrative-driven direction compared to its old third installment.  The Crash Bandicoot remakes hopefully signal a re-emergence of that franchise that so many of us grew up with.  Horizon: Zero Dawn looks like it will be an incredible combination of themes and deliver on some thrilling gameplay, and I have to admit, the very idea of Insomniac Games creating a new Spider-Man game gets me cautiously giddy.  As for all the promised VR spinoffs shown, all I can really say is I like the idea of them – given the current expense and relative novelty of VR, it’s something I can’t honestly say is going to be amazing or not – I may take an in-depth look at VR in another post, another day.

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But now onto the real hype machines.  First off, Detroit: Become Human looks like it’s going to set a new standard for interactive story building, exploring insanely interesting themes of real humanity vs. artificial humanity through engaging, investigative gameplay.  The multiple endings also make me thinking this is going to be an incredibly deep, well-crafted narrative experience and I can’t wait to see it take off.  Death Stranding and Resident Evil VII: Biohazard also excited me almost to the point of tears, not necessarily because they represent the kinds of games I play a lot, but because they are sure to shake the industry to its core.  The ingenious minds at Kojima Productions are most definitely going to make Death Stranding an intensely creepy and profound work of art, and RE7 not only looks like a return to the series’s survival horror roots, but the continuation of the kind of immersive, disturbing gameplay we were promised in Silent Hills before it was canceled.

Lastly (pun intended), we have The Last Guardian, the long awaited third entry in the series of extraordinary games that started way back when with Shadow of the Colossus.  It’s looking better than ever on this generation of consoles, and I think it’s sure to move us like few other games can.  Truly, Sony wowed us with the variety and promise of their whole presentation, and I hope their final products are as good as they look.

My Thoughts on E3 2016, Part 1: Microsoft

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E3 2016 was an incredible showing from every major company!

Going into E3 2016, I had no idea what to expect.  So little information had come out prior to Day 1 on June 13 from any major company.  But the expo was absolutely incredible this year – from advances in community and technology to reveals of extremely impressive new games, a lot has come to the surface.  Just about every company has brought interesting stuff to bear, so let’s break it down by presentation, starting with Microsoft!

Microsoft @ E3 2016 saw some huge announcements in tech and games from Xbox!
Microsoft @ E3 2016 saw some huge announcements in tech and games from Xbox!

A lot of what Microsoft turned heads with was the information it gave about its future plans during its press conference.

For one thing, it announced the implementation of Xbox Play Anywhere, which promises seamless integration of saves and data, not to mention  more cross-play, between Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.  Paying for an Xbox One digital game gives access to the PC platform.  This feels like a massive step forward for Microsoft in a market where more people are tending toward PC play than ever before, and it should put games in the hands of fans more often for no extra cost.  This is an idea I completely approve of, provided it doesn’t get bogged down to be more complicated than it has to be.

But Xbox also came out swinging in terms of hardware – it announced a new design program for custom controller color palettes as well as the Xbox One Slim.  But the big news was the first official announcement of Project Scorpio, the next console generation for Microsoft, which promises no-compromise 60 frames-per-second gameplay in 4K resolution.  How they will deliver on that promise without making the thing the size of a portable generator I don’t know, but we’ll see!

As far as games go, the press conference felt to me like most other Microsoft conferences: there was a lot of stuff that got me excited and a lot I don’t care about one bit, like Forza Horizon 3 and Dead Rising 4.  Other games like State of Decay 2, ReCore, and Tekken 7 all have me really intrigued – they look like they could be bringing a lot of beauty, innovation, and variety to a console that, for a long time now, hasn’t sparked my interest that much.

If I had to pick my favorite games on display at the conference, they would have to be Sea of Thieves, Inside, and Scalebound.  As someone who loves a good pirate battle in a video game, Sea of Thieves for me carries the promise of creating a unique online experience, and I hope it becomes the game to bring my boys at Rare back into the light.  Inside, the spiritual successor to Limbo, promises to do what its predecessor did – use the interactive medium to pose interesting questions and offer interesting yet simplistic gameplay.  Scalebound, meanwhile, just looks like PlatinumGames (the team behind Bayonetta, Wonderful 101, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Star Fox Zero) is doing what it does best: creating some over-the-top, intense, awe-inspiring boss fight carnage.  It looks like it has a ton of personality and I hope to get some time with it soon enough.

In all, I think Microsoft put on a great presentation and looks to be offering a lot of variety and opportunity to its fans that we haven’t seen in previous years.  Now feels like a better time than ever to keep an eye on these guys, especially if the Scorpio breaks the current bounds of gaming technology.

New Games Leaked: Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon!

Some new rumors have surfaced in anticipation of the Pokemon-themed Nintendo Direct on Friday, February 26th – namely that a 7th generation of games entitled Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon is to be announced as part of the broadcast.

Although this hasn’t been confirmed (and won’t be until the Direct at 10:00 AM / 7:00 AM PST), the leak is in the form of seemingly legitimate trademark information discovered by Nerdleaks revealing the titles of the game and even showing off highly polished logos.

A seventh Pokemon generation seems to be coming at the right time as Nintendo releases a new wave of Pokemon titles as a jumping off point into their next console generation.  It should also serve as an excellent promotion for the spinoff title Pokken Tournament, coming to Wii U on March 18th.

As for my thoughts on all this, I like the idea of another generation with elemental and maybe even mystical theming.  Some individual Pokemon like Solrock, Lunatone, and the legendary Cresselia are based on the sun and moon, and I think there’s a lot of potential there, stylistically and otherwise.

I likely won’t be getting myself any of the next generation games, unless some irresistible changes to the formula come with them (I already filled up the whole Gen 6 Pokedex, so don’t be judging me), but I do have a theory from the game alone.  I personally wouldn’t be surprised if Sun and Moon types were added to the already extensive list of types in place.

After all, Fairy type was introduced in Pokemon X and Y, much to the joy and/or frustration of many, so this seems like a prime moment for new type additions, especially if new Pokemon are created specifically to be put in these categories.  Even if the hardcore players are forced to tweak their precious metagame all over again.

No matter what happens, I’ll be fairly stoked if a new Pokemon generation is announced, and especially happy if it plans to bring a lot to the table in terms of enriching an already amazing franchise.  I’ll be keeping right on top of this broadcast on the official Nintendo Direct website, so until then, stay frosty!

Final Dedicated Super Smash Bros. 4 Broadcast Scheduled for December 15th

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, released in 2014.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, released in 2014. (Photo: Flickr)

In an announcement from Nintendo, the final Nintendo Direct Broadcast dedicated specifically to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS has been revealed to be taking place on December 15th.  While this likely doesn’t mean the end of all new content and updates to the game, this will represent the last game-changing set of content added to it.

Reportedly, the major highlight of this broadcast will be more details on Cloud Strife, the main protagonist of Final Fantasy VII, who was recently revealed as the newest third-party addition to the game.  If you’ve seen Cloud’s reveal trailer, however, you can see that he appears mostly complete – every one of his moves was showed off, suggesting that development of the character is done, beyond possible debugging to prevent possible issues with downloads and online play.  Given this, I have zero doubt that we’ll be getting a release date for the character, and I’m betting it will be soon – possibly right after the Direct, if we’re lucky.  I do wonder, though, about the fact that Cloud is seemingly touted as one of the highlights of this Direct when there isn’t a whole lot left to talk about anymore –  it seems as though the two main possibilities are that Mr. Sakurai will take the opportunity to discuss Nintendo’s relationship with Square Enix, creators of Final Fantasy, which is apparently much better than we thought, or that there won’t be as much time spent on Cloud as we’re being led to believe.  Personally, I wouldn’t mind the latter possibility, because this will leave more time for the meat of the Direct – especially the new characters.

What we really can’t guess for sure is how many new characters will be revealed, although we can be sure that there won’t be none revealed.  My expectation is two, since detailed examinations of the game’s code by some talented data miners have shown three available unnamed character slots, one of which was presumably taken up by Cloud, leaving two wild cards.  Yet, plenty of rumors and speculations have gone around predicting everything from one new character to five, which goes to show how little is known for certain.

What we do have is a pool of characters who are most likely to be included – chances are that the top three candidates based on unofficial polling are Shovel Knight, the outbreak indie icon and star of his eponymous game that got its start on Nintendo consoles, Shantae, the half-genie hero of Nintendo handheld fame for the past decade, and King K. Rool, the oldest and most well-loved Donkey Kong villain.  Other names have been tossed around recently like Wolf O’Donnell, Super Smash Bros. Brawl veteran and Star Fox villain, Isaac from the Golden Sun series, Rayman from…well, Rayman, and Banjo-Kazooie from…well, you get the idea.  Whether or not a character is more or less likely to be included considering being from a third party is hard to say – third parties are often highly requested, but Nintendo has already said that popularity doesn’t guarantee inclusion – corporate barriers can still stand in the way of our wildest dreams at the end of the day.  Yet, with Cloud’s inclusion, many preconceptions about a certain addition being “possible” have gone out the window.  For me, I hope Shovel Knight and Shantae are our new stars of the show, but anything can happening, and I’ll be happy to see new faces in the mix.

Apart from these, there may be other major changes incoming – some fans have speculated about the possibility about the addition of an equivalent of the Subspace Emissary singleplayer campaign from Brawl, where characters from the game teamed up and/or butted heads through beautiful CGI cutscenes and a lengthy series of story missions.  Given the magnitude of such an undertaking, though, I wouldn’t expect something like this – if anything, I would expect a few more stages, probably brought in along with whatever fighters are revealed.
Whatever happens, the one thing I know is that I am extremely excited for Tuesday, and I’ll be right there with everyone watching at 5PM EST to see how the landscape of gaming changes that much more, compliments of the great Masahiro Sakurai and his merry band of developers.  To quote the great Desmond Amofah, better known as Etika of EWNetwork, let’s get ready to ride this hype train to the sun!