Jotun – Catch Up Gaming

Jotun video game art 1
The first of many epic views of the world in Jotun

Jotun is a Gorgeous Exploration of Norse Legend

Jotun was announced and then later released in 2015 by Thunder Lotus Games, I only recently got around to pulling it from my backlog. I got the Valhalla Edition on Steam and played through it in time for its second anniversary. As you can see from the image above, Jotun’s most distinct feature is a beautiful, hand drawn art style. The game also features a wonderful balance of rich storytelling and challenging battles. Continue reading “Jotun – Catch Up Gaming”

Craft Games and Indie Beer

Independent-Craft-Brewer-seal indie megaboothIndependence in Beer and Gaming

I work in the beer industry and follow the games industry. I have passion for each, and there’s more in common with them than you might think. Craft beer is produced by small and independent breweries that want to brew good beer and build a community. Indie game makers are small teams inspired to make something that they’ve dreamed up that isn’t out there. Both are characterized by passion. While you can make money in each of these endeavors, that’s never the main drive. It’s a need to create and a passion for the craft that keeps people going. Continue reading “Craft Games and Indie Beer”

My Journey to Get a Nintendo Switch

nintendo switch launch zelda

How I Managed to Get a New Nintendo

I felt pretty stupid trying as hard as I did to get a Nintendo Switch, that in and of itself says something about the new console and the company behind it.

My anticipation about Nintendo’s new console grew as it’s March 3rd release approached. Unfortunately, I was not stoked enough about the console to pre-order it in the few minutes it was available after their February presentation, which soon became an issue. I typically don’t pre-order anything. I’m get excited about new tech, but I’m not an early adopter. I skipped the Wii U though, and my Wii has been neglected for years, so I was excited about Nintendo’s next move.

Continue reading “My Journey to Get a Nintendo Switch”

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds in Light of Breath of the Wild

the legend of zelda a link between worlds
Image courtesy of Nintendo

I Finally Played A Link Between Worlds

With all of the excitement around the Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I decided to bite the bullet and pick up The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for my new 2DS. I was trying to hold off to find a deal on it but, since its widely regarded as one of the best games on Nintendo 3DS, I figured it was worth the full price. The fact that all of the desirable 3DS games are still the price they were released at years down the line is an issue for another day.

Continue reading “The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds in Light of Breath of the Wild”

Nintendo Switch Joy-Con[cerns]

nintendo-switch-red-blue-joy-con-controller
Image courtesy of Nintendo

Complications with Nintendo Joy-Con

I’m still pretty excited about the Nintendo Switch. I’ve been reading a ton about it, despite there not being too much info to cover. Their presentation may have soured some of the enthusiasm around the launch, but I’m still intrigued and excited about the potential. I haven’t pre-ordered one, although I’ve thought about it. I might have if it wasn’t so damn difficult to do so. I’m just hoping that we won’t have any of the supply chain issues that have plagued the NES classic.

With all of my interest in the system, I do have some concerns. I love Nintendo as a company. I have a lot of nostalgia for them, like so many others, but I never bought a Wii U and when the Wii I have was relevant, I played way more Xbox 360. I still come to Nintendo for some very specific things though. They ignited my passion for gaming, and still produce experiences like few others can. There’s still no other way to scratch that Mario or Legend of Zelda itch without them. I love their games, and I’m fascinated by the potential of the Switch hardware, but I give no shits about HD rumble.

nintendo switch joy-con IR blaster feature
Image courtesy of Nintendo

Lacking Focus

I love the promise of a single console that I can take with me on a trip, or play on my TV at home. The aspect of adaptability is awesome and widely appealing, but one console for everything instead of a home and portable. The Joy-con seem great whether attached to the tablet or the grip, and provide precise and responsive controls for any kind of game. I also appreciate that they have some motion control features so that we can relive the days of Wii sports with friends, in some facet at least. But, the fact that they crammed enough tech into these joy-con that they need to charge $50 for what is essentially half of a traditional controller is concerning.

I want the function and adaptability of being able to slide them onto the tablet, or a grip, so that I can play on  the go or in my living room. At this time, that’s where my interest ends. Not only am I not interested in the features beyond those, I have doubts as to how often they’ll actually provide value to players or developers. HD rumble sounds cool, but how will it actually contribute meaningfully to Mario/Zelda/Nindies? I just really can’t see any function that will interest me for more than a few minutes or make a real impression on gamers or developers. Same goes for the incorporated IR blaster, seems like a fun party trick that will never come up again. I know some Nintendo fans are really into Amiibos, but it seems like they rarely, if ever, use NFC to connect them to enable in-game features and are much more likely put them on display. I’ve never heard of a compelling in-game implementation of an Amiibo. I’m open and interested in their use, I just haven’t ever heard of one. It seems like NFC would be a great accessory attachment, but bundling it makes consumers pay for something that they will likely never use.

Flawless Basics, Flawed Extravagance

I love the look and function of Joy-con as controllers, but the functions beyond that seem kind of shit, and it seems remiss that they’re all bundled into those tiny controllers. Maybe the added functions didn’t add much to the cost of the controllers, we’ll probably never know, but they give me doubts. If they had stuck to the initially appealing gimmick of a hybrid console, and not added so many additional quirky gimmicks, could they have shaved a few bucks off the price and made it a no-brainer? Now that they have those features in place, are they going to put most of their effort into finding mass market appeal with motion control games with gimmicks?

I just wanted a new way to play Nintendo games and some indies, and the hybrid console idea got me excited. Virtual console games would sweeten the pot, and local multiplayer games that could support 2 players by splitting the joy-con seem awesome. Everything beyond that shakes my confidence in their focus. The prices of controllers and accessories make me think they’re just trying to pack too much into what could be a simple and streamlined experience. Maybe they’ll reach new customers with those features, but they could easily alienate just as many.

Amazon Prime Offers Nintendo Switch’s Best Deals

amazon prime preoder legend of zelda breath of the wild

Amazon Prime Pre-Orders on Switch Titles

There’s a huge amount of hype flying around after the less than stellar presentation by Nintendo earlier this week. I haven’t pre-ordered the Nintendo Switch myself yet, although I understand why so many have given Nintendo’s well known supply chain issues. The Switch is set to release in just a few weeks on March 3rd, 2017, and pre-orders are live for not only the Switch, but also for a number of announced titles for the game. Here’s where a certain benefit of Amazon Prime might be even more significant than it is for any other console.

I recently received a Nintendo 2DS for Christmas from my sister, I’m having a great time, but there is a catch. As with any Nintendo system, they don’t annualize games, so there is one version of Smash and one Mario Kart. These titles are great, my system came with Mario Kart 7, but they also never get any cheaper. Games that have been out for years are still $40 on the 2DS, and the system itself was only $80. As a Nintendo fan who skipped the Wii U, and the 3Ds until recently, this can be a hard pill to swallow. Here’s where Amazon Prime comes in to vacuum up even more of your dollars.

20% is a Hefty Discount on Nintendo Titles

Amazon Prime offers 20% off pre-orders of games. Pre-orders are huge in the video game industry,  for the business side at least, but not very consumer friendly. There aren’t any bearings for the quality of the games that you’re giving companies a free loan for. Marketing alone often sells pre-orders and then gamers often feel burned by the final product. As such, I’m generally against it unless you personally feel that the game is a sure thing. I pre-ordered Dark Souls 3 so I could pre-load it and had no regrets The last game I pre-ordered prior to that was the original Call of Duty: Black Ops though, and that was just to guarantee a physical copy in the days before easy digital sales.

Here’s where I’m going with all of this

Amazon is offering the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for 20% off if you pre-order it. I’m not alone in saying that this is as close to a sure thing as you can get in gaming quality. This game has been delayed for years and become a launch title for what could be the last Nintendo console if it flops. Nintendo is betting big on the Legend of Zelda, and hopefully, it’s for good reason.

dont preorder video games nintendo switch though
With this in mind, this could be the cheapest you can possibly buy a copy of Breath of the Wild at retail for years. I remember Skyward Sword going for $50 at retail long after the Wii was relevant, and being hard to find on top of that. 5 years later, it’s still $43 and change on Amazon. So, if you pre-order Breath of the Wild, you’re only spending $5 more than a 5 year old game, that’s how Nintendo games work. If you’re excited about the Switch and Zelda, this might be the most appropriate time to pre-order ever.

Resident Evil 7 PC Demo

resident evil 7 pc steam demo graphicsSurvival Horror Returns to Resident Evil

Resident Evil 7’s demo finally reached the PC and I was stoked to give it a try. I missed out on the first Resident Evil games when I was young and have always wanted to go. I haven’t made the time yet, but this sequel is geared as a return to the original direction of the series. I jumped into Resident Evil games with RE4, as I’m sure many people did. I had an incredible time playing Resident Evil 4, enough to get me interested in the entire rest of the series. Unfortunately, the brilliance and success of RE4 took the series away from its survival horror roots as the developers focused more and more on the cinematic actions scenes in Resident Evil 5 and 6. Resident Evil 7 is positioned as a reboot of sorts to bring the survival horror element back to Biohazard.

I played through the demo for the first time in a brightly lit room, midday with my dog sitting next to me. Despite the relaxed setting around me, I still had a tense and exhilarating experience playing through the short demo. I never had the pleasure of playing P.T., but it seems that both of these demos share similar inspiration. The demo starts with a short video being played that seems to be from the original “Kitchen” VR demo that eventually turned out to be the release trailer of RE7. Your character then wakes up in a dark room with a flashlight and a single directive appears on the screen, “Get out of the house.”

Incredible Atmosphere and Graphics

The literal first impression of the game is that it’s absolutely gorgeous. I’m not much into maximizing graphics, but my modest Alienware Alpha PC ran the game smoothly and the visuals were incredible to behold. Every surface is insanely detailed in the creepiest way possible. The biggest departure from the series’ history comes in here, the entire game is in first person. This makes the game feel even more immersive, and will make the announced VR version a one of a kind experience, at least in this stage of VR games.

resident evil 7 demo bad ending Interesting Enough for My Wife to Watch

Without going into exactly how I went through the demo, here’s a quick overview. There’s a bunch of things to interact with throughout the environment, and items to find that solve problems around the Baker house. I loved the video tape you find and watch/play through as found footage that both answers questions and brings more to mind. My first playthrough, I went on the most obvious path possible, which resulted in the “bad ending.” Later I got my wife to watch the game, she hates watching me play things, and went on the same directed path. She said she wasn’t that into it, but then I started a new playthrough and did everything completely differently. Using previous knowledge, I found new items that weren’t present on my last game and explored more of the house. I found more items and puzzles to solve. Long story short, she wound up coaching me and suggesting what I should try next, like what item probably solves which puzzle. I got much further into the experience, trying to get anything but the bad ending, and wound up getting killed. I answered some of my questions though, like “what the fuck was that noise”, and brought up new ones. I’ll use that knowledge in my next time in the Baker house.

All in all, I had a great time with the demo, and I got my wife to actually watch me play something, which is always nice. I’m definitely excited for this game. Since I missed the originals, this is my chance to get into the series for the same reasons that the oldest fans of Resident Evil did.

We’ll see how the rest of the game looks, but this is a great start to reinvigorate the series and capitalize on the gap that P.T. opened and abandoned in the market.