Finally Switching My Nintendo Switch

nintendo switch golf story 1
I thoroughly enjoyed Golf Story’s sense of humor

Indie Games Perfectly Pair with Portability

Needless to say, I was excited when I got my hands on a Nintendo Switch a few short months ago. I loved the versatility of it being both a home console and a portable. I then proceeded to play about 120 hours of Legend of Zelda, with only around 5 of those hours being as a portable. It was a similar breakdown for both Mario Kart Deluxe and Splatoon 2. The experiences just felt too grand for the small screen, especially in Hyrule. I wasn’t sure if the portable mode would always be just a novelty for me, until the flood of indies started arriving. Continue reading “Finally Switching My 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.

Both the Nintendo NX and Zelda Wii U Will Be Released in 2017

Nintendo NX Zelda-2

The Nintendo faithful received some rough news this morning, and some nice insight. At an investor meeting, Nintendo revealed that the Legend of Zelda for Wii U has been delayed into 2017. I haven’t bought a Wii U yet, but I have been tempted a few times by experiences like Splatoon and the Smash Bros. I haven’t jumped on it yet and might not now. The reason being, at that same meeting they announced that the Nintendo NX will ship worldwide in March 2017 and a version of the new Zelda will come to the NX simultaneously with the Wii U. Among the storm of rumors, this could spoil every potential Wii U sale this year.

Nintendo NX Zelda-1
Some new art tweeted out by Nintendo

Nintendo is Putting the Wii U Out to Pasture

I’m committed to the Legend of Zelda and that might have been my system seller, and I am not at all alone in this regard. A ton of fans already bought the system with the promised next Zelda installment in mind and hopefully this news doesn’t invalidate the purchase in their eyes. My other curiosities about the Wii U are predominantly Splatoon, Smash, and Mario Kart, only the first of which I haven’t been able to play yet. Rumors have been circulating for weeks about a strong launch lineup from Nintendo for the NX, including ports of current versions of Smash Bros and Splatoon. Now that the NX has a release date and the new Zelda has been confirmed for it, my interest in the Wii U has almost completely withered.

I don’t buy too many console games and the Wii U has a strong enough first party library to meet my interests, along with my PC. Now that the NX is confirmed for early next year though, I’m not sure I’m into buying games with an almost certain potential of replacing them with better versions on a better system within a year. Even if the NX is delayed, *fingers crossed it’s not* it would be hard to justify the purchase when something that is hopefully far superior is right over the horizon and the current product almost certainly will lose support.

The NX Could Be Incredible, if I Only Knew Anything About it…

That being said, I am chomping at the bit for legitimate NX news, now more than ever. Now that we know that Zelda is bridging the gap between systems, what else will? Will the rumors of Smash and Splatoon be confirmed as launch titles? That’s about all it would take, along with some actual specs and demonstrations of the hardware, to guarantee this is the first game console I ever pre-order.

Nintendo Legend of Zelda 2016 promise
That one kind of hurts though…

Nintendo also confirmed that Zelda Wii U will be the sole focus of their E3 coverage. It’s nice to hear we’ll finally see more of the game, but I know I’m not the only one who wants to hear just about anything from them about their new console. It’ll be less than a year away by E3, and it would be nice to put the flood of rumors to bed and get some actual news.  2016 looks like it might be a rough year for all the Nintendo fans out there, but 2017 could be the start of something awesome and completely new from one of our favorite companies.

All images courtesy of Nintendo

Impressions from Oceanhorn: Monsters of the Uncharted Seas

Oceanhorn Monsters of the Uncharted Seas Game

I recently finished playing Oceanhorn: Monsters of the Uncharted Seas on Steam. What Oceanhorn is all about is pretty well documented by now, this is a tribute to The Legend of Zelda in every way. More specifically, it is an artful re-imagining of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker by a small team of developers completely separate from Nintendo.

Oceanhorn was initially developed for iOS and was then ported to the PC and added to Steam with controller support, which is how I played it. The title saw success on the iPad because there is little on the Apple App Store that is at all comparable to it in scope and quality, even if you don’t take the Zelda parallels into account. The fact that the game was ported to PC and has been successful on Steam with “Very Positive” reviews speaks for itself, given that mobile ports are normally shunned by the PC crowd.

As you can see from the single bit of art above, Oceanhorn shares a similar art style to Wind Waker, namely it’s a cell shaded fantasy adventure on the high seas, and has a bit of a cartoony look. If Wind Waker had a great spirit about it and was a joy to explore. Oceanhorn shares this sense, albeit in a more compact form. It is a relaxed and great looking adventure that offers a ton of fun, but not much in the way of challenge. Zelda games in general have gotten less and less challenging with each evolution of the series that I’ve played, I’ve yet to take A Link Between Worlds for a spin, as is the current trend in gaming as everyone looks to be accessible. Well, everyone except From Software. The team at Cornfox and Bros. did make an obvious and well executed tribute to Wind Waker, but they added a little bit of their own flavor to it as well.

One point that stood out to me was the presence of the main character’s parents. The main character is never referred to by name, but rather than embarking on this great journey due to the random call of destiny, he is following his father to explore the mysterious journey he embarked on. His father is talked about throughout the story as an adventurer for you to emulate, and your mother is talked about despite her untimely passing before the events of the game. There are rampant theories about Link’s parents in the Legend of Zelda games, but nothing is ever spelled out directly in the games. I found it to be a nice change of pace to be literally following in the character’s father’s footsteps for the story and helping him to finish the work that he started. It made the experience more grounded because it might have been a bit much to lean on the Hero of Time story in this game as well.

They also streamlined the gameplay in many ways, likely due to its foundation as a mobile game. This is obviously a much smaller game in every way than the flagship Zelda releases. It was completely developed by a small team lacking funding, but Nintendo might be able to learn a little from it. I’m incredibly biased and really never criticize Zelda games, but many people have found some of the more recent games to have pacing issues and be a little bloated for the amount of content in them. Oceanhorn kept the pace up the entire 11 hours I played, and the only time I ever backtracked was a wrong move on my part that wasn’t at all necessary. The fact that it is not an open world game and instead uses island hubs helps with this, making it likely to be staggeringly different than the upcoming open world Zelda entry. Some of Oceanhorn’s ideas could easily influence portable entries in the series though, mobile gaming is having more and more of an effect on dedicated gaming handhelds every day.

In many ways, Oceanhorn is exactly what you’d expect from a game that puts its influences out there so obviously. The controls feel great, the items are the expected classics, and dungeons offer fun puzzles. Some of the direction in the game is a little lacking though. I sometimes ended up going to the right island because I got lucky just choosing one of the destinations I had not been to before. The game is limited enough in scope to allow players to just figure it out, and it adds to the sense of adventure and wonder. It’s easily possible that I missed a hint that would’ve sent me to the right place in these instances. Same goes for the final boss fight, it came down to testing out different ways to hurt the boss over a few lives. It wasn’t spelled out so I had to figure it out. Any Zelda fan would probably be able to figure out the formula after a few attempts though.

Overall, I had a good time throughout the entire game experience. It was a great way to get a little Zelda fix in between games and in a unique way, rather than picking one of the older entries back up. Nothing wrong with that though, I’m in the middle of the Legend of Zelda 2 for the first time. It’s a really interesting divergence from the series, especially playing in a time when publishers are so reluctant to stray from proven formulas.

My biggest takeaway from Oceanhorn: Monsters of the Uncharted Seas is the promise of the future though. This is a great first attempt by a non-Nintendo team rehashing what makes the Legend of Zelda series great. I’m waiting with bated breath for The Legend of Zelda for Wii U (and hopefully NX), but I’m now also excited to see what Cornfox & Bros. come up with for their next game. Hopefully, this game also inspires some other indie developers to think about their own take on the series’ tried and true formula. We’ll see what the future holds for the Legend of Zelda and the fans who love those games, even if they aren’t starring Link specifically.

Let me know what you think in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

I Finally Beat the Original Legend of Zelda

Legend of Zelda Collector Promotion Disc Art
PIcked up this awesome Zelda collection at Goodwill for like $3, what a deal!

Playing the Legend of Zelda Finally

After being a lifetime fan of the Legend of Zelda series, I finally went back and beat the first one.
I have vague memories of playing Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros when I was super young and doing alright, but as far as Zelda, I remember on a few terrible attempts that ended very quickly. It being very challenging and definitely lacking guidance compared to more contemporary games. You really had to find your own way, at least around the overworld.
But I finally did it! It was  really good time and a relatively quick and dense experience as far as games today go. Maybe I’m being a bit naive,  but I was really surprused athow many elements of the game were basically unchanged. I realize that this is the basis for the entire series, but I just thought more would have been developed and innovated since this game, but I guess if its not broke, why fix it!
The graphics are different obviously, but with the current resurgence of games focused on pixel art and animations, it didn’t feel as dated as you might think. I did use a walkthrough online to get me where I needed to go in the overworld, the dungeons are numbered but it would’ve taken more time on the trial and error approach than I hoped to spend on the game. The dungeons were all a blast, it was just another Zelda game really, exporing around, solving puzzles and finding new items. There were a few little secrets that the game hinted you into solving, but the hints were pretty vague in some cases as far as helping you solve the problems (like buying food to feed that one monster). It brought me back to the idea of playing a single player game back in the day with all of your friends who also played and helping each other to discover the way.

Takeaways from the Legend of Zelda

It was an awesome trip down memory lane though, and a notable lesson about the history of video games and how things used to be. There really was no hand holding in this, without a walkthrough it would’ve been all on me to figure out what to do next and how to proceed. It shows why there is a crowd, which I am a part of, that loves the Dark Souls series complicated game play and utter lack of guidance.
I love playing games for fun, but you can also find a sense of accomplishment in them. I don’t like leaving anything unfinished for any reason, including games, so I’ve been going back through what I have and finishing quite a few. I’m entertaining the idea of attempting to beat every Legend of Zelda game that I haven’t yet, which mostly boils down to the older and portable entries in the series. The disc I have does include Zelda 2 as well anyway…
Have you gone back and played any games from your past or an early entry in a longstanding franchise you love? What did you think of the experience? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy Gaming!