Nintendo – Switch Me Baby! or Not, Definitely Not.

nintendoswitch_hardware-0-0Nes…SNES…N64…Wii…Wii U… Switch. I may have missed a few steps but that is the general console progression that Nintendo has given us. I owned or had access to the NES, SNES, and N64. There were a few years I fell off of the gaming scene completely but I came back around 2009 and found my friend with Xbox 360’s, PS3’s, and Wii’s. The Wii was the one that stood out. Props to Nintendo for actually innovating and not following. However, Nintendo’s next offering is the Switch and the more I learn about it the less it makes sense to me. There are things that do make sense about it but others that just don’t.

Nintendo always seems to handle hardware in it’s own special way. They screwed up royally with the Wii U and some of that has carried over to the Switch. It looks like Nintendo didn’t know if they wanted to make a console or a handheld. Hopefully the Switch finds an identity but it seems a bit confused. There is just so much I find questionable about the unit, like…

  • 32GB built-in memory – This seems awfully low given that some of the announced games are already clocking in at 16 GB.
  • SD expansion memory – Unlike the Vita, you’ll be able to use non-proprietary memory when you run out of the built-in memory.
  • No packed in game – It’s not uncommon for consoles not to come with a game but the PS4 and Xbox One had some free titles available at launch, haven’t heard about and freebies on the Switch.
  • Controllers – Detachable controllers that can be put together as single controller? Neat idea but it may depend on the build quality of them
  • Non-symmetrical controllers – This seems odd when you look at them individually and that is where is doesn’t work in my mind. The controller that doesn’t have the centered stick may be awkward to use.
  • Graphics: docked vs. undocked – Nintendo hasn’t been very clear about how the graphics will be scaled down while undocked.
  • No local screen when docked – Apparently you can’t use the local screen and a tv at the same time. Sure would be nice to use both or to have something like Air Play.
  • Costs – $300 for the console without a game and the price of additional controllers seem sort of high.

Of all the things though, the strangest is the emphasis on motion controls. In the day and age of virtual reality, Nintendo is trying to recapture the magic of the Wii. Back in 2006 motion controls catapulted sales of the Wii into the millions but since then they have not faired well. The PlayStation Move controllers were pretty much gone and forgotten until they became part of the PSVR system. Then we also have the complete abandonment of the Kinect by Microsoft. There will possibly be some feel of nostalgia for motion controls but is not a good long term bet when the industry is trying to get behind VR.

For me, there are less reasons buy the Switch than there is to not buy. I’m not a fanboy of Nintendo but I do want them to do well. Plenty of loyalist will buy this system but those that aren’t are likely to be very cautious about the system or pass on it all together. Even those that are enthusiast, if they already own a Wii U they already have a way to play the new Zelda game.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Dude’s Chronicles 1-26-2017: Where You Been Lately?

newkidIt’s been a while since I’ve paid much attention to this blog and I’m working on getting back to it more regularly. The holidays pulled a lot of my time, work has been an exceptional misery, and I’ve been dealing with some health issues. Now that the holidays are over I have more free time, work isn’t going to be getting any better any time soon, but my health has greatly improved. Two out of three ain’t bad, right?

Entertainment

Football is over, basically. We are down to the bowl that is of the super and it involves two teams that I don’t have much of a vested interested in. Like many others, I am rooting for one team to lose rather than for somebody to win.

I did crush some movies and shows in my down time though:

  • Shameless – This Showtime series is fantastic! I’m only about four episodes into the first season and I’m hooked. Sometimes it is completely predictable but the way they pay it out makes it worth watching. Looking forward to watching all of the seasons on Netflix, then I can be sad I don’t I have Showtime.
  • Marvel’s Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell – This was a nice little animated movie to watch as a change of pace from other things. The Hulk teams up with Dr. Strange to battle the master of nightmares. Some times it was a little silly but it is a cartoon about super heroes so set your expectations accordingly. Just sit back and watch the Hulk.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 2 – I remember watching the original(?) Voltron while I was growing up and this series doesn’t disappoint. It is enough like what I remember to give me a slight tinge of nostalgia but it is different enough to make it feel new. This season suffers from the same problem as the first season – it left me wanting more. I binge watched this season in one day and I was actually mildly upset when it was over, for two reasons. The first reason was that it left at a cliffhanger point that I wanted to see the resolution for. I understand this is to bait you into next season but c’mon. Secondly, it was just too short and I wish a few things had been flushed out in more depth. Maybe I’m just greedy and didn’t want to have to find something else to watch.
  • Captain America: Civil War – I keep rewatching this because I think I’m missing something. Also, I’m a bit confused about where the Marvel movie universe stands at this point. I still don’t know.
  • Ratchet and Clank – I expected very little from this movie and it delivered just that. Movies based on videos games are normally not good if not terrible. This wasn’t terrible and it was actually watchable. I would not have wanted to pay to see it in a movie theatre but seeing it via Netflix was just fine.
  • Halo: Fall of Reach – I need to stop watching this because it just pisses me off every time when I realize how badly 343 Industries has fucked up Halo. Sorry, I know opinions differ but I do not like how they have handled the franchise. That is a longer discussion though than I care to carry on here.
  • Justice League: War – I watch this to help me fall asleep. Honestly, I’ve seen it enough times that I don’t have to pay attention to it and I can just drift off while it is playing. I used to watch Spaceballs for the same effect, now I fall asleep every time Spaceballs is on.
  • The Ranch Part 2 – I extremely dislike Ashton Kutcher but I love this show. It not great and I’m not sure it’s even good. Somehow, some way it feels realistic while it shows a way of life I have no familiarity with. I am not a rancher and I don’t know any. I grow up around farmers but I don’t even know what their life is like. Any rancher could walk up to me and tell me this show is nothing but Hollywood bullshit and I would have to take their word at it. Regardless, I find that the show has a certain charm that I enjoy….that mostly may be Sam Elliot.
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 11 – This show keeps trying to go to the well with a bucket that has a whole in it. There are times when the show really hits and makes you laugh but it is countered with times that the set up of a joke takes much longer than the pay off was worth. I remember when this show was fresh and brilliant, I lament those days being gone.
  • Weeds – I really like Mary-Lousie Parker but this show is not something I want to watch. I got through season one and two episodes of season two but I could not force myself to keep going.  This lady that thinks she is the greatest drug dealer in all of suburbia is constantly messing up and almost loosing everything. How am I supposed to believe that she is the weed king pin for the middle-class? I don’t.
  • A Very Murray Christmas – It is Bill Murray + Christmas = BAM! I know it was so 2015 but I still enjoy it. It has its flaws and I don’t deny that but how can not get the vision of George Clooney singing “Santa Claus wants some lovin'” stuck in your head?
  • Trailer Park Boys – I watched all of the seasons, probably two or three times over, and had to stop because I was using “fuck” as a part of my casual and professional vocabulary. Fuck, these boys are funny.

Games

  • Overwatch – I bought this during the PSN sale over Christmas and it makes me sad that I didn’t but it sooner. As I mentioned in my GOTY post, I played the beta and free weekends but until I put more time into it I did not understand how good this game is. Sure there are little things that are wrong with it but Blizzard continues to make adjustments to address them, like Road Hog hooking people through walls. Even after I bought the game I though I would never play certain roles, especially the healer. Now I find myself wanting to play the healer as much as any other role just because Blizzard has done such a good job balancing the game and making each role vital if properly employed. I’ve played the healer, via Mercy, and even though I didn’t have a single kill in the game I felt like I was a valuable player for buffing and healing my teammates to help score a victory. I’m not much of a PVP player but I keep coming back to this game just because it is so damn good.
  • The Division – I like this game but it is one of those love/hate relationships. They released Survival and I thought ai would hate it. I did the first few times I played it but it won me over and now I love it. They just announced The Last Stand expansion as a PVP mode and I can’t applaud them more. PVP has been such a miserable experience in this game that I don’t even know how to describe it. Making a dedicated mode just for PVP is not the end-game for PVP but it is humungous step forward. There are people that love this game but desire a PVP experience that just isn’t there. I don’t know that The Last Stand will be what they want but it is a step closer as it helps to remove those PVE players from the equation. I do have to speak against the arguments that some have made about the Dark Zone expansion aiding the PVP problem. The thought is that since the DZ will be bigger, it is less likely that you will run into rouges/PVP players that will ‘gank’ PVE players. It is my experience that gankers will be gankers. If they see an extraction  being called, they will still come to kill those trying to get their loot out. These instances may decrease, emphasis on may, but you are still going to have those that thrive on causing misery to others and won’t be satisfied with a PVP mode. We come back to the idea that going rouge needs to have more detrimental consequences than it currently does.
  • Watch Dogs 2 – What was I thinking when I bought this game? I feel like I wasted $40 instead of $60 when I bought it on sale. As soon as I started playing the game I remembered all the things I didn’t like about the first game. Perhaps I was lulled in by those that said it was so much better than the first game. I should have been more aware and realized that this was more a testament as to how bad the first game was as opposed to how good the second game is. Every time I try to play the game I get about 30-40 minutes into it and just have to stop.

News

Nintendo announced the Switch, still trying to wrap my mind around the fuckery that that is.

Closing Arguments

In conclusion, I hope to be back here more often and more consistently. I feel a deep regret that I have not paid proper attention to something that I enjoy doing regardless of how many people see it.

Overwatch – Yea, It’s Good

lineup-standardOver six months after it’s release, I relented and purchased Overwatch during the holiday sale on PSN. Having previously played the beta and free weekend I knew the game was good but until I put some hours into it I didn’t understand just how good.

From the outside looking in, Overwatch looks pretty but kind of run of the mill. The art work has its own look and feel that stands out from other games in its class. That is about the only thing that makes the game stand out without playing it. Just like any other first-person shooter you have a primary weapon and see stuff on a HUD. From the trailers and videos you can see a cast of characters and their different abilities but it never really seems like it is something more than what other games have tried to offer. Then you play the game. After that you play the game again. Then you play more. After that you play more. You just keep playing.

What you don’t see in the videos of this game are the subtle things that make it work. When you first see the wide variety of characters you think they are just trying to give you different looking characters to play around with. Then you realize after playing for awhile that each one is unique and each thing that can make them dominant can also be countered. For example, the flagship character of Tracer is quick and deadly but her weapons don’t have great range so she has to be danger close to use them. Tracer is very allusive with her Blink and Recall abilities that allow her to travel distances quickly and reverse time but characters like Junkrat and Mei can trap her with some of their abilities. There is a list longer than I can think of much less cover that this game offers and that list has been expanding with the creativity of the players.

Even the look of a first-person shooter is deceptive as to what this game actually is. Those that play RPG’s may note the use of classes like DPS, healer, and tank but these are not common in FPS games. What one will come to find in this game is that FPS rules and roles don’t apply the same way as they do in other games. Many FPS games can be dominated by sheer force or coordination. These also work in Overwatch but you’ll find subtle if not drastic twists on this. Mercy, a healer, may seem useless until she is used correctly. Although she may never fire a shot, if she correctly heals or buffs the damage of another player she may be just as valuable as the person dealing the most damage on a team.

It’s the little things. That is something that can be said about what makes this game great. One example is to look at the player select screen before a match. This is where you choose your character but it does so in such a smart way. It breaks the characters down into their four roles so that you can pick the type of player you want to be. Not sure which you should choose for a given match? No problem because the screen will also make recommendations on your team’s composition. If there are too many or too few of a type it will display a message stating such. That way if you have too many defenders and no healers it gives that team an alert and gives someone the chance to change their character.

This game is unique and special in so many ways. Earlier I mentioned this game’s look because that is the easy thing to mention when talking about this game. Not only is it different in its style and look but it is also gorgeous. All the environmental aesthetics look like no other game and are built in a beautiful way. Once you stop gawking at the maps you are playing on, you realize how well they are constructed. If you are playing an objective game where you are trying to capture a point, there is always a way that it can be defended and vice versa.

Something that Overwatch lacks is a proper campaign. This is probably the biggest short coming of the game. For a multi-player only game, this is probably one of the most interesting cast of characters that could be assembled. Seeing their backstories via short videos feels almost like a disservice to them. Playing through said stories could have been so full-filling and brought in an entire other set of players increasing the player base even more. Alas, this is not to be and we can only watch videos and read comics to enjoy the virtual lives of these characters.

Much like the original Titanfall before it, Overwatch is multiplayer only and makes the most of it. The previously discussed missing campaign is completely forgiven and forgotten based on the fact of how good and fun the game is to play. For those of us that don’t care for online multi-player gaming, we forget that fact just so that we can enjoy this game. I’ll pick up this game when I want to jump in for a quick match or two if my time is limited; I’ve also played the game for two hours straight in lieu of other games I have.

My only regret is that I didn’t buy this game sooner. If I had I would have put it very high, if not on top, of my game of the year list for 2016. Given that this game is this far passed its release and still has such an active player base, it is possible if not probable that it is Blizzard’s newest sustainable franchise that will live on for years to come.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.