Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch: It’s Fun to Die on the Death Road to Canada

One of the gifts I got for my birthday this year (they were all super awesome) was a Nintendo eShop card from my sister. I have a huge list of things I really want to play on my Switch, and a backlog forming, but I’ll never turn down an eShop card!

Death Road to Canada wasn’t really a game on my radar until it released. It just so happened I was looking at reviews of different games while trying to decide what to pick up with my gift card. That’s when I saw that this was a rogue-lite zombie game, similar to Oregon Trail, with a lot of zany RNG story and events.

Oh and it has local two player co-op, which I haven’t tried yet. And it was (is still?) on sale, too!

That checked a lot of boxes for me, so I picked it up. This post contains a lot of pictures since that’s the only way to really express the nature of Death Road to Canada. All the stories you’re about to see are true and really happened.

Continue reading “Nintendo Switch: It’s Fun to Die on the Death Road to Canada”

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Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Thoughts: Nintendo Switch Online Announcement, No Virtual Console

I’ve been waiting to hear information on the Nintendo Switch Online service, like many gamers, since last year. This was originally supposed to launch sometime last fall, but now is set to go this September.

Until that point, we’ll be able to enjoy online multiplayer in games like Splatoon 2, Mario Kart and ARMS without having to pay for a service. We were told from the beginning this would eventually change, but the price point would be affordable.

Now keep in mind that I don’t own any of the new Playstations or a single XBox, so I’ve not been a console gamer where paying for online services costed me extra.

The Cost

The cost is per account, not per system, but there’s a pretty affordable yearly family option.

  • One month: $3.99
  • Three months: $7.99
  • Twelve months: $19.99
  • Twelve Month Family Membership: $34.99 (Up to 8 people)

I personally don’t have a problem with the cost of the service, and will be handing over my $20 without hesitation.

What You Get

Paying for the service provides:

  • Online play
  • Access to free NES games  (only NES? – don’t know yet)
  • Nintendo Switch App
  • Save Data Cloud Backup

I want to take a look at each of these.

Online play. We knew it was coming, the day when we’d need to pay to be able to play games online. I never had any illusions about this, but the fact of the matter is that releasing this service renders games like Splatoon 2 unplayable without it.

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It was nice of them to let us play for free during this period of time, but I still feel this should have been in place before these online-required games released. I dunno. Maybe I’m a little sad that I’ll probably never play online Mario Kart with my sister again because she’s not going to pony up the cost to play online. This was never a problem with older Nintendo systems.

I can only imagine how it’s going to hinder things like Pokemon games, which traditionally are greatly enhanced through online features.

I know I sound wishy-washy because on one hand, I don’t think the cost is outrageous. On the other hand, I still question having the cost at all.

Access to free NES games. This is a nice little perk… however… it leads to something that I was afraid was going to happen.

Nintendo has announced there will be no Virtual Console for Switch.

This is a big bummer for me. I mean, Virtual Console was pretty much the selling point that got me to pick up a Wii U back in the day.

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Instead of a Virtual Console, they are giving us a Netflix-like service for NES games. Looking at the list, these are all Nintendo-developed games, too.

The games are supposed to have online and even multiplayer features, though I have no idea how they’d add that to a game like Legend of Zelda. I guess that only applies to games where online play makes sense.

It looks like they want 3rd party developers just to put their retro games in the eShop. Some have already, but I still feel the lack of a label like Virtual Console won’t encourage devs to do this quite as much as they would have with the label. I’d love to have some oldskool Final Fantasy and JRPGs on the system, but will companies bring them over to the Switch without the Virtual Console label?

I kinda don’t know how to feel about renting the games instead of owning them. I guess I own most of these in their original format, and do have an NES Mini if I really want them.

I’m choosing to look at this as an extra perk, but still miss the idea of the Virtual Console.

Nintendo Switch App. I have it on my phone somewhere. It’s pretty lackluster at the moment. Theey talk about enhancing gameplay with voice chat, but I’d just as well use Discord, honestly.

Not to mention none of my close friends/family are going to be buying into the service, and I don’t willingly voice chat with strangers, so I doubt I’ll ever have a use for it. I’m sure someone will.

Save Data Cloud Backup. Ah. This is the huge one. The one that everyone has been asking for.

I guess I can understand that save data in the cloud probably costs something for storage. But I still feel like putting a feature like this behind a paywall is a little crummy. I really do think this is a feature that should have been built in and available to everyone from the start… especially since I hear the horror stories of people sending in their Switches to get fixed, only to have their device wiped and returned to them with all content lost.

Or, at least give people the ability to back saves up on a separate drive somewhere if the cloud can’t be free. This is just basic needed functionality… I’ve been able to do this for yeras on other systems without problems.

Not only that, but it’s been hinted that not every game will support cloud saves. So, we’ll see.

TL;DR Final Thoughts

Wow, this all came off sounding a lot more negative than I meant it to be. Please don’t misunderstand… I absolutely adore my Switch. Overall, I like Nintendo bunches. But I still think that there are some things that should have been done differently.

Let me recap: 

  • I’m willing to pay the cost for the service. I feel the price is affordable.
  • If you offer a service for free, even with good will, but then stamp a price on it, some people are going to see that as taking service away. Especially when it deals with games you play pretty much 100% online. If you’re planning on doing that, do it from the start.
  • I’m going to miss the Virtual Console. I do appreciate the offer of renting free old games added in to the service, but I’d rather just buy my games outright. I feel a little squirmy about the direction that’s going.
  • The app is meh to me and remains meh.
  • Being able to back up save data is something everyone should have. If it’s not in the form of cloud saves, at least allow backing up to another drive.

Do you have any thoughts on the Switch Online service?

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch Excitement

Yesterday was the Nintendo Direct — which is not something I watch. But I tend to follow the news that it spawns after one ends.

Of course, Smash Bros. for Switch was the huge news for fans, and I’m glad they have something to be excited about. My love for Smash ended with the Game Cube version, however.

I hardly played the Smash on the Wii, though I own it. I picked up Smash for Wii U and it was super frustrating for me — I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and my reflexes just aren’t there, or what. But everything seemed far more complex than I remember — including the moves, the stages (that zoom out and make things incredibly tiny), the hazards on the stages (which often were more annoying than fun), and just all the items. I had no idea what does what anymore.

So, I’ve accepted that Smash is not my thing anymore, though I put tons of hours into enjoying Melee back in the day.

What Am I Excited For?

That doesn’t meant that there weren’t some announcements that got me excited, however!

Okami HD

I saw this, then quietly went to my Steam wish list and removed it from there. I’ve been doing this more and more — titles that are coming out on the Switch get removed from my Steam list. It’s making my Steam wish list a lot more manageable!

I did play the original Okami on Wii many years back, but never beat it. It only makes sense to get the new version on the Switch, where the motion controls will be king. Glad to see this one making a port!

Octopath Traveler

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I guess they dropped the “Project” and kept the rest of the name. That’s fine.

I played the demo and enjoyed it a good deal. We now have a July 13 release date. 

This is going to conflict wildly with my interest in Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, which has a release date of July 21. July is going to have too much JRPG, it seems.

GameMaker Studio 2

I’m not interested in picking up Undertale a second time (need still to finish it on PC), but I am interested in the fact GameMaker Studio 2 is releasing on the Switch. I own it for the PC, and have dabbled with it a bit there, so I’m curious what it’ll be like for the Switch… Does that mean the coding platform itself will be ON the Switch, or that you can just develop FOR the Switch? And will the Switch will support playing and distributing homemade games from the community?

So many questions!

Somewhat Interested

I’m kinda interested in the Octo expansion for Splatoon. I haven’t played the game a whole lot ately… mostly because I haven’t had much time to play my Switch, and I have way too many other games that I’d pick up first. I might eventually come back around to Splatoon, but a lot of it depends on my free time and other games that want my attention.

I never played Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker in its original form. It must have had something fun about it, though, as it’s referenced often and getting a port. I’m curious, but I have a feeling this will go on my Amazon wish list for Christmas. 🙂

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition… maybe? I’m glad I never picked it up for the Wii U, though I had it on my want list for years. Another I’ll put on my Amazon wish list.

Are you hyped for any upcoming Switch games?

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Happy Birthday Nintendo Switch!

One year ago today, I was rushing up to my local Best Buy to pick up my pre-order for my brand new Nintendo Switch. I was super stoked about the system’s release, and had many, many high hopes for it. A year later, I have to say that the Switch exceeded the hopes and wishes I had a year ago.

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My Switch, One Year Later

I have never bought a console at launch before, so I winced with concern at the issues that seemed to be cropping up from the first batch release. I knew that was a risk you took when you bought early.

Despite all that, I haven’t had any left joycon problems, bent Switch issues, or screen scratches. I keep it mostly in the dock, have a screen protector and a dock sock. I don’t play it in handheld mode all that much.

In fact, the Switch survived a really nasty storm last year that took out many of my electronics (including my TV). The dock and RC adapter needed to be replaced due to surge damage (even though it was on a surge protector), but that got squared away quickly. I knock on wood that I’ve not had any problem with the system after that incident.

My Switch friends list seems to keep growing from this…

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To this:

friendslist

So many friends that I can’t even list them all! These include folks IRL, people in my FFXIV FC, and a number of fellow game bloggers.

So what’s my game list look like a year later? I’m ashamed to admit that I have a backlog forming on my Switch. In my defense, this is mostly because a lot of the games I own here have so much content to make it through (Zelda, Xenoblade), or they’re never ending (Minecraft). I actually have one more game on the way (got a good deal on Skyrim… not like I  need another huge RPG… but…), so that will bring my total to 19 games in the first year (Octopath is a demo).

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I think I’m doing pretty good on restraining myself on digital purchases seeing that I have a wishlist building up.

Any indie that I’ve wanted (Night in the Woods, Owlboy, ect.) that I’ve learned is coming for the Switch, I’ve taken off my Steam wishlist. I’d just prefer to have them in this format, all in one place. I think given the dour outlook of my Steam backlog, games are more likely to be played if they’re on my Switch.

My biggest and only regret with the Switch so far? That I haven’t made more time to play it. 😦

Seeing that it’s the Switch’s birthday today, I suppose I hear some Dragon Quest Builders calling me. 😉

Did you pick up a Switch in the first year? What’s your game list look like? Better or worse than mine? 

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch: Cat Quest

Cute cats + fantasy RPG + Nintendo Switch = Win!

(Also on Steam and mobile devices if you don’t have a Switch.)

Yeah, I knew I was going to get Cat Quest the moment I saw the preview video. Sure, it has the look of a mobile game (and it somewhat is — it released on iOS right after releasing on PC/Mac), but don’t let that turn you off.

Cat Quest is a solid little action fantasy RPG where cats are the dominant race. This doesn’t stray into furry country though, so don’t worry. There are plenty of cat puns and Internet humor to go around.

While it has a few neat systems that feel fresh and new, it generally sticks to the classic RPG formula. This isn’t a bad thing, because the game is quite aware of this, and smartly never takes itself seriously. Instead, it heaps a bunch of charm, cat humor and pop culture references that make for many moments of lighthearted fun. The saving-at-an-inn animation is hilarious! 🙂

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The game itself has one main quest – which is rather cliche (and the game is happy to point this out from the very beginning, and laugh at itself in doing so). But, add to that a colorful world with lots of short-story-based quests, dungeon-caves, and an interesting action battle system, and there’s more than enough here for it to stand on its own.

The simplicity of the game works for itself, especially in a time of overly complex RPGS. You have two buttons – attack and dodge. You also can find and level up magic spells, which you assign to your top L, R, LZ, and RZ triggers. That’s all you need to know.

Even the weapon/armor system is easy. You find a base piece of gear. Then you find multiples of that piece, which levels the original up. There might be more to it (I’m still learning this game), but that’s the overall gist of it. Depending on what you equip, you can choose to play a more melee-based or magic-based character. So, there’s some flexibility there.

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These hungry NPC cats are kinda scary…

A few cons to mention: I’ve heard the overall game is somewhat short (about 8-10 hours), but there is a Mew Game + mode after you beat it. I’m only a few hours in, but I feel like there’s still lots to see and do.

Also, the NPC artwork is heavily reused for all villagers, which I’ve heard as a complaint. But I can’t think of too many classic RPGs that didn’t reuse their NPC sprites.

Neither of these are really sticking points for the cost of the game ($12.99). You can find it on sale from time to time in the eShop, too.

Overall, Cat Quest was exactly what I hoped it would be – a fun pick-up-and-play adventure RPG with cute cats and lots of humor. Two paws up! ❤

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch: Lost Sphear (Demo)

Lost Sphear just released on Nintendo Switch yesterday. It’s an RPG by Tokyo RPG Factory, the same folks who created I am Setsuna, which I own for the Switch, but haven’t played yet.

This game was on my radar based on the overall plot hook, which sounded very cool. You have a fantasy world where huge chunks are just vanishing, turning bright white. Cities. Mountains. People. All just gone.

And then there’s a character who can harness the memories of the world and can re-create those missing things. It has something to do with the moon. That’s all I know about it.

It sounded neat, so I picked up the demo.

Demo Impressions

The demo just tosses the player on an overworld map with no real idea of what the story of the world is. Who are these characters? What are they up to?

It kinda tries to explain these things, but I was not satisfied. If I didn’t have the knowledge of the backstory that I do, I’d probably have no clue why huge chunks of the map were white. Is it snow?

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The graphics and musical style are beautiful, as you can see. But I struggled with the feeling that everything, including the characters and their personalities, were so distant to the player.

Above, you can see how tiny the overworld characters are. I can understand that.

You get into an area and the characters are still really small and distant. The sprites don’t convey much emotion at all.

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When characters speak, there’s no character portraits to let you know who is who. In fact, the only place you can go to see what your characters look like is the menu during battle and on the menu screen. And even there, the images are super tiny!

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The translation was a bit wonky. The dialogue that I saw was a bit stiff. The characters who seemed to have the most personality were often the NPCs — including a “mwahahah” general from the Empire.

Yeah. There’s even an evil Empire trope.

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Check out that talk box above. See how it’s just flopped near the character speaking it (can you tell which one? … I hardly can)? It’s just covering over all the other characters in your party.

Look at all the rest of the open screen this box could have used. Why is it right on top of the character sprites?

This really bugged me as a design choice. I kept wanting to click on the text box and move it somewhere else (though you couldn’t) because every time there was a conversation, the boxes just flopped right over top of people in your party… while the rest of the screen was vast open space.

Maybe if this had been a talk bubble shape, this would have been more acceptable. But even then, there was plenty of room to put it above the characters, rather than plaster it over the party.

Oh, and when the game started, it asked if you wanted to use voice overs. I was happy to see this, and clicked YES!

What do you know… they’re all in Japanese… and only during battle sequences (that I saw). I have nothing against the Japanese language! But the issue here is that the one thing that could have given me a better sense of who these characters were as individuals – what they say in battle – is completely lost since I don’t understand what they’re saying!

So, opportunity missed.

Oh, and I know this isn’t a demo-only thing because I’ve watched the full release play-through videos, and none of this was addressed.

So, the battle system. It seems like the devs put a lot of attention into it. It had some interesting options, like moving around the screen and setting up places where your characters could attack for hits on multiple enemies. It has a bit of RTS feel to it.

And then there’s the mecha element of Vulcosuits. So the demo drops the suit mechanic on you out of nowhere. You can use it to blow up rocks in your path. It also suggested that you use them for battle because cool combos!

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…but to beware not to use up all your VP points or you couldn’t battle anymore. They weren’t joking.

Well, I used all the VP up in the very first battle without really knowing it. I thought surely this would replenish between fights, right? Nope.

The suits were useless aside from blasting rocks for the rest of the demo.

And then, I get to what was sorta a boss encounter. I’d had no trouble fighting enemies up until this point. Heck, most the time, I killed them before they got a hit on me. Well, this boss just obliterated me.

She had an attack that charmed my characters, if she didn’t one-shot killed them… They weren’t that low on life, either. If she didn’t slaughter them, her pets did instead. They hit like a truck and had just as much HP. It wasn’t fun at all.

“And then all hope was lost from the world…”

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Wow. Okay.

That’s where my time with this demo ended.

I’m sure there’s probably more story to it (I watched the beginning in play-through videos, and still wasn’t impressed). I just couldn’t get a feel for any of the characters, so I found it hard to care what was going on. It’s a real shame.

Even the reviews have been pretty lukewarm for it. So I’m not the only one wishing this had more to offer:

Lost Sphear’s classically-styled RPG bones can scarcely bear the weight of its uninspired narrative.

CGM

Tokyo RPG Factory clearly wanted to build on every classic RPG all at once.

IGN

The writing is uneven, the music is generic, and the combat, even with a few new flourishes, just feels like I Am Setsuna redux. The characters are flat and boring, best described with archetypes like “heroic guy who lost his mother” and “spunky, irritating kid with a heart of gold.”

Kotaku

Have you tried this game and found it more engaging than I did? Let me know!