Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch: Kingdom: New Lands

Almost two years ago, I picked up the game Kingdom on Steam. I put almost 10 hours into the game, immersed for a solid weekend, which is quite a bit for me.

When Kingdom: New Lands was released a little less than a year later, those who bought the original Kingdom got New Lands as a free update. I was back to playing the game for a bit, but never got off the first island in the end. The game had changed in significant ways, and I appreciated getting the updated version for free.

Last week, Kingdom: New Lands was released on Switch (digital only). I went back and forth on whether to double dip and buy the game again. But I remembered how much I enjoyed Kingdom on Steam, and the team earned good-will with the free update, so I knew that I’d give into the temptation…

That’s what happened this past weekend.

I spent most my day Saturday lost in the retro graphics and simple-to-learn but difficult-to-beat game. First, I was impressed how well Kingdom transferred to using Switch controls.

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Kingdom is not mechanically complex, which was always a huge draw to me. You can grasp how to play the game very quickly, and be on your way.

However, it’s a game that’s deceptively simple and doesn’t hold your hand. It’s about managing your resources, understanding proper timing with the day/night cycle and planning ahead.

There’s a lot to discover in the game play, and nothing actually explains what anything does. Take for example, the merchant.

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This is an NPC that drops a load of gold each morning for you to collect. However, you have to pay him one gold per day for him to return the next. If you forget to do this, he simply will hang around and be useless.

Also, he has a hut in the forest, which is usually not very far from your kingdom’s borders. If you accidentally clear out the land near his hut, he disappears for the rest of the game. So, you have to weigh the cost of destroying his hut for the progress ofย  your borders — do you have a solid enough of an income to do without him? How early into the game should you build (I read most people say to keep him around for 7-8 days)?

On my play through of the first island, I simply never demolished his hut at all. This did put some strain on my defenses as time went on, but seeing that winter comes quickly on the first island, I made a beeline to crafting my ship and getting off that island.

When winter comes in this game, spring never returns. Your farmers (often a large source of income) stop producing, and things get really hard to maintain. So the idea is to find and build the ship (which is somewhere on the map) so that you and some of your men can sail on to the next island.

This is easier said than done, though. The ship takes a lot of gold to build and launch. And then, once it’s built, it can take days for your men to transport it to the dock. This weekend was the first time I cleared the first island.

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But then, the challenge of the second island was much harder. Not only did you have monster portals on both sides to contend with, but you have to destroy one of the portals in order to unlock the docks for your ship.

This was the first time I’d built up an army to take on a portal. We did successfully knock it down!

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But, then I discovered that I’d destroyed the portal on the wrong side. Oops. There was only another larger portal behind this one… not the docks I’d hoped for.

That was game over for me. I didn’t have the defenses or cash to build up an army on the other side to take out the second portal. And winter was coming… I knew it was time to call it when I started getting Greed beasts like this on my blood moon nights.

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My army did eventually defeat it (it spits out smaller monsters)… but it had destroyed so many of my walls, took out all my farmers, killed my builders… I just couldn’t recover from it.

I guess it’s time to give it another shot! Live (or die) and learn. ๐Ÿ™‚

Next year, Kingdom is releasing yet another version called Two Crowns. This will be a significant change to the game, and allow for local co-op play for two people. That should be lots of fun!

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Splatfest Frustrations

I’m a little behind on blogging since I have a lot of things I want to write about, but I spent most of my blogging time last week transferring my project blogs to WordPress.com. That’s a story for another time.

So, while Splatfest actually took place on Saturday, I’m only getting around to talking about the experience today. I want to start by saying that overall, it was still a fun time, but it was marred by uneven matchmaking.

So, the theme was to pick between two superpowers: Flight or Invisibility.

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Um… you’re a little behind.

I had a hard time choosing, but eventually went with Invisibility… because it’s the introvert’s dream to be completely unseen and left alone! Apparently, other people had more devious thoughts about how to use it, but those didn’t cross my mind at all when I picked it. (No, really!)

Major Losing Streak

Now, I am NOT a great Splatoon player. I prefer to play paint roller, which isn’t the most offensive of weapons. Sometimes, I’m a bit too reckless and don’t retreat when I should. I recognize this.

However, if I have a stable team with decent firepower to back me up, I can do some awesome inking. For the most part, awesome inking didn’t happen on Saturday.

I have no idea if it was a glitch in matchmaking, but that’s what people are saying. While I only got one mirror match (which means the teams were much more evenly populated), I often saw that my team’s power rating would be in the 1500’s and it would put us up against teams in the 1800-1900’s. This happened consistently, and we almost always got wiped.

I never got beyond the 1600’s in power rating, while in the first Splatfest, I’m sure I was much higher than that. Just didn’t win enough to move up.

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The hub city was still really cool, though!

Then there were times when I just didn’t know what the heck my team was doing. I felt like I was out there playing a pretty solid match, inking and splatting. Then, I’d look at our map and it was a mess of ink from the other team up to our spawn!

“Where are you guys!?” I’d cry forlornly at my screen.

No answer came. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I was spawn-camped so many times this weekend. My team just didn’t have a chance, and it seemed like the other side did it so effortlessly.

I’ve seen us lose with 10% or less of the map inked on our side.

Then there was the match where my team played hard and well… and we lost by a 0.1%! Oooohhh… that was just gut wrenching.

I even gave up the paint roller and tried the zapper for the first time thinking maybe I needed to be more offensive in play style. That didn’t help in the long run, so I ended up limping along and quitting partway through Invisibility Champion. I just couldn’t make it to Queen this time.

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Later, I saw threads on Reddit where other people on Invisibility described the same frustrations. So I wasn’t the only one who saw this. I didn’t experience this kind of one-sided play in the first Splatfest — wins and losses felt pretty even, with wins being a bit more common.

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The one nice thing was I got to see the newest map — once. It rotated in just as I was going to quit for the day, so I stayed on to play some matches until I actually got to try it.

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Results

I woke up the next day and immediately turned on my Switch for results. I wanted to hear it from the game and not from the Internet. Sadly, I found that results were delayed because they decided to pool Europe and NA results together.

This had many people waiting anxiously.

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When results finally did come, closer to lunch time, they were disappointing but not at all unexpected. I was surprised to see that Invisibility was actually the most popular team, though only by a small margin.

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I was sad to see we got trounced, just as I was afraid we’d get. I don’t know if it was just my bad luck, or really an issue with matchmaking, but it was a rough time.

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Oh, hush, Pearl!
Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch, Uncategorized

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Add this to the list of “games I never expected to play,” right up there along with Splatoon. I’ll start by saying I’ve never played a Rabbids game. I’ve heard of them, but mostly because things like this limit break reference:

bwaaaa

Anyhow, when I first heard about Mario + Rabbids, my reaction was pretty similar to the rest of the Internet.

HUH?

But then, miraculously, as game play details emerged, the Net changed its mind. I guess that can happen sometimes! The word was that this mis-mash of IPs was actually charming, fun and made for a good game!

Back in my younger days (get off my lawn!), I was a huge fan of Super Mario Bros. However, over time, JRPGs like Final Fantasy carried me away from the Mario fandom. Super Mario 64 was really the last Mario game I played with any sort of gusto. But the fact that Mario +ย  Rabbids was made by a team who obviously loved the world of Mario and were given the blessings to make a game from that dedication… well, that won me over.

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Now, since Amazon has changed how Prime members get discounts for new games (only on pre-orders, and not two weeks after release — booooo!), I was sitting there undecided the day before release. I do rely on reviews to give me the low-down on games before I buy — especially expensive games like those on the Switch.

But with the Prime discount on top of some Trade-In credit I had sitting on my account, the game would cost me about $28. I was hearing a lot of good things, even before release, so I pulled the trigger and pre-ordered the last day.

I got the game last night. I’ve only had about an hour or so of time with it, but I’m not regretting the purchase.

It’s Like Playing a Cartoon

While I’m no graphics snob, I have to say the whole look and feel of Mario + Rabbids makes me feel like I’m playing a cartoon. It’s whimsical. It’s zany. It’s fun!

The animations and graphics are so smooth, both inside and outside of cutscenes. Somehow, the world of Mario meshes well with the world of Rabbids. And my concern that the Rabbids would be too over the top was unfounded. I actually find myself liking the Rabbid versions of the Mario characters.

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It’s nice to have a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. But at the same time, it’s full of details and references that long-time Mario fans will enjoy. For example, check out this overworld theme, which is a pleasant remix of an iconic Mario song.

 

About Battle

So, this is a tactics game, though a bit different from other tactics games I’ve played in the past. I’ve never played XCOM, which a lot of folks seem to reference when discussing the battle style. Yeah, seeing Mario characters using blasters and guns is a little odd, but I can deal with it.

I do enjoy tactics games, though I’m not always the best at them. I’ve heard that Mario + Rabbids can get challenging later on. But for teaching the ropes and getting through the beginning areas, it’s not been too bad. I like that the stages give you an option to use an Easy Mode if you need it (though I haven’t yet).

Each character has their own types of weapons and special skills. I know that you unlock more characters as you go along, but that Mario must always be in your party.

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I got free DLC bonus with my game (I guess as part of a pre-order reward) that gave me some special pixel-style weapons. These seemed far above better than the weapons I unlocked early on, and they were free, so I equipped them as soon as I saw them.

I like how battles are meshed seamlessly with the rest of the world you’re exploring. You have bits where you walk around the overworld, solving puzzles and gathering coins. Then you come across a battlefield (indicated by Rabbid flags), and must complete the objective in order to continue exploring.

While the story isn’t anything astounding, it’s what you’d expect from a Mario-type game. This is good. In fact, based on the reviews I’ve read, just about everything about Mario + Rabbids met my expectations (in a good way).

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I can certainly say that Mario +ย  Rabbids will hold me over until Super Mario Odyssey comes out later this year (got that on pre-order). In fact, I’m more excited than ever for Mario, Nintendo and the Switch in particular. I still love the console, am impressed by the releases, and feel a bit of that Nintendo fan-girlism that I had as a kid returning.

It’s a nice feeling. Let me hang on to it. :p

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Splatoon: Splatted by Murf!

So, tonight I was just earning some gold in Splatoon for my new 18K shades in Turf Wars when I saw this pop up on my roster:

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I saw the name Murf, and even though he’s on my Switch friends list, I was like, “No way. that can’t be Murf-Murf!”

But, sure enough, right after the match was over, I get a tweet.

paintyou
@ctmurfy “I roll you!”

So, thus the friendly rivalry begins… in which Murf splats me a whole heck of a lot. I’m just a noob with an oversized paint roller who plays far too recklessly for my own good. So I’m sure he was probably shaking his head by the time the matches were over.

Sadly, we only got put on the same team twice, but both times, our team were winners.

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Good game, Murf!ย 

I had to go and find you in town to part peacefully. I hope we’re still friends? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Splatoon 2: First Splatfest Experience

Last week, I picked up Splatoon 2 with some hesitation. I’m not a shooter player, and I started out being really, really bad at playing this game. I’ve kept at it, though, and have gotten better (still need a lot of practice though). I find it a fun game to pick up when I’m looking for something quick and energetic to play.

Last weekend was the first time I experienced a Splatfest. For those not familiar with Splatoon, this is a week where players choose one of two sides, usually something silly, then battle it out on a weekend day. For example, the theme of this Splatfest was Ketchup vs. Mayo.

Players had the week to choose a side and hype the event. Then, on Saturday, from midnight to midnight, teams battled for their chosen side. The winner was (supposedly) a combination of the most popular side and how many wins each side had.

I logged in on Saturday, ready to go but not sure what to expect. The whole Square was transformed into a big block party! There was a laser light show, fireworks, and live music provided by Off the Hook.

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There were inklings of both teams happily partying down to the lights and the music, and billboards of user-drawn content on the walls, on flags and on signs inklings were holding.

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Gotta say, it was riveting to experience that alone, and I spent a good bit of time just sitting in that environment, exploring. I was stoked to find a few different pieces of art from one of my favorite gaming webcomics, SaveState.

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Too bad I couldn’t send a friend invite — he would have probably just been like “who’s this?” if I did. Just voted him up Fresh cuz that’s all I could do. ๐Ÿ˜€

Also saw a lot of other funny art, of course.

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When it came to the actual battles, you went to the Lobby as usual, and Turf Wars had turned into the new Splatfest option. These were two rotating maps, but done up at night (you usually only see these during daytime). Plus one extra map made just for the Splatfest.

The majority of the time, my fights looked like this:

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This was because Ketchup was so overwhelmingly popular that most of the fights I had were Ketchup vs Ketchup. The sad thing was, none of these fights actually mattered in terms of the overall score, because a win and a loss against the same team canceled itself out.

But the battles still went towards upping your rank and title. As you fought, your rank increased (faster if you win the battles and have a higher power rank). The title you earned at the end of the day dictated your reward after Splatfest was done.

Somehow, I pushed through long enough to get the max rank, Ketchup Queen.

The next day, I logged in to see the outcome of the Splatfest.

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Wow. Amazing that Ketchup was so popular – I knew it would be, but maybe not 73%. I chose Ketchup mostly because I can’t stand Mayo, so I voted with what I’d eat, and for no other reason.

Weirdly, though, Mayo still won the day, even though the winning stats were really, really close. Some people are starting to question these outcomes, but you know, there wasn’t that big of a difference between winning and losing. Winning got you something like 3 more snails.

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I was happy to get the Snails I did. I used one to open up a third slot on my shoes, since I like them so much. I’ll save the rest for whatever.

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Aww… don’t worry, Dave. Marina is still pretty fresh.

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Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Splatoon 2: Getting Ready for Splatfest

I haven’t played Splatoon 2 in a few days, mostly because the beginning of this week was riddled with bad headaches for some reason. But I think I’ve shaken them just in time to participate in this weekend’s Splatfest (Ketchup FTW)!

Before I took my break, I leveled up to level 11, and unlocked ranked battles when I hit level 10. Needless to say, I’m so noob that there’s no way I’m trying anything beyond Turf Wars right now, though.

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I did start to experiment with a few other weapons other than the Roller. I love the Roller in theory, but I’m not very good at playing it (yet). My stats show that I lose far more matches than I win with Roller.

So, I picked up the Aerospray MG, which I do know is overused. But it has been working pretty well for me, so I’m rolling with it for now.

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I also took the plunge and unlocked Salmon Run. After a short tutorial, where the game teaches you about the mode’s objectives and the bosses, it opens up the mode, as long as the mode is currently available.

I haven’t played it a ton — I find it slightly annoying that you’re forced to use random weapons. Some of them I seriously suck with. But I guess it’s good to find that out now, and be able to experiment with different weapon types. Overall, despite the weapon thing, it’s good fun to play cooperatively.

I didn’t get enough games in to get the shirt from last month’s run, but I did earn the mining hat from this month!

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I also really prefer Spawning Grounds to the other map I tried.

Anyhow, I still have a LOT to learn. Still a lot to practice. I look forward to getting out there and representing my team this weekend. Good luck to you at the Splatfest (unless you’re Mayo)! ๐Ÿ˜‰