Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch: Farming Simulator Review

So while I’m still working on playing my Steam Challenge game that folks voted on last week, my copy of Farming Simulator for the Nintendo Switch came in yesterday. Don’t look so surprised to see a review of this game here! What’s more surprising is that I’ve never played a Farming Simulator title before now.

So this is a port of Farming Simulator 17 (also known as Traffic Jam Simulator). I mean, anyone who lives in an area where farming is a thing will recognize moments like this…

2017110916131200-FD183AEA4E01C7D0DF70676D5506C223
I have more fun than I should backing up local traffic.

Thankfully, this simulation isn’t uber-realistic when it comes to physics and damage. In fact, I don’t think you can do damage to anything at all. I mean, I wasn’t going out and out to test that when I front-ended this van, but…

2017110916101900-FD183AEA4E01C7D0DF70676D5506C223
No harm, no foul.

So, for those who want a super realistic and interactive crash-course game, you won’t get that here. It’s a little sad since there are so many fun big machines that have so much destructive potential. Ah, well.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, what exactly does Farming Simulator do? I’m going to put right up front, this is a very laid back game that focuses on the machines you use, the mechanics of how these machines work, and you tending fields for crops. I haven’t gotten into husbandry yet, but I’m sure that adds another layer of complexity on it.

This game is not for everyone. For some people, it could get repetitive as you’re constantly in a cycle of working fields and delivering goods. But that means repeating the plow/plant/harvest cycle over and over again. There aren’t really any solid goals, except for the ones you set for yourself. It’s a pretty pure form of sandbox.

2017110915441800-FD183AEA4E01C7D0DF70676D5506C223
Props for having a gal farmer option, even if the only customization I can do is change her shirt color.

I’m not a big machinery nerd IRL or anything, but I found it neat to learn about the different vehicles and their roles in successfully working a field. You have one for plowing, one for planting, and one for harvesting in the beginning. These machines are all true to real life machines (or so I’ve read), and the developers take a lot of pride in working with actual name brands to make this as realistic as possible.

Speaking of vehicles, I especially love how you can tap a button to instantly switch between all of the machines you own. This makes it quick to switch tasks or check on progress, even if you’re in the middle of delivering something on the other side of town.

I also like how the settings are highly customizable — there’s three difficulty levels (I started on Easy) — and you can choose everything from how loud your radio plays (and thankfully how loud your motors run) to how fast time passes in the game.

Speaking of the radio… you can choose between four different stations. All I can say is the Euro idea of Country music is… interesting. Though I’ve never heard any of this music before, there are some good songs on the list… Give this one a listen (listed as Country).

The best part of the game is that you can hire workers to finish tasks for you. So, you start plowing/seeding/harvesting a field, and just a button press puts a worker in your place. Of course, you have to pay them, so this takes a chunk out of your profit. However, this allows you to jump to another task while the worker miraculously makes absolutely perfect rows in your fields.

The most challenging part of the game for me is making perfect rows in my fields. Turning that machine around when you reach the end of the field and lining things up is a lot harder than it looks! Think I’m joking?

Let’s see… so once you get crops harvested, it’s a matter of playing the local economics. You get a list of places that will buy your crops, some higher or lower than others. Obviously, you’d like to sell for the most you can. And if the price has tanked completely, you may want to store your harvest in a silo until the price rises again. I noticed that when I sold to the market, I would drive the price down due to supply/demand.

Aside from that, you can do odd jobs (missions) for other farmers in the area. Find a field that doesn’t belong to you and step in the marker next to it. A screen pops up that allows you to purchase the field or to do a task for pay.

2017110917050500-FD183AEA4E01C7D0DF70676D5506C223

Don’t get too excited, though. Usually the task is something like plowing, sowing, fertilizing or harvesting. Which is… what you’d be doing on your farm. But it’s kinda nice to have your workers going at it on your field while you make extra money on the side. I also noticed that completing these jobs earns you positive reputation with that farmer. I’m not sure what that does (makes the cost of the fields go down should you actually buy it, maybe?).

Of course, doing all of this is working to pay back a loan you took out before the game began. I didn’t see if there was a specific time frame the loan needed to be repayed in, though. I am playing on Easy mode, so things could be different on a harder level.

Also, your vehicles begin to depreciate over time. As the machines get older, the cost of daily maintenance rises. So, you have to budget in vehicle upgrades when the old machine starts to cost more than its worth to hang on to.

I will note that the way time passes is a bit interesting. You control how fast the game time passes — somewhat like a Sims game. The default is super slow, though. In fact, you can choose to play the game real time — like 24 hours for a whole day’s worth of time if you want! I couldn’t image doing that because it seems like you get one harvest per field per day. I guess if you had a lot of fields that would make sense.

Realism goes out the door, though, because your farmer never seems to sleep. Day turns into night, and your farmer can’t interact with their house at all (which bugs me). You can just work right on through the night if you want, I guess. Or speed it up to have the next day come.

2017110917484500-FD183AEA4E01C7D0DF70676D5506C223

If I had any feedback to give, it would be to offer an option to sleep through the night. And decorate my house — it’s just odd that I have a house but can’t do anything with it! But… I guess this isn’t Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley. That’s not the kind of focus they want in their game.

So,  anyhow, for someone like me, relaxing and tending my crops was something I easily dropped 3 hours into without realizing the time had passed. I’m looking forward to getting into raising livestock and expanding my fields. But I’ll repeat, this is not a game for everyone.

I can’t compare the Switch version to the PC version, but I know the PC version allows mods and multiplayer… the Switch does not (yet). I’d probably never play this multiplayer (no one I know owns it), so that doesn’t effect me. But it looks like multiplay is the way to go if you have it on the PC. It certainly seems like it makes for a lot of fun.

And now, for what you probably came here to see…

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch, Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley: The Right Husband

This is going to be one of those silly, first-world-gaming-problem posts. Totally meant to be just for fun.

So, while I really wanted to start this week by busting out a post about the newly released Super Mario Odyssey, the truth is, Stardew Valley on Nintendo Switch continues to capture my attention. I put a few hours into Mario, but after that, it was back to the farm. Don’t worry, Mario. I’ll be back!

So, I have a little issue in that I can’t decide which bachelor I want my farmer to marry. I’m in the Spring of  the second year now, and I have 10 hearts with several villagers. I’m working on getting a solid financial base. I’m closing in on finishing the collections for the community center.

It’s time to think about who my farmer is going to pick as a spouse… Because this is serious business, darnit! 🙂

Warning: Spoilers for Stardew Valley ahead!

Continue reading “Stardew Valley: The Right Husband”

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch, Sims 4

Games I’m Looking Forward To

I’ve mostly been playing FFXIV lately, alternating with a few other MMOs on the side, and a healthy dose of Stardew Valley when I can. Though I have nothing really earthshaking to write about for these games, on the eve of the release of the newest Mario game, I decided to talk about a few of the games I’m really looking forward to.

It’s all kinda hard to beat the hype of Stardew Valley, but I’m excited about the following games, each in their own special way.

Mario Odyssey

I was a huge Nintendo kid growing up, and the Mario series was one of my favorites. I watched all the funky cartoons, collected everything I could on my meager allowance, and played through the games sooooo times. Well, up until Super Mario 64.

I think I beat Mario 64. But I don’t remember beating a Mario game since. While I’m still fond of Mario, in the way someone is fond of a favorite childhood character, RPGs, MMOs and computer games took my attention away from Nintendo for a solid chunk of time.

marioncappy

However, Mario Odyssey might just be the game to rekindle that fun. I’ve heard people say that the game took them back to Mario 64 immediately. It looks like a game that fosters exploration — if Breath of the Wild is any indication of how Odyssey might evolve the Mario series, then I’m completely on board.

I preordered the game months ago, and it’s already in the mail on its way from Amazon. Hopefully I’ll get it tomorrow, in time to explore it some this weekend.

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp

pocketcamp

Even though the announcement for this came out just yesterday, and it’s a mobile game, I’m still pretty excited for this. One of the major reasons I’m hyped is because hopefully, this game will allow me to connect with friends, family and blogger friends in an Animal Crossing environment.

While Animal Crossing has always allowed you to invite friends in, I’ve never been big on throwing my Nintendo friend code out to the wild. So while it would have been fun inviting folks to my little town, aside from Syn and my sister (who totally just wanted to steal new types of fruit for her town), I didn’t multi-play a whole lot.

Doing it on an app basis seems safer, kinda like Miitomo. So, we’ll see what kind of mischief this game brings. This comes out late November.

Sims 4: Cats and Dogs

catsanddogs

The next Sims expansion is all about cats and dogs… so you know I had to have this one pre-ordered pretty much since I first started seeing information about it. Not only do we get pets in Sims 4, but we also get to open our own Vet clinic! And for a girl who once wanted to be a veterinarian when she was much younger, I know this is going to be good Sims fun.

My one disappointment with this expansion is they cut horses completely. Sims 3 Pets did horses so well! In fact, I rarely played with any of the other pets because the horses were the main highlight for me. I have a sinking feeling we’ll probably never see horses in this game… unless they shockingly decide to make a whole horse-themed game pack. I find that hard to imagine, though.

Despite all of that, I’m still excited for what Cats & Dogs will bring to Sims 4. It’s releasing November 10, so I don’t have too much longer to wait!

Do you have some games you’re waiting for right now? What’s got you hyped?

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch, Stardew Valley

Is Stardew Valley Out on Nintendo Switch Yet? (Hype)

The answer is:

almostout

But if you really want to know, all you have to do is go to this website:

https://isstardewvalleyoutonnintendoswitchyet.com/

Here’s some background. Fans of Stardew Valley have eagerly awaited the game’s release on Nintendo Switch. I’m one of those.

However, the “summer” window has come and gone, and fans have gotten more and more antsy as the season passed. In fact, there’s hardly a week when we don’t see a post — fan or dev created — on the Nintendo Switch Reddit that is either asking “Is it out?” or “Is there an update yet?”

It’s to the point where the hype has become a game itself, something to help deal with the wait. Now, while I’m not in the same boat as some of the other fans, I can watch from the sidelines and appreciate the gentle humor that the Switch community is poking at itself.

In fact, this is what (I think) spawned the website:

https://isstardewvalleyoutonnintendoswitchyet.com/

Up until yesterday, the page was a #sad place to be. I wish I’d saved a screenshot of the previous version of the page!

You got the word “NO” with a counter underneath:

2017-09-27 09_51_00-#sad

The background image was this sad kid sitting in the rain:

sad

There were some pretty amazing raindrop javascript, which looked like this (but with heavier rain).

And to bring it all together, there was one of two random songs playing: Mad World or Everybody Hurts.

It was truly a sad place to be, but it was so masterful in a way that only the Internet can pull off!

Well, yesterday, the announcement came that Stardew Valley has been approved by Nintendo and is just awaiting a release window!

As you’d expect, this has drummed up a Reddit post with more than 1000 comments! This has also prompted the designer of https://isstardewvalleyoutonnintendoswitchyet.com/ to update his page (I checked immediately upon seeing the announcement). I was not disappointed.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the page is going to look like when the game releases! In fact, though I’m buying Stardew on day one, and itching to get my farm going on the Switch version, I’m going to be just a little sad to see the good natured hype die down. It’s been a lot of fun… and I just thought to capture and share this (rather pointless, but amusing) bit of gaming culture here.

Edit: Stardew Valley is out today (Oct 5), here’s what the site looks like now!

stardewvalley
He has a very good point about game save backups for the Switch are needed.
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.

2017091613415600-86C14151EAC920165D017C83A8A5AAE9

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.

2017091613491500-86C14151EAC920165D017C83A8A5AAE9

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 of  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.

2017091616340700-86C14151EAC920165D017C83A8A5AAE9

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!

2017091619194100-86C14151EAC920165D017C83A8A5AAE9

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.

2017091619543500-86C14151EAC920165D017C83A8A5AAE9

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. 🙂

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.

2017090211082600-CBA841B50A92A904E313AE06DF4EF71A
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.

2017090211045500-CBA841B50A92A904E313AE06DF4EF71A
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. 😦

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.

2017090213341500-CBA841B50A92A904E313AE06DF4EF71A

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.

splatfest

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.

2017090214214800-CBA841B50A92A904E313AE06DF4EF71A

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.

2017090312361200-CBA841B50A92A904E313AE06DF4EF71A2017090312363000-CBA841B50A92A904E313AE06DF4EF71A2017090312364600-CBA841B50A92A904E313AE06DF4EF71A2017090312365300-CBA841B50A92A904E313AE06DF4EF71A2017090312382600-CBA841B50A92A904E313AE06DF4EF71A

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.

2017090312342200-CBA841B50A92A904E313AE06DF4EF71A

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.

2017090312344600-CBA841B50A92A904E313AE06DF4EF71A
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 +  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.

2017083019483400-9600BAE614E6833B1A261F5FB229CDBA

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.

2017083019552800-9600BAE614E6833B1A261F5FB229CDBA

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.

2017083019574900-9600BAE614E6833B1A261F5FB229CDBA

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).

2017083019380900-9600BAE614E6833B1A261F5FB229CDBA

I can certainly say that Mario +  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