Thoughts on 9/4 Nintendo Direct

Earlier this evening at 5pm(CST) Nintendo broadcast another of its Direct presentations. Speculation about a September Nintendo Direct had been circling around social media for a few weeks before it was announced that a 40-minute Direct presentation was indeed happening, this brought upon a wave of speculation(with a dash of skepticism). It had been announced that we would be receiving more footage and information about upcoming Switch releases like Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Pokemon Sword/Shield, as well as word on the release date of Banjo & Kazooie as the newest characters in the Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass. Any time a Nintendo Direct is announced, gamer’s imaginations run wild fantasizing about what was in store, everything from earlier than expected release dates for the Breath of the Wild sequel or Animal Crossing: New Horizons to remasters of older titles to sequel announcements(Spoiler: No Pikmin 4 😦 ). While most what Nintendo showed may not have been a huge surprise, here’s a few things that I’m excited to see or find interesting…

More Switch Ports – I’m not going to get too excited simply about more games being ported to the Switch, but Overwatch being released on October 15 on the Switch is still pretty cool. Overwatch is still my favorite multiplayer game of the current console generation(Lucio main and proud!) and Blizzard taking advantage of the enormous user base on the Switch makes sense. My only concern is….the game is several years old already, I feel like I got into the game a little late and that was a couple years ago so I’m curious to see how that plays out. I’m also excited to get another chance to play Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast when upon it’s release for the Switch. I only played the game for a very short time when it was first released, so I’ll gladly take any chance to play more Star Wars games on the Switch. I also think that if EA were to change their mind and realize the units they could sell if they released something like the Battlefront OR The Sims games on the Switch, but alas, they don’t think their player base has any interest in the Switch(I guess EA is suddenly against making that extra cent?). Another Switch port that isn’t much of a surprise – Doom 64. A listing for the game was found on an Australian ratings board a couple weeks ago so the game being formally announced wasn’t entirely surprising, but still welcome. I bought a copy of Doom 64 from a local retro game store a while back and had a bit of difficulty seeing anything in the few moments I spent playing the game, the brief shots of the upcoming Switch release appear to have fixed what I had always heard was the biggest problem facing the game “I can’t see a damn thing!”. Doom 64 will be released on November 22 and hopefully won’t have the Bethesda.net login issues that infuriated everyone after original Doom, 2, and 3 were re-released digitally.

Switch Cross Play/Cloud Saves – This ties in a bit with a few of the newly announced Switch ports, namely games like Divinity Original Sin 2 and Dauntless. Both were announced during the Direct, with Divinity Original Sin 2 being available immediately. I think the most interesting aspect of this is Nintendo’s willingness to embrace the idea of cross-play between consoles. Titles like Overwatch, Divinity, and Dauntless having the ability to play across platforms will be a huge feature, they’ve already found a large audience across PC/PS4/Xbox One but will now add the enormous Switch user base. I’m still a little wary about playing a game on my Switch against someone playing on their PC, especially with the Switch being WiFi only. I mean, playing Overwatch at my local Starbuck’s SOUNDS COOL…but isn’t really the way I prefer to play online multiplayer games, especially FPS games. During the announcement of Divinity Original Sin 2 being available today on the Switch, it was announced that you will be able to use your cloud saves between both Switch AND Steam; this is an incredibly user-friendly aspect that I’m really glad Nintendo is open to embracing. Nintendo’s past hasn’t always reflected an attitude of embracing change within the gaming community as technology advances. I myself haven’t played Divinity Original Sin 2(yet…) but have heard many people praise the game since its release and being able to access my profile between Steam and Switch is a step in the right direction for integrating user bases.

Switch Online SNES – Ever since Nintendo launched their Switch Online service offering the ability to play a select library of NES games, many have anxiously awaited for when Nintendo would inevitably expand that library to include other past consoles like the Super Nintendo or Nintendo 64. A few months ago a patent for a wireless SNES controller was spotted which further amped up anticipation, this along with the fact Nintendo was releasing NES titles for its online service much too seldom, and many games were seen as questionable choice as they were fairly obscure. During the Nintendo Direct it was announced that gamers would finally be able to play SNES games as the Nintendo Switch Online service will now include SNES titles beginning tomorrow. The list of games includes essentials like Super Mario World 1&2, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Metroid, along with more obscure titles like Demon’s Crest or Stunt Race FX. The two games I’m most excited to check out right away will be Breath of Fire and Kirby’s Dream Land 3 – a game that gets quite expensive in used game stores. Nintendo also unveiled a wireless version of the iconic SNES controller to be used alongside the retro games; the retail price for the SNES controller will be $29.99 – exactly HALF of what the wireless NES controllers cost. Of course, you need to be currently subscribed to the Switch Online service to be able to purchase either controller. I was still hoping for ANYTHING Metroid-related to be announced during the Direct, so I guess another place to play Super Metroid will have to do for now πŸ™‚

Banjo in Smash Bros! – Banjo & Kazooie were unveiled as the 4th DLC character in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighter’s Pass during Nintendo’s E3 Treehouse event to the elation of all those behind the #BanjoForSmash hashtag and today, we were finally given the release date for our beloved bear and bird. Shortly after the Nintendo Direct, Banjo & Kazooie will be available to use in Smash Bros. Ultimate, with a short segment after the Direct being hosted by Masahiro Sakurai himself showing the new in-game moves and soundtracks. I also love how Sakurai stated how Banjo & Kazooie were first introduced in Diddy Kong Racing on N64 in 1997 but are now currently owned by Microsoft and even though this was part of a Nintendo Direct, he encouraged gamers to check out all three games(Banjo-Kazooie/Tooie/Nuts N’ Bolts) on Xbox. Hearing a Nintendo executive telling people to go play a game on a Microsoft console is pretty funny and shows just how far along the relationship between the two Redmond, WA neighbors has come.

Here’s a link to the past entire Nintendo Direct if you’d like to check it out yourself as there’s too much to go over right now…I didn’t even mention anything about the Dungeon Builder in Link’s Awakening or Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition either did I? Either way, I’m going to kick back with my Switch and play some Smash…Guh-HUH!

My Mario Maker 2 Courses

Today, I thought it would be fun to share some of my created courses on Super Mario Maker 2( The tutorials insisting they be called “courses” and not “levels” ). Mario Maker 2 has been out for a month now and was one of this summer’s Nintendo games I was looking forward to as I had only played the 3DS version which seemed to be a slightly watered-down version of one of the Wii U’s few games that got much attention. The ability to share created levels online was the highlight of the Wii U version and to not having that option on the 3DS version was disappointing. I have spent quite a few hours of Mario Maker 2 between Story Mode, which boasts 100 different pre-made courses and in playing other user-created courses online. I have also spent a few hours trying to muster any creativity in creating some courses of my own. It’s incredible seeing some of the leve…COURSES that others have created online and I have included a couple of my recent favorites that I’ve played. I ask in advance to please excuse the lame titles I have used for my humble creations πŸ˜‰

Swing carefully…

Swinging Blooper Reel – Course ID – XB9-J2P-JHF

One of the first courses I created where the easiest thing to do I make a short course that can be completed in mere seconds, but will have a few tricky jumps thrown in here and there along with scattered enemies in an attempt to pose some sort of challenge. The first few courses I created I probably had some of the platforming sections of games like Mega Man in mind as I made a few of those so you would really have to time the jumps. You will need to swing your way through the grapple claws to reach the end before time runs out. There is an upper and lower path to take as you maneuver around the numerous Bloopers floating around.

More Bloopers…

Calamari Challenge – Course ID – J2N-D55-X36

I always loved the underwater levels in Mario game as a kid, so I wanted to try to create something similar to World 2 of Super Mario Bros. This time you need to defeat the 10 Bloopers around the area before heading for the finish. I worked in a different areas through the course via warp pipes and threw in a few Cheep Cheep to avoid as well.

Classic Castle Course – Course ID – L1T-T8T-TDF

Another creation where I wanted to bring the similar feeling to the castle levels of Super Mario World. There is nothing too difficult here, just a more straightforward trip through a lava-filled castle, complete with giant blades and Dry Bones. Bowser Jr is also waiting at the finish line.

Wintertime Coins – Course ID – RYQ-16G-GVG

The course requirement here is to collect five 30-Coins before completing. There’s nothing too difficult here, outside of a few Spinies and some falling icicles. I wanted to make an easy coin-collecting course for this one, rather than create something that makes you rage quit after dying fifty times in a row( **NOT from experience πŸ˜‰ ).

Rock Wrench & Bullet Bill – Course ID – 6XG-5FQ-QQF

Mario 3 just may be my absolute favorite game, so I wanted to create a flying ship level similar to the ones you had to clear at the end of each world in Mario 3. As you would find in the game itself, there are Rocky Wrenches and Bullet Bills throughout the course as well as the giant flame burners that one would expect to find on a flying wooden ship. You will again need to defeat Bowser Jr. before completing the course.

I do go back and play through all of my created courses; I don’t usually make them with “how many people can I get to play these courses?” in mind. I wanted to make something that I would enjoy playing myself, and I have. In addition to some of my created courses, I have included a couple others that I have played online that I really really enjoyed.

20 Seconds: Cannonball Capers – User ID – bruhhhhhh Course ID – 9QD-V7X-2JF

Along with enjoying an easy stroll through a Mario Maker 2 course, I have spent a fair amount of time( and frustration) playing other user’s speed run courses, some of these are absolutely genius…and difficult.

Super Castlevania Bros – User ID – Nocturnowl Course ID – 5WW-0MF-TMF

I started seeing different “theme” courses online in Mario Maker 2 right away; some users have created everything from movies like Evil Dead to other video games like Metal Gear Solid. There are not surprisingly many levels where other users have re-created different worlds from Zelda games, such as the Great Deku Tree from Ocarina of Time. I came across this level and absolutely LOVE Nocturnowl’s creating of Dracula’s Castle from the Castlevania games. I definitely recommend checking out this one.

That’s about it for this week! I made the Rock Wrench & Bullet Bill course the other day and thought it would be fun to show some courses in a blog post. Have you played Super Mario Maker 2? if so, what do you think so far? Let me know in the comments. See…I HAVE actually played something other than Breath of the Wild this week! πŸ˜€

Keep on playing…

2 Years of Nintendo Switch – Things I Love and Would Love Nintendo to Change

The Nintendo Switch was released two years ago on March 3 2017 and has been a huge success for Nintendo. The console has sold over 32 million units as of December 2018. Today I am going through some of my favorite things about the Switch as well as some that I really would like Nintendo to correct.

I remember being cautiously optimistic when Nintendo announced their newest console they would be releasing to follow up what most consider one of their biggest failures with the Wii U( the Virtual Boy still tops that list….). I thought the idea of a hybrid portable console sounded like an interesting idea. Nintendo has always had interesting ideas…but they haven’t always been the most practical, something that you would use on a consistent basis. The Wii was a very successful console, that DID have a lot of great games…you just had to sift through all of the games that just cashed in on the gimmick of motion controls. I didn’t mind using the Wii-mote and nunchuk in place of a controller as much as I tired rather quickly of being forced to use motion controls where I would have greatly preferred a conventional controller. The Wii U brought about their Game Pad, complete with a touch screen that you could also use to play games if for example – someone wanted the tv and you wished to remain playing. (Yes, I know……only one tv in the house?) However, the Wii U was yet another system without a very large collection of third-party titles and was generally left for dead. You cannot talk about the Switch and it’s success without pointing out it’s essentially what started out as the Wii U Game Pad. Anyways…..here are some things that I really enjoy about the Switch.

Mario Odyssey is still my favorite Switch game. (Image courtesy of Nintendo)

  Games – I’ll start by talking about the games the Switch currently has in its library. I am obligated to begin by mentioning launch title – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. While BotW was released on the Wii U as well, the Switch has far, far more people playing it so will forever be known as a Switch title first and foremost. I absolutely LOVE Mario Odyssey as well, playing through Odyssey for me was similar to playing through Super Mario Galaxy . Splatoon 2 expanded on the first game and improved the multiplayer experience. And then there’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which is essentially everything any Super Smash Bros. packed into one game. There are also exclusives that aren’t using their flagship franchises(i.e. Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong) like Octopath Traveler and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Nintendo has been putting an extra effort into getting more third-party support this time around, along with a robust platform for indie games in the digital store.

  Hardware – I try to be as careful as possible with all my consoles but I can say the Switch is a very sturdy little console. I knocked it off a side table(to my utter horror) a couple times and not even a scratch, and have heard stories of much worse from others who have noted how durable it is. I also put a screen protector on to minimize fingerprints and scratches. I actually was pleasantly surprised with the Joy-Con controllers for the Switch after using them for the first few times. I was a bit skeptical at first, they seemed likely to feel anything but durable and having tiny, impossible to use buttons but I have really grown to like using them, even with lobster claws for hands. The HD Rumble feature works remarkably well(I CAN feel those ice cubes in my glass),even though it isn’t something that is utilized to any great extent. Nintendo also tweaked their Pro Controller they launched alongside the Switch, and is a very sound, sturdy controller. There is just enough of a weight to the console and controllers, not enough to make it heavy or cumbersome. The touch screen works as good as anything currently on anyone’s smartphone, even after putting a screen protector over it. The motion controls do work surprisingly well, though I honestly don’t use them much.

Function – The Switch is designed so that you can play it either in handheld mode, or you can place the console in the accompanying cradle to use in docked mode. It performs equally well in both modes, although the video quality isn’t quite as well as you would want for some games. I was surprised at how seamlessly you can be playing in handheld mode and place it onto the dock and your game is on your tv screen, or vice versa. Nintendo is improving their online services, even if it seems to be baby steps. The Switch is a completely enjoyable console to play, I have spent many, many hours playing it either on the tv in my living room or lying in bed, or should I actually venture outside my home and spend any significant amount of hours(not something that happens real often…). I have found myself buying multi-platform games almost entirely because I want to play it on the Switch, yes I bought Skyrim and Final Fantasy IX….but along with many others too.

On the flip side of all that, here are some things I’m not crazy about and wish Nintendo could or would change…

Another console, another release of Skyrim… (Image courtesy of Nintendo)

  Games – I will begin talking about the games. I love many Switch games and have bought titles that are ports or remastered versions and released on the Switch, but it does seem like Nintendo is padding their catalog with games that were Playstation and Xbox titles from previous generations. You can buy versions of Skyrim, Doom, Diablo 3, and a remastered version of Dark Souls. Also, these games are generally more expensive for the Switch than you can currently buy on the PS4 or Xbox one. Nintendo has gone with a physical format for their games by using a proprietary SD card, rather than a standard Blu-Ray disc so that can have an impact on cost. I’m not even going to begin discussing how much the upcoming Resident Evil ports of 0, 1, and 4 are going to cost….<sigh>. Nintendo does also seem rather determined to re-release just about every one of its Wii U exclusives on the Switch like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2, etc. It can seem like they’re simply recycling titles from the previous console…..I mean hardly anyone bought the Wii U and there were good games for it but a lot of them were too little too late as most people had already long passed on ever buying it.

Hardware – The hardware aspect of the Switch has several things I am not real fond of. First, would be a seemingly minor gripe about the Pro Controller d-pad. It has too “soft” of a feel making it easy to rotate 360 degrees if you were for example playing a fighting game like Street Fighter, but it can make it difficult to hit a specific direction. I have been playing a lot of Tetris 99 lately and the d-pad on the Pro controller can cause you to inadvertently hard drop a block when you where simply be moving blocks around. I have heard that the more recently produced Pro Controllers have corrected this issue, in the mean time I have been using the Joy-Cons with the smaller, more accurate d-pad for games like Tetris 99. There is also a number of people that have had problems with the battery of their Switch and the charging dock not working properly. I personally haven’t had any issues with the battery or charging for mine, but the design of the dock could use a revamp if Nintendo does begin to manufacture different versions of the Switch. I do also wish there would be a headphone jack in the controllers, at least in the Pro Controller. Should you ever want to play something in docked mode but want to be able to hear the game more clearly with a good headset you’re out of luck. This is one of the reasons why I am skeptical as to the quality of playing games like Fortnite on the Switch. You would benefit from using a headset but you can only use the headphone jack ON the console itself and are simply unable to enjoy using headphones AND the Pro Controller. The Switch hardware does have its drawbacks and limitations…

The Switch online service is there, but still needs some work if Nintendo wants to compete for online play. (Image courtesy of Nintendo)

Function – Here is where I complain about Nintendo’s continuing battle with getting online gaming right. The Switch Online service still needs more to it to make it really worth paying for. There is the Members Only Deal of purchasing a set of wireless NES controllers for your Switch at $59.99. The controllers are impressive, but the fact that you have to subscribe just to be able to purchase something isn’t something I’m really crazy about. I have an NES Classic so I do have the option to play those games currently on the NES Switch Online. I would prefer something more along the lines of Microsoft’s Games Pass. When Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was released a lot of people, including myself had lag issues with the online play, making it feel like you were playing entire matches in slow-mode. The online play for games like Mario Kart 8 have been pretty good, whereas Splatoon 2’s online play is generally good with not a lot of matches getting disconnected. The online infrastructure in general I really really would like Nintendo to improve, this being my biggest wish to Nintendo. However, there are the rumors that Microsoft and Nintendo may be partnering up to bring Xbox live service(or something similar) to the Switch. If true, this could be incredible for Nintendo. Xbox Live has consistently provided the best most stable online gaming network since launching back in 2002. I also wish the Switch was not WiFi only; it would be beneficial to be able to use an ethernet cable for stability. There are some things that I dislike about the Switch versus other consoles, but the things I enjoy about it seem to overwhelmingly make up for a few minor(mostly) gripes. It has been a great success for Nintendo so far…I am truly excited to see what the next few years bring.

Here are a couple Switch news links – https://www.businessinsider.com/nintendo-winning-video-games-fastest-selling-console-2019-3

https://www.gameinformer.com/2019/02/21/rumor-microsoft-bringing-game-pass-and-published-titles-to-switch