Category Archives: Nintendo Australia

Katamari Damacy Re-roll: Craziness ramped up to 11!

Think of the craziest game you’ve every played – then quaduple it: That’s Katamari Damacy Re-roll, the very definition of Japanese crazy ideas at its finest.

The Katamari Damacy series first graced the PS2 waaaaaay back in 2004 and even back then, it was a large scoop of whacky mixed with a side order of “WTF?” While the game spawned a few sequels over the years, it’s now available on Nintendo’s Switch console – and it’s a perfect fit for the device.

The story is simple enough: A tiny prince must rebuilt the stars, constellations and moons that his wayward King father, The King of All Cosmos, destroyed when he decided to go on a drinking binge. Crazy, right?

To make his father happy, the prince is tasked with rolling a small, adhesive ball – called a katamari – around locations on Earth, collecting pretty much as much as he can  – people, animals, pins, balls, dominoes, playing cards, people, even mountains – until the ball is big enough to become a new star in the sky.

The story is as bizzare as the game play, with the prince having to rotate and guide the katamari around earthly locations, slowly growing bigger and bigger until the King of All Cosmos deems it big enough to become a star.

Adding to the pressure of creating more stars is the fact the tiny prince is often under a time limit to reach a certain size katamari ie 10cm, 15cm, meaning the prince will have to often sprint around the location, adhering more and more objects to said katamari. You have to be careful, though, as banging into some items will knock objects off the katamari, reducing its size. Yes, it’s as off-the-wall as it sounds.

Katamari Damacy Re-roll is a perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch, as each location is perfect for bite-sized gaming sessions if you only have a few minutes to play. Visually, it looks nice, with a colour palette of bright colours and a graphical style that is as far from realistic as you can imagine.

The controls worked well enough, although it took a while to get used to flicking the analogue sticks in the right direction to give a speed boost to the katamari, something that is vital to master and is crucial in helping pick up objects faster when you’re against the clock!

The music is catchy enough, with a kind of bouncy note to it, and an at times bombastic theme tune, but the voice of the King will get on your nerves after a while. That said, it’s in keeping with the game’s off-the-wall aspect and you can always do what I did: Turn the volume down a little.

Overally, Katamari Damacy Re-roll is perfect for the Nintendo Switch, especially if you’re after something that definitely doesn’t take itself seriously and is something so mind-bendingly weird that you can’t help but smile, something especially apt during what is now commonly called the Silly Season.

A big thank you to Bandai Namco’s Australia PR man for providing a review code for Katamari Damacy Re-roll.

Figment review: Battling the thoughts in your head

Figment, a puzzle/platformer for Finish indie developer Bedtime Digital Games for the Nintendo Switch, reminds me a lot of a children’s story book, with its whimsical artwork and fairy tale locations, except it’s set within the human mind with all sorts of weird shit going on.

Seriously, though, for most of the game the environments are like something you’d find in Alice in Wonderland, with teapots for houses, flowers made out of stringed instruments and white fluffy clouds providing a peaceful backdrop, things are more sinister than they seem at first in this fairy tale land, populated with memories, thoughts and urges and home to the voices in our head.

When Dusty (the game opens with him relaxing in a rocking chair, dreaming of ice for his drink) finds the nasty figments of the imagination have invaded the world, causing chaos, he must save the day. Accompanied by ever-optimistic bird Piper, Dusty must battle his way through a variety of dangers to, well, save the day.

The sumptuous visuals are the first thing that will attract your attention with Figment: They’re said by the developers to be hand-drawn, and by golly, does it look gorgeous, with an art style that belies the undertones of what Bedtime has called a “musical action adventure”.

The second thing that you’ll be captivated with is the wonderful voice acting which at times is delightfully over-the-top, and the musical score: Both are just delightful, with the score supposedly “defined by your exploration of the world”, which means that it adapts to how you react with the world: Move closer to the cello-like flowers and the strings sing, wander closer to a tuba-looking tree and the music takes a more brass band-like tone. It’s delightful and really adds a nice personal touch to the game.

The puzzles won’t cause you to have a brain haemorrhage, ranging from things like tracking down the handle that will turn the windmill that will blow away the nasty black fog and finding the right colour battery that will power the windmill to finding the missing pieces of a brass band bridge that will let you cross to another part of the world. Combat generally involves Dusty whacking unspeakable horrors with his sword or knocking back projectiles from said unspeakable horrors.

Figment is a delight to play, both visually and the way that the sound reacts to the player’s movement through the game world, and it’s further proof that games from small independent developers are a perfect fit for Nintendo’s console.

Remember how I commented last week on the great year that Nintendo was having?  Well, Figment is further proof of that.

Thanks to Bedtime for providing a digital code for Figment

Nintendo launching new adjustable stand for the Switch

I love my Nintendo Switch: Until God of War came along it was my go-to gaming console when I wanted to relax with some digital delights.

I have to admit, however, I’ve been frustrated sometimes with the tiny kickstand that props the Switch up when you want to do some tabletop-gaming: It’s never seemed that stable to me (although, I’ve never had any catastrophes of the Switch tipping over type with it).

If only there was a stand of some sort of stand for the Switch that lets you tilt the viewing angle while using the console in tabletop-mode while at the same time letting you charge it.  Well, it’s as if Nintendo has listened to me, because  it’s launching a new adjustable charging stand on July 13. 

Priced at $AU29.95 (so I’m expecting about $NZ40), the adjustable stand has a port for an AC adapter on the side, letting you charge and play at the same time.

Nintendo says that the angle of the stand can also be adjusted to create the best viewing angle.

Nice one, Nintendo.

Nintendo Switch reaches 10 million sales in nine months & Shu coming to Switch, too

I’m putting this out here right now: The Nintendo Switch is my console of the year, despite being woefully under-powered when compared to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (and their Pro and X variants).

With games like Super Mario Odyssey, Death Squared, Doom and Thimbleweed Park on Nintendo’s hybrid console, it really has been one of my gaming highlights of the year. So it’s no surprise to me (or anyone, possibly) that Nintendo has told 10 million Switch consoles in just nine months (the console launched in March this year). The console is a sure-fire success, pure and simple.

Congratulations, Nintendo: You’ve knocked it out of the park with this one!

Sticking with the Switch for a little bit longer, British developer Coatsink (which I have covered here before) is bringing its platformer Shu to the Switch in January, 2018.

Here’s a little about the game: Set across 6 different worlds, Shu combines gorgeous hand-drawn characters and fast-paced action as Shu and companions battle to save their friends from the mysterious and unrelenting storm. Can you outrun the end of the world?

Featuring an original soundtrack, 10 recruitable characters and a plethora of secrets to discover, the Nintendo Switch version of Shu will also include the Caverns of The Nightjars add-on content.

Shu will costs around $NZ15, if my calculations are correct.

 

 

Skyrim on Switch: Take an arrow in the knee, anywhere you like

You can now play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – henceforth known as Skyrim – on the toilet.

Think about that for a second: You can now play one of the most well-known RPG games from Bethesda while sitting on the porcelain throne. Is this the future of gaming?

Skyrim on Nintendo’s machine is the remastered version that was released on consoles in more recent times and it’s the real deal, although if you’ve played the remastered version – or the original game itself – you’re not going to find anything that you have seen here before. Make no mistake, though, this is Skyrim through and through – and it feels like Skyrim.

The Switch outputs Skyrim at 1080p when in docked mode and 720p in portable mode and to my untrained eye, it looks pretty damn good, although you can tell it’s a six year old game, graphically at least, when you look at the character models especially: People look slightly rough around the edges but textures are generally sharp and clear. Again, this is Skyrim in portable format.

The Switch version makes use of the consoles unique control system, too: You can use the Joycons for melee combat, casting spells and firing arrows, like you could in Breath of the Wild. It felt natural when firing a bow but combat felt a little sluggish when using the motion control system, so I tended to use the more traditional control scheme.  You can also use the motion controls for lock picking, and it works extremely well, with a gentle rumble indicating you’re making progress.

Really, there’s not much more to say, though: This is Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch. It doesn’t reinvent the game and doesn’t bring anything new to it. Interestingly, though, I’ve found myself playing more of Skyrim on Switch than I did when I played it on console: Maybe it’s the portability – and being able to play on the toilet if I want. It’s also one of those games that if you’re the type of gamer who likes to explore every nook and cranny, picking up as much loot as you can, crafting armour and weapons and generally poking in every corner of a gameworld, you’ll find hours and hours of content here.

If you’ve played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim before don’t expect new content in the Switch version because you won’t find it here – and the price for the Switch version is a less than wallet friendly: Sorry, Bethesda, but $100 for a six year old game is crazy money, even if it is on a modern piece of hardware.

Hopefully in time, that price will come down as Skyrim is absolutely worth playing on the Nintendo Switch as it’s a competent and engaging visit to Bethesda’s world, quirks and all, and another example of how strong a platform the Nintendo Switch is.

Thanks to Bethesda’s PR team in Australia for the review code

 

Super Mario Odyssey: Super fun times with Mario

Super Mario Odyssey is the best fun I’ve had playing a video game in a long, long, long time.

In fact, I’ve had so much fun with it could well be my game of the year <thinks about that for a minute>

Yep, Super Mario Odyssey is my game of the yea. Tough luck other games from 2017: You were beaten [soundly, in my opinion] by Nintendo’s long-standing mustachioed plumber Mario who stars in a game that is unashamedly cartoony and dripping in fun.

The Odyssey – from the title Super Mario Odyssey – is the name of the vessel that Mario uses to fly around a planet in search of that dastardly Bowser who has, yet again, kidnapped Princess Peach and intends to marry her. Trouble is, the Odyssey needs moons – which are found hidden around various kingdom – to power its engines so it’s up to Mario to chase Bowser, from kingdom to kingdom, uncovering moons (crescent moon shaped, really)  that can lead him closer to Princess Peach.

“What’s so fun about that?”, I hear you ask (you probably didn’t but it adds effect to my narrative). Well, the fun part comes from the opening kingdom when Mario is introduced to Cappy, as his name suggested a talking hat that at the flick of the right JoyCon allows Mario to possess just about every living thing in the game world: Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Cheep Cheeps, Piranha Plants, Bullet Bills … the list goes on. Imagine the possibilities of that: It means that Mario can navigate the kingdoms so much easier now, using the skills of the relevant world to collect moons and move to the next kingdom. It’s rather satisfying possessing a chain chomp then using it to defeat one of the Broodals that is using it against Mario!

Mario can use Cappy to give him boosted jumps and collect coins dotted about each kingdom, which can then be used to buy anything from health hearts and moons to new outfits and stickers (and not a loot box in sight!!)

Mario starts each kingdom with three hearts in his life bar and there is effectively  no Game Over with this game as when the three hearts are depleted, Mario loses 10 coins (which are used as in-game currency) every time he dies. Keep collecting coins (and they are plentiful) and all is sweet.

Each kingdom is themed very differently from the last: One takes place in a world covered in sand, another takes place in a wooded world, one takes place in a land made up of vegetables and pink boiling lava. New Donk City in the Metro Kingdom is clearly based on New York City and probably my favourite kingdom.

Each kingdom has a show down with one of Bowsers crew – the Broodals  – (hired as his wedding planners) but what I liked about these mini-boss battles is that a) they aren’t difficult and b) they’re generally a three-stage pattern. Even an old man like me had no trouble defeating them. Once you’ve defeated the boss, you can explore the kingdom collecting as many moons as you can find before heading back to the Odyssey to fly off to the next kingdom. There’s one particular boss in the water kingdom that had to be defeated by Mario possessing an octopus that squirts water and uses it to propel itself upwards and forwards. Craziness!

Another really, really nice touch – and a throwback to Mario’s earlier appearances – are the green pipes that we’re all familiar with that transport Mario into an 8-bit, side-scrolling world. It’s so well done that it made me smile.

Until Super Mario Odyssey came along, I’d never really been that taken with a Mario game. Sure, I’d played them but none of them captured my attention like Super Mario Odyssey has. I think the possession ability has had something to do with that – and the fact that the game is just so much darn fun (it also has a really neat photo capture mode). It looks fantastic, too, especially given that the Nintendo is incredibly under-powered when put alongside the consoles from Microsoft and PlayStation.

I’ve pretty much played Super Mario Odyssey every night since I got it and I’ve loved just about every joyous minute of it (it’s not perfect: the camera isn’t the best at times, and can make jumps onto moving platforms difficult at times) .

For me, Super Mario Odyssey is my game of the year already, and frankly, it just cements another reason to own a Nintendo Switch.

A big thanks to Nintendo Australia for providing the review copy of Super Mario Odyssey. Cheers, guys.

 

Nintendo 2DS XL: Big screens & ditch the 3D

Nintendo 2DS XL ($229)

Nintendo’s new 2DS XL could be the best version of its handheld that I’ve ever used.

The 2DX XL plays 3DS and DS games (although it won’t display 3DS games in 3D, of course)  and also comes with a 4Gb microSD card, which handily means you don’t have to buy one like you had to with previous DS models.

Compared with my original version 3DS, the 2DSXL model has some subtle design tweaks, too, which keeping the much-loved clam shell design. Besides the bigger screens, the power button is now on the front edge rather than on top next to the screen; the start and select buttons are physical buttons and the microSD slot and stylus are now located at the front, rather than the back, of unit. The 2DS XL also has new shoulder buttons and a small joystick-like button above the face buttons.

The design is more rounded than the angular edges of the original 3DS, too, with a really nice aesthetic and it really does look smart. It comes in two colour variants: Black and blue, and orange and white. It also has a nice ribbed finish on the top surface when the unit is closed, giving it a more top-end feel to it. If I had to be picky, sometimes I had trouble turning it on as the power button is almost flush to the body of the unit – and I chew my finger nails!

The big selling point for the 2DXL is that with the ability to play games from previous Nintendo DS handhelds, it has a huge back catalogue of games, and it was really nice being able to play 3DS games like Luigi’s Mansion 2 and New Super Mario Bros. 2 and maybe it’s because I’ve got ageing eyesight, but I found the games much more enjoyable in 2D rather than 3D.

Battery life seems pretty good, giving me around 3 to seven hours of activity, depending on-screen brightness and how demanding the game I was playing was. Of course, if you have the brightness all the way up then your battery life will be dramatically less.

Bottom line: Should you buy the Nintendo 2DS XL? If you already own a 3DS and like playing your games in 3D, then probably not. That said, if you’re a gamer that can take or leave 3D and wants a cheaper handheld that can play a humongous back library of 3DS and DS titles, then Nintendo’s latest handheld is hard to beat, although a price point of around $200 would have made it even better value.

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