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.

 

 

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.

Nintendo Switch review: If you build it, they will come

The Switch in docked mode, with the JoyCon controllers attached. It’s not plugged in, obviously.

I’ve had a Nintendo Switch for about three weeks now and I like it. I like it a lot but I do have some reservations about it (but more on those later).

OK, full disclosure first:  Nintendo Australia sent me a Switch for long-term loan (I’ve talked about how this came about here) and will send me first-party games when they become available that I can review. If it wasn’t for Nintendo Australia, I wouldn’t have a Switch so I’m grateful to the company for that.

What I like most about the Switch is its tablet/portable mode. That is what makes it so good as a games player. I also like that its software which comes on flash ROM cartridges or digitally isn’t region locked. That is a good thing.

I like the design of the Switch. Without the Joy Con controllers attached it looks like a regular tablet, except its held in landscape mode all the time. You can play games without the Joy Cons attached – they’re wireless – and the unit itself has a somewhat fragile looking kickstand that props it up. It means you can set the console up on a table or a bench – or an airline tray table? – and play games that way.

The tablet of the Nintendo Switch. The screen is quite glossy: You can see my reflection in it.

Attach the Joy Cons to the tablet, though, and that’s where it really shines. The 720p screen is sharp and clear and it’s a good size – just the thing for portable gaming – , although it’s quite glossy so there is screen glare to content with depending on your positioning near things like windows and lights.

The Switch feels comfortable in your hands when in portable mode and while a little unusual at first, the stick and button layout becomes natural after a while.

The portable mode is the crowning glory of the Switch. It really is and I have to say I’ve played most of Zelda Breath of the Wild using the portable mode.

It means I can take the Switch to work and play some BOTW on my lunch break. It means I can take the Switch to bed and play BOTW while my wife reads her book. It means I can take the Switch to the toilet … OK, you get where I’m going here (Disclaimer: I have never taken the Switch with me to the toilet).

For all the things I like about the Nintendo Switch – and I do like it –  I just can’t recommend you rush out and buy one right now. The software just isn’t there for it.

Later on in the year, I’m sure it’ll be a different story (Mario Kart 7 Deluxe is due out later this month, I think) but right now, the Switch just doesn’t have enough compelling games to make it a must-have purchase. The lack of must-buy games is the biggest weakness of the Switch right now, especially given it’ll set you back around $550 just for the console itself in New Zealand.

I’ve only got two games for it: The aforementioned BOTW, which I really like and it looks fantastic,  and the frankly not very good Switch 1-2, which is a collection of mini-games where you look at another player rather than the TV screen to do things like gun slinging and milking a cow. Yes, milking a cow. It’s as bizarre as it sounds.

Look, Wii Sports is a much, much better game than Switch 1-2 and it launched on a Nintendo console two generations ago. Switch 1-2 should have been included free with the Switch as a tech demo on how the motion controls of the Joy Con controllers work but no, in NZ it’s priced anything from $65 to $80. Personally, I think Nintendo should have just thrown Switch 1-2 in as a freebie..

Here’s some advice: If you go to a game store to buy a Switch and the shop clerk says “How about another game for your Nintendo Switch? What about Switch 1-2 as well?” do this: Laugh in that person’s face, say “No” loudly then walk out of the store with your Switch and copy of BOTW tucked under your arm.

To me, the Switch has really only one game worth playing at the moment, Zelda Breath of the Wild, and it’s a very good game – and that’s from someone who isn’t a longtime Zelda fan – but apart from that, there’s nothing else to play on it. Games are coming, though (Update:  Apparently Lego City  Undercover is out for the Switch now. I haven’t played it yet, though)

More games are coming: Splatoon 2 is coming, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 from Telltale is coming, Pikmin 3 is coming, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is coming, Arms is coming … so my   recommendation right now is although I love the Switch, I’d wait before buying one.

The Switch reminds a little of the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams (readers born after 1989 ask your parents or Google it) about a farmer who heard a voice whisper to him “If you build it, they will come” in relation to building a baseball diamond in his cornfield. He did, and they came.

To me, the Nintendo Switch is a bit like that: Nintendo has built the console, now we just have to wait for the games to arrive.