Overview of the Nintendo Switch: An Underwhelming Console

The Nintendo Switch has been out on the market for a while now, so it’s high-time for an analysis of its current benefit-detriment cross-section. Let’s see how it stacks up to its market competitors and predecessor console.

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To get everyone up to speed, here are all the Switch components that lag behind the competition, i.e. Sony’s PS4 Pro and Microsoft’s Xbox One (soon to be Scorpio):

1.) 32GB of internal storage. For frame of reference, the baseline PS4 had 500GB and from the start people were ardently whinging about how that wasn’t nearly enough. 32GB won’t cover a modern game. Watch_Dogs can’t fit on this system in its default form. You can upgrade storage via SD cards, but that’s an additional purchase and therefore not a factor in assessing the baseline model.

2.) Minimal third-party support. A console relatively devoid of heavy-hitting publishers. Ubisoft is working on a peculiar Mario-Rabbids crossover and SEGA is bringing Sonic to the Switch, but beyond that there’s little fanfare from third-parties.

3.) $300 price tag. Currently, the PS4 and Xbox One are in the same exact price range and offer infinitely more value in terms of both game selection and hardware, which doesn’t bode well for a new console struggling to make a splash in the market pool.

4.) Charging for online. Nintendo’s market niche-cornering has never been focused on the online multiplayer demographic, and it shows. Without Battlefield, Titanfall, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty, Forza, Gears of War, or any other relevant multiplayer game slated to be on the Switch (besides Splatoon 2), the service doesn’t seem to be justifying its price all that well.

5.) 3 hour Switch battery life. Playing a graphically demanding game results in 3 hours of battery life. That’s less than half an average plane flight’s duration, and that’s exactly the situation Nintendo was advertising this feature for. Worse, some airlines are experimenting with restrictions that prevent you from bringing your Switch in carry-on, negating the purpose entirely.

6.) Accessory pricing. Scraping $90 for a pair of controller handles, known as joy-cons, is the current tag. Not even the main controller, mind you, as that’s the Switch’s removable screen itself. It’s a steep price point that sets a rough precedent for the accessories department, to say the least.

7.) Under-powered. Nintendo had five years to stare into their competitors’ eyes and work toward surpassing the PS4 and Xbox One in every way, and instead of rising to the challenge they’ve chosen to opt out of the race altogether. Objectively speaking, the hardware in this system isn’t competitive with boxes that have been out for nearly half a decade.

In conclusion, things are looking somewhat grim for the Switch. While Nintendo diehards have caused the console’s launch to be a massive success, sales are already starting to stagnate and repeat the pattern of the Switch’s failed predecessor, the Wii U. With only ports of Wii U games on the system at the moment (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild), there’s virtually no incentive to invest in a Switch right now and there won’t be until Super Mario Odyssey secures a release date.

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The Nintendo Switch: If You Don’t Learn From the Past…

The Nintendo Switch is looking to be an even bigger flop than the Wii U. Scratch that, flop implies they missed the bar by a smidgen. FAILURE. The Nintendo Switch is looking to be a gargantuan, dramatic FAILURE. Much better. This thing is so off-target that I don’t think Nintendo even realizes which industry’s shooting range it’s at.

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To get everyone up to speed, here are all the Switch elements currently acting as one-ton weights at the bottom of the sinking dinghy Nintendo calls its home console business:

1.) 32GB of internal storage. For frame of reference, the baseline PS4 had 500GB and from the start people were ardently whinging about how that wasn’t nearly enough. 32GB won’t cover a single modern game. Watch_Dogs couldn’t fit on this system. Pathetic.

2.) Minimal third-party support. A console entirely devoid of heavy-hitting publishers. That should go well.

3.) $300 price tag. Where’s that money going? To under-powered hardware? Another gimmicky Nintendo controller? A system with no games and no third party support? The PS4 and Xbox One are in the same exact price range and offer infinitely more value, to a point where it’s not even a competition. Nintendo is in its own league of ineptitude.

4.) Charging for online. Nintendo’s always had the weakest online infrastructure, not to mention the fact that no one goes to their system to play online. Without Battlefield, Titanfall, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty, Forza, Gears of War, or any other relevant multiplayer game slated to be on the Switch (besides Splatoon 2, pffft), what idiot would pay for this utterly unnecessary service?

5.) 3 hour Switch battery life. Playing a graphically demanding game? 3 hours of battery life. That’s less than half an average plane flight’s duration, and that’s exactly the situation Nintendo was advertising this feature for. What a joke.

6.) Accessory pricing. Scraping $90 for a pair of controller HANDLES. Not even the main controller, as that’s the Switch’s little removable screen itself. No, the HANDLES cost $90 on their own.

7.) Under-powered. Nintendo has had five years to stare into their competitors’ eyes and work toward surpassing the PS4 and Xbox One in every way. They’ve failed on all fronts. The hardware in this system isn’t competitive with boxes that have been out for nearly half a decade.

In conclusion, this was a shit-show of epic proportions. I’ve never seen a company so out of touch with reality before—even Microsoft’s initial Xbox One announcement can’t hold a candlestick to this trainwreck. Nintendo is planning to repeat the exact same mistakes that were made with the Wii U, the difference being this time all of the world’s expectations were on them NOT to.

The State of Gaming/What I’m Playing Right Now

As Friedrich Nietzsche once said, gaming is dead. Gaming remains dead. And we have killed it.

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Image Credit to Youtuber UMadBroYolo

Here’s the sorry state of the industry and why you virtually never see me reviewing games anymore: everything, literally everything, is some shitty rehash or sequel of a genre that’s already been explored to the brim. This year’s E3 only confirmed that.

Gears of War 4? Who gives a fuck. Forza Horizon 3? We’ve already had 2 of those. Battlefield 1? Ooh, another military first person shooter, such innovation. Call of Duty Infinite Warfare? Basically Halo for Halo‘s gap year. God of War 4? Literally Ryse with a Kratos skin and tacked on Brothers kid dynamic. Spider-Man PS4? It’s going to be a Beenox-grade movie tie-in developed by Insomniac. Watch Dogs 2? Looks like an expansion pass for the insurmountably disappointing bundle of corporate deception that was Watch Dogs 1. Mass Effect Andromeda? You know a whole bunch of corporate bullshit by EA is going to sully what was already destined to be a run of the mill sci-fi RPG trilogy’s sequel.

Noticing a trend here? Virtually everything is a sequel of something that didn’t need one in the first place. The racing, shooting and generic hack ‘n slash genres are so fucking oversaturated yet triple A game publishers just don’t care, as the sheeple who buy this shit are funding their own medium’s stagnation (cue the quote from the beginning of this post). I’ve had every experience they showed at this year’s E3 a million times over already in games released throughout the past decade, and as such, I’m more or less done with fresh off the press gaming. I’ll fill my time with movies and music and mediums where at least an INKLING of creativity is injected into most new releases.

What I’ll be reviewing in the way of somewhat new/relevant 2016 games:
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Not very hopeful for it, but I remember having a silky smooth time with the first one so why not give the only unlikely sequel being released this year a chance.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. To be honest, the more they show of it the less I’m excited. It looks like they’re trying to incorporate the verticality of Dishonored‘s maps minus the actual maneuverability moves that made upward traversal so fun in the aforementioned game. This is problematic. The Illuminati-busting story should be fun, though.
-Sonic the Hedgehog’s 25th anniversary game. If it comes to PC, you bet your sweet nickers I’ll be hopping on for some break-neck speed platforming goodness.
Dishonored 2. Again, feeling kind of apathetic about this one as it does seem to display some of the annoying sequel trends mentioned above. BUT. But. It’s got purple death vine monster powers. So yeah, definitely considering it.
-Potentially Quantum Break and Killer Instinct (PC versions).

But that’s it, frankly. I know how every other tired game listed in that fat sequel-rant paragraph will play out, exactly how each will feel and since I can imagine it all, why pay money to verify my gaming clairvoyance. These industry giants have robbed the word “innovation” of its meaning with how many times they spew it in blatant press release lies.

To wrap up the post: taking time off from the stagnant hell that is 2016 gaming, I ventured back into a game that I previously couldn’t stand. That game was Darksiders 2. This time around, I played it in its entirety and wow do I love it now. Seriously, after experiencing all three DLC missions (Deathinitive edition), finishing the Crucible and beating Wicked K, I’ve gained a lot more respect for this game than I had in my initial review. Not to mention the soundtrack is fantastic. In short, go experience some oldies but goodies for cheap if you too cannot stand the slew of current sequels devoid of artistic merit or creativity.

Gamerrob’s Top 5 Games of 2014

While it’s been a pretty bad year for games overall, a few quality titles did manage to slip through the cracks. So, let’s see what five games I found to be the most enjoyable from the lacking selection pool of this year’s releases.

Honorable Mention – Valiant Hearts: The Great War – PC

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For all the shit Ubisoft pulled this year, the release of Valiant Hearts was a breath of fresh air. It’s using the same gorgeous engine that the recent Rayman games used, which means it also has an amazing art style. While it’s weak by gameplay standards, it has a good story with a good message.

5.) Murdered: Soul Suspect – PC

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If you wanna talk about underrated and unappreciated games, look no further than Murdered: Soul Suspect. The game sold so poorly that Airtight Games went out of business after developing it, for crying out loud. Not to mention that critically it did poorly thanks to mainstream media shitting on anything that’s different. In short, it is an awesome point and click murder mystery game with a good plot, fun enough gameplay, wonderful graphics and a chilling atmosphere.

4.) Ryse: Son of Rome – PC (it’s a 2014 release for PC so it counts)

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I can understand why some wouldn’t like Ryse, considering almost the entire game consists of the same under-baked combat from start to finish. But what I think some are overlooking is the fact that the core combat is fun, and that doesn’t change no matter how much you play it. Couple that with a VERY cool campaign with lots of awesome set-pieces (think God of War but mildly more realistic) and an extremely addicting cooperative arena mode, and Ryse is a game that allows for some of the best mindless fun of 2014. Not to mention you can wear the Crysis nanosuit in multiplayer.

3.) Bayonetta 2 – Wii U

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While Ryse was more of a guilty pleasure of hack ‘n slashes, Bayonetta 2 is the supreme leader of the genre. Featuring one of the most intricate combat systems in modern gaming, a wealth of content and an over-the-top universe to be absorbed in, Bayonetta 2 is the absolute pinnacle of button mashers. Whether you want quirky Japanese story telling, precision combat or a masterful mix of both, this is the sequel for you.

2.) Titanfall – PC

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Titanfall was 2014’s comet of gaming: it shined so bright for so brief a time span. A mere two months after it launched the community was on life support, but for those two months it was the absolute acme of online first-person-shooter fun. The movement felt fantastic, the guns were satisfying and the titans were glorious fun. While it might be too late to enjoy this game for yourself considering how hard it will be to find a match, just know that it was definitely worthy of all the hype it generated.

1.) Alien: Isolation – PC

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If there is one game that oozes quality, hard work and love this year, it’s Alien: Isolation. Every single minute of the game is packed with tension, agony and everything that made the original movie so engrossing. Every mechanic within the game is fully explored and gives the player a wide range of options to use against a downright genius AI, and the atmosphere is second to none coupled with the best graphics and best sound design of 2014. Alien: Isolation is a technical masterpiece and a trophy as to what can be accomplished when you give the right team the right source material.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U — Worst Online Play in Gaming History?

I’ve had some shitty online multiplayer experiences in my life, but Super Smash Bros. for Wii U takes the cake.95507_083

People complain about lag all the time, and yet I rarely encounter it. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare? Online generally played smooth as butter. Battlefield 4? Flawless connections. Street Fighter 4? Barely any latency issues. Super Smash Bros. 4? I can’t play three fucking matches in a row without the game turning into a literal slideshow.

The Nintendo network is complete trash. Seriously, peer-to-peer connectivity as bad as the kind Nintendo is allowing for should be illegal. I hope anyone who worked in R&D on the online portion of this game stubs their toe tonight. Seriously, screw Nintendo. And I’m even angrier that I like the game enough to keep playing it, because that means I have to continually suffer more unplayable online matches.

Hell, I’ll make this my review of Super Smash Bros. Wii U, because it pretty much sums up my feelings on the game. It’s a great package with loads of content, 8-player smash is a particularly impressive addition, and the new characters are solid (Megaman and Shulk are particularly kick-ass, although they practically ruined Sonic with obscure buffs and critical nerfs), but the biggest component of the game, the online play, sucks to an irredeemable degree. In a fighting game that supports online play, lag like this is past the point of “well, I still think that game is a 9/10 overall”. No, because this entire portion of the game is pretty much broken, I would say that 7.5/10 is the highest you could reasonably give Super Smash Bros. 4, and that’s ignoring the fact that most of it is just a re-skin of Brawl.

Review of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for Wii U

While the Sonic Boom cartoon fared well a week ago, a lot of skepticism still surrounded its game counterparts. Rest assured, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is nowhere near as bad as the internet buzz would have you believe (given that the overwhelming majority of these comment critics have yet to even play it), and while it’s definitely nowhere near a must-buy, there are a few audiences that just might love it.Sonic-boom-rise-of-lyric-wii-u-wiiu-1401974567-014Rise of Lyric is centered around the story of, well, the rise of Lyric. He’s a snake-cyborg who wants to wipe out all organic organisms on the planet, and it’s up to newly-scarfed Sonic and his band of sports tape-tangled friends to collect magic crystals that hold the power to stop him. So, basically, if you swap out Lyric with Eggman and crystals with chaos emeralds, we have a typical Sonic plot. Eggman himself does have an actual role in the story, but it’s similar to that of his in Unleashed — short and back-seated. Even shorter roles are had by Metal Sonic and Shadow, who appear extremely briefly as both functional plot devices and as assumed fan service.

Gameplay-wise, Rise of Lyric is a very mixed bag. Sonic and co. are as slow as can be for the majority of playtime, which is centered around puzzle-platforming and battling robots. The puzzle-platforming hearkens back to classics of the genre such as Jak and Daxter, which was fittingly made by the same developers so it’s no wonder they share such similarities. And that slower, more methodical blend of scaffold-hopping with switch-activating and gate-moving is a classic type of gameplay that we haven’t really seen a lot of since the PS2 days, which means it’ll be fun for younger gamers and fans wanting a nostalgia tickle from days of platforming past. Another great aspect of the platforming is that there’s always two or more paths, as you are generally given a choice between one of two characters at all times. Each character has their own way of getting from point A to B, whether it be via Sonic’s spin-dash pads, Amy’s tightrope running, Knuckles’ rock climbing or Tails’ hovering. Good variety for co-op players, especially.

Combat is, well, a less refined version of the werehog stages from Sonic Unleashed (if that makes this an instant no-go for you, that’s understandable). Combat is clunky button mashing fare with a few poorly implemented combo mechanics thrown in. The game features a weird energy beam that can grapple enemies, but this is only used to hurl enemies at generic obstacles rather than as a fun tool to enhance the combat. Worse, the combat makes up the majority of the action, being about two-fifths of the game (the other two fifth being platforming and the last fifth being “speed” sections, to be discussed momentarily). It’s not horrible, but it’s definitely not satisfying and I think the developers would’ve actually been better off had they just copy-pasted the werehog’s physics and combat mechanics into these sections.

largeThe speed sections are the briefest chunk of gameplay, and considering how shallow they are that might be for the better. If you’ve played Sonic Dash, that’s essentially what these sections are; a console version of “slide left, slide right, jump, repeat”. Now, there are a few cool things, like Sonic’s really cool run-on-water segments and the fun energy-beam roller coaster chunks, but the majority of the speed sections are either completely automated or just underwhelming in execution.

Fair warning in regards to the gameplay: it can be extremely frustrating at times, as games that borrow heavily from old-school styles tend to be. Even if you think you can manage some moments of absurdly difficult clunky combat and platforming, there are a few segments that you couldn’t possibly be prepared for, such as fleeting moments when you’re put in a special situation like piloting a rotating donut boat. I’ll be the first to say that these missions are both unnecessary and so stressful that they can sour your opinion of the game as a whole (meaning that if you have younger kids playing, expect to help them out with these extremely short bits).

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Now, the technical aspects of Rise of Lyric need addressing. The game is not visually impressive whatsoever, and there are framerate issues from time to time (and at the weirdest times too, like in really slow segments of the game rather than during frantic moments). But, with that said, it’s not a bad looking game, and far from the eyesore some would make it out to be. The textures might be a little under-cooked and the character gloss effects are downright unsettling at times (makes Sonic look like he’s made of glass), but it’s a colorful game with some scenic locales that will appeal to its target demographic, kids. The only visual effect that is truly pathetic is Sonic’s water-treading wake texture, which is the most poorly done water animation on the Wii U. As far as bugs and glitches go, I’ve encountered a few minor ones, such as an enemy spawning outside of its proper area and a camera with fixed angles that screw over the player.

In terms of length, the story mode is hefty by itself, which is good as that’s all you’re really getting with Rise of Lyric. There is a weak party-mode included in the game, but it’s so underdeveloped that you wouldn’t miss a thing if you skipped it all together. The story mode has little to no replay value, however, so if you choose to skip party mode and have gone through the story once, you’ve essentially done it all.

One last thing I’d like to note before I give the final verdict is that the writing is fantastic. Sonic games have been pretty poor in terms of story-telling as of late, but Rise of Lyric features some of the funniest Saturday morning cartoon dialogue that’s so stupidly chuckle inducing that you’d assume it was pulled right from the actual Saturday morning cartoon, Sonic Boom! And the voice acting itself is surprisingly strong as well. Mike Pollock kills it as Eggman, as does Roger Craig Smith as Sonic. The newbie that impressed me, however, was Travis Willingham as Knuckles, who gave the big bruiser a surprisingly fitting dude-bro personality. Of course, the writing is not without its flaws. Some dialogue is painful (at one point Amy might say “nice kill Sonic” when he blows up a robot. A.) robots can not be killed as they are not alive, and B.) “kill”? Like, it’s one thing for Lyric to say that as a villain but Amy??) and Tails has an obnoxiously overly-nerdy persona in the Boom universe, it seems.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is a game that I can recommend to three types of people. I can recommend it to fans of classic platformers such as Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank and even Sly Cooper, to some degree. And of course I can recommend it to children below the age of 12, especially if they have a friend to play through it cooperatively with. But the surprising recommendation I have is for the literal handful of people who liked Sonic ’06. This is almost like a version of ’06 where everything was improved technically speaking, but the core gameplay experience was the same, such as multiple characters to play as and an emphasis on quirky platforming and combat.

For those of you who aren’t fans of the blue blur, this game definitely won’t change your mind. For those with reserved expectations and a taste for traditional 3D platforming, Rise of Lyric might be up your alley… after a small price drop.

Review of Bayonetta 2 for Wii U

In short, Bayonetta 2 might just be the finest beat-’em-up of all time. There are good ones, like Devil May Cry, there are great ones, like Anarchy Reigns, and then there are phenomenal ones such as Bayonetta 2. For those saying “not worth buying a Wii U for”, that’s either because you’re not a real beat-’em-up fan or because you weren’t going to buy it in the first place. For anyone with an inkling of interest in this game, know that your anticipation has been completely justified.
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Bayonetta 2 signals the return of the titular witch from the original, this time accompanied by a Nintendo-sized budget. All of the original cast return, including sassy rival witch Jeanne and bad-ass bartender Rodin. Some new faces appear as well, but mentioning them would spoil important aspects of the story, so just expect some unexpected appearances. As far as voice acting and story-telling go, Bayonetta 2 is hit or miss. The voice acting is well done for characters such as Bayonetta and Jeanne, but on the other side of the fence you have characters such as Loki who provide some of the worst dialogue and performances in video game history. This falls on both the writers and the voice actors, and while it’s not that important for this kind of game, the lack of truly talented writing and acting do hinder the overall powerful narrative.

In terms of gameplay, if you loved the original Bayonetta or love button mashers in general, then this game has you covered. Not only does it improve upon the original, but it provides so many new weapons and gameplay-altering costumes that the experience feels entirely fresh in a deceptively familiar way. All aspects of the original title are present, including core mechanics such as witch time and animal transformations, as well as the previously unlockable skills such as air-dodge, now available right from the get-go. This means that the game can start expanding and refining on its original foundations right from the prologue, meaning crazy new skills and weapons for veteran players to enhance their experience with right out of the gate. New weapons include everything from a magic bow to a dual-pair of pink, spiky vine-whips (my personal favorites). Each weapon has unique animations depending on if you equip them to Bayonetta’s arms or feet, which results in thousands of different combo-pairing opportunities.WiiU_Bayonetta2_scrn03_E3
In terms of length, Bayonetta 2 clocks in at around fourteen hours, give or take. With tons of different difficulty levels and unlockables, though, there’s ample incentive to replay the entire adventure from start to finish (not to mention that the core gameplay is inherently fun on its own). There’s an online mode called tag climax, a competitive co-op experience where two players try to kill as many demons and angels as possible while competing for the high score. Stages for this mode are unlocked by completing single player chapters, so in a way both modes work together to give each other longevity. Tag climax matches range from five minutes to thirty minutes a piece, and while they’re not especially engaging (not to mention the online community is shitty), the inclusion of the mode serves as a reason to pick up the game every so often for quick bouts of inconsequential action.

Lastly, the soundtrack. Bayonetta 2 has turned one of the most slowly-paced Frank Sinatra songs, “Moon River”, into one of the most rip-roaring and fun pop songs in recent memory. Not to mention the main theme, “Tomorrow is Mine”, is absolutely fantastic in its own right. These two songs sung by the amazing Keeley Bumford, in accompaniment to a fantastic soundtrack including such classics as the “William Tell Overture” mean that pretty much anyone with a love of music will find something to jam out to.

One minor note is that graphical fidelity has been noticeably upgraded since the last time around. Not too much given the hardware limitations, but there is definitely a visible improvement since 2009’s Bayonetta.

With the only minor downside being some occasionally shoddy writing and acting, you are committing a sin against yourself if you love beat-’em-ups and ignore Bayonetta 2. Even I, one of the most casual button mashing gamers in recent memory, absolutely adored every moment I spent with the game and can see the unlimited potential it has to entertain hardcore fans. With one of the most engrossing action experiences of all time under its hood, a glorious female protagonist, a large assortment of content and a surprisingly accessible touchscreen mode (although most players, like myself, will prefer the traditional button scheme), this Wii U exclusive adventure might be the best game Nintendo releases all year (yes, I am considering Smash Bros. in that comment). In short, if there is one console exclusive worth supporting this year with your hard-earned cash, it’s Bayonetta 2.

And if somehow you’re still on the fence, remember that it even includes the original Bayonetta (complete with some snazzy Nintendo-themed gameplay-altering costumes), so you’re getting two of the best button mashers of the decade in one package.