Finally Switching My Nintendo Switch

nintendo switch golf story 1
I thoroughly enjoyed Golf Story’s sense of humor

Indie Games Perfectly Pair with Portability

Needless to say, I was excited when I got my hands on a Nintendo Switch a few short months ago. I loved the versatility of it being both a home console and a portable. I then proceeded to play about 120 hours of Legend of Zelda, with only around 5 of those hours being as a portable. It was a similar breakdown for both Mario Kart Deluxe and Splatoon 2. The experiences just felt too grand for the small screen, especially in Hyrule. I wasn’t sure if the portable mode would always be just a novelty for me, until the flood of indies started arriving. Continue reading “Finally Switching My Nintendo Switch”

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Jotun – Catch Up Gaming

Jotun video game art 1
The first of many epic views of the world in Jotun

Jotun is a Gorgeous Exploration of Norse Legend

Jotun was announced and then later released in 2015 by Thunder Lotus Games, I only recently got around to pulling it from my backlog. I got the Valhalla Edition on Steam and played through it in time for its second anniversary. As you can see from the image above, Jotun’s most distinct feature is a beautiful, hand drawn art style. The game also features a wonderful balance of rich storytelling and challenging battles. Continue reading “Jotun – Catch Up Gaming”

Craft Games and Indie Beer

Independent-Craft-Brewer-seal indie megaboothIndependence in Beer and Gaming

I work in the beer industry and follow the games industry. I have passion for each, and there’s more in common with them than you might think. Craft beer is produced by small and independent breweries that want to brew good beer and build a community. Indie game makers are small teams inspired to make something that they’ve dreamed up that isn’t out there. Both are characterized by passion. While you can make money in each of these endeavors, that’s never the main drive. It’s a need to create and a passion for the craft that keeps people going. Continue reading “Craft Games and Indie Beer”

My Journey to Get a Nintendo Switch

nintendo switch launch zelda

How I Managed to Get a New Nintendo

I felt pretty stupid trying as hard as I did to get a Nintendo Switch, that in and of itself says something about the new console and the company behind it.

My anticipation about Nintendo’s new console grew as it’s March 3rd release approached. Unfortunately, I was not stoked enough about the console to pre-order it in the few minutes it was available after their February presentation, which soon became an issue. I typically don’t pre-order anything. I’m get excited about new tech, but I’m not an early adopter. I skipped the Wii U though, and my Wii has been neglected for years, so I was excited about Nintendo’s next move.

Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t​ the only one. I wasn’t interested in waiting hours in line on launch night, and many fans were. When I visited a few stores around Boulder on launch day, my hopes were unfulfilled. This is the definition of a first world problem, but it felt weird to not be able to throw money at a product I was excited about. Much like the NES Classic, supplies have been extremely constrained, and still are.

Nintendo Fanboy-ism

I picked up the phone and started making calls. Most of the stores around knew they were getting more Switches, but could not speak to exactly when. But, through perseverance and luck, I would randomly get in touch with an employee who somehow knew more than everyone else, or was just willing to say more. These random people gave me the clues I was hoping for.

Unfortunately, I again underestimated the enthusiasm around the console.

My first clue let me to the local GameStop on what I believe was a Wednesday. I rode up on my bike about an hour and a half before they opened. I wasn’t planning on waiting, I just I was already out and curious if there was a line. There was. I chatted with the only person in line who didn’t look completely miserable, though he did look cold. He told me that he heard they were getting six. There were already six people in line, and apparently there had been for hours. The guy I talked to had also driven over an hour and gotten there before 7am, and he wasn’t even first in line. It was impressive determination, to just buy a thing. They won this time, they wanted it more than I could justify. As a side note, that GameStop opened at 10am, so those people waited over 3 hours outside, in March, in Colorado. That’s some enthusiasm.

My next tip led me to Target. They open at 8am each day, so I figured there would be less competition. I rolled up at 7:45 and was pleased to see three people in line, two of them being a couple that only intended to buy one console. Surely Target received at least three consoles in their shipment! A manager came out a few minutes before 8 and had to assume we were all there for the Switch. She then handed out two vouchers and informed me that it was a smaller shipment than they expected and there were only two up for sale. She genuinely apologized, and while disappointed, I wasn’t mad. I then rode home and my wife made fun of me, but in a somewhat well-intentioned way.

A few days later, a tip led me to Best Buy a little before they opened. I had heard they had a shipment on the way overnight and there was a truck at their dock. There wasn’t anyone waiting, so it could’ve been my time to shine, but it could also mean I had been misinformed. Luckily two employees came out to vape, this might be the only time vaping has helped someone, and were open to answering my questions. I learned a bit about the bureaucracy of Best Buy logistics and it was my best chance yet. Basically, the Switches could’ve been on the truck, but they have specific employees that unpack trucks who wouldn’t be there until that evening. The Switches could pop up online for in-store pickup, or could just hit shelves either that evening or the next morning. I was working that night, but I set an in-stock alert for the store on my phone and hoped for the best.

Nothing popped that night. As far as I could tell, they were never in stock, but that wasn’t guaranteed. They might’ve just not come up online and been sold in the store. I figured it was worth the 5 minute bike ride to go check it out the following morning.

I rolled up about 20 minutes before they opened and there was one person there. She was, somewhat humorously, standing with her face about 3 inches from the front door and bopping to some music. Well, that made me second in line, so hopefully they got two of them…

Another guy rolled up on his bike a few minutes before they opened, making the grand total three people. Not quite the numbers that GameStop drew a week ago, but it’s still people waiting for a store to open, which is kind of ridiculous. The doors opened and the vape guy from the previous morning saw me and said they had three on the shelf, perfect! The other bike guy was so excited he forgot to get a game before he went to check out, well the game given he attach rate. It also turned out that the person waiting mere inches from the doors that morning wasn’t even there for a Switch, so some people do just show up before stores open just for the hell of it.

I got it home with a few hours left until work to get my adventure in Hyrule started. The throwback of not waiting for a game to install is pretty incredible.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds in Light of Breath of the Wild

the legend of zelda a link between worlds
Image courtesy of Nintendo

I Finally Played A Link Between Worlds

With all of the excitement around the Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I decided to bite the bullet and pick up The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for my new 2DS. I was trying to hold off to find a deal on it but, since its widely regarded as one of the best games on Nintendo 3DS, I figured it was worth the full price. The fact that all of the desirable 3DS games are still the price they were released at years down the line is an issue for another day.

 

Long story short, I loved a Link Between Worlds. It’s an awesome throwback to A Link to the Past for longtime fans while it’s structured completely differently from anything else in the series. Everyone reading this is probably aware, but items in ALBW are rented from a loveable but strict entrepreneur rather than discovered in dungeons. As you’d imagine, access to all of the game’s items from the start allows you to tackle the dungeons in any order that you please. With this innovation being a main feature in the most recent game, I’m pretty excited for what it could mean in the “open world” of Breath of the Wild.

the legend of zelda breath of the wild title screen
Image courtesy of Nintendo

Nintendo Breathing New Life into the Legend

With Nintendo’s message around BoTW being so focused on its open world and parallels to the original Legend of Zelda, the structure presented in a Link Between Worlds becomes even more interesting. The most recent BoTW trailer featured a ton of characters in the game that we’d never seen before and some set pieces that insinuate a more gritty story of the Legend. We’ve seen items in game, but don’t yet know how they’re acquired. I know that a Link Between Worlds didn’t get nearly the support and funding that BoTW has, but in light of all of this, Nintendo even trying something new in the well-worn Zelda formula on a small scale gets me more excited about BoTW.

 

Games media keeps harping on the fact that Zelda isn’t the system seller that its hardcore fan-base thinks it is, and the number of copies of Link Between Worlds supports that truth. Even though it didn’t set any sales records for Nintendo, it’s widely regarded as one of the best titles on the 3DS, a console known for its stellar library. The critical and fan reception of a Link Between Worlds, including heaps of praise for its departure from the tried and true Zelda formula, hopefully was not overlooked by Nintendo while developing BoTW.

 

Nintendo is betting big on the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as a Launch title for the Switch. Even with more launch titles emerging for the Switch as its launch approaches, Zelda is assuredly a main driver for pre-orders of the system. I love going back to classic Zelda and am looking forward to replaying Ocarina of Time on my new 2DS, but I’m fascinated by the idea of Nintendo swinging for the fences and going in a whole new direction with the latest game in the series. I guess we’ll know how much it harkens back to the origins of the Legend of Zelda soon enough.

Nintendo Switch Joy-Con[cerns]

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Image courtesy of Nintendo

Complications with Nintendo Joy-Con

I’m still pretty excited about the Nintendo Switch. I’ve been reading a ton about it, despite there not being too much info to cover. Their presentation may have soured some of the enthusiasm around the launch, but I’m still intrigued and excited about the potential. I haven’t pre-ordered one, although I’ve thought about it. I might have if it wasn’t so damn difficult to do so. I’m just hoping that we won’t have any of the supply chain issues that have plagued the NES classic.

With all of my interest in the system, I do have some concerns. I love Nintendo as a company. I have a lot of nostalgia for them, like so many others, but I never bought a Wii U and when the Wii I have was relevant, I played way more Xbox 360. I still come to Nintendo for some very specific things though. They ignited my passion for gaming, and still produce experiences like few others can. There’s still no other way to scratch that Mario or Legend of Zelda itch without them. I love their games, and I’m fascinated by the potential of the Switch hardware, but I give no shits about HD rumble.

nintendo switch joy-con IR blaster feature
Image courtesy of Nintendo

Lacking Focus

I love the promise of a single console that I can take with me on a trip, or play on my TV at home. The aspect of adaptability is awesome and widely appealing, but one console for everything instead of a home and portable. The Joy-con seem great whether attached to the tablet or the grip, and provide precise and responsive controls for any kind of game. I also appreciate that they have some motion control features so that we can relive the days of Wii sports with friends, in some facet at least. But, the fact that they crammed enough tech into these joy-con that they need to charge $50 for what is essentially half of a traditional controller is concerning.

I want the function and adaptability of being able to slide them onto the tablet, or a grip, so that I can play on  the go or in my living room. At this time, that’s where my interest ends. Not only am I not interested in the features beyond those, I have doubts as to how often they’ll actually provide value to players or developers. HD rumble sounds cool, but how will it actually contribute meaningfully to Mario/Zelda/Nindies? I just really can’t see any function that will interest me for more than a few minutes or make a real impression on gamers or developers. Same goes for the incorporated IR blaster, seems like a fun party trick that will never come up again. I know some Nintendo fans are really into Amiibos, but it seems like they rarely, if ever, use NFC to connect them to enable in-game features and are much more likely put them on display. I’ve never heard of a compelling in-game implementation of an Amiibo. I’m open and interested in their use, I just haven’t ever heard of one. It seems like NFC would be a great accessory attachment, but bundling it makes consumers pay for something that they will likely never use.

Flawless Basics, Flawed Extravagance

I love the look and function of Joy-con as controllers, but the functions beyond that seem kind of shit, and it seems remiss that they’re all bundled into those tiny controllers. Maybe the added functions didn’t add much to the cost of the controllers, we’ll probably never know, but they give me doubts. If they had stuck to the initially appealing gimmick of a hybrid console, and not added so many additional quirky gimmicks, could they have shaved a few bucks off the price and made it a no-brainer? Now that they have those features in place, are they going to put most of their effort into finding mass market appeal with motion control games with gimmicks?

I just wanted a new way to play Nintendo games and some indies, and the hybrid console idea got me excited. Virtual console games would sweeten the pot, and local multiplayer games that could support 2 players by splitting the joy-con seem awesome. Everything beyond that shakes my confidence in their focus. The prices of controllers and accessories make me think they’re just trying to pack too much into what could be a simple and streamlined experience. Maybe they’ll reach new customers with those features, but they could easily alienate just as many.

Amazon Prime Offers Nintendo Switch’s Best Deals

amazon prime preoder legend of zelda breath of the wild

Amazon Prime Pre-Orders on Switch Titles

There’s a huge amount of hype flying around after the less than stellar presentation by Nintendo earlier this week. I haven’t pre-ordered the Nintendo Switch myself yet, although I understand why so many have given Nintendo’s well known supply chain issues. The Switch is set to release in just a few weeks on March 3rd, 2017, and pre-orders are live for not only the Switch, but also for a number of announced titles for the game. Here’s where a certain benefit of Amazon Prime might be even more significant than it is for any other console.

I recently received a Nintendo 2DS for Christmas from my sister, I’m having a great time, but there is a catch. As with any Nintendo system, they don’t annualize games, so there is one version of Smash and one Mario Kart. These titles are great, my system came with Mario Kart 7, but they also never get any cheaper. Games that have been out for years are still $40 on the 2DS, and the system itself was only $80. As a Nintendo fan who skipped the Wii U, and the 3Ds until recently, this can be a hard pill to swallow. Here’s where Amazon Prime comes in to vacuum up even more of your dollars.

20% is a Hefty Discount on Nintendo Titles

Amazon Prime offers 20% off pre-orders of games. Pre-orders are huge in the video game industry,  for the business side at least, but not very consumer friendly. There aren’t any bearings for the quality of the games that you’re giving companies a free loan for. Marketing alone often sells pre-orders and then gamers often feel burned by the final product. As such, I’m generally against it unless you personally feel that the game is a sure thing. I pre-ordered Dark Souls 3 so I could pre-load it and had no regrets The last game I pre-ordered prior to that was the original Call of Duty: Black Ops though, and that was just to guarantee a physical copy in the days before easy digital sales.

Here’s where I’m going with all of this

Amazon is offering the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for 20% off if you pre-order it. I’m not alone in saying that this is as close to a sure thing as you can get in gaming quality. This game has been delayed for years and become a launch title for what could be the last Nintendo console if it flops. Nintendo is betting big on the Legend of Zelda, and hopefully, it’s for good reason.

dont preorder video games nintendo switch though
With this in mind, this could be the cheapest you can possibly buy a copy of Breath of the Wild at retail for years. I remember Skyward Sword going for $50 at retail long after the Wii was relevant, and being hard to find on top of that. 5 years later, it’s still $43 and change on Amazon. So, if you pre-order Breath of the Wild, you’re only spending $5 more than a 5 year old game, that’s how Nintendo games work. If you’re excited about the Switch and Zelda, this might be the most appropriate time to pre-order ever.