The Nintendo Switch

I got a Nintendo Switch on launch day and now that I have had it for a little over a week, I wanted to give my impressions on the hardware as well as the software that I have played so far. Please note that these impressions are from a lifelong Nintendo fan who has owned every system since the NES.

I have been excited for the Switch ever since Nintendo released their first video for it last year. I read and watched everything that I could building up to the release. I preordered it the day that preorders opened up as well. I also went with a buddy of mine to PAX South in San Antonio early this year, where Nintendo was showing off the Switch to the public for one of the first times. We loved it so much that we waited in the line twice so we could play everything that we wanted! I even lined up with the same friend at Best Buy for the midnight launch to get our games and accessories. So you can imagine my excitement on Friday, March 3rd when I picked up my shiny new Switch from UPS! Below are my likes and dislikes with the Switch itself as well as the games that I have played over the last week.

Hardware

Likes

  • I really like the neon version of the Switch that I picked up, it just has more character than the gray version in my opinion. The colors of the neon red and neon blue Joy Con controllers just really pop.
  • I love the speed of the Switch software! Compared to the slowness of both the Wii U and 3DS’ operating systems, the Switch OS is super fast. Switching between the home menu and the game you are playing is super quick, as is putting the Switch to sleep and waking it back up. Also, the day one patch for the Switch downloaded and installed in less than a minute for me! I don’t believe I ever had an update for the Wii U that didn’t take at least 10-15 minutes to download and install.
  • I was also pleasantly surprised with how quick you can go from TV mode when the Switch is docked to handheld mode when you un-dock it. It happens within a second I would say!
  • I absolutely love the Pro Controller that I picked up along with the Switch. I fell in love with it the first time I used it at PAX South. In my opinion, it is the best controller Nintendo has made so far. It has the perfect weight, great battery life, perfect stick placement, and all of the Amiibo functionality, HD rumble, and motion controls of the other controllers built in. Yes, it is expensive, but to me it is worth the price.
  • Lastly, I just really like the premise of this system. It is great to be able to have a home console that you can also take with you wherever, whether that is on a trip, to the park, or just to the recliner in your living room. I love that with the two Joy Con controllers that it comes with, you are set up for co-op games right out of the box too. Battery life has been fine for me as well. I know people complain about it getting just around 3 hours playing Zelda but have these people ever played with a 3DS? I have had multiple 3DS’ for years and that’s about what I get with them as well. Would I like it to be more, absolutely. But with a full time job and a baby at home, I’m not really ever at the point where I am playing this thing un-docked for 3 hours straight. If you do, the Switch conveniently charges via USB-C, so you can always just get an external battery pack to prolong your play sessions.

Dislikes

  • The kickstand on the back of the Switch is just terrible. The sound it makes when you open it is terrible, the angle it puts the Switch at is terrible, the flimsiness of it is terrible, and the fact that it will only work on a hard, flat surface is terrible. What was Nintendo thinking with this thing? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • The Joy Con straps that Nintendo give you to slide onto the left and right Joy Cons are pretty badly designed. First off, you can easily put them on the wrong way if you are not really paying attention. When you do put them on wrong, the pressure you have to apply to them to remove them makes it feel like you are going to break the controller. Secondly, even when you get them on right, they still are not smooth or easy to remove at all. I really don’t like these things.
  • The dock itself is super flimsy and hollow feeling. Once you mess with one you wonder why Nintendo charges so much if you want another one. There is hardly anything to it.
  • The Switch operating system, while speedy, is not fully baked. You can add friends but not message with them & the online service Nintendo is building is not going to be ready until much later in the year either. Nintendo has never been known for having an awesome online service but this is extremely bare bones. Here’s hoping that they add more functionality sooner rather than later.
  • I very much disliked the taste of the Nintendo Switch cartridges when I tried one! They taste super gross! See this story for context haha.

Software

Likes

  • Let’s get this out of the way at the very first. The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild is an absolutely amazing game. It is unlike any Zelda game that has come before and allows a since of freedom and exploration that I have rarely seen before. The sheer size of the world and things to do and various ways that you can approach different problems is insane. The fact that after a very brief tutorial at the beginning of the game, that you can then just go anywhere and start exploring is such a cool concept. The only 3 games I can think of that have hooked me in this way in my entire life are Animal Crossing on the GameCube, Pokemon Blue on the Game Boy, and Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64. That’s really it for me, this game is that good. Sure, I have played the majority of the mainline Zelda games but I’m telling you this game is different. This game is special in a way that few are. I find myself thinking about it when I am not playing it and when I am playing it, I am playing it for far longer that I intend to. Throw in the fact that I can play this game at home on my big screen and then need to leave and can just un-dock it and take it with me wherever I go and it just feels magical to me! I know that the Nintendo Switch launch lineup of games is pretty limited but trust me, this game alone is worth buying a Switch for in my opinion.
  • Another game I bought and have really enjoyed is Snipperclips – Cut it out, together!. This is a equally parts cute and clever co-op puzzle game where you are trying to solve puzzles together with your partner. My wife and I have had a ton of fun playing this together, and it is easily worth the $20 price tag in my opinion.
  • I also have bought the Shovel Knight Treasure Trove bundle. I never did play Shovel Knight on any of the platforms it was on previously so this bundle that came with everything was perfect. This is a really fun game that is made in the style of an 8-bit platformer like the ones I grew up playing. It also has co-op play which is something that I can’t wait to try out!

Dislikes

  • I bought Super Bomberman R and so far, I’m not really enjoying it. Now, I have only been playing the single player campaign so far and I know multiplayer is where Bomberman shines, but I have not been super impressed as of now. Maybe playing the campaign in co-op and playing some 4 player multiplayer will redeem it, but I am skeptical. Right now, it would be hard for me to recommend it, at least at its current price. It has a terrible camera angle, mediocre music, and some pretty bad slowdown as well.

Miscellaneous

  • I purchased Nintendo’s other launch game: 1-2-Switch, but have not got the chance to play it yet. I mostly bought it to play with my wife and friends but just have not had the chance to play it so far.
  • Some of the games I am very much looking forward to are: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in April, Splatoon 2 this summer, and of course, Super Mario Odyssey this winter.
  • Sales numbers so far for the Switch have been promising and anecdotally, it seems like there is much more talk and interest in the Nintendo Switch than the poor Wii U ever had. I sure hope it is a success for Nintendo. They could really use another hit after the disappointing sales of the Wii U. I personally don’t want to ever live in a world where Nintendo stops making their own hardware. Nobody makes quality, fun filled, family friendly games as well as interesting hardware quite like Nintendo does.
  • These are my initial impressions of the Switch so far. I am looking forward to playing it much more over the coming weeks and meeting up with some buddies of mine that also bought Switches and playing some multiplayer games.

Thanks for reading!

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My First Youtube Upload

Hey guys I posted my first video to YouTube today. It’s a time-lapse of the Brazos River in Waco, TX shot from the McLane Stadium Pedestrian Bridge. I shot it with my iPhone 6 Plus and edited it in iMovie. It’s really amazing the things we can do with the phones in our pockets these days. I hope you enjoy it. If you do it would be super rad if you subscribed to my channel. I plan on shooting more videos around my town.

Feedly + Pocket

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I wanted to share how I keep up with reading all of my favorite sites online. Years ago I would bookmark all of my go-to sites and periodically check in on them to see what was new. This works ok but it is cumbersome and you miss out on things. There are the sites that post so many stories everyday that you can’t help but miss something and then there are the smaller sites that post infrequently and you inevitably forget to keep checking on them. You end up missing out on some really great content. Then there is the other problem of finding stories you are interested in but not having time to read them at the moment. You leave the site and then forget about the article. This sucks. Feedly and Pocket solve both of these problems pretty much perfectly for me and best of all they are free to use.

Feedly

Feedly is a RSS reader that is free to use and ensures you never miss an article from any of your favorite sites. Simply sign up for an account & add all of your favorite sites to it. Feedly will then keep track of everything and list every new article that gets posted to sites you added. Then you simply check out your Feedly feed when convenient and scan through all of the articles. When you are done just mark all as read at the bottom and you have a blank slate until more articles are posted. This solves the problem of missing out on articles from the sites you like. Feedly also offers apps on iPhone, iPad, & Android. You can also sign into your Feedly account on a number of 3rd party apps, Reeder being my favorite.

Pocket

Pocket solves my second problem of finding a great article online but not having time to read it right then. This happens to me all of the time. With a free Pocket account you can save any article you come across online and it will be saved for viewing later in a nice clean format and even cached for offline reading. You can save an article to Pocket in a variety of ways. You can add a button to your web browser that saves whatever article you are viewing with one click. You can bring up the share sheet on iOS and save whatever article you have brought up. You can email an article to your special Pocket email address and it will be saved for you. Pocket makes it very simple to save an article to your account.

Using these two services has completely changed how I find articles to read online and also how I read those articles. I typically check my Feedly feed on my iPhone and iPad throughout the day and save anything that looks interesting to Pocket with the handy save to Pocket button offered in the app. Then when I have free time to relax and read I go through my Pocket queue and enjoy all of those articles on my own schedule in the nice clean format that Pocket puts them in. This has been fantastic for me. It can also be great when you are really busy or on vacation as well. Don’t have time to check the web for a couple of days? All of those articles will be waiting for you in your RSS feed when you come back. I hope that this article may help somebody give a RSS service as well as a read it later service a try. There are plenty more out there if Feedly or Pocket aren’t your cup of tea but any of them sure beat doing things the old way.

Links To The Past

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Welcome to another edition of Links To The Past. Here are some links I have found interesting over the past few weeks.

  • I’m not a fan of hockey but this GoPro footage of NHL players is pretty cool.
  • I really enjoyed this article about why you should buy a nice camera as opposed to just using your phone for all of your pictures. I am really glad I bought my mirrorless camera as it is really nice to have for trips and special occasions.
  • Walt Mossberg wrote a terrific article about riding the tech treadmill. As a tech enthusiast, I find myself getting caught up in this all too often.
  • Klay Thompson scored 37 points the other night… in the 3rd quarter alone. You can watch all of his baskets here.
  • Lastly, this longtime Mac user bought a PC for his kid and wrote about it. There’s something to be said for Apple’s simplicity.

That’s it for this one. Thanks for reading!

Links To The Past

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Hello and welcome to another installment of Links to the Past.

  • App Santa has another great list of discounted apps. The sale lasts through December 26th. Standouts for me are Deliveries, Tweetbot, & Launch Center Pro.
  • Brad & Dallas Woodhouse are brothers and on opposite political sides. They are arguing on C-Span when they get an unexpected caller to the show. “Oh no it’s mom”
  • Lego Ideas is an awesome site where people can submit ideas for Lego sets and if they get enough votes, Lego will look into possibly making and selling the set. I really hope this Pokemon Center gets released!
  • Interesting article here on what kind of phone you can get for $30 in India.
  • I didn’t even know there was a competitive Amazon reviewing scene but it’s even crazier than you could imagine!

Hope everyones has a great weekend. Until next time!

Happy 20th PlayStation!

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The Sony PlayStation, released December 3rd 1994 in Japan, turns 20 years old today. I grew up with the PlayStation and thought I would reminisce about it for a little while.

I came late to the PlayStation party as I was pretty die hard into Nintendo at the time. I had grown up with a NES, SNES, Game Boy, Virtual Boy (yes, really), & N64. It got to the point with the N64 where the quality games being released for it were few and far between due to lack of good 3rd party games. The good games that did come out, mostly by Nintendo & Rare, were also really expensive, due to Nintendo’s undying support of expensive cartridges. Not having a job at this point in my life really made the PlayStation with it’s amazing library of 1st & 3rd party games as well as the much cheaper prices for it’s CD based games very attractive. I received my PlayStation from my parents for my birthday and still own it to this day.

I would love to take a minute now and comment on a few of my favorite games. I will not be able to list them all but will talk about the ones I absolutely loved the most.

  • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1,2, & 3 – This game was everything to me as a kid. I played it countless hours and with every character to unlock all the videos (especially the bails videos!). I bought a skateboard, skateboard shoes and clothes, skateboard magazines, & skateboard DVDs all because of these games. Later games in the series lost their way but the originals still hold up to this day. Also- Superman by Goldfinger is still a jam!
  • Spyro the Dragon 1, 2, & 3 – Before they were making Ratchet & Clank, Resistance, & Sunset Overdrive, Insomniac Games was making the best 3D platformers on the system starring a cute dragon names Spyro. I loved and completed all three of these games.
  • Parappa the Rapper & Umjammer Lammy – Two of the greatest music games ever released, these two games by Japanese developer NanaOn-Sha are absolutely fantastic. It had an unforgettable cast of characters, Instructor Mooselini & Chop Chop Master Onion being two of my favorites. I still find myself listening to the soundtracks from these games today.
  • NFL Blitz – There will never be another game like this one. NBA Jam but for football, this game was perfect. I played so many hours of this game as a kid. Learning all the secret codes, late hits, & throwing the ball to the running back who throws it back to you who jumps to avoid the sack and throws the ball while in the air to a receiver for a touchdown who then celebrates by pretending to ride a horse (complete with whinnying) was just a standard play in this game. Magical!
  • Sled Storm – I haven’t played this game in a while but I know 13 year old me sure loved it. Playing split screen with my buddy while Dragula played in the background was just pure nineties enjoyment.
  • Dance Dance Revolution & Dance Dance Revolution Konamix – I loved the two Dance Dance Revolution games released on the PlayStation. I traded in some games to my local game store to buy a dance pad, hooked up my boombox speakers to my TV, closed my bedroom door, and straight up learned this game. I’m sure I looked ridiculous but it all paid off when our local arcade got a Dance Dance Revolution machine and I could dance like a boss on it! …Or maybe not but that’s how I remember it!
  • Ape Escape – The first game to require the DualShock controller. Ape Escape was awesome! From the light-saber like stun sword, to being able to see all the crazy details about each individual monkey, and best of all unlocking the twin stick shooter minigame Galaxy Monkey, this game was a ton of fun.
  • Spider-Man – One of the few great superhero games and developed by Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater developer Neversoft, Spider-Man on the PlayStation is an incredible game. Narrated by Stan Lee and with tons of great villains to fight & costumes to unlock, this game raised the bar for licensed superhero games.

So that’s a few of my favorite games for the original PlayStation. In celebration of this anniversary, Sony is releasing a special edition PlayStation 4 styled after the original PlayStation and it looks really nice. I would love to at least get one of the controllers. Here’s to you PlayStation, may you enjoy another 20 years of success!

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Links To The Past

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Welcome to another edition of Links to the Past! Enjoy!

  • We’ll start with this video a guy secretly filmed of his wife rapping in the car. Reminds me of my wife way too much!
  • Next we have an article about the excellent podcast Serial. If you haven’t started listening to Serial yet you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.
  • I would absolutely love to go on a shopping spree with Eddie Cue form Apple! This is an interesting video of what it’s like to use Apple Pay.
  • This man actually found the needle in the haystack! Pretty interesting what passes for art these days. Article here.
  • Finally, you know what’s not selling like hot cakes? Hot cakes

Enjoy your weekend everybody!