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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#3

I’m looking forward to tonight. I’m meeting my cousins at my parents house tonight to play some Nintendo games & eat pizza. My parents recently moved and their new house has this legit home theater room. I was fortunate to be allowed to put everything together up there, hooking up the 7.1 surround, hooking up the consoles, running the Internet, etc. It’s an awesome room, complete with comfy couch, mini fridge, & a microwave for popcorn. I’m so glad my nieces and nephews have an awesome room to play in but let’s be honest, I also love being up there myself as well! We usually end up playing Smash Bros, 3 stock no items because we are professionals haha. My absolute favorite character in the game is the Animal Crossing Villager. Videogames look incredible on the giant screen up there. So yeah, I’m super looking forward to that. Hanging out with cousins & playing Nintendo is something I enjoyed as a kid, still enjoy today, and hopefully will enjoy even as I get older.

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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Why I love the 3DS

3dsI have been wanting to write about the Nintendo 3DS for a while now. In some ways, I believe it gets lost in the conversation amongst all of the talk about smartphones and tablets. It’s subpar launch certainly didn’t help things either. But as of late, I really think the system is hitting it’s stride. I have certainly enjoyed using mine lately. So how did the 3DS turn things around and why should you care enough to consider buying one? Let’s go back to the launch of the system. The Nintendo 3DS launched in America on March 27, 2011 for $249.99, which is a lot of money for a handheld system. To add further frustration, Nintendo only released two first party games at launch – The decent Pilotwings Resort and the not so decent Steel Diver, not exactly heavy hitters like Super Mario or The Legend of Zelda. On top of that Nintendo’s eShop, their version of the app store for downloadable games, demos, and movies wasn’t ready for launch. It wasn’t until June later that year that the eShop finally went live for 3DS owners. It’s fairly easy to see how a $250 handheld system with zero must have games and a not quite feature complete OS didn’t exactly take the world by storm in the world of iPod touches, smartphones, and tablets, not to mention Nintendo’s previous handheld, the DS, which was dirt cheap by this point. I  bought a 3Ds on launch day and after a few weeks of Pilotwings and the built in software it basically sat on the table collecting dust. It would occasionally get turned on but not very often. It looked like as great of a success as the DS had been for Nintendo they had really screwed up with the 3DS. Sales were weak and the public was seemingly indifferent towards it. It looked like that maybe the time for dedicated handheld video game systems had passed by. But then Nintendo started to turn things around. On July 28th 2011, just 4 months after it’s release Nintendo dropped the price of the 3DS a substantial $80.00 from $249.99 to $169.99. They apologized for the lack of games and gave everybody who had paid $249.99 for the 3DS twenty free downloadable games (10 NES games & 10 Game Boy Advance games) as a goodwill gesture. The games being released were more frequent and of better quality, the eShop became a great place for cheap downloadable games as well as classic Game Boy and NES games which could be bought cheaply, and sales dramatically improved. On August 19th 2012 Nintendo released the 3DS XL in North America. I traded in my launch 3DS for a shiny blue 3DS XL on that day and am extremely happy with it. Boasting dramatically bigger screens, better battery life, and being much more comfortable to hold, in my opinion it is a superior system in every way. I wholeheartedly recommend the XL if you are on the fence between it and the original. So what is so great about the 3DS? First off is the games. I have grown up playing Nintendo games and will always have a special place in my heart for them. Nintendo’s systems are the only place where you can play these games and the 3DS already has a bunch of good ones. Some of the best ones available now are Super Mario 3D Land, Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon, Mario Kart 7, Professor Layton & The Miracle Mask, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D and quite a few others. There are plenty more on the way too. Just this year will see the release of Animal Crossing New Leaf, Mario and Luigi Dream Team, Pokemon X/Y, The Legend Of Zelda: A Link to the Past 2, and Mario Party, with Yoshi’s Island, Monster Hunter 4, and Super Smash Bros. all coming after this year. There are more games for this system I am looking forward to than the rest of them combined. That’s not even mentioning any of the downloadable games either (My downloadable picks are HarmoKnight, Gunman Clive, Pushmo, and Mutant Mudds). Another thing I like about the 3DS are the built in social features, most notably StreetPass. StreetPass works when you are walking around with your 3DS closed. When you pass by another person with a 3DS both people get notified the next time they open up their systems. Their Mii will visit your 3DS and your Mii will visit theirs. You can use people’s Miis to help play mini games built into the system and to collect Nintendo themed puzzle pieces. It sounds strange but it is quite addicting. I recently went to the Dallas Comic-Con and brought my 3DS where I received many StreetPasses. It was really cool seeing the people, where they were from, and what they had been playing. I guess to summarize it all up, if you grew up with Nintendo and haven’t recently paid them any attention, check out the 3DS. It is a great little system and has really turned itself around. The last numbers I could find were about 31 million units sold. This thing isn’t going anywhere, and there are a lot of great games still to come. Mine certainly hasn’t gathered dust in a long time now. Now if only Nintendo could turn around the Wii U……..