Published on January 18th, 2017 | by Cactus
First impressions of Nintendo’s Switch line-up
The Nintendo Switch is currently just over the horizon, heralding a new generation of games in 2017. As a Nintendo fan, it’s almost hard to ignore the level of hype around this thing, and the company itself is doing a lot to fan those flames. Last weekend, Nintendo Australia were kind enough to let me and fellow GameBug writer Kingy behind closed doors to see if the Switch was all its cracked up to be. As of next week, the two of us will be publishing a double feature containing both of our extended thoughts about the new console. However a console is nothing without games to play on it, and thoughts on the Switch would mean nothing without a basic understanding of the launch line-up. It’s time for some speed dating, video game style.
1, 2, SWITCH!
1,2, SWITCH is a collection of mini-games for 2 (or potentially more) players. It utilises the Switch’s ‘Joy-Cons’, which are two miniature controllers that can be detached from the main controller. These allow the player to perform tasks such as swinging a sword, cracking a safe or even milking a cow. 1, 2, SWITCH was the first game we played on the Switch, though due to the set up of the room we were in it was very easy to jump back in to play another mini game. The game itself felt just like that; something very simple and approachable, but build more towards shorter play sessions. The game feels like the Wii Sports of the Switch; it shows off the major console innovations very well, but based on the 3 mini games we were able to play I don’t get the sense of it having a large longevity to it. However, the idea of gameplay centred away from the screen is a novel idea and could potentially lead to many more innovative designs in the areas of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality games. All up I enjoyed my time with it.
Arms is the newest first party title from Nintendo to be appearing on the Switch. In game, players use the aforementioned Joy-Cons in order to box, either in single or multi-player. The player assumes the role of one of 5 boxers, each with different strengths, weaknesses, and extendable spring arms (yeah). Arms uses the motion controls in the Joy-Cons in order for players to fight one another, as well as move around the boxing ring. In my experience of the game, I found that using the Joy-Cons to punch was actually incredibly responsive. I never felt as though the motion control was failing to register my motions accurately, as was the case in Wii Sports. Early in Kingy and I realised we could block each other’s punches by hitting them out of the air (again, the arms are on extendable springs), and the fact that we were able to precisely time and aim these block-punches really shows how far Nintendo’s motion controls have come. In addition to this, Nintendo’s signature artistic style is all over this game. To put it bluntly, beating up your friends has never looked this pretty. One minor gripe is that while fighting feels quite responsive, moving around the ring is a little more challenging. Tilting the Joy-Cons in the direction you want to move just doesn’t feel intuitive enough to me. I never felt as though I had no control over my character, but the fluidity of motion found in the combat was definitely absent. All up it’s potentially a minor problem caused by lack of experience, and only minorly distracts from how great the rest of the game is.
At the event, we played 2 racing games, Fast RMX (sequel to Fast Racing Neo) and MarioKart 8 Deluxe (sequel to MarioKart 7, only Deluxe). While I am sure many a reader will hope for an in-depth analysis of MarioKart, the only real difference I noted is that now you can hold two items instead of one. It’s groundbreaking I know. On the other side of the spectrum was Fast RMX, a game about high-speed hovercar racing. The racers control very well and the graphical capacity of the Switch made travelling at high speeds very rewarding. In addition to its brilliant fast passed gameplay, the racers each feature a colour switching mechanic. When orange, orange boosters will accelerate you, while blue will decelerate, and visa-verse. While the game was very simple, it had a nice arcadey feel to it which lead to some intense races between Kingy and myself. I’m not normally one for racing games, but this was a surprise hit for me on the day. It feels approachable but has the potential for a lot of nuance in its mechanics.
Splatoon is 3rd person shooter by Nintendo. In Splatoon you and your fellow players aim to try and paint as much of the gameplay area in your teams colour by spreading it with paint rollers or paintball guns. All the while the other team is trying to do the same. At the end of the round whichever team has the most of the arena in their colour wins. Splatoon 2 is that … again. In all seriousness, I found Splatoon 2 quite enjoyable, but attempting to distinguishing it from the first game is a little difficult (mainly because I haven’t played it). I thought that the concept was executed nicely, and the feeling of indirect competition between teams is new in shooters. But of course, all this is applicable to the first game. In doing some research it seems as though Splatoon 2 is more focused on adding more content and fixing some of the issues that plagued Splatoon 1 rather than making a completely new stand alone game. Beyond that, it’s difficult to say much about my experience with this game without it sounding like a review for Splatoon 1. All up I enjoyed playing it
In SnipperClips you and a buddy control two sheets of anthropomorphic pieces of paper, each of which have the ability to overlap each other, and cut one another into different shapes based on said overlap. The idea of the game is to co-op your way through a series of puzzles, using the reshaping ability of your characters to perform tasks like pushing buttons, throwing balls, and attempting to catch pencils until the demo timer runs out (ok, maybe that was just us). The game uses two of the Joy –Cons as controllers, the idea being that only one console is required to play the game. Reshaping your body to solve puzzles is definitely an interesting mechanic, and the controls help make this concept incredibly easy to understand and manipulate. I’m always a fan of games trying new things, this idea was done very well. So long as it isn’t murder on the consoles portable battery life, I can imagine this would be a great game for long outings with friends.
Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers.
With it being well over 15 years old, everyone should be familiar with Street Fighter II. After all, it is considered to be one of the greatest fighting games of all time. Ultra Street Fighter II is an updated version of it for the Nintendo Switch. As well as having all the updated content from Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, Ultra Street Fighter II adds 2 new characters (being Evil Ryu and Violent Ken), as well as a switchable graphical style. Similarly to the Halo rereleases, at a push of the button, you can flip between the original style of Street Fighter II and a new set of hand drawn animations that look simply stunning. But yeah, it’s Street Fighter II, just newer.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The highlight of the event was the chance to play the latest instalment in one of Nintendo’s flagship series: The Legend of Zelda. The Zelda series has had a rocky few years on consoles, with many complaining that the previous two instalments have been somewhat of a letdown. At the event, I myself was quite curious as to how this new Zelda would play in comparison to the others. In contrast to all but the original 2 games, Breath of the Wild has abandoned the linearity of the series and has gone for an open world approach. Lest we can tell, the world of Hyrule is open to you to explore at your leisure, and that world is marvellous! Putting aside that the game looks, sounds and feels beautiful, our interactions in this small chunk of the world where breathtaking. Simply put, the number of things you can interact with is staggering. Not only did Kingy and I find strange little quirks in the open world, but every other journalist at the event did as well. NPCs seem to interact with the smallest actions you do. In Skyrim, a character won’t notice if you have put a bucket on their head. For a game this is somewhat expected – the developers can’t program for everything. In Breath of the Wild, Kingy picked up a torch that belonged to a nearby old man, who promptly asked him what he intended to do with it. When Kingy replied ‘Burn Stuff’, he gave a hearty chuckle. That same NPC mentioned something to me about apples when I climbed a tree to pick one just near his hovel. The open world has all the little detail that you would imagine Nintendo would take the effort to put in. Another nice detail is that all enemies drop their weapons when killed (or sometimes just hit hard enough). These weapons can be picked up and used by Link for as long as they are in a decent condition. Even if you have never played a Zelda game before, I think there is a lot of really interesting aspects to this game, which could go a long way to making this game feel like a genuine adventure rather than a series of interconnected dungeons. I plan to keep a keen eye on Breath of the Wild; it might just be the renaissance the series needs.
Come back to GameBug next week for our double feature on our thoughts on the Nintendo Switch console!