Nintendo Switch

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is good, clean, butt-kicking fun

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After a few days with the game, I’m no expert. Hell, I’m not even entirely sure I’m confident enough to take on all comers. I am, however, most definitely hooked. This scrappy little gaming upstart just might have a future ahead of it, after all.

I admit that I’ve not played a Smash Bros. title in…well, it’s been a while, aside from the little bit of game time I’ve had with Ultimate in various demos since the game was unveiled at E3 earlier this year. If you find yourself in a similar boat, the title plays like a fun bit of chaos out of the box.

Try to remember just how much Nintendo managed to pack into previous installments. Now multiply that by a few orders of magnitude, and you should begin to approximate how much is packed into a single screen for Ultimate. I recommend playing the first couple of rounds alone in the comfort of your own home, where no one can make fun of you.

After a few times knocked into the abyss, however, this will come back to you. The button scheme, the combos, how to rebound after some adorable Pokémon hurls you over the side like a mustachioed rag doll.

Of course, one of the series’ hallmarks has always been its ability to appeal to the button mashers as much as the hardcore gaming crowd. That holds with Ultimate. You can still inflict a fair bit of damage on the opposing side with some ham-handed controller slamming. Heck, with enough finesse, you might even trick them into believing you’ve got some clue about what you’re doing.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, be prepared to be overwhelmed. One of the fundamental keys to Nintendo’s prolonged success is maintaining the basic building blocks of IP, while upping the ante with each subsequent interaction. Like Zelda Breath of Wild and Super Mario Galaxy, Nintendo’s done its best to make the title as expansive as possible. Of course, that plays out quite different with a fighting game than an open-ended sandbox title.

Here that means a ridiculous 74 characters at launch (including downloadable content). The list includes all characters from past versions, with several new additions. The series has always played into that old fanfic favorite of getting all of your favorite characters in one place to beat the ever-living snot out each. With Ultimate, the selection spans a broad array of popular franchises, including Mario, Zelda, Street Fighter, Metroid, Sonic, Mega Man, Pokémon and Donkey Kong.

The list goes on and on and on, but here’s a pretty handy guide, including in which installment a given character was introduced.

Ultimate also features modes galore. The basic, however, is the most familiar. Simply stated, you choose a stage and a fighter and do whatever you can to knock your opponent off the platform. The more times you connect, the more damage you do — and the more likely you are to deplete their life force with every subsequent toss.

The stages (100 in all) themselves are as diverse as the fighters, each playing out like a love letter to Nintendo’s past. And there are some pretty deep cuts, from the Living Room in Nintendogs to a level of the 1984 primary colored Pac-Man arcade title, Pac-Land (I could’ve sworn I was the last person alive who had any recollection of that game).

The levels are as dynamic as the fighters. That ranges from the simple speeding freight in Zelda’s Spirit Train, to, in many cases, having the ground seismically shift beneath your feet. The touches are clever in many cases, including Dream Land GB (Game Boy) and Flat Zone X (Game & Watch), which maintain the monochrome screens of their predecessors and allow you to play in — and in some cases around — the old-school console. The developers appear to have had every bit as fun designing the levels as players will have playing them.

Add to that a huge arsenal of items, from Pokeballs to Nintendogs who temporarily block the action, and you’ve got a lot jam-packed into a single frame. Sure, one of the Switch’s best features is the ability to play on the go, but you’re really going to want to experience this thing plugged into a bigger screen.

Between stages, you’ll find yourself pitted against a new challenger. Defeat them in a quick one-on-one, and they’ll be added to your roster. Lose, and they’ll come around for another challenge later on.

A few days in, and I’ve barely even begun to scratch the service on this thing. Devin’s getting ready to do a much deeper dive on the title, including the half-dozen different modes, featuring things like Spirits, collectable characters that add attack and defense bonuses to your fighters.

Sure, things don’t always turn out well when nerds get exactly what they want, but Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is fan service in the best possible sense of the term. The title offers longtime Nintendo devotees exactly what they’re looking for — and then some.

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Nintendo Switch forecasted to outsell the PS4 in 2019

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The Switch has been a monster hit for Nintendo by nearly every measure. The convertible console is precisely the success the company needed after a few years in the wilderness following the Wii U flop and smartphone foot-dragging.

Strategy Analytics predicts more good things for the platform, predicting that Nintendo will surpass Sony in console sales next year. The margins are admittedly pretty thin, with Nintendo selling 17.3 million Switches to Sony’s 17.1 million PS4/PS4 Pro (Microsoft’s in a distant third here at an even 10 million), but if it holds, it will be an impressive feat nonetheless. 

That number would put Nintendo ahead of the pack for the first time in 10 years, back in the Wii/PS3/Xbox 360 days. The company’s gearing up to release one of the console’s biggest titles yet, with the new Super Smash Bros. due out next week, and rumors have been swirling around update hardware for 2019, which would be pretty standard fare for Nintendo.

While those sales would propel the company to the front of the pack, Sony’s still got a much larger overall user base, accounting for around half of consoles currently in use — an impressive 84 percent of which are PS4s.

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate gets new characters and a social video platform

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn’t out until December 7, but Nintendo’s been doing an admirable job milking the fighting game for announcements since it was unveiled back at E3. The company held another Nintendo Direct this morning, to offer up a few more morsels with about a month to go before launch.

The biggest piece of news here is the launch of Smash World. The platform continues the gaming giant’s recent pivots toward mobile with a video posting service available through the Switch app.

Details are still pretty thin, with the promise of more to be “revealed in the future,” but Nintendo says it will allow players a place to “post and watch videos, as well as other fun features.” Essentially, it’s a way to dip a toe into the smartphone market without going all-in by way of a Smash Bros. mobile game.

Piranha Plant takes root in Super #SmashBrosUltimate! This fighter will be available as a bonus for players who purchase the game between 11/1 & 1/31. This fighter will arrive around February 2019, & look forward to a new #amiibo figure on 2/15 as well!https://t.co/0Jwx7QMtml pic.twitter.com/imjzxuXhZk

Nintendo Versus (@NintendoVS) November 1, 2018

The other big reveal are two additions to the massive 74 starting characters available at launch. Street Fighter’s Ken will be joining sparring buddy, Ryu, along with Pokemon, Incineroar. Oh, and for good measure, Nintendo’s also tossing in the familiar Mario baddie, Piranha Plant via download code for those who order early.

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Super Mario Party is Nintendo Switch’s best game

Posted by | Gaming, Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Party, TC | No Comments

When I bought the Nintendo Switch a few months ago, my friends told me to buy Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. That’s precisely what I did, but none of those games were enough to get me hooked, which is probably for the best.

But then came Super Mario Party, which Nintendo released earlier this month for the Switch. I grew up gaming, but somehow never played Super Mario Party. Well, it seems as if I’ve been missing out my whole life.

Super Mario Party for Nintendo Switch is a quick, pick-up-and-play kind of game. You set the difficulty level, tell the game how much you want to party (ten, fifteen or twenty turns) and that’s how long you’ll party. But be careful playing with your friends or significant others — because it’s bound to stir up people’s competitive nature.

For those who are unfamiliar with Super Mario Party, it’s a digital board game. The name of the game (well, not literally) is to collect the most stars.

This is my character, Bowser Jr., collecting a star like a boss

To collect these stars, you roll one of two dice — a standard one or one that’s unique to your character. Some characters have dice that roll up to ten (like Donkey Kong and Bowser), but that also comes with the risk of not moving at all or losing coins, which you need to buy stars.

After each round, you play a mini-game, where you’re able to earn some more coins. Depending on the game, you’ll need to put your memory, hand-eye coordination or even sense of touch to work. Thankfully, there’s an opportunity to practice before each mini-game.

Throughout the game, there are opportunities to steal coins and stars from people. During my last party, Luigi stole a star from Yoshi (played by my girlfriend) and it wasn’t pretty. Let’s just say profanities were exclaimed.

There are more than 80 minigames available to play — some of which make great use of the Joy Con, the name for the Switch’s detachable controllers.

The party mode has four game boards. My favorite board (that is, the board on which I tend to perform the best, is Megafruit Paradise. Down the road, maybe through a software update of sorts, it’d be great to have more boards to choose from.

Super Mario Party also features a couple of other modes — river survival, where you control a boat with the Joy-Con paddles, a Sound Stage that reminds me of Dance Dance Revolution and mini-game mode, where you just play mini-games.

But in my experience, its the most fun to play the standard party mode. I’ve heard the best way to play the game is with four humans, but I’ve only ever played it with my girlfriend. We’re already both pretty intense about it so I could only imagine what it’d be like to play with two other people. Consider this my open invitation to holler at me to get a party started.

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Nintendo’s ‘souped-up’ NES Zelda loads you with gear for an easier adventure

Posted by | Gadgets, Gaming, Legend of Zelda, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, Switch, zelda | No Comments

Nintendo has set a strange new precedent with the release of Legend of Zelda SP on the Switch: it’s essentially the original NES game but with Link starts loaded up with good gear and cash. In a way it’s no different from a cheat code, but the way it’s executed feels like a missed opportunity.

The game itself (SP stands for “special”) is described by Nintendo in the menu as a “souped up version” of the original: “Living the life of luxury!” It’s a separate entry in the menu with all the other NES games you get as part of the company’s subscription service.

You’re given the white sword, big shield, blue ring and power bracelet, plus 255 rupees to replace that shield when a Like-like eats it. Basically they’ve given you all the stuff you can find on the overworld (including max bombs and keys), but no items you’d get from inside a dungeon. You also have six hearts, and traveling around a little bit I determined these were awarded by raiding nearby hidden areas, not simply assigned. Secret passages are already revealed, and so on.

Because it skips the title screen and save game selection it seems like someone must have essentially played through the game to this point (or more likely edited the values in game RAM) and then walked to the classic starting point and made a save state that automatically loads when you start or reset the game. This means the only way to save is to use the Switch’s built-in save states, not the rather inconvenient save method the game used.

It’s plain enough that this will be a less frustrating way to explore this famously difficult game, but it seems untrue to Zelda’s roots. I understand perhaps gifting the player some of the impossible to find things like a heart hidden inside a random block here or there. Getting some bombs to start is great too, and maybe even the rings (warping is helpful, and the game is pretty punishing, so damage reduction is nice). But the white sword?

For one thing, a player experiencing the game this way misses out on one of the most iconic moments in all gaming — “It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this!” Then the ritual lifting of the wooden sword. And then setting out into the world to die again and again.

And for me, the white sword was always sort of a rite of passage in the game — your first big step toward becoming powerful. You earned it by finding those extra heart containers, perhaps after asking in vain after it before you were ready. Once you have it, you’re cutting through enemies like butter.

To make it the default sword and to skip these steps seems like it causes the player to miss out on what makes Zelda Zelda.

To be fair, it’s not the only version of the game you can play — the original is available, too. But it seems like a missed opportunity. Why not just have a save game you can load with this stuff, so you can continue playing as normal? Why not have the option baked into the launch of the original Zelda — have a couple secret save states ready with differing levels of items?

Nintendo has the opportunity to introduce a new generation to classic NES games here, having provided a rather bare-bones experience with the NES Classic Edition. Why not enhance them? Include the manual, god mode, developer commentary? This is the legacy the company has been stewarding for decades, and what better than to give it the respect it deserves?

I’m probably overthinking it. But this Zelda SP just seems like a rushed job when players would appreciate something like it, just not so heavy-handed. It’s not that these games are inviolable, but that if they’re going to be fiddled with, we’d like to see it done properly.

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A new Nintendo Switch is reportedly arriving next year

Posted by | Gaming, hardware, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, Switch | No Comments

Nintendo’s been known to upgrade consoles with some regularity. It’s an easy way to keep audiences engaged over the long life of a system. Released in March 2017, the Switch certainly seems due for an update.

Sure, the hybrid console has been a runaway success for Nintendo, but after a year and a half and a sales plateau, some revamped hardware could be exactly the shot in the arm the device needs. According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal citing suppliers and other anonymous sources, Nintendo has a new version of the console in the works for later next year.

Details are still pretty thin — apparently Nintendo itself hasn’t figured out precisely what such an update would entail. A new screen is understandably pretty high up on the wish of upgrades to the console. After all, the current display was something of an afterthought for a console primarily designed to be plugged into a home entertainment system.

Price is still an important factor here, however. As such, a high-end OLED is probably out of the question. That said, there are still plenty of affordable options that can be pilfered from the smartphone space.

Timing-wise, the new Switch is expected to arrive “as soon as summer.” Nintendo, naturally, isn’t commenting.

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Nintendo is offering an exclusive Fortnite bundle with the Switch

Posted by | fortnite, Gadgets, Gaming, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, TC | No Comments

Fortnite has taken the world by storm. In fact, the game is so popular that Epic has released versions for PC, Xbox, PS4, iOS, Android and the Nintendo Switch, making the game about as accessible as possible.

The popularity of the game stems from the general popularity of the Battle Royale genre and popular streamers like Ninja, who have made the game so much fun to watch. But it also comes from the fun, and often fleeting, skins, dances and pick axes the game offers in its Item Shop.

On October 5th, folks interested in the Switch can pick up some extra Fortnite swag.

It’s a bundle royale! A #NintendoSwitch #Fortnite bundle including special in-game items and 1,000 V-Bucks will make the jump into stores on 10/05. https://t.co/5049PRWbjr pic.twitter.com/qoraUQA5DO

— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) September 18, 2018

Nintendo is releasing a bundle that will include an exclusive Fortnite skin, glider and pick-axe, as well as an extra 1,000 V-Bucks. To be clear, 1,000 V-bucks is the equivalent of $10 and won’t get you much from the Item Shop.

Plus, as pointed out by the Verge, Nintendo has offered several different bundles which would allow customers to pick up a Switch for $329 alongside one of a few games. In most cases, those games cost money, whereas Fortnite is a free to play game.

But the Nintendo Switch bundle is the only way to get your hands on the Switch gear that comes with it.

This isn’t the first time that Epic has given out exclusive gear to players using different hardware or services. There is an exclusive Twitch Prime skin, a Sony PS4 skin, and even a skin for Galaxy Note 9 owners.

The Bundle is available for $329 on October 5.

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Nintendo finally announces some new games for the Switch

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Nintendo is at last (at last!) bringing some new content to the Switch! Yes!

In a Nintendo Direct, the company let fly a number of games and a couple of original titles. The biggest Nintendo-produced titles we had glimpses of are a new Animal Crossing in development for the Switch and Luigi’s Mansion 3.

We learned next to nothing about the new Animal Crossing, other than that it’s coming in 2019, but we did get to see some gameplay from the latest chapter of Luigi’s only titular adventure in the Nintendo world. Luigi’s Mansion 3 seems to follow in the ghost-vacuuming footsteps of its predecessors with the bizarre camera angles and all. It’s also heading to the Switch stage in 2019, setting up a couple of Nintendo titles for us to look forward to next year, possibly alongside Metroid Prime 4 (?).

Other familiar additions to the Switch include a port of the Wii U game New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe coming in January and Yoshi’s Crafted World coming in spring 2019.

Aside from the Nintendo-made titles, fans were served up a big surprise with the announcement that some recent and old-school Final Fantasy titles are coming to the Switch. Final Fantasy VII, IX, X, X-2 HD Remaster and XII are all arriving in 2019.

There are about a dozen other incoming titles (several of which are remasters), including EA SPORTS FIFA 19, Starlink: Battle for Atlas, Diablo III: Eternal Collection, Mega Man 11, Katamari Damacy REROLL and plenty of others that you can jump through in the Direct below.

The Nintendo Switch is a fantastic system, and while it has a lot going for it, I barely have any games to play for it anymore. It’s not all that out of character for Nintendo to delay the hell out of the instant gratification its customers want, but the Switch has had a particularly stuttered content rollout since its launch. Hopefully the company can pick up a little more consistent cadence as it gets more third-party studios onboard.

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Nintendo’s NES Switch controllers activate the nostalgia centers (and wallets) of retro gamers

Posted by | Gadgets, Gaming, hardware, NES, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, Switch | No Comments

The news that Nintendo would be adding NES games to the Switch as part of its paid online service had a mixed reception, but the company has completely made up for this controversial decision by releasing wireless NES controllers with which to play those games. At $60 they’re a bit steep, but come on. You know you’re going to buy them eventually. Probably next week.

The controllers were revealed during the latest Nintendo Direct video news dump, alongside a host of other nostalgia bombs, like a new Animal Crossing and about a million Final Fantasy ports. But first the details of those sweet, sweet controllers.

They’re definitely NES-style down to the buttons, meaning they aren’t going to replace your existing Switch Joy-Cons. So why do they cost so much? Because Nintendo. At least they’re wireless and they charge up by slotting onto the Switch’s sides like Joy-Cons. And they do have shoulder buttons, though, for some reason.

You’ll be able to pre-order a two-pack starting on the 18th for $60, which also happens to be the launch date for Nintendo Switch Online. Yeah, it’s time to fork out for that online play Nintendo has generously given away for so long.

Fortunately, as you may remember from previous announcements, the cost is pretty low; $20 per year, and it gets you online game access and a growing library of NES classics. Ten of those games were confirmed before, but 10 more were added to the list today.

So at launch you’ll be able to play:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Dr Mario
  • Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Donkey Kong
  • Ice Climber
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Tennis
  • Soccer
  • Baseball
  • Double Dragon
  • Excitebike
  • Ghosts ‘n Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Hockey
  • Pro Wrestling
  • River City Ransom
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • Yoshi

The service will also enable cloud backups of saves and possible special deals down the line. It sounds like it’s basically a must-have, although plenty of people are angry that their virtual console games have been essentially stolen back from them. At least we have the NES and SNES Classic Editions.

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Nintendo Switch online service will launch on September 18th

Posted by | Gadgets, Gaming, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch | No Comments

Nintendo has communicated quite a lot on its new online service. And the company just shared the last missing piece of information — the service will launch on September 18th.

For the first time, Nintendo will launch a subscription service to access online services. It’ll cost $20 per year, $3.99 per month or $7.99 for three months.

#NintendoSwitchOnline memberships will start on 9/18. You can sign-up for a 7-day free trial from Nintendo #eShop at launch! We will introduce more information during the Nintendo Direct on 9/13.https://t.co/74Hzxk9spt pic.twitter.com/EJVFJH6F4I

— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) September 12, 2018

Subscribers will be able to play multiplayer online games, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2 and Arms. If you were already playing those games over the internet, you’ll have to start paying.

In order to sweeten the deal, the company is adding new services for subscribers. Your save data will finally be synchronized with Nintendo’s servers. If you break or lose your Switch, you’ll be able to restore your user profiles. Unfortunately, it won’t work with Splatoon 2, Dead Cells, Dark Souls Remastered, FIFA 19, NBA 2K19 and Pokémon Let’s Go.

Subscribers will also be able to play NES games for free. Around 20 games will be part of the library. If you plan on subscribing, Nintendo will offer a 7-day free trial on September 18th.

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