Nintendo

Nintendo’s more portable Switch gets matching 8BitDo controllers

Posted by | 8bitdo, Gaming, hardware, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch | No Comments

In a way, these new wireless controllers from 8BitDo kind of defeat the purpose of the Switch Lite. So, why do I kind of want them? Honestly, I’m pretty enamored with the new, more portable version of Nintendo’s wildly successful console. As I noted in a recent review, it’s exactly the take on the Switch I was looking for as a TV-less frequent traveler.

The idea of an accessory that’s roughly half the size of the Lite kind of goes against the whole bit about “built-in” Joy-Cons. Also, the Lite doesn’t have a built-in kickstand, so you’re either finding a way to prop it up or playing it flat on a table. Neither scenario is ideal, and yet here I am, thinking about shelling out $25 to augment my setup with a matching turquoise version.

Life comes at you fast.

The controller actually sports two D-pads, rather than sticks, which is nice for all of those NES and SNES titles that have been added to Switch Online. Honestly, my Switch playing has been like 95% A Link to the Past since I started testing the Lite. The controller is up for pre-order now through Amazon and set to start shipping at the end of October — plenty of time for me to come to my senses.

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Breaking a sweat with Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure

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

On October 18, Nintendo will finally fill a Wii Fit-shaped hole in its product line. The Ring Fit is a kind of spiritual accessor to the numerous fitness titles that helped make the Wii’s motion controls such a massive, demographic spanning success. But the large, round peripheral is perfectly at home on the Switch, taking a page from offerings like Labo, which find clever new ways to leverage existing hardware.

I took the forthcoming peripheral for a brief spin earlier this week, and like Labo was pleasantly surprised with what Nintendo was able to accomplish here, using the Switch’s Joy-Cons as a starting point. Here, each side serves a uniquely different purpose. One slots into the ring and the other into a band that straps on the player’s thigh.

Nintendo Switch Ring Fit

In the case of the former, the controller serves as the brains for the flexible steering wheel controller, measuring movements via built-in sensors, including the accelerometer. Using that set up, you can spin the ring to move selection in the starting menu and squeeze its sides to select. The second controller, meanwhile, serves as a sort of makeshift Fitbit, keeping track of your lower body movement — a pretty central part of the workout.

Adventure is the first title to use the hardware. It almost certainly won’t be the last, though Nintendo, per usual, won’t comment on any future plans. Rather than going the straight sports route, à la Wii Sports, Nintendo’s instead created what amounts to a Final Fantasy-style turn by turn adventure game that makes the player battle bad guys by breaking a sweat.

There are a ton of different games and workout experiences out of the box, but the basic adventure plays out as follows: You move your character by running in place, squeezing the ring to blow up boxes for coins and pulling it apart to suck in power-ups. Jumps are accomplished by pointing the ring downward and pressing in. You will break a sweat.

Your character’s anime-style hair is a big ball of fire, growing or diminishing based on how well you’re keeping up. Every so often along the track, a boss will appear. You’ll then engage in a turn by turn battle using a variety of different ring-based exercises. When it’s the monster’s turn, you’ll squeeze the ring against your torso to defend yourself.

Nintendo’s dreamed up an impressive variety of exercises that utilize the ring’s resistance. Playing an hour a day, it’s easy to actually lose some weight. The game also does a pretty good job encouraging you to mix things up. I’d certainly be interested in doing some extended testing — I like the idea of a fitness regiment one can accomplishment at home or in a hotel room with minimal equipment.

Nintendo Switch Ring Fit

You can also detach the Joy-Cons and take the ring with you to get some reps in away from the system — say, on lunch break at work. The controllers will continue to record your progress and upload them when you get back.

That said, I’m pretty committed to the Switch Lite these days. The Ring Fit will work with the system, assuming you also have a pair of Joy-Cons. You can prop up the Lite and use that screen for the game, but you’ll really want a TV screen for the full effect here. It’s easy to imagine, however, Nintendo combining Labo VR with the exercise kit for a more immersive fitness effect.

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Apple’s iOS and iPadOS 13 support multiple PS4 or Xbox One controllers, which could be huge for Arcade

Posted by | app-store, Apple, Apple Arcade, apple tv, Bluetooth, Gadgets, Gaming, iOS, iPad, ipad air, iPads, iPhone, Nintendo, tablet computers, TC, Touchscreens, Xbox One | No Comments

Apple’s iOS 13 update (and the newly renamed iPadOS for iPad hardware) both support multiple simultaneous Bluetooth game controller connections. Apple added Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controller support in the updates, and after doing some digging, I can confirm that you can use multiple of either type of controller on one iOS device running the update, with each controlling a different player character.

That’s the good news: The bad news is that not many games take advantage of this right now. I wasn’t able to find a game in Apple’s new Arcade subscription service to try this out, for instance — and even finding a non-Arcade iOS game took a bit of digging. I finally was able to try local multi-controller multiplayer with “Horde,” a free-to-play two-player co-op brawler, and found that it worked exactly as you’d expect.

With Arcade, Apple has done more to re-invigorate the App Store, and gaming on iOS in particular, than it has since the original launch of the iPhone. The all-you-can-game subscription offering, which delivers extremely high-quality gaming experiences without ads or in-app purchases, has already impressed me immensely with the breadth and depth of its launch slate, which includes fantastic titles like “Where Cards Fall,” “Skate,” “Sayonara: Wild Hearts” and “What the Golf,” to name just a few.

Combine the quality and value of the library with cross-play on iOS, iPadOS, Apple TV and eventually Mac devices, and you have a killer combo that’s well-positioned to eat up a lot of the gaming market currently owned by Nintendo’s Switch and other home consoles.

Local multiplayer, especially on iPads, is another potential killer feature here. Already, iPad owners are likely to be using their tablets both at home and on the road, and providing quality local gaming experiences on that big display, with just the added requirement that you pack a couple of PS4 or Xbox controllers in your suitcase or carry-on, opens up a lot of potential value for device owners.

As I said above, there’s not much in the way of games that support this right now, but it’s refreshing to know that the features are there for when game developers want to take advantage.

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Nintendo’s ‘Mario Kart Tour’ is out now for iPhone, iPad and Android

Posted by | Apple, Apps, Gaming, iPad, iPhone, Mario, mario kart, Mobile, Nintendo, super mario kart, TC, video gaming | No Comments

Mario Kart Tour, Nintendo’s latest mobile game, is now available on iOS for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as on Android devices. The game, like Nintendo’s other mobile releases, is free to play, with in-app purchases (in-game currency called “rubies”) that you use for upgrades and unlocks.

Players immediately unlock one rider and get a tutorial to start, which introduces them to the Mario Kart Tour driving mechanics, which are slightly different than the ones you’re probably used to if you’ve played Mario Kart games for Nintendo’s various consoles. Specifically, your kart will always be moving forward, so there’s no acceleration to press; instead, you slide your finger side to side on the screen to steer left and right, with a tap firing off any items or weapons you might pick up.

High scores earn you points that can be redeemed for in-game unlocks, and the game also features other new mechanics, like “frenzy mode,” which gives you a timed period of unlimited item use whenever you pick up three of the same. Special challenges are also new in this mobile iteration, which introduce new ways to win instead of just placing first in a race with other kart drivers. Mario Kart Tour also features online ranking with other mobile players worldwide.

The “Tour” component of the game is also a new twist: Nintendo is mixing courses inspired by real-world cities in with levels that are taken from classic Mario Kart games, and these will be cycling every two weeks for a fresh global tour on a regular basis. In-game characters will also get costume variants that are inspired by these globe-trotting destinations.

Based on Nintendo’s track record, Mario Kart Tour should be perfectly playable without any in-game purchases, but players may feel that they hit a progression wall pretty quickly without picking up some currency. It’ll be interesting to see how this one fares, given that Apple has just introduced its own Arcade subscription service focused on games that eschew in-app purchase mechanics — including cart racer Sonic Racing, which looks very much like it was once intended to offer similar in-app mechanics before Arcade came along.

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Nintendo Switch Lite review

Posted by | Gaming, hardware, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite, Reviews, Switch, TC | No Comments

Let me preface this by saying: I realize that I’m not necessarily the target user for the original Nintendo Switch. First: I don’t own a TV, and haven’t since high school. Second: I travel all the time for this damn job.

The combination of these things have made the device’s convertible form factor a bit of a nuisance. It’s big and heavy and the Joy-Cons semi-frequently slip off during game play. And while I’ve occasionally considered playing it in convertible mode, with the kickstand up, controllers detached as the console sits on, say, an airplane tray table, the capability ultimately isn’t worth the trade-offs.

It seems odd that “built-in controllers” is listed as a feature on a gaming console, but, then, I suppose it kind of is.

Nintendo Switch Lite

That’s all a lot of words to say that I was excited when the rumors around the Switch Lite first dropped. That enthusiasm carried over to a recent hands-on with the device. And now, here we are. Honestly, the Switch Lite is pretty much what I’d hoped for.

The Lite is noticeably smaller and lighter than the standard model, even without having both models handy, but here’s a shot from our hands-on for reference:

Nintendo Switch Lite

Of course, the form factor is still considerably larger than a majority of smartphones, which, at the end of the day are the Lite’s true competitor when it comes to mobile gaming. But Nintendo’s put a focus on first-party hardware, and the value of that proposition has played out remarkably well during the Switch’s nearly three-year life. Nintendo’s line has always been about making software for the hardware, and that certainly follows with the Switch line. It’s hard to imagine most of these first-party games successfully making the jump to mobile intact.

Nintendo certainly did right by the color scheme. As I wrote in the hands-on, the hardest question for me wouldn’t be whether or not to purchase a Switch Lite, but which color to get. Nintendo made the choice easy, sending a turquoise number in for review. The gray and yellow are also quite nice in different ways, but I was already leaning in that direction.

Nintendo Switch Lite

The portability’s the thing here, but shrinking the device down comes with some compromises. In addition to the loss of dockable TV versatility, the screen has been shrunk down from 6.2 to 5.5 inches (the resolution is the same admittedly unremarkable 720p). This is mostly noticeable in places like the menu, where the font has become more difficult for my aging eyes to read (the menu UI, admittedly, could still use some work). Longtime Switch players will notice the difference during gameplay, as well, but you’ll adjust soon enough — especially if you’ve grown accustomed to playing games on your phone.

The battery, too, is smaller, down to 3579mAh from 4310mAh, per FCC filings. Even so, the company is claiming three to seven hours of battery, compared to the original Switch’s 2.5 to 6.5. That slight upgrade appears to have been accomplished through a combination of a less power hungry (smaller) display and a more power efficient processor. The newer version of the classic Switch, meanwhile, sports a 4.5 to nine-hour battery. Given that a truncated life was the first gen’s biggest complaint, I’d have hoped that the company would have made battery progress on both sides — but you can’t win them all, I guess.

Nintendo Switch Lite

The headphone jack stayed put for the Lite. So, too, did the microSD and game card slots. Physical media isn’t quite dead in the gaming word just yet. The kickstand is gone because, well, there’s really no point without the detachable Joy-Cons. The other key physical difference is the addition of an omnidirectional D Pad, replacing the less-useful four arrows. I’ve honestly grown fairly accustomed to using the left stick for basically everything. Still, the arrival of the Lite’s D Pad is timed nicely with the addition of NES and Super NES titles to the Switch Online library. The button’s usefulness on standard Switch titles is a lot more limited, however. The pad also felt a bit softer than I was anticipating — something that takes some getting used to.

The Switch’s real killer app, however, is price: $200 feels just about right for the console. That’s down $100 from the standard Switch. Couple that with the surprisingly affordable $4 a month (or $20 a year) for Switch Online and you’ve got a pretty killer deal for a platform in its third year of life.

Forced to choose between the two models today, I’d almost certainly go for the Lite. Though I would grit my teeth a bit at the idea of sacrificing a couple of hours of battery life in the process. Of course, not everyone is me (thankfully). Most of you, for instance, are normal, well-adjusted people with television sets in their homes, and moving to the Lite means sacrificing the Switch’s namesake and most innovative feature.

As someone who spends much of his life on subway cars and planes, this is the Switch I (and others, I’m sure) have been waiting for.

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Nintendo shows off exercise-powered RPG for Switch, Ring Fit Adventure

Posted by | fitness, Gadgets, Gaming, hardware, Health, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch | No Comments

Nintendo has been at the crossroads of video games and fitness since the famous Power Pad for the NES, and the Switch is the latest to receive a game powered by physical activity: Ring Fit Adventure. And it actually looks fun!

In the game, you’ll jog in place to advance your character, and perform various movements and exercises to avoid obstacles and defeat enemies. Your quest is to defeat an “evil body-building dragon” who has disrupted the peaceful, apparently very fit world of the protagonist. Sure.

The game comes with a pair of accessories: a ring and leg strap, each of which you slot a Joy-Con into. The two controllers work together to get a picture of your whole body movement, meaning it can be sure you’re keeping your arms out in front of you when you do a squat, and not phoning it in during leg raises.

ringfit1

The ring itself is flexible and can tell how hard you’re squeezing or pulling it— but don’t worry, it can be calibrated for your strength level.

Interestingly, the top button of the controller appears to be able to be used as a heart-rate monitor. That kind of came out of left field, but I like it. Just one more way Nintendo is making its hardware do interesting new things.

ringfit2

There look to be a ton of different movements you’ll be required to do, focusing on different areas of the body: upper, lower, core and some sort of whole-body ones inspired by yoga positions. Ingeniously, some enemies are weak to one or another, and you’ll need to use different ones for other scenarios, so you’re getting a varied workout whether you like it or not.

Meanwhile, your character levels up and unlocks new, more advanced moves — think a lunge instead of a squat, or adding an arm movement to a leg one — and you can get closer to the goal.

ringfit3

There are also minigames and straight-up workouts you can select, which you can do at any time if you don’t feel like playing the actual game, and contribute to your character’s level anyway.

The idea of gamifying fitness has been around for quite a while, and some titles, like Wii Fit, actually got pretty popular. But this one seems like the most in-depth actual game to use fitness as its main mechanic, and critically it is simple and easy enough that even the most slothful among us can get in a session now and then at our own pace.

Ring Fit Adventure will be available October 18 — no pricing yet, but you can probably expect it to be a little above an ordinary Switch game.

You can watch the full-length walkthrough of the game below, but beware — the acting is a little off-putting.

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Nintendo Switch Online gets SNES games September 5, plus new SNES controllers

Posted by | Gaming, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, Super Mario World, Switch, TC, virtual console | No Comments

Nintendo Switch Online, the subscription-based online services component of Nintendo’s Switch console, will get SNES games starting on September 5 — yes, that’s right, the first games are available to play tomorrow. There are 20 games available initially, with more planned in the future.

Alongside the new software, there’s also the new SNES system wireless controller for Switch, which charges via USB-C and retails for $29.99 directly from Nintendo.

The launch lineup for the SNES portion of Nintendo Switch Online looks pretty promising, and includes highlight favorites like Star Fox, Breath of Fire, F-ZERO, Super Mario World and Super Metroid (you can see the full list below).

Screen Shot 2019 09 04 at 3.30.23 PM

We got a strong indication that this was happening earlier this month, thanks to an FCC filing that detailed the SNES controller hardware. Nintendo likewise released an NES controller alongside its launch of the Nintendo Online Service when it debuted last year.

The best part about this surprise drop is that it’s available basically right now — check your Nintendo Online app on your Switch tomorrow to begin playing these nostalgic gaming classics.

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Switch Lite is the portable Nintendo fans deserve

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

It’s the plight of the early adopter. A few years from now, there will be a new version of the console — one that works out the biggest flaws of the original, most likely at a lower price point. Having used Nintendo’s latest console a fair bit since its launch three years back, I can say without hesitation that the Switch Lite is exactly the one I’d buy now.

Granted, I’m not a typical gamer by any stretch. My relationship with the industry could be described as casual at best. Oh, and I don’t have a television. Yep, I’m that guy… and have been for a while. Point being, the Lite appears very specifically tailored to my needs. Really, the bigger question at this point is which color?

The Lite is $100 cheaper than the original Switch, a feat it accomplishes by removing some of the console’s more innovative features, including the ability to dock and play it on a TV. The solid state body also removes the shakable Joy Cons from the equation.

The console is notably smaller, too, with the 6.2-inch touchscreen getting scaled down to 5.5 inches. It’s not a huge change, but it’s certainly noticeable. On the upside, the smaller footprint means a lighter (as the name implies) device, down to 0.61 pounds from 0.88 pounds. If you’ve spent any time playing the original Switch, you’ll notice the difference right away.

Nintendo Switch Lite

Like the newfound portability, I actually welcome the solid state design. I’ve basically played the Switch exclusively in handheld mode and have always found it annoying when the Joy Cons accidentally detach mid-game. As for those games that required a hearty Joy Con shake, that functionality is addressed in various ways, depending on the title. There’s an accelerometer built into the hardware here, so in many cases the player will end up shaking the whole console to accomplish this.

As FCC filings have confirmed, the battery is smaller on the Lite, but the smaller screensize negates that to some degree. A stated three to seven hours is a bit north of the original switch’s 2.5 to 6.5 hours — though still a fair bit less than the 4.5 to nine hours on the new model. Those numbers are game-dependent. Nintendo says the Lite should get about four hours playing Breath of the Wild, for example, versus the new Switch’s 5.5 hours.

Nintendo Switch Lite

That’s definitely a bummer. As someone who’s interested in the Switch primarily as a travel companion, battery life has always been my chief complaint with the original model. It would have been great if Nintendo would have made battery a bigger focus on the Lite. There are understandably some limitations due to the smaller footprint, but I suspect the company could have squeezed a bit more life out of it here.

The addition of an honest-to-goodness D-Pad on the left side is a nice touch, too — and hopefully an indication that a lot more NES/Super NES classics are about to come to the console. My aging self will be spending a lot of money on downloads if that ever happens.

Nintendo Switch Lite

The color choice is surprising, but quite nice. The yellow and turquoise pop quite nicely, while the gray is considerably more understated — insofar as a Nintendo portable console can be understated, that is. I honestly went back and forth trying to choose one, but if I had to pick tomorrow, it would probably be the turquoise.

At $200, the Lite is $100 cheaper than the standard model and a no-brainer for those who find it difficult staying in one place. It arrives September 20.

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Mario Kart Tour arrives on iOS and Android on September 25

Posted by | Android, Apps, entertainment software association, Gaming, Japan, Mario, mario kart, miitomo, Mobile, Nintendo, TC, United States, video gaming | No Comments

Nintendo’s next mobile game, Mario Kart Tour, will be available on iOS and Android devices starting on September 25. The official Twitter account for the game revealed the launch date, and shared the pre-registration link where users of both platforms can sign up to get the game when it launches.

The mobile installment of Nintendo’s incredibly popular cart-racing franchise was originally announced last year, and at that time had a planned launch window of sometime before the end of March 2019. Nintendo later updated that date to sometime during this summer in order to “improve [the] quality of the application and expand the content offerings after launch,” according to a statement in one of the game-maker’s earnings reports.

September 25 is technically after the end of summer, the last day of which is officially September 23, but it’s pretty close. Nintendo also released Dr. Mario World earlier this year, so it’s been a busy year for the company in terms of launching mobile adaptations of its popular franchises.

Mario Kart Tour had a closed beta in the U.S. and Japan, which was Android-only, earlier this year. Details from the beta include a look at the rather expansive roster, as well as a lot of in-game purchase mechanics that might frustrate fans of the main series.

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SNES controller for Switch shows up in FCC filing, hinting at SNES games for Nintendo Online

Posted by | controller, Federal Communications Commission, Gadgets, Gaming, hardware, Nintendo, Nintendo 3DS, TC, video gaming, virtual console, Wii, Wii U | No Comments

Nintendo looks set to release wireless SNES controllers for the Nintendo Switch, which likely means it’ll also be bringing classic SNES titles to its Nintendo Online virtual gaming library. The news comes via an FCC filing (hat tip to Eurogamer), which includes a diagram of what looks very clearly to be the backside of a Super Nintendo-style wireless controller.

The diagram includes a model number that uses the “HAC” code that Nintendo employs to designate Switch accessories, and history suggests that the arrival of retro-inspired hardware for the Switch also means throwback games are on their way. Nintendo launched wireless NES controllers for the Nintendo Switch in September, and they arrived alongside NES games delivered via Nintendo Online as free perks for subscribers.

The FCC filing is more or less concrete proof that Nintendo intends to release something, but the rest is speculation (if very likely, informed speculation) at this point. Still, it seems inevitable that Nintendo bring its SNES library to the Switch, especially since it did so for the Wii Virtual Console before.

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