Tag Archives: Nintendo Switch

Pokemon Sword and Shield

But when I grew up, I put away childish things

-1 Corithians 13:11

Today is the launch date for for Pokemon Sword & Shield, the first new, “real” Pokemon game to come to the Switch since Nintendo and Game Freak pulled the franchise from the Nintendo 3DS handheld platform.

The core RPG line continues

Unfortunate KGB reference aside (the sword and shield of the party), the impending release of this game and the launch of the Switch Lite got my daughter and I discussing a potential return to the franchise.

The Switch Lite, an actual attempt at a handheld version of the Switch (because the Switch is way too big to qualify in the DS/3DS or PSP league… I present the Switch Lite as supporting evidence of this) was really the trigger event for this. My daughter and I have a long history together with Pokemon games, starting back with Pokemon Diamond on the DS Lite in 2008 and carrying on through into the 3DS era.  And portability… along with wireless connectivity… was always a big part of the experience.  Our solid little DS Lite units traveled with with us many places.  They were brought to Pokemon events, played in airports and hotel rooms and on cruise ships when there was idle time as well as around the house.

As somebody who pretty much always plays video games sitting at a PC there was definitely a liberating aspect to having a small, handheld gaming console that could be played where ever we went.

So my daughter and I talked about the idea of a Switch or Switch Lite and the new Pokemon game off and on over the course of the summer.  In the end, there was no conclusion reached… which was essentially a negative conclusion by default; we would not be buying a any new hardware just to play Pokemon Sword & Shield.

There were a bunch of little reasons that held us back; pricing, the way the new game was coming together, uncertainty about features.  However, none of those would have really stood in our way, except for the big reason, the real reason.  And that is the fact that my daughter has almost grown up.  She will be 18 soon.  She already has her first college acceptance notification. (University of Oregon)  She has a driver’s license and a car and a job and a boyfriend and a social life and all the dreams and worries and ideas that come with that time in your life.

And in the mix of all of that there isn’t a lot of time for Pokemon.

About six years back I wrote a farewell to Pokemon, thinking at the time that we probably wouldn’t make the jump to the 3DS platform.  But then my daughter came around and we played the games for a few more years.  There won’t be a similar reprieve this time.  A year from now she will be off to college and the seriousness and growing which that entails.

But there is always a future for childish things, once you’ve gotten past that embrace of adulthood and the seriousness that goes with it.  This blog is a testament to that.  And, after talking with my daughter about this, she did decide to start a fresh game of Animal Crossing: New Leaf on her old 3DS.

DC Universe Online comes to the Switch

Alternate headline: Daybreak ports 8 year old game to Nintendo platform

It is always nice to see some proof of life from Daybreak now and then, and here we have something of a big item with the team in San Diego supporting another platform.

And so, today, DC Universe Online is available on the Nintendo Switch.

I even made a special graphic just for this

So why do I care?  My own relationship with the game was brief at best and, as the alternate headline above (which was the first headline I considered), I am not above a bit of cynicism when it comes to Daybreak.

Also, I don’t own a Switch.  That too would seem to limit my interest.

As I said, proof of life and expanding the business seems to be a good sign these days with Daybreak.

To start with, given that Daybreak probably has fewer people on its overall payroll than Blizzard has just working on World of Warcraft, porting a long running MMORPG to a new platform is fairly impressive.

Granted, the game was designed up front with consoles in mind, as the control scheme clearly demonstrates. (A minor factor in my decision to stop playing the game shortly after its launch.)  That means that there was groundwork laid to help support new consoles in a way that some of their older games lack. (No console controller save one with a full keyboard could support EverQuest.)  Still, supporting the game across Windows, PlayStation 4, XBox One, and now the Switch is a decent feat.

It is apparently more than EA can manage for most of its titles..

But further, the move to the Switch also sounds like something of a success story, that Daybreak is doing something right.  You do have to assume that the company isn’t simply throwing good money after bad (see Turbine and Infinite Crisis, also a DC Comics based title), but the fact that DCUO was the top revenue free to play game on the combined PS3/PS4 platforms about five years back gives one hope that the game remains viable.  While I have heard via back channels that DCUO remains profitable, it is nice to see something that looks like a confirmation that it remains a viable product.

Of course, this also helps feed the rumor mill about a possible break up of Daybreak.  When word of this first started to spread, I assumed that DCUO would necessarily be lumped in with the other non-EverQuest games largely due to it being on consoles.  Why would a the Norrath team want that in their house?

But now, with Golden Age Studios also on the list of trademarks and Twitter accounts, as well as DCUO expanding on its own to a new platform, perhaps it will be going its own way, leaving behind both the Norrath and the PlanetSide teams.

Or maybe none of that will come to pass.  We will have to wait and see.

What Becomes of the Nintendo 3DS without Pokemon?

Earlier this week (or late last month, if you prefer) Nintendo hosted a big Pokemon press conference to talk about upcoming plans and titles for the franchise.

Press Conference 2018

This was kind of a big deal for me.

When it comes to Nintendo hardware there is really only one franchise that interested me.  I’ve played some variations on Mario and a couple of other brands, but I am really only about Pokemon.

And, from time immemorial… or at least since 1996… the core of the Pokemon franchise has lived on the Nintendo handheld hardware.  In addition to not being up on their other titles, I am also behind on consoles on every front save one; Nintendo handhelds.  I have a relatively new Nintendo that I got this past Christmas.  And I wanted it only to be sure I could play the next round of Pokemon games that would surely find their way to that platform.  After all, over on the Pokemon.com site, the icon for the video games category is literally a Nintendo handheld.

Pokemon video games are on the DS

So I watched the updates from the press conference and waited for an announcement aimed at me and my fellow handheld players.  We are, after all, the core of the Pokemon community.  They had to have something for us.

But they didn’t.  They spoke of Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee for the Nintendo Switch, which sound similar, if not exactly like, core Pokemon RPG titles.  There is even a pair of them being launched together.  And they spoke of how two people could play together and how you would be able to transfer Pokemon over from Pokemon Go.

Let’s Go coming November 16, 2018

They also spoke of the whimsical and blocky looking Pokemon Quest, also for the Nintendo Switch.

Taking place on Timecube Island

And, finally, they spoke of a real core Pokemon RPG game coming to the Nintendo Switch in 2019.

Not mentioned at all was the Nintendo handheld family, which left me feeling left out of the picture.

I realize that Nintendo has been very much intent on getting everybody they can to buy a Switch.  And it has been selling pretty well.  But so has the Nintendo handheld line.  The Nintendo 2DS/3DS line has been doing okay on sales.  While they the numbers are down from the peak in 2013, they have bouncing back from their decline with 2017 beating out 2016 for units shipped and 2018 so far almost equal to 2017 sales already.  (Annual sales chart)

So what is Nintendo’s plan here?  Have handheld units been effectively abandoned?  I know that there is more to the 2DS/3DS game catalog than just Pokemon, but it is pretty much the Pokemon platform, and sales of the core Pokemon RPG games both drive and are driven by handheld unit sales.

I hope this doesn’t signal the end of the line for the Nintendo 2DS/3DS line.  The durable little dual screen handheld units have served me well for a decade now.

Switch Day Arrives!

Today is the day the Nintendo Switch is finally available!

Nintendo Switch, for your TV and elsewhere

Nintendo Switch, for your TV and elsewhere

I am generally not much of a console gaming person.  Our Wii, heavily played for a stretch, now gathers dust, while our PlayStation 3 is pretty much exclusively used to stream/play video.

I am not even a big Nintendo fan.  I already had a personal computer long before the NES of such nostalgia was available in the US.  And while I have a 3DS XL, it should have “For Pokemon Use Only” stenciled on the side.  I bought Mario Kart for it at one point, but only played it a couple of times.

I am still interested in the Switch.  It doesn’t quite have the lure that the Wii did a decade back when the combo of a new user interaction paradigm and a low price relative to its competitors made it extremely attractive.  This time around you can find XBox One and PlayStation 4 packages priced below the Switch base price of $299.

But Nintendo has gone in a different direction from the Xbox and PlayStation Bobbsey twins.  I am not sure it is the “New Era in Console Gaming” that Nintedo is claiming, but it is a divergence.  There is no hard drive, the unit having returned to the use of cartridges to distribute games. (Which may leave an unpleasant taste in the mouths of some.)  Nintendo has also fiddle with the controller idea again with a new gimmick.  And then there is the portability aspect of the unit.  As somebody in a single television household, not requiring the TV to play games is actually a pretty big bonus.

All of that is interesting, and the price isn’t a huge barrier to entry.  It is the games that will make the decision for me.  I haven’t played the Zelda series, so a new entry there doesn’t help much, nor will the inevitable Mario titles.  A REAL Pokemon title might lure me, or a Pokemon title that integrates with the 3DS like the Wii and the DS connected.  So I am just keeping and eye on the whole thing.

How about you?  Is the Switch on your list?  What is the big selling point?

There is a poll embedded above this line of text which may get snipped out by add block.

Would You Rather Fight Than Switch?

We got all sorts of new information about the upcoming Nintendo Switch console yesterday including price ($300), launch date (March 3rd), region locking (none), and that you can pre-order RIGHT NOW!

And of course there will be Mario Kart

And of course there will be Mario Kart

Every gaming news sight worth that title has some sort of story up about Nintendo’s new console today, with more to follow as demos commence.  This is the moment we have been waiting for since the initial announcement back in October.

I have to admit I like the Switch on paper at least.  I like the size, the light weight design, the mobility, and the built-in screen that makes it a portable.  The latter is important in a one TV household.

Oddly, one feature that drew my attention is the ability to take a screen shot of game play.  As a blogger who charts his gaming journey through his writing, the ability to set a scene with a screen shot rather than the MS Paint that are my words has direct appeal.  Not sure that is a tipping point level feature, but it is interesting.

And then there is the price.  $300 seems like a good compromise price.  I think at $250 it would be a no-brainer purchase for people and that at the $350 mark that was rumored just before the announcement the Switch started to creep too close to XBox and PS4 territory so that you might have to start considering is games exclusive to the Switch would be worth the commitment.  But at $300 it is just far enough away that it can fall into the impulse purchase zone for some.

On the flip side, I am not really a console gamer.  We got a Wii back in 2007 and I picked up a PlayStation 3 in 2011 after the prices had gone way down.  The Wii got a LOT of play at our house.  My daughter and I used to play games on the Wii every weekend for hours and hours.

However, my daughter was 5 years old when we got the Wii and would wake me up early on Saturday morning so we could start playing.  Now she is 15, I am not sure she has seen a Saturday morning before 10am lately, and if she wants me to do anything with her on the weekend it is to teach her to drive so she can get her license in a year.

Meanwhile the PlayStation 3 has been mostly a video playing device since we bought it.  My daughter did enjoy Little Big Planet, but after that wore off it has been more about Netflix and Amazon Prime.  We could replace it with a Roku box if it wasn’t for the fact that it is also our Blu-Ray player.

And the last console I owned before those two was a SEGA Genesis back in 1992.  And the console before that was an Atari 2600 way back in 1977.  I’ve been a PC gamer since 1983 and online since 1986.  I never had a NES or a SNES or an N64, so lack any Mario nostalgia.  My Nintendo franchise of choice is Pokemon, which probably explains why we have more DS series handhelds (2x DS Lite, 1x DSi, 1x DSi XL, 2x 3DS XL) sitting around the house than the count of living room consoles systems I have ever owned.

So for me, while I like the idea of the Switch, I haven’t seen anything compelling that makes me want to run out and pre-order today.  $300 isn’t a bad price, but that same $300 would go a long ways towards replacing my 14 year old Dell 1600×1200 monitor with something bigger and better, which would have a much greater impact on my gaming… and would probably also require me to upgrade my video card.

That is where I stand.  I like the Switch.  At this point in time, if I was going to buy a living room console, the Switch would be a serious contender.  But there isn’t enough there yet to make it an automatic purchase.  It seems fresher than the Sony and Microsoft offerings, but it isn’t as magical as the Wii seemed back in 2006.

How about you and the Switch?  Any interest?  Time for a poll?

If the poll above doesn’t appear for you, there are always the comments below.

The Nintendo Switch Announced

Nintendo finally gave us a real peek at their new console, formerly referred to as “NX.”  Its official name is Switch and looks like this:

Nintendo Switch, for your TV and elsewhere

Nintendo Switch, for your TV and elsewhere

Nintendo has previously said that this unit is no meant to be a direct replacement for the 3DS and Wii U product lines.  Instead the Switch looks like it is meant to fill roles currently taken by both.  As shown it has a dock that lets you hook it up to your TV in the traditional living room console fashion.  But it can be removed from the dock, which reveals a small high definition display.

The controllers are… um… they seem to have many roles in the Switch universe… and a silly name… Joy-Con controllers.   From the press release:

Gaming springs into action by removing detachable Joy-Con controllers from either side of Nintendo Switch. One player can use a Joy-Con controller in each hand; two players can each take one; or multiple Joy-Con can be employed by numerous people for a variety of gameplay options. They can easily click back into place or be slipped into a Joy-Con Grip accessory, mirroring a more traditional controller. Or, if preferred, the gamer can select an optional Nintendo Switch Pro Controller to use instead of the Joy-Con controllers.

Given how small the controllers look… something that matters when you have giant mitts like mine… I am happy that other controllers will be available.

Another item that sticks out from the press release is the idea of Switch users being able to bring their units together to form up a local mulitplayer network.

Furthermore, it is possible for numerous people to bring their Nintendo Switch systems together to enjoy local multiplayer face-to-face competition.

The return of the LAN party?

Of course, Nintendo has many fanciful visions of people using the Switch, carrying it from place to place, and never being without it… ever… in the video that accompanied today’s announcement.

Friends calling you to come to their roof top party?  Now you can bring your video game obsession with you!

Of course, for me, the big question is, “What does this mean for Pokemon?!?!?!”

Console play isn’t really much of a thing at our house.  We got many hours on the Wii back when my daughter was in grade school, but now it just sits and collects dust, while the PlayStation 3 has been primarily a Blu-Ray playing and video streaming device over its five year life in our living room.  So I never gave a thought to buying an XBox One, PlayStation 4, or Wii U.

The only console I do play is the Nintendo 3DS, and that is pretty much just for Pokemon.  So if the Switch is going to get the main line Pokemon RPG games at some point, then I might have to look into the system.  In the video they show the Switch taking a cartridge, ever the delivery vehicle for Pokemon games.

53 seconds into the video, a cartridge is inserted

53 seconds into the video, a cartridge is inserted

Of course, that may never happen.  Despite Nintendo’s statement about the NX, now Switch, not being a direct replacement for either 3DS or Wii U, it sure feels more like a Wii U replacement than anything else.  It is a living room device for use on the TV, even when mobile the screen looks a bit big to be pocketable, and the video shows people playing Splatoon, one of the few hits on the Wii U.

Meanwhile, as the Wii U has languished, the 3DS line remains a good seller, seeing a significant boost in sales over the summer has Pokemon Go seemed to stir interest in the “real” Pokemon games, the core RPG titles available on the 3DS.  And, of course, the next installment in the core Pokemon RPG series is due out next month on the 3DS platform.  No need to hurry any transition for that line.

The flip side of that is Nintendo’s long standing tradition of supporting games from the previous console generation.  Without an optical drive, that isn’t going to happen for Wii U titles.  Of course, that might be the whole point of saying it is not a direct replacement.  It is a replacement for the Wii U, but it isn’t going to play any of your Wii U games.  Given how PlayStation and XBox backward compatibility has been handled… and the slow sales of the Wii U… this might not hurt Nintendo all that much.  Still, you can see how this might be a… heh… switch for them.  Ahem… anyway… no more motion controllers and no touch screen.  And no mention of VR.

And that is about all we know.  The press release has a list of developers who have signed up to support the Switch, but as we have seen in the past, studios saying they are going to support a platform fully and getting them to actually do it are two different things entirely.  You can watch the Zero Punctuation episode from a couple weeks back about the Capcom 5 to see how Nintendo has been screwed on that front before.  Other than that, we have the video, the press release, and the promised date of March 2017.

The date in block letters on a red background to emphasize it is a date

The date in block letters on a red background to emphasize it is a date

Meanwhile, the video game sites are jumping all over this and picking apart every nuance of what has been show (like the fact that Splatoon players have pants on the Switch version) so I expect the Wikipedia entry on the unit to get a lot of edits and updates over the next few days.

So the Switch is coming in a few months, so people can start building up a supply of headline puns playing on the unit’s name.