Tag Archives: switch

Playing Ori And The Blind Forest On Switch Is A Little Strange But Brings Back Great Memories

It’s weird seeing the Microsoft Studios logo appear on the screen as I load a game on a Nintendo console. It’s also odd to have see my Xbox Live avatar and Gamertag displayed on my Switch screen. Everything else about about playing Ori and the Blind Forest on the Switch is pretty much perfect.

Moon Studios’ gorgeous platforming adventure, originally released in 2015 for the Xbox One and PC, is a very significant game for our family. It’s one of the first games we all played together. My wife and I would pass the controller back and forth on the couch while our twin boys, then four or five, watched until we got to the hard parts and the cursing begun. They knew those instances, when their parents would cooperatively bash themselves against Ori and the Blind Forest’s most challenging sequences, could last for hours.

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Those tougher moments are what define Ori for us. It has the look and feel of a casual indie game. Wandering through a lush, hand-drawn forest as moody symphonic music plays, the mysterious hero white and glowing, like the negative version of a Limbo silhouette. While the mood and atmosphere carry throughout the game, Ori is anything but a relaxed stroll through the woods.

The rabbit-like hero jumps, swims, and eventually teleports through the forest of Nibel on a quest to restore the elements and restore the great Spirit Tree, facing fresh challenges at every turn. One sequence will test the player’s ability to perform precision jumps. A massive blast of energy that fires at regular intervals tests the player’s timing and patience as they scoot between safe areas. There are moments of respite, periods where it’s more about exploring and finding hidden secrets than weaving through deadly danger.

And then there are moments like the Ginso Tree flood, one of the aforementioned hard parts. Ori and the Blind Forest is punctuated by these lengthy, grueling platforming sequences that put everything the player has learned to the test. In order to restore the element of water, Ori must unblock the water veins inside the massive Ginso Tree. Doing so, however, causes water to quickly fill the once lifeless trunk, giving Ori less than a minute to climb to its apex and escape.

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I cannot tell you how many times my wife and I attempted this sequence while playing the Xbox version in 2015. I can tell you it took me over a dozen tries on the Switch version, even though I was already familiar with the event. Behold my triumph.

The video above is taken from the Switch version of the game, which runs at a constant 60 frames per second in both handheld and docked mode. I was playing in docked, using one Joy-Con. That’s not how I normally play, but it felt really good in Ori for some reason. It felt exactly the same as the Xbox One version, right down to the warm rush of relief and accomplishment I felt when I unlocked the achievement for completing the sequence.

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Seeing “Achievement Unlocked” pop up on my Switch screen is weird. Not quite as weird as having my Xbox avatar portrait and Gamertag in the corner of the game’s main menu, but weird.

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Though it does connect to my Microsoft account, Ori Switch achievements don’t show up on my feed, and I could not tell you if they affect my gamerscore. It feels very cosmetic, just Microsoft Studios making sure I don’t forget where the game came from, as if I could forget.

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A lot has changed in the four and a half years since Ori and the Blind Forest launched for PC and Xbox One. My wife and I don’t play games on the television as much, since that’s where the kids play their games and watch their YouTube videos. Hopefully we’ll be able to wrestle back the TV in time for February’s Ori and the Will of the Wisps. In the meantime, she and I have our own Nintendo Switches—mine original, hers Lite—and we rarely pass them back and forth. We are, however, still playing Ori and the Blind Forest, thanks to this very good port and Microsoft’s strange, continuing dalliance with putting its exclusive games on Nintendo hardware.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Week In Games: Beware Of Ghosts

This week Ghost Recon Breakpoint releases, letting players explore a large open-world map as super tactical soldiers. If it is anything like the last game, it also means players will be able to cause all sorts of mayhem using vehicles and explosives.

I enjoyed the gameplay of the last Ghost Recon game, Wildlands, but the world felt so boring and the story never hooked me that I stopped about 60% of the way through. I’ve been tempted to go back and finish off the last leaders of the Cartel for a while now. Maybe I should do that before I play Breakpoint? Or maybe I’ll skip Breakpoint and never play Wildlands again! Who knows?

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There’s more coming out this week beyond a new and big Ubisoft game. Warsaw looks like a cross between World War II and Darkest Dungeon. Destiny 2′s big new expansion drops this week, alongside the jump to Steam. And for Ghostbusters fans out there, that game from a few years back is being remastered for current-gen systems. I remember liking the first few hours of that game and hating the rest of it. Maybe I’ll like it more on new consoles?

Other stuff is coming out this week! Check out the list below:

Monday, September 30

  • Chop Is Dish | Switch
  • Blockoid | PC
  • Fallen Empires | PC, Mac
  • Nobodies | PC, Mac
  • Duck In Town – A Rising Knight | PC, Mac
  • Balloon Fighter | PC
  • Cube World | PC
  • Ten Days To War | PC
  • Spaceland | PC
  • The Lost | PC

Tuesday, October 1

  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation 2 | PS4
  • Destiny 2: Shadowkeep | PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World | PS4, Switch PC
  • ReadySet Heroes | PS4
  • 80 Days | Switch
  • Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition | Switch
  • Lanternium | Switch
  • Super Crate Box | Switch
  • Hunting On Myths | PC
  • Particle Wars | PC

Wednesday, October 2

  • Asdivine Kamura | Xbox One, PC
  • Warsaw | PC
  • We Were Here Too | Xbox One
  • Spooky Ghost Dot Com | Switch
  • Marginalia | PC
  • Norman’s Night In | PC
  • Drawn Down Abyss | PC, Mac
  • RaceXXL Space | PC
  • The Long Return | PC

Thursday, October 3

  • Neo Cab | Switch, PC
  • Legrand Legacy: Tale Of The Fatebounds | PS4, Xbox One
  • Candleman | Switch
  • A Hole New World | PS Vita
  • Paranoia: Happiness is Mandator | PC
  • Fault: Milestone One | Switch
  • CASE: Animatronics | Switch
  • Galaxy Champions TV | Switch
  • Cubixx | Switch
  • Tic-Tac-Letters by POWGI | Switch
  • Hexagroove: Tactical DJ | Switch
  • Hero Of The Forest | PC
  • Hexxon | PC, Mac
  • Endless Fables 4: Shadow Within | PC, Mac
  • Alive 2 Survive | PC, Mac

Friday, October 4

  • Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint | PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • SlabWell: The Quest For Kaktun’s Alpaca | Xbox One
  • Rimelands: Hammer Of Thor | Switch
  • The Tiny Bang Story | Switch
  • One Night Stand | Switch
  • Beats Runner | Switch
  • CROSSNIQ+ | Switch
  • Dungeons Of The Fallen | PC
  • The Sword And The Slime | PC
  • Shard | PC
  • Digital Rose | PC

Saturday, October 5

  • Double Switch – 25th Anniversary Edtion | Switch
  • Retro RPG Online 2 | PC

Source: Kotaku.com

New Brain Age Announced For Nintendo Switch In Japan

Photo: Nintendo
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In 2005, Brain Age first went on sale in Japan for the Nintendo DS. The game, which had players solve math problems and more to judge the age of their brain, became a national sensation in Japan.

Brain Age was one reason why the DS became a must-have handheld. Now, in 2019, it’s back.

The new Brain Age allows Switch owners to track progress through their mobile phones, including the progress of family or friends.

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Previously, the most recent Brain Age game was Brain Age: Concentration Training, which was released in 2012 on the 3DS. The games are based on the work of researcher Ryuta Kawashima. His floating head appears throughout Brain Age.

The latest entry for the Nintendo Switch is slated for release on December 27 in Japan. There’s no word yet of an international release.

Source: Kotaku.com

8BitDo’s Switch Lite-Inspired Controller Has Two (!) D-Pads

Styled after Nintendo’s new Switch Lite, the 8BitDo Lite is a controller so ultra-portable that it’s got two directional pads instead of analog sticks to keep it as thin as possible.

The 8BitDo Lite features all the functionality of a full-sized Nintendo Switch controller, only instead of analog sticks, it has D-pads. That means these should take the place of analog sticks, perfect for games that don’t actually have analog control anyway (and probably not the best for those that do). Unlike the Switch Lite itself, the D-pad isn’t replacing the four-button array on the left side, which is still there. It’s a weird-looking controller for sure.

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Though obviously designed to match the more colorful variations of the Switch Lite, the $25 controllers, available for preorder now and shipping October 30, also work with PC, MacOS, Android, and more, with a switch on top that swaps between Switch and Xbox-compatible functionality They connect via USB-C cable or Bluetooth, and they feature a programmable turbo function, in case one needs a button to be pressed repeatedly in rapid fashion.

It looks weird, but also pretty damn cool. I can’t look at pictures of these for too long without the overwhelming urge to bite into them. I’m thinking the turquoise tastes like spearmint.

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And the yellow one probably tastes like lemon meltaway candy.

Another possible outcome is they both probably taste like plastic. Even so, I am curious to test the accessibility of those R2 and L2 buttons, situated as they are along the top of the controller instead of behind the triggers or on the back.

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Consider me intrigued. I own a couple of 8BitDo controllers for my Analogue retro Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo consoles, and they have yet to let me down. Looking forward to getting my large hands on these odd-yet-pretty things later this year.

Source: Kotaku.com

Every Big Game Coming Out In Fall 2019

Illustration: Chelsea Beck

It’s fall, the season when the days grow colder, the nights grow longer, and the video games are ripe for harvesting. The changing leaves are pretty, but they’re also dead. Why go outside and revel in decay when you can stay inside and get your game on?

There’s a ton of Switch ports over the next three months, including big-name games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Overwatch, plus new games like Pokémon Sword and Shield and Luigi’s Mansion 3. That Kojima guy has a game coming out in November that people seem excited about. And believe it or not, this fall we’re getting a brand new Call of Duty game.

Here’s every big video game coming out this fall:

September 24

Contra Rogue Corps | PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

Dead by Daylight | Switch

Noita | PC

Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid | PC

Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast | PS4, Switch

The Surge 2 | PC, PS4, Xbox One

September 26

Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX | PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

September 27

Dragon Quest I, II, III | Switch

Dragon Quest XI | Switch

FIFA 20 | PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

Ori and the Blind Forest | Switch

September 30

Cube World | PC

October 1

80 Days | Switch

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep | PC, PS4, Xbox One

Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition | Switch

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint | PC, PS4, Xbox One (Early Access)

October 3

Neo Cab | Switch, PC

October 4

Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered | PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

October 8

Burger Time Party! | Switch

Concrete Genie | PS4

Indivisible | PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

John Wick Hex | PC

Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince | PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair | PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

October 11

Frostpunk | PS4, Xbox One

Killer Queen Black | PC, Switch

October 15

Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition | PS4, Switch, Xbox One

Overwatch | Switch

Planescape & Icewind Dale Enhanced Editions | PS4, Switch, Xbox One

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt | Switch

October 16

Little Town Hero | Switch

October 17

Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes | PC, PS4

October 18

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition | PC, Switch

Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville | PC, PS4, Xbox One

Ringfit Adventure | Switch

October 22

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III | PS4

WWE 2K20 | PC, PS4, Xbox One

October 25

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare | PC, PS4, Xbox One

Medievil | PS4

The Outer Worlds | PC, PS4, Xbox One

October 29

Afterparty | PC

Harvest Moon Mad Dash | PS4, Switch

Resident Evil 5 | Switch

Resident Evil 6 | Switch

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD | PS4, Switch, Xbox One

Vampyr | Switch

October 31

Luigi’s Mansion 3 | Switch

Moons of Madness | PC, PS4, Xbox One

November

Google Stadia Founder’s Pack

November 5

Just Dance | PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Wii

Mario & Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games | Switch

Planet Zoo | PC

November 7

Garfield Kart: Furious Racing | PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

November 8

Death Stranding | PS4

Layton’s Mystery Journey | Switch

Need For Speed Heat | PC, PS4, Xbox One

New Super Lucky’s Tale | Switch

November 12

The Legend of Bum-bo | PC

November 14

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition | PC

November 15

Pokémon Sword and Shield | Switch

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order | PC, PS4, Xbox One

November 19

Shenmue 3 | PC, PS4

November 22

Doom 64 | Switch

Doom Eternal | PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts | PC, PS4, Xbox One

December 2

One Finger Death Punch 2 | Switch

December 3

Farm Simulator 20 | Switch

Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition | PS4, Switch, Xbox One

December 5

Star Ocean First Departure R | PS4, Switch

December 6

Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection | Switch

Source: Kotaku.com

Nintendo Switch Lite: The Kotaku Review

The Nintendo Switch Lite is one of the finest handheld gaming devices I’ve ever used. It’s sturdy, stylish, and comfortable. It launches with a library that’s already over 2,500 games strong. If all you’re looking for from the Nintendo Switch is personal, portable play, it’s perfect. But is that all you’re looking for?

From its first trailer, with its rooftop parties, car trips, and esports tournaments, the $300 Nintendo Switch has been a device that’s not just about which games to play but how to play them. Basic portable play is part of it, but so is connecting to a high-definition television in the living room, or slipping off a Joy-Con and passing it to a friend as easy as sharing a piece of candy. Those amazing little removable controllers, paired with hardware features like HD rumble and infrared cameras, allow Nintendo to explore new ways to combine real-world activity and gaming with products like Labo and the upcoming Ring-Con. Versatility defines the Switch.

The $200 Switch Lite is not a versatile gaming device. It plays Switch games in handheld mode. It does not support television mode. While Joy-Cons, purchased separately, can be connected to the Lite, the Lite’s smaller screen (5.5 inches to the Switch’s 6.2) and lack of an integrated kickstand make tabletop play inconvenient. There is no rumble. There is no infrared camera. It still supports near-field communication for Amiibo support, and has a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope for motion control, so not all of the Switch’s extra features have been stripped away. But most of them have. As has been pointed out time and time again since the hardware was announced in July, there’s not much “Switch” in the Switch Lite. “Switch Lacking” would be more accurate, if far less marketable.

Though I don’t see it as such, many consider the Switch Lite to be Nintendo’s successor to the 3DS, the dual-screened portable gaming system that’s been desperately clinging to life since the Switch launched in early 2017 and is now all but dead. I understand the comparison. Both the 3DS and the Switch Lite are devices exclusively made for portable gaming. But where the 3DS and its kin had their own ecosystem of unique games, most of which can’t be played anywhere else, the Switch Lite plays Switch games. To me the Switch Lite is to the Switch as the 2DS is to the 3DS. Both play the same games, but one is cheaper and stripped of features that some players never bothered with anyway. I would not trade my 2DS XL in for a Switch Lite.

Nintendo portable meet-up.

Judged strictly as a portable personal gaming system, the Switch Lite is better than the original Switch. It’s more compact, which makes it more portable. Since it has no removable parts, the Switch Lite feels much more solid and sturdy than the regular Switch in handheld mode, even though it weighs slightly less at .66 pounds versus .88. The plastic that makes up the Switch Lite’s casing has a soft and slightly rough texture to it that’s a joy on the fingertips. The three colors Nintendo chose for for the initial batch of Switch Lites, yellow, gray, and turquoise, give the device a hip, retro look.

The battery life is slightly longer than my launch Switch, though not as long as the newer models. And then there’s the D-pad, that lovely little white cross in place of the regular Switch’s dinky buttons. I’ve been playing with the Switch Lite for several days now, and every time my thumb brushes that D-pad there’s still a tiny burst of joy. It’s only slightly bigger than the D-pad on my 2DS XL and just as shallow, but it’s responsive enough, and most importantly it’s not four disconnected pieces of round plastic.

Mmmm, d-pad.

As a portable system, the only real downside to the Switch Lite is the screen size. Most of the time, the .7 inch difference between the regular Switch and the smaller Switch Lite isn’t a problem.. But when I play games like Fire Emblem: Three Houses, recently categorized by Kotaku’s Heather Alexandra as one of the Switch’s “extremely good games with tiny text,” my poor, aging eyes struggle even harder on the Lite. Maybe the launch of a portable-only Switch with a smaller screen will make developers more conscientious of tiny text. Or maybe we’ll just have to squint more.

If my only desire was to play Switch games in handheld mode, I would choose the Switch Lite over the regular Switch, hands down. It’s $100 cheaper. It plays all the games I want to play. It looks and feels better in my hands, and it’s impossible for my chonky fingers to accidentally disconnect a Joy-Con during heated play. Yes, I have done this.

But the original does a whole lot of cool stuff the Switch Lite does not do—stuff I’ve grown used to, and now feel awkward going without. Removing Joy-Cons to play multiplayer games is a Switch feature I hardly ever use, but when I have, it’s led to some pretty magical moments. My gaming is normally a personal thing, but the ability to make it social with the click of my Switch means it doesn’t have to be.

Being able to drop a portable game I am playing into a dock and have it show up on my television set looking even better than it did in my hands? Also very cool. It might not seem like much of a jump, going from a small 720p screen to a large 1080p display, but the higher resolution coupled with the Switch’s increased processing power when docked can make quite a difference. Here’s a screenshot I took of the recent Switch exclusive game Astral Chain in docked mode.

Here is a similar shot taken in handheld mode.

See the jaggy hair and glasses? Compare the textures on the uniforms. It’s night and day. And while the graphical difference might not look as dramatic when playing on a 5.5 inch screen, many Switch games also perform better in docked mode, with better lighting effects and higher framerates. Even if 99 percent of my Switch play is portable, I’d still wonder if I was getting the most out of the games I am playing with the Lite.

Plus the Switch Lite lacks a very important feature for a person like me who enjoys sharing their gameplay online. It has no external HDMI support. Not only does that mean no TV mode, it also means no connecting it to a capture card for grabbing footage or streaming. I spent years kicking around the idea of spending a couple hundred dollars to have my Nintendo 3DS modified with an HDMI port for recording and streaming. Scraping together an extra hundred for a Switch with that capability included makes perfect sense to me.

Perhaps you can see the appeal of both models of Switch, and consider buying both of them to get the best of both worlds. I currently possess both a Switch and a Switch Lite. My plan is to keep the Switch proper, with its more delicate build and extra power, firmly seated in my Switch dock for television-based play. The more rugged and sturdy Switch Lite will become my travel companion, tucked into its little blue pouch and safely wrapped in a protective shell cover that I will never have to remove to disconnect a Joy-Con.

I’ve set up my Nintendo account on both devices. The Switch Lite is designated the “primary” Switch on my account, which means I don’t have to connect to the internet to verify I have permission to play games loaded on it. My “secondary” docked Switch has to connect to the internet before I play a game, to verify I don’t currently have that gamerunning on the primary Switch. That’s no problem, since it never leaves the range of my Wi-Fi router.

Don’t worry, your hands are probably smaller.

Transferring save data between two Switches is a painless enough process, right there in the Settings menu. As long as the save belongs to the same user, you can transfer it wirelessly. Cloud saves can be downloaded between systems as well, as long as the game being saved supports the feature. Alternatively, I could just not transfer saves at all, keeping unique records on each system. That would just mean I have to level two Puzzle Quest characters at once. Oh no. Not that.

Now, I don’t need two Switches. You probably don’t, either. But if you want to add another Switch to your family’s game collection, something your kids can abuse a little bit more as they throw it into their backpacks or at their siblings’ faces, the Lite might be the answer. And there are people out there who don’t ever dock their Switches or remove the Joy-Cons who will be perfectly happy playing their games exclusively on a Switch Lite. But it’s far from a total replacement for the existing Switch.

As I began, it’s one of the finest handheld gaming devices I’ve ever used. It’s larger, and feels more mainstream, than the quirky 3DS. It’s more rugged and earthy than Sony’s precious-looking Vita. It’s the sort of gaming hardware I wouldn’t feel bad just tossing in a bag unprotected. It’s console gaming in the palm of your hand, and you can pull it out during a rooftop party without feeling obligated to share.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening: The Kotaku Review

The best feeling you can possibly feel while playing a video game is the act of swinging a sword in Zelda. I came to this conclusion recently, while playing the new remake of Link’s Awakening and trying to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes me love Zelda games so much. The answer, I think, is the way Link swings his sword.

Just look:

Is there anything more delightful, more palpably satisfying? The developers at Nintendo have always understood that a video game is only as good as its verbs—its actions—and they’ve always endeavored to make those actions induce as much joy as possible. Over the course of this playthrough of Link’s Awakening, I swung that sword thousands of times, and it never failed to bring me a jolt of happiness as it connected. Look at the way the blade cuts through the air, leaving an arc that almost looks like lightning. Watch how that poor Moblin staggers and flashes a satisfying shade of red. You can’t hear it in a gif, but it sounds delicious, too—an empty whiff when you miss, but a satisfying crunch when you hit. If you told me I could only perform one video game action for the rest of my life, Link’s sword swinging would at least be in the top three. Link’s jumping—not common in Zelda games, but brilliant in Link’s Awakening—might be up there, too.

You know what? Everything you can do in this game feels pretty damn good.

This remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, out for Switch on Friday, is a near 1:1 recreation of the 1993 Game Boy game. At the time of its original release, Link’s Awakening was just the fourth game in the Zelda series, a line of games in which you, as a floppy-capped, pointy-eared boy named Link, solve puzzles, fight monsters, and save princesses. Link’s Awakening was a strange game but a wonderful one, and people still rank it among the best entries in a series full of excellent games. Its music, dungeon design, and light but melancholy story have always made it stand out.

Many people coming to this remake will know of it already and want to know how it’s different. Its structure has not changed, but its aesthetics and the conveniences it affords players have.

For the remake, the developers at Grezzo and Nintendo have re-designed every screen in the world, replacing the old sprites with beautiful painted 3D tableaus that make it feel like you’re looking down on a toy set. The old MIDI soundtrack has transformed into a flowing orchestra, full of woodwinds and choruses. The characters and puzzles remain untouched, but they look very different.

There are a few other key differences between the original and this remake. First and foremost, you no longer have to waste time juggling items. Every Zelda game gives you a stable of go-to gadgets for fighting monsters and solving puzzles, so it’s helpful when you can access as many as possible at once. The Game Boy version of Link’s Awakening was limited by the system’s two action buttons, A and B, and you had to go into the menu and assign an item to one of those buttons every time you wanted to use it. This included the sword, shield, and even the Power Bracelet, an item that let you pick up rocks, bottles, and other heavy objects. If you wanted to, say, lift a rock and throw it at an enemy, you’d need to open your inventory, select the Power Bracelet, swap it in with one of your equipped items, and then press that button next to the rock. It wasn’t hard to get used to this system, but it was tedious.

Fortunately, the Switch has a lot more buttons than the Game Boy, and the designers of the Link’s Awakening remake have taken advantage. Your sword and shield now have dedicated buttons, as do the Pegasus Boots, an item you’ll get early in the game that lets Link dash at super-speed. You no longer have to equip the Power Bracelet to pick up rocks. You just have to own it. These changes might sound minor, but they make a huge difference, and this version of Link’s Awakening feels like it belongs in 2019.

The other big difference is the addition of a side feature—Chamber Dungeons—which is boring and tedious. It’s an optional mode in which you can take rooms from dungeons you’ve already beaten and rearrange them using layouts provided by the Zelda stalwart Dampé the gravedigger. Unless you enjoy playing through the same rooms over and over again, it’s just a big waste of time. (Read more about Chamber Dungeons here.)

There are a handful of smaller tweaks, too. You can save and then re-load the game from anywhere. You can catch fairies in bottles. The fast travel warp points are more frequent and easier to use. Unlike the Game Boy version, Link’s Awakening on Switch has a few notable framerate issues. While walking around the overworld—which, rather than a grid of single-screen rooms, is now a continuous map—I ran into some choppiness. (I played the game entirely in handheld mode.)

What hasn’t changed is everything that made Link’s Awakening work so well in 1993, all of which holds up today: the locations, the puzzles, and most importantly, the moment-to-moment satisfaction of smacking slimes in the face with a boomerang.

Some quick history. Back in 1987, The Legend of Zelda blew people away with its promise of what an open-world video game could look like. It encouraged exploration and instilled a feeling of adventure unlike anything we’d seen on the NES before, but it was very shallow, like a blueprint for what Zelda could look like in the future. Its sequel, the black sheep Zelda II: Adventure of Link, experimented with sidescrolling action to mixed results. It wasn’t until 1991 that the Zelda formula first emerged with The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, the game that established conventions that would be used for many years to come.

Like the original Zelda, Link to the Past dropped you into an open world with little but your wits and the sword in your hand, but unlike the first game’s flat layouts and simple topography, Link to the Past was dense. Different areas of the world had different themes, almost personalities, like the swampy Misery Mire and the chilly Kakariko Village. Rather than ask you to walk through a series of indistinguishable flat maps as the NES game did, Link to the Past was full of elaborate mazes and tangled designs. The world bulged with secrets, and around every corner you’d find a hidden chest or cracked wall to blow up. Your options would be limited to a few areas at first, and over time, as you acquired more items—the Power Gloves, the flippers, the hookshot—you’d be able to access more and more of the world. Backtracking to old areas would reward you with cool stuff, like item upgrades and pieces of heart.

Link’s Awakening started off as an experiment to remake the Link to the Past on the Game Boy, according to an interview with the game’s original developers. Soon it had evolved into something much weirder. Taking influences from sources ranging from Mario to Twin Peaks, the developers filled their world with quirky characters and a variety of locations: magically enhanced forests, cactus-infested deserts, mazes full of bushes and deadly holes.

The game starts off at some indeterminate point in Link’s life. Our hero is sailing through a nasty storm when suddenly everything goes dark. He winds up on a beach, where he’s rescued and taken to safety by a girl named Marin who has a beautiful voice and a magnetic appeal to cute animals, like a chibi Disney princess. Turns out that Link is on a mysterious island called Koholint that’s full of strange people, talking animals, and a whole lot of references to Nintendo’s Super Mario series. A talking owl sends Link on a mission to go wake up the Wind Fish, a godlike creature who lives in a giant egg in the center of the island. Soon he’s off on a journey to go find eight instruments in eight dungeons across the world.

Like Link to the Past’s Hyrule, the world of Link’s Awakening is dense and full of mysteries. It starts off feeling constrained, limiting you to a handful of areas thanks to obstacles like heavy rocks and bottomless pits. The more you play, the more you’ll break down those barriers. By the time you’ve hit your stride and explored enough of the map to see how it all fits together, you may appreciate its intricacy, as if you’ve just cracked open a mechanical watch and learned what makes it tick. In the Game Boy version, the world map was broken up into 256 screens, most of which had their own gimmicks or secrets. The Switch version links them together in one large world map. Both styles are appealing, but the latter is easier to get around, and it’s a delight to see how it all weaves together.

Link’s Awakening’s eight dungeons each follow a traditional pattern, blending puzzles with navigational challenges and obstacles that you’ll need that dungeon’s item to overcome. One puzzle might task you with killing three enemies in the right order; another might involve maneuvering a floating block until it fills every gap in the floor. None of these challenges or puzzles are particularly complicated. Usually they’re just subversive enough to stymie the first solution you think of, but the second will work. Still, completing them is usually satisfying, and the themes grow more interesting as you go. The seventh, Eagle’s Tower, has one of the more memorable gimmicks of any Zelda dungeon to date. The optional ninth Color Dungeon, added for the Game Boy Color version of the game in 1998 and retained for this Switch remake, is actually the weakest of them all, which may come as a disappointment to anyone who played the original and was hoping for something brand new.

And there is nothing brand new to the main adventure here. Link’s Awakening is a beautiful recreation of a legendary game, but it doesn’t have much to offer to players who already know the ins and outs of Koholint Island. For newcomers, or people who played Link’s Awakening two decades ago and can’t remember exactly how to finish the trading quest or track down that damn singing frog, this is a worthy remake and a must-play Zelda game.

You may recall that two years ago, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, an all-time great that revitalized the iconic series. The company’s latest Zelda game is so radically different that they basically feel like different genres, but when taken together, they help explain what makes The Legend of Zelda so special. On one end of the spectrum, there’s the vastness of a polished, beautiful open world full of strange places to explore; on the other, there’s the density of an island packed with secrets. If the two games have one thing in common, and offer one reason to keep playing Zelda all these years later, it’s this: They both make it feel pretty damn incredible to swing a sword.

Source: Kotaku.com

The First Puzzle Quest Is Still The Best

2007’s Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords combined tile-matching puzzles and role-playing game mechanics to create an incredibly compelling hybrid game that was near impossible to put down. One sequel, several spin-offs, and countless copycats later, the Switch version of the original Puzzle Quest is just as captivating as it was 12 years ago.

Launching on September 19, that Switch version is subtitled “The Legend Returns,” and for good reason. The original game is indeed legendary, a perfect marriage of match-three mechanics and turn-based fantasy RPG. Players and their foes take turns making matches on a Bejeweled-style game board. Matching skulls does damage to their opponent. Matching coins harvests gold to purchase items and equipment. Matching purple stars grants players experience points to raise character levels and learn new skills. Skills are activated using mana, collected by matching colored orbs.

Each battle is a one-on-one turn-based RPG battle. The player has to collect the mana needed to pull off their spells and abilities while denying their enemies the same. Do I match yellow gems so my bard character can sing a healing song, or do I collect red gems to keep my ogre enemy from using its devastating “Thump!” ability? There’s a depth of strategy to Puzzle Quest that belies its simple appearance. It’s a mix of tactics, skill, and sheer luck that’s intoxicating.

Though the graphics have been sharpened for the Switch re-release and some of the mechanics re-tuned (players are no-longer penalized for trying to make illegal moves), this revamp looks and feels much like the original. The impactful feeling when a match is made, the tingling sound when four gems or more are cleared, signaling an extra turn, the way the music changes when the player’s or the enemy’s hit points drop dangerously low—it’s all here, only bigger and brighter.

(This was one hell of a close battle.)

Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns combines the original game, developed by Infinite Interactive as a spin-off to the Warlords series of turn-based strategy games, with its 2008 expansion Revenge of the Plague Lord and a brand-new storyline with more than 100 new quests. There are new monsters, new bosses, new puzzle mini-games, and four new playable character classes.

It’s almost too much Puzzle Quest. I spent 15 minutes flipping through character classes before settling on an old favorite, Revenge of the Plague Lord’s Bard. Each class in the game plays drastically different from the others, so while the quests are largely the same in every playthrough, the way you must vanquish your enemies varies wildly. With dozens of hours of questing required to level every character class, I doubt I’ll ever be completely done with this game.

The Puzzle Quest series fell off a cliff after this first version. 2010’s Puzzle Quest 2 added a layer of complexity with attack and defense and statistics that, while not entirely unwelcome, muddled the successful formula of its predecessor. 2009 sci-fi spin-off Puzzle Quest: Galactrix was super-challenging and incredibly dense. The most recent games in the series, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Magic the Gathering Puzzle Quest, and Adventure Time Puzzle Quest, are free-to-play games that are hollow licensed shells, lacking the depth of story and strategy established in the original.

So this is one of those rare instances where going back to the first game in a relatively long-running series isn’t a matter of rolling back years of innovation and improvement. Puzzle Quest started in a very good place; Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns takes me right back there.

Source: Kotaku.com

Big, Beefy Switch Controllers For Big, Beefy Hands

Joy-Cons are small. They are designed so that Switch can be a sleek, nearly-seamless handheld gaming device. Hori’s Split Pad Pro is what happens when ideas like “small” and “sleek” and “not ridiculous” are tossed out the window. The more I play with them, gripping them in my larger-than-average hands, the less I mind their chonkiness and lack of extended functionality.

The $50 Split Pad Pro, recently released to coincide with the launch of Switch mech shooter Daemon X Machina, lacks a lot of features found in Nintendo Joy-Cons. It does not do motion control. It has no camera. It does not scan Amiibos. It does not rumble. The Split Pad Pro doesn’t even contain an internal battery, so it does not function in tabletop or TV mode. And good luck to you if you try to put the Switch into the dock with these attached.

What the Split Pad Pro does do is transform the Nintendo Switch from a sleek handheld into an awkward-looking device that plays games quite well, especially for those of us with large paws. Instead of the Switch’s tiny analog sticks, the Split Pad Pro sports a pair with slightly more thumb surface than theXbox One’s sticks. The face buttons are larger and deeper, with a more satisfying tactile response than the Joy-Cons’. The left and right triggers are larger and more responsive as well.

Instead of four directional buttons, the left side of the Split Pad Pro sports a standard D-pad.

The Split Pad Pro also boasts a couple of features not found on Joy-Cons. Both halves of the unit sport programmable turbo functions, complete with adjustable speed. On the back of each side is another programmable button, which can be remapped on the fly to any control on the front.

With no batteries or cameras or rumble, the Hori Split Pad Pro weighs about the same as a pair of Joy-Cons, despite its additional bulk. The Switch looks ridiculously bloated with it attached but it feels quite nice. There is a little wiggle room around where each half of the controller connects to the Switch, but a tab of plastic extending from them to the back of the Switch helps maintain stability.

I played my Switch with the Split Pad Pro over the weekend, rolling through my regular lineup of rhythm games, RPGs, platformers, and the odd fighting game. I missed some Joy-Con functionality, notably the rumble effects. I did not miss the occasional cramps I get while manipulating those tiny Joy-Cons for hours on end with my large hands.

I’ve only had the Hori Split Pad Pro for about a week, so I can’t comment on the long-term survivability of these large, yet lightweight, Joy-Con alternatives. I will say that whenever I foresee long stretches of handheld Switch gaming, the Split Pad Pro will be coming with me.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Week In Games: Duck… Duck… Untitled Goose Game!

Have you ever dreamed of being a goose who annoys people? Well, then you’ve probably already heard about Untitled Goose Game, which is coming out later this week. If you haven’t heard about it, well I’m happy to be the one to introduce you to your dream game.

When I about 8 years old, my brother, who was 6 years old and I loved the Muscovy ducks that would visit our home in Florida. They were very large and we thought they were geese. We would give them bread and try to pet them. Eventually, we decided we wanted one of these big ducks as a pet. So we lured it inside with bread and water. Then it shit all over the kitchen. Luckily, we had tile floors so it was easy to clean up. But my parents weren’t happy.

Beyond Untitled Goose Game, some other cool stuff is hitting the Switch. Zelda: Link’s Awakening looks wonderful and cute. Castle Crashers Remastered is also heading to the Switch. And if you look close you’ll spot another 3DS game releasing next week. Last week also had a 3DS game release. Is it the second coming for that popular portable console? Probably not.

Other stuff is coming out this week! Check out the list below:

Monday, September 16

  • The End Of An Age: Fading Remnants | PC
  • Akash: Path Of The Five | Switch
  • Winter Cometh | PC
  • Graviton | PC, Mac
  • Don’t Give Up: A Cynical Tale | PC, Mac
  • Hope For City | PC
  • Solitaire Legend Of The Pirates | PC, Mac
  • Frenzy Plants | PC

Tuesday, September 17

  • Castle Crashers Remastered | PS4, Switch
  • Jet Kave Adventure | Switch
  • Bus Simulator | PS4, Xbox One
  • AI: The Somnium Files | PS4, Switch, PC
  • Rebel Cops | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Devil’s Hunt | PC
  • LEGO Jurassic World | Switch
  • Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son | PSVR, Steam VR
  • Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure | PS4, Switch
  • Daymare: 1998 | PC
  • Blackbear The Cursed Jungle | PC

Wednesday, September 18

  • Trailmakers | Xbox One, PC
  • Football Drama | PC, Mac
  • Dreamland Solitaire | PC
  • BoltHalt | PC, Mac
  • Spirit Arena | PC
  • Crying Suns | PC, Mac
  • Seventh Circle | PC, Mac
  • Planetside Arena | PC
  • Jenny LeClue – Detectivu | PC, Mac

Thursday, September 19

  • Police Stories | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac
  • Devil May Cry 2 | Switch
  • Overland | Switch, PC
  • Sayonara Wild Hearts | PS4, Switch
  • Truck Driver | PS4, Xbox One
  • Mutazione | PS4, PC
  • Paper Dolls Original | Switch
  • GRID Autosport | Switch
  • Inferno 2 | Switch
  • Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns | Switch
  • Lost Castle | Switch
  • One-Way Ticket | Switch
  • Mountain Peak Battle Mess | 3DS
  • Neon Drive | Switch
  • Soul Knight | Switch
  • Rezist: Tower Defense | PC
  • Forgetful Dictator | PC
  • Cryptofall: Investor Simulator | PC, Mac

Friday, September 20

  • Untitled Goose Game | Switch, PC, Mac
  • Rebound Dodgeball Evolved | Xbox One, PC
  • Skybolt Zack | Switch, PC
  • The Sojourn | PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Niffelheim | PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Rain Of Reflections | PC
  • Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch | PS4, Switch, PC
  • The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening | Switch
  • Spellworm | Switch
  • Island Maze | Switch
  • Tyd Wag Vir Niemand | Switch
  • Zenith | Switch
  • Bloxicus | PC

Source: Kotaku.com