Nintendo Switch launch


Nintendo Switch

I can’t let today pass by without remarking on the release of Nintendo’s brand new console – Nintendo Switch.  I’ve had my eye on this ever since it was announced, and it’s come as a bit of a surprise just how interesting and clever an idea Nintendo has come up with.  Firstly, Nintendo have for many years ruled the handheld market … that cannot be contested.  The 3DS flew off the shelves and it’s various iterations – even in the advent of increasingly powerful mobile phone technology.  However on the home console front, they’ve been failing for a while even after the huge success of the Wii.  Yet now here comes a console that offers the best of both worlds and will attract both types of gamers; those that want to have their gaming on-the-go (I hate that term) and those that prefer the comfort of their sofa and a big screen TV.  Never before has a console offered both and offered it so seamlessly, as the video below will attest:

SwitchI won’t go into detail too much on the various things the Switch can do…I’m sure if you’re at all interested you’ll have read up on the machine already.  What I can give you though is my thoughts on why this is an exciting games system and why Nintendo are luring me back, despite my reservations in the past with Nintendo’s consoles (I had a GameCube, a Wii and a Nintendo DS back in the day).  It has a feel from what I’ve seen and read of a great secondary console.  It’s not rubbing shoulders with Xbox or PlayStation (something Nintendo has avoided for years) and has it’s own identity.  Plus I’ve really missed Nintendo’s game design.  Nothing on a PS4 or XB1 plays quite like Mario or Zelda.  There is a unique and stylish charm to their characters, and yes I have sometimes even looked to the ill-fated Wii U with jealousy because it still had those games.  However that machine had little to separate it from the Wii, whose motion-control gimmick faded with time and so it was clear Nintendo had to revise it’s approach to console design.  Therefore I’d say the Switch has delivered sort of a ‘best of Nintendo’ this time around in a well-designed and attractive package.  Only time will tell if the games can live up to the machine’s potential, if 3rd party publishers support it the way they do Sony & Microsoft.

The-Legend-Of-Zelda

I hope to get one at some stage myself and will report more on the machine when I’ve actually spent some time with it.  Until that day comes let’s send congratulations to Nintendo on the launch of their new console and wish them plenty of success in the future.  I think it’s their turn, don’t you?

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My gaming history – Part 3


See previous posts here:  Part 1 and here: Part 2.

As I started work, got money of my own my history with gaming gets a tad cloudy.  I think the very first videogame system I obtained from my own hard-earned cash was the original Sony PlayStation.  I saved up to afford it and even remember buying a walkthrough guide to Resident Evil 2 in the weeks leading up to getting the system.  To say I was excited was an understatement.  For a long time the PlayStation was my only system (I think I got a Gameboy somewhere along the line but my interest in that was limited to simply playing and completing The  Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening).  Sony PlayStation

gran turismoI played a lot of games on it and recall a firm favourite was Tekken 3 which I enjoyed endless nights playing against a friend and well, those bouts were legendary!  Some of the best games on the system for me were of course, the first Metal Gear Solid and also I’d say Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (a series I really wish would come back).  I also think Gran Turismo was a particular highlight.Sega-dreamcast

Following the advent of PlayStation that made gaming much more of a mainstream hobby, I did get hold of more systems, firstly the Sega Dreamcast, which I’d say pioneered the online gaming revolution we take for granted these days and was seriously ahead of it’s time.  The Dreamcast I’d say had one of the strongest games catalogues around with such gems as Jet Set Radio, Virtua Tennis, Soul Calibur, Dead or Alive 2 and Powerstone as well as many more.  It was a short-lived system and really deserved to be more successful – but as at the time the PlayStation 2 had just been released, Sega’s final console didn’t stand a chance.  It was around this time I also got a PS2 and a little later an Xbox.

The_Legend_of_Zelda_The_Wind_Waker

The PS2 was of course my gaming system of choice for a good while but I did like my Xbox too even if the advent of Microsoft didn’t really hit it’s stride until the Xbox 360 came out.  During this era I also managed to get a Nintendo Gamecube which I think back to fondly and well, it had Super Mario Sunshine and Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on it, but as with Nintendo consoles in the post-PlayStation era the only decent games were Nintendo produced (mostly) so quickly having games to get for the system became few and far between.  I sold it somewhere down the line and think that pushed me onto the last generation of consoles before we find ourselves where we are today.

To be concluded.

All conquering PS4??


This is coming from now owning both supposedly ‘next-gen’ systems, and feeling rather underwhelmed by what the PS4 has offered me thus far.  I haven’t played many games on it but do find myself going back to the XB more often than not – and the underwhelming allure of the PS4’s exclusive titles doesn’t help matters.

the order 1886

The latest thing is that the heavily hyped and long awaited The Order 1886 has turned out to be a very disappointing game, despite a lengthy development cycle.  Again another game in Sony’s supposedly killer line-up that fails to live up to it’s potential.  It joins a growing list of games that have failed to completely wow critics or many gamers and warrant that expensive purchase of a new machine.  Yet despite games like Infamous: Second Son, Kill Zone Shadow Fall and Drive Club not delivering – the PS4 continues to fly off the shelves.

driveclub_weather_0

I’m confused.  Since when did tech-specs and NOT games make a machine the biggest and most popular?  Certainly wasn’t the case last generation when the PS3 failed to initially grab people despite technically being superior to the Xbox 360.  It has baffled me this time how brand loyalty or simply good marketing and well, a bit of brainwashing seems to have won over quality entertainment.  I remember owning both the Sega Dreamcast and the Nintendo Gamecube and liking both, with some amazing games on them – but they did not sell, and so quickly they were discontinued by their manufacturers.  This of course isn’t the case for Microsoft’s Xbox One which has done admirably well sales wise despite the PS4’s dominance – but it still means that marketing and brand win over actual quality of games.  Third-party isn’t so bad for Sony’s machine as it usually wins out against the XB for resolution and frame-rate (but not always…) and such has grabbed a lot of media attention and made it look like the console to go for – but now owning both, I find the games on the XB, especially the exclusives like Sunset Overdrive, Titanfall etc. a huge amount of fun.  Microsoft have done a great deal to rectify a difficult start for their new console and I for one applaud their wealth of updates, new features, their excellent games with gold feature and some top notch indie titles.  Yes Sony’s machine has all of these things but often feel limp and lacking compared to how Xbox does things – who just make it all look a lot more attractive.

dualshock4

That then brings me to the consoles themselves.  It’s clear that the touch pad and speaker on the PS4 controller is a gimmick and will get very little use in games, and well, when the speaker does come on, it just doesn’t seem right.  Kind of cool, but a bit annoying.  Also let’s talk about the recording of gameplay features on both consoles.  XB’s Upload Studio is excellent, very easy to use and you can send gameplay to your friends at a click of a button.  Not so on the PS4, with the Share Factory very cumbersome and complicated (but possibly more robust in features) and you can send screenshots to friends – but not gameplay, unless you post it to Facebook or YouTube.  Huh??  Why??

I’ve also mentioned before that the PS4 doesn’t let you attach an external HDD via USB to enlarge your storage capacity (at least as far as storing games on it is concerned – you can back up other media like screenshots or game saves) but the XB allows you to store games on an external HDD – avoiding any awkward tinkering inside the console itself.

So yes it puzzles me just why the PS4 remains so universally loved.  The exclusive games are seriously lacking and the features of the console itself clearly pale in comparison to it’s immediate rival – but hey, its a pretty looking machine, and everyone is talking about it … so that’s all that matters, right?  Sigh.