Thoughts on the Nintendo Switch

With the unorthodox console launching in less than two weeks’ time, many console gaming outlets in Singapore have opened up pre-ordering for the Nintendo Switch, the Japanese company’s new attempt to get back into the next-generation console market after the not-so-stellar performance of the Wii U. I was initially extremely excited about the revolutionary design of the Switch, but the worrying details of the whole launch campaign has gotten me to take a step back to re-examine the Switch’s viability to shake the market up.

Console Design

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The controllers are pure beauty. Photo credit: Nintendo

The very reason that got the entire gaming community raving, the Switch definitely broke new ground when it comes to its modular, extensible and partner-inclusive design, in the form of its portability and the adorable Joy-Con controllers. The ability to break up (pun intended) for partner play any time is very enticing as portable console gaming has always been an individual activity when not in a deliberate gaming meetup context. It’s like sharing a tasty pie with your friend when you’ve only got one.

What I am hoping for is for the game developers to execute the “switch” strategy well – that is to transition from a single player using both Joy-Cons to play the game to a two-player setting; each using one. In games like Super Bomberman R, having a second player join immediately would definitely spice up the atmosphere, but it all boils down to how smooth the game handles the player addition. And hopefully, there will be games that actually support hot player addition, as the Nintendo Switch definitely seems designed for that purpose.

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Erm, can you already see how awkward that feels? Photo credit: Engadget

Which brings me to my next concern – the ergonomics and the capability of the Joy-Con controllers. Due to the way the Joy-Cons are designed to support both single player mode using two controllers and split player mode with each player holding one, the Joy-Cons end up being asymmetrical when separated – the joystick on the right side Joy-Con is a little further inwards as compared to the left side Joy-Con. Furthermore, the ergonomics and comfort of using the controllers in dual player mode is questionable due to its small size, and the limited amount of controls and buttons on the separated Joy-Con raises concern on the type of games that can be designed for play in this mode.

Launch Lineup

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Photo credit: GearNuke

Seriously, the launch lineup is very disappointing. 10 games is not something to even joke about, and it doesn’t seem like any of the titles that are more enticing to the general audience would be coming anytime soon. Heck, even Mario is still busy plumbing his pipes till summer.

Oh, and did I mention that quite a few of them are titles that were available on the previous generation consoles (hello, Skyrim and World of Goo)? I seriously hope the innovative console won’t be limited by our raised expectations towards its potential, like the Wii did.

Price

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It’s gonna cost you quite a bit to play 3D Zelda on the go. Photo credit: CNET

Normally it wouldn’t have been a problem for the Switch to bear a high price tag as a next generation console; however, the aforementioned issues does not help to justify the Switch’s US$299 pricing strategy. For that, you get a console, and nothing else. Not even the 1-2 Switch, which seems like a set of mini-games that should be bundled in the console anyway. Here’s hoping that Nintendo will release some special editions of the console, or at least one that’s bundled with its flagship titles. Who wouldn’t want a Switch with Link printed on it?

(Update: Geek Culture has updated us about the exorbitant cost of the Nintendo Switch in Singapore; albeit bundled with two games, the cost is still much higher than the current next-gen consoles.)


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Super Mario Odyssey is definitely one of the titles I’m most looking forward to. Photo credit: CraveOnline

Here’s hoping that the demand for the Switch exceeds enough expectations for game developers to develop more titles and make the console one of the more unique tech products of the year. But maybe before that, we’ll see some much needed accessories for the red-blue device, such as a portable battery pack.

(Shopee has a great deal for the grey Switch + Zelda here!)

(Featured photo credit: Nintendo)

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

Featured image credit: finalfantasy.wikia.com

If you liked Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, you’ll like Kingsglaive.

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Product placement much? Photo credit: paultan.org

Kingsglaive introduced me to the breathtaking world of Eos – a place paralleling our mother Earth, but with the inclusion of magic and Final Fantasy-style mechana. Captivating the audience with its realistic depiction of magic-infused battles, Kingsglaive did not disappoint in its CGI. Especially the characters’ hair. It’s like everyone came out from L’Oréal commercial. Haha!

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Photo credit: xboxachievements.com

My favourite character in terms of accurate human recreation has got to be King Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII – the amount of detail on the wrinkles on his face was impressive!

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Photo credit: Youtube

The use of magic for short range teleportation to the location of a thrown dagger was the main attraction of combat in Kingsglaive, and it really shines. The CGI was detailed beautifully in its rendered fast scenes, which kept me at the edge of my seat through the various battles with monsters or empowered humans alike.

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Photo credit: attackofthefanboy.com

One thing I really look out for in movies is its cinematography, and Square Enix lives up to the hype. Kingsglaive’s interpretation of a modern FF-inspired world combines the best elements of contemporary architecture with the freeform, slick elements of magic to construct its unique but relatable huildings, giving a unique sense of realism while establishing itself as a fantasy.

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Photo credit: Youtube

The rugged presentation of its plot, however, left me slightly disappointed, as there were times I felt characters were behaving a certain way only to advance the story. Of note is Libertus’ changing viewpoints on the empire and Lucis, which was the weakest element to me.

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The magical shields were rendered beautifully. Photo credit: Youtube

The movie also threw the audience into action immediately, using only a short narration to introduce the audience to the ongoing conflict, which wouldn’t capture our attention and appreciation for the hardships the characters have gone through, in my opinion. I would accept some sacrifices in action scene time for more development any day.

Furthermore, the twist of the story, while surprising, did not draw its intended shock from me, again largely due to the lack of empathy for the characters in question. It could definitely be handled better.

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Not enough development for Lunafreya 😦 Photo credit: nerdist.com

All in all, it’s a good watch for people who enjoy the fast-paced action that Kingsglaive offers, especially for those who have played the game. While it’s storyline leaves much to be desired, the art that Square Enix has created makes this worth a watch in my opinion.

P/S: the Lucci gods are bastards..

Mobius Final Fantasy

While everyone is enjoying the mobile craze that is Pokémon GO, I’m one of the few that remains uninterested at the game – primarily because the game felt more like a tech demo without any cognitive benefits to playing it. That’s for another blog post though! For now, I’ve been engrossed in the mobile game Square Enix released a few days ago, that is Mobius Final Fantasy.

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Photo credit: gamerant.com

Unlike the previous mobile offering from Square Enix, Mobius Final Fantasy drew me into its world due to its fully 3D graphics, a feat that’s seldom accomplished in a free-to-play mobile RPG game. Though my phone (Zenfone 2) wasn’t able to render the game at full quality (and stutters sometimes through the game), the world that Mobius Final Fantasy created, Palamecia, still attracts me with its realistic interpretation of a Final Fantasy-esque world, with its monsters, elements, characters and spells.

Which brings me to one of the most unique aspects of the game – it’s played in portrait! I was pleasantly surprised as most RPG games required you to play the game in landscape, which usually means with two hands. The controls are touch-optimized and I really felt that I was playing a proper mobile game with a touch of the Final Fantasy experience.

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Boss battle against a Fire Dragon.

Battles are turn-based, which might disappoint players who are used to the Active Time Battle (ATB) system that various flagship titles from the series have employed. However, the combat experience still offers enough complexity, in the form of using elemental orbs you acquired from enemies for either offense or defense; using an element for defense will affect the probability of drawing the particular element for subsequent turns, which is a key strategic element that I really enjoy.

“You need to put on some clothes.” Best dialogue ever.

The story is written by the mind behind Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X, and while I have only played the game for a short period of time, the initial setting was intriguing enough to keep me captivated – some of the dialogue is beautifully written.

Outside the main storyline and battle elements, character customization is in the form of a pseudo-deck building system that involves collecting cards from enemies and levelling them up. This aspect of the game is the most confusing and complex to me, as there are many different benefits from equipping a single card and the tutorial kinda vomitted the entire system in one go – it can be intimidating at first but I’m still trying to get the hang of it! At least there’s jobs that you can switch around, which is a nice touch.

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Social elements – renting cards from other players for spells

As mobile games are often played on the go, many of us would switch the sound off, especially if we are not wearing earphones. However, I strongly recommend playing the game with sounds on – composer Mitsuto Suzuki has done a fantastic job in crafting the perfect ambient soundtracks for the game, and most of the dialogue are also voice-acted in pure Final Fantasy fashion. It’s a beautiful, quaint touch that makes Mobius Final Fantasy stand out from the crowded mobile game industry.

Of course, the game isn’t without its flaws – the constant requirement for an internet connection can be infuriating at times, especially when loading times are long. Also, the game has crashed on me multiple times, but luckily not too much to turn me off.


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Photo credit: androidauthority.net

All in all, I would recommend the game to casual gamers who miss playing old RPG games like the old Final Fantasy playstation titles. You might just find it a more intelligent time waster compared to Pokémon GO. 🙂

Sky Force 2014

Does anyone remember playing Sky Force on their old Symbian phones, when Nokia was the smartphone brand? It was really fun while it lasted – Sky Force was one of the more polished games in the Symbian S60V2 generation of smartphones, among others.

Photo credit: allaboutsymbian.com, androidforums.com

Thus it was a pleasant surprise when I discovered Sky Force 2014, a release on modern smartphones celebrating the original series’ ten year anniversary. I knew I had to try it!

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The incredible graphics. Image credit: idreams.pl

The first thing about Sky Force 2014 is how incredibly polished it is – the menu interface is slick, the gameplay is fluid, and the graphics leaves no room for error. It’s a beautiful game. I’ve played other shoot ’em ups found on the Android Play Store, and nothing comes close to the overall cohesiveness of Sky Force 2014.

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Creative level design. Image credit: idreams.pl

The game design is exceptional as well; each stage introduces different enemies with a multitude of firing patterns, as well as bosses each with their unique style. The different difficulty levels for each stage (unlocked with achievements such as destroying 100% of enemy forces) cater to both the casual gamers and the hardcore achievers, and offers replayability. One of the stages (pictured above) even challenges you to win the stage without the ability to fire bullets!

Pictured: Stage selection, hangar for upgrades.

The hangar offers plenty of upgrade options, ranging from the main firing cannons, heat-seeking missiles to single use but powerful laser beams and energy shields. One thing I love about Sky Force 2014 is that while it offers in-game purchases, it’s not pay to win; you can grind enough to get stars to fully upgrade your ship.


There’s a new release of the game (Sky Force Reloaded) and while I haven’t played it yet, I’m confident that the studio will deliver something of quality. If you haven’t tried this game before, give it a shot!

Injustice: Gods Among Us – Prequel Comic

Warning: Minor spoilers for the storyline of both the prequel comic and the game.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is a difficult game. As someone who’s used to randomly smashing all the attack buttons when playing Marvel vs Capcom or Street Fighter, the impossibly long list of combo moves, which differs from hero to hero, made me give up playing Injustice properly – it became more of a game for me and my friends to laugh at each other over how Batman can summon his Batmobile to hit the Flash, even though he’s supposed to be the fastest man alive.

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Like this. Credits: https://sgulgi.wordpress.com/injustice-gods-among-us-review/

But the setting of the game both intrigued and attracted me. Indeed, if the all-powerful (yes, he is) Superman turned over to the dark side, how would the DC universe react? And that’s what the writers of Mortal Kombat attempts to answer with Injustice: Gods Among Us (Prequel Comic), a five-year long comic book leading up to the storyline in the game. And I must say, the prequel comic is. So. Freaking. Awesome.

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“.. I think I’m going crazy in the next five years and counting.”

Without going into too much detail about the storyline, Superman experiences a heart-shattering event, which made him kill, and attempt to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders by initiating a worldwide ceasefire. If that doesn’t sound like good news, it isn’t – through his attempts to prevent more deaths, he only managed to cause them more, and that’s with the help of other fellow superheroes who believe in his crusade. Now this is the type of storyline that the mainstream media probably wouldn’t tackle (just look at how Batman v Superman flopped), but Injustice executed it flawlessly. I sympathize with Superman because of his loss, and can’t even begin to understand how he feels after what happened.

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The artwork is amazing and detailed

The questionable choices Superman and team has made is a constant reminder to myself about how we don’t make rational choices when we are angry and emotional. I find the parallel between the comic and daily lives daring and refreshing.

At the same time, other characters, who either side with Superman on his regime or with Batman in the insurgency, all have their own reasons for their choices, which is cleverly reflected through the different chapters in the comics. And by other characters, I mean hundreds of different superheroes from all over the DC universe – think Zatanna, Doctor Fate, Swamp Thing, even Zeus. I really have to give credit to the writers, who managed to combine so many characters (each with their own stories) into a single coherent and atypical storyline.

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Green Lantern(s) played a main part in Year Two

The best part about the comic, is that the behavior of our favorite heroes are in line with their personalities in the “normal” DC universe – and even if there’s a difference, there’ll be a story to explain and make sense of it. It makes you feel as if this could happen anytime, instead of it being a separate, alternate universe or sorts.

The comic also serves as an introduction of sorts to the overarching DC universe and its rich set of superheroes, and made me realize just how amazing the DC writers have constructed the universe and kept its boundaries in check (I’ve always been more of a Marvel fan previously). If only Batman v Superman was this awesome.

If you’ve always wanted to start reading superhero comics but don’t know where to begin because of the insane number of chapters associated with the various superheroes, I highly recommend Injustice Prequel Comic.

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The Flash costume is too awesome!

Random Updates

Okay, I just can’t seem to type the first sentence of this post coherently, haha, but the past week has been a mix of random events, such as..

Diablo III

Diablo_III_coverI know I’m really slow, the game’s been out for a year! But as I didn’t want to buy the game (it’s a little expensive for me), and my brother has stopped playing, I figured this would be a good chance to catch the game! I was a big fan of Diablo II, and Diablo III definitely has its awesomes and quirks compared to it.

The awesomes

  • The graphics are amazing. I love colorful stuff.
  • I quite like the rune system – modifying your skills to give them additional effects. (But it’s a bad thing too – see later)
  • Storyline and cinematics. I like the twist, and seriously, Blizzard’s animation team should make a movie.

The quirks

  • The rune system seriously cripples the replayability of this game. I mean, in D2 you can replay characters endlessly with a wide variety of ways to distribute your skill points, but in D3 it can be changed on the fly. You could just change when you’re bored, and quickly get sick of it.
  • 4 players co-op only? 😦
  • Always-on internet connection. No more offline slashing when you’re travelling (with your family for visiting, for example)

Despite not finishing the game yet, I’ve played every single character sans Barbarian to Level 20+. It’s interesting but I figured I’ll probably get bored of it soon. Which is good – I’ve been playing nonstop 😦 But still, play it if you haven’t. It’s a good experience!

Dance Classes

Been going to O School recently for dance classes, and I really need the exercise man (after so many hours of Diablo!). One thing that really applies to me when taking dance classes: you must be in the correct mindset to learn. Each intermediate class is $16 and I realized that I really must tell myself to try to absorb more techniques and execution, or I’ll feel like I’m wasting money. >< That’s why I don’t go for classes excessively – I’ll probably be too tired to learn anything aside from the choreography.

Shopping

Bought awesome S$15 shoes from the bazaar held by DC Comics Superheroes at Ion Orchard!

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Mine’s black – the brown one is my brother’s. Photo credits: xianyong

The bazaar’s really awesome and cheap, so do check it out if you’re free! They also sell lots of clothes (Superman/Batman logos – childhood loves yo), pants and all sorts of jackets and lalala. I bought a S$10 bermudas!

(This is not really shopping, but I really don’t buy clothes normally, so this is already ‘big’ spending for me! I figured I should pamper myself just a little for scoring well in my exams last semester. XD)

PC Show 2013

Went to PC Show yesterday! It was crazily crowded. I really felt like advising everyone there not to buy a laptop, because Intel just announced their 4th generation Core processors, which is slated to increase both performance and battery life! But oh man. AMD also has new offerings in their Richland family of processors. So if you’re reading this, don’t buy a laptop just yet! Wait a while for the new Intel processors (i3/5/7-4xxx) to arrive, and you’ll be getting a good bang for buck.

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There’s not much photos in my blog posts nowadays (and I don’t update my Instagram), because my phone (Motorola Atrix) has its touch screen, again, spoiled. 😦 The top portion of the touch screen does not respond to touches anymore (which renders my phone kind of useless, since Android apps are mostly designed to use an Action Bar – menus and navigation buttons at the top section; and the notification bar is on top too).

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So essentially, my phone became a dumbphone again. This is really troubling because I’m leaving for Dubai in two days time, and I probably won’t be able to snap photos and blahblahblah. I hate it when all my tech gadgets spoil urghhhhh