3/18/2017

I Briefly Played the Switch

My friend got the Switch and told me "come over and PLAY THAT SHIT!" So I did with him and two of his other boiz. BOYYEEEZZZZ!!!! Alright so here are my brief amateur thoughts on that crap.

Ultimately I could talk about some major model design oversights, the joycon system is super innovative and the controller itself is surprisingly comfortable, yadda yadda, The Switch is still just a game system, so maybe I should talk about the games. He has four games and we played all four, so I'm going to hit them one by one, then talk about more general thoughts about The Switch afterwards.

SUPER BOMBERMAN R
(Total time spent playing: roughly 3.5 hours)

This is the game we played the most of, but I don't think it was because the game was super fun and well-designed. Anything bad you have heard about Super Bomberman R on the internet is most likely true, albeit a lot of game critique is subjective. This is still, at its core, just another damn Bomberman game, however, they managed to fuck that up even, so I think this is easily the worst Bomberman game I have ever played (in opposition to Super, Party Edition, 64, and Jetters). The online multiplayer is incredibly frustrating. The lag is ungodly, and if someone ditches the game, their bomber is still in play, meaning they can win by doing literally nothing and more accurately, not even playing the match. They don't even need to have their Switch on. Local multiplayer between three people seemed to have input lag as well, which makes zero sense. The single player mode is what my friend and I played after everyone else left. Two people can play the story mode together, and after doing so I can't imagine playing it solo. We started on World 2 because he had already beaten 1 and this may shock you but I wasn't super invested in the in-depth lore of Bomberman.

The story mode follows a group of Bombers that each have a different personality, oh, sorry, different lazy, caricatured personality gimmick. White Bomber is the leader that is hell-bent on saving the world and training to save the world. Yellow Bomber is optimistic to a fault, Blue Bomber has unrealistic narcolepsy, I don't know what Green Bomber's deal is, Black Bomber is vain, Pink Bomber is girl, and Aqua Bomber is also girl. I really wish all that was not accurate. Each world features ten stages in the style of old Bomberman games like Super Bomberman and Party Edition. Sometimes you just have to beat all of the enemies and get to the goal, but now there are more objectives such as finding randomly hidden keys, touching hidden switches, or escorting really stupid Bombers to a safe zone. There is also a world that hurt our eyes because it is all purple and way too luminous (see the internet worlds in Shadow the Hedgehog... and then multiply the burning sensation in your retinas by five). Each world ends in a two-phase boss. The first one is just them moving around as a bomber, like you, and you only have to hit them once, but each has a gimmick that makes it nearly impossible. Instead of a crafty puzzle to figure out how to get past this gimmick, these bosses all amount to randomly throwing bombs down and avoiding their bombs in hopes that one of your bombs kills him. This leads to their second form, which has 3D movement a la 64 and Jetters, but your bombs explode in the shape of a cross based on tiles... invisible tiles... These bosses are much easier and more intuitive than their first forms, but are way more tedious and waste a lot of your time. Most of them can only be hit after they use a certain move, so all of their other randomly selected moves purely waste your time.

I think we played this for so long because by the time midnight hit, we had made it to World 6, which is the end of the game. This only has two bosses, which are unbelievably identical. If the rest of the game didn't already feel slapped together, this feels like it was rushed even further. This boss is easy because most of the time he doesn't even target you. It takes forever and nothing telegraphs how close you are to defeating this particular boss so you have to rinse and repeat the same strategy over and over again until he eventually dies, again after waiting for the right move to hurt him at all. With these complaints, I have only scratched the surface with my gripes on the gameplay of Super Bomberman R, but let's talk about two other things that really annoy me before I move on to something else already. GEEZ!

Super Bomberman R's story mode does run on a life system, but its continue system breaks it. When you run out of all nine lives, you spend points that you earn by playing the game to continue. What difficulty you are in determines how many points that costs. These points are also the only way to unlock things, and there are a lot of bullshit deaths, especially because everything is a one-hit kill. I wish this game was a one-hit kill. After you beat the game, the shop allows you to unlock most of the Bombers you fought on your journey, however they cost almost five times what you actually earn by beating the game. The only other way to get points is to spam the story mode. So you have to really love this game, to an unhealthy amount of love, to unlock anything. Because this is also the only way to unlock stages and extra antennae or skins. Loop back around again to where I started talking about this game and you will realize that this is not impossible, but why the hell would you want to do this?

This is by no fault of The Switch supposedly. Other games seem to work online, according to other people on the internet. We also didn't discover any input lag on any other games we played, so all of the issues are just Super Bomberman R being a shitty game, and Konami being a shitty company. The only redeeming quality of the game is the multiplayer because again, it is still just Bomberman, that much functions. But due to aforementioned lag (even in local multiplayer at times), you are better off just playing one of the older ones. Really. Almost any one of the older ones.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD
(Total time spent playing: roughly 10 minutes)

I'm sure Breath of the Wild is awesome but it is not a party game so I messed around with it while we were waiting on another game to download. My friend just started me up on his file and told me what was what when I asked him about basic stuff. As I only spent a few minutes with it, I don't remember much. I remember liking the control scheme once I got used to it. I mainly just glided off of tall things, glided off of a hill onto an enemy on a tower and killed him while landing on his tower. I found a few chests, it is pretty cool that chests are actually just salvageable items in the game and not just "map", "compass", or "thing you need to get out of the next room". The cooking system I thought was pretty genius. I played with a chicken, then beat said chicken, because it's a Zelda game so I have to do it at least once. It doesn't murder you as hard in this game... or at all. But that's okay. The game implores you to hunt animals for food, so according to my friend, you learn that mechanic and then afterwards find chickens. Instead of giving you food, then chickens beat you pretty decently, but not enough to kill you (granted you have about 6 hearts or more) so you aren't punished by playing by the games rules. The visuals are really clean and pretty to look at while still looking like it belongs in the franchise. The weapon-breaking system was really cool. It was not nearly as annoying as I thought it would be at all, but ironically the Master Sword pissed me off. I know its Zelda tradition to have a Master Sword in the game and let you wield it but fuck tradition in video games. I don't care about tradition in video games. The Master Sword can't be broken, but has a battery. A fucking battery. So overtime it just dies out and you have to put it away to charge it. This gives you a weapon that hails over all other weapons just for not being able to break alone, but then it runs out and instead of switching to one of the other fifty weapons in your inventory, Link just grabs at an imaginary sword. Why is he sassy at you? He's the one that is going to die if he doesn't pull out another weapon! And one morrreeeee thingg!!!! The stamina meter can suck my dick. It can suck my dick dry. It has way too short of a time span so getting anywhere without the quick travel mechanic is more of a chore than it should be. Why can't he always just run at that speed? He did it in Ocarina. Link to the Past, he had Pegasus Boots and was zipping around everywhere! Is he an asthmatic in Breath of the Wild? Is the name of the game a cruel pun? My other friend when I said my only major complaint so far is the stamina meter said, and I quote "you know you can increase it right?" Yeah! It WAS increased! I was playing it on a file that had poured many hours in and was towards the end of the game, and I still can't run through a fucking field! But sure. Yeah. 10/10. Perfect fucking game. Why? Just why? I get the stamina meter for things like gliding (failsafe for glide-related glitches), climbing walls, or pushing large rocks. But why running? That's like having a Batman game where Batman needs to catch his breath after punching too much. Fuck this.

The rest of what I experienced was really cool though. I might get it for Wii U one day because I still really like the Wii U and nothing has convinced me to get a Switch yet.

FAST RMX
(Total time spent playing: roughly 1.5 hours)

This game surprised the hell out of me. It's like F-Zero, exactly what it looks like and what you probably expect it to be at first glance, but it has a few differences that really grabbed my attention within just a few seconds. There are boost paths on the ground that are orange and blue, and your vehicle has two different boost modes corresponding to orange and blue. If you ride an orange panel with orange on, then you get a speed boost, but if you are still in blue mode, it slows you down (like the hazard space in F-Zero). There is also a boost meter which works similar to F-Zero but not identical. You hold in the analog stick to activate the boost, which is not as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. You would think swerving around and holding in the button at the same time might be annoying, but that boost is so unbelievably fast that you really shouldn't activate it around any remotely tight corners anyways. The boost comes in short doses and can get you in a lot of trouble if you don't know the stage well enough or use it in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are a lot of moving obstacles to account for as well that could move right in front of your boosting vehicle when you least expect it. You just have to play it for yourself to understand how fast it is. I mean, I know I am probably the 10,000th person to say this, but it has earned the right to have a generic name of just "Fast". The stages all look really nice too and split-screen is done as well as it can be. You only start with three vehicles but you can unlock about eight more if I remember correctly. Honestly I loved my time with Fast RMX, and if I had The Switch, I would probably pour way too much time into it. In my opinion it is every bit as good as F-Zero from a mechanical standpoint. I will say it lacks a certain flair of personality in general and just kind of feels like future racer big whoopty doo in comparison to F-Zero, but maybe years of playing F-Zero X have just spoiled me. That's a nitpick at the very most though. Fast RMX is awesome. And it's only $20! Super Bomberman R was a full-priced title and that game blows!

SNIPPERCLIPS
(Total time spent playing: roughly 1 hour)

One friend had left and the remaining three of us played Snipperclips. It's a lot of fun! I honestly don't know how well it plays alone, but with three people it was seamless and so goofy. In Snipperclips, you play as weird paper creatures that can overlap and snip each other to make new shapes out of themselves. This is how you solve puzzles. The puzzles are really intricate and left us stumped a few times, even with someone in the room who had played the game for much longer than the others. It requires clear communication and strategy which leads to utter silliness between the human players as well as what is happening on screen. I can't imagine anyone buying a Switch just for this though, or a group of 3-4 people wanting to spend their entire night playing a puzzle game together. But wait! Snipperclips does not just offer puzzles, but some form of arena mode very reminiscent of BattleBlock Theater (not that BattleBlock Theater has a patent on 2D basketball or punching your friends). This has a few mini-games that you can play competitively, but it works really weird. So in BattleBlock, for example, if you play with 3 people, the game automatically goes 2v1. One player is always alone, and almost always screwed, because there is no AI stand-in. A similar problem persists with Snipperclips, but it works much weirder. At the start of the game, there are obvious, color-coded score markers for two of the players, and the third seems to just be left as a wild card. They can side with whoever at whatever point in the game. I don't know if this is a positive or a negative thing for me or anyone reading this. There is also a free-for-all fight mode where you use the cutting each other mechanic to just simply cut each other until there is nothing left of them and they disappear. We did this in a three-stock match for way longer than we thought we would. Snipperclips offers both brain-dead simplicity and mind-boggling complexity to make a complete package of a party puzzle game, and since there aren't too many of those around, I think Snipperclips is really something to behold. Just not a reason to get a Switch.

MY OVERALL IMPRESSION

The Switch is simultaneously one of the coolest and most disappointing consoles I have ever seen. I have always seen it as a mold breaker but something that won't be perfected until one or two generations from now, and after playing it for myself for roughly seven hours, my opinion there still holds. The Switch has a few minute technical issues that lie in the form of syncing glitches and that weird thing where connecting the joycon on its cover thing the wrong way makes it nearly impossible to take back off, but these are fairly easy to overlook. The real crime here is the games. The Switch is another system like many before it where the developers seem to forget that games are one of the main things customers buy game consoles for. I know it seems stupid, but I have no other explanation. The system is really fast, has a lot of functionality, and is set up comfortably in addition to its intuitive controller design, but all of this is moot with no games. I was recently looking back on titles from older systems that have already discontinued, and I stumbled on the Nintendo 64 library upon launch. Its library wasn't great either. However it made up for lack of quantity with quality. It launched only with Super Mario 64, but within just a few months had Wave Race 64, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, and Mario Kart 64, and after a huge dry spell the world was graced with Star Fox 64 as well. That was just the beginning of what is now seen as one of the best consoles of all time. I'm not saying The Switch might be one of the best consoles of all time, but I'm saying if Nintendo and/or the developers of Switch games get their shit together and consumers get their heads out of nostalgia's ass, The Switch has a chance. This isn't a Wii spin-off, to customers and developers. You can make actual games on this now. An open mindset can make The Switch a system worth buying beyond its mere amusement and potential. Who wants to pay that much money for potential? No one. In case that wasn't clear, the answer is no one.

If you don't have a Wii U, The Switch might be right up your alley. If you do already have a Wii U, hold on to it and wait for bigger games to come out. Not even bigger games, just games that more effectively retain your interest that you can't get on other systems (Breath of the Wild included; the Wii U version is 99% identical to the Switch version). Personally right now there is nothing on the Switch that interests me enough to buy a Switch. I have Yooka-Laylee pre-ordered on Steam, I have Shovel Knight on Wii U, I can get Sonic Mania on PS4, and even Breath of the Wild is also on a console that I already own. This is just where the console game market is unfortunately heading, but I think there are a lot of smart ideas on The Switch as a console that can change that and keep consoles relevant.

At the very least, they can always entice me with Pokemon and Super Smash Bros. That has unfortunately worked before. Could admittedly work again.

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