Tag Archives: Switch

REVIEW: Splatoon 2

splatoon 2 banner.jpg

Well, this review took me a lot longer to write than I expected. After completing the single-player portion of Splatoon 2 and leveling up my character past level ten, I was hoping to write my review soon after… But it took me longer than I expected to finish the single-player sections in this game. I ended up spending way more time on turf war and ranked matches, as these game modes are where Splatoon 2 shines, and they are very fun. As of this review, I’m level 23, with a decent number of hours logged in both the competitive game modes as well as salmon run, Splatoon 2’s brand new player versus A.I. game mode. With that said, I’ll now share my thoughts on the overall package that is contained in Splatoon 2. Enjoy!

splatoon 2 weapons

Splatoon 2 is a wonderful game to play, featuring enough maps and weapons to keep players hooked for months to come. The core gameplay loop is the same as it was in the first game; players control ‘inklings’ that utilize a vast array of weaponry to cover the map in their team’s ink. This involves inklings shooting at the floors as well as each other in order to prevent the enemy team from inking the map with their own color, but the focus is still firmly placed on covering the map with your own ink. It may just be me, but the maps in Splatoon 2 feel smaller than those found in the first game. This causes firefights to break out more frequently and matches to end closer than before. It’s a change that I wasn’t expecting, but is welcome. In addition to this, most of the weaponry available in the first game is now available in the sequel. This is in stark contrast to the launch of Splatoon 1, where only a few weapons were available from the start, new blasters and brushes becoming available in the months following the game’s release. This gives Splatoon 2 stronger legs to stand up as a complete package, as opposed to the lack of launch-day content that was found in the first game. Nintendo has said they will be providing free updates to the game over time, similar to the way ARMS is handling it, but even if there were no upcoming updates aside from splatfests (the game’s monthly competition between two teams) I’d still be happy with the overall package.

splatoon 2 salmon run

As I mentioned earlier, the biggest new game mode coming to Splatoon 2 is known as salmon run, and after playing many hours of it, I’m convinced that it’s a blast. In most video games, I prefer player versus A.I. matches as opposed to competitive multiplayer, and to see Splatoon 2 receive this treatment is extremely welcome. Overall, it’s a fun game mode that is marred by a few issues. The most obvious of these issues is the widely reported complaint that many players have; online salmon run is only available during specific days and hours of the week, locking entry from those wanting to play outside of the allotted time slots. It’s a real bummer that Nintendo took this approach, as salmon run is a great way to unlock specific loot, and is very fun to boot. Perhaps they will hear fan criticism and respond to this issue, but as of this writing, there are many people that are upset by the decision to lock salmon run gameplay behind specific days of the week, myself included.

splatoon 2 salmon run enemies.jpg

Salmon run features a simple premise of surviving and collecting stage pickups, masked beneath a layer of surprisingly deep complexity as to how players tackle their foes. There are a number of unique boss characters that must be defeated within each round, and the strategy on how to defeat each one differs from one another. The game’s tutorial teaches the basics on how to take down each boss, but I definitely recommend some outside research, because there are more ways to tackle your foes outside of what the game shares. Players will only be able to survive by combining their efforts and communicating on the battlefield, as each person fulfills a specific role each round, depending on which weapon is given to them.

splatoon 2 logo

This is my first gripe with salmon run. I understand the push to give players pre-selected weaponry, but having a poor set of four weapons makes each round more difficult than I think is necessary. I feel like before a round starts, players should have a choice of which weapon they wish to use during that round, so that nobody has to end up using the splat roller or the ink rifle unless they desire it. However, I understand this is a balance decision that makes sense in the game’s surprisingly high difficulty curve. I just don’t enjoy using the splat roller, ink sniper rifle, or any of the brushes for salmon run! I would appreciate a way to avoid using these weapons.

splatoon 2 salmon run boss

Another issue I would like to touch upon is the abundance of bosses that show up during each round. The last thirty seconds of each round in salmon run is often the most hectic, due to the game ramping up the number of on-screen enemies that pelt ink your way to stop you. I feel that the number of enemies present at one time far exceeds a number that are capable of being dealt with, resulting in many frustrating deaths when the entire team is wiped out. My brain’s first response to this thought is simply “well, get good” but in a majority of the games I have played, it seems as if every player on my team had a great deal of difficulty in simply staying alive against the frankly ridiculous number of enemies that flooded the game mode’s rather small survival arena. Some deaths feel a bit unfair, such as when you are killed by a sudden ink airstrike pelted from above. Combined with the other boss attacks, it is often difficult to survive a round without going down at least one time, which I feel is a bit unbalanced in the game’s favor. Despite these issues, I will keep coming back to play more salmon run, because the frustration I’ve felt for these issues pales in comparison to the satisfaction of surviving a game, collecting as many pick-ups as possible and defeating the enemies swarming a team of inklings.

splatoon 2 roly poly

I admit that I don’t have a whole lot to say about Splatoon 2’s competitive multiplayer portion. As a fan of the first Splatoon, each of the game modes in the sequel offer fun gameplay with a satisfying unlock system of receiving experience and currency, used to purchase new weapons and gear. If you were a fan of the first game, the sequel probably will not disappoint; likewise, if you did not enjoy the first game, the sequel doesn’t do a substantial amount to differ itself from the first game. However, there are a few big points that I would like to mention. The special abilities offered to players are much more satisfying this time around, rewarding timing and skill to pull off. Whereas in the first Splatoon the special skills on display felt a bit all over the place, some being extremely useful while others were lackluster, every special ability in Splatoon 2 has a meaningful use in battle. The tenta rockets are a favorite of mine, especially when playing splat zones, and the drop attack special ability is satisfying every time. The all-new maps are great, although I wish more of the elements featured in the single player portion of the game were also available in online multiplayer. The speed ramps and grind rails feel like they’d make a fine addition to the hectic online battles, but these exciting new interactive objects only make an appearance outside of multiplayer. This feels like a missed opportunity, especially when comparing the differences between Splatoon 1 and 2’s multiplayer. Despite this, online matches are a fun time, and searching for other players is usually a fast process. The lack of an exit button in the matchmaking menu is a bit bizarre, as is the inability to switch weapons and gear in between matches, but the core gameplay loop of inking enemy turf while taking down your foes is just as satisfying as it was in the first game.

splatoon 2 grind rail

Now that I’m finished giving my thoughts on the multiplayer portion of Splatoon 2, I’ll dive right into why I’m slightly disappointed with the single player sections in this game. Overall, the single player levels are better than most campaigns found in other first and third person shooters on the market. Most levels are memorable, each featuring fun and unique interactive objects while providing satisfying shooting and platforming action. The story is rather light, but this is similar to how it was told in the first game, and is not all that surprising. Most of the boss fights are great fun, especially world four’s boss fight, which takes advantage of the game’s smart implementation of vertical space. After the simply awesome final boss battle in the first Splatoon, I was expecting an equally exciting final battle in the sequel; unfortunately I was left disappointed, as the last fight features an all too familiar strategy to beating the game’s boss, similar to the first Splatoon’s final boss. The single player also doesn’t introduce any new supporting characters, like the first Splatoon’s Captain Cuttlefish, instead relying on Marie and Sheldon to tell the story. Each of the new characters are instead featured in Splatoon 2’s plaza, where the player goes to purchase new gear and access the game’s various playable modes. The ending of the single player is still satisfying, if totally unsurprising, and rewarding online multiplayer rewards for completing the single player is a great incentive for playing through it.

 

Splatoon 2 is a great game, complete with a satisfying single player story mode, cooperative survival matches, and the same great online multiplayer action that fans have come to expect from the series. It feels like Nintendo played it a bit safe for this sequel, but the same tight action and some fantastic new music is on offer for a fresh experience. The inclusion of “miiverse 2” also known as the in-game user drawings found in the main plaza is also a great inclusion, providing many laughs and some impressive art (I’ll share a couple of my favorites down below). New abilities and weaponry introduced in the future ensure I’ll be playing Splatoon 2 for many months to come! 

splatoon 2 speeding ticketsplatoon 2 closed mall

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Hey, all. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading my review. If there’s anything in this write-up that you think could use improvement, please feel welcome to share your thoughts! I’m always looking to improve my writing. Have a great week!

 

  • Matt

THOUGHTS ON: Gonner

Gonner title

Last week, I noticed some Twitter users that I follow voice their praise toward a recently-released Nintendo Switch game called Gonner. It’s been available on Steam since last October, but was made available for the Switch within the past couple of weeks. The game is a rogue-lite 2D platformer with shooting elements, and the art style was interesting enough for me to give it a look. Static images of the game do not do the art justice, so while I will post some pictures here to spruce up this piece, I recommend watching some gameplay of Gonner before passing judgement on the game. It looks good in motion! Anyway, here are my thoughts of the game after the first few hours.

 

I’m a big fan of randomized levels in video games. Among my favorite games of the past few years are rogue-lites such as Crypt of the Necrodancer and Enter the Gungeon, so when a new game in this genre is shown off, I’ll usually give it a look. Gonner stars a small blob-like creature that collects uniquely-shaped skulls to place on its head. It’s a cute character design that feels at home in the game’s world, despite some dark imagery that pops up during the adventure (one of the merchants between each game is called Death, portrayed as a white cloaked ghost). Every enemy you face against is shaded a crimson red, many of them sporting sharp teeth and a hunger for the player character. The decision to make every enemy the same color keeps the action on screen mostly understandable, so a common coloring scheme is appreciated.

Gonner shot

Similar to other rogue-lite titles, Gonner begins with a short tutorial of its core mechanics. There are no words used to describe these abilities, only a diagram of the player’s controller with buttons on the controller highlighted in accordance to certain actions. During the game’s introduction, the actions that can be performed by the player in the beginning are rather simplistic; jump, shoot, reload, wall-jump, and crouch are all that are provided. Upon completion of the tutorial, however, things get a little more interesting, with different weaponry and abilities to play around with.

 

Different skulls can be collected and equipped by the player to grant them unique abilities, which often aid in hectic combat scenarios. This is also true of the equipment found in the game, which grant the player a tactical edge. Some of these abilities include a time stop for all enemy movement, burst fire from your gun, or an extra jump for those treacherous leaps across chasms. The best part about collecting these items is not the abilities that they provide, but discovering how each of them works. Beyond teaching its basic control scheme, Gonner does not provide the player with an explanation for anything else; that’s up to you to figure out during your adventure. Each of the pick-ups is easily identifiable, and understanding each item’s usage is satisfying. I appreciate when games don’t teach every single mechanic to the player, instead opting to leave things up to experimentation and analysis.

 

The game’s sound design works well with its dimly-lit levels, opting for music that is a lower volume than most other rogue-lite games. The music that plays is punctuated with the strong sounds of firing bullets at your enemies until they explode, providing more ammunition and currency to use in mid-level shops. Enemies communicate their attack patterns well, and figuring these out to most effectively defeat them is crucial to success. Although it may sound odd at first, my favorite part of each level is at the very end. If every enemy in a level is cleared, the music that played throughout that entire level comes to a halt, with the player’s movement and shooting being the only audible in-game sounds. Each time I clear a room entirely of enemies, I feel a small sense of dread when the game’s music cuts out, almost making me feel like a monster. I don’t know if this is the game’s intent, as I have yet to finish it, but I like the style that is on display so far.

Gonner banner

I’m glad I gave Gonner a chance, because the platforming and shooting in this game is very satisfying. Featuring impressive sound mixing and a beautiful art style, I’m looking forward to playing more and seeing what happens during the later levels. If you are into platformers, rogue-lite games, or are just looking for something different on your Switch, definitely give this one a look.

 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. Please feel free to provide constructive criticism of my writing in the comments below, as I’m always looking to improve. Have a great week, all!

 

  • Matt

Review: ARMS – A Powerful First Punch For Nintendo

arms wallpaper

Hey folks, Matt here with a new review. As you could probably tell from the title, I’ll be writing my thoughts on the recently-released ARMS for Nintendo Switch, Nintendo’s latest attempt at capitalizing on the eSports craze. Does it provide a fun and much-needed addition to the Switch’s growing catalogue of games, or will it be forgotten upon Splatoon 2’s release next month? Well, I am hoping to answer these questions in the following paragraph. Enjoy.

 

Yeah, it’s a fun game. You should play it if you enjoy fighting games. Thanks for reading!

arms twintelle

Anyway, on to the real review.

 

ARMS was an unexpected reveal back in January during the very first live presentation for the Nintendo Switch. The game was revealed alongside a short snippet of gameplay that showed off its premise, and at first, I was not sold. Fighting games are fun, sure, but Nintendo’s history in the genre is not so diverse. The most prolific, exclusive fighting game series that has come from Nintendo is Super Smash Brothers, and… What else? I suppose you can include Pokken Tournament and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom in that list, but these still amount to a rather small catalogue for the genre on Nintendo platforms. These games are mostly well-regarded by fans as great titles. Back in January, seeing a first-party developed fighting game made exclusively for a Nintendo console was exciting, and I was keen to see more on the company’s latest effort. After completing the game’s main single-player mode on multiple difficulties with the ten available fighters, and engaging in at least 10+ hours of the online multiplayer madness, I believe I can provide a fleshed-out piece on my opinion of the game.

arms byte and barq

The level of polish on display in ARMS is simply wonderful. Combat has been a smooth journey, with only a few hiccups along the way. These issues were found entirely in the online multiplayer department; I’ve only had one disconnected game during my time with ARMS, and only one online game with a noticeable level of lag present. Besides these two instances, I have found every match I played online and offline to be a silky-smooth and precise battle between up to four combatants on-screen at a given time. My worries about the game’s motion controls have been mostly alleviated, as I’ve only had a couple of instances where I threw out a punch when I meant to block, but these mistakes were made only a small handful of times. Coming to grips with the game’s unique control scheme takes some getting used to, but I found the game to be an enjoyable experience using either the motion controls or standard controls. Both options offer a similar level of precision when fighting opponents, and I can now say I’m comfortable playing with either control scheme. Despite this, Nintendo’s heavy marketing toward using the game’s motion controls swayed me to attempt playing ARMS using the ‘thumbs-up grip’ as described by the big N, and I’m glad I gave it a shot, as this method of playing offers a precise level of play on-par with the traditional method of using a Switch pro controller.

thumbs up grip

Well, perhaps the word ‘precise’ may be a bit generous when talking about ARMS’ 2v2 game modes. As has been documented by other players, the 2v2 battles can be rather hectic due to the great number of arms flying across the screen at any given time. When a player is thrown by a grab, their teammate is also thrown by that same grab, causing some confusing scenarios where you aren’t aware your teammate is being thrown across the screen, only for yourself to be punished by that attack as well. I find the 2v2 game modes to be the least enjoyable among the game’s ‘party mode’, where players can engage in a solid variety of game types mostly revolving around punching one another.

 

Speaking of punching fighters, did you know that there’s a *spoiler* boss character who uses six arms to fight you? Yep, that’s right, the boss character known as Hedlok makes an appearance in the game’s Grand Prix mode as the player’s final combatant. Utilizing six arms, this hulking metal monstrosity is, to put it bluntly, broken. What do I mean by this? Well, let’s break down the classic fighting game logic of rock, paper, and scissors.

hedlok

A traditional fighting game often features three main ways of attacking. In very simplified terms, there is on-foot combat, mid-air combat, and grabs. The on-foot attacks are often a player’s primary method of attack, but can be negated by a guard block from their opposition. A guard block can be interrupted by a player’s grab, causing damage from the opponent’s throw. Finally, mid-air attacks can be a good way to surprise the enemy, but can be interrupted by an opponent’s anti-air attack if the mid-air attack is too often relied upon.

 

ARMS takes advantage of this traditional rock, paper, and scissors formula, incorporating on-foot punches, mid-air punches, and grabs into the mix. Unlike other fighting games, ARMS allows grabs to be thrown from a large distance, as well as in mid-air, a feature that I’m surprisingly okay with, as it feels well-balanced in most fighter match-ups (barring Ninjara, of course. I think he’s a little too fast for my liking). These punches and grabs are all able to be deflected by a player’s own punches, as long as the appropriate arms are selected for the deflection.

Arms mechanica

This is where the fault in Hedlok’s design comes into play. When Hedlok attacks, he throws out a series of three punches from each side, as opposed to a normal attack from other fighters consisting of one punch. These punches come in fast succession of one another, and are often difficult to deflect by the player’s own punches, and so dodging is always preferred over deflecting these attacks. This would be okay in its own right, however, the cooldown time for Hedlok to throw out another set of punches from that same set of arms is way too short. He is able to dish out a second series of punches right upon the first of the three arms being pulled back in (I know this is difficult to visualize, and perhaps I’m doing a terrible job of explaining this event, but bear with me!) In this regard, I find the fight to feel rather one-sided in favor of Hedlok. Maybe he is not quite as broken in difficulty as Shao-Khan was in Mortal Kombat for the PS3 and Xbox 360, but the battle still feels unfair in more ways than one. Inputs from my punches felt like they were instantly being read by the enemy AI, and super attacks that appeared to have connected with the enemy were dodged and countered with the enemy’s own super-charged attack.

 

Despite these balancing issues, I find the game to be enjoyable, as I stated earlier. On the surface, the game appears to have little content, and I think this claim is justified when you compare it to the likes of juggernauts of in-game content such as Tekken 7 and Super Smash Bros. For Wii U. However, the accessibility of each of the ten fighters and different pairings of arms for each one of them offers hundreds of possibilities for battle, and I think it works in the game’s favor. Would ARMS be an even better game with some more fighters and stages to battle on? Sure, that would be a great addition. Thankfully, Nintendo will be doing just that in the coming months, all of it as free game updates, similar to the way Splatoon was handled on the Wii U.

Arms party

 

I’m sure I missed some other points I wanted to bring up, but overall I’m finding my time with ARMS to be fun and engaging. The motion controls work well, the fighter designs are fantastic offering great variety, and despite an arguably broken final boss fight, the single player and multiplayer game modes are a satisfying venture into Nintendo’s newest IP. If this is the start of Nintendo entering the fighting game space outside of Smash Bros., I’m excited to see where they take the game next.

Thank you for reading! Take care, all.

  • Matt

About Me, Nintendo Switch, and What I’ve Been Playing

Hey folks, Matt here. I realize I’ve been absent from here a little while now – that appears to be becoming the norm! Hopefully that won’t be the case this time. However, I wanted to elaborate on why I tend to disappear from time to time. In a bit of a selfish way, it’ll also be a cathartic experience for myself writing about my past and present.

 

I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. I’ve visited multiple therapists, each one providing a growing experience for me as I’ve found it easier to talk about my personal thoughts and feelings. I think a lot of people underestimate how difficult it can be for others to open up about their personal issues – it isn’t always a simple thing to do, because people are complex. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in our minds; some of it is triggered by external events or difficulties in life, and other times, people just feel upset or stressed out for seemingly no reason (myself included). These are difficult things to deal with, but therapy and prescribed medication has brought me a long way since I first started seeing my most recent therapist.

 

My lowest point was a few years back, with what feels like a lifetime ago. In 2014, I lost nearly every friend that I had made during my time spent away from home at university. I had worked hard to maintain friendships that I thought would last for years to come because of how strong they felt, but it all came crashing down in the early months of 2014. Without going into detail, to put it simply, I felt I had been betrayed by the people I spent many days laughing and confiding personal thoughts with. I began failing my courses, consumed with an overwhelming feeling of dread and sadness in the state I found myself in. Where I once felt I belonged in a community of people who accepted me, I felt isolated from nearly everyone I had come to know.

 

There were a couple of people who stuck with me, despite my low point, and I won’t soon forget what they did to help me. I wish I could again express my appreciation to them for their support during my rough point. If you’re reading this, I hope you know who you are!

 

A quarter of the way through the Spring semester, I decided to drop out of university, because I did not want my grades to suffer. My family was very supportive of this decision, and I have lived at home since then, slowly gaining a stronger feeling of confidence and working hard at giving myself a better mindset. I have accepted that the people I once knew will most likely not show up in my life again, and embraced it. Making new friends is challenging, but I know there are assuredly people out there that are willing to get to know me, as I would for them. It’s all about finding the people you can connect with, and sticking with ‘em.

 

Anyway, to wrap this up, I still deal with anxiety and depression, but I have significantly improved since my days away at school. I’ve held a couple of stressful jobs that have built character, dealt with loss and betrayal, and grown in more ways than I expected. All I hope is that the coming days will provide even more growing experiences with plenty of opportunity around each corner.

So! Moving that personal stuff to the side… I watched the Nintendo Switch presentation last night. It started at 11PM EST for me, as I live in the tri-state area.

switch-dog

Some quick thoughts: Overall, I feel a bit disappointed. The Switch still looks to be a compelling piece of hardware, with some solid hit games on the horizon (Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2 are some of my biggest anticipated Nintendo titles) but I’m concerned about the lack of compelling launch software. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild almost makes up for other compelling games at the system’s release, and I’m very surprised and pleased by the March 3rd release date, but I was hoping we would see Mario Kart 8: Deluxe show up alongside Zelda, or possibly Arms make its debut sooner than Summer of 2017. Despite this, I still feel somewhat tempted to grab a system Day One, and thankfully I was able to secure a system pre-order at my local Best Buy earlier today. I don’t yet know if I’ll go through with the final purchase, but we’ll see how I feel leading up to launch.

 

The price of new joy-con and the pro controller is disappointing, and the news that Nintendo will begin charging for online multiplayer is something that I was most afraid to hear. I fear that Splatoon 2’s online community will suffer because of the forced paywall to access the online portion, but only time will tell if people are willing to cough up more money to play online.

 

Thankfully, other Nintendo games like Mario and Zelda don’t appear to require online multiplayer capabilities to be enjoyable, so they won’t rely heavily on the online connectivity as much as Splatoon 2 most likely will, from early indication.

 

So, to summarize:

 

Pros:
– Cool future software (Mario, Splatoon 2, Arms)

– Earlier release date than I expected

– Zelda hitting Day One

– $300 price point is about what I expected

 

Cons:

– Eventual online multiplayer paywall

– Lack of compelling software beyond Mario, Splatoon 2, and Arms (where is Pikmin, Metroid, Retro Studios’ new game, or other new IP?)

– High price of additional peripherals ($70 for a pro controller $80 for a new set of joy-con sounds a bit absurd)

 

Overall, it was an okay presentation, not as great as I was hoping. At least we have a city in Super Mario Odyssey named New Donk City. I enjoy the silly names that Nintendo gives their in-game locations and characters.

 

Bye for now! I hope to post again this weekend.

 

Oh, almost forgot to mention. I’ve been playing a lot of Final Fantasy 15. The music is super good. Fun game so far, I’m on chapter 11, and look to finish it very soon. I’d like to write a review upon finishing it.

Oh yeah, and I continue to be engrossed by Titanfall 2’s multiplayer portion. I’m up to my eighth regeneration. Help. All right, bye now, for real!

lego-titanfall

  • Matt