I have a thing for good digital card games. I've downloaded and tried every free one that pops up on the Switch eShop. I played a good sixty or so hours of Lightseekers last year, and sometimes I still think about getting back into that one.
One of the first card games I ever got really into was Card Fighters Clash on NGPC. I loved that game, and for months it was the game I'd play in bed before falling asleep each night. I was obsessed. And given that Card Fighters Clash was pretty much a rip-off of Pokemon TCG, I always intended to get around to this one. I KNEW that it would be something I'd enjoy.
And I was totally right. The 3DS Virtual Console is a perfect way to play old GBC games. So using some leftover Amazon credit from Christmas, I started up Pokemon TCG this weekend. First I did the tutorial, which initially seemed tougher to wrap my head around than Card Fighters Clash. But before long I was out exploring gyms and doing battles and even winning a few.
Before I knew it, it was really time for me to get to bed and two hours had flown by. My goodness. Now the thing is I haven't even STARTED messing around with deck building. I'm still just using the Squirtle starter deck, and it's already starting to look a little weak. I've scored like four booster packs so I need to start looking at building my own deck. I'm really not sure where to start. I'm thinking about possibly trying to score a Nintendo Power strategy guide for this one.
When I was a kid, Game Boy was my jam. I've talked about this plenty before, so I won't be a broken record here. But, I loved the original Super Mario Land - it was THEE game that showcased the new system for me back around Christmas of 1989. So when the sequel was announced, I was jazzed. And yet for some reason... I didn't actually get it until the late 2000's. I don't know why. I just never got around to it.
In the twenty or so years between release and me finally playing it, Mario Land 2 had built up a sort of mythical cult following. It was considered some kind of crowning achievement of what the Game Boy hardware could do. Sort of like how Link's Awakening brought a SNES style Zelda to the little GB, Mario Land 2 kind of worked as a low-powered and impressive take on Super Mario World's 16-bit glory.
The weird thing is this. I didn't love Mario Land 2 when I finally played it. I thought it was fine. It looks incredible. The sprites are insanely detailed. The levels are huge and full of secrets and cool stuff. But I don't know. Something doesn't quite click with me. The power-ups feel kind of boring and some of the level design ends up where you can basically just skip the level by flying over it if you have the rabbit ears.
Anyway, playing it again - I feel kind of the same. I like the game fine. But I don't love it. It's not boring me or anything, but it's not blowing me away either. If anything, I find myself marveling at what a well crafted game it is - while not really have all that much fun. It's weird.
What's weirder is the spike in difficulty that happens when you get to Wario's castle. The whole game felt like a cakewalk to me. And when I got to his castle I had stockpiled thirty lives without trying. But his castle felt so hard to me that I ended up rage quitting after losing like twenty lives in a row.
I'm glad people like this game. I'm glad it exists. I'm still impressed by it. But I'm all set with it.
It's kind of crazy just how many Mega Man games were released on NES. Was there any other series that got six iterations on that hardware? It's nut. Anyway, MM4 is around the point where I stopped paying attention to the NES games back in the day. I remember a friend of mine did have it, and I played it briefly (and we listened to Tool's album Undertow while playing it). But I don't remember liking Mega Man 4 all that much.
Playing it on Switch in 2020 I'm sort of mixed on it. It's not bad. Not at all. But it's also not the glory that is Mega Man 2 or 3. And I'll be honest, I'm pretty Mega Manned out right now. In the past year or so I've played 1, 2, 3, 5, X and X2. That's just a lot of Mega Man. These retro collections are great archival releases. But maybe I'm overdoing it trying to get the most bang for my buck.
There's some interesting additions here. Apparently this is the NES game where the charge shot came into play. And the level design is fine. Certainly I like it more than MM5 anyway. And they haven't really started scraping the barrel for boss robots either. There's some fairly cool ones. I guess.
It's just weird. MM2 and 3 are so so iconic. And then 4 and 5 feel... I don't know. More of the same? Just kind of less good? But still good? But not great? It's a weird feeling. The levels all feel like they go on for too long. But do they really or am I just getting tired of these games? Maybe both.
So for some reason I had it in my head that I wanted to import that Dragon Quest trilogy for Switch. But, ugh, the price on that sucker felt a bit too steep given that it's ultimately three mobile ports of NES games. And to be honest, I don't even feel like the mobile ports look all that good.
But I had it in my head that I needed a copy of Dragon Quest because it was my first RPG as a kid and I don't know, I was feeling nostalgic. It turns out that the GBC port - which I have played and enjoyed - is now pretty expensive. So I guess I could seek out a NES cart of Dragon Warrior, but eh, I also kind of wanted the quality of life improvements (namely: being able to save anywhere) of the remake.
It dawned on me I could just buy the eShop game. I'll be honest, I REALLY prefer physical versions of games. But here we are. The trilogy was $50 to import, or I could nab the first game - the one I was in the mood to play - for $3 on sale. Oh, and because I had some eShop coins saved up... it was technically "free" for me to grab that game. So yeah. I got that version.
That was weeks ago. And it just sat on my home screen saying "hi" whenever I went and fired up Overwatch instead. So last night I figured, eh, maybe I'll give that one a shot for a while.
Like I said, Dragon Warrior was my first RPG. Final Fantasy was my second. And I vastly preferred FF, mainly because of the four-character party. But Dragon Quest bursts with personality. I can't hear that music without thinking of getting my free copy of the game from Nintendo Power back in the day. It was possibly the most awesome magazine promotion EVER. Ever.
Now about this Switch/mobile port. First of all... it looks like a mobile port. And I might have a sickness, because I did actually (try to) play this on Android some years back and was disturbed by how poor the Android version felt. In fairness, that was with touch controls and a forced portrait mode. PORTRAIT mode! Why??? The Switch version has neither of things, so I feel better. But I'll be honest here: it's ugly. At least the Hero is ugly. He doesn't look like he belongs in the same series of games as like those DS releases. Which feels weird. But whatever.
If you've never played Dragon Quest (or any of its sequels) you should know this: it opens up SLOW, dudes. Like real slow. And I spent about an hour grinding around the first town until I had enough loot for the best stuff at the shops. By then I was level 5. And so I went up to the little cave up north and read the tombstone and then went to the second village where - you guessed it - there's more expensive gear. So now I'm grinding around there.
I don't think I've ever taken the time to actually beat the first DQ. And I don't think it's actually a super long game. So I guess maybe I'll use this as sort of mindless grinding while listening to TV. For now. We'll see how it goes.
I get really excited when Nintendo does these Direct videos and just stealth announces a new game that you can be playing RIGHT NOW. I mean, this isn't really like Tetris 99 or anything. But, they went ahead and announced a new free demo. And that's SOMETHING. To be honest, I really appreciate demos in this day and age. Sometimes, I might play a demo and realize that a game I would have overlooked otherwise is something I really want to play. Other times, I might find out that my brief time spent with a demo is more than enough for me.
This weekend, I downloaded Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, which is both a demo and a mouthful. But let's be real: Nintendo has had a great streak of remakes going on Switch lately. It's not like anyone needed a remake of Pokemon Yellow, but dammit if Let's Go Pikachu wasn't glorious. And NOBODY expected a full on remake of Link's Awakening, but that turned out to be one of my favorite games of 2019. So here we are. There's a new old Pokemon on the horizon and a free demo to go with it. So why not?
Having never played the original GBA and DS Mystery Dungeon games, I was pretty excited to give it a go. All I knew was that it was a Pokemon roguelike, which is cool with me. And the art style is a pretty sort of watercolor looking deal. When I got to the product page, I saw the preorder price of - you guessed it - a full $60. Which seems a lot to me. I mean, look - I get that games are expensive to make. And Game Freak do make good ones. But here's the thing... right away I'm thinking to myself that if I like this demo, I'm either going to wait for a big sale, or even more likely, I'll just buy a copy on DS for less money. Probably.
But really all that is moot. Because y'know what? I'm actually pretty bored with this game. It's cute, yes. But man... I feel like even though it LOOKS awesomely modern, it FEELS sluggishly antiquated. Playing through the rather brief demo I wasn't fired up to get MORE content. Nope. If anything, I kept thinking that if was in the mood to play a roguelike, I'd more like pop Etrian Odyssey back into the 3DS or maybe consider checking out Persona Q2, which now seems like the 3DS' swansong. So eh. I don't know. I don't think I'm sold on this one.
OHHHH. But I did want to say that I found the little personality test thing cure when you launch the game. I don't know why, but I got a real kick out of the fact that the game decided that I'm a total Squirtle. So at least I got something out of this game, haha.
I fired up Metroid Other M today. I knew this one had a sort of divisive reputation. And I was a bit apprehensive about using the Wii mote sideways (NES-style) for a 3D game. But so far, it seems like it just really works. The opening tutorial thing felt really boring. But now that I'm in the game proper, I'm already enjoying it more than I expected. I should note, I'm not a big fan of 3D platformers in general. But somehow this feels like a 2D Metroid on a 3D plane. If that makes sense.
It does seem way more linear so far than your typical Metroid game. But I'm okay with that. I honestly really like the style of the visuals and everything so far. I haven't played much - just an hour or so. But I have high hopes now.
I'm about two hours into Other M now. It's far from a perfect game. Early on there were parts that were so dark, that it was hard for me to fully make out the environment. I even tweaked TV settings, but it didn't help much. Luckily, once I got the power on in the area, it made things better. Also, I don't love the thing where you have to switch to first person view by pointing at the screen with the Wii remote. I find that transition awkward. Like going from playing it 'controller style' to 'light gun' style feels weird and jarring to me in the middle of combat.
That said, I still find it a totally interesting game. And I'll always say that I'd rather play a somewhat-bad-but-interesting game over a just-good-but-boring game. So there's that.
Yes, it's super linear. This has been a complaint since launch. But at the same time, it's still not always obvious how to proceed. There's often little crevices to get into in morph-ball form for instance. And I must say, rolling around Monkey Ball style is actually quite fun.
I do like the visuals quite a bit as well. There was a section where there was a sort of virtual reality nature section with waterfalls and stuff. It was really nice looking - almost a kind of Pandora thing going on there. And some of the alien life is very cool to look at.
I also appreciate the well distributed save spots - something that the linear nature has afforded. I don't need to backtrack a lot to find a save place, which is handy given that I have a baby in the house. So in a lot of ways I can tackle this game in pretty short chunks, which is helping a lot.
Other M is turning out to be a FASCINATING game. There are moments where it is baron and boring; moments where it is genuinely thrilling; moments where its story is a baffling mess; and moments where I'm cursing the controls. And all of these moments may present themselves in the span of just ten minutes. It's mind-blowing. I'm not sure what happened. And I think that Team Ninja had good intentions. And there are some truly great things in this game. Unfortunately, they tend to be buried under poor design decisions and an overall mess of a game.
I played another hour or so last night, and could feel my brain having a tug-o-war trying to decide if I like this game or not. Back and forth, back and forth. I'll run down an empty hallway and feel the tedium, get to a boss fight and think it's awesome, feel the frustrating set in because the controls aren't doing what I want, or I'm not realizing I need to switch to first person mode, hit another boss fight and think it's awesome... Everything about this game is baffling.
For instance, last night I hit a room that had a sort of boss battle against three flying drones. They move FAST and can only be hit when they telegraph a certain beat; this makes auto-aim feel useless because you'll continually target the WRONG drone instead of the one you want to hit. Ugh. They drop a scattershot upgrade. Immediately after that battle, I go into a save room, and then the next room is... a boss battle. This time against two big snake things. I dodge their attacks and try to use the new scattershot I JUST received which would seem obvious. But nothing's working. Finally I check a walkthrough and learn that this battle requires going into first person mode. Ugh.
A bit later, I hit another boss battle. I drop into a hive and the game sort of freezes me in first person mode. I spend FIVE MINUTES just looking around trying to figure out how to start the battle. I eventually think the game's bugged. I check a walkthrough again and find I'm just missing the specific little spot on the screen I need to target to start the battle. Ugh. It's like one of those hidden image puzzle games. Ugh. But then that battle ends up being awesome and fun. It's a mess!
I think I'm sort of enjoying how bad it is, honestly. I can't stress this enough: the vast majority of the game makes NO SENSE. Like, there's a little fuzzy alien thing that you keep spotting in cut scenes. It looks like one of those puffin things from The Last Jedi. Anyway, it's obviously meant to be cute in a Moogle kind of way. And then Samus says something about "this disgusting creature..." and I'm like, "what even IS this story it's trying to tell me?" Wow.
When I was a kid, my Game Boy meant so much to me. Sure, I had a Super Nintendo at the time which was way more powerful. But I was a child who spent his time split between two households. The Game Boy meant that I could start a game at one house, and continue it at another. Given that video games were my biggest hobby, having the ability to keep one system with me gave me a lot of comfort. And one of the most shining examples of this kind of comfort was the first portable Zelda outing, Link's Awakening.
A Link To The Past has remained my favorite Zelda game throughout the years. And while Breath Of The Wild gives it a run for its money (and probably surpasses it if I'm to be honest), if we're going by pure nostalgia, then you can't beat LTTP. But man, Link's Awakening came close back then. If for no other reason than it was a game of LTTP's caliber but on a portable system. It was mind blowing back then. It still kind of is now.
When the Switch remake of Link's Awakening was revealed earlier this year as part of Nintendo Direct, I exclaimed loudly and probably not using real words. My wife said she had never seen me so excited about a single video game. This is saying a lot. We've been together for fifteen years now. She's seen me get excited about a lot of video games.
Yet, when the game was finally released a couple of months ago I couldn't quite pull the trigger. We have a six month old daughter in the house. My hobby time isn't what it used to be. And I can find better ways to spend $60 right now. I just kept thinking that while I'd like to play this remake, I could always just download the original GB version on my 3DS for $6. So it was a hard sell. Even for a super fan.
Well, yesterday morning I found Link's Awakening under the Christmas tree. I guess Santa thought I was good this year. I was happy to jump back into this game.
Let me start by saying that this remake might be one of the prettiest games I have ever seen. Seriously. Ever. It's just gorgeous. It reminds me a bit of 3D Dot Game Heroes, a PS3 game that was so obviously inspired by Zelda games. But it's not blocky or anything. Instead it looks like everything is a little toy. It's like if Amiibos came to life and re-enacting a classic Zelda adventure. It's just so charmingly lovely.
The thing that makes Link's Awakening such a fan favorite is that it's friggin' weird. And I love that. The same way that Zelda II is kind of a black sheep, this one has a lot of odd stuff going on. Like the Mario references. My wife looked over my shoulder at one point and asked why a Chain Chomper was in a Zelda game. And I mean, I don't want to spoil anything but you probably know why.
At any rate, I'm currently in the third dungeon which is gigantic. I had forgotten. I think the last time I played this game was maybe back upon its release. I'd play it at my mom's house on the Game Boy proper, probably listening to music or the TV, and I'd play it at my dad's house on the Super Game Boy on SNES. In a weird way, I was getting the Switch experience back then. Huh.
The great thing about this remake is the quality of life improvements. Granted, it's weird that the dpad can't be used for movement. I don't get that. But things like not having to equip the feather to jump or the bracelet to pick up rocks - that's huge. I revisited Oracle of Seasons not that long ago and found the item swapping to be such a chore.
Anyway, I'm not done with this one yet. I've only just started. But dammit, I'm blown away by this remake. It is just fantastic.
Link's Awakening has been a great game to play over the holidays. It's a perfect blend of nostalgia and newness. And to be honest, I'm glad I did finally play the remake instead of just revisiting the original. This new version really does some solid upgrades to the game that make it a much better experience. That's saying a lot. Nintendo has managed to make a great game even better somehow.
It's not perfect. There are a couple of weird decisions here. I mentioned the lack of d-pad support for instance. There's also the fact that you can only bind items to the X and Y buttons. Why? Why not just let me pick ANY buttons? If I want to use A to jump and Y to swing my sword, why can't I do that?
These little things are sort of baffling. But they never ruin the experience. This remake is beyond charming. It's one of the cutest games I've ever seen. And I'm loving every minute of this adventure.
I'm pretty far into the game already. Currently, I'm making my way through the Face Shrine. I've picked up the boomerang, bow and arrow, and hookshot. Oh, and I just got the upgraded power bracelet. Good stuff.
AND I managed to beat the game on New Year's Eve. What a pleasant way to end the year. Link's Awakening is an incredible remake. And despite the few small nitpicks I had with some of the controls or UI stuff, I really think it's an example of how to do a classic remake right. This is a fine addition to the Zelda series - and one that does seem worth playing over the original.
A good snowboarding game can feel almost zen-like. I'm thinking of stuff like SSX 3 with its insanely long mountain that can take upwards of a half-hour to get down. If you have a game like this that has solid controls, a good mountain to race down, maybe some relaxing music... well then you've got something really cool.
I was hoping that 1080 Snowboarding on N64 would be something like that. But... eh, not so much. It does look good. Actually it looks really good. Having played a lot more Playstation and Saturn games back in the era, I'm always sort of blown away now when I check out these N64 games and realize just how impressive Nintendo's hardware was by comparison.
That said, I find the controls in 1080 Snowboarding to be really meh. I mean actually carving down the mountain - it's not perfect, but it's serviceable. But as far as doing anything else, it's a mess. Or I'm a mess. I'm not quite sure which. All I know is that I'm having trouble landing even tiny jumps without beefing it.
I even took the time to go into the training mode that throws tricks and button combos at you so you can learn the ropes. I don't know if it's my controller or the game or me, but I was only able to pull off even the most basic moves less than fifty percent of the time. It was bad. And certainly not fun. Oh well. Nice looking game, though.
Double Dragon was definitely "cool" back in the day. But my memory says that I didn't really care all that much about the series until Double Dragon II came along and added co-op to the mix. I'll be honest - and this might be a crazy thing to say - but as far as single player NES beat-em-ups go, I vastly preferred Renegade.
Of course I didn't know at the time that the two games were kinda sorta related. Renegade was a localized version of the first Kunio-kun game. I think it was the first. I'm not gonna Google it. And then Double Dragon was sort of a spin-off or spiritual sequel or whatever. But the two series have always been a bit intermingled over the years.
Renegade was awesome, though. It had such a great environment. The subway station platform and the burger joint and everything. It was so cool. Double Dragon is cool, too but it feels a bit less diverse. A little less inventive.
Don't get me wrong - the factory area where you can knock dudes onto a conveyor belt so they fall to their deaths? That's awesome. And there's some interesting enemies like Abobobo of course. And y'know, enemies get harder and learn new moves and so do you. It's good and all. I just think I got into it at the wrong time. Like, I already played and loved Renegade. And not long after this, we'd see the release of Double Dragon II and play it with friends and the original game was rendered obsolete.
I do remember playing the GBA remake later and thinking it was impressive. But I don't know. Double Dragon is fine. It's good. I like it. Just not as much as its sequel, nor the myriad Kunio-kun games out there.
A week ago, I hadn't even heard of Dauntless. I was watching the Nintendo indie showcase video this past week, and Dauntless was shown. It looked like it was basically just Monster Hunter inside the Fortnite engine. I like Monster Hunter, so in my mind I was thinking that Dauntless looked cool but ultimately, do I need a new Monster Hunter game? Heck, I've got two unplayed ones on my shelf right now. So I figured I'd probably pass on it, or wait until it was super cheap. Then the video ended with the publisher saying that Dauntless was available now on the eShop... for free. So I downloaded it before the rest of the presentation was even over.
This strategy of announcing a new free game has worked well for Nintendo this year. At least in my book. It's how they announced Tetris 99 and that has become my most played Switch game yet. In an instant Dauntless went from "oh this looks kind of cool," to "awesome! Let I'm gonna play it now!"
Back when I was still playing my Xbox One a lot, I picked up Monster Hunter World on a whim. The MH series had always sort of interested me. Sort of. But all the hype about MHW got to me because it was hyped as an entry point to the series. And what I found was that that was absolutely true. MHW stripped away a lot of the obstacles that made the MH series so "hardcore" and instead offered up a welcoming experience for newcomers. It eased me in.
After now starting up Dauntless, I can tell you this: It's basically Monster Hunter World in the Fortnite engine. Which is a good thing, folks. MHW is not on Switch. But Dauntless is. And it's free.
If you've played Monster Hunter World, then the early tutorial quests in Dauntless will feel unnecessary. Trust me, you know the loop of the gameplay. You take a quest and either go solo or wait for some other players to queue up. You go out and collect some materials and kill a big monster. Then you go back to the hub world and craft some new weapons and armor and rinse and repeat with bigger and badder monsters. You know if you like this game or not right now if you've played Monster Hunter before.
And guess what? I like it. It's damn good.
The character creation tool is definitely solid by the way. I appreciate that. And I appreciate that you can change your character from the ground up at any time.
I have noticed something interesting about performance on Switch so far. When I started playing the game it was in docked mode on my TV and it looked and played amazingly. However, playing in portable mode definitely introduced some sporadic lag. Nothing game-breaking, but it's noticeable if you've been playing it on TV for a while first.
That said, this is a great free Monster Hunter clone and it seems like it's going to continue to receive regular updates. I'm enjoying it and will definitely keep playing. I mean, that game-loop I talked about earlier... it's pretty addicting.