Posts Tagged ‘kart’

State of the Switch, Six Months In

Well that went by quickly.

As the Nintendo Switch was gearing up for its March 3rd 2017 launch, the consensus among jaded followers of the videogame industry was that however much hype the system seemed to be gathering, and indeed however many units Nintendo managed to move in that opening weekend, we wouldn’t really have a decent idea of the Switch’s success until it had passed the three-months-on-the-market milestone – which, pertinently, was roughly the time warning bells started to sound for its predecessor, the Wii U. Despite strong, admittedly holiday-boosted late 2012 sales, the Wii U’s momentum fell off big-time in 2013 amidst a notable first-party software drought and an ongoing lack of understanding of how to market the rather odd strengths of the console. Despite some scattered sales spikes over the ensuing few years, the console never truly recovered and can now only be seen as a financial flop for Nintendo.

Three months have come and gone since March 2017 – As a matter of fact the Switch has now been on the market for half a year, and pound for pound it is thoroughly outpacing the Wii U on the sales charts. At well over five million units sold worldwide, it’s even giving the PS4 a run for its money in terms of momentum. This is certainly not some single-handed saviour of Nintendo as a company – It’s way too early to even entertain that notion – but the Switch has already marked a clear change in the Big N’s public perception for the time being. Given the ongoing interest online in how this inventive little console has been tracking, and indeed the hundreds of hours (and dollars) I myself have invested in it, let’s have a look at what the Nintendo Switch has got right and wrong so far, shall we?

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What I Think of the Nintendo Switch

Well Nintendo, you’ve done it again. You’ve successfully, shall we say, been Nintendo.

It’s been an insane weekend for the Japanese videogame giant. The curtain is now (mostly) up on the tremendously exciting Nintendo Switch, the home console that can also be played as a portable (Not the other way around, as Nintendo seems very keen to emphasise). And the general complexion of the reveal event was very, very different to what the seemingly endless supply of corroborating rumours and prediction videos would have us believe. For all the credible leaks from credible sources about specific games and features that may very well still ring true, the big Tokyo event still managed to be an almost complete surprise both in its general content and where it decided to put its focus. If “Switchmas” had been right about what we were expecting, it wouldn’t have quite felt like a Nintendo show. We Nintendo fans as a general group have a habit of forgetting that, but for better or worse, the Big N was more than happy to throw us a few reminders. This is a company that does not like being predicted, but as it turns out, even the collective power of the internet’s most well-connected sleuths couldn’t quite spoil everything. And in true Nintendo fashion, said surprises have divided the internet right down the middle.

I could go through the whole presentation bit by bit and talk about my thoughts on each individual revelation (I’ve watched the whole thing twice now, plus the entire five-hour Treehouse stream that followed half a day later and countless YouTube hands-on reactions), but there’s a better way to do this.

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– Nintendo’s Modern Console –

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The raw processing specs of the Nintendo Switch remain elusive in any sort of official capacity, though I have every reason to believe that Eurogamer’s December leak will turn out to be a fairly decent approximation. That leaves us with a console that’s more capable when sitting in its dock/outputting through the TV than when played on the go, but only as long as we’re talking about display resolution and theoretically (though hopefully not) frame rate. In it’s weakest configuration, we can expect it to be more powerful than the Wii U – that much is supported by the impressions coming out of the public-facing events of the last two days – but even at it’s strongest, it’s almost certainly going to come off weaker when compared to the standard Xbox One and PS4 models. That means the biggest triple-A third party releases will probably be skipping the Switch, unless it really takes off sales-wise and it becomes worth the extra financial investment to port down. It also means Nintendo’s first party games will continue to look amazing, and just about every big indie hit you can think of should be able to make it over to the Switch, uncompromised and fully portable. Ditto for the vast majority of Japanese RPGs and such. Swings and roundabouts, time will tell etc.
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What’s much more concrete – and refreshing, it must be said – is just about every other Switch hardware detail that has come to light over the last few days. The system will not be region locked (there are no words for how happy this makes me), it has a 6.2 inch, 720p capacitive touch screen (i.e. multi-touch, like the PS Vita or a smartphone), supports the current standard 802.11ac Wi-Fi spec, allows up to 8-player local wireless interaction, charges via super-fast USB-C – which is only just now becoming widespread on Android phones – and supports expanded memory via the reasonably cheap and easy-to-find Micro SDHC/Micro SDXC cards (At least up to 256gb according to one moment during the Treehouse stream, which would have been more than enough to fit everything I’ve ever bought on the Wii U). Its battery life is quoted as being between 2.5 and 6 hours depending on the game you’re playing, which is about what we could have expected; certainly not enough to last an international flight, but coupled with that USB-C charging port, it should easily be juiced enough to cover your daily work commute no matter what you’re playing. This is all very good news if you ask me, especially when combined with the generally premium look and – based on what I’ve read so far online – the feel of the system. This is a sleek, modern device.

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My Mario Kart 8 DLC Impressions, Round 2

I regret that this year’s guest blogging week had to be cut short by one day due to unforeseen circumstances, but I do want to take a brief moment thank all six wonderful contributors for their entertaining pieces. Moving on…

It’s official: Mario Kart 8 is now the biggest Mario Kart game to date. Say what you will, Battle Mode fans, but this week’s arrival of the highly anticipated second MK8 downloadable content pack announced last year means that the latest in Nintendo’s flagship racing series boasts more content than any entry before it. The game is now bursting at the seams with 48 painstakingly rendered tracks, along with 36 playable characters and a dizzying number of karts, bikes, ATVs and the like. Given the critical and commercial success of the last DLC pack, I wouldn’t be putting any money down on this being the last update, but we are at least now at the end of what we knew was coming, and there’s a sense of finality that comes with that.

So, much like I did for the first DLC pack last November, I thought I’d share my impressions of the new stuff. Everything you’re about to read has been scientifically tested by a small but lovable bunch of teenagers and twenty-somethings over an evening of, err, healthy competition.

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Mega Ultra Blast Cast Ep.35 – Hotline Miami and ESports Scene


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The Mega Ultra Blast Cast returns to semi-regular scheduling with a jam-packed episode tackling some big topics! We have an in-depth discussion on the Australian Hotline Miami 2 classification controversy, discuss some co-op games for the first time in ages and discuss what we want to see from the ever-growing ESports scene in Australia and beyond. There’s also some more movie trailer reactions, a lengthy breakdown of the most recent Nintendo Direct broadcast and a bonus dicusion on the nature of Diglett. I also go on about my recent experience with Evolve, a very exciting upcoming game indeed. Enjoy!

If you feel so inclined, go for a run, take a scenic drive, jazz up your afternoon commute or just curl up on the couch and play some games while you listen to the opinions of three dehdrated Sydneysiders.

You can play the whole episode right off this page if you like:


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Or you can go to the Soundcloud site/app and listen from there:
https://soundcloud.com/mega-ultra-blast-cast/mubc-35-hotline-miami-and-esports-scene

(To download and listen offline, follow the link and then click the download tab)

As always if you enjoy what you hear please share the cast with your friends – Until next time!

Mega Ultra Blast Cast Ep.34 – Best of 2014


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The weather and Shane’s scumbag computer have conspired to delay this episode’s publication, but here it is – the second annual Mega Ultra Blast Cast “Best of” episode! The two part extravaganza is packed with nonsense like some early talk about burgers, a bit of terrible fishing advice, as much awful planning as ever and a reflection on the many, many times Delaney cried in movies during 2014. We also run through our weirdest Playlist in a long time. Then, at about 45 minutes in, it’s on to our 11 end-of-year awards, including our MUBC Game of the Year winner (the answer may surprise you) and a very tough Movie of the Year category. Thank you so much for any amount of time you spent listening to us in 2014!

If you feel so inclined, go for a run, take a scenic drive, jazz up your afternoon commute or just curl up on the couch and play some games while you listen to the opinions of three emotional Sydneysiders.

You can play the whole episode right off this page if you like:


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-.-.-.-

Or you can go to the Soundcloud site/app and listen from there:
https://soundcloud.com/mega-ultra-blast-cast/mubc-34-best-of-2014

(To download and listen offline, follow the link and then click the download tab)

As always if you enjoy what you hear please share the cast with your friends – Until next time!

My Mario Kart 8 DLC Impressions

Yesterday, Nintendo entered a brave new world – one in which for the first time in their history, they have a Mario Kart game with additional tracks as paid DLC. Thanks to the largely unprecedented Nintendo move of adding substantial downloadable content to Mario Kart 8, fans now have an extremely enticing incentive to jump back into the game almost six months after it launched. For $10 AU (technically $8 if you buy the pack with the upcoming May DLC as well), three new characters, four new karts and eight new tracks are available for you to download at your leisure. Last night I brought some friends over to try out the new content, and here’s what I think:

Nintendo, this is the reason I love you.

It’s certainly weird to think of the Big N as a company peddling DLC, especially given how long they’ve gone without it in a general gaming environment that is positively rife with the stuff. But surely, this is downloadable content done right. This first pack is alarmingly cheap for what you get, and it’s extremely evident that a lot of design work has gone into it. Though I’m not really all that fussed about the new characters (Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach and Link from The Legend of Zelda series) or the new Karts (The classic B-Dasher, the Blue Falcon from F-Zero, the bulky new off-road Tanooki Kart and Link’s matching Master Cycle) , the detail that has gone into their design is fitting of Nintendo’s reputation. Link makes his trademark angry yell noises during hectic races and waves his sword around during tricks, for example, while Tanooki Mario’s horn sound will be familiar to anyone who grew up with Super Mario Bros 3. The real value for money, of course, is in the eight fresh tracks, and boy do they deliver.

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So you finally got yourself a Wii U, huh?

The World Cup is over and my sleep patterns are more or less back to normal – let’s get back into this!

Yes, it’s another post about the Wii U. It’s fun to write about, alright?

So, you did it. You finally plonked down some hard-earned cash on Nintendo’s newest home console, thanks to the much-too-long-awaited second wave of hype that currently envelops it. Maybe it was the look and feel of Mario Kart 8 that made you do it, or maybe it was Nintendo’s strong showing at E3 this year. Perhaps you’re just sick of waiting through the appalling current drought of Triple-A releases on your PS4 or Xbox One and want something a little different to fill the gap. Maybe you are just too excited about the prospect of a new Smash Bros game this year, like how Hyrule Warriors is shaping up, or are a part of the Bayonetta series’ passionate following. It’s probably a combination of the above. Whatever your motivation, relax. Ignore the vocal haters on the internet – you’ve made a good call. Allow me to step in and help you get the most out of your new console. You may just find yourself surprised by how much enjoyment you can get out of it if you know where to look.

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1. Set up the console with two different power points

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First things first – the physical console set-up. With your average home console this means finding a single wall socket and a spare HDMI port, but with the Wii U there’s the additional concern of finding another power point for the gamepad’s own charger (plus the sensor bar setup if you’ll be playing Wii Remote-compatible titles). Though this may initially seem like an annoyance that could have been avoided in design, you may actually find that it improves the usability of the Wii U as long as you’re willing to put a bit of effort into initial setup. If you can find a way to plug the charger in next to your lounge/couch/chair/bed rather than near the TV, you’ll rarely ever need to get up and turn on your console/television.

The Best Thing.

This is because during your first boot-up, the Wii U will prompt you to set the gamepad up as a TV remote. Don’t skip this part – it’s actually really fast and it will mean that anytime you want to use your Wii U in the future, all you’ll need to do is take a seat, pick up the gamepad next to you, turn on your TV from the menu there, adjust the input and volume if necessary, then turn on your actual console and get started. When combined with the recent streamlining of the console’s operating system and the new gamepad-based “quick start” menu, you may just find that the Wii U gets you playing the games you want faster and easier than any other dedicated games device you own. And of course, you don’t even need a TV to play most Wii U games, because the vast majority of them support off-TV, gamepad-only play. Just make sure to remember to plug the gamepad into the charger after every use – it’s battery life is quite bad (see the 9th point on this article for more on that).

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2. Download that initial update

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This may seem obvious to some, but it really is worth stressing. If you’re planning to go out somewhere after you pick up your Wii U, at least do the setup first, because there’s a big day one update coming. While I’m not entirely sure how large the update is on the newest batch of Wii Us, I know it took a couple of hours to download on my launch console, so keep that in mind. While this update is not mandatory, it does enable many of the features I’m about to talk about. Don’t get blindsided by it.

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