Posts Tagged ‘play’

Six Tiny Things I Learned Playing the Nintendo Switch

Yes, I get it, I’m hardly unique among the denizens of the internet in talking about hands-on experience with the Nintendo Switch. Thus far Nintendo has been reasonably good at getting the system out into people’s hands and plenty of those people have been forthright in sharing their opinions through podcasts, forums and YouTube videos the world over. I have consumed far too many of these impressions myself.

Those are my hands and that's a Switch. Yep.

Those are my hands and that’s a Switch. Yep.

But last weekend I was indeed fortunate enough to play the thing myself – Thanks RTX Sydney – and I have several thousand words worth of thoughts to share. But rather than regurgitate the recurring thoughts I’ve heard plenty enough about already – the surprising build and screen quality, the comfortable designs of the joy-cons, the appeal of ARMS etc – I’m going to focus on some smaller things I’ve heard almost no-one talk about so far.
.

1. The Joy-Cons’ Buttons Are Miniscule

A lot has been made of just how small the frame of the joy-cons themselves are, but I haven’t seen much talk about the buttons themselves. These things are tiny. Anyone who has owned a PlayStation Vita will be familiar (and likely comfortable) with such a size bracket for face buttons, even if these are slightly bigger. Of course there aren’t all that many people who fit into that category, so it’s worth a mention. Even more notable are the joy-cons’ L and R buttons, which are literally wafer-thin, no exaggeration. They don’t exactly feel flimsy, and they’re well-placed enough to ensure you won’t miss pressing them, but I’ve never seen anything quite so narrow on a controller or portable console before. That’s unless you count the “+” and “-” buttons, which are indeed actual buttons (to my surprise), though they didn’t seem to do anything in any of the demo builds I played.

It's hard to illustrate scale but yeah, those shoulder buttons are thin.

It’s hard to illustrate scale but yeah, those shoulder buttons are thin.

Speaking of clicking, every button on these things is digital and “clicky”, a la the Game Boy Advance SP, original DS, or DSi buttons. The control sticks also click in, and their movement range is necessarily constrained by their portability. But as a clear step up from the Vita nubs in this department, the joy-con control sticks take the crown as the best commercially available portable ones yet by default. While not part of the initial one-piece joy-con setup, the included wrist strap rail transforms the joy-cons’ SL and SR shoulder buttons into the only non-clicky inputs of the whole shebang. They instead feel almost springy, like they’re resisting slightly when you press them down. They sit nicely under the index fingers, though.

Continue reading

Best of 2014: Top 10 Games

VR_Bestof2014

And so it is, on the first day of an impossibly exciting new year, that we arrive at the ‘big two’ to round off the year that was 2014. This is my top ten favourite videogames released in Australia in 2014. For a game to qualify for this list I need to have either finished it or played at least five hours – whichever comes first (yes, that does eliminate a lot of really good games – we aren’t all superhumans). For clarification’s sake, significant game remakes count – “remasters” do not. So no, Final Fantasy X HD doesn’t count, because it’s a beat-for-beat upscaled port of a decade-old game.

I tend to define myself nowadays by playing as many games as possible, even if that means I only get to play a small slice of each title, just so I can have some sort of opinion on them and be part of a wide gaming conversation. Because I live for that stuff. But these are the games I actually played, and I mean really played, in 2014. When your free time dries up and you need to be more selective with where you put it, as mine did in 2014, your tastes as a gamer tend to boil down to a more easily definable quantity. And when I look at this list of ten games, there is an overwhelming pattern that shows up.

With maybe one or two exceptions, every game on this list falls into one of two categories: heavily story-driven playable narratives, and games where multiplayer interaction is the single defining trait. I hadn’t realised it until I wrote up this list, but it seems I am looking for experiences that bring people together above all else these days, and when that can’t happen, I’m drawn to well-written stories. We’ll see if the glorious slate of huge-name 2015 releases changes that. But for now, please enjoy. The platform on which I played each entry is in parentheses.

.
-◊-◊-◊-◊-
VR BEST OF 2014 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s spooky. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.
-◊-◊-◊-◊-

.

10. Pokemon Omega Ruby (3DS)

Among other things, 2014 was the year that I finally attempted to quantify my appreciation for Nintendo’s many wonderful franchises, and when the main series Pokemon games ended up on the top of that list, being forced to look at that “number 1” next to its name gave me pause. My lifestyle and priorities have changed recently, as they tend to in, you know, life, leaving me with very little time to devote to the competitive battling scene that has defined the last decade of my Pokemon playing existence. Thus I feared that I would begin Pokemon Omega Ruby and get next to nothing out of the experience, and yet its almost as if Game Freak saw this coming, because the game is amazing, boasting some of the best use of the 3DS’ StreetPass feature I’ve ever seen, giving new playthroughs fresh life with the DexNav and adding just enough extra subtlety to an already half-decent narrative to keep it engaging right up until its genuinely stellar post-game content begins. And of course, it’s still an absolute ball to play with and alongside friends.
.

Continue reading