Tagged: nintendo switch

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will likely go down as one of the best open world RPGs of this generation.  It wasn’t necessarily the most innovative game of the generation, nor the most technically proficient, but what it lacked in those areas it made up for with incredible characters and story in an incredibly intricate and immersive world that was full of deep gameplay systems.  It was also an impressive looking game on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 with a really gorgeous experience reserved for PC players with capable kits, however it was also marred by a movement system that gave the game a clunky feeling.  That in itself was either one of those things that you either dealt with because you enjoyed the other aspects of the game or you just didn’t play the game.

I played a good bit of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt way back when, but never finished it due to my distaste for said clunky controls.  The combat never really gelled with me, but I absolutely loved the characters and story of the game.  It has an open world that begs to be explored, and a lot of off the beaten path content to partake in.  I was also one of those who played it on PC, and for a 2015 release there were moments of beauty in The Witcher 3 that we just weren’t seeing in other games at that time.  A lot of time has passed since I’ve played this game, but a lot of what’s good about The Witcher 3 has made it over to the Nintendo Switch.  The characters and writing are still top notch.  The big open world fits great into the palms of your hands and the game feels as deep and engrossing as it ever was, primed to reach a whole new audience on Nintendo’s handheld hybrid console.

The one thing that everyone likely knows at this point is that the Nintendo Switch isn’t quite as powerful as the consoles that this game was designed for.  It’s not even close to the PCs that were running The Witcher 3 in all its glory back in 2015.  Like the ports of Doom and Wolfenstein that made their way to the console, sacrifices have been made.  I’ve not been the loudest champion of these ports on the Switch.  While it certainly feels like a technical feat to bring The Witcher 3 to the platform, it’s certainly not the ideal way to play it.  Like these other games, it works just fine IF you are willing to look past the obvious degradation of the visuals.

If you’re a gameplay over graphics person, The Witcher 3 is a fine port on the Switch.  After putting the game through its paces in both the docked and handheld modes I walked away from the game equally impressed by the feat of this massive game crammed onto the console and disappointed at just how big the visual sacrifices have been.  Everything else is there though.  From what I could see, this is the exact same game that was released in 2015.  So if you’ve never played The Witcher 3 and want a massive role playing game to sink your teeth into, there isn’t anything like The Witcher 3 on the platform.  So long as you know going into it, that this game has seen some serious dialing back on the visual fidelity to make this a possibility.

Regardless of whether you are in the docked or handheld modes, The Witcher 3 on Switch has inferior visuals to these other platforms and it’s apparent whether you’re looking for them or not.  If you’ve ever heard of “jaggies” before, it’s a term used for artifacting that you’ll find in video games of a certain era The Witcher 3 on Switch has it in spades.  The game also only manages to look its best when everything is blurred to reduce the horsepower necessary to output the beautiful source material.  The Witcher 3 often looks like you’re playing the original game on capable hardware as if you were wearing goggles that have been smeared with vaseline.  While that may sound harsh, it is the reality of this game being able to run on the Switch.

Beyond the graphics, The Witcher 3 on Switch is still enjoyable.  Maybe even more than something like DOOM, Wolfenstein, or Mortal Kombat because most of the game is slow-paced.  Sure, combat is a big part of the experience, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a bigger part than the cinematics, conversations, or travelling in the game.  These aspects aren’t necessarily fast paced so the game still has the opportunity to look good in spots, sometimes even impressive.  On the smaller screen of the handheld, The Witcher 3 looks best.  The smaller screen makes the game look sharper than it actually is.  This becomes very obvious when switching to a TV or monitor as the game just doesn’t look very good at all on a 1920x1080p screen and looks blown out in a way that feels like you’ve entered a time machine to 2005.

I can’t recall if I experienced the problems in my first go round with The Witcher 3 that I actually experienced on the Switch version of this game, but there are some technical issues that I encountered that required numerous restarts.  Playing The Witcher 3 I saw a screen that I’ve never seen on the Switch console telling me that the software has malfunctioned and needed to be closed after a hard freeze.  The game just locked up on me and the console became unresponsive for a couple of minutes before throwing the error.  A second instance of something similar occured in the tutorial area where this section couldn’t be completed because the tooltips on the screen became out of sync with the on-screen action.  The solution was a restart of the game.  No hard crash that time though.

Another weird thing about this game is that I actually had to go out and purchase a memory card to install the digital version.  While this isn’t a deal-breaker.  I had been just fine with the default storage on the Switch.  This is a massive game and if you don’t already have a memory card for the console you will need to go out and purchase extra storage.  Even if you remove everything that is installed on your Switch, it still won’t have enough internal memory to fit The Witcher 3.  In trying to find out about this, I couldn’t find a single piece of news about it so it was a surprise.  A surprise that for someone who clicks on this game on the E-shop and purchases it, could be a rude awakening when a game goes from costing $59.99 to that plus the price of additional memory.  In trying to squeeze this game onto the internal storage I deleted every game I had, every screenshot, and a good bit of the saves I had.  No dice.  Perhaps if I was willing to go all the way and delete every single thing off of the internal memory it would’ve fit, but I wasn’t, and I don’t think any Switch owner in their right mind would either.  So it’s hard to tell if it was possible at all.  I don’t think it was, at least that’s what the Switch OS prompts kept telling me.

Regardless of the trials and tribulations of getting the game up and running on the console, the technical issues, and the visual downgrade, The Witcher 3 is still an impressive game on the console. This is still a fantastic role playing game with plenty of substance to make up for the visuals and some technical hiccups.  There aren’t many RPGs as engaging or well-written as this one, and to have it with the ability to play anywhere is a certainly a plus.

The Verdict

The Witcher 3 has made its way to the Switch and like the other games that have not been developed with the technical specifications of this console in mind, there are some obvious downgrades to the visuals.  The Witcher 3 is a game that still impresses though as it has many qualities that shine through and translate well to any platform.  It’s definitely not the best way to play it, but if you’ve yet to experience The Witcher 3 and wonder what you’ve missed this will give you a decent representation of that.

The Verdict

7.5Good

The Good: Available On: Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox, PC
Published By: CD Projekt
Developed By: CD Projekt Red
Genre: Role Playing Game
US Release Date: October 15th, 2019
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age first released for PS4 and 3DS back in 2017 before coming to PS4 and PC in the West a year later. Prior to either of those releases, a Nintendo Switch version of the game was announced back when it was simply known under codename NX. Fans have been waiting for that version for years now and it has finally arrived with the best version of the game to date in Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition.

The Dragon Quest series has almost always offered players an enthralling story with charming characters that make the journey all the more enjoyable and that is no different in Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition. Starting years before the main plot of the game, the game’s lead protagonist is sent away from the castle of Heliodor as an infant to the town of Cobblestone, as he is the true reincarnation of the ancient hero that saved the world of Erdrea known as the Luminary. Years later, the reincarnated Luminary and his childhood best friend Gemma, who also happened to be born on the same day, take part in a ceremony upon their reaching adulthood.

During this ceremony, his true lineage is revealed after he manages to summon lightning via a marking that appears on his hand when Gemma is in trouble. After learning that he is the reincarnation of the hero that is destined to save the land, he heads towards the capital to speak with the king. As with most stories involving a crown though, the king immediately does not believe him and instead calls the Luminary a fake. This leads to his imprisonment, where you meet your first party member Erik.

After escaping from the dungeons of Heliodore, the Luminary and Erik set off on a journey where you must live up to your legacy and save the world once again. Along the way, you will meet six other characters that eventually will join your party and add even more to the overall experience. Whether it’s the flirty Jade, the compassionate Serena, or the flamboyant Sylvando, the character interactions in this game are phenomenal and are made even better here on the Switch with additional party member conversations available. These are easily accessed while walking around in the overworld, which you can choose to dive into for more character development or just leave them be. This version in particular even adds an extra sidequest for each of the party members that helps to flesh out their personalities further. Even as something that seems small, having the characters following behind you on the overworld map in this version is a nice touch to add a sense of family between these characters.

One feature in Dragon Quest XI in general that really is underrated is the recap provided every time you start the game back up. Especially in a game as story driven as this, having a quick rundown of recent events from your previous game sessions is a big help. You can just skip past this if you want, but it’s really helpful if say you hadn’t played in quite awhile and get a little refresher before diving back in. This is something that all RPGs should start to add moving forward, with it being a great inclusion here.

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition features the classic turn-based combat you know and love from the series, but adds a little more free reign to the battles by letting you move around the battlefield when in combat. There are no random encounters to be found here, as the monsters are found on the map and trigger a battle when interacted with. This can be from just touching them or attacking preemptively for a little extra damage by hitting them in the overworld.

The battle system is prototypical Dragon Quest this time around, where you have the basic Attack option for whatever weapon you have equipped, as well as your Spells and Abilities. You start off the game with little in the way of the latter two, but that is where the game’s Character Builder comes into play very early on in the game. Nearly every RPG has some form of skill tree based system that has you learning new abilities throughout by using points you collect throughout the game from leveling up. Each party member has their own tree to build upon here, based on three weapons and then a character specific type, such as Luminary for the lead protagonist. You must use the skill points you earn to unlock the skills along the way, with the amount of points you obtain varying throughout the game.

As great as the original release of the game was, Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition manages to add in multiple quality of life features that make the experience all the better. The ability to increase the speed of battle is a major help here, as sometimes the battles could feel a bit dragged out between attacks, so having two additional speed options is a godsend. Crafting also plays a role in the game as before and now it is even easier than ever. In the original releases, you had to visit a campsite to use the Forge to craft items, but now you can simply access it from the menu at anytime once you gain access to it in the game. This makes crafting so much better, as you can now do it whenever you need instead of always having to find a campsite to do so.

One of the absolute coolest new features in Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition is the addition of 2D mode. This isn’t some small mini-game or game mode either, as the entire game can be played in this 2D mode with 16-bit sprites. You can’t just change between the two at will, but it can be done pretty easily and allows you to experience the game in full with both the 3D and 2D modes. The only problem here is that you will have to go back to the last specific checkpoint the game decides when you switch over, so you can end up losing progress when going between the two. Since the 3DS release that was Japan only featured the 2D mode we never got, to have both modes available here truly proves the definitive part of the game’s title.

The 2D mode isn’t the only ode to the past in the game, as the town of Tickington takes this to an entirely new level. This 16-bit town that you must play in 2D is truly a tribute to the series as a whole, with quests honoring the past games in the series. There are quests based around the 10 previous Dragon Quest games, which is a great way to honor the long running franchise in what is a pretty meaty series of sidequests.

Also brand new to Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition is a Photo Mode for the game. Photo modes have become a major trend in gaming over the last few years, especially with the sharing integration on various consoles, so it just made sense to add it in here. The Photo Mode here is quite enjoyable and lets you capture all the moments of your adventure with relative ease.

Considering the lesser power of the Nintendo Switch, it was expected there would be a bit of a visual downgrade between the PS4 and PC versions to this. While this is the case, it really is not anywhere near that big of a deal in the long run. Base PS4 consoles ran the original version at 900p, which is the same as on the Nintendo Switch when docked, but you will see a drop to 720p in handheld mode. Thanks to the animated visuals, you cannot even really tell that big of a difference, though there is definitely a little downgrade overall. The performance on Switch is also very solid, maintaining a 30fps just like on PS4 throughout the game with minimal slowdown throughout.

As well received as the original release for Dragon Quest XI was, a common complaint by many was the lack of an orchestrated soundtrack in the game. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition addresses this complaint head on by now including a fully orchestrated soundtrack as the default music option in the game. The original synthesized version is still available within the options menu, but there is no question the fully orchestrated one is the way to go here. Purists can even change the audio to the original Japanese voices in this version as well, which is always a good option to have.

Dragon Quest XI was already one of the best JRPGs of the generation by far and Square Enix has managed to improve on that even further with Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition. On top of the numerous quality of life improvements, this release adds the entirely 2D campaign originally only found on the 3DS version, new character quests, and the much requested orchestral soundtrack. Mixing in the ability to play the game on the go now, Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition truly lives up to its name and more.

The Verdict

While a straight port of Dragon Quest XI with the perk of playing portably on Switch would have been enticing enough, Square Enix went not just the extra mile, but many extra miles with the content rich Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition.

The Verdict

10Perfect

The Good: Available On: Nintendo Switch
Published By: Nintendo
Developed By: Square Enix
Genre: RPG
US Release Date: September 27, 2019
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch

The Legend of Zelda series has seen a number of different remasters over the years with some graphical and gameplay related improvements, but never before has the series actually had a full remake from the ground up that includes a complete visual redesign. Already having plenty of history with the franchise as a result of their development of the Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask 3D releases, as well as co-developing Tri-Force Heroes, Nintendo enlisted Grezzo to remake the fan favorite The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Nintendo Switch.

Originally releasing back in 1993 for the Game Boy, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was later released for the Game Boy Color in DX form with a new dungeon and the addition of color. Since that time, the game had only been released on the Virtual Console and otherwise had been left alone. Even with the limited re-releases for the game, it has always remained a fan favorite in the series that pushed the limits of the Game Boy at the time.

The story starts with a beautifully animated cutscene that replicates the one from the original, where Link finds himself in the middle of a nasty storm that leads to him getting shipwrecked on Koholint Island. Link is found by Marin on the shore and brought to her house with her father Tarin. After starting the game and being instructed to find your sword, you will run into an owl who explains that you must gather the eight Instruments of the Sirens to awaken the Wind Fish before you can escape from the island.

In typical Legend of Zelda fashion, this means that you have eight main dungeons to explore, each of which will provide you with one of the instruments that you need to awaken the Wind Fish. There is more to the story that comes about much later in the game, but going further into that would really ruin the experience for anyone that has never played the original. Even outside of the main story, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening features a lot of great character moments, even from side characters you only interact with a time or two. This is something that the franchise has always done a great job with and this game definitely exemplifies that.

The original The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening featured your run of the mill Legend of Zelda art style, though it still had its own flare with the different characters and enemies. Rather than rebuild that style, Greezo instead decided to try something completely different with a very different art style for the characters that almost make them look like figurines. This was definitely a bit jarring at first to see, but it truly looks exceptional in action. The colors bouncing off of the characters and environments are vibrant and really fit in perfectly with this aesthetic.

One of the coolest inclusions in the original game that still remains today are the Nintendo cameos found in the game, especially from the Super Mario series. Throughout the game, you will run into enemy Goombas, Cheep Cheeps and even what are known as Anti-Kirbys. In addition, there are two major Chain Chomps found in the game that play a role in the game as friendly pets kept within Mabe Village. This is something that was exclusive to this game and it was great that Nintendo did not remove these really neat homages in the remake.

While The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a near perfect remake, it does have a couple issues related to draw distance and frame rate. When walking around, you’ll very quickly notice that the furthest areas on the screen to the north and south of you will have a blurry filter over them, which do not become clearer until you move more in that direction. This does not ruin the experience in any way, but there is no question that it can be a bit of an eyesore at first and definitely takes some getting used to while playing through the game.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening also features some frame rate issues when you are in certain parts of the game. While the game is meant to run at 60fps, you will see drastic drops down to 30fps at times when a lot is happening on screen. For a game that certainly does not push the limits graphically, you would think the framerate could maintain at a stable 60fps. Like with the aforementioned blurriness, this does not tarnish the experience too much considering it only happens occasionally, but it is something that should really not be a problem in a game like this.

Even with the framerate issues, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening retains the classic gameplay style that people know and love from the classic top-down Legend of Zelda games. Link always has his sword and shield at the ready, but also has two item slots that he can fill up with various items you collect in the game, such as Roc’s Feather, the Bow, and the Hookshot. There are also other items that you gain access to automatically after obtaining them, such as the Power Bracelets or the Pegasus Boots. This game has a good variety of different weapons and items to find here that aren’t any different from the original release, but there really was no need for new items here in the grand scheme of things.

As mentioned above, the game features eight dungeons for you to find and explore on your adventure to awaken the Wind Fish. Rather than just have you go to each of the dungeons and walking right in, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening requires you to complete other tasks ahead of time to be able to gain access. This can range from getting a key or item that you need to gain access to the dungeon or completing a sidequest that allows you inside, which almost makes it feel like you’ve started the dungeon even before you’ve entered it.

Once you get inside the dungeons themselves, you are treated with some really fantastic dungeon design in this game. There are the usual keys and dungeon items to find to advance further and eventually fight the boss, and of course you can’t have a Legend of Zelda game without some sort of water dungeon. Each of these dungeons feel distinctly different and often require some thinking on how to advance. Having the more intuitive map and compass can really help you when you get lost as well, with the compass now making a sound if a chest is nearby.

While the entire original game is fully intact here, including even the Color Dungeon from the DX version on Game Boy Color, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on Nintendo Switch also adds something completely new to the experience as well with the Chamber Dungeons. By visiting Dampe, who fans of Ocarina of Time and a few other games should recognize, you can create your own dungeons in the game based on existing chambers that you can collect by playing through the game. There is even amiibo support here that adds a few exclusive rooms into the mix as well. It does feel like there could have been a bit more done here to make it feel more customized in design, but that can be saved for a Super Mario Maker like spinoff one day.

It would be hard to truly call The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening a hidden gem since it has always been a very popular title in the series, but there is no question it has not garnered the fanbase of games like A Link to The Past and Ocarina of Time due to its handheld only roots. That has now changed with the latest release on the Nintendo Switch, where the game has been replicated to near perfection along with new colorful visuals and multiple quality of life changes that make The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on Switch a pure joy to play.

The Verdict

The Legend of Zelda series is known for its quality across both consoles and handhelds, with the latter often standing out for their uniqueness within the franchise as a whole. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was a shining example of that on the Game Boy and once again proves why it deserves to be talked about among the best in the series with its remake on the Nintendo Switch.

The Verdict

10Perfect

The Good: US Release Date: September 20, 2019
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch

When is competent good enough?

Dead by Daylight has made the move over to the Nintendo Switch. Behaviour Interactive did the port themselves in-house, but not every developer possess the arcane wizardry of a Panic Button. Behaviour has been criticized… READ OVERVIEW

The classic trilogy returns.

Dragon Quest was once nothing but a niche series outside of Japan, but the growth of the franchise in the West in recent years has been a very welcome surprise. While the Nintendo Switch is now getting the definitive version of Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, Square Enix has also decided to dive into the past as well with ports of the original trilogy in the series. The three games previously released on mobile and then the PS4 and 3DS in Japan and now have made their way to the Nintendo Switch. READ OVERVIEW

Mech combat with style and substance, but only for some.

One of the best aspects of the Switch’s massive success is how willing Nintendo has been to invest in smaller, less represented genres. The ability to take games on the go and general enthusiasm has led to well-supported releases across the gaming spectrum. This seems to be the case with Daemon X Machina, a mech-action game that otherwise might have gone unnoticed by the gaming populace at large. READ OVERVIEW

One of the best aspects of the Switch’s massive success is how willing Nintendo has been to invest in smaller, less represented genres. The ability to take games on the go and general enthusiasm has led to well-supported releases across the gaming spectrum. This seems to be the case with Daemon X Machina, a mech-action game that otherwise might have gone unnoticed by the gaming populace at large. With that added attention comes an extra focus on how the game appeals to this wider audience though, which is where the game struggles the most. Still, if you’re a fan of the genre or just want a cool mech game to play around with then you won’t find much that disappoints you in Daemon X Machina on Nintendo Switch.

Daemon X Machina crafts a seemingly huge scifi world, but the story isn’t a major component of the experience. The Moon has crashed into Earth and chaos has reigned ever since. You play as a mercenary who helps defend against rampant AI machines that have begun decimating the populace and the military infrastructure. Once this premise is setup you mostly move on taking missions as they become available and interacting with your fellow mercenaries either NPC or online. That’s not to say there’s no plot here, but it doesn’t make a ton of sense and the game seems to understand that so it ignores it until much later in the experience, in favor of getting the player into the action right away.

And that action is what you signed up for when you picked up a game with a giant lightsaber wielding robot on the cover. Players will hop into their mech, called an Arsenal here, and do battle against waves of enemies both large and small. Missions flood in one after the other offering new locations and mechanics all while players are able to finetune their Arsenal to their desires. And this is where Daemon X Machina falls into some traps.

If you were expecting this game to shirk the typical mecha genre confines and deliver a streamlined action experience you’ll be a bit surprised the moment you open a single menu in Daemon X Machina. The game is full of options, menus, and other things to tinker with. Simply looking at what you have equipped on your Arsenal and deciding on how to change its gear and weaponry can feel like pulling up some Excel spreadsheets, rather than customizing your awesome giant robot. For genre fans who’ve grown accustomed to this style of deep technical mechanics it’s a treat, but if you wanted something more akin to Zone of the Enders you’ll be slightly upset by what you see.

Daemon X Machina never really takes its time to ease players into anything

The combat itself isn’t quite as complicated, featuring simple to understand lock-on mechanics that make you feel like you’re always contributing to the fight. But simple things like changing weapons can be a frustrating mishmash of control ideas that take awhile to figure out completely. Thankfully almost every mission can be played from start to finish in under 15 minutes, so even if you feel overwhelmed you’re just a few battles away from relaxing back at base.

Once there though you might not feel fully capable of booting up the next mission. This is mostly because Daemon X Machina never really takes its time to ease players into anything. Even the HUD is an extremely crowded affair, and though you can customize it the info you remove is valuable once you understand all the myriad mechanics on offer. However, the game doesn’t help you grasp that. Instead it throws words, mechanics, and concepts at you right out of the gate and waits for you to figure it all out, or for you to dive into the large help text section.

If you do get ahold of these things then the missions let you really put them to good use. There’s a nice variety here with standard combat against enemy AI units, fighting other Arsenal mechs, gigantic boss battles, or a few others. Tack on a decent suite of multiplayer options and those who get into the game will have plenty to dig through. It’s just unfortunate that the opening few hours aren’t more streamlined and focused. Further work could have also been put into easing players into the deeper mechanics, as many will feel bombarded out of the gate and end up ignoring otherwise useful gameplay elements.

In contrast, the presentation can’t be faulted too much beyond the overly busy visuals at times. The graphics feature a really cool cel-shaded style to them. All of the mech and enemy designs are delightful, filling this already interesting world with even more interesting pieces of tech. More story development would have helped here as well, cementing players into the world in a more real fashion. Even without that though, Daemon X Machina will certainly please with its style.

The Verdict

Mecha genre fans will find a lot to love in Daemon X Machina, but those hoping for more mainstream appeal might want to stay away. The game features an overabundance of options, mechanics, and customizations that will give it longevity, but only if you clear the initial hurdle set in front of you. Once you do though, there’s quite a bit here to enjoy even if it isn’t wholly new or unique beyond its style.

 

The Verdict

8Great

The Good: Available On: Switch
US Release Date: September 13th, 2019