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News

Is Nintendo Fixing the Switch Online Service?

Nintendo indicated that the company will continue to work on the Switch Online Service in their latest investor meeting.


It has now been a couple weeks since Nintendo launched the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. It seems that the reactions to the service has been mixed, with most of the reviews being negative. Most gamers agree that the convenience of being able to play N64 titles on the Switch is really cool, but the emulation leaves something to be desired. Most gamers probably won’t notice the issues, but there are some graphical glitches in some of the games and input lag on a couple titles.

There are countless articles and videos on the internet addressing the complaints that users have had with the service. And while Nintendo makes some questionable decisions, I’m sure they are aware of user experience issues that gamers are having with the service. The big questions is whether Nintendo will think it is worth it to fix the issues or not. With 32 million subscribers to the service (including both tiers), I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo were to consider it a success in spite of the noticeable problems.

However, in Nintendo’s latest investor strategy meeting, the company indicated that they will continue to improve the online service. Nintendo wrote, “Going forward, we will continue to improve and expand both Nintendo Switch Online and Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack striving to provide services that satisfy consumers.”

It is nice to know that Nintendo hasn’t forgot about their customers, but I think they will really have to prove it to their user base. Nintendo has such an amazing legacy, but they have lost faith with some of their customers in recent years. Let’s hope that Nintendo will fix the issues with emulation on the Switch and continue to listen to their customers as we move further into the Switch’s lifespan.


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Game Discussion ranking

Top 5 James Bond Video Games

With the new 007 movie, No Time to Die, being out in theaters, I have been revisiting some of my favorite James Bond video games. The original James Bond novels by Ian Fleming have inspired one of the longest running movie franchises in history. Along with the movies, there have regularly been 007 themed video games released since the early 1980s. Some of these games follow the plots of their film counterparts and others have a plots that belong all to themselves. I have not personally played every single Bond game that has been released, but I have played a lot of them. Here are my 5 personal favorites from the 007 franchise.


Honorable Mentions

Here are a few honorable mentions:

  • Tomorrow Never Dies (1999)
  • James Bond 007: Blood Stone (2010)
  • From Russia With Love (2005)

These are fun games and I have fond memories playing them. While these games are solid entries in the series and its cool to play as Sean Connery in From Russia With Love, these games don’t do quite enough to crack the top 5. The remaining games on this list either brought something fresh to the series or really nailed the “Bond Game Formula”.

5. Agent Under Fire (2001)

Agent Under Fire is a really fun game. This was the first Bond game of the sixth console generation. It was first released on the Playstation 2 and was later ported to the Gamecube. It took the first person shooter formula of the Bond games from the N64 and brought it into the new console generation. Most of the game is an FPS, but there are sections of driving and rail shooting as well.

This game has all of the James Bond cliches. You get to use your fair share of cool Q-Branch gadgets. The thing that puts this game in slot number 5 is that the controls do feel a little clunky and there isn’t enough stealth gameplay. One of the things I love about Bond games are the levels where you really feel like a spy getting to sneak around and collect intel. It’s a good game and a fun James Bond experience, but the other games on this list would probably be better for an introduction to the series.

4. Everything or Nothing (2003)

It was really hard to rank the rest of this list. I really love all four of these games so the ranking could change depending on the mood that I’m in. The next game in my ranking is Everything or Nothing from 2003. This game, like Tomorrow Never Dies, took the common FPS Bond format and moved the game to a third-person perspective. ‘Everything or Nothing’ also introduces a cover-based shooter element that is really well done.

This game has some really cool level design and a lot of variety in gameplay. The gameplay is classic Bond, but there are levels where you drive a cool weaponized Bond car, a tank, fly a helicopter, and repel down buildings. This game also has a really fun co-op campaign that you do not get with most Bond games.

3. The World is Not Enough (2000)

The second 007 game to be released on the N64 was The World is Not Enough. This is the first game on this list that is based on a movie of the same name. And compared to other games that are based on films, this game does a really good job of following the movie closely. ‘ The World is Not enough’ to me is a really good blend of the stealth based gameplay and the classic FPS Bond experience.

The story is really cool and you feel like each level really has weight to it because you care about the outcome of the story. The multiplayer was a really fun experience with a lot of fun weapons to use. And there are a lot of really cool gadgets to use that are useful in progressing through the levels. The different difficulty settings are appropriately scaled and the additional objectives on the harder difficulty settings are really satisfying to complete. All in all, this is a really solid 007 game and a great introduction to the series.

2. Goldeneye 007 (1997)

Alright, I know that you are probably thinking I lose all credibility by ranking this game 2nd. What can I even say about Goldeneye and how influential it was as a FPS title? This is a game that brought the genre to home consoles and did it with a bang. Goldeneye offers a fun and challenging campaign that follows the movie really closely.

But what most people probably remember about Goldeneye, is the multiplayer. The N64 gave players the chance to play local multiplayer with 4 players. This gave many people a lot of fun memories with friends. And the local split-screen multiplayer would go on to define the next console generation with games like Halo.

When people think of James Bond video games, the first game they probably think of is Goldeneye. It is such an iconic game and for good reason. This is definitely a great introduction for people to the series. The only thing preventing it from being number 1 on the list is that the controls have aged. This was before modern dual stick FPS controls so it takes some getting used to if you pick it up today.

1. Nightfire (2002)

My absolute favorite Bond game is Nightfire. This game took everything good about the 007 games from the previous console generation and improved them. The campaign in this game is a classic ridiculous James Bond plot (complete with a giant space laser). But every level in this game is fun and engaging. There is such a good mix of action packed FPS gameplay and stealthy gameplay.

This story of this game was written just for the game, but it really feels like it could be a movie. Some of the levels can be completed in multiple ways and you really feel like a spy when you can successfully get through a level while causing minimal damage.

If you thought the multiplayer in Goldeneye was fun, then this game will blow you away. There are multiple fun game modes and tons of classic Bond characters to choose from. The maps are some of my favorite multiplayer maps in the entire series. And this game has my favorite selection of Q-Branch gadgets to use.

I love the 007 games and these are just a few of my favorites. I really wish that game studios would have continued to regularly make quality Bond games. It has been a while since there has been a really good 007 game. To me, Nightfire is the best game in the series and the perfect introduction to the series for someone who has never played one of these games.

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Game Discussion

How Ocarina of Time Taught me Courage


After just revisiting The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo Switch Online service, I have been thinking about the strange atmosphere of this game. In general, I am blown away at how well this game has aged. The dungeon design is intricate, yet easily navigatable. The pacing, in my opinion, is nearly perfect. It is really satisfying to acquire each new piece of gear and all of the equipment retains its usefulness through the whole game.

But the biggest thing that stands out to me is the atmosphere… The atmosphere of every Zelda game seems to be pretty unique to that specific game, but something about the magic of Ocarina of Time sticks out to me. I still remember being a kid and watching my older brother make his way through this game for hours. When I would finally have the chance to pick up and play the game for myself I would sit in wonder as I ran across Hyrule and talked to all of the colorful characters.

One of the things about the atmosphere of Ocarina of Time is that, compared to other games in the series, there is a lot of creatures and settings that are more on the dark and macabre side of things. When I first picked up this game as a kid, whenever I would have to run across Hyrule Field I would try to get where I needed to go as quickly as possible so that I wouldn’t be caught on the field at night. Once the sun goes down, the Stalchildren rise from the ground and attack you. We don’t really know what the Stalchildren are, but the assumption is that they are the dead who were killed during the Hyrulean Civil War that is only mentioned vaguely in the game.

The Stalchildren were just the first of many grotesque creatures that I encountered playing this game as a child. Once Link retrieves the Master Sword and is transported 7 years into the future, the world of Hyrule has been mostly destroyed. After those 7 years, you encounter many more scary creatures and what was once a vibrant world has turned dark. The Redeads and Dead Hand used to terrify me.

I specifically remember that I was to afraid to play certain parts of the game while I was alone. When I had to go down the well in Kakariko Village, I would have to prepare myself. I would either have to play it with family members in the room or I would only play it during the day when the sun was out.

And then later on in the game when you have to go to the Shadow Temple, I would go into the Shadow Temple just to get the Hover Boots and then I would go straight to the Spirit Temple. I would do this to so I could put off the Shadow Temple as long as I possibly could. Everything about this dungeon creeped me out. The music, the enemies, and the design of the dungeon all terrified me.

But with all of that being said, because the story was so engaging and the game progression was so satisfying, I was able to challenge all of those fears. From the time I was 6 years old I would play this game and challenge all of the things that scared me about it. I was taught what being courageous meant. Because of Link and the Hero’s Journey that he was on, I felt compelled to face my fears and conquer his enemies. I learned at that young age that there are things that are worth fighting for. There are things that are worth sacrificing for. This is something that I have taken with me into adult hood. There are things worth facing your fears for.

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Game Discussion News

Is Goldeneye N64 Coming to Nintendo Switch Online?


The Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack launched last week and customers have not been shy about voicing their opinions. The N64 emulator that Nintendo built for the Switch has been having a lot of issues. The games are all playable, but are experiencing graphical glitches and slowdown at times. Not to mention the strange button layout that the application forces on you without providing a way to remap the buttons.

But in spite of all of that, we are all still curious about what other games could be added to the service down the road. There have already been some great titles confirmed. Among them are Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask and Banjo Kazooie. The inclusion of Banjo Kazooie surprised people because Rare, the studio that developed the game, is now owned by Microsoft. People have been under the assumption that either Nintendo and Microsoft wouldn’t be willing to work together or Nintendo wouldn’t be willing to put the effort in work something out with Microsoft. Needless to say, Banjo Kazooie is a welcome addition, and it has people excited about other possible additions from Rare.

The thing about the N64 library is that there are a lot of good games made by other dev studios like Rare, and there a lot of good games that would run into heavy licensing issues if they were to be rereleased. The big game that everyone wants to come to the Switch Online Service is 007 Goldeneye. This was a great game that was not only made by Rare, but also based on a movie. There are multiple actor’s likenesses used in the game. Typically that would mean that its more trouble than its worth to release the game again and have to deal with all the licensing fees. It is for this reason that everyone has assumed that Goldeneye will not make its way to Switch Online.

However, there is a recent clue that suggests that we may all be wrong. When Goldeneye was released, it was banned in Germany. It was placed on a list of Media that is considered harmful to minors. Generally, after 25 years, these pieces of media are subject to automatic review. It was just announced that Goldeneye is officially unbanned in Germany. The thing is… that its only been 24 years since the game’s release. This would lead us to believe that Nintendo requested a review of the situation. The only reason they would do that ahead of its automatic review next year is if they are planning on doing something with the game.

We don’t really have any idea what Nintendo could be planning for Goldeneye. Is there a remaster in the works? It is probably safest to assume that Goldeneye may end up coming to the Switch Online N64 library after all. Maybe that is why the Expansion Pack price was priced higher than everyone expected. Maybe Nintendo is paying licensing fees. This is no guarantee, but it is potentially a good sign.

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Reviews

Switch Online N64 Expansion Pack Review

Game Selection

Overall the launch lineup for the service is solid. We all know how subscriptions work. They weren’t going to give us all the great games right out of the gate. Releasing these games throughout the year is the best way for Nintendo to retain our subcriptions. Still, the virtual console would probably be a better option for users, but it is awesome to have access to games I’ve never played… games that I wouldn’t buy on the virtual console.

But still, they are giving us some really good games right out of the gate. On the N64, Mario and Zelda will be great single player experiences. And Mario Kart will be a blast to play with friends. For the Genesis, Golden Axe, Phantasy Star 4, Ecco the Dolphin, and Castlevania: Bloodlines will all be a great time. Though in general it seems like people are a lot more excited about the addition of N64 games than they are about Genesis.

Emulation

At first glance these games all play great and look great. The higher resolution really helps the look of these games while still retaining the visuals that we remember. Playing N64 games this way is a lot easier than messing with emulator settings just to get the game to play correctly. But there have been some problems with the emulation on the Switch. I haven’t seen anything game breaking, but there are some visual glitches. It seems like Ocarina of Time may even run better on the Wii U virtual console than it does on the Switch. Another problem that has been found is in Mario Kart. When you slip on a banana, the music lowers in volume, but doesn’t return to its original volume.

How can a company with the resources of Nintendo be so lazy with their emulation on the Switch? These games should be running flawlessly, but it just really feels thrown together. If you REALLY want to play these games on the Switch, these games are still playable, but if you have the aptitude, setting up an emulator on your PC may honestly be a better option.

Playing these games on the official Nintendo N64 replica controller that was just released is definitely the way to go. It looks and feels way more authentic to how you remember playing these games. While modern controllers may be more comfortable, playing these games with a dual-stick controller can feel really awkward. The N64 controller had the ‘C’ directional buttons. Sometimes they functioned like the second stick to control the camera, but other times they were used for item selection like in Ocarina of Time. To use the ‘C’ controls for Ocarina of Time, you have hold down ZR and use the A, B, X, and Y buttons. This can feel a little bit janky. And in Mario Kart, the ‘L’ shoulder button lowers the volume of the music, but there is no way to turn it back up that I found. This is a really bizarre choice for the button mapping.

Some users are having some issues with input lag. I haven’t personally experienced this, but I have seen other players talk about it. A bigger problem is that in Mario Kart you can’t save ghost data on the time trials. This is because the game looks for a controller pak and Nintendo didn’t build this into the emulator.

Online Play

The online play feels really good and fluid if everyone you’re playing with has good connection. Otherwise it is laggy and hardly playable. Its not always easy to find friends to play with. The lack of match making is really what holds back the experience of the Switch Online Expansion Pack. When people heard that we’d be able to play Mario Kart 64 online they immediately dreamt of real match making with strangers. That would have really elevated the experience. Only being able to play with friends really holds back what would be a really cool feature.

Conclusion: Is it Worth it?

To me, having these games in the same place as my Switch games is really awesome. Even with the problems, that alone makes this price worth it. The higher resolution makes these games look better than they would on a physical N64. You could make them look even better with emulation. But I don’t like messing with emulators and I want to support Nintendo for providing a service that I’m interested in. I mentioned ways that Nintendo could improve the online service in a previous article. If they had done these things, this would be a much better experience.

The game selection is good and the games are as fun as ever. For the best experience, play these games on the N64 replica controller, but they are still fun on Joycons or a Pro-controller. The lack of public matchmaking really holds back what could be a really fun gaming experience. It is really difficult for me to recommend that other people buy this service because of some of the issues with the emulation. For this price, I think we were figured these games would be perfectly emulated, but they’re just not. The games are still fun and playable. If thats enough for you, you may be interested in the Switch Online Expansion Pack, but if you will be bothered by less-than-perfect emulation, I would wait and see if Nintendo will fix any of these issues.

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Game Discussion

4 Ways to Improve the Switch Online Service (N64 Collection)

There’s really no way around the fact that at $49.99 annually, the Switch Online Expansion Pack feels really expensive. This is based on our experience with Nintendo’s online service on the Switch up to this point. However, there are things that could be done to make this price feel more appropriate.

Here are 4 things we want for the N64 Collection on the Switch Online Expansion Pack:

Quality Games

The N64 doesn’t have a very big library of games overall. In North America, there was only 296 games that were released. The Playstation had more that 4 times that many. However, even with its smallish catalogue, the n64 has a lot of really fun games.

This means that it should be no problem to actually put quality games on the online service. When the NES and SNES services were launched, the lineup of games was decent at best. Even with a few important games still missing, the game selection has improved a lot.

Here are all the N64 games that have been announced:

  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Super Mario 64
  • Majora’s Mask
  • WinBack: Covert Operations
  • Dr. Mario 64
  • Yoshi’s Story
  • Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
  • Pokemon Snap
  • Mario Golf
  • Sin and Punishment
  • Mario Tennis
  • F-Zero X
  • Mario Kart 64
  • Paper Mario
  • Star Fox 64
  • Banjo-Kazooie

This is a solid lineup of games. Its a great sign that Nintendo was able to work something out with Rare to get Banjo-Kazooie added. If there was any way that Goldeneye could find its way onto the Switch Online service, that would be amazing. However, I bet that we will have to “settle” with Perfect Dark, which some people prefer anyways.

This is a good start for the N64 lineup. Here is my personal list of games I would like to see added down the line:

  • Body Harvest
  • Glover
  • Toy Story 2
  • Snowboard Kids 2
  • Shadow Man
  • Rogue Squadron
  • Shadows of the Empire
  • Diddy Kong Ramsey
  • Harvest Moon 64
  • Mickey’s Speedway
  • LEGO Racers
  • Road Rash 64
  • Space Station Silicon Valley

There are some other solid games that could be added in addition to these, but this would be a good start to making the price of the Expansion Pack more worth it.

Consistency

When the NES and the SNES collections were first launched on the online service, the games were regularly updated. As time has gone by, the games have been coming less and less frequently. So not only are the games not always among the best of the system, but we rarely get new games. It begs the question: What exactly are we paying for?

We have already talked about how important it is that the N64 collection has quality games. But it is just as important for those games to come on a consistent basis. Nintendo has been very vague about the interval at which new games will be added. Ideally new games would be added once per month.

Better Infrastructure

Anyone that has played online games on the Switch could tell you that it suffers from lag a lot more than Sony’s or Microsoft’s online services. Nintendo has never really used their online service as a big marketing point to sell consoles. Apart from Super Smash Bros, they don’t really have any huge online multiplayer IPs.

For that reason, Nintendo has probably not invested as heavily into the infrastructure of their online platform. That fact of that matter is, if we are going to be paying the same amount for Nintendo’s online subscription as we do for Sony’s or Microsoft’s, they need to invest more into improving the online experience.

Matchmaking

The last thing that would make the retro game selection that Nintendo has brought to their online service more fun, would be for them to implement proper match making. Especially with the N64 games coming to the system.

Playing with friends is fun, but once your an adult it can be hard to always sync up with your friends to play. I would still like to be able to hop on and play Mario Kart 64 online, even if it’s with strangers. Being able to play these classic games with a modern matchmaking system would be an awesome experience to offer the fans.

These are the things that I think would help to improve the experience of the Switch Online Service. If these things were implemented, maybe the $49.99 price point wouldn’t feel so expensive.

What would you add to the service to make it a more appetizing purchase?

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Game Discussion News

Switch Online Expansion Pack Pricing Revealed…

When Nintendo announced the addition of N64 to the Switch Online Service, I was really excited. Like many of us, I grew up playing the N64 and though I often hear that there are only 10 or so good games, I think there are a lot of hidden gems on the system. This presents an awesome opportunity for Nintendo to expose a younger audience to some great games that are barely talked about today.

Not only did Nintendo announce the N64 for the Switch Online Expansion Pack, but they also announced the addition of the Sega Genesis. This one threw me a little bit. I like the Genesis as much as the next guy, but it seems out of left field to add this system as opposed to another Nintendo console (i.e. Gameboy or GBA).

But lets talk about the pricing. Yikes… I don’t know what else to say. $49.99 annually and $79.99 for the family membership. That just seems really steep for what we are getting. That puts the price in the ballpark of online offerings from Sony and Microsoft, but without the benefits that they offer.

Content creators in both the Youtube and blog spheres have collectively lost their minds over this. I mean, just look at the like/dislike ratio on Nintendo’s announcement video.

Oof…

Right now, it doesn’t seem worth it based on the announcements from Nintendo. However, I will hold my final opinion until it officially launches and maybe Nintendo will provide later updates that will make the price point seem more appealing.