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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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Reviews

Hidden Gems: When are we Going to Acknowledge How Great Freedom Fighters Was?


I will always remember Christmas of 2002. That is when I got a Nintendo Gamecube. It came packaged James Bond 007: Nightfire and two controllers. In my opinion, the Gamecube was way ahead of its time in a lot of ways. I had a lot of fun playing Nightfire and The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker over the next year. In 2003, I got a game for Christmas that I knew nothing about. That game was Freedom Fighters.

Developed by IO Interactive and published by EA, Freedom fighters was a third-person shooter action/strategy game. The shooter element of the gameplay is straight forward. However, there is a strategy element to the game where you recruit fighters and direct them to defend areas or attack enemies. The way you use these fighters can change make the difference between beating a level or not.

The plot follows an alternate history where the Soviet Union won WWII and positioned themselves to launch a full invasion of the United States in the modern day. You play as a plumber named Chris Stone who lives and works in New York. The Russians invade and you help to fight them as you rise up to become the “Freedom Phantom” who leads the resistance.

I’ll always remember sitting on the floor in front of the tv as I watched Chris deliver his awesome speech from the tv station. This outlines perfectly how advanced the voice acting and cinematics were for the time.

This is a game that is criminally underrated and should be talked about way more. The shooting gameplay is simple, but satisfying. The mechanics of recruiting a squad and commanding them is a really unique aspect of the game that is a lot of fun. You have to build charisma to be able to recruit npcs to fight for you. You build charisma by accomplishing feats that help the resistance.

Its satisfying to take back New York from the Soviets in the campaign. There are varying difficulties you can play on and they are all appropriate jumps in difficuly. The multiplayer is really unique as well. Rather than just a simple team deathmatch style game, you have to take bases and hold a central flag for longer than the other players. It is a really fun game mode that would be awesome in the current online gaming environment. Of course back then, it was local multiplayer. You may be able to make the argument that that made it more fun.

This was back when cheat codes in games were common. You could buy books that had all the cheats of games from that year. The cheats in this game were really fun to toy with after you had already poured hours into beating the main game.

The soundtrack to this game adds so much to the atmosphere. The music was composed by Jesper Kyd. Mixing communist style choral arrangements with industrial sounds, you get the perfect soundtrack to beat the foreign invaders out of your city.

Overall, this is a game that was really fun when it came out. And it is still really fun today. There was a PC re-release of the game last year. But if any game deserves a full ground-up remake, it is this game. The gameplay would translate really well to todays industry. And there is a lot of potential for added game modes.

If you have never played Freedom Fighters, you need to pick it up!


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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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News

The GTA Trilogy: Definitive Edition Requires a Download on the Switch


I really love the Switch. Despite being underpowered, I think it’s a great console with a great concept and game library so far. One of the annoyances that I have with it is how often development studios port games to the system only to have a digital download code in the case. Most of the time it is totally reasonable to fit the game onto a cartridge. Studios likely do this to cut down on costs and increase profit. This way they don’t have to pay for any physical media to put the games on.

The new GTA Trilogy: Definitive Edition is set to release next month on console e-shops and then in December for physical media. Looking at the Switch game case that is already listed on Target’s website, you can see that it says there is a download required. This is a major bummer. At this point, I have to delete games anytime I want to play something new because so many games require massive downloads. Or I could spend money on another SD card, which I also don’t love the idea of.

There’s no word yet on how big of a file will need to be downloaded. If I had to guess, I would say that the physical cartridge will have one of the three games on it, and then you will have to download the other two. We will likely have to wait until the official release to see how much of the trilogy needs to be downloaded.

When you look at what Saber Interactive did with the port of The Witcher 3 to the Switch, you can’t deny that Rockstar could’ve fit all three of these games on one cartridge. The Witcher port featured all the DLC. On PS4, this is a file size of about 70 GB. Saber Interactive managed to compress that down to 32 Gigs on the Switch. Of course you are going to have make some sacrifices to make the file size that much smaller. But the sacrifices would be even less significant with the GTA Trilogy. I would’ve loved to see all three of these games on one cartridge.

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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

Unpopular Opinion: Low Poly Graphics are Awesome

Nostalgia

Low poly graphics are graphics that have a low polygon count. These are graphics that are reminiscent of the N64/PS1 generation. Whenever I say that I genuinely like the look of low poly graphics, people immediately accuse me of just being a victim of nostalgia. I guess enjoying a game that you played years ago and then picking it up and enjoying it again means that you are blinded by nostalgia goggles.

Yeah, I’ll admit that having good memories of playing a game can make a game seem better. It can be fun to try to recreate those memories that you previously captured. However, I’m not really talking about a specific game. I’m talking about the graphics style in general. I love the simplicity of the low polygon count character models and textures.

Art Style

In the current year, there are tons of games with mind blowing graphics. Now it is reasonable to make a game that has super realistic visuals. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game that visually blew my mind when it came out. We are getting to the point where photo-realistic graphics are probably not far off.

With that said, one of the things that I love about games on the N64 is that photo-realistic games were not a possibility. These limitations on the developer made them get really creative with how games looked. I love the colorful and surreal worlds that these games take place in. Of course, in the modern day there are games that don’t look like the real world, but this was a necessity for almost every game in previous generations.

I absolutely love the art style and direction of games like Super Mario 64, Rayman 2, and the N64 Zelda games. As much as I love games with realistic graphics, I also like to sit down and suspend reality when I play a game. I want to step into the cartoony worlds.

Gameplay

When developers had to get creative with the art style in games, a lot of the time they had to reuse a lot of in game textures and models and it the end it saved a lot of time in the development process. I like when developers spend more time focused on the mechanics of the game and how to actually make it fun instead of spending so much time on making realistic looking games.

I think its important for game to have a focused direction for the art style of the game, but I think the gameplay is far more important than the graphics being perfect. I have played a lot of big triple-A titles that looked beautiful, but just aren’t that fun. I have also played a lot of indie games that didn’t look like anything special, but were really fun.

Modern Low Poly Games

There has been a big resurgence in games that use 16-bit graphics. Among indie developers, retro style platformers have been really popular over the last few years. I am hoping that the next step is for late-90s/early-2000s low poly graphics to come back. There is already a few examples of this.

Here are some modern games that make great use of this graphical style:

Macbat 64:

From the same developer as Macbat 64, here is Toree 3D:

Here is an N64 inspired horror game called Earl’s Day Off:

I recommend downloading and checking out all three of these games. They are all really fun and really different experiences. We need to give indie developers our support so that we can see more games like this in the future.

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News

People are Getting a Weird Green Tint on the Switch Oled

The new Switch Oled was released on October 8th. It was not quite the ‘Switch Pro’ that people were hoping for, but the reception seems to be decently positive. In general, the display looks better and the bigger screen is a nice addition, but whether the price is worth it or not is still up for debate.

However, as with all hardware launches, there have been some defects popping up. Some Oled users have taken to the internet to ask about a strange green tint that is appearing on their fancy new Oled screen. It is still uncertain how widespread this issue is, but it is definitely affecting some users.

u/BassyDave on Reddit detailed that at low brightness, the green haze is appears on the left edge of the screen. During gameplay it doesn’t seem to be as noticeable, but on a uniform color as shown below, the tint is especially bad.

u/yuri_hime commented on the thread and shared that this may not be a defect. This may be happening just due to the nature of how an Oled display works.

If you take the time to research this phenomenon, you find that all oled displays run the risk of having this problem. There are countless forum posts about oled tv screens and phone screens that experience the exact same problem. This is probably getting more attention because of the fiasco with the Switch Joy-Cons having drift issues. People are quick to assume that Nintendo is releasing another piece of hardware that has major potential for a defect.

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Game Discussion

Sora Completes the Smash Ultimate Roster – Where does Smash Bros go from Here?

Last week, Sora from the Kingdom Hearts franchise was the added to the Smash Ultimate roster. According to Nintendo this concludes character additions to the game. Yes that means that the eager fans will never see Waluigi in Smash Ultimate.

Super Smash Bros. has been through a lot of changes over the years. But while the games have gotten faster paced, the core gameplay hasn’t experienced any radical changes.

With the aptly titled Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s chapter finally coming to an end, it really begs the question, where can Nintendo take the series after this? In the next game will they just continue to expand the roster and focus the gameplay on online play? Will they expand the game modes and offer more robust single player experiences?

Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai has been with the series since its inception. In a lot of ways Ulitmate feels like Sukarai’s magnum opus. Will he continue to work on the series or will he pass the torch and work on other projects?

Sakurai

Its hard to imagine a Smash Bros. game without Sakurai, but that may eventually be a reality. One thing for is for sure. The next installment needs some changes. It feels like the whole series has led up to this game. It feels like there shouldn’t be another game coming, but when it inevitably does, I hope that it is different enough to feel like it own game and not just a bigger, crazier version of Ultimate.