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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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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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News

GTA Trilogy Remaster Coming November 11 – New Trailer Released

The GTA Trilogy: Definitive Edition was recently announced by Rockstar. Today we finally got a release date. The remastered trilogy will come to all major platforms for digital download on November 11. A physical release will be headed to Playstation, Switch, and Xbox on December 7th.

What we know so far is that these games will have certain quality of life improvements. There will be some improvements to textures, models, and overall resolution. We are finally able to see these visual improvements in the trailer that Rockstar shared this morning.

Rockstar has said that the games will control like GTA 5. That alone will be a massive improvement. On top of that, the aiming and lock on system will be improved. The Radio station selection system will also resemble the wheel that is used in GTA 5.

The Switch will have some exclusive controls with the addition of gyro aiming and touch screen camera controls. I’m sure if you don’t like the gyro controls, this is something that can be toggled off in settings.

We still haven’t heard anything about the radio stations and if any songs were removed or added. I speculated about this in a former article:

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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.

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News

Switch Scalpers are at it Again (This Time With the Oled)

The only thing sure in life is death and taxes… and Nintendo scalpers.

Pretty much anytime Nintendo announces anything, scalpers start rubbing their hands together with dollar signs in their eyes… I’m mostly joking. The latest victim to fall into the hands of these scalpers is the new Switch Oled.

Yikes…

Scalpers already have the new Oled model of the Switch listed at over twice its retail value. This situation is undoubtedly helped by the pandemic and the resulting supply shortage. Less of these units on the shelf means a higher price that these scalpers can sell at.

Really the only thing regular customers can do to counter this is refuse to buy these models at such outrageous prices. The problem is that anything Nintendo holds its value really well. So even after buying a Switch Oled, worst case scenario for a would-be scalper would be to resell it at a incredibly small loss. This is a risk that they will continue to take…

The only thing sure in life is death and taxes… and Nintendo Scalpers.

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Game Discussion

Top 5 Underrated N64 Games for Switch Online


I commonly hear that the N64 only has 5-10 good games. I couldn’t disagree more. Of course the first party titles and the Rare classics are the really heavy hitters, but there are so many hidden gems on this system.

In this article, I’ll be talking about 5 of my favorite under-the-radar games on the N64. This is just a wish list and I will be ignoring any potential copyrite issues that would prevent Nintendo from adding these games.

5. Gauntlet Legends

Gauntlet Legends is an arcade game by Midway and Atari that launched in 1998. It was ported to the N64 in 1999 and later to the Sony Playstation and Sega Dreamcast in 2000. One of the things that made the N64 great in the eyes of fans was the possibility of 4-player local multiplayer. And this game makes the most of this feature! Couch co-op is always fun, but 4-player co-op makes it even better!

Getting to choose between 4 classes, players get to be a Warrior, Archer, Wizard, or Valkyrie to recover 4 runes to banish the demon Skorne back to Hades. The gameplay is really simple, but cutting your way through enemies with 3 friends is an absolute blast. This would be a great addition to the Switch Online Service and would be perfect to play with friends online.

4. Glover

This is definitely a bit of an oddball on this list, but I remember renting this game from Hollywood Video as a kid and it has always stuck out to me. In this game you play as a personified glove named “Glover”. Through many worlds of platforming levels, you are meant to retrieve crystals and help to restore the crystal kingdom is under threat.

This is a fun game with really interesting and unique level design. The environments are all really vibrant and there is plenty to explore. The glove gimmick lends itself to really interesting gameplay. As a big fan of platformers, this is a fun and unique game. I would love to see Nintendo add this to the Switch Online service.

3. Body Harvest

This is really where things get good. Body Harvest was developed by DMA Design which is now Rockstar North (a studio of Rockstar Games). In this game you can see plenty of ideas that would find their way into the Grand Theft Auto series. You play as futuristic super solider named Adam Drake. You are tasked with defending earth from invading aliens that are here to harvest the human population.

There is much more than just an action-adventure game. There are elements of mystery and puzzle solving. One of the things I really love about Body Harvest is the atmosphere. There is a cold and lonely ambience that emanates from this game and it really adds to the experience. This game would be perfect for the Switch Online service. I would love to revisit it.

2. Rogue Squadron

Of all the games on this list, Rogue Squadron is probably the most well known. You could argue that it doesn’t even belong on an “Underrated Games List”, but I rarely see people hold this game up with the best of the system so I am including it here.

Rogue Squadron is an arcade-style flight game. It takes place in the star wars universe and follows the the story from the Star Wars X-wing: Rogue Squadron comic series. The gameplay is presented in a third person view as you pilot different crafts from Star Wars. You collect powerups and complete different objectives in each stage.

The flying in this game still feels really good and the dogfighting is super satisfying. Of all of the Star Wars games on the N64, this is my favorite. This game spawned a trilogy of games that are all really good. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game ended up on Switch in a similar manner as Star Wars Episode I: Racer, but I wouldn’t bet on in being added to the Switch Online Expansion. Lets hope I’m wrong!

1. Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue

This game first launched on N64 and Playstation in 1999 and later appeared on a number of other platforms. It follows the familiar plot of the movie with some added content (and new henchman to beat up).

There was a time when movie licensed video games weren’t consistently terrible and this game proves it. This game is such a fun mix of familiar characters, platforming, collecting, and fighting bad guys.

Similar to the ‘Army Men’ games, the level designs are fun to explore because you get to play around familiar spaces through the eyes of a toy. Boring locations like a child’s bedroom or a construction yard become massive environments to explore.

I know that we aren’t likely to see this game on the Switch Online service because of the licensing that would be required, but I can dream right?

What games would you like to see added to Nintendo Switch Online?

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Game Discussion

The GTA Trilogy – Definitive Edition Might Be Missing Something Important

Rockstar recently announced the release of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition. This was sure to make fans of the franchise really excited. This month marks 20 years since the release of Grand Theft Auto III so this is a great way for Rockstar to celebrate the anniversary and reintroduce these great games to us.

To this day, I periodically will pick up GTA: Vice City and play through it. Some of the gameplay mechanics are dated, but is still a really enjoyable experience fueled by the awesome atmosphere of neon saturated Miami nights.

The Definitive Edition is sure to contain quality-of-life improvements and hopefully modernize the controls. This will be a welcome change and will make these games even more approachable for a modern audience.

The difficult thing about remastering old games, apart from the technical work required, is dealing with the licenses that the company originally paid for. I think I’m not alone when I say that one of my favorite parts of Vice City is THE MUSIC. The music in this game adds so much to the 80s atmosphere.

This is purely speculative, but I would venture a guess that the licenses that Rockstar originally purchased have expired by now. This means they would have to buy the rights to use these songs again. I’m not sure if that makes financial sense to repurchase these licenses just for a rerelease of older games.

I hope I am wrong. I am excited for the Definitive Edition release and will definitely pick it up. But I would love to hear that same old soundtrack.