Tag Archives: Nintendo

Review – Nintendo Switch

 

I recently bought a Switch and it’s a hoot.  It’s the fulfillment of the dream of every young kid who ever wanted to play their favorite games away from home or adults who find themselves always on the go. This should be an automatic “yes”.  While I want to give the console an unqualified recommendation, I can’t.  The Switch has some serious “fit” issues.  Read through and see if it’s the console for you.

 

Pros

Feel – From the nice heft to the clear screen, the Switch feels like a solid piece of equipment that you’d want to use.  Buttons are responsive and everything is in a logical place.  The dock can feel a little flimsy at times, but this is a solid piece of tech overall.

Portability – The Switch captures the dream of having a legitimate console that is also portable.  The dock is small, lightweight, and fits into any luggage.  The required cables are common, easily acquired, and may already be the hotel room or home of a traveler.  Transitioning from docked to portable is as simple as lifting up the console while the current game being played switches from the TV to console screen.  Everything about the portability is straightforward and user friendly.

Quality of games – Nintendo pumped out some high quality titles for the Switch.  Super Mario Odyssey (played and loved) and Breath of the Wild (Did not play but heard good things) are winners.  The indie scene ported over some of its highlights.  Odds are you can find at least one quality entry into your genre of choice.

 

Cons

eShop – It mystifies me that consoles can’t seem to figure out the basics of online stores.  Even by the low standards of the console market, the Nintendo eShop is pathetic.  The search function is barely capable of taking the player to games they know about, much less ones they don’t.  The store lacks a meaningful rating function which would help differentiate the numerous small titles.  Be prepared to find new games elsewhere.

Controllers – Each unit comes with two controllers and a controller dock.  When the controllers rest on the side of the console, they do a fine job.  When they’re free floating, each one is small, but workable in short bursts.  When they’re in the controller dock, the positioning forces the players’ hands into a carpal tunnel inducing position that gets painful, quickly.  Just buy the pro controller.

Shallow library – Nintendo wisely invited in the indie development community, but that strategy hasn’t yet born major fruit.  The console is home to the same high quality indie games that show up on every system.  As for the AAA developers, new games are slowly rolling off the assembly line with a few older highlights already available.  Finally, the virtual console is both gone and sorely missed.  Older games would absolutely kill on the Switch so it’s a shame they aren’t here.  At this point, the library isn’t developed enough to satisfy a regular gamer.

Multimedia – While every other piece of hardware has a variety of streaming services, the Switch has Hulu and that’s it.  Lining up all the major streaming players seems like an obvious choice for a system designed for portability, but Nintendo remains skittish about including it.  Don’t expect the Switch to act as a media hub.

 

The Nintendo Switch is a piece of hardware that I want to play with.  I actively look for games on the system so I can enjoy its ease of use, solid weight, and delightful portability.  Unfortunately, it’s saddled with major flaws.  The games library is limited and the eShop is complete garbage.  Still, the coming line up looks solid and the potential is enormous.  The Switch isn’t a great choice as the sole console for hardcore gamers who need variety, but everyone else should have a blast.

 

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Opinion – Fixing Steam

That’s a big pile of shit.

Steam has a problem.  The now dominant delivery method of computer games can’t seem differentiate good games from bad.  Once the light of hope for all computer gamers, now Steam is clogged with half finished “early access”, buggy trash, and crap left over from yesteryear.  Indie developers used to rely on getting to Steam’s front page for instant wealth, but now must compete with the dreck of the community.  How does Steam deal with the flood of terrible games?

Welp, it would help to learn from the past.

This isn’t the first time the video game community has dealt with this problem.  Back in 1983, the video game market crashed after customers stopped buying games.  The consoles of the day got greedy and decided to allow large numbers of low quality games as a way to take advantage of the video game “fad”.  As a result, the developers flooded the market with low quality products and the unsavvy game market couldn’t tell which games were worth buying and which games were shit.  After buying several bad games, customers pulled out of the market resulting in the devastation of most of the North American video game community and an effective reset of the market.  This phenomenon happened again with the Wii.  Nintendo produced an ultra-popular console that brought in tons of new players.  Studios produced terrible games to take advantage of the fad resulting in the unsophisticated players buying bad games and leaving the market.  Interestingly, it was the same console maker, Nintendo, that found a solution to this problem 20 years earlier.

After the 1983 crash, the North American market lay dormant until the arrival of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).  The NES boasted better graphics, a brilliant game bundled in, and the Nintendo Seal of Approval which gave Nintendo’s guarantee that the game met a minimum standard.  Nintendo knew that Atari and its compatriots lost their market due to the flood of bad games.  As a result, Nintendo both limited the number of games a developer could make and played them to ensure they weren’t terrible.  By limiting the number of games, Nintendo incentivized publishers to focus on the quality of their games (as they only got five shots a year) over dumping as many games on to the market as possible.  By playing the games, Nintendo weeded out the shovelware and ensured that customer’s knew the game would work if it had the seal.  Finally, Nintendo published the Nintendo Power magazine to review games and provide strategies to both bolster its quality assurance efforts and help players get the most from their games.  The effort worked and laid the foundations for the games industry as it stands today.

In many ways, Valve, the creator of Steam, has it easier.  The decades old game market educated many gamers on how to recognize quality products and the healthy reviewing ecology ensures that reviews are available for those who want them.  Steam doesn’t need a “Steam Power” to educate its customers.  What it does need is a Steam Seal of Approval and a limitation on the number of games a publisher can make.  Unfortunately, the Seal requires something that Valve is very bad at: people.  Valve generally strives to automate its processes which is why all of its business initiatives (reviews, curators…Steam itself) have little human intervention and the bits that require people (its god awful customer service) are weak or lacking altogether.  To implement a quality review process, Valve would need to get a handle on hiring and managing people rather than just automating everything.  Understanding that isn’t likely to happen, limiting the number of games per publisher would help.  Many bad games come through shovelware publishers and limiting said publishers to a few games a year would force them to support better games or rely solely on the meager profit of a few terrible titles.  This system would still require additional people, but would only need a savvy few over the numbers a quality control system would take.

Whatever Valve decides to do, it needs to act fast.  The digital distribution market has grown in the past few years with major titles now available on a number of sites.  Steam still commands most of the market due to sheer size, but that need not continue.  If customers find it too difficult to discover the games they want, they can move to greener pastures.  Valve has time to fix this problem, but they don’t have forever.

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