The Nintendo 64 had Super Mario 64, the Wii had the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and the Wii U had New Super Mario Bros. U. Nintendo’s latest console, the Nintendo Switch, is set to launch with the much anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. For some, the allure of the new Zelda title, alone, will justify dropping AU$469.95 on the Nintendo Switch. For others, the fact that third party publishers steered clear of the Wii U, and that existing Nintendo IP has been languishing, means they may need some convincing. To do just that, Nintendo showed off a selection of upcoming games alongside the new console at a hands-on media event at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) on January 14th.
Fellow GameCloud reporter Bernadette Russell, and I, eagerly accepted our invitations. With memories of the January 13th live stream still sending endorphins through our nervous systems, we mingled excitedly with other members of the video game media family in the lobby of the MCEC. Speculation and anticipation seemed to come in equal measure. And everyone had questions about the games AND the console.
Two areas to investigate. Two representatives from GameCloud. How convenient.
Here are my first impressions of the games showcased by Nintendo at the Nintendo Switch hands-on media event. You can check out Bernadette’s thoughts on the Nintendo Switch console here.
The walls of the conference room were lined with displays, each one themed to match the game being demonstrated– like the show floor of PAX or EB Expo, except on a much smaller scale, and exclusively Nintendo-related. Pride of place in the centre of the room was a circular exhibit wrapped by perspex to create viewing areas. Behind each piece of perspex was an exhibit that was themed to match a mini-game being played by members of the media, under the guidance of an in-character Nintendo event staff member. This was Nintendo’s genius way of showing off 1-2-Switch.
1-2-Switch is new Nintendo IP comprised of a series of mini-games. From reaction time-testing Wild West gunslinging (as featured on the Nintendo lives stream), to safe cracking and milking a cow (it’s all about the questionable wrist action…), the diverse, creative games were fun to play and to watch! The “Ball Count” mini-game was by far the most impressive. This required players to estimate how many ball bearings were rolling around inside the controller– it was a way to demonstrate the new HD rumble feature of the Nintendo Switch joy-cons. There is no other way to describe this feature than to say that it really was possible to differentiate between the “existence” of 1,2,3,4 or more balls rolling around inside the joy-con. It felt as though the general and specific-location weight of the joycon changed with each variation. I finally understood what was going on in the live stream when they referred to feeling the difference between the number of ice cubes in a glass…
Interestingly, all the mini-games required players to interact with the controller or each other rather than pay attention to the screen. As a launch title, and a party, couch co-op/ PvP game that was clearly designed to show off the capabilities of the Nintendo Switch joy-cons, the 1-2-Switch is comparable with Wii’s Wii Sports game. However, unlike Wii Sports, 1-2-Switch does not come bundled with the console. Instead, it will be released alongside the Nintendo Switch, at a suggested retail price of AU$69.95. This is absurd. There is not enough depth or content in the game to warrant such hefty price tag.
Nintendo were clearly also trying to push their other new IP, as there was a large display dedicated to Arms. Arms was pitched to me as a boxing game crossed with a shooter, and I think that was a pretty apt description. Players use the joy-cons like boxing gloves to land blows on their virtual opponent. Twisting the wrist or pressing a certain button, results in a different kind of punch, and players can customise their individual boxing gloves with weapons.
I chose to play as a ninja-like character, while my opponent opted for a character with a tankier build. The difference in character traits and mechanics was immediately apparent, and I realised that there was much more depth to the combat in this game than I had originally considered.
Players can compete against computer AI, online PvP, local multiplayer with two Switches, or split screen on one Switch (which requires the purchase of a second set of joy-cons). I felt that there was a little bit of a refractory period between moves, but the game was enjoyable and easy to jump into. Comparisons to Wii Boxing are ridiculous. Arms blows Wii Boxing out of the ring. But I still wouldn’t pay full retail price for this game when it is released this Autumn unless there was some kind of in-built RPG of a campaign mode.
We heard whispers of a third new Nintendo game on display, then we heard raucous laughter from that general direction and knew we had to play. Snipperclips is an action-puzzle game that relies on communication, co-operation and imagination to solve puzzles. Players take control of the paper characters ‘Snip’ and ‘Clip’ and must cut each other to fit the configuration shown. My co-op partner and I became stuck on an “advanced” puzzle (see: very basic puzzle…), but had just as much fun when we turned it into a fighting game– trying to snip each other into oblivion.
This was the first, but unfortunately not the last game, that I struggled with due to the size of the joy-con. The single joy con seemed slightly too small for my two average-sized hands, and I found myself pressing the incorrect directional button by mistake.
The sequel to everyone’s favourite 4-on-4 ink-based turf battle game was given a massive exhibit. We were encouraged to play the game on the Nintendo Switch as a handheld and as a docked device. What we were treated to was a “full sequel” that just seemed like Splatoon + DLC. There were new stages, new fashions and new weapons, and the same old irritating gyro shooting system. The game felt better using the pro controller on the TV. However, the question still remains… why isn’t it called Spla2n? Perhaps there is still time to rename before it is launched this winter.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
The final Nintendo game we played was 4-player local multiplayer Mario Kart 8 Deluxe– each player with their own Nintendo Switch (though the game supports up to 8 players). Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is simply Mario Kart 8 with all the DLC tracks included, new characters in the form of Inkling Boy and Inkling Girl from Splatoon, King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr. The battle mode has new stages and battle types, there are new items, and… you can now carry two items at one time (just like in the greatest Mario Kart game of all time, Double Dash!). You can’t go wrong with Mario Kart (except when you’re coming first and are “blue-shelled” right before the line). It launches on April 28th.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Back in October, I was lucky enough to play Breath of the Wild on Wii U and instantly fell in love with it, yet found myself with so many more questions about the story and console availability. Without a doubt, the most frustrating part was every time I used link’s PDA device the nearest Nintendo staff member would tell me how “everyone says it looks like an iPad”; turns out what we were looking at back then was, in fact, the Switch. Playing it again at the Switch event was a great opportunity to use the pro controller and try to force my way further through the available story than before. I spent almost half an hour using all the options and screens, drilling the tight-lipped staff, and fanning out as I took my time to take in the views and dig into the gameplay. Launch day cannot come fast enough– this is a title that’s going to require so many hours of exploration to enjoy fully, and I intend to invest every spare minute in it. – Bernadette
Third Party Games
An entire wall was set up with Nintendo Switch’s loaded with third party titles. There was less fanfare than the Nintendo IP displays, but the fanfare in my own mind made up for it. Commitment from third party publishers is a must if the Nintendo Switch is to survive.
Super Bomberman R
This was one of the two games that I reacted to audibly when it appeared for a split second in the Nintendo live stream. Bomberman Land! Touch 2 battle mode was one of my favourite mini-game modes of all-time, so it was the first third party game that I rushed over to play. We played battle mode with 4 people on the same Nintendo Switch console, using one joy con each. It was glorious, and not just because of the nostalgic value. Possibly the world’s best party, co-op game. There is apparently a story mode attached as well. Quality. Will buy.
This was the second of the two third party games that I was particularly looking forward to playing. I was excited about this one because I thought it was Wipeout; a game that I have fond memories of playing on my friend’s PS1 as a child. But no, this is not Wipeout. This is Fast RMX. Ironically, it seems like a slower racer than Wipeout. There are no weapons, and the game seems to be about flying the course perfectly and timing your boosts. A fun game that has potential to be a truly competitive racer.
Other third-party titles on display included Skylanders Imaginators (which utilises the NFC touchpoint on the right joycon for interaction with Amigo figures), Sonic Mania, Has Been Heroes, Street Fighter 2, Just Dance 2017, and Disgaea 5. All games looked crisp on the tv screens and on the handheld consoles.
The Nintendo Switch hands-on media event was a blast! It was a great way to show off the console and many of the games on offer. The beauty of this event was that, by bringing so many members of the media together to test it out in an open plan conference room, Nintendo perpetuated the party, couch, local multiplayer vibe that the Nintendo Switch seems to be all about. New and existing Nintendo IP (1-2-Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Arms, etc.) leads me to believe that the situations shown in the hype trailer (playing the Switch with friends at a rooftop party, or after a basketball game) could be reality in the future. And the fact that third party developers are on board is a big win for Nintendo. My only gripe is that 1-2-Switch is not being bundled with the console. This seems like a mistake, and I wouldn’t be surprised if “the Nintendo Switch w/ 1-2-Switch included” is a hot Christmas item.