Nintendo Switch IS for Families

This week is/was Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year depending on what type of Asian you are/know. In America that doesn’t mean much. At most you go to dinner at a Chinese restaurant or possibly cook dinner at home and maybe a few relatives and friends come for the meal. Here in Taiwan that means no work for a week, multiple family gatherings, and buying gifts for people ranging from your girlfriend’s grandmother to your land lord because you just kind of have to do it. So I really didn’t have time to delve into any serious topics for my blog this week and haven’t beaten anything recently to do a Gaming Photography post because I happen to be playing both Final Fantasy VII and Super Ghouls’n Ghosts currently, both of which are nothing but long, drawn out headaches. Granted Super Ghouls’n Ghosts isn’t supposed to take more than 90 minutes but it absolutely is because it’s the most unfair, bullshit game ever made and if the SNES Classic didn’t have save states I would surely never be able to beat it. I’m currently stuck on the boss of the game. So it seemed easier for me to write a short anecdote about a gaming moment that happened to me this week rather than try to do something serious.

At one of the multiple Chinese New Year gatherings I attended this week I was asked to bring my Nintendo Switch. For me this was a special occurrence because I had yet to actually take my Switch anywhere. Since I got it in November, I have used it quite a bit but not once had I played it portable or taken it anywhere else. It’s been a dedicated home console just like my PS4. So I was kind of excited to see how the whole experience would be.

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All this plus an extra Joy-Con set and Grip and Cartridge Case.

The first thing I’ll say is that this is the easiest home console to transport I’ve ever owned. Packing it up, including the dock, into the official carrying case is a breeze. It’s such a fast, easy, and efficient process. I was able to fit the console, dock, four joy cons, two joycon grips, a cartridge case, and the necessary wires all in the very compact carrying case from Hori. I can definitely see myself taking the full console setup to other places in the future simply because of how easy it is to do.

This gathering consisted of about 15 people, including me. All 15 people enjoyed the Switch. Not all 15 actively held a controller, but everyone present enjoyed seeing it in action and watching the various hands on participants play the games I had. We only played the local multiplayer games I have, which consists of Just Dance 2018, Overcooked, Snipperclips, Super Bomberman R, and ARMS. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe would have been a perfect game to have present but I refuse to rebuy a game I already own on the Wii U.

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Just Dance was the most fun for the people present. Even the older adults gave it a try and got really competitive. My girlfriend’s parents even challenged us to a couple’s dance off, which was absolutely hilarious. People were recording various members of the family playing and there were even bets placed on who would get the best score. Of course I got first place in every round, except for one where my girlfriend managed to sneak by me.

Super Bomberman R was a big hit because it, more than any other game, bridged the age gap between all the people present. Local PVP Bomberman has existed since 1983, meaning that just about everyone present with any gaming experience had played it at some point. Even my girlfriend’s dad was totally into it and actually quite good because the rules of engagement have changed very little in the more than three decades that people have been playing Bomberman PVP.

bomberman

Overcooked and Snipperclips are both hilarious and nightmarishly difficult to play when you can’t communicate well in the same language. I have all the knowledge and experience but can’t speak Chinese which made coordinating three other people to be able to complete team based challenges super irritating and nearly impossible with some levels of Overcooked. It also doesn’t help that my girlfriend finds both games super irritating in general because she hates teamwork based games. Or at least playing them with me . . .

All in all, I was very impressed with how the Switch performed at a family event. It was convenient, inclusive, entertaining, and versatile. I absolutely don’t believe that the same amount of fun could have been had with either a PS4 or an XB1. And it certainly wouldn’t have been as convenient or efficient as far as space and setup time for either of those two consoles. So if you don’t have a Switch and you do want something to use with other people in person, I highly recommend it for people of any age group. It definitely did exactly what I needed it to do in this scenario.

Happy Chinese New Year!

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Gaming Photography – Super Mario Odyssey

A few weeks ago I finished Super Mario Odyssey. This was actually the first game I beat on my new Nintendo Switch, which I absolutely love, by the way. So I wanted to share my experience playing the game visually with another Gaming Photography post.

I have to say that Super Mario Odyssey is objectively the best Mario platformer ever made. For the longest time I have said that this is Super Mario Galaxy, and I continue to hope for a Super Mario Galaxy 3. But Odyssey truly revolutionized Mario and 3D platforming in almost the same way that Super Mario 64 did back in 1996. It’s almost a perfect game. I got a full 100% completion. That’s all the power moons, all the costumes, all the purple coins, all the souvenirs, and all the possessions. It took me about 50 hours of play, which by today’s standards is great for a platformer. The game is innovative, imaginative, and beautiful. The gameplay works well and the audio, both effects and music, is top notch. I cannot recommend this game enough to Switch users and really platformer fans in general.

I took more than 1000 pictures in this game because there are just so many great moments in it. But the bulk of them were actually taken on my Switch directly rather than with my Elgato like I usually do. This is because the Switch is just so convenient for taking screen captures in games. So now I’d like to present my top 20 photos from Super Mario Odyssey. While this game actually does have a photo mode, I didn’t really use it because I prefer the natural lighting and appearance of the game in most cases. I also post game photos on my Twitter and Instagram often.

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*If you’d like to see the full resolution image please right click and press “view image”.

Please let me know what you think of my shots. Any feedback is appreciated because I would like to improve my gaming photography skills.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.

Goodbye Wii U . . . It’s Been Fun

With this post, as I do with all consoles, I would like to take the time to honor and formally retire my/the Wii U. I finished my last game on the Wii U, Star Fox Zero, and bought a Nintendo Switch. So it’s time to officially move forward with gaming history.

I enjoyed the Wii U. I have never once regretted the purchase. Nor did I regret owning a Wii. There are certain things about the Wii U that I wasn’t ultimately happy with. Such as the very short lifespan I got out of it. I only owned mine for 4 – 5 years and it’s already time to retire it. This has become common practice for Nintendo and it’s a huge problem. But at least it’s not as bad as XBOX and PlayStation offering the same console multiple times in a generation for higher prices with negligible upgrades. The OS/Miiverse was probably the worst thing about the Wii U as a whole.

miiverse

I believe the Wii U was a necessary iteration of console gaming, as has every Nintendo console to date. Nintendo is the leader in home console gaming innovation and has been for more than a decade. The things they create are ultimately panned by the public and then stolen by Microsoft and Sony, among other game development entities. PlayStation Move and Kinect would not exist without the invention of Wii Motion. And to this day I still hold to the opinion that Wii Motion Plus works/worked better than PlayStation Move and the now defunct Kinect ever did. I believe that the Wii U is directly responsible for current VR technology and have written about this in a previous article for Gaming Rebellion. So for me, the Wii U was not a waste of time/money and I don’t consider it a failed console. I will admit that I didn’t get to play as many games on it as I would have liked due to a lacking library, but I will also say that many of the games I did play on the Wii U were excellent. A few obvious examples include Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and of course Bayonetta 2. The fact that two of those games are being remastered for the Switch is very telling about just how good they are/were. Of course it does irritate me that I could have purchased them on the Switch but that’s so many games on all platforms these days.

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Another Wii U game I really liked.

By my count I beat 25 games on the Wii U and played a number of other ones. Certainly a low offering for a home console. But at the same time I can say that of those 25 only two of them were games I considered disappointing and one of those was an indie title valued at $3. That’s a 92% success rate for enjoyable games. I didn’t have anywhere near that success rate on my PS3 or PC and don’t on my PS4 now. So it really comes down to the quantity vs quality argument. But ultimately I am happy to have owned a Wii U. It’s an important part of the history of gaming and I am glad to have been fortunate enough to be able to experience it, even if for only a short while.

Now I have a Switch and I am very impressed by it. I put off buying one for a long time but knew that I would have to eventually get one to play Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But even without those two amazing games, I have to say that this is a great console. It’s compact, convenient, and versatile. The OS is worlds better than that of the Wii U. The system is way faster as far as loading times and movement between menus. The many control options make it perfect for every type of player. One of the greatest improvements is how easy it is to both capture and post screenshots to social media. You can even add text directly to the screenshots and make your own memes right on the console. That’s something all consoles should implement. I also really enjoy the sleep mode function. The console never really turns off. It just goes to sleep. That means that the load up is always really fast and you can turn the console off without closing the game and you pick up right back where you paused. But it’s a lot more complete sleep mode than that of the PS4. The lights turn off and the console seems to stop functioning altogether while the PS4 sleep mode still feels like the console is on and shouldn’t be moved for fear of damage. You can confidently move the Switch while in sleep mode without incurring any damage.

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Picture taken on the Switch.

One has to admit that regardless of how you feel about Nintendo and their games, the Switch is the most revolutionary console this gen, meaning once again Nintendo is the only company to really justify releasing another console by actually offering us a new generation of gaming rather than just increasing power and graphics quality and keeping pretty much everything else the same. I guess you could tack on VR to PlayStation but that’s not even as widely adopted as the Switch yet and it’s been on the market longer.

I’ve not played too many games on the Switch as of writing this, but I have already gotten 100% completion on Super Mario Odyssey and it was well worth the purchase. I’m inclined to call it the best Super Mario platformer ever made. But I honestly don’t believe that such an amazing console would have come about if not for the Wii U existing first. The amount of data gained from having that console on the market and the feedback from it made the Switch in its current form possible. So I’m glad the Wii U happened and I’m glad that I got to be part of that feedback cycle. So I say goodbye Wii U. I salute you for the many great gaming experiences I got from you and the countless more your legacy is and will be responsible for.

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Gaming Photography – Star Fox Zero

The final game I’ll be playing on the Wii U is Star Fox Zero + Guard. I thought it was appropriate to do this as my first Gaming Photography post of 2018.

Sadly this wasn’t the game it should have been. I’ve been playing Star Fox games since the original 1993 version and I’ve beaten every one to be released on home console, including Star Fox 2 on the SNES Classic. It’s a franchise I hold very dearly. I had high hopes for Zero, but it just doesn’t measure up. The truly sad part is that the only real problem with the game is the terrible motion controls. The graphics are quite good. The level design is true to the franchise. The narrative is the same rehashed Star Fox plot you get every time, and that’s fine. There’s new vehicles, new characters, new bosses, and the classic multi-path map that allows you to tailor your campaign experience differently every time. It’ s a sound Star Fox game. But the controls make it nearly unplayable. I could not fly with the precision necessary to beat the special bosses and challenges. I went into the game wanted to get a gold completion on every mission. I quit playing before I even made it through a second playthrough because I could tell I wasn’t going to make any noticeable progress in a manageable amount of time. I would absolutely play a remastered version of the game on the Switch if they did away with the motion controls completely and just let me play it as a traditional single screen Star Fox game with a pro controller and adjusted the targeting and controls accordingly for that gameplay scheme. But unless you’re a die hard Star Fox fan like I am, then I absolutely cannot recommend you to play this game. That however did not stop me from getting some nice pictures though.

I only took 327 total pictures over the course of this game, which is extremely low for me. But the lackluster gameplay cut my time with the game short. I was also very annoyed by the HUD and dialog text ruining many of my pictures but that is standard for this franchise so I’m not mad. So now I’d like to present my top 10 photos from Star Fox Zero. I take my photos through my PC with an Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro in the case of console games. I also post them on my Twitter and Instagram often.

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*If you’d like to see the full resolution image please right click and press “view image”.

Please let me know what you think of my shots. Any feedback is appreciated because I would like to improve my gaming photography skills.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.

Gaming Photography – Paper Mario Color Splash

Time for another Gaming Photography post. It’s actually been a few weeks but at the beginning of this month I completed Paper Mario Color Splash and wanted to share the experience with you in picture form.

This was an excellent game worthy of the Paper Mario franchise. The new addition of the paint and card mechanics made this a gameplay experience that was different from the past Paper Mario games (I’ve played all the console ones going back to the original on the N64) but ultimately had the same Mario RPG feel. I have to say that this was possible the best written Mario game I’ve ever played. The dialog was hilarious, the plot had a few more dimensions than most Mario games, and the characters (at least the two main ones) had a multidimensional relationship that genuinely affected me emotionally with the way the story ended. If you have a Wii U, I definitely recommend this game.

I took 2,113 pictures over the course of this game without any filters or stylized shots. It was just a very photogenic game that had a lot of visual moments that I wanted to preserve. So now I’d like to present my top 20 photos from Paper Mario Color Splash. I take my photos through my PC with an Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro in the case of console games. I also post them on my Twitter and Instagram often.

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*If you’d like to see the full resolution image please right click and press “view image”.

Please let me know what you think of my shots. Any feedback is appreciated because I would like to improve my gaming photography skills.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year!

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.

Gaming Photography – Xenoblade Chronicles X

Now that I finally finished Xenoblade Chronicles X for the Wii U it’s time for another gaming photography post. I spent 90 hours playing this game and took a whooping 815 in game photos. Obviously I can’t share all of them, but here’s my top 20. Decided that for such a large pool of pictures settling on 10 would be too hard.

Again, I make it a point of only taking natural in game shots. I don’t use photo modes or alter the brightness/color settings except in special situations. This is only my second game taking serious HD photos with my PC so I’m still not a pro but I hope you enjoy my shots. I also post them on my Twitter and Instagram often.

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*If you’d like to see the full resolution image please right click and press “view image”.

Please let me know what you think of my shots. Any feedback is appreciated because I would like to improve my gaming photography skills. Also please let me know what you think the best way to display my photos for these posts is. Last time I just posted them all as single images. This time I wanted to try something more space and loading time efficient.

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Too Many Lives to Live

For the last few weeks I’ve been playing Xenoblade Chronicles X on the Wii U. This is a game I purchased in 2015 at the behest of basically everyone I knew/know who has a Wii U. I had no previous experience or serious knowledge of the Xenoblade franchise but everyone just kept praising the game so I bought it during a Black Friday sale. I have to admit that it’s a great game. It’s by no means perfect and there are a number of issues I have with it, but overall I’m happy I bought it and that I’m finally getting to play it. This is actually the second to last game I still need to beat before I retire my Wii U and move on to the Nintendo Switch. I may still end up buying Star Fox Zero against my better judgement, but only if Nintendo drops it to a fair price.

RIP-WiiU

I’m more than 60 hours into Xenoblade Chronicles X and while the game is quite good, it drags on a lot. Mostly because of the slow grinding system and terrible money acquisition to item cost ratio. I was promised 100 hours to beat this game and I honestly think that will be the case. I can’t remember the last time I played a serious triple digit RPG. I play RPGs all the time but I’m not the type to replay games or buy DLC so games like Dark Souls usually take me under 50 hours. I couldn’t even tell you the last JRPG I completed. But I’m going to complete this one.

Let's Play Rise of the Tomb Raider Screenshot 2017-08-04 21-58-21
Xenoblade Chronicles X

In the midst of playing this second to last Wii U game I realized that my next/last planned Wii U game, Super Mario Color Splash, is also an RPG. Then I looked at my PS4 library and among my serious considerations backlog are Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy XV, World of Final Fantasy, Dark Souls III, Digimon: Cyber Sleuth, and I started but haven’t finished Bloodborne and Atelier Firis – The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey. Then I looked at my Steam and GOG libraries only to discover that I need to beat Lord of the Fallen, The Witcher 2 (yes that’s 2), and ideally I’ll take the time to go old school and actually play Jade Empire. Plus I’m already committed to buying Nioh and The Surge for PS4. That’s 13 RPGs plus the one I’m currently playing. And it’s not even counting all the non-RPG games in my backlog.

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Suddenly I find myself asking why do I keep buying RPGs? I don’t even have time to finish the ones I have. Who does? How can an adult with a full time job, a girlfriend, not to mention a blog and YouTube channel, possibly find the time to beat all these super long games? My gaming goals for 2017 included 7 RPGs. It’s basically September and I’m on only the second one. What’s a gamer to do in this situation? It’s not like I can just pass on all these highly acclaimed epic games I purchased.

Am I alone in this situation? Is anyone buried in RPGs with no time to play them? Have I been an irresponsible gamer? Let me know how your backlog and 2017 gaming goals are going in the comments.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.