A game with Portland ties was previewed at PAX East 2017, Nintendo makes a big play with its Switch platform and the gaming community embraces a new Legend of Zelda game. Mick Pratt and Jesenia Santana from Bull Moose shake out the latest geek stuff.
Last week Nintendo finally released their much-anticipated home/mobile gaming platform the Nintendo Switch. After suffering a major setback in the home gaming market with tepid sales of the Wii U (which is largely considered to be a commercial failure despite the massive success of its predecessor the Wii) Nintendo is hoping to come back in a big way with their new hybrid handheld. Though not powerful as a gaming machine as its chief competitors the Xbox One & Playstation 4 the Switch offers a unique experience because of its ability to take AAA gaming on the go. Which, I have to admit is a sweet prospect.
The biggest question, however, is whether or not Nintendo can deliver on their promise. So far the sales for the Nintendo Switch have exceeded sales of the Wii U; but some have noted that there aren’t very many compelling reasons to be an early adopter. As of right now the Switch does not have any bundled video apps (Netflix, Hulu, Etc) and the famous Nintendo E-Shop, where you can access classic NES and SNES games, has not been enabled. My hope is that we’ll be seeing those features in the near future; but for the time being the list of things you can do with a Switch is pretty short.
That being said the future does look bright for Nintendo. Conceptually the Nintendo Switch is a home run and a fulfilment of the one of latent dreams of the Wii U. A home console that seamlessly ‘switches’ between TV and handheld mode is incredibly cool, and so long as enough software comes along to support it I think the Switch has the potential to change gaming in an even more profound way than the original Wii did. The indie community has also looked to the Switch as a platform to develop for and Nintendo has already announced a robust schedule of indie releases throughout the summer.
Plus; despite the small library at launch there is one little game you may have heard of called …
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Nintendo Switch & Wii U
One could argue that Mario is the most iconic video game character of all time; but Hyrule’s ‘Hero of Time’ Link is not far behind. Since his debut in ‘The Legend of Zelda’ in 1986 Link has silently adventured his way through 18 games and his latest outing is the flagship launch title for the Nintendo Switch: Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And, honestly, it’s basically exactly what every Zelda fan has been dreaming of. The Legend of Zelda franchise constantly sets the bar incredibly high for itself with multiple entrants scoring near perfect 100s on metacritic; and Breath of the Wild is no exception.
Breath of the Wild sees Link awaken in a cave a hundred years after the destruction of the kingdom of Hyrule with no knowledge of his past and no instructions on where to go. This is a classic return to form for Nintendo where they are opting to let players discover their way through the game rather than hold their hands through a linear story. The theme of gameplay is adventure and discovery as hardly anything is spelled out explicitly as the player explores the MASSIVE game world (seriously; this is the largest Hyrule has ever been).
A near perfect blend of nostalgia and new gameplay elements Breath of the Wild is an incredible kickoff for the Nintendo Switch and if they can keep 1st party content like this rolling down the pipeline I think Nintendo will be a major force in gaming once again.
Persona 5 for PlayStation 4
Pretty much the archetypical modern JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) Persona returns for its first installment in almost a decade with Persona 5; but don’t worry if you haven’t played the first few because while the themes are similar Persona 5 features an all-new cast. Like with previous games in the franchise you spend the game alternating between the mundane life of a typical high schooler; going to class, studying, working a part time job and traveling to an alternative dimension (where you have super powers) to fight demons and spirits. Yeah; it’s pretty intense. And also everything – literally everything including menu boxes, text prompts, and loading screens- is jammed with bombastic colors and stylish visuals. Fans of the series should know what to expect; but newcomers looking for a flashy RPG should no further.
PAX East 2017
Belinda Carlisle sang “Heaven is place on Earth” and she very well may have been talking about the Penny Arcade Gaming Expo (PAX). Held just this past weekend in Boston PAX drew over 100,000 fans and professionals for a whole weekend’s worth of gaming including: industry panels, game demos, eSports competition, cosplay, and of course: merch! It’s a lot to take in in just a weekend with over 100 playable game demos; but here is a quick top 3 indies that I played over the weekend to look out for:
Tooth & Tail: A strategy game with cute animal warriors featuring art design by someone right here in Portland!
Strafe: A throwback to the FPS days of the Mid 90s. Quake-era graphics with infinitely generated levels; plus an awesome heavy-synthwave soundtrack.
Lupinball: Easily my favorite game of the weekend. A 4 player dodgeball arena played by cute 8-bit wolves that shoot fireballs. We visited this booth almost every day to keep playing. A near-perfect multiplayer party game