Thirty Days Later With The Nintendo Switch

It has been 30 days since I purchased Nintendo’s newest console. The Switch is a hybrid console that docks into a charging station and displays on a TV. It also can play as a handheld console much like a PlayStation Vita or Nintendo 3DS.

This is just a brief summation of my experience of the Switch. I won’t give too much details because there are already numerous tech reviews that do a better job of explaining the system.

Since March 3rd, 2017 (the launch day), I have been playing the Switch every single day. It’s unlike any console that has ever come out. Nintendo has hit it out of the park.

The Switch is versatile. It plays like a home console but you can also take with you. I was able to take it with me when I went to Boston for PAX East and continue playing Zelda while away from home.

The controllers share the same versatility. You can connect the Joy-Cons to a grip, separate them similarly to Wii Remotes, or operate them as two separate controllers.

As for game selection, it is still barebones but the library of titles is growing each week. However, the main system seller at this point is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It is easily my favorite game in the series and I am only halfway finished with it.

Other titles like Fast RMX, Blaster Master Zero, Shovel Knight, Snipperclips, Snake Pass, Binding of Issac, and few others are fun and low cost games to tide Switch owners over after Zelda until more releases are on the way.

I like that how I able to be in the same room as my roommate while we both play Zelda. Other consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One have remote play features that try to achieve this with other devices, but the Switch is independent of internet connections that could hamper play on a laptop or Vita.

Overall, I love the Nintendo Switch and it’s my favorite Nintendo console thus far. I still have concerns like Virtual Console, third party lineup outside of indies, and online infrastructure.

Admittedly, owning a Switch now does feel like a beta test but I am enjoying with my time with it. I am looking forward to what Nintendo has to offer later in 2017 and beyond.

Game Of The Year 2016: What A Ride!

Gaming was great in 2015 as there were many great titles like MGSV, Fallout 4, Rise of Tomb Raider, and others. It was a tough call, but The Phantom Pain was my favorite release of that year and perhaps my favorite Metal Gear Solid in the series.

This past year, 2016, did not have as many heavy hitters but there were solid games. Like the previous post, I had a tough time picking my Game of the Year.

There are two games that are very enjoyable. One of these came out during the summer while the other released late November.

A Very Close Second Place

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I will just go with the runner-up first. Uncharted 4 is a masterpiece and wonderful looking game.

If you are a fan of the franchise, then you need to play this game. For newcomers, you don’t need to play the older games, but there are some character threads that might be worthwhile exploring.

I am just say Nathan Drake is a baffon and he is well aware of his flaws. It’s actually why his character is only of most endearing aspects of the series. You seem him mature a bit, but falls into older habits which will ultimately haunt him later.

Gameplay is similar to the PS3 entries, but blends some mechanics from The Last of Us, another excellent Naughty Dog Sony exclusive. Stealth kills are possible and Drake can run in a straight ride and jump better without falling into a precipice. I won’t spoil plot details but there’s a pretty awesome yet frustrating fight at towards the end.

The Winner: Final Fantasy XV

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Admittedly, I have a bias because I am a huge fan of Final Fantasy. It’s not why it is my Game of the Year.

I have yet to finish this game, but the ending draws near. The road trip between Noctis and his pals has been a fun ride.

The boys in black are on a trip to see the Prince’s bride-to-be while an militaristic empire invades their homeland. Torn over his duties and own desires, Noctis seeks out an ancient power to reclaim his kingdom while looking for his fiance.

15443069_10102422217483930_5937583710742483285_oSome of the narrative is a bit convoluted, and it is better explained through the Brotherhood anime on YouTube and Kingsglaive movie. Although I have not completed the story missions, I have a better understanding of the overall plot and it is a decent story.

With that said, there are some holes in the narrative. If you didn’t watch the extra media prior to Final Fantasy XV’s launch, then you might be lost.

Despite that, I am able to grasp the main story, but I am still wondering a few things like the Empire’s intentions, why they want the Crystal aside from being a source of power, and does Noctis actually love Lunafreya.

Those are a few questions, but I feel the plot is similar to quality of the SNES era FF games. Rest easy in knowing it is leaps and bounds better than the mess in Final Fantasy XIII and its spinoffs.15259405_10102401298385970_1040456577925797878_o

Gameplay is pretty good and a step forward. Kingdom Hearts fans will find FFXV approachable because of the combat.

I can go on and on about this game that most reviews have covered. I will put my two cents in.

Final Fantasy XV, while flawed in some ways (especially the glitches), is what the series needs right now. The story is fine, but there is enough content and combat from keeping it boring.

I am 64 hours into it and still have numerous hunts and side-quest yet to be unlocked. This might be the longest Final Fantasy game yet.

15252521_10102397013123670_5353952262437231001_oThe relationship that Noctis and “his bros” feels genuine and their camaraderie is strong. Most Final Fantasy games centered around a “love story” but this one is more platonic than romantic. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone hasn’t made comparisons between Noctis & Friends with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

It took Square-Enix 10 years to make this game and it was well worth the wait. By 2016, the series has seen underwhelming or underperforming titles.

They didn’t capture the magic that earlier games like FFVII were able to capture. This game’s magic is a calumniation of Final Fantasy’s best qualities.

There’s a little bit of every Final Fantasy game in XV. It reminds of Final Fantasy IX without the medieval/steampunk aspect.

It’s not my all time favorite Final Fantasy game, but it is definitely in the top 3. Certainly, it is my Game of the Year for 2016!

 
Also, let me leave you with this amazing glitch! Ignis is a master chef, but terrible chocobo rider.

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The PSP: An Oldie, But Goodie

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Handheld gaming has been one of my favorite pastimes, but has dropped off in recent years. You can blame it on mobile games, but there are a few good games on Nintendo 3DS & PlayStation Vita.

Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia binge and replaying some classic games. While there have been some amazing games this current generation, I still like to go back and replay ones that I’m really fond off.

Two of my all-time favorite handheld consoles have been the GameBoy Advance and PSP. It’s really hard to pick a winner, but the PSP is up there.

Games

While the GBA and DS had a larger library of games, the PSP has plenty to keep you occupied. It is something I cannot say about the PlayStation Vita.

Some of my favorite games have appeared exclusively on the platform. Two that come to mind are Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep & Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (also playable on PS3 in their respective HD collections).

Both of those titles were among the best in their franchises and included gameplay that would latter migrate to latter games like Kingdom Hearts 3 and MGS: The Phantom Pain. Some of the stories are also fleshed out as well.

Other notables were Dissidia Final Fantasy, Tactics Ogre, God of War, Grand Theft Auto Liberty City & Vice City Stories, and Final Fantasy Tactics. Also, the handheld was compatible with minis and PS1 Classics which allowed you to bring Final Fantasy VII and others on-the-go.

Multimedia Features

Nowadays, we all use our cell phones to consume media and play games. However in 2005, the only device that was truly capable of doing all these things was the PSP.

It’s a bit archaic in 2016, but it was a very advanced piece of tech. Aside from playing games, the PSP connected to the internet.

To watch movies, you can buy UMD versions or get a digital copy through the PSN (which shut down the PSP store last year).

As for music, you could transfer files similar to an MP3 player and listen to your tunes. Although it didn’t have the portability of an iPod so I imagined most PSP owners didn’t use this feature often.

For podcast and internet radio lovers, the PSP was one of few devices to do it. It’s rough to try that today with services like TuneIn Radio and PocketCasts,but it was able to stream and download your favorite radio shows.

There were RSS Channels and an Internet radio app that randomly tuned to Shoutcast and Icecast streams. I used to listen to the BBC World Service and watch “Ask A Ninja” on it before the iPod Touch came to the scene.

Lastly, another neat feature the PSP had was making Skype calls. You could use the official headset or use the built in mic on 2000 & 3000 models.

Connect To TV

People are talking about the Nintendo NX being a hybrid console. Supposedly it will be a device that blurs the lines between handheld & home console.

While the PSP did not had the controls and graphical power to bridge this gap, it was the only handheld gaming device that could connect to a television. If you bought a component or composite cable, then you could display the PSP’s screen on a larger one.

There were certain caveats to this feature. Only the PSP 2000, 3000, and GO models were able to do it. The 1000 model lacked the external connections .

Also, the display would cover a small part of the screen while playing a PSP game. However, the XMB menus, videos, and PS1 games will fill the entire screen.

A way to fix that would to connect it to a HDTV and switch to a Zoom mode.

Overall Impressions

In my college years, I owned a PSP and loved it. It was something that I would carry with me everywhere.

I ultimately gave mine away years ago and over the past few years…kind of regretted it. When I went to my trip to New York City, I lamented about not having one to help past the time on my flights or layover at the airport.

Recently, I found a green PSP (similar to the one I used to own) that was originally bundled with MGS: Peace Walker on eBay.  Being a sucker for my favorite color, I bought one and I appreciate how well Sony made this thing.

Thankfully my library of PSP games and PS1 Classics are still accessible and don’t need to repurchase them. I also realize Sony did a much better job supporting the PSP than they have done with the Vita.

It was truly a product that came out at the right time and plenty of first-party & third-party support that made people want one.  It’s funny to suggest that I would recommend a PSP over a Vita.

Radio Cameo On Metal Gear Solid V

Being a fan of video games and radio, I appreciate seeing this in Metal Gear Solid V. I don’t have my own screen capture, but I was surprised to see it when I played the game this fall. I have shared a picture from imgur and radio fans will like this neat little cameo.

If you look towards the middle, you’ll see a large radio. Upon a closer inspection, it looks like a Sony ICF-2001.

I caught this cameo in the opening scenes leading up to Big Boss’s (aka Venom Snake) awakening in the hospital in Cyprus. I know the radio looked familiar then closely looked at it in-game and saw that it appears to be similar to the ICF-2001.

I never had one, but the ICF-2001 was already released (1980) and this game’s story takes place in 1984. Shortwave was also still relevant in this point in history so it makes sense why it’s there.

The Cold War was still happening and many shortwave broadcasters like the BBC and Voice of America had a larger on-air presence too, so this radio definitely fits into MGS V very well. Snake also uses a Sony Walkman so it is no surprise to see another Sony product popular in the 80s featured in a game full of 80s nostalgia.

My 2015 Game Of The Year

Hello folks!

It has been a good while since my last blog post. My life has been crazy these past few months, but I managed to squeeze some light gaming.

This year has been jammed packed with lots of great video games, but there can only be one “Game of the Year.” For me, it was definitely a hard decision and one that could be in constant flux since there’s literally a stack of them I haven’t started yet.

However, there are a few I did finish. One of those games just happens to be my personal “Game of the Year.”

Winner: Metal Gear Solid 5

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I’ve always been a MGS fan, and this newest entry had plenty of hype. For the most part, “The Phantom Pain” lived up to its expectations.

The world is massive! There are so many things you can do in this game and you’re not limited to a predetermined path. Players can approach their missions by stealth, going all out, or a combination of the two.

Your base, weapons, even Big Boss himself are highly customizable.

The story, perhaps its weakest link, is still a very good plot and way more engaging than MGS 4.

I thoroughly enjoyed Snake Eater and Peace Walker. As a sequel, Metal Gear Solid V did not disappoint and is the perfect way to the MGS saga.

Kudos to Hideo Kojima!

Runner-Up: Fallout 4

I am still nowhere near finished with it, but Fallout 4 is pretty fun. It’s as fun as Fallout 3 and maybe more massive. I am also a fan of the Boston metro setting and pseudo-future from a 1950’s sci-fi perspective.

My gameplay has already exceeded 48 hours and I still haven’t touched the main story yet. Honestly, I’ll probably get finished with it and the first round of DLC will probably launch.

Episode 28 – CFOR (5.22.2015)

Sorry for the wait folks, but there is now a new episode of CFOR.

In this week’s podcast, Chris talks about the myth of blowing into NES cartridges to make them work and Radio Japan’s 80th anniversary. He also briefly reviews the Grundig Mini World 100 PE.

The tunes in Episode 28 are Nora Keyes’s “My Child,” The Underscore Orkestra’s “Hobbiton (Triplets of Hobbitville),” Even Twice’s “City Life.”

Download & Listen

Episode 25 – CFOR (3.13.2015)

In Episode 25, Chris talks about Global 24 Radio going off-the-air while Radio Canada International celebrates its 70th anniversary. In addition, he gives a brief hands-on impression of the New Nintendo 3DS.

Here are the songs played on CFOR this week:
The Agrarians: “The Clean Burn of Morning”
Mr. & Mrs. Smith: “Take it in Stride”
Tarred Brigade: “We Looked Away”
John Collins McCormick: “Hallway Motor”
Cagey House: “Comrads”
Podington Bear: “Really Real”
Nora Keyes: “Old Pal”
Happy Six: “Siam Soo”
Lucille Hegamin And The Dixie Daisies: “Cold Winter Blues”
Cletus Got Shot: “El Diablo”
Snake Oil Salesmen: “Hotel Atlantico”
The Brought Low: “This Ain’t No Game”

Download & Listen