The Nintendo Switch is the best platform for playing Torchlight 2 on

I love the mindlessness of a good quest-for-loot dungeon crawler. After a long stressful day, playing one for an hour or two gets me right out of my head. They're good games! But, for me, they'll never match the gory, cartoonish charm of Torchlight and Torchlight 2. When I bought my Nintendo Switch, around this time last year, I thought about how great Torchlight 2 would be a perfect port to play on the portable (alliteration, I know. I'm afflicted). I didn't think that it would happen: the game's development studio, Runic Games, closed down in 2017. But here we are: Torchlight 2 was released for the Nintendo Switch this week. After spending a good number of hours with the port, I can tell you that playing the game on a handheld, with control sticks and buttons trumps a keyboard and mouse in every way.

Playing with a joystick provided me with more of a challenge than pointing and clicking at enemies with a mouse. At the same time, it also gave me more of a challenge. Being able to map the Switch's buttons with my various abilities, spells and scrolls? Icing on the cake. Graphically, the game looks a lot tighter: but that could be more about the display resolution than anything else.

My only complaint about the port is that there's no way to tinker with mods like you can with the PC version of the game. But, for $20 Canadian (so, like what: three U.S. dollars?) it's pretty hard to beat the levels of portable entertainment that Torchlight 2 on the Switch delivers. Read the rest

Review: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: the Black Order is a fun, glitchy, gaming experience

Sometimes, I play video games to get out of my head for an hour or two. A bit of gaming allows me to numb myself after a stressful day at work or to relax through a bout of insomnia once I become too damn tired to read but not sleepy enough to drift off. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: the Black Order for the Nintendo Switch offers just the right amount of a dumb plot, decent graphics and button mashing to scratch my escapist itch.

For the past few years, everything in Marvel’s cinematic universe and many of their comics have revolved around the Infinity Stones. You’ll find no exception here. If you’ve seen a trailer for Avengers Endgame, you’ve got the broad strokes of this game’s story. Infinity Stones are powerful. Infinity Stones are bad. Bad people want them. It’s a plot that a wee kid could follow, which I suppose is Disney/Marvel’s plan. And why not? It’s a story that’s proven capable of printing its own money.

As you progress through the game’s various levels, you’ll take on progressively tougher foes with a team of four heroes of your choosing. Your roster of potential teammates grows as you bop along. There’s no earning new members... it just kind of happens. I’m a few hours into the game. Disappointingly, the amount of customization allowed for your heroes by the last two iterations of the game appear to be largely absent. There’s no costumes to unlock. No accessories that your heroes can mix and match to enhance their power set: just points and drops that allow you to power up in one way or another. Read the rest

This tiny Nintendo Switch TV dock looks amazing

I like to take my Nintendo Switch with me when I travel for work—being able to game in my hotel room is lovely. You know what would be even better? Being able to play some Mario Kart or This is The Police on my hotel's television. Sadly, the Switch's ginormous TV dock takes up too much space in my carry-on for it to be practical.

Happily, it looks like Human Things, the folks that brought us this neat bluetooth dongle for the Switch a while back, may have a solution. They've designed and are currently Kickstarting a wicked tiny combination HDMI/USB C charger that fits into a wall wart around the size of a 10-Watt iPad charger. Did I mention it has an additional USB port for charging your smartphone or a Pro Controller? Welp, it does.

The only catch, as I pointed out earlier, is that it's only being offered as part of a Kickstarter campaign. Normally, that'd make picking one of these up a non-starter for me. I've been burned too many times in the past by hardware that took years to drop or simply disappeared into the mists of time. However, as Human Things has come through in the past with I'm willing to some cash at them. If you feel the same, you can do so, here. Read the rest

The Outer Worlds is coming to the Nintendo Switch

I'd kill to see Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4, or any of the Borderlands games come to the Nintendo Switch. They're some of my favorite titles to turn to at the end of a long, stupid day when my brain is in desperate need of a bit of numbing. Sadly, so far as I know, there hasn't been a reliable peep on the possibility of a port for any of them. Happily, Engadget plopped out some news today about a game that could be the next best thing to the titles on my wish list.

From Engadget:

Obsidian had already revealed its Fallout-esque sci-fi RPG The Outer Worlds will debut on PC, Xbox One and PS4 October 25th. Sometime after that, it'll land on Switch too. Nintendo's console is less powerful than Sony and Microsoft's ones, and won't pack as much punch as a typical PC, so it remains to be seen how well The Outer Worlds will run on the hybrid.

For this version, Obsidian is teaming up with Virtuos, which has helped bring the likes of Dark Souls Remastered and Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age to Switch. There's no firm release date as yet for The Outer Worlds' arrival on Switch, but the UK eShop pegs the release date for sometime this year.

Obsidian was responsible for Fallout: New Vegas. From what I've seen in the trailer for The Outer Worlds, much of the humor of that old chestnut has made it alive into their space game. Read the rest

Pillars of Eternity is coming to the Nintendo Switch this August

Despite the user interface issues with games like Wastelands 2 and Phantom Doctrine on the Nintendo Switch, I've still waited like a mook for Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity II to break cover for the console since late last year. The last time I checked on Amazon, it wasn't going to be available until New Year's Eve, 2019. So that sucks. In the meantime, Obsidian is throwing gamers a bone: if you didn't have the opportunity to play the original Pillars of Eternity a few years back, you'll be able to pick it up for the Switch, early next month.

The announcement was made by the company in a tweet, late last week:

I played the original when it was released for Mac, a few years back. It was pretty good! But I never got around to investing in the additional content that came out for the game. As Obsidian is releasing Pillars of Eternity as a complete edition for the Switch, I might be persuaded to pick it up to play through and see how it feels on a handheld.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of BagoGames Read the rest

Review: Phantom Doctrine lacks the fun of XCOM

I want XCOM 2 on the Nintendo Switch. I'm waiting for it. Hoping. It has yet to come, be announced or even rumored by its developers. So, of late, I've found myself looking for other ways to get my turn-based combat fix. I completed Wasteland 2 some time ago. Japanese games seldom hold my attention and, even Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has lost its charm. A couple of days ago, despite its mediocre reviews, I downloaded Phantom Doctrine, for $20. It's so close to being pretty much what I'm looking for. Sadly, it's held back by a number of issues.

In the game, you're in charge of a cell of cold-war era spies who bop around the world collecting intelligence, killing members of a shadowy opposing faction and trying not to get captured or liquidated in the process. What are they collecting intel on? It's hard to say. Unlike XCOM, which has a solid story that leads you from one plot point to the next, in Phantom Doctrine, it's hard to keep track of what why you're doing what you're doing. The game's story is paper thin and even when it becomes a little more clear, still isn't all that compelling. Mission briefings inform you that you're supposed to collect an informant or, in some cases, kill someone who recognized one of your agents. You base is always under threat of being exposed. Your spies are always run the risk of having their covers blown. It's run-of-the-mill stuff.

As with XCOM 2, your team members gain experience from every encounter they survive. Read the rest

Witcher III: The Wild Hunt is coming to Nintendo Switch

When Witcher III: The Wild Hunt was released a few years ago, everyone lost their minds over how great it was. Because my aging 2015 MacBook Pro lacked the guts to even consider running it, I never had the opportunity to take the game for a spin. It looks like the Nintendo Switch--the best port machine ever created--will finally give me a chance to step into Geralt of Rivia's shoes.

From Nintendo:

The Complete Edition contains every piece of downloadable content released for the game, including two massive story expansions: Hearts of Stone & Blood and Wine. It's the perfect opportunity to enter this world for the first time or relive the adventure — on the go! Coming to Nintendo Switch in 2019.

The lack of a firm date for the game's release sucks, but it's not surprising. I suspect it'll be pushed out once the port is damn well good and ready. Being as I've gone this long without playing the game, I suspect I'll survive a little while longer without it.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of BagoGames Read the rest

My On-the-go gaming set-up

Mostly for use during extended camping trips in my Volkswagen camper, I'm running a docked Nintendo Switch and 13.3" 1080p IPS monitor all off of power banks.

Spare me the horseshit about how awful it is I or my kid might play video games inside our camper van while camping. We like to play video games and we're spending a lot of time in our Westy this summer. I wanted my kid and her cousins to be able to play Mario Kart. I like to play Fortnite. This system is getting us hours and hours of playtime.

Nintendo is sensitive to the order in which these devices are plugged together. Failure to follow the correct order frequently results in starting over. I plug a stock Nintendo power supply into this 20,000 mAh AC Outlet bearing power bank. The power bank is rated to 100W and has some internal fans to cool down if it gets too hot. Thus far the Nintendo doesn't force it to cool very often. The Nintendo USB-C power supply evidently will draw a max of 39W and this battery should be more than capable of providing hours and hours of power. Playtesting has shown it to run down about 10% in an hour.

I plug the Nintendo power supply into a Nintendo Switch dock. I then plug an HDMI Cable into the dock. The other end of the cable connects to my 13.3" 1080p IPS display. I use an HDMI to HDMI-mini cable that came included with the monitor. Read the rest

A portable dock for my Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is a fantastic portable gaming console that is made better with a portable dock.

I like to plug an Xbox controller into my Nintendo Switch. There is but a single USB-C port on the device, however, and I can only get in 2-3 matches of Fortnite (if I don't get eliminated immediately) before the battery is dead. To charge the device at the same time you use the USB port for anything else, you must have a dock. Nintendo's supplied dock is shaped like, and as convenient to carry, as a brick. I went looking for a cheap, small, portable dock.

One of the great things about the Nintendo dock is the HDMI out port. With this, you can play games on any screen that accepts HDMI. I wanted my tiny dock to support this as well, not just be a USB-C to USB-3 or USB-2 hub. This RREAKA multi-port hub works exactly like Nintendo's dock, and is the size of a king-size Sharpie.

I have been using this hub for the last few weeks. Moving between strange TVs and tiny portable monitors. I can charge the Switch while playing games, powering a USB controller and feeding HDMI to a screen. I can also use a power bank with 'Power Delivery' to run the whole thing.

I wish the Switch also had support for wired USB headsets, plugging into the 3.5mm jack on top of the unit is annoying.

A reminder that Nintendo wants everyone to never use 3rd party anything. Read the rest

This live action Super Smash Brothers video is the best thing you'll see all day

There are few things finer in 2018 than being able to hunker down with a few friends, in person or online, and beat the living crap out of each other over the course of an hour playing Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. For those without a Nintendo Switch, this live action video featuring professional stunt actors beating each other down Super Smash style is the next best thing. Read the rest

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 coming to the Nintendo Switch

I've always had a soft spot for Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. They were met with middling enthusiasm from critics, but they served up a whole lot of what I wanted: the ability to build my own team of Marvel heroes to open cans of whoop ass on the forces of evil. Long before Diablo 3, the Ultimate Alliance games allowed me to scratch my "quest for gear" itch, without having to log on to World of Warcraft and deal with other people. Providing me with juuuust the right combination of mindless button mashing, light tactics and story to keep me coming back, they used to be among my favorite games to turn to when I needed to switch my brain off for an hour or two.

Soon, there'll be a new addition to the franchise for me to play.

From The Verge: Nintendo has announced Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order exclusively for the Switch. The game was announced through a trailer shown off at The Game Awards, which are currently in progress; it’ll be out in 2019. Team Ninja, the studio behind Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive, and Nioh, is on board as developer, marking its first Nintendo collaboration since Metroid: Other M.

I'm curious about how it'll work for the Switch. The PSP version of the first installment in the series was playable, but often felt cramped on the portable console's tiny display. I guess I'll have the opportunity to find out in 2019. Read the rest

There's a new Katamari Damacy title for the Nintendo Switch: Reroll

"Katamari" is the Japanese word for "clod" or "lump," and people familiar with the Katamari Damacy video game franchise know that the object is to created a giant clod of stuff by rolling it around like a snowball, picking up increasingly larger objects over time.

Reroll is a new Katamari Damacy game for the Nintendo Switch and it looks like fun. I'm going to get it and I'll let you know what I think.

Image: Nintendo Read the rest

Review: Diablo III for Nintendo Switch is the best way to play this much-loved game

Blizzard games have staying power. They're incredibly well crafted and designed to run on a wide spectrum of Windows PCs and Macs, both low powered and high. New content? They're all over it. I can't think of a single one of their titles that hasn't received multiple updates, oft-times for free, in the past decade.

I played Diablo III on my Mac. When it came out for PS3, I played it there, too. It's a game that I return to time and time again, not because it is particularly challenging, but because of the grind: there's always something new to find--a new piece of gear that'll give the character that you're playing a slightly different way to play. So, when I tell you that Diablo III Eternal Collection for Nintendo Switch is pretty much the same deal as Diablo III played on any platform, you'll understand that what I actually mean is that it's great.

I've always preferred playing Diablo III with a game controller over a mouse and keyboard. I like that a wee flick of the right thumbstick will send my hero rolling out of the way of danger. This was one of the first things I tested when I loaded up the copy of the game that Blizzard sent to me last week. The thumb-flick works with the Switch. The rest of the game's controls are similar to what I remember from my PS3 as well. You can't remap your controller's buttons, but your powers and attacks are laid out well enough in the game that it's not a hassle to use them, arbitrary or not. Read the rest

How to modify your Nintendo Switch game case to hold up to 24 games (cheap gamer tricks)

“I modified a standard Nintendo Switch game case to hold up to 24 games,” says IMGURian MrJspeed, who provides a killer step-by-step HOWTO for gamers who'd like to try this instead of buying a multi-game carrying case. Read the rest

Review: Wasteland 2 for Nintendo Switch

I played Wasteland 2 when it made its debut, four years ago. Despite my Love for Brian Fargo's work on Fallout 1 and 2, I never did manage to finish it. There's something about working in front of a computer, seven days a week, that keeps me from wanting to sit in front of my laptop during my downtime.

However, in the weeks since I was given a review copy of it for the Nintendo Switch, I've been enjoying the holy hell out of it.

If you're not familiar with the franchise, its premise is pretty simple. You and your squad mates are new recruits to the Desert Rangers: the only real peacekeeping force in post-apocalyptic Arizona. It's your job to range out and aid the folks under your protection. You'll kill bandits, attempt to negotiate peace between warring factions and uncover insidious threats. The game lets you choose whether you want to start with a squad of four pre-made rangers, each with different skills and strengths, or role your own. This time around, I chose the latter. As I accidentally created a pretty strong team, it's worked out pretty well so far. That's all I'll say about the game, plot-wise. Wasteland 2 might not be new to many of us, but there are some first-timers that might be reading this. I don't want to blow the story for them.

I will however, talk about game play.

All of the interactions you'll have with NPCs are text-based. Given the small size of the Switch's display, the game's development team could have blown it by making the text too small for older eyes, like mine, to read. Read the rest

My daughter and I share a Nintendo Switch

A few months back we bought a Nintendo Switch. The portable console gets shared between a 46 year-old dad and an 11 year-old daughter. The Switch sees a lot of playtime. Read the rest

Why games cost more for the Nintendo Switch than other platforms

I own a Nintendo Switch. I deeply Enjoy my Nintendo Switch. I am not, however, thrilled to discover that I am paying more games for my Nintendo Switch than folks playing on other platforms are.

From Ars Technica:

The folks over at Switch blog Switcher decided to quantify how much that "Switch tax" costs while building their own database of Switch games. Their analysis found that, of 471 games being sold on both Steam and Switch, the downloadable Switch versions cost just over 10 percent more on average. That average obscures a wide range of price discrepancies, of course, including some that end up in the Switch's favor. In fact, a majority of titles listed on both platforms (55.8 percent) sell for the exact same price on both, and an additional 8.9 percent are cheaper on Nintendo's eShop.

That said, the price discrepancy for the remainder of the Switch's PC ports can be quite large. Payday 2, for example, costs $50 on the Switch compared to just $10 on Steam. The 2016 Doom reboot runs $60 on Switch and $20 on Steam. Steam's frequent sales can exacerbate the differences, too: De Blob is currently $30 on Switch but just $6.59 on Steam—down from a PC list price of $20.

Not cool.

One theory, based on the data that Switcher came up with, is that the games cost more on Switch because, while they’re old news on other platforms, they’re still fresh to the console. As time goes on, Ars Technica’s thinking is that the Switch port of the games will drop down in price. Read the rest

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