best games of 2017 so far

Nintendo Finally Taking the Switch Online

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I think it’s time I get honest with all of you. I love my Nintendo Switch. I didn’t think it was going to work out as well as it did. After all, we’re talking about a console which is less powerful than both the stock Xbox One and PlayStation 4, with very limited built-in storage capacity (32 GB) and is designed for both at home and on the go capabilities. But here we are in 2018, and the Switch is very successful.

True my uses for it are more for a portable device than a console. But to be able to hook it up to my 50-inch Sony Bravia 4K TV to play some Super Mario Odyssey in the comfort of my own home is a nice little touch for a mobile system.

However, aside from Mario, there really hasn’t been much for me to play on it lately. Sure, there is Zelda, but I’m going to be honest again. I didn’t care for Breath of the Wild. For me, I just ended up going from shrine to shrine to level up my character and it just got tedious after a while. And don’t get me started on how easily the weapons break. It got so bad I started referring to the game as “Zelda: Break of the Weapon.” In fact, I considered Super Mario Odyssey the better Switch game last year. Apparently, some of you did too, as it won for Game of the Year on that platform.

Rabbids: Kingdom Battles was also a nice little diversion for me considering how much I love a good XCOM styled tactical strategy game. But I wanted more.

Even with playing updated versions of older games such as Bayonetta 2 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, I’m clamoring for more to come out, and with E3 just one month away, hopefully that will come true.

But there is one thing I’ve said the Nintendo Switch really needs to add, something that will be perfect for its portable/home use hybrid mechanic: a library of classic games to play. Nintendo has had their Virtual Console going all the way back to the original Wii, and it was a great service. I had a lot of games on the Wii, the Wii U and the 3DS, so why not the Switch?

I’ve asked that question for a while now, and more about what Nintendo’s upcoming online service would include. Well, now we finally have information. Nintendo announced that their online service will be released in September. As expected, Nintendo Online will allow online gameplay in the same way Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network do, but there are other factors I want to go over, some of which are really good, and some that need work.

THE GOOD

THE PRICE. Yes, I can hear the PC Elitists (I still refuse to use that “other term” in my column because it is offensive to certain people) going off about “free online gaming on PC, free online gaming, hurr durr.” Well free is nice and good, until you have to deal with all the online cheaters. But on Nintendo’s side, their service is the cheapest of all three. Services range from $3.99 for one month, $7.99 for three months, all the way up to $19.99 for a full year, which when you think of it, is a great deal. It’s getting seven months for free! There is also a Family Plan at $34.99 per year which allows up to seven family members to share the same account.

CLOUD BACKUPS. Finally! Nintendo allows cloud saves. To remedy one of my criticisms of the Switch (its small storage space,) the addition of cloud saves is a huge plus. That way should your Switch need to be repaired or you buy another more powerful future Switch, you can just transfer all of your game saves from one Switch to another. Hopefully this will also include all your digital purchases, because limiting purchases to the system as opposed to account (as I went through with the original Wii) is criminal.

NES GAMES ONLINE. Looks like Nintendo will be going the way of Xbox Game Pass, as their Online service will launch with 20 original NES games. More will be added regularly, but as listed on Nintendo’s own web page, these launch titles will include:

  • (Black Box) Soccer
  • (Black Box) Tennis
  • Donkey Kong
  • Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Balloon Fight
  • Ice Climber
  • Dr. Mario
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Super Mario Bros. 3

Even better, this initial lineup will allow wireless gameplay, including use of the wireless chat app. However, I will get to that app later.

Now, for THE BAD:

NO “VIRTUAL CONSOLE?” In addition to announcing Nintendo Online, Nintendo announced they will not be bringing back the Nintendo Virtual Console “banner.” There has been a lot of confusion regarding this announcement, but the way I see it is that Nintendo is just not releasing their classic games under the Virtual Console name. With the lineup listed above as part of their online service, I do hope Nintendo takes a cue from Xbox Game Pass, and allows gamers to buy the games to keep on their account at a reduced price. I might be a fan of services like Game Pass, but I know those who would rather keep their games, and will be happy with Nintendo if they consider this option.

THAT **** CHAT APP! While the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC offer the convenience of chat and other online functionalities right from their systems, for some reason the Switch needs to be tethered to your cell phone. For a system that is designed to both be docked and used as a handheld, this can get rather cumbersome. I really hope Nintendo reconsiders this and allows an app right from the Switch itself.

I will have to admit, so far Nintendo’s Online service doesn’t look bad for a $20 yearly subscription. I do hope they eventually fix the online/chat problems but I’m sure we’ll be hearing more once E3 arrives. But if it stays like this, I’m sure I will add it to my Switch, especially at the yearly rate!

Currently Playing: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Switch)

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