Nintendo Switch…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

I saved for months.  That’s something!  I never save money.  Last time I saved money, it was 50 dollars, that I used to purchase new cards for MTG Standard…I matched those funds from my regular account.

This time, I saved the $300.  Too bad.  I couldn’t even find one for sale!

So I kept saving.  Eventually, the SpartanWife said for me to go ahead and pull the trigger on a GameStop bundle.  But even then, they were scarce.  I kept watching the headlines, and pounced on GameStop Prestige in Gaffney South Carolina as soon as I had the chance.

My bundle included the Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Edition remake, Zelda Breath of the Wild, and Has Been Heroes, as well as two YOK steering wheel accessories, and the Switch, and it costed out at around $475.  I figured I would have gotten Zelda anyway, and I enjoy Mario Kart.  I never heard of the other game.

I have been playing the Switch now for two weeks.  Here are pictures of the unboxing, and my thoughts about the new system.

 

The box is pretty straightforward.  In fact, you can find a ton of these empty boxes at Wal-Mart, which are just placeholders for the actual product, which they don’t even have in stock!

IMG_0316IMG_0317

AHHH!  Angelic Choirs!  This is the most interesting part of opening the box.  I assure you, underneath is the dock, the JoyCon Grip, the power chord, the HDMI cable, and some paperwork…oh and some safety straps I probably will never use.

The dock has an access door that you open up, and track the chords through an access hole.  So basically, you get two unglamourous wires hanging out.  But who cares?  I don’t!

The Nintendo Switch console is kind of like a large smartphone, or a small tablet.  It’s bigger than my iPhone 6, but smaller than my iPad Mini.

The idea is that you can carry the thing around like a portable system, but at home you can hook it up to your TV and play like a home console.

The two controllers are called JoyCon.  They are not symettrical, as some might have thought.  One is labled “+” and the other “-“, which I eventually discovered were actual buttons  .  They are very responsive…they have a gyroscope function like the WiiMote has, and they are totally covered in ergonomic buttons.

The JoyCon connect to the sides of the console, or they disconnect, and you can play with the JoyCon propped on the table.  Or you can mount them on an accessory like the steering wheels or the included JoyCon Grip.   The Joycon can play for 13 hours on full charge!   (The Switch can only make it to 3 hours)

IMG_0321.jpg

I purchased the Zelda themed carrying case, and have been on the lookout for the Sheikah Slate Skin for the system.  It does have a multi-touch screen, but that isn’t really where the action is with the switch so far.

Carrying it around is pretty easy.  It can fit in a pocket, with the JoyCon attached.  You can set it on a table and prop it up like a separate TV screen and console all-in-one.  It truly can do what it is advertised to do.  This is where the success of the system will be, and why X-Box and Playstation will have to follow suit.

There has been some talk of this device being inferior in the power department compared to the X-Box and Playstation offerings…Maybe so.  But Nintendo seems to embrace their innovative playstyle over that power.  It has worked for them in the past with Wii, and seems poised to be a success this time as well.

I haven’t noticed a lack of power.  Zelda has been incredibly fun.  It is a beautiful game, and has an explorative quality that say, MineCraft has.  Mario Cart works excellently as well.  Though I’ll admit, I’m not as into that as I am Zelda.

IMG_0315

Notably Has Been Heroes didn’t come in a physical form.  I had to download it with a code, which I only got by calling the GameStop headquarters.

And I just can’t get into that game.  It is alot like an app on an iPhone.  One that I wouldn’t play.  (Or buy.)  Maybe I will get more into it later.

IMG_0314

The YOK steering wheels.  These are pretty crappy.  It takes wrangling to get the triggers to interact with the buttons on the backside of the JoyCon.  And that seriously hampers some Mario Cart fun if you can’t shoot turtle shells at people.

They DO work.  But it takes wrangling like I said.  They should “just work.”

The Nintendo Switch gets a 5/5.  There is a promising future for this device up ahead!

The YOK steering wheels get a 1/5.  I am thinking about getting NINTENDO BRAND steering wheels.  In fact, I thought that the first time I played with them.  BOO.

The games.

Zelda Breath of the Wild gets 5/5.  I have completed only a small part of the game, and have been playing about three hours a day, for two weeks.  I like the “cooking” that you have to do…this is something to do when you have your switch out on the go.  But plug the switch in to the TV to fight the bosses!  I just freed the “Divine Beast Ruta.”  I’ve already successfully raided a small section of Hyrule castle.  The game is a sprawling open world, and you never know what’s around the corner.  A thunderstorm to make you drop all your stuff?  A fortress full of goblins? (Bokoblins, Moblins, Lizalfos).  A town.  A waterfall, a stable, a wild horse, some wild game, or a traveler who is an enemy in disguise?  You almost never know.  This is a killer app that sets the bar high for the system.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that many of the available games so far reach that level.

Mario Cart 8 Deluxe gets a 4/5.  This is a remake.  It’s a good remake.  But this is really the only Mario Title available for the switch right now, until October when Mario Odysee drops.  (The trailers look incredible!)

The only thing I am really disappointed about is the lack of classic gameplay.  Really.  The reason I even got this is because Nintendo has been doing so well honoring their legacy software.  NES Classic.  Wii Virtual Console.  I digured right out the gate the Nintendo library would be available.  

Nope.  BOO!!

Is the Nintendo Switch for you?   If you like Zelda, and the portability of a 3DS, and Wii.   Then this will do you well. 

If all tou want to do is casually play a classic game during your lunchbreak, as of July 2017 this device doesn’t do that.  You could play Zelda or other new games easily though. 

The SpartanNerd rates the Nintendo Switch 5/5.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Advertisements

SpartanNerd Follow Up…Terraria

(This entry is a follow-up on an article you can find here!)

I’ve finally done it!  Beaten every boss and maximized my character, as well as earned all of the NPCs.  The problem with Terraria…there isn’t a specific goal.  You just…play….

I suppose I can consider that I have beaten the game.  I have already begun a few new worlds.

Here’s what I have learned…

It took me a long time to beat “The Wall of Flesh.”  But after I did, WOW, the game got a lot more fun!  My continual defeat to that boss had me put the game down for about two months.  My character could kill any other creature he would encounter or summon.  But in order to advance, killing the Wall of Flesh is very necessary.

The mechanical bosses are very difficult (Except for the coolest one, “The Destroyer.”)  “The Twins” beat me over and over.  And I had a hard time coming by “Lenses” late in the game…an item essential for building the “Mechanical Eye” needed to summon the Twins.  The way I eventually beat them was by rigging a transporter…I built a boss arena right in the middle of the Hallow, Purity, Jungle, and Crimson biomes in my world.  I preserved a single Crimson Altar right in the middle of the arena.  I rigged a transporter that would take me to the nurse…I would be healed, and then zip back to the arena!

The “Solar Eclipse” and “The Steampunker” are essential to getting the strongest and best items.  “The Clentaminator” is a very nice machine for shaping your world how you want it to be.

I found some very nice weapons and made some as well.  However, the strongest weapons and items aren’t necessarily the best.  I made “The True Night’s Edge” and “The True Excalibur.”  But the “Murderous Death Sickle” is the best weapon I found.  It launches copies of itself that spin through walls and hit any enemies around it.  And you can fire multiple copies..so you are surrounding yourself with powerful hitting energy!  Virtually no enemy on the game except the bosses can withstand this weapon.  And the bosses don’t stand long!

As for wings…I crafted both the Angel and Demon wings.  Neither seemed as good as the Fairy wings.  I also have the sparkly wings, and I haven’t decided yet if I like them as much as the fairy wings.

I still can’t mine the Jungle Temple Bricks.  I have spent minimal time finding spoilers.  I finally broke down and learned how to mine the “green stuff…”  I had a BEAST drill, but it just wouldn’t do it.  So I have the best drill now, the Drax,…which can.  (The green stuff is “Chlorophyte”.)  But even the Drax can’t bust the Jungle Temple block.  The internet says a “Picksaw” is required…a rare item drop from beating The Golem.  I have beaten him five times, and he hasn’t dropped the Picksaw.  😦   What makes Golem so frustrating is the rarity of the “Lihzard Power Cell,” an uncraftable item rarely dropped.  YOU CAN beat “Plantera” and take his jungle key to a new world, where you can unlock the temple and just steal one or two from the chests inside, then bring it back to your world.  But this feels like cheating to me.  Either way, I’ve done it in order to summon the Golem…and he always drops something really nice.  But he hasn’t dropped the Picksaw yet.

Following are a couple of pictures of my game!


My world is quite large and detailed.  Note that I have been “purifying” the world.   You can see my “Boss Arena,”  That square thing right at the underground level.  I designed the arena around a Crimson Altar, so that I could summon a boss here easily.  It is easy for me to see whether or not it is daytime or nighttime…most bosses have to be summoned at night.  Before I cleansed it, a little of the Crimson, Purity, Hallowed, and Jungle all converged at the arena…this caused a variety of enemies to always spawn in the arena.  I also have two machines.  One generates hearts so that my character can easily heal during a fight, the other is the transporter, discussed above.

Eventually I figured out that it was best to build the houses for the NPCs in the sky.  The Harpies and Wyverns are occasionally a headache.  But during Blood Moon and other events, the NPCs are always safe.  The most interesting part of this plan is that there is a Mushroom Biome incorporated into the Sky City…to accommodate the mushroom man character.  This biome eventually became a money generator.  I would harvest the mushrooms and sell them to NPCs and then buy stuff.


Here is a close-up of my Sky City.  Notice the transporter…If I had a mechanical item selected in the access bar, then you could see a long wire leading off to the arena, which is strategically a good distance from the Sky City.  It was challenging to build, though.

And the picture below is of my character, named “Teddie”, is fighting the Golem.  You can see I put the heart generator machine nearby so I could constantly heal.

Terraria has been a terrific romp into a kind of game I never played before.  The game designers evidently also push out special holiday bosses and biomes.  The two month break I took evidently had an Easter theme…but I missed out.  But I will keep my eyes pealed.  If the game designers do that, I will continue to be engaged in this deep, new, and yet nostalgic game.

10 PRINT…"Top Ten Video Games I Miss"

10 PRINT “Ghostbusters 2”

20 PRINT “Airwolf (NES)”

30 Print “Hot Wheels Turbo Racing”

40 PRINT “Batman (1989 NES version)

50 PRINT “Mega-Man 2”

60 PRINT “Super Mario Bros. All Stars”

70 PRINT “Metal Gear Solid”  (one of my top games ever!)

80 PRINT “Xexyz”

90 PRINT “Vigilante 8”

100 PRINT “Spot (NES Puzzle game featuring the 7-Up Cool Spot)”

Some of these games I know I could find and play if I tried hard enough.  But Spot is probably lost forever apart from emulation.  I played Ghostbusters 2 and Airwolf for hours as a kid…I probably shouldn’t have.  But I sort of miss them.  I have never to this day beaten Mega Man 2…We have a copy for PS2…It isn’t quite the same as playing it on a NES…having to remember the passwords and cracking the little codes.  I also never beat Batman…I made it to the Joker at the end TWICE…But he killed me both times.  Hot Wheels was one that I loved because of all of the stunts.  Vigilante 8 was BOSS!

SpartanNerd’s list of greatest video games!

Greatest Video Games ever!!!

Following is a list of the SpartanNerd’s most influential games.  These games are always with me!  I never seem to forget many details of a good game.

(I thought about making this a top ten list, but it is too hard for me to judge a favorite.  Sort of like my feelings about music.)

First of all, what systems have I had access to over the years?  NES (my first system), SNES (in college), PS1 (In high school and college), and PS2 (now.)

CAN YOU NAME THE AREA?



Super Mario Bros.–  Did you really think this list was going to start with a different title?  SMB is just about etched onto my soul.  I wasted hundred of hours playing this game as a kid.  And its true sequel in my heart has always been Super Mario Bros. 3.   I still think SMB 2 is a good game, just not of the same “quality” as the other two.

And the game CARTRIDGE was gold!

Zelda 2:  The Adventure of Link–  The first game I ever cried over.  We rented it.  Of course I didn’t get far in the three days I had access to it.  But this was my first foray into RPG gaming.  I loved the sword fights…and the side quests.  And that giant rock stood in my way, taunting me. “Get the hammer…Get the hammer…”  I would be an adult before I got the hammer…..(Incidently, the hammer is super hard to get, but an important quest in leveling Link up enough to finish the game.)

Low rez turtle.  High rez fun!



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles–  This game is just HARD.  I have beaten it several times.  But I have lost plenty of times as well.  There are jumps that are almost impossible to pull off, then by the time you get to the airport, your turtles are getting beaten, and there are instant kills everywhere.  Then the epic Foot Clan headquarters, where you fight your way through underground tunnels, probably unnecessarily, because the Technodrome appears in a RANDOM LEVEL.  If you beat all this, the Technodrome inside has truly tough enemies, and you are forced to take damage from them in small (albeit colorful!) confined spaces.  If you make it to shredder, two physical hits will kill you.  And if that ray gun hits you, too bad.  The games that came after this one were good, and great for multiplayer fun, with far superior graphics and characters recognizable from the cartoon.  But not the same epic difficulty of this one.

I remember using a map like this a lot in Zelda: A Link to the Past.



Zelda: A Link to the Past-  I played through this one in college using a walkthrough during break time between studying.  I loved it!  Not as old-schoolish as the NES games, but still full of interesting side-quests.  And great graphics as well!

Metal Gear REX, the final boss

Metal Gear Solid–  This awesome game is one of the first “stealth” games I played.  You pretty much have to stay hidden from the enemies…and there is a fair amount of strategy to this…You can even catch a cold!  (“Where is he?  ACHOO! “Shoot to kill!)  Then you get a big boss fight at the end…And a plot twist.  Wow!  Also, one of the most interesting mini-boss fights is against the Psycho-Mantis, where you can’t hurt him at all.  You have to unplug controller two, plug controller one in its slot, and then you can bypass Psycho-Mantis’s powers!

So many choices in images…This one tells all about FF7

Final Fantasy VII–  I still own this one, and play it…My wife got me a copy of it ($85!)  about 10 years ago because I missed it so, and somehow my original copy got sold/given away by the “family members.”  This is probably the deepest game ever made.  I remember the propaganda put out about it “Possibly the GREATEST GAME EVER MADE”.  They would say that, wouldn’t they.  But it is probably true.  No other game has such a large universe.  No other game had such a complex system of customization for your characters.  No other game made you care about the story…made you follow the story…engrossed you in the characters lives.  This game has the infamous “Aeris sacrifice,” where you lose probably your favorite girl in the game and CAN NEVER REVIVE HER!  And so you trudge on closer to that moment when you know she will be lost to you forever, knowing the game just gets better after she’s gone, but mourning your loss…She was a great healer and magic user…And you flirted with her until she went on a date with you…Waaaaa!  (Funny note:  You can cause the date to be with other characters….one of my brothers, whose name starts with a “J” managed to score the date with Barret…. And he wasn’t using a guide or anything…)


NO PICS OF THESE LAST TWO…DON’T WANT TO SCARE THE KIDDIES!

Mortal Kombat II–  You saw that, right?  The roman numerals…made it more epic!  MK2 is my favorite of the early Mortal Kombat games…It had the same rusticness of the original, but more or less doubled the fantasy material.  More characters, levels, and finishing moves.  I beat MK1 at the arcade…But never MK2.  I have only beaten that on a console.  MK3 is a joke to me.  And the modern MK games are fun, but just aren’t the same as the originals.

God of War 2–  I guess I see GOW and GOW 2 equally.  I think they are great!  Kratos is such an awful character, you can’t help but follow him.  It’s kind of like Conan the Barbarian, or Breaking Bad.  Kratos chain swords weapons are perfect for hacking and slashing, and that is something else to love about these games.  They use a modern template, but have laced in SNES-style sensibilities.  The bosses are tough.  The puzzles are confounding.  And you want to know what happens next.  I don’t have a PS3 or PS4.  But if I ever get one, I guarantee I will complete the trilogy.  I have played these games on the hardest levels and beaten them, to where I have leveled Kratos into a God of War for real.  If only I could have my Kratos take out your Kratos, that would be perfect!

So there you go!  The SpartanNerd’s favorite games.  If I get a lot of hits, maybe more lists will come in the future.  This is my 75th post.  Thanks, readers!

Honorable mentions…Mega Man 2…Batman (NES)….Quake 2…..Doom 2…TETRIS

Shadow Era: Call of the Crystals and Dark Prophecies review

My introduction to Trading Card Games, (TCGs for those not nerdy enough to know,) was actually not Magic: The Gathering, World of Warcraft, of Pokemon.  I knew OF these, but did not play them.  Then one day I got the itch to start playing cards.  I had been playing poker and such as that on the computer, and somehow came across a Macworld article about Shadow Era when I was doing research about cards.

I began to play Shadow Era, which was still in beta testing mode.  I jumped in apparently after the second big update was pushed out.  I had a hard time figuring the game out.  I mean, I read the rules, and sort of knew what to click…the game lights up the available cards, and in about two weeks I had it down.  Before we knew it, I climbed the ratings ladder up to near 200.

Then, I would get knocked back down every time they updated the game.  This happened sort of frequently.  What struck me the most was that they were still evolving the game as people were playing it!  My favorite card then (and now!) is Majaya, but poor Majaya started out as too good of a card, then they weakened her too much, until finally finding the right balance…..

You see, I can’t really explain this game without just talking about my experiences with it.  Basically, you have your cards, you draw a hand, make a sacrifice, which becomes your “mana pool” (to use a Magic term, Shadow Era calls it Resources)  and you can play your cards with the resources you build up.  Only certain cards go together, so Human and Wolf  cards won’t share the same weapons and armor, etc.

The creatures you play in this game line up with their hero’s card type.  So Majaya can play “Shadow” creatures.  Boris, on the other hand must play Human creatures.  DarkClaw must play wolves, etc.  These creatures are called “allies,” and can attack.  Your hero, in my case Majaya, can’t do much of anything except use Shadow Energy, which builds up every turn….

So there you have it….You are confused already….But this game isn’t confusing.  Just hard for me to explain.  It is really very deep.

I ordered some of the physical cards last year….They had sort of a “kickstarter” thing going on, where you could pre-order the cards and you would get bonuses.  This was the GREATEST VALUE EVER.  These physical cards were great, and perhaps I will review them one day, but they sent two whole sets of foil cards in addition to all that I ordered!  And slowly but surely, I received even more stuff, both by mail and on my Shadow Era digital account.  I still have a ton of “Shadow Crystals” to spend, which brings me to the next point.

This game can drain your real money, for digital goods.  It is a FREE game to play, but if you want better cards, you have to either grind against the AI, (boring,) or fork over the cash for shadow crystals, which you can use to buy digital cards.  So warning there!  But this isn’t sooo bad.  In fact, it makes it more like the card games you can buy at the store!

Shadow Era was my jumping on point.  After I started playing this, I introduced the boys to the correct way to play Pokemon, then we went on to try YuGiOh (didn’t like so much) and Magic the Gathering. (Love it, but stink at it!)

So, get on over to this site and start playing!  They just recently released their first expansion to the game, called “Dark Prophecies.”