Sunday, September 24, 2017

And they said it would never happen: I (finally) got a Switch!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter already know this news, but for the rest of you: I finally got a Nintendo Switch!

Shocking, I know. Especially since I never bought a Wii U despite regularly saying I would do just that. Also, back when Nintendo revealed the Switch, I declared I likely wouldn't purchase one until its price dropped to at least $250. I've also suggested on more than one occasion that I'd prefer to wait for the inevitable hardware revision to be released before I pick up a Switch.

Well, all of that went out the window after a Super Mario Odyssey Switch bundle was announced during the most recent batch of Nintendo Directs. (Read this post for some of my thoughts on those broadcasts.)

That's not to say this bundle caused me to go weak in the knees or anything like that. I'm probably as interested in Super Mario Odyssey as the next Nintendo fan, but I'm not so interested in it that I'm champing at the bit to own a pair of "Mario red" Joy-Con controllers or a Super Mario Odyssey-themed carrying case.

However, when I realized this bundle was going be pretty widely available--you can still pre-order it via couldn't help perk up a bit.

So, I pre-ordered it. Within days, maybe even hours, though, I discovered Walmart had almost surreptitiously started selling a Splatoon 2 bundle.

This same bundle--featuring a copy of Splatoon 2 as well as a set of neon green and pink Joy-Cons and a Splatoon-branded carrying case--has been available in Japan for some time now, but Nintendo of America's never even breathed a word about it since the game's late-July release, so I assumed it wouldn't be an option for me. (To be honest, I'm not entirely sold on Splatoon 2. I am, however, sold on the pink and green Joy-Cons.)

Anyway, everything changed once I knew about the availability of this Splatoon 2 bundle. I kept an eye on it for a few days and after it became clear it wasn't going to sell out immediately, I canceled my pre-order for the Super Mario Odyssey bundle and pre-ordered this one instead.

It arrived yesterday, but I've yet to even open the box, let alone turn on the Switch and give it a go. Don't worry, I plan on doing that soon, though perhaps not for a few more days. I want to wait for the screen protector I just bought to arrive (and be applied) before I put this lovely piece of hardware through its paces.

Once that's out of the way--watch out! The first thing I'll do is make my way to the Switch eShop and download the Octopath Traveler demo. (See the latest Octopath Traveler trailer and read some of my thoughts on it here.)

After that, I've got to decide what I'm going to do with the Splatoon 2 download code that's packed inside the pretty box seen throughout this post. I want to play the game at some point, don't get me wrong, but at the moment I think I'd rather use whatever money I could get for it on something else (like a physical copy of Super Mario Galaxy).

Do any of you have a Switch? If so, what do you think of it? Also, do you have any advice or recommendations to share with a newbie like myself? If you do, please share them in the comments section below.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

I don't know about you, but I'm going to buy the hell out of Gal Metal! for Switch early next year

Early this month, DMM Games revealed it was working on a rhythm game for the Nintendo Switch.

Although its name, Gal Metal!, intrigued me, that's about where my curiosity in the upcoming title began and ended.

That's mainly because the initial Gal Metal! teaser trailer made it out to be a drum-centric rhythm game, which generally isn't my cup of tea.

My interest did a 180 this morning, though, after watching the game's latest trailer, released to coincide with Tokyo Game Show 2017.

Admittedly, I'm still not all that keen on a rhythm game that makes you pretend-play the drums. But I'm willing to overlook that little "issue" because the drum-heavy game plops you into the patent-leather shoes of one member of a five-girl metal band.

The band in question apparently has to use their musical skills to save the world from invading aliens, by the way--which only enhances the game's appeal in my eyes. Other aspects of Gal Metal! I find appealing: its art style and the music showcased in the video above.

Is it possible the game's motion-focused gameplay will be a Wii Music-style dud in the end? Of course. I certainly hope that's not the case, though.

We'll find out one way or the other when Gal Metal! hits the streets--and Switch eShop--of Japan this coming February.

DMM is said to be prepping a boxed version of Gal Metal!, by the way, so look for me to buy that iteration should early previews not label the Tak Fujii-backed title a total stinker. (Fujii is an eccentric ex-Konami producer.)

Has this in-the-works Switch game pinged your radar? If so, let me know, and let me know why it's got you excited, in the comments section below.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Nice Package! (Dōbutsu no Mori+, GameCube)

My last blog post celebrated the 15th anniversary of the first Animal Crossing game's North American release.

Of course, as any Animal Crossing fan worth their salt will tell you, although that 2002 release was the first of the series' many entries to see the light of day in the Western world, it was the second to hit store shelves in Japan.

This game's predecessor in that region was 2001's Dōbutsu no Mori (Animal Forest, basically) for the Nintendo 64. The game showcased here, Dōbutsu no Mori+, followed just eight months later.

Surprisingly, Dōbutsu no Mori+ is more than just a simple, straightforward port of the Nintendo 64 original. For starters, it bumps up the earlier title's resolution from 320-by-240 pixels to 640-by-480 pixels. It also introduces a number of new characters--including the Able Sisters, Kapp'n and Tortimer--as well as adds new locations (like the island and the museum), Famicom games, fish and bugs. And it lets players to expand their homes beyond the limits of what was allowed in the Nintendo 64 cartridge.

Further changes and enhancements were made to the game when it was localized for Western markets, and even more were made for the 2003 Japanese release known as Dōbutsu no Mori e+. (Look for a "Nice Package!" post about that GameCube import shortly.)

Anyway, as nice as the North American Animal Crossing's packaging was and is, I far prefer the Japanese counterparts--outer sleeve, disc, memory card and instruction manual--shown here to it.

I'm especially fond of the Dōbutsu no Mori+ instruction manual, I've got to say--especially its cover. The interior pages are pretty nice, too, although I wouldn't have minded if Nintendo's artists and designers had made them a tad more whimsical.

I also really like the art that's splashed across the adorably tiny Dōbutsu no Mori+ disc. The haniwa (gyroid elsewhere) that graces the label of the packed-in memory card is a nice touch, too.

Another nice touch of the Dōbutsu no Mori+ packaging: the image of Booker that sits along the bottom edge of the game's outer sleeve.

For those of you who've never seen a Japanese GameCube game in person, this cardboard sleeve slips over a small plastic case that houses the game in question's disc and manual. Also, the case is clear, so if you situate the manual properly, it almost gives the game an alternate cover.

With all of that out of the way, which part of this Japanese game's packaging appeals the most to you?

See also: photos of the Dōbutsu no Mori Nintendo 64 packaging

Friday, September 15, 2017

Happy 15th anniversary, Animal Crossing!

Excuse me for sharing this story again, but Animal Crossing first hit North American store shelves 15 years ago today, so I think it bears repeating.

Which story? The one that goes something like this:

Before Animal Crossing was released in my neck of the woods on Sept. 15, 2002, I was only mildly curious about the GameCube. I found early titles like Luigi's Mansion, Pikmin, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Monkey Ball awfully appealing, but not appealing enough to purchase the disc-based successor to the Nintendo 64.

Even Animal Crossing's initial release didn't prompt me to pick up a GameCube--despite my keen interest in the game.

No, it wasn't until a year later, when Nintendo dropped the GameCube's price to $99 and published a "Player's Choice" version of this adorable life sim that I jumped in with both feet. The rest, as they say, is history.

I still fondly remember my gaming setup in those days. My husband and I lived in a tiny apartment (just 450 square feet, at most) in Madison, Wisconsin, at the time, so I after my silver GameCube and a copy of this game arrived on our doorstep I promptly tucked both of them and a similarly tiny TV into one of the corners of our bedroom.

I played Animal Crossing whenever I could from that moment forward. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I quickly became obsessed with it--checking in on my big-headed, stubby limbed avatar (a pink-haired girl, if I'm remembering correctly) at least once, and often a couple of times, a day.

At some point, many months down the road (maybe eight, but definitely not 12), it all became a bit much and I walked away from my first Animal Crossing town and all of its anthropomorphic inhabitants cold turkey.

That's actually become a tradition for me with this long-running series. Every Animal Crossing game I've tackled since this GameCube iteration has fascinated me to the point that I played them daily until I felt I either had to walk away without a backward glance or risk my sanity.

As much as I've enjoyed all of those subsequent titles--New Leaf, especially--none has matched the original. Yes, the first Animal Crossing (at least as far as folks outside of Japan are concerned) is by far the most antiquated, but I also think it's the most focused.

My affinity for this Animal Crossing's simplicity probably explains why it's the only entry in the series I've ever returned to--and not just once, but multiple times.

I'm sure that will remain true even after the inevitable Switch title drops next year or the year after, no matter how great the latest sequel is.

How about you? Do you return to Animal Crossing for the GameCube now and then? Or do you have particularly fond memories of your only playthrough of this one-of-a-kind experience? If so, share some of them in the comments section below.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Square Enix's Project Octopath Traveler looks like a love child of Bravely Default and Romancing SaGa, and that thrills me

Although it had its flaws and was far from perfect, I really enjoyed playing through Bravely Default a few years back.

Combine that with my nearly life-long interest in Square Enix's old (and on-going) SaGa series and, well, it should be easy enough to understand why I'm thoroughly intrigued by the company's upcoming Switch RPG, Project Octopath Traveler.

After all, Project Octopath Traveler looks like a thrilling mashup of the above-mentioned titles in its latest trailer (below), wouldn't you agree?

Sadly, I can't say for myself whether or not this 2018 release lives up to that pedigree, as I don't yet own a Switch and so can't play the Project Octopath Traveler demo that was made available via that system's eShop following yesterday's Nintendo Direct broadcasts.

I can guarantee you, though, that I'll play that demo for all it's worth once I finally get my hands on a Switch--assuming that happens before the retail version of Project Octopath Traveler hits the streets, of course.

In the meantime, what do all of you think of this "HD 2D" RPG? Does it thrill you, too, or does it make you shrug your shoulders in disinterest?