By Brandon HENSLEY
After touring select cities in North America this winter, Nintendo held the last leg of its Switch Preview Tour in LA on March 4 and March 5, offering players a chance to sit down (or stand) and demo some of the games currently on shelves, and most that are planned for 2017.
Nintendo’s new hybrid system allows gamers to play on a big screen or take it out of its port and play on the go. Gamers can use the Joy-Con controllers, which attach to the tablet, or slide them out as individual controllers for motion sensory games.
Any Nintendo fans worth their salt should play “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” which releases April 28. The first version was released for the Wii U, but lackluster sales for both the system and the game meant that players who never got their hands on this one can experience it on the Switch. This version offers higher resolution, extra characters and an improved Battle Mode, which will have you and your friends stuck in your living room for hours.
While the Switch will offer great single-player action for the iconic franchise – currently “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” already on the best reviewed games ever, and this fall’s “Super Mario Odyssey,” the Switch is a must-buy if friends and relatives are around when you need them. Motion-control multiplayer is a huge aspect for this console. Aside from “Mario Kart 8,” there were three other multiplayer games worth mentioning.
“Splatoon 2,” a sequel to the Wii U’s dark horse hit, sets players on teams to see who can splatter the most color in an arena, using each other’s paint guns. Characters can be hit by the other team, and can also activate Squid Mode, which allows them to swim in their own paint to refill their weapon. It’s wacky, hectic and colorful. Once you get used to the controls and the idea of the game, you’ll want to jump back in for more. This game used the Pro Controller, which is a classic looking controller instead of the Joy-Cons or tablet.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t come cheap at $70.
If you would rather punch people in the face, “ARMS” is for you. Using the Joy-Cons strapped to each wrist – to act as motion-control boxing gloves – “ARMS,” available this spring, is a game played standing up, split screen against your opponent as you box each other – though it’s not really boxing, but rather futuristic robot fighting. Characters feature body parts that detach, spring and fly toward each other. Call it a high-resolution, zanier version of Nintendo’s “Punch Out!”
Lastly, there’s “Snipperclips: Cut it Out, Together!” This is an adorable 2D, co-op puzzle game featuring two characters that look like rectangles with curved bottoms (it’s better not to ask too many questions with this one). Your task is to team up with a friend and complete levels using unique strategies. Take a bite of each other, or turn your character sideways to fit predetermined trace lines, or jump on one another to get a ball into a basket. Press buttons to reform or reshape your character, and watch them make cute faces depending on their interactions within the environment.
The hardcore Zelda player may turn away from this one, but if family is over for a birthday and there’s a lull in the evening, bust this out and your night is guaranteed to become livelier.
The Switch, available now for $300, is already a hit. Nasdaq.com reported this week Nintendo is on its way of reaching 2 million units sold for March. The Big N did a poor job of marketing the Wii U (was it an add-on to the original Wii, or was it a new console?) – but has done a much better job this time around. The Switch’s versatility will intrigue many, but the quality of the games will always matter most.
Judging from this year’s slate of releases, Nintendo is on the right path in a new era.