Last time, I talked about my general impressions of the Nintendo Switch hardware at the Switch Hands-On Event in Munich, Germany. But what is a gaming console without its games? That’s right, and this is why Nintendo let me play many games for as long as possible. I got the chance to not only play the launch titles, but also games planned for the launch window and beyond. Are the games worth purchasing a Nintendo Switch for? Or are most of them forgettable? Let’s find out!
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Release: April 2017
This is an enhanced port of Mario Kart 8 and offers all of its DLC, plus new characters and an all-new Battle Mode. I got the chance to play the new Battle Mode and I’m happy to confirm that this mode is finally great. I played the SNES Battle Course 1 and it was fun like the Battle Mode used to be with Balloons and arenas. One MK8D-station had Bob-ombs Blast as Battle Mode available, but this mode just replaced every item with Bomb-ombs and you won’t take damage at your own Bombs. However, if you lose every Balloon, you get spawned back with 3 new Balloons. Apparently, your Balloon-Score gets reduced by half as a penalty. But overall, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looks exactly as good as the Wii U version, but this time in 1080p in TV Mode and 720p in Handheld Mode. However, no Nintendo representative could confirm if all of the content from the Wii U version is in the Deluxe version or not (like f.e. Mario Kart TV). But I doubt that Nintendo will remove many features from the original. But even with the new Battle Mode, which is by far the biggest selling point for the Deluxe version, I’m unsure if those who own Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U will find Deluxe to be enough of an upgrade. Everyone else should get Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch, since you will never find a more complete Mario Kart experience elsewhere.
1-2-Switch – Release: 3th March 2017
I really liked the concept of having a minigame collection where you have to look at your opponent and not on the screen. And for the most part, it is really fun. I tried out many minigames like Copy Dance and Quick Draw.
The least fun game of the bunch was Milk. I was actually looking forward to this minigame, but it was not as fun as I imagined. I always looked at my opponent and didn’t realise that I didn’t milk the cow properly. The HD Rumble didn’t give me the feedback I needed to realize what was going on, so looking at the screen was the best way to play Milk. Kinda ruins the premise of the game. The most fun was definitely Samurai Training. This is usually a simple reaction game where you have to catch a sword before it hits you. If you successfully catch the incoming sword-swing from your opponent, you switch places and you have to swing the sword. If your opponent catches the sword as well, you switch places again. But if you manage to hit your opponent with your sword, you win. This was my favorite game from 1-2-Switch and I often came back to this game.
Unlike the other games available to play, 1-2-Switch had minigames with HD Rumble. I already explained in Switch Impressions Part 1 why I was not so impressed with that feature. But I still want to admit, that it does offer some unique gameplay experiences like Safe Crack, where you have to open the safe by comparing and feeling the different stages of rumble.
But the question is: Is it worth 50$? Kinda difficult to answer honestly, since those games are not the only ones included in 1-2-Switch. Better you wait for more information but at the current state, I unfortunately have to say it’s not worth it despite the cool concept. Most games are over very quickly and it feels like a Game & Wario. I know everyone is tired of this, but 1-2-Switch really should have been a pack-in game with less minigames and the potential for DLC.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Release: 3th March 2017
You know it and love it. There are so many great impressions out there already, so I don’t think I can add anything to it. I had tons of fun with it and I always came back to it several times. Believe the hype, Breath of the Wild is going to be a special Zelda experience.
I actually wanted to talk about the performance of the Switch version but Nintendo Germany was faster and already uploaded the video with Aonuma showing off the latest build. And as you can see there, the game runs in stable 30 FPS. The demo build I played was unfortunately not so stable and there were sometimes framerate drops. But I saw the demo from Eiji Aonuma live and can confirm that it runs as smooth as it looks (if you can call stable 30 fps as smooth). And it also has some richer colors here and there compared to the Wii U version. But I don’t think the differences are too big, so getting the Wii U version instead might still be a good enough alternative. But no matter on which platform you want to experience it, Breath of the Wild will be a must have!
ARMS – Release: Spring 2017
By far the most surprising game at the event and my personal favorite. When Nintendo revealed ARMS in their big presentation, I was not impressed at all. It looked to me just like a goofy Wii Sports for everyone so Nintendo would have a motion controlled game in their lineup. Boy, was I wrong.
I only played the 2 Player-mode and this was already a blast: 5 characters were there to choose from and after I selected my character, I was instantly thrown in the arena. There, I had to carefully choose between 3 different weapons for my arm. After I made my choice, it’s time to battle.
To move your character, you have to tilt the Joy-Cons and jump with the triggers. First, I was worried it would be too hectic, but it actually works quite well. And like the trailer showed, you punch by doing “Punch”-moves with the Joy-Con, which surprisingly worked quickly and well. If you “punch” with both arms at the same time, you can grab your enemy (unless he’s dodging your attack). You’re also able to unleash special-attacks, but I’m not sure how to fill the special-attack meter.
The match is decided in 2 out of 3 rounds, where you’re also able to switch between different weapons each round. Of course you win when you knock out your opponent twice!
What also came as a surprise is how much depth the gameplay has. The 3 weapons you chose before each round are often very different and you have to think of a strategy how to use them effectively. You also have to keep your character in mind since every one of them have different abilities and every one of them is unique. I personally liked Ninjara, the Ninja (duh) the most, since he could vanish while dodging and that was VERY useful in all the hectic matches. The controls were easy to learn and follow, and if you carefully plan your movements, you won’t have any problems with the controls. But sometimes, I kinda just “punched” around, since it was so fun, I didn’t care much about good controls.
And this is why I love this game so much: It has surprisingly deep gameplay mechanics which allow for a strategic style of fighting but you can also just have fun and mindless “punch around”. It’s not known how many characters will be available or how the single-player mode will look. But I LOVED what I played and it became one of my favorite games at the event. Like many have said, the trailer from the presentation did not do ANY justice to the game and I believe ARMS could become the next Splatoon.
Sonic Mania – Release: Spring 2017
As a big Sonic fan, I was really looking forward to playing this version and I already saw countless videos. So yeah, you can say I’m a little bit hyped about this game. And? Does it look like a true return to Sonic’s glorious Genesis days?
It plays like a perfect continuation of Sonic 3 & Knuckles and everything is tight. The pinball physics work really well and it’s nothing compared to Sonic 4. I know it’s common knowledge that you should be careful with new Sonic games but I think we can really trust this one. It’s absolutely on the right track and I can’t wait to play more Zones on the go!
Splatoon 2 – Release: Summer 2017
There’s no surprise that the Wii U’s surprise hit Splatoon would get a sequel on the Switch, and fans are already waiting for it with anticipation. But the question is: Does it really feel like a sequel? Or is it just the same game, painted over with new colors?
I can’t answer that. No one can actually because what I played was just the multiplayer and judging ONLY from this mode is very unfair. But I must admit, from what I played, the multiplayer feels very similar to its predecessor and I had no problems to get in. Aiming is still controlled by motion controls and it works as well as ever. Fans of Splatoon will be at home instantly. Also, I tried out the new Sub-Weapon called “Jetpack” and it gave me many Super Mario Sunshine-vibes. I was also able to make the new “Dash-step” move but I’m not sure how to execute it properly so it kinda happened all the time without me knowing how. But I’m sure they will explain it better in a tutorial. What gave me more of a headache was how the map was implemented. Since there’s no second screen for Splatoon 2, the map is now activated per button and you have to “aim” for the player you wish to transport to. I know that this might be the best solution but I never got used to it and always wished for my Wii U GamePad back or a touchscreen-controlled interface.
Splatoon 2 offered many control options at the event but what caught my attention was the Handheld Mode. I was curious how motion controls work with the Switch’s screen and already imagined some shortcomings. Nothing, it works wonderfully. Aiming is as good as at the TV and I never lost sight of the battlefield. However, since it was dim at the event, I can’t say how big of an issue this could be outside or on trains. But I would suggest not to take Splatoon on the go, since I actively moved around as I played, so I don’t think it’s environmentally safe to play Splatoon 2 on the go.
Everything else feels pretty much the same as I used to know it, and guess what? That’s a good thing. Splatoon is Nintendo’s freshest IP for a long time and I do think it’s okay to keep in mind what made Splatoon such a great multiplayer experience and expand on it.
Ultra Street Fighter II – Release: 2017
I don’t need to write much about it because…well, it’s Street Fighter II. It plays as well as you can imagine and the graphics look as gorgeous as in Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix for the Xbox 360 and PS3. But besides that, there were not many perceptible improvements to that version and you can take that as a chance to get the definitive version if you don’t own a Street Fighter II yet, or just pass on if you own it already. The new characters, Evil Ryu and Violent Ken, are not much to write a book about, since they pretty much feel like Ken and Ryu. But since I’m not involved in the competitive Street Fighter scene, I’m probably the wrong guy to judge. Nonetheless, I had fun with this version and I don’t think a non-Street Fighter II owner can do anything wrong with it, even if you dislike the style (like me).
Super Bomberman R – Release: 3th March 2017
The surprise was big when we found out that Konami is actually producing a new Bomberman title. And it’s even a full-fledged title and not a download-only game. So how much content can we expect from Super Bomberman R? The game has a single-player mode reminiscent of the Super Bomberman series. But I only could try out the multiplayer mode, so at least I could test the true meat of every Bomberman game.
Let’s get this right out of the way: Bomberman’s multiplayer is great, no question. You fight in arenas like always and try to “bomb away” your opponent like always. You get items and power-ups like always and the only participant who’s left alone on the arena wins the round…like always. I didn’t encounter anything new and it’s as great as ever.
However, what bugged me during my play sessions was the 30 FPS. Bomberman is a game where your movements must be fast and precise, and it really felt awkward that Super Bomberman R ran at a lower framerate than usual. (For comparison, the WiiWare game Bomberman Blast ran at 60 FPS). Most people won’t mind this though, but it would have been nice if Konami would have considered achieving 60 FPS like any other modern Bomberman game. Furthermore, the color pallet used in this game renders the world looking dull, unlike its colorful artwork.
And with all the shadows, it makes it a little hard to fully recognize the battlefield. Also, something else that bugged me: The long loading times between each round. I was not expecting it to take so long and I still hope it’s an issue from the demo build.
Snipperclips – Release: March 2017
And lastly, a hidden gem for many people who played it. Your pal and you take over paper scraps, and you have to solve puzzles together. You often have to “change shape” and this is where good cooperation comes in: You can only change shape by cutting off a piece from the other player and you have to do the same to your partner. This means you have to be very cooperative with your friend, since the game sometimes asks for specific shapes you have to take or take together. But there are also many other puzzles, where you have to figure out how to put a pencil in a sharpener or how to get balloons down. All the puzzles were very varied and it was really fun to get together to figure out the solution. It’s really powerful when you solve a problem together with your friends and this is the greatest strength to this game. A single-player mode is confirmed but honestly, I’m not sure how this game is going to work alone. But regardless, this could turn out to be the first eShop gem ever. Better keep an eye on it and get a good friend to play with as soon as possible.
While I was quite impressed with the Switch’s hardware, I’m not sure I can say the same about its software lineup. To get this out of the way, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild might be your only reason to get the Nintendo Switch at launch since this is a game you really don’t want to miss. And ARMS and Splatoon 2 are also looking like good additions to the Switch’s lineup, although they both have to prove that their single-player campaigns are beefy enough to satisfy Nintendo fans. But after that, everything else feels not really worth the Day-One purchase.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is only interesting to people who lack its Wii U iteration. Similarly, Ultra Street Fighter II is only interesting to people who don’t already own it.
Super Bomberman R, unfortunately, is marred with performance issues.
However, both Sonic Mania and Snipperclips are good games and I think they are going to make many Switch owners very happy.
The Switch’s game lineup has some great jewels, but Nintendo didn’t prove to me that they’re serious with their lineup commitment. But this is only judging from the stuff I played and I’m in good spirits that Nintendo will show us more games. And with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Super Mario Odyssey, there are already 2 big games waiting for us in 2017.
But for the Switch’s launch, I suggest you rather wait for a price drop or if you really want to get it on Day-One, that you get it with Zelda: Breath of the Wild!
Thanks to Nintendo of Germany for inviting us to the Switch Hands-On Event in Munich, Germany.
Also Thanks to Cart Boy for the tweaks in this article!