Tag Archives: talking

Talking Point: Nintendo’s Quirky Creativity Hasn’t Always Paid Off On Switch, But It Matters

Ring Fit Adventure© Nintendo

Nintendo is in a particularly strong position in the games industry at present – it’s a hugely popular, talked about brand, and the company is still selling tens of millions of systems each year that – by this stage – will be increasingly inexpensive to produce. When you take relatively old, readily available technology and sell it at a hefty margin, you get staggering profits.

But, of course, you don’t have to go back far to find a time when it was very different for the company. The last generation, in fact, when the 3DS launched so poorly that only a drastic price cut in its first year and some key heavy hitting games helped to turn it around; nevertheless it still didn’t get close to matching its portable predecessor. At the same time there was the Wii U, which also had a disastrous start that was never reversed – unless you want to bring the Virtual Boy into it, that’s Nintendo’s biggest hardware failure as a company.

We bring this up for two reasons – one is that it’s recent history, and it’s worth remembering that Nintendo wasn’t – and won’t always be – all-conquering. Secondly, it would have been unsurprising if Nintendo had been excessively cautious in the Switch era having been burned so recently; yet, actually, it’s not gone that way.

Some aspects of Nintendo’s activities are very cautious, it can be argued – we’ve seen our share of sequels and ports, that’s for sure. Yet when you look over recent years Nintendo has also had a healthy amount of creativity and quirky ambition. Sometimes it’s not resulted in notable sales, but it highlights a culture of innovation and fun that still exists within Nintendo’s walls, which reflects well on senior executives and the upcoming stars of the company.

Labo Piano© Nintendo

Some flames have sparked briefly before seemingly being snuffed out due to limited success. Yes, we’re thinking of Nintendo Labo, the quirky cardboard-based construction kits that created all sorts of wacky controllers and minigames. If we were to nit-pick a flaw in strategy it was perhaps there were too many packs over a relatively short period, which were pricey and perhaps distorted the market a little. The first kit did pass one million sales, but it felt like Nintendo rushed out follow-up packs too quickly, reducing any sense of anticipation and making the endeavour feel very expensive.

Some of the constructions were delights, however, such as a wheel that could be used in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or a piano that actually worked. The VR pack was also fascinating, albeit the basic technology was always going to have a limited impact.

Yet one legacy of Labo VR, in particular, is Game Builder Garage, an extended spin-off from the pack’s software. Game Builder Garage is still quite new on the market and we’ll see how its sales work out, but at the very least it’s an interesting and effective toolset that allows pretty much anyone to make and then share games. Some of the creativity we’ve seen from users of the software is outstanding, with eager budding programmers producing homages to classics and all-new clever games.

Mario Kart Live© Nintendo

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit was another off-the-wall release – for many the reveal would have triggered the following reaction: “ooh, Mario Kart! Oh, it’s… got little toy cars”. With a relatively high price and the inherent restrictions of the format (the need for space and being bothered with the setup) it was an interesting toy that didn’t take off with headline-generating sales, but in Nintendo’s financial results it did hit 1.27 million global sales up to the end of March. This is well below the outrageous 10.62 million sales of the evergreen Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in the last financial year, but as a relatively pricey toy product it’s still not bad. Products like that, even if they aren’t among Nintendo’s best-sellers, all contribute to ongoing brand awareness.

A quirky project that did truly take off, no doubt helped by the unique circumstances of 2020, was Ring Fit Adventure. Let’s be accurate about how strange this product is – it’s a relatively standard Yoga Ring with a Joy-Con attachment, along with a leg strap. What sells it, of course, is that a Yoga Ring alone is rather dull and meaningless without some kind of exercise group, lessons or yoga knowledge. Ring Fit Adventure blends that simple accessory with other activities (helped by that leg strap + Joy-Con) and a colourful, entertaining set of minigames and even a story mode. It’s classic Nintendo – take simple, off-the-shelf items and transform them through software and hardware.

Ring Fit Adventure is classic Nintendo – take simple, off-the-shelf items and transform them through software and hardware.

Ring Fit Adventure’s total sales, helped along by 7.38 million units in the last financial year, were 10.11 million as of 31st March.

It’s also pleasing that Nintendo is keeping a focus on new franchises moving forward, even as it revisits the past to keep fans happy with the likes of Metroid Dread and Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp. Nintendo is being vocal in saying it’s always seeking new ideas that can be ‘staple series’ of the future. ARMS may not have achieved that in recent times, but let’s not forget that Splatoon overcame the Wii U’s struggles to become a big brand.

The good news is that the success of Ring Fit Adventure, and even the modest return of Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, should ensure that Nintendo the toy company continues in earnest. And while Nintendo Labo came and left all too soon, for some of us that jumped in it it’s been a memorable part of this generation. These sorts of projects matter, too, because they’re typical Nintendo, something different from what’s on offer elsewhere.

That’s a unique selling point, which is great news for Nintendo’s shareholders, ultimately. More importantly, it should mean that the company’s creative teams can continue to shine.

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This post originally posted here Nintendo Life | Latest News

Talking Point: Nintendo Switch OLED, Worth The Upgrade? Team NL Has A Chat

Switch OLED© Nintendo

A while back we shared a chat between a couple of Team NL’s members talking about the topic of “what is a game ‘developer'”? That was a nice little back and forth format in which we were chatting over a virtual cup of tea – or virtually but with actual cups of tea and coffee… you get the idea. We decided to revisit the format for a little chin-wag about the Nintendo Switch OLED Model, now that the dust has settled and many will have decided whether to bother chasing after pre-orders.

For this chat we have Gavin Lane, Kate Gray and Tom Whitehead talking semi-seriously about Nintendo’s latest Switch iteration. What do we think? Who will buy it? Does it look like a stormtrooper?

Let’s get right into it.

Gavin: I should preface everything I’m about to say with the fact that I’m the dude who bought four 3DSs. I am that idiot. I traded in my original Aqua and my subsequent red XL to upgrade, but have since gone back and got them again. I may have a problem. How many 3DSssss did you two buy?

Kate: Two, technically, but I swapped one in for the New Nintendo 3DS… XL… plus??? I have technically owned three Switches: One was an impulse buy (from NL Director Ant, four years ago); one was an impulse buy because it came with a ton of supermarket loyalty points (which I spent on a fancy toothbrush) but then I immediately felt guilty and sold it; the third is the one I got for work because the first one is Drift Central. I should not be allowed to have a credit card.

Tom: I had the original, which I then traded for an XL, then got the ‘ambassador’ little New 3DS that gives me hand cramps but has Xenoblade coverplates and coloured buttons, so the cramps are worth it.

Gavin: Okay, so varying degrees of idiocy… sorry, enthusiasm for Nintendo products, then! First up, after all the rumours and hype, what did you think when the ‘new’ console was finally revealed?

Switch OLED Tabletop© Nintendo

Tom: I’d actually expected an ‘XL’, because anything with new chipsets is a no-go this year for practical reasons, so I wasn’t ‘disappointed’ as a result. I just thought “oh dear, that won’t go down well”.

Kate: Mostly, I just thought, “oh no, everyone is going to be so angry.” And I was right about that, at least!

But personally, I just got a new Switch, so I’m good for the time being. Hopefully the base Switches miiiiight be cheaper now?

Gavin: I think the main barrier to price reduction on the ‘base’ model at the moment is that, from a business perspective, there’s zero reason for Nintendo to reduce the price — Switch is still selling huge numbers. The hardware itself is getting prettttttty long in the tooth, but there’s still huge demand so I don’t see a blanket reduction in the near future. Perhaps we’ll see some deeper discounts and bigger deals on the regular version come Black Friday and Holiday season, though.

I bought the ‘Slightly Better Battery’ Switch using the excuse that my mum could buy my old one off me to play Animal Crossing. Cheap, I’m not a monster.

My first thought seeing it was “ooo, sexy new dock”, actually.

Tom: Funny you noticed the dock, as the OLED is really all about handheld play. As someone who plays portable 90% of the time it’s hard not to consider a trade-in upgrade, but if you play on a TV there’s pretty much no point. It is a pretty dock though.

Gavin: I play maybe 75% docked… which makes the OLED Switch make even less sense for me! As established above, though, I‘ve got a problem. I bought the ‘Slightly Better Battery’ Switch using the excuse that my mum could buy my old one off me to play Animal Crossing. Cheap, I’m not a monster.

Kate: I’m also 90% portable, but as you might have read on my piece about burn-in… I’m a bit too afraid of burn-in. I know a bunch of people said it’s not a problem, but I don’t want to be anxious about it!

Tom: No Tik-Tok on Switch, you’ll be fine!

Gavin: I totally understand that anxiety. I’ve had an OLED TV for a few years now, and I’m pretty active when it comes to changing channels and running the in-built pixel shifter program. Feels like I’m having to nurse the tech at times. Worth it, though. I’m still amazed when it displays black and you can’t tell if the screen is on or not.

What are our feelings on the price?

Kate: I already forgot what the price was. $ 50 more? That seems reasonable to me; it’s a new model with a few minor but much-needed updates. I’m mostly relieved to see that grille at the top getting more fins, that was the bane of my life.

I have a theory that Nintendo was going to announce this during E3, as a minor upgrade that helps them keep up with Switch demand, and then they saw the hype, and just… completely backed out.

Tom: I think the price is fair for what should be a good screen upgrade (albeit, predictably, there’s ‘surprise’ that Nintendo is making a profit on each unit), as it’s a bit bigger, higher quality and combined with other small improvements. It’ll be interesting to see how sales go, especially if Nintendo does Black Friday deals and game bundle promotions with the original model. Maybe the OLED will be the ‘premium’ one that ultimately does less numbers because of that extra $ 50. I doubt Nintendo will phase out the original in any way, for example.

Kate: I have a theory that Nintendo was going to announce this during E3, as a minor upgrade that helps them keep up with Switch demand, and then they saw the hype, and just… completely backed out. I feel a bit bad for them, because there’s no way they could have lived up to it.

Tom: Yeah, that seems very possible. Especially when you see those white Joy-Cons, almost a very deliberate Metroid Dread tie-in that would have slotted into the finale of the Direct. But the internet speculation may have spoiled it.

Gavin: It’s a bit much when you see some people blaming poor performance in third-party games on Nintendo for not supplying the extra juice of a Switch ‘Pro’ which the devs were apparently ‘relying’ on!

Kate: I wonder if they’re now scrambling to make the Pro… 👀

Tom: The internet chatter won’t significantly affect hardware development and strategy, in my opinion. Sales of the system are still massive, so the ‘noise’ online is a small percentage of the real world market. There’ll likely be an upgrade in the next couple of years, because the Switch is getting old, but I strongly believe the online talk will have had little impact on the end-product, it’ll be more about what major partners want, what research says will succeed etc.

Switch OLED BOTW2© Nintendo

Gavin: Agreed. I don’t see Nintendo getting jittery or riled up by internet hopes and dreams, or reports that conflated this SKU with whatever else is in the works. Certainly not while huge bundles of cash continue to roll in from the current console, anyhow.

And that really is what Switch OLED is: the current console with a bit bigger screen. My first reaction on seeing the Neon Red/Blue Joy-Con version was “Who the heck is going to buy that version?”, forgetting that there are still loads of people who don’t own a Switch, people who may well pick one up over the next couple of years. Nobody I know, but millions of people.

Kate: I thought, “who on earth would buy a Fortnite console?” and the answer is me, for work. There’s always someone.

Tom: Those Joy-Con colours are nice, mind!

Kate: I’m not won over by the white, personally… on a console, it’s fine; on a HANDHELD, it’s gonna get greasy. I know people in the comments are always quite upset that I’m implying they are all filthy beings, but humans are greasy! It’s just natural! Of course, you can take good care of it, or wear gloves, but who knows what’ll happen. It might yellow in the sun (it probably won’t).

Tom: At least the console is still black, and when the Joy-Con sticks pack-in after eight months we’ll buy different coloured ones anyway…

Gavin: Ha, sad as it is, getting fresh Joy-Cons is one of the big attractions for me. I gave my Slightly Better Battery Switch ones to my mum with my old console (see, told you I’m not a monster!) For me, I kinda like how the white dock will sit nicely next to my TV and blend with the living room a bit better. I’m paranoid about my gaming stuff spilling out of the office and taking over the whole flat. I saw a pic with the white PS5 and the Xbox… *thinks* Series S! They made a nice trio. I don’t own either of those consoles yet, but I like the idea.

Kate: I wonder if the people who do custom paint jobs are happy about having a white Switch, which probably makes a much better canvas…

Tom: Weirdly it was the only thing that nearly put me off, as every other box and gadget in my living room is black. Then I figured the dock would look nice and stand out, like a rebellious throwback hitting us with exciting new things like an ethernet input.

Kate: It looks like a stormtrooper. That’s the opposite of rebellious!

Tom: Oh no, now you’re putting me off it again!

OLED - Stormtrooper Edition© Nintendo

Gavin: For a moment while watching the reveal trailer, I thought the Switch logo on the front lit up!

Tom: Pro feature confirmed!

Gavin: Okay then, the billion dollar question(s): Will you be getting one, and why?

Kate: Nah. If I still had my Original Launch Switch™, I would consider the minor upgrade; as it is, I’m good. I miiiight get the Joy-Cons if they sell them separately, because my drift on the Old Switch is so bad that I can’t play games at all. I tried to fix it, but it just changed the direction of the drift

Tom: Oof, that’s not good. I will be, but it only makes sense doing it with a trade-in to take the edge off the price. As I said earlier I play almost exclusively in handheld, in fact my dock was only used for the first time in ages when grabbing docked screenshots for a review. So with that in mind I have some favourite games I’d like to play on a better / bigger screen, plus Metroid Dread of course!

Gavin: Oooh, Dread… Well, having established my idiocy from the off, of course I’ll be getting one. For me, as a package that comes with new Joy-Cons, a sexy new screen and a second dock (which I’ve wanted for my office for years now), it offers just enough. For sure, Nintendo knows what it’s doing by injecting this marginally premium version into the market, and I’m certain I won’t be the only father eyeing the new SKU and using the kids as an excuse to splash out come October time. They can have the old one, I’ll upgrade!

My kids are a tad young and I’ve got a few 3DSs knocking around, but you know. Any excuse.


Those are some of our thoughts on the OLED, but where do you stand? Are you thinking of getting one? Do you think it’ll sell well? Does it look like a stormtrooper? Let us know in the comments.

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This post originally posted here Nintendo Life | Latest News

Talking Point: Everyone Has A Bad Game They Love, So What’s Yours?

Lord of the Rings SNES© Nintendo Life

Recently, I set out on a quest to track down a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: Volume 1 for the Super Nintendo – a game that I awarded a paltry 3/10 to some time ago. I didn’t seek out a copy as a strange kind of punishment, or to be ironic – I wanted to re-own it because, despite being pretty terrible, I’ve got a genuine, heartfelt connection with it.

Back in 1994, when Lord of the Rings originally hit the SNES, I was already a seasoned fan of the acclaimed fantasy series. My introduction to Tolkien’s world wasn’t the book trilogy – or even the child-friendly prequel novel, The Hobbit – but Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated version of the first two Lord of the Rings books – The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers – and, following this rather uneven (but still beloved) primer to Middle-earth, I read the original books a few years later. By the time I’d hit my teenage years, I was hungry to consume as much media relating to the series as possible – which, back in the early ’90s, wasn’t as easy as you might assume (Peter Jackson’s blockbuster movies were still some way off).

As you can imagine, I was keen to get my hands on Lord of the Rings for the SNES, despite the only other game based on the series that I’d played – War in Middle-earth on my Atari ST – being something of a disappointment. Interplay, the company behind the SNES outing, had already created two Lord of the Rings games for personal computers, but I’d only seen screenshots in magazines and had never actually played them. Therefore, I was entering into the SNES version with a degree of optimism – optimism which only increased the more I read about the grand scope of the game in magazine previews of the period.

The release of Lord of the Rings: Volume 1 was delayed somewhat, and by the time it eventually arrived in 1994, excitement was building for the next generation of gaming, with the 3DO and Atari Jaguar already available and the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn both looming on the horizon. Still, I was a committed fan and the fact that Interplay’s SNES game borrowed heavily from the 1978 animated film only cemented my desire to actually play it.

However, removing my rose-tinted specs just for a moment, I was aware even then that this was not a good video game. The controls were stiff, the environments dull and the gameplay painfully repetitive. There wasn’t even a battery backup option, so you had to input an annoyingly laid-out password every time you wanted to continue your adventure. And, as the ‘Volume 1’ in the title suggests, this wasn’t even the full story – it ended the moment you reached Rivendell, which meant that a whole host of other amazing moments in the books were missing. Still, at least the music was good – in fact, I’d argue that it’s one of the best soundtracks on the SNES.

Despite its obvious, crippling failings, I persevered. This might have been because, back in the mid-’90s, I had little in the way of disposable income (I was still at school) so I had to make sure I got the maximum amount of enjoyment and entertainment from every game I purchased – even if it was terrible. However, I still feel that my longstanding connection to the world of Middle-earth is what really convinced me to keep on going; I still love Tolkien’s works (even after two decades over what could charitably be described as over-exposure in the wake of Jackson’s movies) but Lord of the Rings: Volume 1 came at a time when Frodo, Samwise and Gandalf were merely fringe players in the world of popular culture, and the fact that they starred in a game on my SNES somehow made the whole venture feel a lot more appealing than it actually was.

And here we are, in 2021. Many years after selling my original game when I jettisoned my SNES collection to purchase a PlayStation (forgive me, Miyamoto!), I’ve gotten around to picking up another copy – not to play, but to merely have in the collection to remind me that not all games have to be stone-cold classics in order for you to love them unconditionally.

What ‘bad’ game do you love beyond all reason? And what’s the story behind that relationship? Let us know with a comment below.

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This post originally posted here Nintendo Life | Latest News

Talking Point: Can Metroid Dread Be The Franchise’s ‘Awakening’?

Over the weekend our lovely folk in the video team posted a detailed chat, above, asking a simple but intriguing question — “Why hasn’t the Metroid series traditionally sold well?” It’s a good question, and it feels like one with a lot of varied answers. Let’s summarise a few, before shifting to a fully optimistic outlook on the upcoming Metroid Dread.

The series has a long history, from the NES through to 3DS and — very soon — Switch. Even accounting for the potentially loose nature of some sales data, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see that the original game is the second best-selling entry in the series, The NES boomed and that original game undoubtedly caught the imagination.

The number one best-selling game in the series, it seems, is Metroid Prime, which was a revelation for the franchise but also in gaming at the time. Retro Studios produced a showcase not only for the GameCube, but of 3D gaming technology, coupling it with incredibly atmospheric settings and shifting from the series’ explorative 2D gameplay to the third dimension and a first-person perspective, doing so in a way that made the leap obvious and elementary.

Metroid Dread Art© Nintendo

Even taking into account the potential incompleteness of these figures (which can’t account for Virtual Console downloads across multiple generations of Nintendo hardware, for example), the fact that sales figures for the series put the best-seller at below three million is a sure indication that the series has never truly taken off, at least not by Nintendo’s lofty standards. While many devoted Nintendo fans reel off the Metroid name alongside the likes of Mario and The Legend of Zelda, the reality is that the actual sales have never been in the same ballpark. Though some may disagree and argue over examples, Nintendo has also tried various approaches to push the brand — 2D games on console and handheld, the Prime series, attempts to focus on multiplayer. It’s never quite worked on a mainstream level, even when some of the games have been critically acclaimed.

While many devoted Nintendo fans reel off the Metroid name alongside the likes of Mario and The Legend of Zelda, the reality is that the actual sales have never been in the same ball park.

As discussed in the video, it does seem like Nintendo has been both unlucky and a little error-prone with the series. The Prime series is wonderful, but two of the games were on GameCube, a system that struggled to sell; only the Wii U has done worse for the company as a home console. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was perhaps a surprise in its struggles, though Nintendo then made Metroid Prime Trilogy more of a retail collector’s item so it never had the opportunity to take off; remember, in the Wii era you could not download retail titles, the infrastructure wasn’t in place.

Even more recently, Metroid: Samus Returns is an excellent game that arrived on 3DS after the Switch had been on the market for around six months. Players with a limited budget to buy games would have hesitated about buying a new 3DS title when they wanted to sink their money into either picking up a Switch or growing their library on the new hardware.

You can go through many releases and find various factors that may have held Metroid back, but a key issue is that the IP has never quite found a foothold in Japan. Not only will that be disappointing to the creative teams throughout the series’ history, but it will have influenced Nintendo’s focus on the IP; in fact as a franchise with relatively modest sales it’s had more than its share of games. When you combine awkward release times, development cycle challenges and the fact it’s not a banker in Nintendo’s domestic market, it’s no surprise that support has been uneven.

The hope will be that it can be a breakthrough moment in a similar manner to Fire Emblem: Awakening on 3DS, when a near-abandoned franchise took off and became a staple of Nintendo’s first party output.

Despite all this, though, perhaps Metroid Dread is actually arriving at a good time for a change, and on popular and still lucrative hardware. In fact, as we’ve riffed on in the headline, the hope will be that it can be a breakthrough moment in a similar manner to Fire Emblem: Awakening on 3DS, when a near-abandoned franchise took off and became a staple of Nintendo’s first party output. Perhaps Dread, unlike many of its predecessors, could be lifted to heights that recalibrate Nintendo’s focus, and prioritisation, of the series and its upcoming games, from Metroid Prime 4 and beyond.

Though the E3 Nintendo Direct emphasized it as ‘Metroid 5’, it wouldn’t surprise us if a lot of marketing — particularly that on social media and TV advertising — shies away from that sequel focus. As a gateway to the series, instead, Dread has an opportunity. It’ll arrive on the same day as the Nintendo Switch OLED model (8th October), so will benefit from the increased attention and publicity of that updated hardware. That will be in the beginnings of the frenzied Holiday shopping season, also, and will sit alongside Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl on shelves through November and December as a very different option as more and more consumers browse Switch titles.

The Switch continues to thrive and sell in significant numbers, and we’ve already seen how that interprets into giving franchises renewed sales growth; perhaps unlike the days of the Wii, as an example, there’s clearly a significant attach rate of Switch owners buying a variety of games, especially anything first-party. Dread will have a new system iteration, early festive sales, even Halloween vibes with that name all in its favour. If Nintendo pushes the boat out and invests in heavy marketing, which would seem likely at this stage, it could become the best-selling Metroid game of all time; that’s not exactly a lofty target, but it could go far beyond what its predecessors achieved in pure sales.

Perhaps, after misfires, bad luck and unfortunate chains of events, the Metroid series will have a true blockbuster hit. If so, a fan-favourite series could finally break through to mainstream sales success. If Fire Emblem can do it, Metroid definitely stands a chance.


Further reading:

Talking Point: What Are You Playing This Weekend? (July 10th)

Mario Golf Super Rush

Another week, another addition to the Nintendo Switch family. Yes, we all got a little post-E3 surprise drop (surprise might be a bit generous, to be honest) in the form of the Switch OLED announcement. It elicited a variety reactions from existing Switch owners and Nintendo fans, although none so passionate as the response to PokéGymDad who plays his Switch in the hallway, it seems. Oh, and Donkey Kong turned 40, too. Good week.

It’s now time to unwind a little and discuss our weekend gaming plans. A few members of the Nintendo Life team have done just that below, so feel free to give our entries a read and then join in with your own via our comment section. Enjoy!

Ryan Craddock, news editor

After a super-busy couple of weeks moving house, I hope to finally get back to enjoying a game or two this weekend (albeit surrounded by boxes, bags, and all sorts of rubbish littering the floor), and for me, that means it’s finally time to check out Mario Golf: Super Rush.

I picked it up at launch but just haven’t had the chance to get stuck in; I booted it up for the first time last night to discover that epic opening cutscene, and I’ve played through some of the practice tasks in the adventure mode. Hopefully, once the weekend’s all wrapped up, I’ll have mastered some of the early holes and helped good ol’ Yoshi to a well-earned victory or two. Speed Golf’s certainly on the agenda!

Thomas Whitehead, deputy editor

This weekend I’m planning to jump back into Sky: Children of the Light, as I’m interested to see what the game as done in its tie-in with The Little Prince. Beyond that I should really get back into Monster Hunter Rise to access some of the newer content, I’ve been too busy to play it!

Outside of Switch I’ll be playing the enhanced edition of A Plague Tale: Innocence; it’s a game I beat before but I’m a huge fan of it and have enjoyed the first few chapters of this playthrough.

Gonçalo Lopes, reviewer

Adulting and JRPGs do not play well together, so it’s a bit overwhelming to have both Monster Hunter Stories 2 and Ys IX: Monstrum Nox releasing on the very same day but I will surely make due. Being a Suda51 fan I am happy at last to give The Silver Case 2425 a go. Add a few eShop wonders to the mix like Song For A Hero: Definitive Edition plus Treachery in Beatdown City and Summer 2021 is certainly shaping up nicely.

Game of the week is Out of Line and not just because it was made in my country. It is a game that just gets everything so perfectly balanced, I look forward to completing it. Go check it out!

Kate Gray, staff writer

This weekend, I’ll be chugging my way through the big pile of visual novels I have to review! I’m having a lot of fun, so don’t feel too sorry for me. Also, I just bought No Man’s Sky to play with my chums, so I’m getting in on a trend five years too late…

Jon Cartwright, video producer

Since Dread was announced I’ve made it my goal to play through every single Metroid game again. I’ve already finished the original, 2, Super, Fusion and the remakes and now it’s time for Prime! Going to play the entire Trilogy on Wii and I’m pretty eager to get to Prime 2, I’ve only ever played through it once.

But if I get Metroid fatigue there’s something very different to play; Doki Doki Literature Club… I know absolutely nothing about this game other than there being some kind of twist. Maybe it was all a dream like Doki Doki Panic, I dunno.

Mitch Vogel, reviewer

I recently picked up a New 2DS XL, and this weekend I intend on spending some time with the new hardware. Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve bought an additional 3DS; I’ve been using the Aqua unit I bought at midnight on launch day for the last ten years.

I’ll be working on my playthroughs of Bravely Default and Fire Emblem Echoes, and maybe some Shin Megami Tensei IV if I feel like it. Aside from that, I may well boot up Ys IX on my Switch, though I want to hold off on playing that one until the promised performance patch comes through.

Zion Grassl, video producer

I’ve played plenty of Metroid games, but up until a few weeks ago, I had never actually finished any! So with Metroid Dread on the horizon, I’ve been making an effort to right the wrongs of my past self and see some of them through from the beginning. I completed Zero Mission last month and am now at what I’m assuming is the tail end of Samus Returns on 3DS. I have 4 Metroid left on my scanner and hopefully I can find a few hours to knock them down this weekend.

I also played through and adapted Kate’s review of Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! for our YouTube channel and haven’t stopped thinking about the game since. There are a few moments that had me in complete disbelief, and I won’t spoil those parts for anyone unaware. I’ve yet to play the side stories that are included with the Plus! version though. I’ve heard they’re short and sweet, so it should make for a nice breath of fresh air, hopefully.


As always, thanks for reading! Make sure to leave us a comment below with your gaming choices over the next few days…

Talking Point: Should We Be Worried About Screen Burn-In With Switch OLED?

Switch OLED BOTW2

It’s time for an embarrassing admission: I apparently use TikTok so much that the app’s UI has burned into my phone screen.

But let me just redeem myself a little: I don’t have the kind of For You Page (that’s TikTok’s algorithmically-generated stream of content) that’s full of viral dances and teen boys being kinda creepy, although I do enjoy the dances from time to time — I’ve managed to train the algorithm to show me mostly really good food, extremely absurd musical comedy, old house renovations, and Jacob Collier.

But my point is not that I’m very cool, actually, please like me — it’s that my phone has burn-in, something that can happen on OLED screens.

So, what’s the problem exactly?

Burn-in can occur with various types of displays if they are made to show the same static image for long enough. It happens to phones, TVs, and generally anything with a screen. It’s not just TikTok, either — the icons displaying battery, wifi, volume, and the fact that my phone is always set to vibrate are all there too, ghost-like apparitions on the top-right of my screen. On the left, there’s a quite-creepy amalgam of every single time that I’ve looked at my phone, represented by a permanent spectral clock, plus an irritating reminder that I have way too many unread emails and messages, because there’s all these notification-shapes up there too.

An example of screen burn-in on an amber CRT monitor
An example of screen burn-in on an amber CRT monitor (Image: Piercetheorganist, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

I have a Google Pixel 2XL, by the way, which — according to Wikipedia — has a P-OLED screen (the P, in case it’s important to you, stands for “polymer”). Reports of screen burn-in on these phones were recorded as early as 2017, just months after it was released. Similarly, with the PlayStation Vita, many owners reported burn-in, especially if they left the screen on for long periods of time (i.e. while playing games, or leaving the console on pause).

So, of course, when the Nintendo Switch (OLED Model) was revealed to be largely the same as the old Switch, but with — you guessed it — an OLED screen, concern over burn-in began to spread.

As highlighted in CNET’s piece about burn-in on TVs, manufacturers — from Apple to Google to LG — are aware of the curse of burn-in, and seem to respond largely by telling their customers how to avoid it, making fun of the companies that tell customers how to avoid it, or just flat-out denying that their TVs have the burn-in problem, despite evidence to the contrary.

One trend emerges: if you have screen burn-in, these companies say, it’s your fault — for watching videos with static UI, or playing video games for too long. Just stop doing those things, and you won’t have burn-in. I’m sorry, you want me to avoid video games with static UI? That’s all of them. That’s all the video games.

An example of burn-in on an airport screen (airports are a great place to see it)
An example of burn-in on an airport screen (airports are a great place to see it) (Image: Gustav Broennimann, CC BY 3.0 CH, via Wikimedia Commons)

Now, manufacturers have started anticipating OLED from their side, rather than denying its existence. Apple’s new iPhones have “special algorithms that monitor the usage of individual pixels to produce display calibration data,” which is to say that it self-adjusts brightness to stop burn-in, although they say that burn-in is just an “expected behaviour” with OLED screens. It’s a risk-reward thing, but you can mitigate the risk, at least.

Consoles, like the Xbox, try to reduce burn-in on their side by having things fade to a “dim” setting after a while. The current Switch has a “Screen Burn-In Reduction” mode too, which does a similar thing after five minutes of inactivity. These settings protect the user’s TV from getting burn-in, even though that’s not really the responsibility of the console manufacturers. Nice!

What does Nintendo say about burn-in on Switch OLED?

Screenshot 2021 07 06 At 2.36.11 Pm

But the question is not “will the Switch leave burn-in on my OLED TV” but “will the Switch leave burn-in on itself”. The new OLED screen is part of the console, and is clearly designed for better-looking handheld play. As someone who largely plays Switch in handheld mode, I want to know: Is it going to have perma-health bars and mini-maps seared into the screen?

Well, CNET isn’t worried about burn-in on the Switch’s OLED screen, at least. Here’s the statement that Nintendo gave them:

“We’ve designed the OLED screen to aim for longevity as much as possible, but OLED displays can experience image retention if subjected to static visuals over a long period of time.

However, users can take preventative measures to preserve the screen [by] utilizing features included in the Nintendo Switch systems by default, such as auto-brightness function to prevent the screen from getting too bright, and the auto-sleep function to go into ‘auto sleep’ mode after short periods of time.”

To summarise: they’re not denying that burn-in is a problem, and their statement seems to imply that, yes, eventually, it might happen — but you can prevent (or postpone) the issue with careful usage of brightness levels and auto-sleep.

So, should I be worried about burn-in with the Switch OLED?

CNET themselves list a few things that have assuaged their fears about burn-in: first, different games have different static features, so unless you’re playing the same game for hours, the OLED Switch will be fine. Plus, unlike phones, the Switch doesn’t have an always-on menu element like battery or a clock, and it does have that automatic sleep mode that we mentioned.

But, of course, there are gamers that play the same games for hours at a time — games like Fortnite, Minecraft, or Tetris 99. Obviously, those players will be at a way higher risk of screen burn-in, and even Nintendo isn’t denying that.

It should be said that OLED technology has advanced since the Vita days, as have built-in solutions and measures to mitigate the problem and improve the life of any screen you buy that’s likely to get prolonged and daily use. That doesn’t mean burn-in couldn’t happen on your Switch OLED screen, but Nintendo will have anticipated the issue. We can’t be certain until we spend significant time with the console — and goodness knows Nintendo doesn’t have a perfect track record when it comes to hardware — but unless you go out of your way to induce burn-in by turning off the auto-brightness sensor and only ever playing for hours every day at 100% brightness, our gut feeling is that you’ll probably be fine.

CNET puts it pretty succinctly, though: if you believe burn-in is likely, “don’t buy the new Switch”.

Imagine having Buizel permanently on your screen
Imagine having Buizel permanently on your screen

You are, in general, less likely to get burn-in on a console, even with the caveat that hours on one game could cause it to happen. My phone issue only started happening three years into my possession of it, and that’s because I’m a trashbag who watches too many TikToks. My real punishment will be the roasting I get in the comments, no doubt. As for TVs, the problem becomes more likely when you have something like a news channel on a lot of the time, like TVs in receptions and waiting rooms.

We can’t say for sure whether or not the OLED screen will have significant burn-in issues, because we aren’t psychic, but the safest answer for now is that it’s possible, under specific conditions. As pointed out by this Best Buy employee on Reddit, and by CNET, and by Nintendo themselves, there are precautions we can take to reduce the chance of it happening: don’t leave the screen on full brightness for hours, especially not on a menu screen, and set the console to dim or auto-sleep after a few minutes of inaction.

Plus, there’s always the option of not buying the new OLED Switch at all if you’d mostly be using it for really long Overwatch marathons in handheld mode. For some, the risk can be balanced against the reward of darker blacks, higher contrast, and brighter colours; for others, it’s best to just stick to the trustworthy ol’ LCD screen.

Talking Point: Where Does The Switch OLED Announcement Leave The Rumoured Switch Pro?

Switch OLED© Nintendo

This week, Nintendo did its usual thing of shadow-dropping a major announcement on a (largely) unsuspecting world, and now the dust has settled on the reveal of the Switch OLED Model, it’s time to ask the vital question: where does that leave the much-rumoured Switch Pro?

In case you somehow missed it, the Switch OLED Model offers a larger 7-inch screen with superior brightness and deeper, more convincing contrast. Nintendo has also included improved speakers, a Microsoft Surface-style kickstand and a LAN port on the redesigned dock – all in a machine that retails for $ 350. However, there’s no boost to the console’s power when compared to the original Switch and Switch Lite – and the battery capacity is the same as the original Switch model (to be specific, the improved 2019 iteration), too.

Some of the reports tied to what was believed to be the Switch Pro have been validated by the announcement of the Switch OLED Model. For example, it was reported back in March 2021 that Samsung was mass-producing a 7-inch, 720p OLED panel for the Switch, with the aim to manufacture just under a million units per month and ship the first batch of panels to assemblers by July. This ties in perfectly with the Switch OLED Model’s release in October, so the rumours were on the money there – it’s just that many people expected the panel to be included in a 4K-ready console (when docked) – and Bloomberg’s sources suggested as much. Even Universal Display Corp – the company from which Samsung (and many other firms) licence OLED tech – mentioned Switch Pro reports during its Q1 investors call.

Another rumour was related to the aforementioned kickstand, and that was correct – as was the inclusion of a LAN port on the dock itself. However, the 7-inch OLED panel was also mentioned in this report, which is another indication that some of these sources simply confused the OLED Model for the mythical Switch Pro.

Switch OLED© Nintendo

If that’s the case – and many people do seem to be satisfied with that explanation – then why were there so many reports (from respected publications like The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, lest we forget) indicating that a more powerful Switch variant was in the offing? Why were there reports that 4K output would be included, and why did so many people expect a more powerful system?

This is the company that pumped out six different versions of the 3DS, lest we forget; it’s something of a no-brainer to predict another, more powerful model is coming at some point

Rumours that the Switch was getting improved internal hardware have been floating around for ages, and while sources like Bloomberg have claimed on multiple occasions to have spoken to people ‘familiar with the matter’, it’s tempted to suggesting that some ‘joining of dots’ has taken place here. In March of this year, Nvidia announced that it was ceasing production of the chip which powers the Switch, which fed into earlier rumours that the console would benefit from a better SoC at some point in the near future – that became the Tegra X1 ‘Mariko’, which eventually found its way into the 2019 revision of the Switch and the Switch Lite, but other reports suggested that a totally new chipset was also on the way.

Taking a look at all of the rumours and reports we’ve seen over the past few years – and taking into account the arrival of the Switch OLED Model – it’s easy to see why so many people have turned on those who reported on the rumoured Switch Pro. However, as anyone involved in consumer electronics will tell you, hardware development isn’t something that happens in fits and starts, and Nintendo – like any other video game hardware maker – will be working on new concepts and variants all the time.

This, of course, leads us to a ‘stopped clock is always right twice a day’ situation; those who claim the reports are true will, eventually, be validated because of course Nintendo is working on a new Switch variant. This is the company that pumped out six different versions of the 3DS, lest we forget; it’s something of a no-brainer to predict another, more powerful model is coming at some point.

However, there are those who are claiming they’ve heard the Pro model is still in the works, and is expected in 2022:

The most frustrating thing about all of this from a fan perspective is that everybody might be right when it comes to Switch Pro. We know Nintendo likes to iterate on its portable hardware quite soon after the initial release (let’s not forget that the GBA SP arrived less than two years after the release of the original model, while the DS Lite arrived on the scene 15 months after the 2004 launch of the ‘phat’ version) and it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that a Pro model was intended to arrive much sooner than planned.

With COVID-19 gripping the world from the start of 2020 onwards and the incredible (perhaps unexpected?) sales momentum of Switch, it could simply be that Nintendo altered its plans in response to real-world conditions. This is not a unique thing and happens all of the time in the world of consumer electronics – and it’s perfectly possible that one of the ‘sources close to the matter’ who spoke to the likes of Bloomberg and WSJ was simply relaying the state of affairs within Nintendo’s production chain at that particular moment in time.

Also, just because the 7-inch OLED screen, improved kickstand and LAN-ready dock are all parts of the OLED Model, that doesn’t mean those same elements won’t be part of the Switch Pro, too. In fact, it wouldn’t make any sense for Nintendo to revert back to a smaller LCD panel for future Switch SKUs, so you could argue that by releasing a revised base model now, Nintendo is laying down the tracks for a more robust upgrade in the near future.

Switch OLED© Nintendo

It’s also worth pointing out that as plans change, the goalposts are shifting, too. The Switch will be five years old in 2022, and although Nintendo has predicted a long lifespan for the system, it will be long overdue for an upgrade by that point (some might even argue it was overdue a long time ago). Perhaps the ‘Switch Pro’ will simply morph into the Switch 2, a complete successor to the original Switch which is less of an incremental update and more a totally overhauled platform.

That’s assuming, of course, that Nintendo goes against tradition and sticks with the Switch concept instead of doing what it is so often accustomed to doing, which is attempting to shift the paradigm with a totally new approach, just as it did with the DS, Wii, Wii U and Switch. There’s always the chance that Nintendo could drop the hybrid concept and release something entirely fresh, but one would hope that the failure of the Wii U and the fact that Nintendo has carved out a profitable niche which it has entirely to itself would dissuade such action.

Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see if the rumours and reports persist now that the OLED Model has broken cover.

Do you think the Switch Pro is still a thing? Let us know by voting in the poll below and posting your thoughts.

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Talking Point: What Are You Playing This Weekend? (July 3rd)

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus Art© Serenity Forge

Another week in the world of video games has come and gone. This week we saw Nintendo acknowledge an evergreen meme, we learned that a ‘realistic’ F-Zero was on the cards at one point, and Nintendo dodged a bunch of questions at a shareholder Q&A (the respondees also revealed their favourite games).

It’s now time to unwind a little and discuss our weekend gaming plans. A few members of the Nintendo Life team have done just that below, so feel free to give our entries a read and then join in with your own via our comment section. Enjoy!

Thomas Whitehead, deputy editor

I don’t think I’ll have loads of time this weekend, but definitely have a couple of games in mind. First up I need to get back to Metroid: Zero Mission on the good ol’ Wii U Virtual Console; if I get through it (a big if admittedly) I’ll move on to Metroid: Samus Returns, as I’m playing through the ‘best versions’ as I see it of the four mainline games.

I’m also tempted to jump into a bit of Ace Attorney on my 3DS, too. I’m very much looking forward to The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles later this month, so perhaps a little warm-up and reminder of the other games is called for. Besides, I still love my little 3DS, so it deserves a bit of playtime.

Gonçalo Lopes, reviewer

Where did the first half of 2021 go? Fells like it was New Year’s Eve just yesterday. It came home alright, but not the EURO 2020 cup, just the Portuguese national team. At least I am once again scary good at GameCube’s Virtua Striker 3 v.2002. On more current generation of hardware this weekend will be spread between Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX, Destroy All Humans!, Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny (Dood!) and the beautiful landscapes of Sky: Children of the Light.

Game of the week is Arcade Archives Raiden. Despite already being 31(!) years old, Seibu Kaihatsu first game in the series showcases so much hidden depth and secrets that it remains a timeless masterpiece within the genre, one I am more than pleased to welcome back into my weekend indulgences.

Gavin Lane, editor

Having recently got my hands on a copy of Excitebots: Trick Racing (which never released in PAL regions, for shame), I hope to sit back and relax with that this weekend. Excite Truck remains one of my favourite Wii games ever — something about the chilled motion-controlled experience and the satisfaction you get from nailing a landing and getting a speed boost really struck a chord with me in the months after the Wii launched, so I’m itching to recapture some of that feeling.

You might not be able to add your own soundtrack via SD card, but I’ve got headphones for that. Time to put on some Gwen Stefani and hit the track like it’s 2007.

Ollie Reynolds, reviewer

Hello everyone! Hope you’re all well. I’ve got a busy weekend ahead of me, so gaming might be taking a bit of a backseat unfortunately, but I definitely want to plug away at the Adventure mode in Mario Golf: Super Rush. So far, I’ve just been playing standard matches and unlocking the new courses as I go, so it’ll be good to see what the main campaign offers up. I’ve been a bit torn on the game so far, though… Like, it’s good, but not good, y’know? I’m not sure, it just feels like it’s missing something at the moment. Anyway, hope you all have a cracking weekend!

Kate Gray, staff writer

This week, I’ve been playing Doki Doki Literature Club Plus for review, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles for a preview, The House In Fata Morgana for my ongoing diary series, and… between three visual novels, I’ve barely had time to eat. I haven’t been outside in days. I don’t remember my own name. All I know is “press A to advance text”.

Liam Doolan, news writer

My weekend gaming plans are all of a sudden looking a little more exciting following Nintendo’s surprise update for Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit. As you might have already seen, it adds a new cup, 3 new environments and a Yoshi kart – so it’s time to sweep those floors and move some furniture about. The other Switch game I intend on spending quite a bit of my spare time with is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Instead of playing as Tekken’s Kazuya, I think I might spend the next few days versing him after hearing about his Level 9 CPU version.

Alex Olney, senior video producer

I’m diving back into garden renovation for all of Saturday, so that’s a gaming write-off. Sunday is another game entirely though; I’ve recently been drawn back to Ghost of Tsushima (before the recent announcement in try hipster fashion) so I’ll no doubt be dumping a whole mess of hours into that, but I’ll also probably fire up the Xbox if it doesn’t turn itself on to play some Halo: The Master Chief Collection. A whole weekend of no Nintendo games? It’s more likely than you’d think…


As always, thanks for reading! Make sure to leave us a comment below with your gaming choices over the next few days…

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