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Guide: Switch, Switch Lite Or 2DS XL? The Nintendo Christmas Console Buying Guide For Parents

Nintendo Parents

If you’re a parent wondering what to buy your lovely cherub for Christmas this year, then presumably because you strumbled on to this website you are in the market for picking up a Nintendo console. A wise choice, and one of which we heartily approve.

But with so many bewildering options out there, you might be left wondering which model or bundle is the right one for you. Allow us to offer some assistance.

Please note that some links on this page are affiliate links, which means if you click them and make a purchase we may receive a small percentage of the sale which helps support the site. Please read our FTC Disclosure for more information.

Switch Bloodstained

Nintendo Switch (the standard model)

After launching back in 2017, the standard Nintendo Switch remains the flagship Nintendo console right now and is the one which connects to your TV via a special dock.

The design of Nintendo Switch enables your kids to play on your TV like a regular games console or take the game with you when you leave the house and continue playing on-the-go. This means you can take full console games like Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with you in the back of the car, on the bus or anywhere else you take your children.

The Nintendo Switch doesn’t require a TV to function and you can happily play in portable mode forever if you choose. However, if you have absolutely no intention of using it on the TV, you might want to consider the portable-only Switch Lite, a smaller, cheaper Switch which isn’t able to output to a television. Scroll down for more information on the Switch Lite.

What’s included in the standard Nintendo Switch box?

When you open up your brand new Switch you’ll find the following:

  • The base Nintendo Switch console (essentially a small touchscreen tablet with railings either end)
  • A pair of detachable Joy-Con controller of the colour indicated on the box
  • A plastic grip for the Joy-Con which you can plug the controllers into to create a more standard game pad
  • A cradle-style dock that connects to your TV
  • An HDMI cable for connecting the dock to the TV
  • A power supply which can be plugged into the dock or the console itself

What’s the battery life of the Nintendo Switch?

A minor internal hardware revision increased maximum battery life for this model to 4.5 – 9 hours, depending on the game running. While playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, for example, the new console should give you approximately 5.5 hours of playtime between charges, versus around 3 hours for the older version, so make sure you pick up the revised model if you intend to use the Switch away from the dock a lot. Our guide to the differences between the old version and the improved Switch will help if you’re unsure which is which (the box of the newer version has more red). For reference, the links included in this article are for the new version only.

Nintendo Switch Lite

Switch Lite W Box.JPG

The Nintendo Switch Lite is the newest addition to Nintendo’s console lineup – a smaller, cheaper, handheld-only version of the Switch. Unlike the standard console, the controllers on either side of the touchscreen are permanently attached on the Switch Lite, making it a tougher, more durable console that might be better for younger kids with butterfingers.

It is possible to link standard Joy-Con controllers wirelessly to the Switch Lite (indeed, it’s necessary for a small number of games), but they’ll need to be purchased separately.

One other benefit of the Switch Lite is the selection of colours it’s available in. You can currently choose from Turquoise, Yellow or Gray, or there’s a special Pokémon version.

What’s the battery life of the Nintendo Switch Lite?

The Switch Lite has a battery life of around 3 to 7 hours, depending on the game. For example, a full charge will get you around 4 hours of playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild versus approximately 5.5 hours on the standard Switch.

What games should I get with my new Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch has a vast library of family-friendly games on offer, including the Super Mario series. Here are a selection of evergreen classics to set you on the right path. All of the games below are family favourites that will guarantee smiles all round:

Micro SD cards

Switch Micro SD Card

While many of the games on Nintendo Switch are available on physical cartridges, the Switch eShop offers the opportunity to avoid losing those tiny cartridges down the back of the sofa or in the footwell of the car by buying the games digitally instead (some smaller games are only available on the Nintendo eShop, too).

All version of the Switch come with 32GB of internal storage, of which around 25GB is actually accessible by the user. This will be fine for storing your save data and a few games, but if you run out of space it’s easy to expand that storage with a micro SD card.

Nintendo Switch Common Questions

What are Joy-Cons?

Switch Lite Joycon 2.JPG

Joy-Con(s) are the detachable controllers that slide onto the sides of the main Switch console. They operate wirelessly and also feature motion controls and rumble functionality for compatible games. The standard console comes with two, although none are included with Switch Lite which has its own integrated controls.

Joy-Con controllers can be used in a variety of ways depending on the game: split up, held sideways or combined to become ‘one’ game pad. For many games it’s possible to play in two-player mode using only the two Joy-Con that come with the Switch, meaning it’s the perfect system for kids who want to play games together on-the-go without the need for cumbersome extra accessories.

What is the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller?

If you’re planning on playing the Switch yourself once you’ve tucked the kids in bed, you might want to consider getting a Pro Controller. The Pro Controller is more like a traditional game pad and it can’t be split in two, although it offers the same motion control and rumble functionality found in the smaller Joy-Con.

The Pro Controller is not required for any game, and you can happily use two Joy-Con in the supplied grip to achieve the same control – the Pro Controller simply offers a more ergonomic, comfortable alternative for people with larger hands.

Can the Switch play games online?

Yes it can. Free-to-play games such as Fortnite can be played online at no cost, although most other games with online features will require an annual Nintendo Switch Online subscription.

The price of this service varies depending on how you choose to pay:

12 Months 3 Months 1 Month Annual Family Membership
£17.99 / $19.99 £6.99 / $7.99 £3.49 / $3.99 £31.49 / $34.99

There’s also a family membership option for up to eight Switches for £31.49 / $34.99 per year. That’s less than £5 / $5 per user if eight people are signed up.

Subscribing to Nintendo Switch Online also has other benefits. A subscription includes Cloud Saves for supported games, which means your child’s in-game progress will be saved to the cloud (subject to a functioning WiFi connection) and can be accessed again if the worst happens and their Switch console somehow gets lost or dropped in the river.

You also get access to a growing catalogue of classic retro games from past Nintendo systems.

What is Nintendo Labo?

Nintendo Labo is a system of cardboard objects that you construct and which interact with the Switch in novel ways using the various features of the system’s Joy-Con controllers. For example, you can construct a wearable Robot kit which registers your movements in-game, or use the system to experience some simple Virtual Reality games. It’s ingenious, although beware that with younger children you will be called upon to do the lion’s share of the building, which can take several hours.

Due to the required features and design of the Nintendo Labo kits, they are only compatible with the standard Switch model and will not work correctly with Switch Lite.

Nintendo 3DS Family (2DS XL, etc)

2DS

If you’ve got really young children and the whole concept of the Switch seems a little much, you might want to consider Nintendo’s previous handheld system. Originally known as the Nintendo 3DS, it has ballooned into a large family of child-friendly, dual-screen systems that can now be picked up for very reasonable prices.

The Nintendo 2DS has a massive library of excellent games featuring all of Nintendo’s favourite characters and is a good option for anyone on a budget or with younger children who might be a little rougher on their consoles. The 3DS family of consoles are a sturdy bunch and are likely to withstand being dropped better than their newer Nintendo Switch brethren.


So there you have it. Nintendo consoles are a great choice for children and parents alike, whether you’re hoping to enjoy games together as a family or just want to make road trips a little more peaceful. We hope the details above help you make the right choice when it comes to getting the console and games that are best for you.

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Review: Deathtrap Dungeon Trilogy – A Somewhat Drab Retelling Of A Classic Series

For readers of a certain age – to which this writer is very much a member – adventure gamebooks were the best. Splicing the agency of roleplay with the narrative depth of a fantasy novel, these souped-up ‘choose your own adventure’ novels took readers on all manner of dark and daring quests that could easily end badly if you happened to choose poorly. Ian Livingstone’s 1984 classic Deathtrap Dungeon remains one of the touchstones for this very unique genre, with its memorable monsters, challenging puzzles and other memorable ‘Fighting Fantasy’ tropes.

Livingstone had a hand in the making of the original Deathtrap Dungeon video game on PlayStation, and while two decades hasn’t been kind to this little curio (mainly because it was a very ‘90s game more focused on Tomb Raider-style exploration), it’s still a (mostly) faithful recreation of an instantly familiar world. We’ve seen a handful of other attempts to ‘digitise’ the series in the years since, but with Deathtrap Dungeon Trilogy, British developer Nomad Games has taken that classic recipe and aimed to update it for modern eyes and tastes.

Nomad has had mixed success digitising tabletop experiences and card & dice games over the years, including a mostly impenetrable version of board game Talisman and an improved Horus Heresy re-skin that launched shortly after. Thankfully, it found its groove with Fighting Fantasy Legends and the larger content library of Fighting Fantasy Legends Portal, and it’s this version that’s been retooled and renamed for Nintendo Switch. Deathtrap Dungeon Trilogy manages to be both faithful to the merciless nature of the books while adding in just enough new elements to make the Fighting Fantasy universe more palatable to newcomers.

Think of Deathtrap Dungeon Trilogy as a dungeon crawler crossed with a CCG with a heavy emphasis on choice and chance. Once you’ve picked your hero at the start of your adventure and opted for a choice of stats, you’ll head out into the Fighting Fantasy world to complete quests, fight monsters and die. A lot. Exploration is a mostly top-down affair, while key decisions such as combat and ‘puzzles’ are determined with text and card-based face-offs. When you do encounter a trap or monster, a series of red or green dice are rolled which determine the outcome. At first, things appear a little too random for comfort, but as you level up and progress, you can upgrade your die to improve your chances of landing hits (red die) and surviving tests through luck (green die).

If you’ve played the likes of Armello or Hand of Fate 2 – which both feature varying levels of Fighting Fantasy influence with their respective ‘living board game’ and narrative-driven choice aesthetics – you’ll know what to expect. Much like an analogue paper-and-pen RPG, there’s plenty of divergent paths and multiple endings, so in terms of replay value, there’s a lot of fun to be had heading out on repeat quests across all three games in the trilogy. The frustration of dying to random and unforeseen dangers that came with the original gamebooks has always been an issue, but the developer has helped negate it somewhat a ‘lives’ system that keeps a run going if things go awry. Unfortunately, the other two ‘books’ in the trilogy – Trial of Champions and Armies of Death – aren’t available from the start, so you’ll need to make your way through Deathtrap Dungeon first.

When you finally make your way into the two other entries in the trilogy, you’ll find plenty of new encounters and potential paths. Trial of Champions is more of a redux of the first volume with new traps and enemies, and an enjoyable gauntlet through some grisly gladiatorial games. Armies of Death mixes things up a bit, introducing an army element that requires you to test the mettle of an entire legion rather than just your own hero. You’re no longer exploring a labyrinthine maze as with the first two games, and while it suffers from some of the same aesthetic issues as its fellow adventures, its adjusted game rules and scenarios help freshen up the experience.

While Deathtrap Dungeon Trilogy does its source material justice with how well it translates the divergent nature of its stories, it’s brought down by some decidedly low-rent visuals. The top-down perspective is often a little too basic in detail, with too many static elements. Even the cards used to represent your hero and the enemies you encounter could have done with some animations to help give this core gameplay mechanic a bit more personality. Considering it’s coming up against RPGs of all shapes and sizes on Switch, this collection’s sense of quirks and personality is too often undone by forgettable production values.

Conclusion

Translating a set of revered gamebooks from the ’80s into video game form was always going to be something of a challenge, and while the version that’s made the jump to Nintendo Switch under a new name doesn’t bring anything particularly different to the tabletop party, developer Asmodee has retained the evocative world-building of Ian Livingstone’s books while adding in some helpful features. It’s a little lacking in the looks department, but if you fancy taking a trip back in time to RPG questing of old, Deathtrap Dungeon Trilogy certainly offers plenty of retro adventures of its own.

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Poll: Box Art Brawl #20 – Super Smash Bros.

Main

Welcome back to Box Art Brawl, the series where we pit regional variations of video game box covers from back in the day against each other in a savage fight to the death. Okay, it isn’t that dramatic – it’s just a poll – but let’s get into the spirit and pretend that the stakes are incredibly high this lovely Sunday afternoon, hmm?

Last week the North American version of Contra III: The Alien Wars run-and-gunned its way all over its Schwarzenegger-stealing Japanese counterpart and its robotic European cousin by winning over 80% of the vote. Congratulations to Jimbo and Sully; commiserations to Arnie, duckface child soldier, RD008 and RC011.

If you thought last week was an all-out guns-blazing brawl, you’re in for a real treat today because bout #20 features the original superstar video game brawler, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 64. Each regional cover contender brings a special something this week, and although they’re obviously related, they’re all unique and special snowflakes, too.

Yes, it’s more than a simple border swap between the North American and European ones today! But which region has what it takes to give the competition a good thrashing, six-o’-the-best, trousers down? Let’s take a look at how they measure up…

North America

NA

After clocking Mario on the left, your eye tends to hover around the middle of the image for a while until it rests on the title and you try to parse the scrawled yellow over the ‘SMASH’ logo. Presumably this was done to reinforce the idea that all these characters are part of a child’s toybox and it’s actually the child who’s responsible for having them beat the living daylights out of each other.

Australia got a PAL cover almost identical to this one. The background is a swirling vortex into which Samus is falling comically after getting ‘BIFFED’ by Fox McCloud. Curiously, both Fox and Pikachu are facing away, and poor old Kirby and Link are hidden behind the red strip on the right. ‘DUKE IT OUT as your favourite Nintendo characters‘ kinda gets lost at the bottom and Yoshi and DK are AWOL.

Overall, despite being playful and colourful, we’re left thinking that more could have been made of this most seminal of gaming crossovers.

Japan

JP

Again, the hand-drawn cartoon stylings of the main eight fighters suggests this is something new and exciting, and as with most of the Japanese covers, there’s a novelty for westerners to seeing the portrait perspective. The comic book cells isolate all the main characters, with each one also presenting their names, although they’re obscured here, too. Only Kirby sits on top of everything, waving genially and totally indifferent to the punch from Mario in the cell behind him.

Our instant reaction to this was Yeah, that’s all right!, but the more we look at it, the more of a mess it seems. We like that it isn’t just the eight characters standing and staring at you grimly as they prepare to fight but, again, it seems like a missed opportunity to showcase a pretty momentous moment in gaming. Compare this to something like the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate mural and we’re glad Nintendo relaxed a bit on the comic book/cartoon approach.

Europe

EU

Taking similar elements to the North American version and reconfiguring them, we reckon the European version probably showcases the fighters the best. Samus and Fox don’t feature, but the other six fighters are clearly visible. Kirby once again stands apart, seemingly oblivious to the scrap occurring to his right. Yoshi looks to have fired an egg from the very tip of his tail, although DK seems to preoccupied grinning at the camera to be bothered by it, regardless of where it exited the dino.

As usual, the main art is contained by a strict black border, but it’s arguable that the contrast really sets off the action of the brawl with its various ‘SMASH’, ‘BANG’ and ‘BOOM’s. It might have been nie if a few of those had broken the border.

It’s always tough to take nostalgia out of the equation when looking at these covers, but after looking at the others we reckon this does the best job of capturing the spirit of the game, despite its flaws. Still, what we think matters not a jot – the winner of this bout is entirely down to you lovely people.


So, which one do you think works best? Click on the one you like best below and hit the ‘Vote’ button:

And with that Round #20 of Box Art Brawl draws to a close. Thanks for voting – may the best fighter win. Until next time, be excellent to each other.

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Introducing The 64Mate, A New All-In-One N64 Storage Add-On “Launching Soon” On Kickstarter

64Mate

If you know your way around a Nintendo 64, you’ll know the base of the console can be connected to peripherals such as the 64DD. If you never got your hands on this hardware, it means you’ve probably never attached your legendary 64-bit system to anything in the past.

Well, soon you might finally have a reason to lift up the underside of the system. Introducing the 64Mate – described as a “new add-on” for your Nintendo 64, acting as a storage compartment.

The device connects to the base of the console and can house your video upscalers, capture devices and games. A Kickstarter for the attachment will be “launching soon” although the creators previously stated it will be able to be mass produced thanks to 3D printing and is being made publicly available for further community development.

The storage space...
The storage space…
Store your game carts
Store your game carts

If you would like to learn more about this project as it’s developed, you can sign up to the email updates.

Is this the kind of storage space you’ve been seeking for your N64 collection? Tell us what you think of this idea and if you would be willing to back it.

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Rumour: Unannounced Disney Action Game Remake In The Works For Switch

Epic Mickey

YouTuber Doctre81, who last weekend revealed the rumoured Ridge Racer 8 project exclusive to Switch had likely been axed, has now seemingly discovered information about an unannounced Disney action game remake on its way to the Switch and other platforms.

This finding comes from the LinkedIn profile of Giuseppe Crugliano, the CEO and creative director of PlayMagic – which is the same development team behind the remake of the stylish cel-shaded shooter XIII that’s been delayed until next year.

Projects LinkedIn

At the top of the projects section of the LinkedIn profile, the Disney project is listed. In addition to this is an unannounced third-person action remake for all modern platforms (including the Switch).

Doctre81 is unsure what the second listing could be. As for the Disney game, he doesn’t think it’s likely to be Kingdom Hearts, as the game has already been remastered on other platforms. There’s also fan speculation it could be Epic Mickey, a Mickey Mouse game in general, or an old Star Wars title.

The most recent Disney game release on the Switch was the two-for-one Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King in October.

What Disney remake do you think could potentially be on the way? Share your thoughts below.

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Solatorobo Developer Open To The Idea Of Remaking Nintendo DS Exclusive

Solatorobo concept artwork

Reflect on the Nintendo DS generation and you might remember the system exclusive Solatorobo: Red the Hunter. The action-RPG by CyberConnect2 was well-received across all regions but only sold around 100,000 copies worldwide.

Is there a chance of the game ever getting a remake, though? CyberConnect2 boss Hiroshi Matsuyama was recently asked about this at a Q&A not long ago and said he was open to the idea. The main issue would be working out how to operate the game on a newer system that may not necessarily support the touch panel design of Solatorobo. Here’s the transcript, courtesy of Nintendo Everything:

Of course, the possibility is there. As you know, Solaroboto was a game exclusively released on Nintendo DS. You all remember, right? Nintendo DS had two screens. The top screen was the play screen and the bottom one a touch panel.

On the operational side of things, it will be quite hard to port the game without a hardware that supports this system. It is possible to rebuild the touch panel system of Solatorobo, and integrate the bottom screen into a single screen, but would call for a complete remake. I feel that this would bring its own set of difficulties.

Matsuyama went onto state how “a lot” at CyberConnect2 would like to re-release the company’s games made during the DS and 3DS generation, but at the same time would be more likely to “start over from scratch” in the case of Solatorobo.

I personally think that, not only for our title Solatorobo, but also for a lot of other games that were made for the Nintendo DS and 3DS, a lot of us would like to re-release, whether just a downloadable version, an HD remastered version of these games, so that our current customers could play with our past properties, but at this time, I don’t think the industry is aiming for that goal yet. If we were to remake Solatorobo, we would start over from scratch.

To find out more about this game, read our Nintendo Life review from 2011.

Did you play Solatorobo during the DS generation? Would you like to see this DS exclusive revived on a platform like the Nintendo Switch? Comment down below.

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Random: Senran Kagura Was Almost Named ‘Ninjugs’ Here In The West

Pictured: Senran Kagura Burst

Senran Kagura by Marvelous might not be the most well-known series here in the west, but it is beginning to get more exposure. Most recently, the localisation team at XSEED Games helped release Senran Kagura: Peach Ball on the Nintendo Switch.

Once again, this game starred the usual group of female ninja. Did you know though that the series could have had a very different name? As part of its 15-year celebrations, XSEED revealed a little bit of trivia about what else it could have been called:

If you’ve played any entries in this series, we’re sure you’ll be able to guess the reason why this name was even in consideration. As XSEED notes: “better judgment sliced through and prevailed” in the end.

Senran Kagura originally started out life on the 3DS in 2011. Since then, multiple entries have been released on Nintendo systems.

Have you played any of the games in this series before? Leave a comment below.

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Video: Legend Of Zelda Fan Spends 24 Hours In Ocarina Of Time VR

The Legend Of Zelda Ocarina Of Time

We’ve seen 24-hour gaming marathons before, but this particular story is slightly different. A YouTuber by the name of SwankyBox, who is said to be a “huge” fan of the Nintendo 64 classic, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, recently cut himself off from the real world and spent hours exploring the 64-bit land of Hyrule – while working his way through dungeons, watching the sunset (in-game, of course) and scouting out a safe and quiet spot to sleep in order to get a good night’s rest.

In case you’re wondering, this VR experience is running on a modified version of the original Nintendo 64 game. While it’s certainly not perfect, it was enough to get the job done – as he was even able to do push-ups on the top of Death Mountain (what an experience!). He also took some time to see what it was like to ride Epona and fish in VR. Take a look below:

While we wouldn’t recommend trying this out, if you are interested in getting up close with the land of Hyrule, you can always try out Nintendo’s official Labo VR support in the Switch title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. That’s if you can handle it for more than a few minutes.

What do you think of this VR experiment? Would you want to live in Hyrule for 24 hours? Comment down below.

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Review: Pine – An Ambitious Zelda Pretender That Fails To Find Its Feet On Switch

Initially, we thought Pine was going to be a very pleasant surprise. It definitely doesn’t bode well from the outset when the initial load takes just under three minutes. In situations like that, you can’t help but wonder if the game has crashed. But no, patience was a virtue and in the time it took to fry a quick egg we were immersed in Pine’s ambitious, Breath of the Wild-esque world.

Obviously, using Breath of the Wild as a point of comparison is fairly audacious, but the opening genuinely does have a tiny little sparkle of the biggest Zelda’s raw potential. Recall when you first ascended to the plateau; that sense of possibility. Pine – just for a fraction of a second – makes you hope not for an equivalent experience, but a game that might recapture a fleeting, hesitant whisper of Nintendo’s magnum opus.

It’s borderline crushing when it descends into a murky quagmire of bad decisions, ill-defined objectives and downright technical incompetence. Don’t get us wrong on that last point – it’s impressive that Pine is running on Switch at all, given its scope. It can’t have been an easy conversion, but all the same, it’s visually unimpressive. After that long, long loading screen you’d be forgiven for thinking it’d be worth the wait aesthetically, but Pine is an ugly, grungy mess to look at. It’s like they couldn’t quite fit the square peg of a game into the round hole of the Nintendo Switch, so they went at it with a hammer and, while it went in, they left it in a right state. It’s so horrendous to look at with egregious pop-in, pea soup fog so thick it might as well be an actual plate of peas, low detail to the point that some objects look like they’ve been flat-shaded, and sharp-edged lighting that flickers almost constantly. It begs the question; why even try to put this game on this system just as it was? It hasn’t worked.

Thankfully, it isn’t all bad news on the optical side of things. The character models, while sparsely detailed, are attractive and appealingly designed. The game’s framerate is also quite good given the aspiring size of its world – it doesn’t feel quite like a locked 30fps, but it isn’t far off. Maybe the graphical fidelity had to take the hit it did to keep things moving relatively smoothly.

Naturally, poor graphics don’t necessarily mean a poor game. While it’s a Zelda clone in its movement and basic gameplay tropes, Pine’s major focus is on the relationships you have with the various species of creatures that you’ll encounter, and how making friends with one tribe may cause another one to take umbrage with you for siding with their enemies. Your actions play into a rather effective little inter-tribal relationships simulation. The problem is the core gameplay and controls are so weak that you’ll never get enough into the swing of things to appreciate the cute little system the developers have clearly put a lot of work into.

Your playable character – who goes by the name of Hue – moves around the scenery in a sadly unconvincing manner, with his jump being particularly bizarre. It’s loose and sticky at the same time, seemingly opting for whichever flaw is the least convenient for what you’re trying to do. There are seemingly-simple platforming challenges scattered around the world, but you won’t even want to attempt them after butting your head against the first few.

Speaking of butting heads, the combat is remarkably difficult in a way we’re not sure is conducive to the overall experience. The vibe of the game is so chilled-out that it’s a genuine shock when the first enemy comes at you as hard as it does. The foes here have plenty of health and are strangely resilient, making Pine feel more akin to a mature hack-and-slash action game than the laid-back socialise-’em-up that it really ought to be. Not only do the monsters hit hard, they also take a lot of blows to finally take down. Enough that you’ll find yourself wanting to actively avoid encounters because they simply take too long and aren’t all that varied or enjoyable. Your only real strategy is blocking with your shield, which often simply doesn’t work for no discernible reason (a bug which, in fairness, could be patched later). You’ve also got a slingshot, which you can switch to using the X button, but the aiming is extremely rough and imprecise. Gyro controls would have been very welcome, but then a lot of things would have been with this game.

Conclusion

Pine could have been a lot better. There are genuinely impressive systems at play here – for example, the other creatures inhabiting this world are gathering resources in much the same way as the player, and will even snatch up crops and objects that you were making for. But its smarter touches are totally obfuscated by the shadow of absolute technical unsuitability to the Switch hardware. When you look at ports like Doom and the recent Alien: Isolation, you’ll wonder what exactly went wrong for Pine to be so disastrously sub-par in purely technical terms. We can only imagine how cool it looked on the design document; it’s just such a shame about almost literally every single aspect of the execution.

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Feature: Good-Feel’s President On Moving Away From Kirby And Yoshi To Self-Publish Twin-Stick Shooter Monkey Barrels

MonkeyBarrels

Japanese developer Good-Feel is the company behind a host of heart-warming Nintendo games, including the excellent Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Yoshi’s material-based platformer Yoshi’s Woolly World on Wii U and the more recent Yoshi’s Crafted World on Switch. A couple of weeks ago Good-Feel released Monkey Barrels, a top-down twin-stick shooter that’s a far cry from the family-focused platformers it’s been creating so successfully for over a decade now.

Recently, we had the opportunity to ask Good-Feel President Etsunobu Ebisu a few questions regarding his company’s latest game, the thoughts behind its intriguing art style and the challenges of self-publishing on Switch…


Nintendo Life: Monkey Barrels looks like quite a departure from its previous titles. Please tell us about the game and where the idea for Monkey Barrels came from.

Monkey Barrels is made with Unity, because I wanted to spare more time to develop content rather than the engine.

Mr. Ebisu: Top-down shooter is one of my favourite genres, which I used to play at an arcade. I wanted to make a challenging game with the essence of an old-school arcade game and the latest technology.

Monkey Barrels mixes 3D and pixel art to great effect and, again, feels very different from Good-Feel’s recent output. What were the influences behind the game’s art style?

Good-Feel always puts an emphasis on creating unique graphics to express the theme of the game. This time, we combined 3D rendering and classic pixel art to realise gaming experience that is new but has a retro feel. I hope you can feel the warmth of the graphics even though you are in a fierce battle against hundreds of enemies.

Your last Switch release, Yoshi’s Crafted World, used Unreal Engine 4. Does Monkey Barrels use the same engine? What do you feel are the pros and cons of using a licensed game engine as opposed to something developed in-house?

Monkey Barrels is made with Unity, because I wanted to spare more time to develop content rather than the engine. At the beginning, I was worried about the flexibility of development, but now I don’t feel any inconvenience.

Ollie described Monkey Barrels' visuals as 'unique and charming' in our review: "the plethora of bullets and explosions lighting up the screen look fantastic with the chosen art style."
Ollie described Monkey Barrels’ visuals as ‘unique and charming’ in our review: “the plethora of bullets and explosions lighting up the screen look fantastic with the chosen art style.”

After working at Konami for many years on series such as Castlevania and the Goemon games, you formed Good-Feel in 2005 and mainly concentrated on educational titles before Wario Land: Shake It! on Wii in 2008. That’s quite a dramatic change of focus – how did it come about?

We made several educational titles on request from an educational company, because I was interested in developing different types of game from what we have made before.

We always have plural development lines, and the educational titles were just a part of them, but because of the difference of development period, those were launched continuously in our early times.

Good-Feel has obviously had a strong relationship with Nintendo that started over a decade ago. Will your relationship with Nintendo continue alongside your own console projects? What was behind the decision to self-publish Monkey Barrels?

Publishing our own title has been one of the goals since we established Good-Feel in 2005.

And I decided to take on a challenge after we marked our tenth anniversary, regarding the active market on the Nintendo eShop.

With so many games coming to the Switch eShop, it’s increasingly a challenge to stand out in the crowd. Do you think the eShop could be modified in any way to help both developers and publishers get their games in front of players?

Monkey Barrels is our first title to publish, so we may face that kind of situation in the near future, but still I think it depends on what kind of game you make. We will keep seeking how to bring our games in front of players.

Good-Feel has not only an excellent back catalogue of games, but also a varied one. After the twin-stick shooting action of Monkey Barrels, what’s next for the company?

Actually, Monkey Barrels was planned to be our second self-publishing title. The former one is a pure 2D-shooter, which is developed by a director who is fully committed to the genre. The development started earlier than the Monkey Barrels, but we are still working on it to polish it up. I think we can announce it in the near future.

We decided the genre first, and then started development for these two titles, but next one we will put a priority on “how-you-play” more than what genre it is. So please look forward to Good-Feel’s new titles.


Our thanks to Mr Ebisu. Unfortunately he was unable to answer some of our other Nintendo-related questions, but we’re looking forward to seeing what’s coming next from Good-Feel. In the meantime, check out our review of Monkey Barrels and if you like what you see, the game is available now on the Switch eShop.