Skyrim (Nintendo Switch) Review – A Classic Reborn

Fives year after the initial release of Bethesda’s latest iteration in the Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim has been heralded as one of the great RPGs of our time, earning over 200 game of the year awards and gaining critical acclaim from critics and fans of the series alike. Now, that fantastical, gritty experience has come to a portable system, adding to the overall convenience and accessibility of this epic fantasy. While this version of the game lacks the ‘mod’ support and stays largely familiar to its original roots, this game provides more than enough depth and content for Switch owners looking for their next time-consuming adventure. 

Skyrim follows the life of a Dragonborn, whose destiny it is to slay an overworldly dragon known for being a signal of the end times. The story itself covers fairly simplistic territory at the surface level, but the additional side quests and hidden temples and dungeons really breathe life into the expansiveness of this world. Many games of this particular style and genre struggle to provide such rich lores and backstories, so exploring the world of Skyrim felt more like an enjoyable journey of exploration and understanding of the world and their cultures rather than a grind to get from one objective to the next. There were times where the story wouldn’t push boundaries, for instance with the concluding battle against the mighty dragon Alduin, but there were other times where this story was extraordinarily different for its context. Whether you’d be infiltrating a friendly party or searching for treasures in caverns, there was a plentitude of exciting moments to keep you immersed and absorbed. This leads onto the length of the main quest itself: an approximately 20 hour story, boasting intensity, expansiveness and general fun, slaying skeletons, trolls, bandits and many more. Although the main quest could have been a longer investment, it isn’t as necessary since the side quests will have you venture onward for a while. There’s tons of content here, and that’s not even mentioning the DLC content added. 

The combat, as you’d probably expect for a five year old game, is a little choppy and convoluted at times. They emphasise the basics right from the start, from unsheathing swords and slashing enemies to changing perspectives, but it still feels too messy and unnecessary. A simpler control scheme to change weapons almost instantaneously would have benefited the game, for example swapping out a two-handed weapon for a healing spell in a time of aid. You’ll become accustomed to switching out items quite regularly, but an improvement in this area would have made it even more accessible and convienient for handheld gamers. Obviously, at the time this was quite a revolutionary leap for such open-world experiences, but now it feels slightly sloppy and unresponsive in certain parts.

In terms of difficulty, Skyrim is particularly interesting, for its enemies are matched to the strength of the player. That meant you were equally fighting against characters of a similar skill level and made it so much more player friendly for those not wanting to have to load every few minutes because of dying time and time again. It warranted replay value, to correct the errors you made originally and try to progress. That’s not to say that Skyrim doesn’t hand you some difficult challenges, though. The battle against Tsun is familiar, as are many of the Dwemer ruins, but that only added to the complexity and overall unpredictability. Sometimes you’d get annoyed, but after a few more attempts you’d get the eureka moment and move on. Skyrim provides enough difficulty to provide a challenge, but not too much to make it inaccessible.

On the Nintendo Switch, Skyrim performs exceedingly well. It might not have the silky smooth 60 frames per second, and there a few noticeable differences to the other versions of the game in terms of aliasing and textures, but it is essentially the special edition, enhanced specifically for the system. In handheld mode, Skyrim runs at a solid 720p resolution with a locked 30 frames per second. The overall look of the game was slightly washed out, with some rock and grass textures appearing somewhat rough around the edges, but it was perfectly playable and enjoyable nonetheless. Also, the Switch version wasn’t without its glitches and occasonal bugs – similarly to the other versions – that made for some humorous encounters. The added amiibo support, HD rumble and motion controls utilise the functons of the joycon relatively well and once again prove that this has been enhanced to perform to the Switch’s capabilities. Considering the fact that you can now play a game as large, expansive and rich as Skyrim on what is essentially a tablet is truly astonishing and shows just how far mobile chips have come recently. 

In conclusion, Skyrim is another fantastic addition to the Switch’s ever expanding library of games and caters to those looking for a meatier, more Western RPG experience. It’s a good time for newcomers to engage in Tamriel, now with the ability to play it at home or portably. While it rarely changes the ground it once laid, and the framerate and textures aren’t as finetuned as other versions, this is a must-buy for those in need of a time-consuming game. It’s absolutely filled to the brim with content and offers everything from the base game plus the DLC content, which makes this so appealing for a first time explorer. This is a timeless classic, once again celebrated and heralded for its achievement in open-world game development. 

REVIEW SCORE – Excellent

Skyrim for Nintendo Switch : 9 out of 10


Nintendo Switch Sales Explode in Japan 

It was an inevitable turn of events. Nintendo was gearing up for a moment like this, and the launch of Splatoon 2 and their boost of stock allocation within Japan for the week proved a particularly effective strategy in gaining a large amount of players in a very short amount of time. This week was always going to be a huge selling point for the Switch in Japan; the idea of the inky shooter really has everyone eager to get their hands on the system. So, let’s get down to the figures.

The Nintendo Switch sold approximately 98,000 in this week alone – a significantly large improvement over the previous figures of around 30,000. It is a clear indicator that Nintendo had been attempting to provide a much more substantial allocation of stock for this particular week in preparation for the release of such a strong system seller like Splatoon 2 has proven to be. The question of whether this is a sign of Nintendo’s improving stock situation or an anomaly that only happened this week really remains a mystery, although it definitely gives fans a little bit of hope to latch onto that maybe – just maybe – there are more systems ready and waiting to go. If Nintendo have the stock ready, they could quite easily sell 70,000 each week in Japan alone. Either way, it’s going to be an incredibly interesting topic of discussion next week when the figures are released for the following week’s sales, where the question will finally be resolved.

On top of all this, there’s even more positive news. Splatoon 2 sold approximately 640,000 physical copies in Japan on the first weekend of sales, a significant increase from the original’s approximate 150,000 on launch weekend. Don’t be surprised if this game reaches six to eight million units sold in the Switch’s life cycle, as these figures truly show just how much demand there is for it. Hopefully these statistics will give Nintendo a further incentive to renew their confidence in the series and make a third entry a few years later. 

Nintendo have another heavily influential franchise in their arsenal now and the sales numbers for this week show that the Japanese market truly adores it. Now the only concern remaining is the allocation of stock on the market and whether Nintendo can deliver the systems to meet the extremely high demand. With these sales, absolutely anything is possible.

Crash Bandicoot Beats Splatoon 2 in UK Charts – with a Catch

With the launch of the splatastic, inky shooter Splatoon 2, many thought that it would almost most defintely be at the top of the charts without a second thought. This, however, was not the case – at least for the UK charts. It appears that Crash Bandicoot, on the Playstation 4 family of systems, has denied the shooter a swim to the top spot. It comes as a slight shock, despite the difference in sales only equating to approximately 680 in terms of physical purchases. You must look at the reason why this may be the case, though, and why it was beaten to the top spot because it appears that there may be a slight catch.
Firstly, this is only the judgement based on physical sales, not digital. Considering the fact that the Switch E-shop crashed due to the overflowing activity on the night of release and the download size was only a minimally impacting three gigabytes suggests that digital sales may have been a huge contributor the overall sales. While we all know and love Crash and his fantastic games, it’s unlikely that digital sales would be quite as high as Splatoon 2 since it has been on the market for several weeks – therefore most people who wanted to purchase the game digitally have already done so. This would be a very interesting aspect of the sales to look at and compare to the UK charts, especially with the sales having quite the influence this time.

At the release of Splatoon 2, it appeared as though Sony predicted the large intake of inkling fans within the UK and tried to diffuse the situation through the injection of more physical stock. Those waiting for a physical copy could now get their hands on one, which would heavily impact upon the shooter’s overall sales. Not to mention just how large an iron fist Sony dominates the European market, so these sales were near inevitable. It was the perfect opportunity to release more stock, taking Nintendo’s biggest seller for the summer and repressing it in the charts.

Now, just take another look at the list. Yes, Grand Theft Auto 5 is in the top three spot. Have you noticed anything strange about the positions of the Nintendo Switch games? Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has sold approximately 60% more this week than in the previous week, and Breath of the Wild has moved back into the top ten at sixth place. This gives a strong indication that there have been more shipments of systems sold and most potential buyers have also attached an existing game to their order, rather than buying the sequel to a fresh IP. Don’t be surprised if Splatoon 2 tops the charts next week, as more players finally get the opportunity to purchase it.

All in all, it has been a great week for gaming. Crash Bandicoot has done remarkably well and shown that older, more nostalgic games really have a place in our hearts. If this isn’t a solid enough reason to reinnovate and make another installment in the Crash Bandicoot franchise, then there is little hope of finding one. This truly is a great achievement, although it neglects the brilliance and potential of the colourful shooter. Either way, both games are incredible and both deserve to be at the top spot.

Levels (Nintendo Switch Review) – Addictive, Fast Paced Puzzler

With the Nintendo Switch being one of the consoles heavily promoting independent ‘indie’ titles, Levels is a recent addition to the Switch E-shop. This game is a puzzler that is both addictive and fast paced in nature, meant typically for quick sessions and attempts. While it may not be the most content heavy game available, it is still one that is great for any mode of play – home console, handheld or tabletop play. At a reasonably priced £4.99, this game is great fun for all members of the family and provides a simplistic experience that is quite difficult to put down. It’s easy to learn, but very difficult to master. 
The aim of the game is simple: collect as many coins as possible to achieve a high score. If nearby coins are of similar values – for example two yellow ‘1’ squares can form to make one yellow ‘2’ square – they can be joined together to increase the value earned. You want to defeat the enemies in red by blending your blue units together and then collecting the coins you have been working to increase. When there are no more coins available to collect, it is game over. It’s very simple to play and the basics are rather quick to pick up and play, making it a great addition to the Switch library for a family friendly environment. However, as the enemy units begin to increase in strength, you will notice that the difficulty ramps up ever so slightly to a point that is addictive challenging. 

As of right now, the biggest issue is the repetitive and somewhat tedious music that can really bother you when thinking about your next move. It’s only a minor thing and it can be turned off if necessary, but sometimes a bit of music in the background is a warm welcome when playing – just not a repetitive, beating noise that gradually takes its toll of your patience. If there was an option to change the music to a more peaceful, harmonic track, it would make listening to the soundtrack so much more appealing when thinking. 

As for the price tag, it’s it’s very reasonable. At £4.99, this game provides a simplistic experience with a level of depth later on in the game. It may not be the most intricate and content heavy puzzler available, but it does what it says and more than justifies the price. Although you may see a similar game on a smart device – such as 2048 – this is an experience that can be utilised both in handheld mode and on the home console so it once again justifies the purchase.

In conclusion, this is a basic, simplistic game with a strong learning curve that keeps you wanting to come back for more. It may lack material and content, but it still proves that even the simplest of puzzle games can be particularly addictive and entertaining. The soundtrack could do with some work and the addition of HD rumble features would definitely be appreciated, but the reasonable price tag and accessibility justifies this game very well. So far, it’s one of the better puzzlers on the Switch.

Levels scores:

Splatoon 2 Review – The Freshest, Most Addictive Shooter 

Being Nintendo’s Summer seller, Splatoon 2 has a lot to prove and a lot show to the many people who never experienced the original. In this ink-redibly fun and addictive sequel to the shooter, features from the original are taken and improved almost in every aspect. Whether you’re looking for a solid single player experience with some challenging bosses, or whether you’re looking to play competitively online, this game has all eventualities accomodated for. It truly is the freshest, most addictive shooter on the market currently.

Where this game truly shines and should be greatly appreciated is its fantastic game mechanics and overall fun factor. There is a plentitude of rewards to be unlocked and achieved – from gaining new weapons after level two to playing the latest mode Salmon Run to earn special gear – and this makes the whole gaming experience all the more enjoying and gives a great incentive to playing all the various game modes. When you begin to level up, you will be able to equip all new clothing and use completely different weapons that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to previously – a staple of any good game in the genre. Matches are particularly short (a turf war match concludes in three minutes) so it makes for perfect pick up and play action without detracting from the overall gameplay and enjoyment factor. It all works in harmony and soon enough you will get absorbed into the immersive world that is this game. 

While the game doesn’t have a huge amount of content in regards to stages and game modes, there is still more than enough to keep you entertained because of the nature of the game. Whereas many other shooters solely rely on you targeting your opposition, Splatoon 2 tries to focus more on gaining turf and being able to move freely which provides completely different situations and experiences with every match played. It accomodates for all different audiences and players; for those who want an entertaining, collectable based single player campaign, there is Octo Canyon. For those looking for a more online based game, there are various different options to try and experiment with. Sure, the game heavily focuses on its robust online infrastructure, but that doesn’t mean that the single player campaign is any less worth the investment of time. 

One issue to be stated is the lack of ‘couch co-op’ game modes, something that was also present within the original. It’s not too significant as you’ll be particularly immersed in all the other modes, but it would have been nice to see some split screen action instead of having to buy two systems just so a member of your family or your friend could join you. The opportunity was most possible within the Salmon Run game mode as you work as a team to fend of the Salmonid creatures. Omce again, it’s nothing particularly major, but this could have provided an even greater appeal and targetted an even larger audience. If Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Arms can both provide split screen co-op play, why can’t Splatoon 2?

The single player, as stated previously, provides a good length campaign that essentially teaches you the basic game mechanics and gives you a strong insight into the primary weapon classes (such as the splattershot, roller and charger) so that you can be prepared for the online game. It also rewards you with Crusty Sean meal tickets, which can greatly improve your efficiency with levelling up and gaining currency. The overall campaign is particularly original, innovative and just shows how creative the development team can be with their ideas. Each boss has character and some form of depth in humour, making them just as funny as they are entertaining to battle. Every mission has two collectables: a sardine and a sea scroll. This adds a ton of replay value to the campaign and makes you want to spend the extra few minutes per mission to find them. All in all, the single player mode is one of the most entertaining, fun, addictive, immersive and original campaigns I’ve ever played.

The online infrastructure of the game – featuring voice chat, inviting friends and all the connections with the Nintendo Switch Online App and Splatnet 2 – is still in the early stages of development and feels like it needs more time to be fully fleshed out. It all feels rather convoluted and complicated to get it all to function correctly. While voice chat isn’t a necessity by any means, it’s a bit of a shame that the calling messages are rather limited to ‘this way’ and ‘booyah’. It becomes a little annoying when you can’t just signal your ally to a particular area and have to predict their movements. It will be very interesting to see this feature of the online later in the game’s life cycle, so this aspect won’t be affecting the overall grade as it could be changed and developed at a later date.

As for the performance, Splatoon 2 runs at a perfectly smooth and fluent 60 frames per second, with a dynamic resolution of 720p in handheld mode and 1080p in home console mode. It’s beautifully smooth to play and never drops a single frame, or at least from what I have experienced. While it does drop resolution in areas of particular action, it is very hardly noticeable and emphasises the importance of having the stable framrate instead. Furthermore, the game has some use of HD rumble, which is a nice and appreciated addition that mildly improves the game’s immersive quality. 

In conclusion, Splatoon 2 is an original, innovative and particularly refreshing sequel that improvs upon the foundations of the original. From the single player campaign to the variously different online game modes, this shooter tailors to every player’s desires. It looks gorgeous on the handheld and performs beautifully in every match. Whilst the online voice chat and features may still be in the early stages and the lack of game modes for split screen play is apparent, the replay value and addictive nature provides a game that realy doesn’t feel like it needs anything else added to it. With regular updates and Splatfests incoming, this is sure to be a huge seller for months (maybe even years) to come. Splatoon 2 is the best, freshest and most creative shooter currently available and it really sets a precedent for the Switch’s quality lineup.

Splatoon 2 scores:

Splatoon 2 – Top 10 Tips to be the Freshest Squid in Town!

With the release of Splatoon 2 on the inky horizon, here is a compiled list of the top ten tips to be the best in preparation for all this fantastic shooter has to offer. Without further ado:

Tip 1 – Find Your Weapon of Choice

This can be quite a difficult one in the early game because you’ll most likely be inking turf using a splattershot of some form, but will really help in the later stages of the online, competitive scene. Try to experiment with all the weapons available, whether that be a slosher, a roller or even a blaster. Always attempt to change something if it isn’t fitting your playstyle and don’t be afraid to try something completely different, but try to do this within the confines of turf war matches that don’t hinder your ranks. Within the new game mode Salmon Run, you will also be able to choose from a variety of weapon types so never be hesitant to try them out. If there’s a particular sub weapon (such as the splat bombs, toxic mist, point sensors) then find the weapon you like that also has them attached, as well as your special weapons. Try everything and find the weapon of your choice.

Tip 2 – Use Crusty Sean’s Meal Tickets

To those of you who aren’t familiar with the work of Crusty Sean in Splatoon 2, he is the lobster creature in the van from the original game. He essentially provides meal tickets to boost the experience points and currency earned in battle, which can prove to be especially helpful in the early stages of the game. This may require some work in the single player beforehand, but it’s more than worth the investment. 

Tip 3 – Consider Motion Controls

This is something that may not be appreciated by everyone, that’s completely understandable. However, Splatoon 2’s primary controller option is the use of motion controls to aim your reticle to ink the turf, which has been proven to be ever so slightly more responsive and accurate than the standard analog sticks. That’s not to say that you couldn’t play absolutely happily and perfectly with analog sticks – some of the best players still do – but it can put you at a slight disadvantage so always keep your mind open to motion controls. Give it a go, see of it is the playstyle you prefer and progress from there. Always, always, always keep an open mind.

Tip 4 – Don’t Rush Into Battle

A fairly self explanatory tip, but a crucial one nonetheless. Many players enter the world of Inkopolis Square with the aim of winning matches, believing that the only way of doing such is to play an offensive strategy. This, however, can be counter intuitive. While it can push your opposition back into their safety zone, it can most certainly leave you open to any incoming attacks if you’re disconnected from your team’s efforts in battle. Don’t rush into a decision, try to scan your terrain and analyse the situation before committing to anything. The last thing you want is for your team to be handicapped because of your premature decisions.

Tip 5 – Always Ink Your Surroundings

This applies to all game modes available, but seems most fitting for the ranked matches. Whereas in Turf War, inking is an absolute priority, this is not the case in ranked matches necessarily. It is all about completing the objective – from riding a tower to a destination or covering a particular zone in your colour. This does not mean, however, that inking is unnecessary and doesn’t need to be thought of. If you ink your surroundings, you’re pushing your enemies further away and also making it particularly easy to access larger parts of the map. Make sure to ink when you have the spare time available.

Tip 6 – Don’t Blame Your Teammates for Your Loss

As something that regularly happened within the original game, it comes as no surprise that this will most likely be a feature of people’s temperment coming into the sequel. If you lose a match, it is a collective effort, just as if you won a match. It could be argued that there are stronger players that will dominate in particular matches, but that does not mean that one person carried the team. This shows that one person helped to lead, while the others helped to pave the way for that success. Even if you’re particularly competitive, don’t be a sore loser and blame the rest of your team for the failures you made as a collective group. 

Tip 7 – Play Salmon Run Whenever Available

As a completely new mode, Salmon Run provides a horde mode experience similar to that of many other shooters. Where this differs is that you will get particular rewards, such as new items of exclusive clothing and Crusty Sean meal tickets, for playing and succeeding in this mode. This really gives a great incentive to join the Grizzco team and get splatting those Salmonid creatures. If you see it available to play, be sure to at least check it out.

Tip 8 – Predict Your Allies and Enemies

If you’re not playing alongside friends, voice chatting is not an option so being able to predict the movements and thoughts of your allies and enemies really is a professional skill in this game. Always be aware of the map (by pressing X), where the colour is changing and where your teammates are positioned on the map. It is absolutely crucial to understand the patterns of their playstyle in order to be able to implement your own style. As you progress further in the game and begin to invest time into the online scene, you will become more accustomed to this behaviour to a point that it will become somewhat second nature. If you can predict your enemies, you can always outsmart them in battle.

Tip 9 – Conserve Ink and Know When You’re Fighting a Losing Battle

This is possibly the most important. Try to keep your ink tank relatively high at all times and try to avoid it being completely used, otherwise you will be spending too much time waiting for a refill than actually doing your inking duties. If it helps your playstyle, equip clothing that has the ability of Ink Saver so that you can conserve your ink even more efficiently. In addition, always know when to retreat. You should know that some battles can’t be won and that no matter how much you try, it would only result in an equalising splat at best – a near pointless endeavour. Try to avoid these incidents unless you are confident that you have what it takes to initiate against your enemy. All this could culminate in a faster special weapon and even higher points.

Tip 10 – Have Fun!

I can’t stress this one enough. When playing this game, have fun! Don’t take it all too seriously. There are a plentitude of options to play casually – be that the single player campaign or the turf war online matches – so there should be very little time where you want to turn off the system or worse. Just relax, enjoy the experience and have fun with it.

Well, there are all ten top tips for those of you preparing for the release of Splatoon 2. Which one was your favourite? Until next time, I shall see you on the battlefields!

Arms (Nintendo Switch) Review – A Fighter That Hits It’s Target

We’re only four months into the life of the Nintendo Switch, yet it appears that it is off to a particularly strong start with the heavy hitting Intellectual Properties of Zelda, Mario Kart and soon to be Splatoon, but that doesn’t mean that Nintendo doesn’t have a few more tricks up their sleeve. Arms is the new three dimensional fighter, where you use extendable varieties of arms in order to grab, block and punch your way to victory. While it sometimes feels like it lacks more game modes, the fact that there will be free updates of modes, characters, arms and stages really makes this an appealing compromise. As a completely new, exclusive Switch title, this game blemishes in its originality and accessibility for all audiences, making it another must buy for the system.

As you may have guessed, the spotlight shines on the excellent variety of arms – whether you choose the heavy Megaton, the three shot Revolver, the electrical homing missile Sparkies or any of the other great combinations. On top of this, each weapon is assigned a particular status effect, such as stunning or blinding your enemies when charged. This adds an even deeper layer to an already strategic game, making each and every single combination unique in their own way. As you begin to develop a sense of playstyle and tactical strategy, you will start understanding which arms work in correspondence with your character of choice. If you’re looking for depth and a form of competitive gaming, these features enhance the overall experience and make this fighter particularly engaging and addictive. 

In regards to game modes, this game is rather standard and typical of a fighter, as is the roster size. While there are some particularly interesting and innovative ideas evident within some of these modes, like the Volleyball and Hoops games that have similar principals to the core gameplay, but they are few and far between. Most of the time you will be playing the one on one matches, but it is nice to have the option to play alongside others in Skillshot, Hedlok Scramble and all the other great modes available – however limited as the list may be. It’s all about having the option, the ability to play whatever game modes you want when you want. If you want to play a four player match in the same room, you can. If you’re looking to play online with a friend at home, you can both get a chance of playing. For those of you looking for a competitive environment, you can try your luck at the Ranked Matches section. This game has so many different ways to play that, even if the game modes are somewhat limited and become slightly repetitive over time, it becomes particularly interesting and addictive to play. 

On the topic of playing in different ways, the controller functionality allows you to play in many varieties that support your style, whether that be casual or hardcore. If you’re on a journey away from home, you can still play with your friend on the same system – using a single joycon each. The controls work just as well, albeit a little smaller and a little less accessible, and really doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment that this game provides. You can also play with the improved motion controls that similarly work effectively, or even a standard Pro Controller for those looking to execute every punch, dodge and grab correctly. There’s such great accessibility here that it encourages you to have a quick game here and there, once again reinforcing this game’s fun factor and addictive nature.

The online is particularly smooth, as is the overall performance of the game. Running at a constant 60 frames per second and 1080p resolution when docked, this game runs as great as it looks. There are very few times that you will experience connectivity issues, although they still appear every once in a while, and there can be up to twenty players in a single lobby. They cater towards all audiences with this online too, focusing on the casual audience with the Party Match lobbies and concentrating on the hardcore gamers with the Ranked Match mode.  It’s a really strong sign for competitive online gaming in the future and it shows that Nintendo are carefully anticipating this movement for the years to come.

In conclusion, Arms provides an experience unlike most other games of its genre. Not only does it perform at a fluently smooth consistent framerate, it also has a particularly solid online experience that accommodates for all members of the family. While it may lack more concrete game modes, the replay value is truly remarkable and the constant feeling of achievement through getting arms for particular characters continues to make this game fresh and compelling. Its excellent accessibility in both controller management and quick matches makes this a very strong start to a brand new IP from Nintendo. Arms punches its way to the top!