Connect with us
Advertisement

Games

Top 5 Switch eShop Improvements We Need to See in 2018

Published

on

It’s hard to argue against success. The Nintendo Switch has been a goldmine for Nintendo since its launch in March of 2017, with current sales at 17.79 million units as of March 31st, 2018, one year later. That said, an issue that’s plagued the Switch since launch has been its rather lackluster eShop. It’s snappy and efficient, but that’s about where the pros end. Nintendo’s Damon Baker recently discussed the company’s commitment to making the eShop a better place for gamers to shop and publishers to sell. In the event that they’re taking feedback, here are the top 5 Switch eShop improvements we really hope they’ll nail later this year.

5. A Separate Section for Retro Games

Look, the likelihood of a virtual console on the Switch is getting pretty slim at this point. The closest we might get is the “NESflix” service coming this fall, and we still have no idea how that’ll be formatted. In the meantime, an Arcade Archives section of the eShop would be great. At the time of writing, there are 84 (yes, 84) Arcade Archives titles on the storefront, 70 of which are NEOGEO games.

Since it seems unlikely that Hamster will release a mini console of their own, the next best thing would be to get them all grouped together and searchable by series, genre, year of release, etc. That way those who love the Arcade Archives titles could sift through them more easily, and those who are frustrated with how much space they take up wouldn’t have to see them anymore.

4. Wishlist Notifications

The Switch eShop’s wishlist functionality is one of its greatest assets. Now what if that was linked to the News app on the home screen, within which was a Notifications section where you could receive automatic updates on games you’d wishlisted? For as many issues as Steam has, its email notifications are incredibly useful for keeping up with games that you’re interested in but don’t actively keep up with.

Nintendo should take a page from Steam’s book and alert players when a wishlisted game comes out or is put on sale. Not only would this benefit the players who’ve been looking forward to a launch for months or who’ve been waiting for a good discount, but it’d almost certainly cause an increase in games sold on the eShop. If gamers put something on their wishlist, they at least have a passing interest in it; notifying them about those games only makes sense.

3. Decent Aesthetics

eshop

Okay, I get it. People visit stores to browse, maybe buy something and leave. But what’s wrong with putting some effort in the presentation? As cluttered as Steam might be, its interface is quite visually appealing. The 3DS’ eShop takes ages to load, but its catchy menu themes won the hearts of users everywhere. There’s a degree of care put into the consumer experience in these digital marketplaces.

The Switch eShop is plain white background with orange menu options and tiles for each game, and it sucks. No banners, no inviting visuals, no earworm tunes you can’t get out of your head. If Nintendo wants players to spend more time browsing and—by extension—more money, they need to put some effort into making the shopping experience a pleasant one. Might this affect the shop’s quick load times? Possibly. But a couple of seconds of load times would arguably be worth a better aesthetic experience overall.

2. A Simple User Rating System

eshop

From Xbox One to Nintendo 3DS, every platform’s digital shop has a rating system…except for the Switch eShop. This is especially egregious considering the sheer volume of titles (sometimes upwards of 20) released on the storefront every week. How is the average consumer supposed to know the difference in quality between Celeste and the myriad of other 2D platformers? Of course, there are some nuances with how Nintendo could go about this. To prevent the review bombing issues that plague Steam, for instance, Nintendo could require a set length of play time before rating a game (and making that review unchangeable).

Speaking of reviews, what’re the chances that we’ll get actual user reviews on the eShop? Pretty slim. But a rating system like the Wii U and 3DS had? It’s a no-brainer. That would also open the floor for a Top-Rated Games category, which would serve as a nice alternative to relying on the Best Sellers list to know what games people are enjoying. The sooner Nintendo sorts this out, the better.

1. Smart Discoverability Improvements

Suppose you’ve just bought a Switch for the first time and, after getting the major tentpole purchases out of the way, want to find something cool to play on the eShop. You log on, take a glance at the screen and…huh? No genre-specific tabs? No Top-Rated section? No recommendations from your friends?

These options are key for the general consumer. Heck, even those of us who keep up with the industry could use Top-Rated and Friend Recommendations tabs. Discoverability has been an issue plaguing the Switch eShop ever since indies really started taking to the platform in late summer/early fall of last year. There are dozens of fantastic experiences to be had, but unless they’re selling well enough to be on the Best Sellers list, chances are the average user will never know about them. It’s gotten to the point where studios will run 10-15% sales on their games for visibility in the Great Deals category. Yes, it’s that bad.

Now, to be fair, Nintendo has recently introduced a Featured section where it handpicks certain games to recommend to consumers. Requirements for making the list are still unknown, but it has offered a decent range of quality titles so far. Hopefully, genre-specific tabs, publisher highlights, Friend Recommendations and more are all in the works.

Brent fell head over heels for writing at the ripe age of seven and hasn't looked back since. His first love is the JRPG, but he can enjoy anything with a good hook and a pop of color. When he isn't writing about the latest indie release or binging gaming coverage on YouTube, you can find Brent watching and critiquing all manner of anime. Send him recommendations or join him in being way too excited about Animal Crossing: New Horizons @CreamBasics on Twitter.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Adnan

    June 23, 2018 at 10:27 am

    very good list, agreed 100%

  2. Marty Allen

    June 24, 2018 at 11:28 am

    Perfectly summarized, I couldn’t agree more. Hire Brent, Nintendo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement

Game Reviews

‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Published

on

It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

Continue Reading

Games

The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

Published

on

Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

Continue Reading

Games

‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

Published

on

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

Continue Reading

Popular