Masterpiece of the Year?

Greetings to all my Nintendo nerds! I can’t believe it’s November already. Maybe I should dust off my 3DS and check in on my Animal Crossing town sometime, grab some mushroom furniture. But who has time when we have been blessed with some amazing new games in 2017?

As the year comes to a close, I have been reflecting on which games were really groundbreaking in 2017. We certainly needed some escape from reality this year! Personally, as someone who went to art school and really appreciates the artistic design of video games, I felt there were two titles that I could qualify as “masterpieces.” Which was the best of the year? I am going to try to decide right now! lol

The first game I’m considering for Masterpiece of 2017 is the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A long anticipated title, BotW launched with the Nintendo Switch at the start of the year. Fans were astounded by the new open world approach to their beloved Zelda franchise.

The art style was even more impressive. Using an updated approach similar to Wind Waker, the design of BotW uses what I’d describe as cel-shading with water colors. It’s not overly cartoony, and it’s very much high definition. Individual blades of grass bend in the wind. Wispy strands of hair blow in the breeze. For the amount of time that fans waited for the latest Zelda title, it’s clear that it was worth the delays.

My personal opinion: If you really follow my blog, you’ll see that I don’t talk about Zelda a lot… b/c I never really beat these games. The only game I even got close to beating was Phantom Hourglass. Since BotW was basically the big name launch title for the Switch, I got it mostly b/c everyone else was playing it, and not b/c I had been desperately waiting to play it. However, when I did start playing it I was completely obsessed! It’s a very immersive experience, and I really loved the freedom of the open world. 

The second game in contention for Masterpiece of 2017 is *gasp* NOT A NINTENDO GAME. I know – it’s hard to believe that I play games on other systems. And honestly, I usually don’t. But there’s an indie game called Cuphead that FINALLY came out on Xbox 1 and Steam this year, and as far as art style is concerned… it’s a doozy!!

Now I realize that not everyone had the same upbringing as me, and may not realize the nostalgia factor in Cuphead. But I was raised watching Betty Boop and Silly Symphonies cartoons on loop ad nauseam. The creators of Cuphead took every step necessary to produce their videogame with the same exact art style that was popular in the 1930’s. This includes the hand drawn animation, 24 fps frame rate, the use of lampshade effect and much more.

Cuphead is a standard 2D platformer style game, and initially had been designed to have a Mega-Man-esque Boss Battles setup. But when the hype train rolled in, the creators expanded the game to have some standard platformer stages in addition to the boss battles. That’s all well and good… except they made the game insanely challenging. Many casual gamers find themselves unable to fully appreciate the game due to not being able to progress and see all of the stages.

My personal opinion: I was literally waiting YEARS for this game to be released. Delays and more delays pushed the game back several times and I waited patiently. When the game FINALLY released, I downloaded it right away and was so excited! Unfortunately, I haven’t actually been able to experience much of the game. I guess I’m just one of those lame casual gamers who isn’t good enough at platformers to progress in the game. It makes me very sad that after years of anticipation, and having loved this art style my ENTIRE LIFE… I can’t even see all of the gorgeously designed stages hiding in this game. 

You can probably guess which game gets my vote by now. As much as I wanted to love Cuphead soooo much… it fails b/c I can’t actually play it. The game does not forgive anyone who isn’t at ‘their level’ which I feel is kind of mean and makes me feel excluded and alienated. And it makes me not want to buy another game by Studio MDHR. First they made me wait, then the gameplay drops the ball… so they blew it with me. Being the belle of the ball doesn’t get you everywhere in life!! In Breath of the Wild I am free to explore the entire world, appreciate all of it’s beauty and play at my speed. And it’s darn pretty too.

SIDE NOTE:

Most people will want to interject – HEY WHAT ABOUT SUPER MARIO ODYSSEY?? That game is glorious too! I will give it an honorable mention. I don’t think that it’s a masterpiece, in that the art style of Odyssey is basically on par with every other 3D Mario game, albeit updated to the latest HD graphics, of course. New abilities and game functionality, plus the awesome smoothness of the controls thanks to the Joy Con and Pro Controller, make this game awesome! No doubt about that. But masterpiece? Not exactly. What makes Super Mario Odyssey a contender in this category is that the game truly allows you to create YOUR OWN MASTERPIECE. This game goes way beyond taking screenshots. You can change the camera angles, zoom, blur, add filters, add text if you want… it’s a meme gold mine. I created several masterpieces of my own:

Screenshot by @gluxbox

Screenshot by @gluxbox

Any game that lets ME make my own art gets a thumbs up from the Glux Box!

This is just my opinion, of course. Which game would YOU consider to be the Masterpiece of 2017??

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Hands On with the Nintendo Switch!

Woo what a weekend! Everyone has been talking about the Nintendo Switch ever since the presentation last Thursday, which introduced the system and showcased the new Joy Cons – the convertible controllers that come with the Nintendo Switch system. But I felt lucky because I had a ticket for the Nintendo Switch Preview Event in NYC! I was able to get a hands-on demonstration of the Nintendo Switch system, the Joy Cons, software and more!

The event was held at a secret off-site location in midtown, open only to invited ticket holders. (I was able to get a ticket by logging into my MyNintendo account when they first announced the event. This apparently triggered an event invite to be sent to me at the time. So what have we learned? Log into MyNintendo once in a while!) I went with one of my besties, CarneyVorous. We braved the cold wintery weather and it was SO worth it!

20170114_185030As we approached the entrance, we were surprised to see that Link from Breath of the Wild was guarding the door. Well, Link and a dozen event coordinators. Everything was very organized, which was nice. They checked our tickets and finally after long last… WE WERE INSIDE THE SNEAK PREVIEW EVENT!

The event consisted of two large rooms. The first room had a glamorous setup with a main stage, glass windowed demo cubicle setups, and a third of the room dedicated to Legend of Zelda demo stations. The second room had a huge area dedicated to Splatoon 2 demos, as well as third-party titles and a Super Mario Odyssey photo-op station! It was a lot to take in. We didn’t even know where to start! Sadly, the Zelda line got ridiculously long in a short amount of time, so we decided to make the most of our time by trying as many fun demos as we could.

Our first stop was Splatoon 2. Who could resist? To make the experience even more *new*, the demo we played was done on the Nintendo Switch in hand-held mode. This means the player is watching the Switch screen with the Joy Cons attached to the sides. This mode is pretty similar to playing on the Wii U Game Pad, which I personally enjoy a lot. The Splatoon controls were set to use the gyroscope. It can be tricky if you’re not used to playing that way, but the Switch console is light and easy to move around as needed. I also decided to try out the new Splatoon weapon which was introduced in this latest title – the Splat Dualies! I thought they were pretty sweet. They shoot fast and it’s easy to aim. I played very well, got second place in my winning team with those Splat Dualies! (Did much more terribly with the Splat Roller in the second round. Sad face.)

Splatoon 2 on the Nintendo Switch in hand-held mode.

Next, we wanted to get an up-close look at the Nintendo Switch Joy Cons by checking out the glass cubicle 1-2-Switch Demo Stations! The 1-2-Switch game utilizes the Joy Cons in a way that showcases all of the new features it has to offer, including HD Rumble technology. This game is unique in that you don’t really need to look at the screen to play – it’s all about playing with other people, making eye contact, interacting with humans… you know, scary stuff.

The 1-2-Switch Demo consisted of Quick Draw, Milking Cows (yep) and Counting Marbles. Each game showed a different feature of the Joy Con controllers. I will note that the Nintendo reps insisted on using the wrist straps with the Joy Cons for this game. Very sensible – and side note! – the wrist strap adds an extra half inch of width to the controller, which makes it even easier to hold.

Quick Draw showcased the Joy Con’s basics, such as motion control. Milking Cows introduced new ways to feel awkward around your friends (because yes, the game is exactly what you think it is) and also makes use of the L and R buttons that have been incorporated into the new controllers. Counting Marbles was the most interesting game in the 1-2-Switch Demo, because it featured the new HD Rumble effects. The Joy Con simulated the feeling of small marbles rolling around inside of it (and does an EXTREMELY CONVINCING JOB doing so) and you have to guess how many marbles are “inside.” You determine this by moving the Joy Con and “feeling” the marbles sliding around and clicking against one another. It was pretty amazing! The HD Rumble is very responsive and I am very interested to see how other games will incorporate this new technology.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Demo Stations

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Demo Stations

One of my all-time favorite games has always been Mario Kart. I would play after school with my friends on the N64 back in the day, and I haven’t stopped since! Playing MK on the go has always been a strong selling point… so being able to play MK8 Deluxe in full HD while on the move is going to be AH-MAY-ZING! To give us the full experience, Nintendo set up some fun ‘simulation’ demo stations. In the picture above, you see a fake diner with demo stations, as well as some guys in what looks like an RV? Or some kind of van?

Playing MK8 at

Playing MK8 at “the diner”!

Here I am “at the diner” enjoying some MK8 Battle Mode in handheld mode – which I won with Bowser, btw! It’s great to have some authentic battle mode back in the mix.

We also tried out a demo station that was set up to look like we were playing on an airplane. (Awesome idea!!) They set up the chairs to have those awful tray tables, and placed the Nintendo Switch in tabletop mode for us to play. Tabletop mode is when you have the screen standing up with the kickstand, and the Joy Cons are removed from the sides so that two people can use them and play while watching the screen. I will say that as a veteran MK player, I did not mind the Joy Cons for this game. Yes, if you’re using the Jon Cons, it is a small controller. Like I mentioned before, the wrist strap helps a lot with that issue. It takes some slight ‘getting used to’ but it’s not bad at all, and having usable L and R buttons meant that my game play was as good as ever! Please note that in this side photo, we were also trying out Mario Kart with the Joy Cons in what I am calling “nunchuck mode,” which is similar to the old Wii nunchuck and Wii Remote setup… without that cumbersome cord connecting them together! You can play with the Joy Cons as nunchucks, yet sit however you prefer, so that you can play comfortably. So much easier! Imagine how much better air travel will be when you’re challenging the random stranger sitting next to you to a Grand Prix!

We also tried out some other games, such as Street Fighter, Just Dance 2017, and PuyoPuyo Tetris. We got some cool swag – Nintendo Switch hats, pins, cookies, water bottles… It was a really good event. I wish they would host events like this every week! *sob*

Only 44 days until Nintendo Switch is released in stores!! Comment if you’ve got it preordered! What are you excited to play? I’ll leave you with a few more photos from the event…

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Battle Mode

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Battle Mode

Joy Con [puppy] Controller

Joy Con [puppy] Controller

Tetris!!

PuyoPuyo Tetris!!

Nintendo Switch and Accessories

Nintendo Switch and Accessories

Nintendo Switch Main Stage

Nintendo Switch Main Stage

Super Mario Odyssey Photo Op!

Super Mario Odyssey Photo Op!