IDEA: Achievements For Nintendo / Switch

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Since their inception during the Xbox 360 / PS3 era, achievements have become a staple in games as a way of challenging players to meet certain milestones from basic points in the story to gruelling challenges that serve to extend the length and replayability of each title. This feature has appeared in drabs, through efforts by individual developers on Nintendo’s systems. But it’s no doubt that the gaming giant would benefit from adding in this sorely missed feature as a system standard.

I have produced the above mock-up of a simple system mostly asimilar to the Playstation / Steam standard whereby collecting what I have dubbed ‘Badges’ earns the player experience that ascends them through levels that ultimately embody their bragging rights over other players. It’s simple to navigate, accessed from the HOME Menu, and would allow players to; share their merits to social media, compare their collections to friends and ultimately incentivise playing each game in a persons library even more, promoting value for money and replayability as a standard from game publishers.

IDEA: Nintendo Switch • Edge

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The creative juices have once again been flowing, see below my ideas for a powered up Switch in the form of a sales pitch.

Cutting Edge Gaming – Anytime, Anywhere
Portable gaming to the extreme. Familiar flexible gaming with industry defining power can now be yours.

Improved Handheld Unit
The new touchscreen unit boasts increased CPU, GPU and hybrid-HDD technology. Existing Switch games run smoother but newer games can capitalise on the improved specs. On-board storage has rocketed from 32GB to 500GB for more gaming in one place. Plus 4GB of SSD reserved for OS ensures lighting fast operation and room for more features.

The screen is slightly larger too, though still as thin as the original.

A modest camera now sits atop the console and can be rotated inward and outward. Flash and dynamic range come as standard.

Bluetooth support has been expanded to allow adaptor-free headset connectivity.

The kickstand is now a larger U shape that distributes the screens weight more evenly in tabletop mode and can even be used to hook the console in certain places – do so with caution!

Joy-Con Plus
Both controllers now feature a small microphone and speaker to expand gaming possibilities. The sound quality however is only modest. The directional buttons have been replaced by a flexpad that will behave differently in-game based on whether requiring button input or navigational control.

The controllers are taller to match the new screen and thicker to improve player comfort.

Compatibility
Switch • Edge is compatible with the original Joy Cons and can be docked into the original dock – though will protrude a little due to the larger screen. Joy-Con Plus are also reverse compatible though it’s audio additions and adaptive flexpad technology is limited.

The Switch • Edge dock is sold separately. It better houses the larger console but isn’t compatible with the original Switch. It features a logo LED on the front that lights up when the console is docked. It also boasts 4 USB ports and supports wireless streaming to compatible displays.

Firmware Updates
Built-in audio and text messaging is now standard. You can migrate preferences from the app and access/toggle settings from the quick-menu. The console restricts communication to friends-only but software developers may set their own standard in-game (parental controls can disable that however of course).

Static and dynamic themes feature, including a notification bar that appears on the top portion of the screen while docked.

Folders and icon arrangement now come as standard. With different home screen display options also available.

You can access the camera via the Photo tab or by tapping/selecting its icon. Photos and video are then accessed from the Photo tab for editing and sharing to social media. You can double-tap the screenshot button twice during compatible play to take a gamer selfie.

THOUGHTS: Switch XL

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Analysts predict a powered up sequel in the near future. Below I ponder the potential and my thoughts on the matter.

Howdy, you may have read about analysts predicting a suped up version of the Nintendo Switch on the horizon. But not a direct sequel, more of a revised edition to exist alongside the OG quite possibly asimilar to the PS4 and PS4Pro. So what do the experts expect from this new Switch? Most seem to conclude that it will simply address flaws in the current design such as battery, internal storage and flimsy kickstand. To further entice purchase, some are also expecting boosted internal specs (RAM / CPU) and even a larger screen. What else could they add? Certain fans have also stated their distaste for the troublesome D-Pad and lack of voice support. Personally, all my personal requests could likely be patched into the current form factor.

I would very much still like to see; an internet browser, media streaming, integrated voice support (via headset and/or bluetooth) and deeper customisation on the home screen. Nintendo may have stated their intention on streamlining the initial product package to promote straight-to-game design. But we’re 18 months in, online services have commenced and now it’s time to bolster the still sparse home screen / operating system.

Back to the Switch XL though, It would be a shame to be part of a generation of Nintendo console where a specs divide exists. I’ve so far not been so affected with my Playsation 4 thanks to the lack of deep support for its Pro counterparts superior power (and me playing games that aren’t really graphically demanding). But knowing I could be missing out on design and performance from a console I have already invested so much in to fellow fans due simply to me not being able to upgrade would be a real shame.

Who knows though, this is all simply conjecture. Analysts aren’t always 100% so what’s to come is yet to still be confirmed. But as the thought remains, what else could they do? What could the add? What could the Switch 2 do to improve / capitalise on the currents success…

I think back to my original ideas and projections of the Switch back when it was simply known as an unknown project titled, NX. The result was a powerful, Switch-sized 3DS that connected to a base unit the way the Wii U does. In hindsight however, the price would’ve been astronomical, and it’s on that point I feel the Switch has hit a sweet spot with its console-level performance on the go.

TBA NX Fli
My devices flip screen would flip and rotate to suit your needs providing even more screen solutions than the 3DS, Switch or Wii U.

Overall I think the current Switch in general is a very neat package, powerful enough to support console level gaming on the go. I still regularly find myself impressed, it’s simple design with plenty of secrets inside in the form of IR, HD-Rumble and motion controls is genius. Atop this I personally expect a full sequel to include significant power boosts to bring it further in-line with traditional consoles with the popularly requested battery boost and internal storage. Imagine, a portable PS4 with 1TB that lasts 12 hours. One can dream, and I certainly remain interested in what happpens next with Nintendo and their latest hit. Hopefully they’ll finally bury the 3DS and concentrate all their gaming production into one powerhouse.

THOUGHTS: Features Animal Crossing Switch Should Take From Pocket Camp

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I recently posted on Twitter about how often I pop in and out of Pocket Camp, the Animal Crossing app that has been around on iOS and Android for just over a year now. My initial impression on the micro experience was less than favourable, but over time through regular updates by the development team I have really come to respect it for its replay value.

Right now in fact I have been checking in every few hours over the past week to participate in the current Fishing Tourney. The event which is a series staple has been enhanced with milestone goals that award prizes. Themed tournaments for Splatoon and currently Halloween have also included event-only fish shaped like Squids and Jelly Sweets which really sets each event apart making regular attendance a more rewarding experience.

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An example of the enhanced Fishing Tourney’s rewards chart. [Event] Challenges further this with task-based rewards, catching multiples or certain sizes for instance.
This is a more recent addition to the game however, from the start a feature I have come to really appreciate is the Friendship Meter’s and the overall Social Meter which dole out regular rewards for interacting more and more with the various animals from your Campsite and the various Hotspots. Completing tasks and even simply asking ‘how do you do?’ add to your friendship meter with each animal as an individual. You then level up your friendship which issues smaller prizes with regular milestones offering more significant results. That’s not all though, each time you level up your friendship meter’s, your social meter increases. When your social meter then levels up it dishes out significant gains in the form of Leaf Tickets, Bells, more furniture and new animals. How much this simplifies and yet organically helps you to manage your relationships over time forms a solid feature I would sorely miss in the upcoming mainline sequel.

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This displays just the Animals at my Campsite, the Map screen allows you to see your meters with visiting animals too. Knowing their personality type at a glance is a nice touch too. The padlocks signify personality types that cannot level further without meeting certain requirements.

My final big recommendation is the level of interactivity with other human players. Having a near endless supply of other players to visit with ease, co-operate with and buy and sell to is a very welcome and constructive addition. Market Box allows you to distribute excess goods with ease and affords you a reliable source of wares to satiate your animal visitors varying needs. I propose however that how easy it is to add one another should form an aquaintence based relationship. That way only people you add to your Switch in real life can have access to further social features such as text and possibly voice based chat.

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Fellow humans will appear and rotate at each of the games hotspots allowing you to view the endless possibilities the game offers by viewing their look, camper design and campsites instantly.

If you haven’t already played, I do recommend Pocket Camp as a satisfying stopgap while we wait for another main game. It does a brilliant job of staying fresh and enticing you in regularly. It displays a promising potential that the next game could benefit from through its social enhancements and simplification. It really would be a shame to miss out on if you’re an Animal Crossing fan!

Update: 2018 Thus Far


Hi there! It has been well over half a year since I dusted down the cobwebs and made a post here. I just wanted to document my gaming activity thus far so without further ado…

Kingdom Hearts has taken over my year, with 3 now slated for a January 2019 release I have been progressing steadily on completing each existing title on their hardest difficulty and claiming their Platinum trophy on PS4. So far I have fully completed KH1 and most of Chain Of Memories. The only trophy remaining is the one for levelling Riku to 99, a very tedious and unforgiving task. So much so I have decided to wander through KH2 – which I have already Platinum’d on PS3 – as a break before returning between 2 and Birth By Sleep.

Kingdom Hearts wasn’t the first game to christen the Playstation so kindly gifted to me by a close friend though. I originally ran through Final Fantasy XV at the beginning of the year. I was very pleased with the game to begin with. The big open world was a lot of fun to drive through at first. But as the quests soon became very repetitive and inconsequential it led me down the games very disappointing linear second half. You can see they had a ton of ideas to use in the game, but it’s lack of incentivising the plethora of additional content by ignoring in the core story means you miss out on a lot… but don’t care very much. Kingdom Hearts does this well, so it’s quite a shame to see the same director make that mistake, though any light research into the development reveals all.

But that’s enough about the Playstation, the true powerhouse for my gaming this year continues to be my Nintendo Switch. Titles played this year include; Super Mario Odyssey, Bayonetta 1 & 2, Oxenfree, a resurgence from Splatoon 2, Hyrule Warriors and currently, Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy.

Mario Odyssey of course was an amazing stroll through a series entry on top form. I became fast addicted to the vast amounts of moons to collect and the challenges surrounding them. After the story I was pretty much satisfied, hopefully I’ll return to polish off the challenges at some point.

It was fun to return to Bayonetta and finally own the second entry. I strongly recommend these titles for their interesting story that opens up further to those with an eye to detail. Wrapped around a tight, satisfying combat system makes it fun to play with rewards further down as you improve and unlock the variety of weapons options.

Oxenfree was a pleasant surprise in the form of a walk across a mysterious island that soon accelerates into a deep and spooky tale that bends reality and did a very good job of actually scaring me. I definitely plan to return one dark evening to relive and experience the alternate routes you can take. If it comes on offer again on the eShop, buy it!

I won’t elaborate much on Splatoon since I probably will revisit AGAIN when I eventually explore its promising DLC. I aimed to emulate my friends who play competitively but lack of time to consistently practice leaves me accepting that though I’m pleased with my progress, I will have to brush up when there aren’t so many other things to play.

Hyrule Warriors on Switch is a perfect blend of portable play, and an impressive depth of content to sink your teeth into. I’m still partly working through the additional content in Legend Mode. I have yet to touch Classic Mode or the various additional challenges that are included.

Finally, the Crash Bandicoot Trilogy recently released on Switch and has driven my attention away from Warriors. It looks great, but its tweaks and physics make it harder than the originals but I have accepted it as an additional challenge. I’m nearing the end of the originals story, but I plan to 100% it before moving forward.

One last shout out to Pokémon Quest, the quirky free to play that came out on Switch and now mobile. It was a brief fun ride, but I have little patience with the f2p model so I’ll likely dip in and out over time.

Looking forward, there’s of course Kingdom Hearts 3, but also Pokémon Let’s Go, Smash Bros. Ultimate and The World Ends With You remake. Plenty to anticipate and plenty to enjoy in the meantime. Thanks for checking out my latest update! x

REVIEW: Animal Crossing – Pocket Camp (Mobile)

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Howdy, those who visit from Twitter will be aware of my thoughts and feelings about the new Animal Crossing app. I thought I would compile them on to the old blog alongside possibly a new batch of ideas and concepts that could be applied to a new Switch entry to the series that may appear somewhere down the line.

So, the app released around a week ago. I managed to create an Australian iOS account and wangle the app into downloading onto my iPhone (Current model: iPhone SE). Initially I was fascinated by everything, there were suddenly loads of things I hadn’t experienced in the Animal Crossing universe before. Namely; A character creator, multiple locations a tap away, simpler villager requests and more complex crafting options. It was easy to dive in, begin building relationships with characters and invite them back to my campsite. The tutorial dragged on a little too much. Considering Isabelle is available at all times in the market square, her use becomes pointless as she already has explained the game mechanics to you. It would have been nice to try to figure it out and then have the option of consulting her, but alas…

So I began noodling around the map, there are four main areas where characters and fellow players appear. A riverside campsite, an island campsite, a seaside campsite and a forest campsite. Each have their own respective collectibles that appear which you can harvest to meet characters requests. Riverside has fish and fruit, the island has bugs and coconuts, the forest has lots of fruit and the beachside has sea fish, shells and more coconuts. The first four characters – minus Apollo the eagle who was part of my tutorial – were soon bowled over by my generosity in greeting them, meeting their first 3 demands and then inviting them back. Invitations can be made once your friendship meter reaches a certain level, and then you must craft a few items that the characters are fond of and display them (You can put them away once the character arrives if you so choose). Crafting is very simple and done within its own little screen. You can create a plethora of furniture as long as you’ve collected enough materials and money from completing requests. Certain items take longer and until you buy more creation spaces you can only create one at a time.

That brings me to the in-game currency itself, which is pretty generous. For a game that encourages you to purchase the premium Leaf Ticket currency, as long as you play steadily you will secure a good supply of them. They can be used to expand inventories, speed up time-based elements, use bulk bug/fish catching items amongst other things. Bells are still present but easy to obtain by simply chatting to the animals. They are used to pay for crafting items and purchasing from the market and camper van customisation at OK Motors.

So far, the game is simple enough to pick up and play. Plus it’s easy to achieve the available goals in the pre-determined three hourly windows. If you have been interacting with the real life players you meet, utilising the Market Box feature where you can sell items to each other is also a good way of ensuring you meet your requests and maximise your potential to excel through to earning new items and features. But like any mobile game, the rhythm soon begins to grate as the repetitiveness sets in and you realise the unique experience is actually quite shallow…

The app by no means is terrible, the beautiful visuals from New Leaf look great and what they have created for what is essentially a free experience is wonderful. There are plenty of elements in the app that I really hope get passed onto and expanded upon should another console entry to the series arise. But that’s just it, the meaty experience that the games provide is nowhere near met in this pocket-sized glimpse into the game universe. That is probably to most, a given, and hopefully to people like me, my appetite for more, more, more will soon be met.

So in summary, the app is a great little experience. Fans of the series should definitely check out the new ideas. But certainly don’t hold it up to the rest of the series’ standards and just enjoy the short ride while it lasts.

3/5

(Mobile games will be rated out of 5, the key elements include; Graphics, Gameplay, Replayability, Microtransactions and Value For Money where applicable)

IDEAS: More Animal Crossing…

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Hey there, a while back I posted an extensive amount of slides full of my ideas and illustrations for an Animal Crossing game. I frequently think of new ideas for my own and existing games, and especially since i’m playing it, Animal Crossing is no exception. So let’s get straight to it!

Scuba Diving
So thanks to New Leaf, you can now swim in the ocean and dive for Diving Creatures. I have thought about how they could expand this newer feature and this is what I came up with.

I figured you could purchase a scuba mask from the island, which when combined with the Wet Suit would when you dive, allow you to swim to the ocean floor. There you could perhaps find shells, furniture, bells and even treasure chests. Treasure chests would come as both small and large, large requiring you to also find a key to open it.

The plain mask would give you 5 minutes to spend underwater, after which you must surface and will have to wait 55 minutes for it to recharge. Silver, Gold and my own Diamond versions of the mask would extend this to; 10, 30 and Unlimited.

As a further extension, you will notice that underwater there are shadows of Sea Creatures that appear more often than the surface. You can unlock another new tool, the Diving Net, with which to catch them with. Silver is larger, Gold lures them in and Diamond increases the chance of them being larger, thus sell for more in the Diving shop.

Finally, an underwater cavern may appear at random. This would have a chest with the Golden mask in, you would immediately resurface after visiting here.

Catch Shops
Four new shops dedicated to; Bug Catching, Fishing, Diving and Digging. All would purchase what you collect based on size/weight. They would also sell items based on each specialty. They would unlock after you started to fill your encyclopedia.

In-Game Mobile Phone/Tablet
This is based on a feature I saw in a mobile game I used to play, Pocket Planes. Your passengers would make automated posts based on where they were going and what cargo you were transporting, and I thought it was such a nice little touch. I figured since I really want Animal Crossing to be even larger, with more places for you and Villagers to go. If there was a way for you to see where they were, this would be a good way to track them. The device itself would be a tab on your touchscreen/pause menu where you could select the Leafbook app where Villagers would post what they were up to among other preset status updates.

Perhaps a phone function could be good for you calling your neighbors to arrange to meet them, ask how they are doing and other activities and tasks. I feel with the game world ever expanding, this would be a cool way to keep connected to your villagers.

I was also thinking of perhaps having things like the Encyclopedia, Town Pass Card, Chat and Inventory in the Phone/Tablet UI as well. I still am thinking about other apps too.

Misc.
Other ideas of note, were shops for Wendell and Sahara that would sell rare/unique designs and would unlock after meeting the characters enough times much like Katrina in New Leaf.

How about body accessories? Like belts/backpacks/bracelets/necklaces and so on. Every time I think about the game, I see more and more things that could be expanded upon.

One final thing, a Library. Inside the Town Hall portion of the Town Bureau from my designs, you could read books that would have info on both basic and advanced tips on how to play and make the most of the game. I think this would help players get to grips with the finer details and lighten up the dialogue from NPC’s so that experienced players can plow through, and newer ones can brush up on their knowledge at their leisure.

That’s all for now though, thanks for reading!