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Author: Marc Stafford

£49 games and the Nintendo Switch

£49 games and the Nintendo Switch

Something has worried me ever since the Nintendo Switch was announced. It is this. Nintendo will find it hard to convince me that paying £49 for a game on their system represents good value. “Oh!” You shriek, “Just because it is a console that can be played on the go doesn’t mean it is less valuable to the consumer or the industry. You’re prolly just a AAA snob.”

(comparison chart from TechRadar)

Here’s an analogy… Let’s say that you work in the car industry. Your company makes great software for braking systems and you sell that software to G-Wiz to put in their brand new low horse-powered micro car. Unfortunately, the G-Wiz can not get to a high enough speed to justify the use of your new brake system, but the McLaren F1 can make full use of it so you sell it to the high powered McLaren at the same price. The owners of the G-wiz are getting the same software, but will never be able to use it at the same level as the McLaren. Nintendo are trying to sell their games for the Switch as if they are running on a McLaren but they’re not, they are the G-Wiz.

It appears to me that any games being sold on the Switch that were released on other platforms will never be at the same level of performance that they reached on the consoles or PC’s they were originally designed to be played. So, why are people expected to pay the same price for them? You may argue, that the Nintendo Switch is a console first and a handheld second and that “The portability it provides will make up for the shortfall on technical proficiency.” That is possibly correct. However, shouldn’t that be factored into the price of the console itself and not individual software sales?

Let’s look at the price, £279. At £279 it is more expensive than the basic PS4 and basic Xbox One consoles. MORE EXPENSIVE while being technically inferior in every measurable way. Yes, the PS4 and Xbox One are sold “at a loss” but they make  that money back on the software sales. Nintendo Switch isn’t being sold at a loss and is still the same price as these technologically superior consoles despite having inferior hardware.

Nintendo, in classic Nintendo form, are trying to have their cake and eat it and I believe that this has hurt it.

A Nintendo currant cake. Not being eaten, currently

Games developed in-house and exclusive to the Switch will have no comparative yardstick on which to measure other consoles. Those games will have extra pressure on them to prove that Nintendo can still create great games. Since Nintendo’s Mario Kart 8 is being pre-purchased at £49 they will have to pull out all the stops to convince the world that £49 for a game on a technically inferior device is worth it.

What I am saying is, If Nintendo chooses to release Skyrim, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+, Setsuna and all other multiplatform games at the same price as other console and PC versions with very little or no improvements on previous releases, why would I buy it on a Switch? Just to be able to play it on a bus? Not me.

FIFA 17 – Demo Impressions

FIFA 17 – Demo Impressions

This year’s obligatory FIFA release is more worthy for attention than any in recent memory. That’s important for me, as I have not purchased a FIFA game since 2013. Simply put, they rarely do enough every year to justify a purchase. They update the graphics slightly, tweak the gameplay slightly and slap the latest footballing superstar on the cover and then release it into the wild. It’s not enough for me to shell out £50. Every year, I play the demo, each time all reaffirming my position.

Until this year.

FIFA 17’s demo is still so very familiar:

  • Roster of fully licensed teams? Check.
  • Mocap from real professionals? Check.
  • Licensed commentary from Martin Tyler and chums? Check.
  • Alarmingly well rendered face of Wayne Rooney and his new hairline? Check.

There are some differences though. This years game is running on the Frostbite engine, the same one used to power Battlefield and FIFA has never looked healthier for it. Bright, smooth animations give players a sense of weight allowing them to move and react to each other’s presence in very believable ways. So far, just a slight fancier update than the usual.


Then, you look at this year’s marquee signing.

“The Journey” is a single player story mode where you assume the identity of a young, up and coming star and his rise to one of the world’s elite footballers. You play Alex Hunter, the quintessential (he would have a potential rating of 200 in Football Manager) youngster and guide his on and off the field decisions. 2K have done this style of story mode once before in NBA 2K16 and while the basketball game took the first brave steps into the concept, it was lacking in refinement. The Journey feels like EA have worked out the formula, even in the short amount of time you have with Alex Hunter in the demo.

The new tweaks to the football of FIFA 17 are also interesting. A new set-piece creator enables you to choose how a player receives the ball. Be it a long far post cross to the giant centre-back or a near post drill for a first time Sheringham volley. It is a little ambiguous however, yet with a little practice became very effective.


EA also are championing something called “Active Intelligence System” in which the AI is constantly monitoring its special awareness and the way AI players react and make runs. FIFA’s singleplayer AI used to get lots of negative feedback however, the fact that I didn’t notice any AI failings is a sign that it’s working as intended. Nothing the AI did felt unnatural during my playtime.

Passing can feel a little difficult to be precise with the analogue stick. A fair few times I wanted to pass to one player and it ended up at another’s feet because they were closer. “Be more precise then!” I hear you roar, but it is difficult and is the area that needs the most improvement. Shooting on the other hand feels lovely. Thunderbolt shots have a weight and true thump about them and feel wonderful when they crack against the bar.


For years I have been begging for a game to have the same feel as Guy Ritchie’s first person Nike Advert “Take It To The Next Level”. Nothing has ever excited me more than the concept of a video game showing the experiences of real life footballer has. Being discovered, getting an agent, dealing with the press, the money, getting transferred all of these things seem to be present in The Journey the demo version was very enjoyable and I cannot wait to experience it fully.


Evoland 2 – The Verdict

Evoland 2 – The Verdict

Evoland 2 is the successor to the 2013 game Evoland, developed by French studio, Shiro Games. Created for Ludum Dare #24, the original game found near universal praise from fans for taking the RPG of yesteryear, cherry picking best parts of what made them great and sticking them all together with a great soundtrack, strong visual aesthetic and some on point cultural references. The icing on the cake was to take the player on a journey between the 8 bit and 3D worlds depending on the narrative developments. This combination of features led to some people regarding it as one of, it not the best indie RPG ever made.


When you give the sequel its full name Evoland 2: A Slight Case of Spacetime Continuum Disorder, you get a feeling for the unique selling point. Not only are you transferring between 8-bit and 3D worlds, you are also travelling forwards and backwards in time. The farther back you go, the older the game looks. You start off in the tutorial with a green-screen Game Boy mode and move up to the present which is portrayed in wonderful smooth HD.

You are not alone on your adventures. Companions follow you around for most of the game granting you abilities to help traverse the environments removing boulders or tough foliage as well as providing a combat ability in any of the scenarios the game throws at you, be it in RPG mode or any of the other modes the game possesses. Companions are invisible most of the time only popping out in person during story points.


While playing you will trip over references and nods to other popular RPG’s. One moment you will be reminded of Zelda while opening a chest and whacking weeds, next, you will be thinking about the Warcraft games while you are having a conversation with King Arthos about an attack from the city of GENOVA which then reminds you of Final Fantasy VII. You get the point. If you like spotting references, you will love this game.

There is an entire section where you escape from a dungeon in stealth…while hiding in a box. The game even MAKES you choose a preset nickname for your hero at one point. I chose “Solid Snail” as an homage to that dungeon escape and characters occasionally reference that choice, guaranteeing a chuckle..


One of the few complaints about the first game was the length. You won’t be able to make that complaint with this game. More levels, more short mini games, more story elements. More of everything. Yet it’s the story that I have a gripe with. This an issue with any text based game. It can take several minutes to complete a conversation between your characters while you are just watching and not interacting. While, that is typical of old style RPG’s and is a deliberate choice, it’s just not one that works very well when long periods of plot are being churned out on screen.

If that is the worst side of the Evoland 2, the good stuff is a whole lot better.


Without so much as a warning the game throws you into other genres so you are not just playing a top down RPG. All of a sudden you will be in a platformer, scrolling left to right and jumping onto blocks. Or a scrolling spaceship shoot’em up! and many more. They also included genuinely difficult puzzles you have to complete in order to progress the story. In a scene in a library you have to pass 6 of 8 trials. They too are challenging and will take longer to do then you would expect. These changes to the tempo and style in this manner is a refreshing change up to what would otherwise be a traditional RPG.

The core of the game is a perfect modern representation of old RPG’s in the 8 bit sections and then switching to a side scrolling platformer was very intuitive and at several points you spot throw backs to games from that genre too. Super Mario Jellyfish and Echo The Dolphin style air pockets underwater, amongst many others.


The game also has many collectibles for masochists. Gold Stars, Achievements and even a card collecting based mini-game are all present. (Think Final Fantasy VIII’s Triple Triad.) All of which are available purely as an optional pursuit. There is a rudimentary crafting system with a blacksmith providing the highest tier items if you can provide him with the rare ore which exists scattered amongst the time zones and a witch who can improve your companions skills and provide potions if you have the correct items for her. The is no map or objective list at all. This is probably a design choice to throwback to what the classic RPG’s were like but I did find that when I returned to the game after a break, I had forgotten what quest I was on and had to roam around looking for where I was supposed to be heading.

Overall, I had a blast with this game. These days every time there is a sequel to a much loved game you are almost pre-programmed to think that they will mess it up, betray what the original stood for and cash in. Not in this case. The sequel has been done correctly. It hasn’t cheapened the core values of what came before,  it has expanded on them in every direction and has been an utter delight to play.
The Verdict: Head Shot

Platform Available/Reviewed – PC

Review code supplied by PR for the developer.