Nintendo have a habit of tinkering with their handhelds, rehashing and improving designs over a console’s lifespan until we usually end up with a product that, arguably, should have been the one released to the public in the first place.
An improved stand
The current stand that pops out of the back of the Switch is, to be honest, a bit rubbish. The flimsy plastic feels like it’s going to snap every time you try to open it, and it’s so small and unstable it struggles to hold the console upright on anything except a completely flat surface.
Even if you do find one of these there’s no guarantee it will remain upright, as I recently found out when attempting some Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in (coincidentally enough) a moving car. The Switch just refused stay upright on a fold-down table, flopping onto it’s back every time the car came across a bump in the road or a gentle corner, rendering the impromptu multiplayer session over before it could even begin.
What’s more, the angle of the stand is far too steep and can’t be adjusted, so in order to get a comfortable viewpoint while playing, the Switch must be either on a surface that’s almost at eye level, or placed further away from you, meaning you’ll most likely struggle to see what’s happening on the six-inch screen.
Both these problems could be solved by sticking a proper stand on the back of the Switch, preferably one that runs the entire length of the console and with decent grip for added stability, and can also be fixed at multiple degrees for better viewing angles.
More comfortable Joy-Cons
I have no problem with the concept of the Joy-Con, in fact, as I mentioned in our recent look at ARMS, I’ve been nothing but impressed by their versatility for things like split-screen multiplayer and their accuracy when used as motion controllers. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be improved upon, most notably in the comfort department.
Using the Switch as a handheld for any significant amount of time is very reminiscent of the original 3DS, who’s angled edges were not very welcoming to the palms. While the Joy-Cons aren’t as uncomfortable as that, a slightly thicker and more rounded design, one a little bit closer to those found on regular controllers, would help alleviate hand cramps and any discomfort that comes with longer gaming sessions, and wouldn’t necessarily damage the console’s portability either.
The same could be said of the Joy-Con’s face buttons, which are a little small and can start to dig into your fingers, especially when playing games like Mario Kart where you’re constantly holding down the A button to accelerate. The control sticks could also do with some tweaking, just to make them a bit more accurate. They’re fine for games where they are mostly used for movement and camera control, like Breath of the Wild, but FPS fans may find the rigidity of the current design off-putting.
The Pro Controller does, admittedly, deal with the latter two issues, but it would be nice if the original design of the Joy-Con was good enough that the Pro could be thought of as a luxury, and not a necessity.
A dock that won’t damage your console
This isn’t technically a handheld issue like the other two, but it’s such a big problem that it needed to be included. How Nintendo looked at the dock before release and decided it was fit for launch boggles the mind.
For such an integral part of the Switch’s ethos, the part that actually helps give the console its name, it’s incredibly poorly built. The plastic feels cheap when compared to rest of the Switch (minus the aforementioned stand), it bends easily, and, worst of all, it has a texture that I can only think was chosen by someone who hates screens and wants to see them die.
The fact that people are selling tiny pieces of sticky-back felt on eBay, perfectly measured for the runners that guide your Switch into the dock, so you don’t scratch the screen is almost ridiculous. As Sam pointed out in his first look at the Switch, docking and undocking with the current design requires almost surgeon levels of steadiness, which can hardly be what Nintendo had in mind when they came up with the concept.
If Nintendo do break from tradition and stand by the design of the Switch, then they at least need to address the dock issue as its damaging such an integral part of the experience.
So, those were a few improvements I’d like to see on any Switch redesign. Do you agree? What would you like to see changed, or is the Switch good as it is? Sound off below.
I’ll be honest, I was very sceptical of virtual reality’s potential to make an impact in today’s gaming landscape. It’s probably because the two platforms I use (Xbox One and a very basic laptop) are both incompatible with the current, and upcoming, headsets on the market. There was a small part of me that wanted VR to fail as a result.
While I was hacking away at 6ft skeletons and being dwarfed by an even more terrifying GLaDOS, I thought of a couple of games that would benefit from the implementation of virtual reality. As it’s the only VR set I’ve yet to try, my ideas are naturally focused around the Vive and its hardware, but Sam has helpfully stopped this piece becoming a total HTC love-in by coming up with a title he’d like to see make it to PlayStation VR.
XCOM is all about surveying the battlefield whilst deducing a plan of action appropriate to how the conflict is playing out - attack, defend, or more often in my case, retreat. VR would allow for a closer engagement with the battlefield, giving players a better idea of how the forthcoming conflict is likely to play out. The Vive’s use of spatial tracking could also go a long way in making players feel like a real commander, allowing them to walk around the map and quite literally hand pick units with the motion controllers.
This freedom of movement could also benefit the combat experience. Rather than relying on a lottery, as is the current XCOM set up, selecting a unit to attack with would instead see the player step into the role of that soldier and take control of things personally. With the Vive it would be possible to peek around cover, dodge incoming fire and line up shots for yourself, making the turn-based combat system that little bit more fluid.
I know it’s being done with Arkham VR, but hear me out, a solo sleuth-’em-up this ain't.
During my time with Vive, there were numerous moments when the demo handler would call out advice to me as he watched my actions play out on a PC monitor. This backseat gamer got me thinking that while VR headsets may not be the most inclusive way to game, there is scope for some sort of co-op.
The person wearing the VR headset could play as Batman and explore Gotham, while another person would step into the role of Babara ‘Oracle’ Gordon. While Batman would handle the combat side of things with motion controlled punch-ups, the other person playing as Oracle on the PC could use the character’s hacking and espionage skills to aid Bruce and his alter ego in detective work, offering up completely different yet tandem experiences.
It could also work in reverse, the PC player controlling an Arkham-like experience, whilst the one with the headset enters the matrix, so to speak.
The idea appears to have already been explored in DC’s Birds of Prey comic series, but it’d be great to see it come to fruition in this medium.
The PlayStation Move controller is literally a perfect fit for wielding the series' signature net and baton; whilst I realise that ground has already been trodden, instead of giving us an on-rails bastardisation, give us a full-fledged adventure this time around. The game would still work perfectly on the DualShock 4 as well, just like it did on the controller’s great grandson, offering that all important inclusivity PSVR titles like to tout.
Ape Escape's titular primates have character to spare, so it also makes perfect sense to bring players up close and personal with them like never before. We'd be in for a raucous treat similar to Ubisoft's Rabbids VR Ride, only housed in a fleshed out game.
Come on Sony, forget working on the rumoured Knack 2 - nobody wants that - make lightning strike twice and showcase your new tech with Ape Escape instead!
So those were three virtual reality game ideas we at PTC would like to see become genuine reality. What franchise would you like to see get the VR treatment? Let us know over in the forums or comment below.
Let me start by saying that I'm a fan of the whole achievement (and trophy) system. Just hearing the ping and seeing the little notification pop up gives me the same feeling that I imagine many of you get when you receive a text message from a loved one, or see a rival gang member trip over on a busy street (this example may not apply to everyone). Joy, maybe? Happiness? I don't know. One of the feelings.
Gems of War - Mythical Creature - 15G
The reasons why this sends me into a blind rage are myriad. Most importantly, it's because this achievement was added mere hours after I had gained 100% completion. If you look over this thread, you'll notice that this is a big deal, as it was - or would've been - the first game I'd managed to 100% that didn't have only unmissable achievements.
I attempted to gauge how long this one achievement would take to get, but the maths started to get very complicated round about the time I was working out the probability of my great-great-great-great-grandson opting to take over the family Gamertag, which had been passed down for generations. If you think it’s sexist that my great-great-great-great-granddaughter wasn’t asked to do it, then shame on you. It’s simply because she has far better things to do with her life than play this stupid little game that was invented before people had even heard of the three seashells.
Gears of War - Commando - 30G
Exploding Lambent Wretches and Berserkers with a supernatural ability to locate even the quietest of muscle bound soldiers, only served to slow us down, as we valiantly chainsawed our way through the Locust horde, filled General RAAM with lead and spilled enough blood to make the world's largest (and most disgusting) Bloody Mary.
"But Crisco," you start to wonder, "How could such a handsome man - with an unbelievable amount of wit, charm and charisma - not have enjoyed gaining this outstanding achievement? Maybe we could discuss this over a drink or two?"
Well, incredibly observant and hypothetical reader, it's because this took place before the aforementioned co-op buddy and I had Xbox Live. We don't have any proof of this, nor do we have that achievement unlocked on our profiles.
I know what some of you are thinking: Gears of War was given away free as part of the Games with Gold program and is now backwards compatible. It would be easy enough to get that achievement. It would be, but then I’m down one entry and this whole thing would seem unfinished.
That would clearly be the worst thing that has ever happened.
Watchmen: The End is Nigh, Parts 1 and 2 - Most of the achievements - up to 400G
Some of the achievements are almost too easy, completing the game with one character took me only a couple of hours, and I regularly eat out of date food just to see if I get sick (yes, yes I do). Some, however, require a Sam Sant-ian level of skill that I do not possess. For example, flawlessly pulling off all eight of your character’s combos in 1 minute, which necessitates being in a place with enough enemies to withstand a monumental beating, but not enough to overwhelm you.
All of this would be fine if it wasn't for the Gamerscore you are 'awarded' for most of them - 8's, 11's and 36's threaten to ruin your profile unless you can get the full set.
No more will my Gamerscore end in a pleasing 0 or 5, which, I'm sure we all agree, would be the new worst thing that has ever happened.
Red Dead Redemption - Dastardly - 5G
Dastardly, as an achievement, fits perfectly. It's an incredibly old-timey Western thing to do. You hog-tie a woman, gently place her on the nearest train tracks and watch as the speeding locomotive turns her into a fine, red mist.
Don’t get me wrong, I'm not one of those who believe that violent games make people violent -the same way I don't believe that playing Minecraft makes you an architect - but the fact that Dastardly is a secret achievement means everyone knows that I wasn't doing that for a virtual high-five and some imaginary points. It was simply for my own sick amusement.
I love the game, I love the achievement, but I hate that it shows me to be the sort of person who will commit the most sickening acts if they think no-one is watching.
At least I wasn't one of the many people who admitted to sacrificing a nun just for the measly 5G...
Now, how about that drink you were talking about? Share your achievement/trophy woes with us in the forums, or leave them in a comment below.
We chat to Delirium Studios’ designer and creative director, Arturo Monedero, about new game The Delusions of Von Sottendorff & His Square Mind, Justin Bieber, Monkey Island, the European indie scene, and mosquitoes.
Forty people have been involved in the production process, over four years of hard work. This is a big difference from our previous work The Rivers of Alice, which was a much more intimate and personal creation. Von Sottendorff retains Delirium’s soul though, but we have completely changed our tone.
What inspired you and your team during the development stage?
We wanted to develop a new platform game, with a different and original mechanic - but in keeping with the flavour of the classics. We also wanted to recreate a more "European" aesthetic and atmosphere. One could say that there are three key references in which inspired the development: for mechanics, the 15-puzzle game; for its platform side, Jet Set Willy (a very old Spectrum game); and for the story & character, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (by Terry Gilliam). My own nice memories of those references have impregnated this development.
Can you tell us about your team at Delirium Studios? How you got started, where you're based etc.
Sure! This adventure began nine years ago in Bilbao - a beautiful city in northern Spain. Delirium Studios has three main partners, all there from the very beginning: Asier Quesada (CEO), Ivan Armada (CTO) and myself (CCO). We began developing advergames, animation and 3D. We needed to learn a lot before making the leap to the video games industry, and becoming independent developers.
After three years we got there, with Kinito Ninja - our first game. We got some revenues and some international awards with this first title, so we decided to focus on game development. At that point we left advertising agencies and “clients” aside. This was one of the most courageous decisions we have ever made in our life, but one that provided us more happiness…
Gradually, we accelerated our productions’ quality level, until The Rivers of Alice saw the light – a title as personal as it was strange, but the one which placed us in the national and international scene. Today, we have six people in the team, but at some points we are as many as twenty - crazy!
...It is a very difficult market - between AAA and indie developments, there is a tremendous desert...
How difficult is it for indie developers in this current market?
It is a very difficult market - between AAA and indie developments, there is a tremendous desert. The player is so demanding because he/she really does not care if your game is developed in Bilbao or New York - it is difficult to make a space for yourself on the international tablecloth. To achieve it takes time and hard work – a great effort.
In Spain, the situation is not particularly good, four hundred studios have emerged, and the country has no capacity to absorb all the titles going on sale. International communication is a must – not investing in it could mean your studio vanishes before you get to launch your second title. I would like to know what American indies’ point of view is in this regard… Would they feel the same as I?
What advice would you give to someone looking to work in the video gaming industry?
Years ago, I would have said to start up a studio with three friends and explore... Nowadays, I really think the levels of market saturation don’t allow enough space for trial and error... I would advise them to get experience from a larger company. It is interesting to get hired and learn as much as you can before: i.e. how do they work, how do they produce, why do they do what they do like they do, etc. Do not stop learning and observing until you have enough experience to make the leap and become a well-trained indie developer. We would probably only need four years to produce what took us eight…
What game(s) have had the biggest affect on your life, and why?
This is a tricky question, it is impossible to answer! LOL! It is true that there are games that become a milestone, such as Monkey Island, which taught me that games could be a story, could have humour... Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Tim Schafer and I felt like a teen fan in front of Justin Bieber, hahaha!
There are so many games I can’t leave out, such as Flashback on the Mega Drive, Age of Empires, Journey (which reconciled me with current video games) or The Last of Us (which taught me there is already hope with AAA).
What are you hopes and plans for Von Sottendorff looking into the future?
We are very excited for our game to get out there, we hope players are gonna like it! We think we have made a great game, and we are very much proud of it – we paid particular attention to the little details. We think it's a great covering letter for Delirium Studios, and Nintendo the best possible framework. If you let me dream, I would like to see Von Sottendorff on other platforms later on, and if it gets some success, I would take out my notes to start with the second part! But I am a dreamer…
What's next for Delirium Studios?
Personally, I am in the funnest moment of my job, giving shape to new ideas to become new titles. It is like being faced with a clay block that you have to start molding. It is too early to say what is it going to be about or which mechanics will be included at this time. However, what I could say for sure is that we always aim to develop differently, to make very unique stuff or to tell an interesting story - otherwise, we wouldn’t develop.
If you were on a desert island (it has power) and could only take one console, what would you take, and why?
Oh! Lots of doubts: Do I have a TV? ... I see many logistical problems in there… and I don’t know if I will be rescued. Uhmm.. I think it would be more sensible to take a Game Boy, with a huge battery pack and hundreds of games. It's simple, it would never break down, it has great games and without a back-lit display, mosquitoes won’t bother me!
Thanks to Arturo, Asier and Alexandra at Delirium for the interview. The Delusions of Von Sottendorff & His Square Mind is out now for Nintendo 3DS - look out for our review in the coming weeks. Why not check out Delirium’s earlier work, The Rivers of Alice too!