Friday! Video games! Let’s talk!
Earlier this month The Well-Red Mage asked the blogosphere “what IP would you bring back from the dead?”
So let’s put on our musty robe, grab the nearest athame and spellbook, and step into a hand-drawn occult symbol to work some good ol’ fashioned video game necromancy, shall we?
Let me begin by saying that I consider myself a Xeno– fan. Xenogears on the PS1 is not only one of the greatest RPGs I’ve ever played, but also one of my favorite games of all time. I enjoyed the Xenosaga trilogy on PS2, Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii, and what little I managed to play of Xenoblade Chronicles X on Wii U. However, after spending 7 hours with the Nintendo Switch’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I’m struggling to remain interested in just about everything the game has to offer.
For starters, the story feels like it’s going absolutely nowhere — fair warning, I’m about to spoil the game’s first 60 minutes.
I finally managed to get my hands on the elusive SNES Classic, so of course, the first thing I did was hack it. My mini SNES is currently stuffed with 127 different games, ranging from the Sega Master System and Sega Genesis to the various members of the Game Boy family, NES, and SNES. It’s beautiful.
*I used Syndrome208’s tutorial here, which took about two hours.
However, the wired controllers that come packed in with the console are a bit on the short side. I have a wall-mounted TV, so needless to say they wouldn’t even reach my couch.
After a little online sleuthing, I discovered this handy wireless dongle made by the fine folks at 8bitdo — who also make a variety of wireless controllers that mimic the look and feel of yesteryear’s models, but with modern features like dual analog sticks and extra shoulder buttons.
What the dongle does is plug directly into the SNES Classic and allow you to sync any 8bitdo wireless controller to your console. But what it also allows you to do is pair any wireless controller with Bluetooth functionality, like the PS3 and PS4 DualShocks, a Wiimote, or the Wii U’s Pro Controller.
The reviews on Amazon seemed mostly positive, so I took the $13 gamble. It was either that or never play my SNES Classic.
Well, the dongle arrived earlier today and I had a chance to put it through its paces using a Wii U Pro Controller. This was probably the first time my Wii U Pro Controller had been turned on since Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze released back in February of 2014, so you can imagine it was pretty dusty when I pulled it out of the office drawer. But hey, at least it’s getting a little love now!
The dongle’s packaging contained minimal instructions for pairing it with an 8bitdo controller, but what about my Pro Controller? It was exactly the same. I plugged it into the player one controller port, turned the SNES Classic on, pressed the sync button on my Wii U Pro Controller, and then pressed the red sync button on the front of the dongle. Within seconds they were paired together and I was well on my way to finishing Contra for the 200th time.
Now, the SNES controller is still comfortable by today’s standards. If you want an authentic experience and you can afford it, I’d probably recommend grabbing 8bitdo’s SN30 2.4G (standard SNES) or SN30 Pro (adds dual analog sticks) model to accompany the wireless dongle. Their controllers can pair up with your Nintendo Switch as well and are far less expensive than the $70 Pro Controller.
I wanted a way to play my SNES Classic wirelessly from the comfort of my couch, so the Wii U Pro Controller works just fine. It’s comfortable, has a nice d-pad for platformers and fighting games, and I’m sure as hell not using my Wii U anytime soon so there’s no fear of having to sync it back and forth. You can also wirelessly reset the console by pressing down on the d-pad + select, which allows you to access your list of games without having to physically reset the SNES Classic (the only method available using its accompanied wired controllers).
I haven’t experienced any sort of input lag or performance issues up to 15-feet away, but I was unable to test any further distances due to the size of my office. Whether I was hopping over platforms in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, throwing rocks at Jason in Friday the 13th, navigating a battle menu in Chrono Trigger, or delivering spinning piledrivers as Zangief in Street Fighter II Turbo, every button press always worked as intended.
If you’re looking for a cheap way to enjoy your SNES Classic from a distance, I definitely recommend picking up the Retro Receiver. It’s a wise investment.
Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds Overdrive
Developer: Mages Inc.
Publisher: Mages Inc.
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
*a digital copy of this game was provided for the purpose of this review.
As a beat-em-up spin-off to the fighting game Phantom Breaker, Battle Grounds Overdrive has an eye-catching art style that mostly serves as its standout feature. It’s not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but its fighting game toolset is a little too quirky for this type of experience — a fault that’s only exacerbated when there’s so much chaos on-screen that it becomes a bit too troublesome to time some of the game’s key maneuvers.
However, those looking for a local co-op brawler with a bit of depth and character progression thrown in are bound to enjoy a strikingly similar experience to 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game.
2017 has been a complete shitshow for a number of reasons, but there’s no denying that it’s been a pretty incredible twelve months for video games. We’ve seen big release after big release, a brand new Nintendo console, a late-generation upgrade from Xbox, an Early Access game destroy records, a free visual novel develope a cult following, and a plethora of titles from smaller teams that continue to provide unique experiences not found in the AAA space.
We’re mere mortals, of course, and there were plenty of games I didn’t have the time (or money) to check out. Night in the Woods and Tacoma are both narrative adventures that seem right up my alley, while Prey and >OBSERVER_ are likely to scratch that sci-fi/horror itch. I never got around to Tales of Berseria, The Evil Within 2, or Yakuza Kiwami, which are staring at me in disappointment from atop my game shelf. I’ve barely touched Stardew Valley, Wulverblade, Morphite, Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds, and Golf Story on my Switch, and I haven’t really scratched the surface of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
Then there’s Uncharted: Lost Legacy, Horizon: Zero Dawn’s Frozen Wilds DLC, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s new DLC that just released on December 7th, Splatoon 2, and the 3DS remaster of Dragon Quest VIII that are still on my to-buy list. It never ends! But, I did manage to play a large chunk of 2017’s notable releases.
I’ve narrowed my ultimate list down to 10 games. Comprising this year’s list was tougher than any other before it. Enjoy!
Friday! Video games! Let’s talk!