Neversong Nintendo Switch review: far from the same ol’ song

Metroidvania games seem to be popping up like crazy as of late. There is a possibility you could miss out on a good one as a result, but these are always fun to come back and discover. In fact, I’ve never even heard of Neversong until I was introduced to it by a colleague.

Like most Metroidvania games, it’s all about the quaint beauty of what you find within the world as you explore through it. And while Neversong’s overall game length isn’t quite as extensive as other titles on the market, it packs quite a bit into its short but sweet adventure.

In the game, you play Peet, a kid who goes investigating the disappearance of his girlfriend in the midst of an imaginative, but dangerous, town of Neverwood. Along the way, you’ll visit six different areas, each with their own bosses and other terrors, as you attempt to fend them off with a spiked baseball bat, and work alongside buddies and a helpful bird to find out what’s going on.

Where Neversong truly excels is within its story. It’s fascinating to see how this all unfolds, thanks to fun dialogue that doesn’t really stay too down in the dumps, even though the tone is definitely about on the same level as, say, Tim Burton or Guillermo del Toro. There’s also some interesting twists, and even time for a song or two, playing out rather beautifully when the situation calls for it.
As far as gameplay goes, Neversong has a bit in common with the indie darling Hollow Knight, although there are some differences when it comes to getting around. You can use a pair of gauntlets to grab ropes and find better maneuverability; and your pals can lend a hand in certain situations too, even with something as simple as a few words. It can be a little loose at times, especially with character control, but it still works. And the boss fights are a lot of fun, albeit a little challenging.

When it comes to presentation, Neversong also scores an impressive win. It looks gorgeous with its well-designed world, and the animations are pretty well done. There’s also a bizarre approach to character design that must be seen to be believed. The music is also terrific, thanks to some awesome piano tunes that play consistently in the background. Get the headset for this one if you can.

Alas, the journey does come to an end all too soon. But a game like this is really more about that the destination anyway. Neversong has more than enough within its few hours of play to warrant a look, and the exquisite soundtrack and engaging storyline will keep you intrigued as you continue on your way. There are better Metroidvania games out there, and yet this one gets a hearty recommendation as well. There’s always room for one more, right?

RATING: 8/10

Nintendo Direct 2021

They got us in the first half. 

Nintendo had players eagerly awaiting the Nintendo Direct announcement today on February 17, all to hear what Nintendo has in stock for us in the first half of 2021. With recent announcements like Sephiroth added to the Super Smash Bros. roster, the upcoming 35th anniversary for Legend of Zelda, and a few choice older games being mentioned for a reboot, we can look forward to an interesting Direct.  

Nintendo Direct starts out with the new adventure where Pyra had gone missing… Rex searched all over for her only to find her on a lone floating rock. Pyra brings the power of the Aegis to Smash! We can look forward to some of her best and beautiful moves used in-game, but don’t let Pyra get caught in a pinch, as Mythra will awaken and take over the battle for Pyra! Not one, but two! We can look forward to seeing moves like Chroma Sight on unsuspecting Smash players. Not only is this a two-for-one character, but you can change freely between them both! As well as the two characters, you get the whole team for support as well as a new map on the back of the dragon.  

Super Smash Bros. brings Xenoblade Chronicles 2 into the game, with a SMASH! 

Fall Guys appears next in the Nintendo Direct, now coming to Nintendo Switch! Get all that glorious fun silliness on a whole new system this Summer 2021! 

You have 22 minutes before the solar system is destroyed. In this new game, it will reset every time your 22 minutes is up. You can try to stop the sun from exploding, or cruise and enjoy the solar system of Outer Wilds this summer! 

Famicom Detective Club is next to make an appearance on the Nintendo Switch. A Classic JRPG game is brought to North Americas and the rest of the world. Both games will be brought to the Nintendo Switch. In the first game, you’ll look for your memories and try to figure out who did this to you before it’s too late. In the next game, you’ll be looking for a girl whose story is tragic, but can you save her from it?  

A new age of battles begins on our next slide in Nintendo Direct. In this beautifully drawn game, Samurai Warriors 5, you’ll continue the history of your Samurai character, all new designs, and visuals this summer.  

Legend of Mana is coming to the Nintendo Switch! For those of you who remember this piece of work from back in the day, you’ll see the upgraded visuals and sounds. You can join forces with additional characters, where each has their own adventures. You can choose between new music or the original soundtrack. They also brought a new mini-game to the game to help keep you busy when you’re deciding what to do! 

Monster Hunter makes its debut today in the Nintendo Direct. Monster Hunter: Rise brings us back to the original storyline of Monster Hunter, where 50 years later they start to take their home back.  Enjoy updated graphics and familiar faces from Monster Hunter

Mario Golf makes its way back to the Nintendo Switch with new features to enable your golf game. Beautifully redone courses and new music lends to a whole new way of playing Mario Golf. You can now play Mario Golf with buttons or using the motion controls to get a real feel for the club. Plenty of new ways to play Mario Golf, including SPEED GOLF where you and your friends will tee-off at the same time and race to the end of the course. Nintendo Miis are available to customize for your Mario Golf adventure where you will have the main campaign to go from Rookie to Pro in no time! 

Nintendo went on to announce some old games that will be coming to Nintendo Switch in a download called Nintendo Arcade available later today for download.  

Play as Travis Touchdown as you fight all kinds of different enemies, but that’s not the weirdest part. You’ll have to go around town and do some chores and odd jobs, in order to unlock to next boss. The fate of the world is at stake, so get ready to kick some alien booty. No More Heroes 3, available August.  

Exterminate demons in heaven. Play as an assassin in heaven, because someone’s gotta do the dirty world. Use cards to attack and move your character through the world, if you can’t keep moving, you’ll start from the beginning. Neon White, be the last sinner, winter 2021. 

DC Super Girls, play as the girls of DC. Batgirl, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman are joined by Harley Quinn. Teen Power is available June 4, and perfect for that little superhero in your life.  

Remember Plants Vs Zombies? Well, now they have the complete edition available on the Switch in March! You can tackle all the missions, bosses and just enjoy the original puzzle game! With new graphics and updated controls for the Switch, this is a must-have for that Zombie Killer in your life.  

Save faces!!! Miitopia!  Miitopia is making its way to the Nintendo Switch! Join ANYONE on adventures and save or defeat your friends. You can customize your miis even more now as they added new hairstyles, clothing, and sound options.  

Animal Crossing announces that Mario’s 35th Anniversary items will be available to order in March! As usual, you’ll order these through the Nook Shopping, so enjoy them as you can use them as they were intended! Wanna use a pipe to travel? Make sure you put two down!  These items will become available on March 1st! 

Your morals and your strength will be tested in this next game from Nintendo. Fight with Fredrica, Benedict, and others as you follow your chosen path. Project Triangle Strategy, the Saltiron War broke out against the land of Azerala. In a tactical RPG, you’ll need to be aware of how close you are to your enemies. Link attacks together to make stronger spells, team up with your allies to survey the battlefield and prepare for war. Coming 2022, the demo will be available after the Nintendo Direct.  

Star Wars makes its appearance on the Nintendo Switch, with STAR WARS Hunters, coming 2021. Set between Episode 6 and 7, it’s an all-out PVP game. Play as your favorite heroes, and save, or defeat the universe.  

Kung Fu City, play with a team as you run around town playing a ‘dodgeball’ type of game. Run, hide, and hunt down your enemies. Customize your characters with anything you can think of, want to be the dude from Call of Duty? Want to look like Samus? You can do it. Coming Summer 2021.  

The next game based in Japan. Side-scrolling fun for the whole family, making your way home to Tokyo you’ll come across many enemies and new friends. World’s End Club, coming May 28th

Hades is getting a Physical Release that comes with the original soundtrack and a thirty-two-page graphic artwork for you to admire for days on end. Coming March 19th.  

Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3 are all coming out on the Nintendo Switch. Play the original storylines that brought us knuckle-deep in super ninjas fulfilling their destinies. Ninja Gaiden Master Collection, coming June 10th

Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity is getting an expansion pass that will cover the next six months with updates directly to the game.  

February 26th Bravely Default 2 will be available! 

Side-scrolling medieval fun, now supporting local co-op. Ghost and Goblins resurrections is available for pre-order! 

Apex Legends comes to Nintendo Switch! Double XP for two weeks after launch on Nintendo Switch, on March 9th.  

Fall Nintendo Direct for more Legend of Zelda news, including updates about Breath of The Wild 2. For now, they are releasing Skyward Sword HD on the Switch coming out July 16th. Specialized Legend of Zelda Joy-Con controllers are also coming out to add to your Legend of Zelda collection! 

Splatoon makes its appearance next, with a full-on customizable character and pet a new world… Splatoon 3 makes its way onto the scene! Enjoy updated graphics, moves, and smooth handling. New character looks will add to your total custom look! Coming to the Switch 2022. 

So much in the first half from Nintendo, we can look forward to a busy year for all kinds of fans!

Check in, in the fall for the second half!

Pokémon Snap: AHH SNAP!

Let’s go back to the year 1999 when I was just a youngling learning the ways of the Nintendo 64 and all of its glory. There came out a wonderful game of such impact that I didn’t even know that to this day, I still would be gushing in awe that I still remember and love it soo much!

Time for a trip to the beach

Here you are looking at this game and not knowing what is about to do down. Insert the cartridge to get that satisfying feel, see the beautiful N64 logo floating and cutting to “POKEMON ISLAND” without foreknowledge your about to go down to witness Pokémon like we have never before. Skipping ahead past the start screen, just to get to the best part of getting ported down a track and your ZERO-ONE pod that goes to the “GOAL-GATE” to exit the current level, here we will sit back and whip out the “Poke-Cam” out and begin our great journey of capturing great almost amazing picture’s. The first Pokémon we encounter on the beach is a “Pidgey” and not just one but almost a whole flock. Equipped only with just a roll of 60 pictures before our “FILM” ( I have put the word “FILM” in quotations for the reason that whoever reads this knows that we used to have a physical form of photography and not just digital media and yes even in a video game where they could’ve just given us all the space.) would run out so making sure to take only the best and identifying pics to add to our new and growing collection.

All of the Easter Eggs!

For all those that think that this is just a snap and go….. let me tell you that you will be pleasantly surprised for this ALL MIGHT of a game! Get ready for a Detroit slam to just blindside you. The amount of work you must put in to figure out that every level that you will play has so many different Pokémon interactions. Apples, pester balls, and ZEE Poke-Flute, these items become your best friend to get to all the awesome and special interactions on every level that we travel to. My favorite one has to be the Magikarp to Gyarados evolve. We first start off by trying to knock a Magikarp at a Mankey with a pester ball that will then hit it over to the dancing Gravelers, proceed to throw another pester ball to knock it over to the waterfall, where it jumps in and out pops out a Gyarados!! OOOOO buddy my first time doing this is still one of my top moments in this beautiful game. Take your time to enjoy the fact that you are taking pictures of Pokémon in an almost pure state free and wild!

New Pokémon snap!

OMG!!! 22 long years and here in April. We will be receiving something so grand yet so majestic to tantalize our imagination’s as new and veterans return to take a plethora of such great pictures. The game will take place on three different islands! We shall be also be figuring out a mysterious glow that is on the Pokémon “The Illumina Phenomenon”. Lental region is looking to be the best place for us to pick back up where our “PHOTO POKE- JOURNMILISM” began. My only reservation for this is that I hope they make so many different interactions that every playthrough is fresh not just a copy and paste of the last one. My excitement is through the roof so hold on to your butts for this new endeavor!

Biped Nintendo Switch review: walk this way

You have to admire a developer that knows how to put a great co-op experience together – especially these days when people are looking for more games to play locally since they’re stuck inside. This is where NEXT Studios’ charming Biped comes in, a fun little adventure where you guide a pair of robots through a series of puzzles, activating switches, destroying crates, and performing other tasks.

The game can be played solo as well, so you don’t necessarily need a partner to conquer everything that Biped has to offer. Still, it helps, and adds a level of creativity to the game, along with the other cool items that you can unlock. But with its short length, does Biped run out of steam before it gets started?

A Unique Control Scheme

One benefit that makes Biped stand out from its competition is its extraordinary control scheme. It does take some slight getting used to, as you use the analog sticks to move each leg of your robot. You can also slide around some surfaces, though generally, you’re going to be doing a lot of jerking to walk. (Don’t take that the wrong way.)

What an adorable little hero. And he gets around.

It’s a swell idea; and after a minute of practice or so, it really pays off for the game. You really feel the natural movement of your character; and the thrill of executing something the right way after a few tries is definitely there. I was pleased with the end result here.

The game separates single-player levels and co-op levels, so you don’t feel stuck if you have just one option and not the other. Both are worth checking out, as you can collect coins throughout and use them to unlock some fun cosmetics for your characters. It’s not every day you see a wonky little robot wearing a chicken hat, after all.

That said, Biped does come up a little short in replay value. There’s the single-player game and the co-op game, but that’s really about it. This would’ve benefitted from a New Game+ with even more challenging levels. Without it, Biped comes to a close all too soon.

A Charming, If Slightly Flawed, Presentation

Another benefit that Biped brings is an overall set of charming visuals. The level design is excellent and really stands out, with a variety of locales and terrain to visit and conquer. What’s more, the animations are cute; and it’s fun seeing some of the little effects that take place. But there are times that the graphics can stutter a little bit, with smoothness suffering as a result.

Co-op is surprisingly fun in Biped.

The sound is equally entertaining. The music is a nice selection of tunes that fit the characters; and the effects are right on cue. And the game isn’t weighed down by annoying voices either. These lead characters speak volumes as it is.

A Short But Sweet Little Journey

If you’re the sort of person looking for a prolonged game experience that’ll last a few days, well, Biped isn’t it. However, if it’s an inventive and fun single-player or co-op game you want to burn a few hours with – and you just need to get a cowboy hat in-game to call your own – then it’s a fitting game to hit the road with.

RATING: 7.5/10

It’s a bit short on game length, but Biped has its moments for single players and co-op teams.

Interview: Harold Goldberg discusses his in-depth podcast with Reggie Fils-Aime

Podcasts these days are fascinating to listen to, especially when they go deep with their subjects. And that’s exactly what Harold Goldberg has done with Talking Games, a limited series podcast he’s hosting alongside former Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aime.

Over the past few weeks, the duo has talked with a number of guests, including Xbox head Phil Spencer. That episode can be found below.

But what prompted the duo to get together in the first place? And what’s more, where could the show be headed next? We had a chance to chat with Goldberg about the creation of Talking Games, as well as other subjects. Take it away, Harold!

Getting Started

DVS Gaming: First off, congrats on the podcast! You’ve had Phil Spencer and Geoff Keighley, and we’re still in the midst of its run. How are you feeling right now?

Harold: Happy. Tired. Elated. I’m so glad the New York Videogame Critics Circle got to do something that hasn’t been done before – with Reggie.

DVS Gaming: How did the podcast come together? Did you go to Reggie and say, “Hey, I’ve got an idea,” or was it the other way around?

Harold: I went to Reggie and said, two things are happening. We’re in the midst of COVID-19 and people are sad and isolated. Plus, the New York Videogame Critics Circle is a nonprofit which mentors, hires paid interns and offers scholarship. Along those lines, I was asked to start a program for young people at a Bronx homeless shelter. I thought we could entertain people and raise money for a great cause at the same time. Thankfully, Reggie, who’s on our board, agreed. We’re raising money at and we would love it if all Reggie fans to donate through that portal.

DVS Gaming: Did you guys go through a few “trial runs” to get the vibe going for the show, or would you say you found it right off the bat?

Harold: I sent Reggie a show run document and a script. We went over a couple of names for the show. Annie Pei, a Circle member from CNBC agreed to produce and we all got along. It was an amazingly good vibe from the get-go.

Reggie is all about podcasting.

The Fans Love It

DVS Gaming: How has the reception to the show been thus far? From what I’ve seen, people really like it.

Harold: It’s been great because it’s unique show. There’s nowhere else where a legendary, former game company president joins forces with a journalist to raise money for charity on a podcast. And Anton Sanko, a Grammy and Emmy winner, scored our music. 

DVS Gaming: What’s the biggest challenge when it comes to putting together a podcast like this?

Harold: We have a great team of volunteers – all Circle members working hard together – while most have their own full-time jobs. I think scheduling sometimes is a challenge. We haven’t had any issues with getting guests or getting our message across. It’s been a smooth process overall and a wonderful experience!

DVS Gaming: Is there anything missing from the show that you’d like to add, or do you think the format is fine the way it is?

Harold: I like the format the way it is. I’d probably like to add live music, but that is a challenge in itself.

DVS Gaming: What guests would you like to see on the show over the course of its run? Shigeru Miyamoto, perhaps? Give us a rundown of your “dream” guests.

Harold: Because of Reggie’s profile and, well, I’ve been around as a journalist for a long time, I think we have every game industry person we’ve wanted to get. In my wildest dreams? Barack Obama, John Lewis, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Jenny Lewis and Paul McCartney.

More For the Future?

DVS Gaming: The game industry is in a rough spot with everything that’s happening right now. Do you believe your podcast provides a way for people to unwind and get better perspective on what’s on the horizon?

Harold: Yes. I hope we can provide entertainment, empathy, and education. There’s not a lot of yukking it up on the podcast. There is humor as you saw with the Phil Spencer and DrLupo episodes. It’s serious but chill, too, and we all have something to say.

DVS Gaming: What’s next after this podcast series concludes? Will you try a different one? Maybe try to bring Reggie back for more? Is his body ready?

Harold: We’re all super busy. I have two books I want to write. The Circle has mentoring throughout the summer and then we begin to produce the 10th New York Game Awards in January (either virtually or in-person). Reggie is quite busy with a number of projects. You’ll have to listen to Episode 7 to find out if we’re going to do this again. I can say it’ll be a special PlayStation episode with lots of surprises – all to benefit homeless students.

You can check out more details on the podcast here!

Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee Nintendo Switch Review: This Ain’t No Stranger

For those unfamiliar with the Oddworld series, Munch’s Oddysee first began as an exclusive on the original Xbox. At the time, Oddworld Inhabitants was itching to give the game some oomph for Microsoft’s platform. It paid off to a certain extent, though some fans believed it was missing the magic of the previously released Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, mainly due to its transition to 3D.

Since that time, the game made the journey to Steam; and now, following the release of the successful Stranger’s Wrath on the platform, Munch’s Oddysee has come to Nintendo’s system. But the real question is whether or not the game can strike lightning on a new platform. That all depends on what you thought of it in the first place, mainly because nothing has really changed.

The Odd Shift To a New Dimension

The big problem with Munch’s Oddysee is that, despite the developer’s good intentions, its transition to 3D wasn’t quite as successful as they had hoped. Part of this is due to the strong nature of the original Oddworld games on PlayStation, which utilized a 2D format and yet made the game experience so compelling. Transitioning that formula into 3D, it doesn’t entirely work.

Sure, Munch’s Oddysee looks charming…but its gameplay fails to follow suit.

And sadly, that’s the same case with the Switch port. On the one hand, there are some engaging moments here, such as speaking with fellow Mudokons or collecting this weird “spooce” currency (that’s an odd word to say, by the way – especially during meetings). But on the other, solving puzzles and getting things done in this world just doesn’t have the same layer of depth, even with the transition into the new dimension.

Abe doesn’t do all the work here. He has to team up with Munch, the “star” of the game, as it were, to get things done. It’s an interesting co-op dynamic, but it hasn’t entirely aged well, with the game’s ancient mechanics to blame. Some people might get into it, but it takes a while to make any true progress. Again, there are fun moments along the way, but the experience as a whole fails to be as compelling as the downright brilliant Stranger’s Wrath.

A Solid Port, But Not Much Improvement To the Gameplay

One huge advantage that Oddworld Inhabitants has with the Nintendo Switch over original Xbox technology is being able to improve upon the game’s visuals. They do so in spades, as the game looks lovely in both handheld and TV form. The level design is pretty unique, with both interiors and exteriors that match up with Oddworld’s usual setup; and the animations are cute and enjoyable.

All hail the Big Well?

But, interestingly enough, Oddworld Inhabitants didn’t really take too much advantage of the platform when it comes to gameplay. This is especially true with expanding the dialogue options, as well as making things a little easier to play. It’s as if the team was so focused on making visual improvements that it didn’t pay attention to what could’ve been done with the controls. That’s not to say that Munch’s Oddysee plays absolutely terribly. But it doesn’t quite evolve on the platform the same way that Stranger’s Wrath did a few months back.

Only Die-Hard Fans Should Take This Oddysee

Had Stranger’s Wrath not shone like a diamond on the Switch just a few months back, it’d be a little easier to forgive Munch’s Oddysee’s shortcomings. It’s got some lovely graphics; and, again, there are some fun moments here for die-hard fans of the series. But it comes up way too short in gameplay, mainly due to its aged design and the lack of genuine improvements. Some people might feel the need to jump back into this world. But, honestly, we’d kill to see the older Oddworld games come onto the platform instead. Oh, what we’d give for a quality port of Abe’s Exoddus

RATING: 5/10

A fairly decent port of a flawed Oddworld game, Munch’s Oddysee just can’t live up to the previously released Stranger’s Wrath.

Slayin 2 Nintendo Switch review: killin’ it

When transitioning a franchise that originally debuted on mobile to console, some developers may face scrutiny, especially if the gameplay itself doesn’t change. However, in some cases, bringing the experience to a new format can help it flourish – like with Pixel Licker’s Slayin 2.

This game looks surprisingly simple at first, with a knight simply wiping out enemies across two different planes on each level. However, there’s a deeper strategy here, along with a slew of content to unlock and the ability to play along with a friend. There’s a lot more to this knight’s tale than you might expect – and it makes for a rather engaging adventure, especially given the game’s discounted price.

Slayin Em

The game has a simple gameplay system that works wonders. Your knight already has their weapon drawn, so all you have to do is walk left and right and switch across the two planes, and walk right into them. They’ll be hit automatically, leaving a little bit of loot in their wake. But you have to work quickly, or one of the planes can easily become overwhelmed with enemies.

The boss battles totally, um, slay.

They also change over time, adding a degree of difficulty to the proceedings. Some fly, forcing you to jump and strike them. Others can’t be hit from the front, so you have to attack from behind. And then there are bosses, who are fairly easy to figure out but still put up a heck of a fight.

You also have a special attack that you can unleash, a sword swipe that can wipe out several opponents at once. It’s charged, mind you, so you’ll have to wait several seconds to use it. You’ll want to time these attacks so that they work in the best way possible.

It takes a little bit of practice – and it’s different from your usual hack-and-slash adventure – but Slayin 2 becomes quite addictive. What’s more, you can bring a friend along for the ride in two-player co-op, in case you’re feeling a little competitive.

Gear Up and Discover

For a simply designed adventure, Slayin 2 has a huge amount of depth. You can level up your knight accordingly, as well as improve towns that you come across, recruit new help, and improve your weaponry. It can take a little while to get there, as the game’s progression takes a while to get into. Once you’re there, though, the game pays your patience off handsomely.

Not only that, but there are different modes to explore. The Story mode, while not overwhelming in-depth, offers a nice touch over what the original Slayin lacked. And the Arcade mode is a treat, for those of you that just want to jump in and, um, slay, I suppose.

An Easygoing Presentation

No, Slayin 2 isn’t as complex in design as FDG’s previous Monster Boy game. But it does have its charms. The visuals look like something out of the Capcom 80s era, right down to the cute animations and overhead map. And the colors really brighten things up across each stage, even if the general two-plane design remains the same.

The visuals definitely pour on the charm.

The in-game music has its charm as well, representing a product out of the SNES era. It’s not entirely memorable, but it’s fun to listen to as you mow down enemies like grass. The sound effects are somewhat minimal, but, hey, it’s forgivable for a game such as this.

So Much To Slay, So Little Time

While Slayin 2’s design may not look like much at first, it’s well worth a chance. The whole mobile-to-Switch transition may not be for everyone, but Pixel Licker (great developer name, by the way) does wonders with the game. The modes and unlockable content will keep you busy for hours, and this is an ideal experience for you and a buddy on the couch. The presentation is right out of the old school as well. When it comes to an adventure that gives you some bang for your buck, Slayin 2 is a killer choice.

RATING: 8/10

Slayin 2 provides a deeper combat-based experience that is better than you might expect.

The Wizard (1989) Shout! Factory Blu-Ray review: You’re a wizard, Freddy

Yes, we actually do review movies here on occasion at DVS Gaming, especially if they’re game-related ones. And they don’t really get more game-related than The Wizard, a 1989 film that serves as a big ol’ Nintendo advertisement while, at the same time, telling a fun story revolving around siblings.

How the (Nintendo) Story Begins

Poor Jimmy. A young kid that dreams about going to California, but finds himself in a mixed mental state following the passing of his twin sister. But his half-brother, Corey (played by The Wonder Years’ Fred Savage), opts to take him on the journey, breaking him out of the hospital and vowing to get him to the big Video Armageddon tournament, where, surprise, Super Mario Bros. 3 takes center stage.

Hey, guys, remember arcades?

Along the way, Haley (Jenny Lewis) joins the crusade, a young girl with troubles of their own. The three characters run into a series of misadventures over the course of their trip, including avoiding a troublesome “bounty hunter” who wants to bring them back. There’s also Jimmy’s father (Beau Bridges) and half-brother (Christian Slater — yes, Mr. Robot’s Christian Slater), who have a journey of their own to take into NES-land.

It’s a flawed road movie, and it spends a bit of time on messages and stuff like that. But it’s also enjoyable 80’s fluff, surrounded by a lot of Nintendo mentions. This includes the Power Glove (remember that?) and even the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. That swimming level still ticks us off…all the pizza in the world can’t save us.

Still, the actors are, ahem, game enough for the material. Savage is terrific here and has excellent chemistry with Lewis as they get to know each other better. And the comical moments are a treat, particularly with a call-out on a Universal Studios ride that’s long gone. And Bridges and Slater have their moments as well, as they attempt to connect what makes gaming special with their younglings. Sure, it’s a Nintendo advertisement for the most part, but an enjoyable one.

Proper Treatment For an Old-School Film

Shout! Factory deserves commendation for going the extra mile over the previous Blu-Ray release, which was bare-bones at best. The video quality of the film gets the best treatment, as it’s never looked better. Bright, beautiful colors and an excellent representation of classic games are the keys of the day here, and the 4K transfer really pays off on the proper screen. The sound quality is also wonderfully mixed, so if you have a great stereo system set-up, it’ll take full advantage — and there will be plenty of familiar NES sounds to go around as well.

Extras, Extras, Extras — Dig in!

Then come the extras. There’s a ton of them here that will take you back to the old school days. Director Todd Holland provides an insightful commentary that’s fun to listen to, and there are a ton of deleted scenes that add even more NES-style context to the film, even if they’re not a part of it. The extended ending is pretty cool as well.

There’s also a 40-minute documentary that looks back at the making of The Wizard, including interviews with Savage, Luke Edwards, the director and writer, and more. They provide a number of details that should be fascinating for fans of this sort of thing.

Heck, remember the NES days?!

Perhaps the real treat, however, is a video featurette where a Nintendo gameplay counselor is featured. Ever wonder what these guys worked with in the ’80s? Greg Lowder provides some good insight. The only downside is that it’s really, really short. But you’ll learn something.

For good measure, you’ll also see a clinical analysis of the film (if you want to dig deep); a post-screening Q & A from a recent Alamo Drafthouse screening; and a Let’s Play Gaming Expo from last year featuring the filmmakers talking about the movie. Throw in a theatrical trailer and a photo gallery and you’ve got a well-wrapped package. Only downside? Jenny Lewis didn’t participate. Maybe she was busy gaming…

Game On Back To the 80s

The Wizard isn’t the best gaming movie out there, but it makes for fluffy summer fun when we need it the most. And you can get this special edition for $20 or so, which is well worth the investment. The improved video and audio quality are noteworthy, and the extras are abundant. If it’s a blast from the past you need — or you just need to hear Fred Savage talk about the Power Glove again — this is a must for your collection.

RATING: 8/10

The Wizard shines on with a wonderful collector’s edition provided by Shout! Factory.

Nintendo Needs to Give Wii Sports a Release on Nintendo Switch, and Here’s Why

Wii Sports on the Nintendo Switch is an excellent idea that needs to be explored.

Fourteen years ago, Nintendo created one of its biggest casual gaming hits with Wii Sports, a game that pretty much sold on a one-to-one basis with the Nintendo Wii when it came out. And how could it not? It created so many sports experiences with a simplistic, yet highly effective, set-up. Whoever wasn’t playing Bowling was clearly playing Tennis, or even Golf.

The game managed to sell 82 million copies by the end of 2017, marking it as one of Nintendo’s biggest successes. But now, in the face of the Coronavirus, the game’s popularity is surging yet again, with people being stuck inside and looking for something fun to play.

Based on this report from NintendoLife, sales for used copies of the game have spiked in the past few months, with copies going for around $30 or more. Considering its age, that’s a genuine surprise – but has us asking Nintendo an interesting question.

Tennis. With online play, please.

Would a Nintendo Switch release be out of the question?

It’s a good time for sports

Although the game is called Wii Sports and not, well, Switch Sports, there’s no question that it could find a new audience on Nintendo’s platform. The JoyCons make it ideal to replicate the motion-style controls that the original Wii game had. And being able to play it on the go – like at the hospital or even in the park if you’re social distancing well enough – is a novel idea.

Not to mention the fact that a port wouldn’t really require that much effort. It’s a Wii game, and we’ve seen a number of classic Nintendo titles make their way to the Switch platform with ease. So it’d be minimal at best bringing the game to the system. The only obstacle we could see getting in the way is revitalizing the controls so they take advantage of the JoyCons. But clearly Nintendo is a master of this domain at this point, so it’s no big deal.

Nintendo could sell it for cheap and make a fortune

Let’s look at the general popularity of Wii Sports. It sold over 82 million copies over the decade that it released. And it became a huge hit in that time, probably one of Nintendo’s biggest.

Now imagine if the company re-released the game somewhere around the $10-$20 range. People would flock to it instantly, even if it was a port of the best-selling follow-up Wii Sports Resort. That’s because it gives people an alternative to play when they’re stuck inside – and without having to pay out the nose for a physical copy that’s no doubt seen better days. (Looking at you, scratched discs.)

Baseball is surprisingly good stuff.

Nintendo could even follow a structure as they did with Wii Sports Club on the Wii U, selling each sport separately (give us Bowling and Tennis and we are good), or even making it an affordable all-in-one package. It worked before, even with the Wii U’s abysmal sales. Now imagine how quickly it could multiply on the Switch.

It’s a game that’s adaptable to everyone

The universal appeal from Wii Sports comes from the fact that everyone can play. We’ve seen this be a popular favorite in nursing homes, bowling alleys, bars…hell, everywhere. Now imagine the accessibility of the Switch being added to that, and people being able to play it wherever they please. Even without the need of a monitor, since the Switch would provide all the action on its screen.

It’s a move that makes sense. Nintendo would benefit greatly from sales; people would benefit from enjoying the game all over again without needing to get a Wii or Wii U system on the side; and, hey, it would bring so many people together. The only question is if Nintendo could make enough Switch systems right now to upkeep with its popularity since they’re becoming pretty scarce as of late.

C’mon, Nintendo. If there was ever a time for a Wii Sports re-release, it’s definitely now. At least give us Bowling!

PowerA Doom Eternal Enhanced Nintendo Switch Wireless Controller review: Hell in your hands

It’s kind of odd to be going after a Doom Eternal branded accessory for Nintendo Switch when the game isn’t even out for it yet. (It’s been delayed to sometime later this year.) But, hey, at the very least, it’ll make your first session with Animal Crossing: New Horizons interesting, yeah?

Still, that hasn’t stopped PowerA from releasing a pair of Doom Eternal-branded controllers for the Switch, including one bathed in black and white colors with the unstoppable Doomguy on it, as well as a blood red and black one with a hint of demon power and the game’s official logo. Both of them are the same in performance, so it doesn’t matter which way you go when it comes to how they handle. But the real question is if they’re worth the $50.

No Rumble, but lots of action

First off, one thing you should know about PowerA’s controllers for Switch is that they don’t have the HD Rumble support, like Nintendo’s Pro Controllers have. As a result, they may feel a little light – and in some cases, hollow. That may let down some of you that are looking for some weight behind the controller, which could’ve easily been added here.

That said, the way it plays isn’t too shabby at all. The controller connects easily to your Switch via wireless Bluetooth and runs for up to 30 hours on a pair of AA batteries. We had no problem adjusting to a number of games with this thing, as it performs pretty remarkably with barely any lag to speak of.

This thing handles like a champ, for the most part.

The controller also features an LED light-up on the bottom, so you can coordinate your position in the game; as well as a low battery warning system that’s fairly easy to see. Again, that’s after you get so many hours of play out of it in the first place. There’s value here.

A good handling controller

Overall, the PowerA Enhanced wireless controller handles pretty well. Again, no lag, and the analog sticks, while not as smooth as the ones on the Pro Controller, are comfortable and easy to get into. The face buttons are also worthwhile, if not as “mushy” as on other controllers; and I actually like both the shoulder and trigger buttons on this one. They perform differently than on other controllers, but still decently enough that you won’t miss out on shooting, acceleration or whatever else you use them for.

And what’s really neat are the two rear buttons you’ll find on the bottom of the pad. These are actually programmable, so you can set up extra functions depending on what you’re in the mood for. Me, personally, I set up extra flipper action with The Pinball Arcade, as well as fast-paced shooting with something along the lines of Doom 64. The buttons are somewhat small but still admirable – and fairly easy to use. It’s nice to have them here.

Not the best controller around, but a good value if you don’t mind missing Rumble

Obviously, we’re still going to say the Pro Controller is the best one out on the market, just because Nintendo knows it so well. That said, however, if you’re all things Doom or just need a special controller with the right level of functionality, PowerA’s accessories hit the spot. Sure, they’re pricier than the usual $25 fare, but you get wireless freedom that handles pretty well, along with excellent longevity from its battery supply. Plus, on top of that, the Doomdesigns are outstanding (especially the one with Doomguy) and the extra buttons on the bottom really go a long way.

Those rear buttons, tho.

So if Doom is your thing and you’re bummed about Eternal not being on your platform, give these peripherals a try. They’re not nearly as hellish as they let on.

RATING: 8.0/10

Solid controller performance and extra buttons make the PowerA Doom line go a long way.