Tag Archives: Nintendo Switch

Spiffing Reads: Nintendo Switch, Invisible Warcraft Bunnies and the Worst Game Ever

This week on Spiffing Reads, we kick off with a couple of interesting opinion pieces on the Nintendo Switch…

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Don’t Judge Switch by the Stagnant Competition (Kotaku UK)

This article struck a chord with me, particularly in how it accuses many in the games industry of not being able to look past technical specs. “There are a few problems with how we look at it, the first being the hardware bores who talk tech in terms of upper limits rather than capabilities. The deathly-dull teardowns of components, the red-meat comparisons for the troll brigade, none of it’s illuminating. It’s not that specs or framerates or resolutions are unimportant, just that they’re much less important than the overall experience they’re being used to create, which gets lost beneath meaningless technical gotchas.” Personally, I stopped caring about tech specs once they stopped counting ‘bits’.

Switch’s challenge is unique software, not PS4 competition (GamesIndustry.biz)

Another fascinating article from Rob Fahey, with some really interesting points about the timing of the Switch’s launch in the console cycle in comparison with its predecessor, the Wii U.

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The six worst US presidents in video game history (The Guardian)

I have to thank this article for reminding me that in a gaming world somewhere out there, J. K. Simmons is the US President.

The Invisible Bunnies That Power World of Warcraft (Kotaku UK)

I love this story. It turns out that some of the spells in Warcraft are powered by invisible rabbits – and they’re just one of the bizarre animal-based shortcuts that programmers have used to save time.

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How a Tetris clone on the front of a tape-player led to spiritual enlightenment (Eurogamer)

This is something a bit different – an article from a self-confessed ‘non-gamer’ about how gaming changed her perception of the world. I’ve experienced a bit of ‘Tetrishead’ myself, but nothing like she describes. A great read.

THE PUNCH HEARD AROUND THE WORLD – by Mr Biffo (Digitiser 2000)

Nothing to do with video games, this one, but a very well written and interesting article about the internet reaction to neo-Nazi Richard Spencer getting punched on live TV. Mr Biffo echoes my own feelings – as much as I loathe neo-Nazis, beating them up is nothing to be celebrated. And if anything, it’s only going to strengthen their resolve.

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The story behind the worst game ever made (Eurogamer)

It’s always interesting to hear tales from the eighties gaming scene, which was basically a kind of pixellated Wild West where anyone could do pretty much anything and get away with it. But even then, it’s hard to believe that a publisher could release a game that literally doesn’t work at all and still get away with it. Sort of puts modern day-one patches into perspective.

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The Sin City game that never was (Eurogamer)

My first thought on reading this headline was that Sin City would make a brilliant video game, particularly with it’s stark black and white (and red) stylings, a la the under-rated MadWorld. But then I read how the publisher and writer kept demanding horrible, horrible changes to the characters and script, to the point where it was a mercy that the game was eventually killed.


Spiffing Reads is a regular feature where we pick out the best gaming articles of the week. If you’ve read anything interesting, please let us know in the comments.

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The Nintendo Switch Presentation – A Bit of a Disappointment

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I didn’t get up at 4am this morning to watch the Nintendo Switch Presentation – I’m not a masochist. But I logged on first thing to devour all the juicy information that Nintendo revealed about their new console. And it left somewhat of a dry taste in my mouth.

The main thing I was hoping for was games, games, games. Nintendo have been pretty quiet in 2016, with only a handful of titles trickling out of their studios for Wii U and 3DS. So I assumed, like many, that they’d been beavering away on Switch games and would reveal a bevvy of titles to launch with their brand new console. This doesn’t appear to be the case.

Super Mario Odyssey looks bloody great, even if the ‘real world’ sections seem slightly odd. Watching the trailer made me salivate at the prospect of playing another 3D Mario game, but it won’t be out until ‘holiday 2017’. It was the same story with many of the other ‘launch’ titles. Most will be coming later this year (or probably next year, or even the year after that in case of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which I struggle to believe will launch this year), and only five titles will be ready for launch day: 1 2 Switch, Just Dance, Skylanders, Super Bomberman R (hey, Konami still make video games!) and Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Zelda is of course a must buy, but since it’s also coming out for the Wii U, I don’t really feel like I need to rush out and buy a Switch at launch – especially since the other launch titles are somewhat uninspiring. I’m sure many other people will be feeling the same way. There seems little point in getting a Switch until the number of games is at least in double digits.

In general, the games that were revealed were – apart from Mario and Zelda – fairly underwhelming. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Fire Emblem Warriors look great, even if they’re both seemingly very far off. But Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe come across as slightly tarted up versions of the Wii U games I already own, so I don’t feel the need to rush out and buy them. Arms looks fun, if a little lightweight. And the rest… well apart from new versions of FIFA and Street Fighter II, that was about everything of note.

It’s not exactly an inspiring list. What the hell have Nintendo been up to for the past couple of years? Where are all the amazing first party games?

And the price! My god. £280 for a Switch with no games included, and £75 for another pair of JoyCon controllers. Yowch. At this selling point, Nintendo have priced themselves out of the casual market, and they’re also charging a good £80 more than it would cost for a PS4 with pack-in game – yet their console is significantly less powerful than Sony’s machine. As a fan of Nintendo games, I will end up buying a Switch at some point – but I wonder who else will.

Anyway, let’s take a look back at my ‘wish list for Nintendo Switch‘ and see which ones we can tick off:

Battery life of at least 8 hours

Nope, nope, nope. They reckon it will have battery life of 2.5 to 6.5 hours depending on what you’re playing. That, frankly, is rubbish.

A new ‘proper’ Metroid game

Uh uh. We got Mario and Zelda, while new entries in other Nintendo franchises were notable by their absence.

One terabyte of storage – minimum

Pffft, definitely not. The Switch will have 32GB of storage. 32GB. I’m starting to wonder whether Nintendo know what the hell they’re doing.

Game saves on the cloud

Possibly. It’s not quite clear at this point, but they’ve certainly announced a new online service. Speaking of which…

A subscription-based Virtual Console service

Well, Nintendo’s new online subscription service promises a free NES or SNES game each month, so that’s something at least, if not quite the ‘Netflix for old video games’ that I was hoping for. But next to Sony and Microsoft’s monthly free game giveaway, it seems positively stingy. And the wording seems to suggest that the games will only be playable for a month before they get deleted from your hard drive, which seems even stingier. Hmmm.

More amiibo

A big fat no. Corrin is still MIA.

Some sort of crossbuy thing

Nope. Although this one might still be a possibility.

GPS-enabled games

Hmmm, there was no mention of GPS. But then again, Nintendo didn’t reveal hard specs for the console either. Put it down as a maybe?

Improved Streetpass

Again, no. At least, not that we know of. UPDATE: The Switch definitely won’t have Streetpass. Or Miiverse, which seems like a bizarre decision, as the social network is one of the Wii U’s best features.

StarFox 2

Nope. Yeah, I know it was a long shot.

To sum up, I think the Nintendo Switch is a great idea. The idea of a home console you can take with you on the move is very appealing, and it has some neat features. The JoyCon controllers in particular look pretty nifty, and the ‘HD Rumble’ they feature sounds like a great innovation. (Apparently they can simulate effects like ice cubes rattling around in a glass in your hand.)

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Other features sound good, but hardly essential. It’s good to hear the console is region free, but that’s only going to appeal to a minority of people who import games. And the fact that you can play with eight players on one console is great, yet will only be utilised by a tiny percentage of the audience. Especially as the JoyCons cost £75 a pair.

Which brings me on to the two big negatives hanging over the whole presentation like the permanent wreath of cloud around Zelda’s Death Mountain: the price and the lack of games.

Really, the Switch needed to be £200, £250 max. At £280 with no games, it’s already put me off buying one at launch, and I’m sure the same is true of many others. A console seen as ‘underpowered’ compared to its (now ageing) rivals shouldn’t cost nearly a third more than them. And the price of the accessories is eye-watering. The infrared camera on the JoyCon is a nifty idea (apparently it can detect hand gestures and will be able to record video in the future), but it’s also a gimmick that is unlikely to be used often, and we could probably do without it for the sake of bringing down the crazily high cost.

But the main reason for buying any console is the games, and I just don’t see enough of them. Zelda: Breath of the Wild remains the big draw, but that’s already coming out for the Wii U, a console I already own. The rest are either ports of old games, niche titles, reworkings of Wii U games or so far in the future that they don’t even have a name yet (like Shin Megami Tensei – New Title).

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It feels like Nintendo are making the same mistakes all over again by launching an expensive console with poor battery life – just like they did with the 3DS, which saw a price cut mere months after release. And it seems like only yesterday that the late Satoru Iwata was publicly apologising for the Wii U games drought, yet here we are again with a Nintendo console that has gaps in its release schedule so big that you could drive a bus through them.

It was only last year that Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime claimed that the company had learned from its mistakes on the Wii U. Certainly, this time around Nintendo has managed to convey much more clearly what their new console does in comparison to the muddled messaging around the Wii U. But Reggie also said this:

“We have to do a better job from a software planning standpoint to have that continuous beat of great new games that are motivating more and more people to pick up the hardware and more and more people to pick up the software.”

Judging by the sparse line up of Switch games for the year ahead, Reggie hasn’t been listening to his own advice.

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A wish list for Nintendo Switch

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We’re only days away from the Nintendo Switch press conference, and I’m very excited to find out more about Nintendo’s next console. In an ideal world, these are the things I’d like to hear.

Battery life of at least 8 hours

The Nintendo 3DS was hobbled at launch by weak batteries – the most you could expect was about 4 hours of gaming, and turning on the 3D feature drained the batteries even quicker. Thankfully, later editions improved the battery life somewhat, but seeing as the Switch is much more powerful than the 3DS, my worry is that it will drain power like nobody’s business. If they can get it to run for around 8 hours off one charge, I’d be more than happy.

A new ‘proper’ Metroid game

Come on Nintendo, you know you want to. After Metroid Prime: Federation Force was released to the sound of a deflating balloon, Metroid fans like me are more determined than ever to play a new, ‘proper’ installment of the seemingly dormant main series. This could be a long shot though, as the Metroid games have never been huge sellers.

Metroid: Other M was the last entry in the main series, but that came out back in 2010.

Metroid: Other M was the last entry in the main series, but that came out back in 2010.

One terabyte of storage – minimum

The ‘deluxe’ version of the Wii U still only came with 32 GB of storage, and the basic edition had just 8 GB. Considering the size of modern games, this is a piddling amount – and if Nintendo want to encourage downloads from the eShop, they’d better up the hard drive size of the Switch considerably. One terabyte would be about right. But if they go down the route of using SD cards, I sincerely hope you don’t have to unscrew the back of the console to switch them, like you have to do with the New Nintendo 3DS.

Game saves on the cloud

The introduction of the Nintendo Account now at least unifies the 3DS and Wii U eShop experience, and Miiverse works the same on both consoles. But with the Switch I’d love to see all of my purchases and saves registered to the cloud, so I can easily switch consoles and don’t have to worry about losing games – which is exactly what happened when my 3DS was stolen. Not to mention the faff I had to go through to upgrade to a New Nintendo 3DS XL.

A subscription-based Virtual Console service

It seems pretty likely that we’ll be getting GameCube games on the Switch, which is great news – I’ve already picked out the games I’d most like to see. But I’d love to get more out of the Virtual Console. I’d love to play through all those old NES and SNES classics on my Switch, but buying them all individually is not only horrendously expensive, it’s also a waste. For every classic game I’ve bought and loved (Gargoyle’s Quest, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones), there’s another one I’ve bought and pretty much given up on straight away (Mega Man II, Kid Icarus). If Nintendo charged a subscription fee that allowed access to the entire library for a fixed amount each month, I’d be throwing my money at them – and I wouldn’t keep feeling burned by buying old games that disappoint.

More amiibo

Just more amiibo. I love the damn things, keep ’em coming. Preferably more Fire Emblem ones. Speaking of which, what’s happened to that Corrin one we were promised?

What happened to the Cloud, Corrin and Bayonetta amiibo?

What happened to the Cloud, Corrin and Bayonetta amiibo?

Some sort of crossbuy thing

I’ve bought quite a few indie games on the Wii U and 3DS – the ‘Nindie’ scene has been brilliant on both consoles. But I don’t particularly want to buy them all again for Switch. If games like Severed get rereleased, I’d like the option to download them for free without having to buy them again.

GPS-enabled games

Pokemon Go showed just how effectively GPS location can be used in games, and some patents suggest that the Switch will have in-built GPS. I’d love to see how Nintendo could use this in games like Animal Crossing and, well, Pokemon.

Improved Streetpass

I love Streetpass. It’s a great idea, and seeing a new Mii pop onto my console from the 3DS of a passer by is always a treat. But what if rather than simply say hi to other Switch users, your Mii could invite them to do battle? Perhaps you’d both have to accept within a minute for it to start, but before you know it, you’re playing against someone you’ve only just met in a bus queue. The one big failing of Pokemon Go was that it was too passive – huge crowds assembled, but they were all playing alone. An upgraded version of Streetpass with real-time challenges could make gaming more social.

StarFox 2

Come on Nintendo, we all know you finished the game. Why not go ahead and release it? I mean, it’s been more than two decades now…

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10 GameCube Games I’d Love To See On Nintendo Switch

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Eurogamer recently reported the rumour that the Nintendo Switch will have support for GameCube games on the Virtual Console. If true, this is fantastic news, as the GameCube has an enviable library of titles to draw from, many of which never reached the audience they deserved. Big hit titles like Super Mario Sunshine, Luigi’s Mansion and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door are a sure bet for revival on the Switch Virtual Console, but there are loads of excellent GameCube games that are less well known or successful yet nonetheless deserve to see the light of day again. Here are the ten GameCube titles I’d love to play on the Nintendo Switch.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

This was the first Fire Emblem game to embrace 3D and voice acting, and it was the first to feature Ike, now immortalised in Super Smash Bros. and as a rather fetching amiibo. I never got to play it at the time, so I’d really love to get my hands on this one. Seeing as previous Fire Emblem titles have already made their way to the Virtual Console, I reckon there’s a good chance we’ll see this one appear on Switch.

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Doshin The Giant

I’ve written before about how much I love this game. Doshin the Giant is a bit like a cross between From Dust and Black & White – you control a big, friendly, yellow giant called Doshin, and you gain worshippers by clearing land for them so their villages can grow bigger. And YOU grow bigger as more and more people start to love you. But at the start of the next day, you find yourself back to normal size and the process starts all over again. It’s weird, relaxing and utterly, utterly wonderful.

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Skies of Arcadia Legends

Skies of Arcadia originally came out on the Dreamcast, and it’s one of my favourite RPGs of all time. The ship battles were great, and assembling a crew from across the world of floating islands was compelling – plus those famed SEGA blue skies were very much in evidence. The GameCube version adds the ‘Legends’ subtitle, along with lots of extra discoveries and tweaks. Most notably, the only real problem with the original has been fixed: the frustratingly high encounter rate has been reduced, so you can explore in relative peace without being pounced on by enemies every five seconds.

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Lost Kingdoms II

Although it’s not particularly well known, the first Lost Kingdoms was one of the best games for the GameCube – I’ve written about what makes it so good right here. The sequel is even better, but it was released right near the end of the GameCube’s lifespan and is pretty difficult to get hold of now: it currently goes for £30-40 on eBay. Both games were developed by FromSoftware, the folks behind Dark Souls and Bloodborne, although the Lost Kingdom games are a darn sight easier than those later titles. The series’ USP is that you battle enemies using cards, which transform into allies that fight on your behalf. Almost a year later, Phantasy Star Online Episode III (also on GameCube) would go on to use a similar card battling system. Speaking of which…

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Phantasy Star Online Episode III: C.A.R.D. Revolution

The third Phantasy Star Online game switched to a card battling system that divided fans of the series. Now, with the rise of Hearthstone and its ilk, card battling is very much de rigeur, so in many ways this game and Lost Kingdoms II were ahead of their time. In other words, now seems to be an ideal point to re-introduce them to the world. Of course, the multiplayer online element is crucial to Phantasy Star Online Episode III, so any re-release would require those servers to be dusted off and kicked into life again. The sheer expense of this might put paid to any hope of it seeing a second life on Virtual Console, but here’s hoping that SEGA and Nintendo see sense.

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Chibi-Robo!

We’ve seen a few Chibi-Robo games over the years, but generally the sequels have been disappointing and not a patch on the charming GameCube original. You play a tiny household robot tasked with cleaning up after humans, but you’re constrained by having to constantly top up your batteries by plugging into the mains. The real draw though is the domestic drama that plays out in the background as the family weathers a pending divorce. Shigeru Miyamoto had a hand in its development, so perhaps that fact alone will be enough to secure it a Switch rerelease.

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P.N.03

P.N.03 was announced as one of the ‘Capcom Five‘, a bevvy of GameCube exclusive titles that looked set to revive the fortunes of the ailing console. The other four were Killer7, Viewtiful Joe, Resident Evil 4 and Dead Phoenix: but Dead Phoenix was cancelled, and the other three quickly lost their exclusivity and were launched for rival consoles. P.N.03, on the other hand, remained exclusive to GameCube – probably because the game was somewhat of a commercial failure. Yet despite its lack of success, it’s a real cracker of a game from Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, and it offers a vibrantly different take on the run and gun shooter. Lead character Vanessa Z. Schneider is balletic but, counter-intuitively, has somewhat restricted movement, leaping left and right, backwards and forwards to precisely measured distances. This movement set in turn demands precise shooting and dodging, and it remains a unique and fascinating game that sticks in the memory.

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Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest

Although this Japanese release was localized for the North American market, it never made it to Europe, so bringing Cubivore to Switch would provide the first opportunity for gamers in the UK to sample its weirdness. You play a carnivorous cube that starts off with one flappy limb, and the idea is to make your cube stronger by eating other cubes, which cause it to mutate. Different colours give different abilities, and you can mate with lady cubes to spawn a new generation with new mutations – as well as an extra limb. Limbs are important because you can only attack cubes with an up to one more limb than you have, so you need to max out your appendages to take on bigger baddies. Oh, and in a rather gruesome twist, you defeat enemies by wrenching off their limbs. How very un-Nintendo.

Battalion Wars

Battalion Wars is a spin-off of the Advance Wars series, but rather than being a turn-based strategy game, it’s a cartoony third-person shooter. However, it still retains some strategy elements, as you control a squadron of troops that you can switch between, ans each can be given specific orders, such as holding position of attacking certain targets. In essence, it’s a bit like the venerable Second World War game Hidden & Dangerous, but without the extremely slow pace, realistic setting and brutal difficulty. A sequel was released for the Wii, but the series has been dormant ever since, so it would be great to see it revived on Switch.

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Eternal Darkness

Despite the best efforts of director Denis Dyack, Eternal Darkness has yet to receive a sequel, which is a crying shame as it was one of the most original and creepy games of its time. Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s writings, it tells the tale of attempts to revive ancient gods that are set to wipe out mankind. The game starts with Alexandra Roivas investigating the murder of her grandfather in his mansion, where she comes across the Tome of Eternal Darkness. The book details the many attempts by individuals to thwart the revival of the Ancient Ones, and as Alexandra reads each chapter, you take control of whoever wrote that particular passage. There are 12 playable characters in all, everyone from a Roman centurion to a Franciscan monk, and each chapter plays very differently according to the abilities of your character. But the game is most famous for its ‘sanity meter’ which fills up as you encounter more and more ethereal horrors. If it maxes out, weird, disorienting effects occur that often break the fourth wall – your TV might turn off, or the game will suddenly announce it’s deleting your save file. The magic system is also pretty clever, as you pick out runes to cast a spell: the more runes, the more powerful the spell, but the greater time you’re left vulnerable while casting. If we can’t have a sequel to this wonderful horror game, the least Nintendo could do is revive it on their next console. And there are hints it might be on its way.

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So that’s my wish list for GameCube games that should be revived on Switch – which ones are you looking forward to seeing?

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Spiffing Reads: Black Mirror, VR Harassment and Antisocial Karen

This week on Spiffing Reads, we start off with more analysis of the Nintendo Switch reveal trailer – but this time from a perspective of just making stuff up.

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Nintendo Switch’s best, most revealing meme is antisocial ‘Karen’ (Polygon)

This genuinely made me laugh out loud. In the Nintendo Switch trailer, one Internet wag dubbed the bob-haired lady who brings a Switch to a neighbour’s party as ‘Karen’, and since then a whole meme community has sprung up around her. “Oh shit, Karen brought her stupid Nintendo thing to the party again. We’re DRINKING, Karen. We’re having CONVERSATIONS.”

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Has a Black Mirror episode predicted the future of video games? (The Guardian)

I’ve never actually seen an episode of Black Mirror. Charlie Brooker’s opus sounds utterly fascinating, but even the very idea of some of the episodes just creeps me out. In the latest, a future AR game taps into the player’s darkest fears to present them with things they find utterly terrifying – but interestingly, a few games have already explored similar ideas. This lengthy article explores how games have tried to get to know their players, and there are some fascinating details that I had no idea about. It also made me even more determined to seek out the underrated Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for the Wii.

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My Summer Car is the most hardcore driving game yet (Eurogamer)

There seems to be a thriving market for hardcore, off-kilter drive ’em ups these days. After Spintires – a hugely popular game about driving old Russian trucks through mud very, very slowly – comes a game about constructing an old banger from spare parts and driving it through the Finnish countryside while drinking beer and flipping the bird at other drivers. I’m not sure it’s the kind of game I’d personally want to play, but I’m very glad that it exists in the world.

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VR Developers Add “Superpower” to Their Game to Fight Harassment (Kotaku UK)

This is something I hadn’t really considered until now – ‘online harassment’ can reach a whole new level in connected VR worlds. This is the story of how one woman had her first experience of VR totally ruined by someone who ‘groped’ her. Obviously the groping was only with virtual hands, but I can imagine how uncomfortable the experience must have been, especially as there is no way to physically defend yourself – apart from taking the VR headset off. I suspect this story is just the beginning, especially if social media moves into VR, as Facebook envisages…

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Review code, the ‘media’, YouTubers and all that shite (Tired Old Hack)

The story that Bethesda plans to hold back review code for games journalists until the very last minute was everywhere this week. As many have already pointed out, that restriction doesn’t seem to apply to YouTube ‘influencers’, who are receiving review code weeks in advance of release. This is an interesting take on the issue by industry veteran Chris Scullion, formerly of CVG.


Spiffing Reads is a regular feature where we pick out the best gaming articles of the week. If you’ve read anything interesting, please let us know in the comments.

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Spiffing Reads: Nintendo Switch, Tetris and Tomb Raider

It’s been a quiet week on the blog thanks to some crazy work schedules, but as always we’ve got a few Spiffing Reads for you. Of course, the big news this week was a certain console announcement…

Nintendo Switch Reveal – ALL EASTER EGGS, Analysis & Things Missed (IGN)

Everyone everywhere has been writing about the newly revealed Nintendo Switch – and I’ll post my own thoughts on it sometime soon. But my favourite bit of coverage was probably this in-depth video from IGN that digs as much info as it can out of the launch trailer. There are some interesting observations about the new Mario game… Also, it was great to hear a bit of White Denim on the trailer, Nintendo has good music taste!

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At home with Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft: ‘There was probably too much murder’ (The Guardian)

This article actually came out last week, but I missed it at the time – and it’s just too good not to share. The wonderful Ellie Gibson interviews Lara Croft for the 20th anniversary of Tomb Raider, and it’s bloody hilarious.

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Block ops: How everything fell into place for Tetris (Eurogamer)

Box Brown has written a graphic novel about the origin of Tetris, and it looks darn good. In fact, I’ve had this on pre-order for about six months, so I can’t wait to finally read it!


Spiffing Reads is a regular feature where we pick out the best gaming articles of the week. If you’ve read anything interesting, please let us know in the comments.

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