Welcome to Nintendo Switch Sports for the Elden Ring

Work wise, there is a whole lot going on right now. Some of it is the usual end of the financial year, some are new wrinkles on a standard crunch. Rabbit also has a lot of change happening work wise. Change is a part of life, and you need to allow yourself an adjustment period.

What has this got to do with gaming? Well, gaming can be a fun social experience, and it can be an individual safe haven. It all depends on what you are looking for at the time.

This week I have been lucky enough to have a week of safety with Elden Ring, and a super social session with Welcome to. Both ends of the spectrum, with some fun gaming with Rabbit mid-week as well.

Even though it’s been a week work wise, the escape of gaming has made everything bearable. And I am pretty sure those around me appreciate a less grumpy JohnHQLD!

Welcome To

Saturday games day is a real highlight for me. Alpal, Rabbit and I playing on Board Game Arena is a great couple of hours that I always look forward to. We catch up for a little bit, and then pick games based on how we are feeling.

We didn’t feel particularly thinky this week. All of us were mentally at different stages, so something we knew how to play was going to be a great choice. Normally this is where Incan Gold or 7 Wonders Architects would be fired up, but we decided on Welcome to this week.

When I started up the first game, I thought we would play a few rounds and then switch like we usually do. The very first game was amazing fun. We had the usual first game warming up type play. Welcome To like many games can take a bit of a warm up.

But at the end of the game there was one point difference between our scores. This is very rare for any game, but even more in Welcome To!

20220523 - Welcome To - Another fun round
We all started out Welcome to strong this week

And I mean one point. Alpal got 80 points even, with Rabbit and I tied at 79. We definitely all had the basics in hand, and we went from chatting to quiet gameplay as we worked on our suburbs.

We played Welcome to for just over two hours. We even had one more ‘one more game’ happen. OK, this is because I was being a smart alec after a comment from Rabbit, but no one truly objected.

I had a personal victory this game. My previous best in Welcome to was 115. Not a bad score, but plenty of people have managed better. This week, I managed to score 130! An extra 15 points might not sound like a lot, but once you clear 100 getting extra points can be hard.

The random nature of Welcome to means you can have a dream run. Or a nightmare one. Luckily for me, this was the former.

20220523 - Welcome To - 130 new personal best
Personal best, and finished the remaining 2 objectives in one move

I will be surprised if we play Welcome to next week. If we do, I would be even more surprised if it is the only game we play. Welcome to New Las Vegas though, the first follow up game, may be a different matter.

But that feeling of wishing there was a digital solo version available remains. Ah well.

Elden Ring

To say that Elden Ring has been an oasis the last couple of weeks is an understatement. It sounds strange a hard as nails game that looks like the stuff of nightmares can be described as relaxing. But that is exactly what Elden Ring has been for me the last couple of weeks. The end of the financial year is always a crunch time, but other changes at work have added layers of complexity.

Finishing work and trying to clear my mind, it’s been a tough time. This is why Elden Ring has been such a good pick for me right now. I can’t autopilot through the game. It forces me to concentrate on what is happening around me or die (even more). When my mind is trying to race down alternate paths with work, Elden Ring has hit some perfect balance. I can actively concentrate on the game and have my mind on work in the background.

There is also the general aesthetic of the Lands Between. Everything should be classified as nightmare fuel, but at the same time, it is gorgeous to look at. Things you assume are land masses can turn out to be much more. And things that look important can be simple scenery.

20220523 - Elden Ring - Everything is creepy yet gorgeous to look at
Elden Ring is horrifying and pretty at the same time

Exploring the lands has been rewarding and frustrating at the same time. I have been finishing off some questlines, and I think opening up some more. I keep getting sidetracked finding new portrait painting spots. Exploring the world of Elden Ring is very rewarding. Right up until something huge pops up and flattens you.

I have started flirting with guides. There was one boss that I felt I should have been able to beat easily, but the second fight was handing me my butt. Without trying to spoil things too much, the boss in question sits in lava. When you jump in and try to hit him, animations are interrupted from fire damage. Phase one, not a huge problem. Phase two, that’s a different story.

So I looked up a guide and the first bullet point tip for the fight was to use the weapon found on the way in. So I farmed a couple of somber smithing stones, upgraded it, and smashed the boss flat. Not going to lie – that was satisfying! Elden Ring doesn’t offer hand you the solution up front, meaning when it does it’s easy to overlook.

That was early in the week. Since then, I have been exploring around and bumbling across things while trying to do other things. This eventually led to me finding the next story boss.

20220523 - Elden Ring - Fire Giant Defeated
The Fire Giant was not where I thought it would be

The fight against the fire giant was more fun than I expected. Not least because I also found dI could summon Alexander the Warrior Pot. He didn’t do much, but it was great seeing him prepared to assist me again.

So now, I am at a crossroads. Do I get the flame, and continue the story? Or do I start nabbing guides and looking for some help with quests and hidden bosses? I am not sure what I am going to do at the moment. The only thing I know for certain is that I am going to keep enjoying playing Elden Ring.

Nintendo Switch Sports

Wii Sports was a phenomenon back in 2006. Was it gaming greatness? No. But it was fun to play, especially with friends. Bowling and boxing were my favourites and archery from the follow-up Wii Sports Resort. With the games pushing two generations of console sales, I was surprised that Nintendo Switch Sports took so long to come out.

When I saw the initial games lineup for Nintendo Switch Sports, future DLC alerts went off. Wii Sports Club had the same sales model, with extra events ‘rented’ to you. It’s not like Nintendo hasn’t shown many times profits over customer experience. But I told myself that this was looking for the negatives, and the games I played were fun. So I nabbed Switch Sports, thinking that at worst Rabbit and I would enjoy bowling and tennis.

Well, I can’t hide it. I am overall disappointed with Switch Sports. Somehow Nintendo has taken a solid nostalgia driven experience and messed it up. It’s the little things that confuse me. Like why would local game players need to be added as users to the Switch? This may be me misunderstanding an aspect of Switch Sports I haven’t tried yet. I will always give the benefit of the doubt when I haven’t fully explored a product. But the initial impression is that once again, Nintendo has added needless complexity.

For example, on our first time playing, I took the default character. Rabbit spent a couple of minutes customising her player and seemed OK with the options. While grabbing some footage, I hooked the Switch up and decided to customise my avatar. I spent about 3 minutes messing with the limited options, then went to play with the body option. It’s here under body you can choose to use your Mii. Why hide it so deep in the options?

20220523 - Nintendo Switch Sports - Mii
I like using my Mii, but why is it applied only in the body choices?

So in terms of the actual games, I have not tried soccer/football and I am unlikely to. I am not against the game at all, soccer takes a lot of skill. To play soccer ‘properly’, each player needs the leg strap from Ring Fit Adventures. I only have one, and I bought Switch Sports to play with Rabbit, so that pretty much eliminates soccer as an option.

Bowling is a different story. Rabbit and I enjoy bowling, but neither of us has been for years. Now we can have a bit of fun at home, without worrying about being old and unfit!

Rabbit has taken to bowling in a big way. On our first game, she opened with a turkey, or three strikes in a row. I managed to put so much curve on a ball that it went across the entire lane and straight into the gutter! While I don’t see us starting up a virtual bowling league anytime soon, Switch Sports has kept the nostalgia of Wii Sports bowling intact.

20220523 - Nintendo Switch Sports - Bowling
Bowling works well, and you can even split screen to play simultaneously!

Tennis is another story. I didn’t mind playing a bit of tennis by myself on the Wii. Switch sports has pretty much ended this. It’s not because the implementation is bad. Swinging your joy-con to emulate your racquet works well enough. What I don’ like about tennis is you are forced to play doubles only.

It might seem strange, but being forced to play two characters at once doesn’t feel right. If it was an option. doubles would be a welcome addition. Mechanically it works fine, swing early for the fore player or slightly later for the rear player. This even gives you the safety net of a second swing. But on the whole, it felt underwhelming.

20220523 - Nintendo Switch Sports - Tennis
Switch Sports Tennis works well enough, but why lock you into doubles?

If you want one on one play, you have to pick badminton. There is nothing wrong with badminton as a sport, but it’s not tennis. Again, the mechanical implementation by Switch Sports is fine. The type of shot is set by timing or button press while swinging. Apart from that, it seems a bit strange.

For example, I have managed to clean sweep Rabbit when playing. Not because she can’t hit the shuttlecock, but because somehow her avatar keeps falling over. Not having a clear understanding of why this happens makes the experience confusing. The tutorial covers serving and timing, but not ‘making your opponent dive’. Switch Sports can make this a lot clearer, but the game does work.

The one thing that surprised me is that as a tennis replacement, I missed the option of table tennis! That would have been better for me.

20220523 - Nintendo Switch Sports - Badminton
More information on why your avatar trips would be nice

I tried volleyball by myself against the CPU, as I had heard mixed reports already. I can confirm that for me, volleyball is the weakest Switch Sports game I played.

The players alternate between three moves: lob, set and spike. On alternate turns, you can also attempt to block. This makes for a strange rhythm type game that has you following a very set pattern. Maybe this would be fun with 2 or 4 human opponents, where you can talk and socialise while playing.

It would take some convincing to get me to try Switch Sports volleyball again though.

20220523 - Nintendo Switch Sports - Volleyball
The weirdest rhythm game I played for a long time

There may be one sleeper hit though. Chanbara, or sword fighting, has potential for me. There are a few ways to play, including twin swords. I haven’t tried this mode yet, but it is the one mode I am looking forward to. I may have something to say about this next week.

There is also a charged sword mechanic that I haven’t tried, where you gain power while defending. At first I thought this sounded a bit meh, but it may be best for technical play. While you can lock yourself in a defensive stance, if your opponent attacks in the same direction you are defending the blow goes through.

20220523 - Nintendo Switch Sports - Swords
Hit your opponent off the stage into the water – chanbara may be a sleeper hit for me

So bowling and maybe chanbara are the best Switch Sports has to offer for now. If Nintendo does the DLC route for extra activities, I hope archery and boxing are high on the list. I won’t be grabbing either straight away though. Given some of the interesting directions Switch Sports has taken, I will be waiting for reviews.

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know! 

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Until next time,

JohnHQLD