How Nintendo Switch is Driving me Back to Physical Games

I’m a Taurus. As a lover of physical things, I like to surround myself with the material items that speak most to me and bring joy into my space- candles, jewelry, art, plants.

As a New Yorker, that space is already filled the moment I step into it. The items I keep need to be deeply meaningful and beautiful as well as fairly functional. Moving to digital downloads has helped me reduce clutter AND keep a larger library (read: daunting backlog).

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Hiding my games within a clear carrier from the old Club Nintendo days

And while I do still have a nice little collection of physical DS games for which I’ve found accessible-yet-invisible storage solutions, I actively seek out digital downloads to preserve my sacred space.

Nintendo Switch– and particularly indie game publishers- are changing that.

Artful packaging draws me in a variety of ways. The clear plastic shell for Switch games is much less visible and intrusive than the white 3DS and blue WiiU shells were. It’s a major upgrade toward keeping my space looking like it belongs to someone who is at least trying to look like a grown up.

There’s been a lot of debate about the size of the box relative to the size of the game, but in a loud retail environment, you need a canvas for enticing visuals. Nicalis has even released two editions for The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ each with covetable  covers.

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via Nicalis

It seems instruction manuals started to phase out slowly.  Around the time Club Nintendo shuttered, I don’t remember seeing them anymore at all. I always loved thumbing through the manuals, reading character backstories, admiring the artwork and learning a handful of secrets. The “notes” pages in the back were filled with my hand-scrawled discoveries, codes and strategies like a little game diary.

The Nintendo games I’ve purchased so far for Switch continue the trend of missing manuals, but indie publishers like Nicalis have begun to revive them. Cave Story+ was just announced for a June 20th Nintendo Switch release- with an instruction booklet highlighted.

The Binding of Isaac included a gorgeous instruction manual which conjured nostalgia feels for the original Legend of Zelda on NES with its shiny gold cover.

And that’s not all! Indie physical releases are becoming known for including extras and trinkets. If you pre-ordered Isaac from Amazon (or were lucky enough to get an early edition from another retailer), you got two sheets of stickers AND a reversible game cover!

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Goodies in my copy of The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+

When and IF Axiom Verge comes to the Switch- the chances of which Tom Happ told me were “decent” back in January, though a Switch release has not yet been confirmed– I’d suspect it will follow a similar format to its other physical releases and include some extras like the STELLAR soundtrack.

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It’s exciting again to pick up a physical copy of a game. And I no longer feel like game cases on my shelf look childish or take away from my aesthetic. Hopefully the future of Switch releases holds many more surprises and shelf candy!

Games IRL

Not-so-secret about me: I put more hours into The Binding of Isaac than just about any other game over the last couple years. Now I’ve gotten my boyfriend solidly addicted. And Mr. McMillen can count on my preorder for The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+on Nintendo Switch because a) it comes out at launch, b) I prefer consoles to PC so I’ve been waiting on this update and c) I have an addiction that I justify under the guise of supporting this great game on every platform.

So as I was rushing to a whiskey tasting over the weekend, it should be no surprise that running into Mom’s Heart in the East Village stopped me in my tracks, made me curl into the fetal position and cry in the street.

Follow me on Instagram for more #GamesIRL and tag your own real life game finds!

Preorder your copy of Afterbirth+ and slay Mom’s Heart on Switch!

First Look: Nintendo Switch

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Splatoon 2 in handheld mode on Nintendo Switch

After an awkward Nintendo Direct Thursday night, I had some concerns about the Nintendo Switch. There weren’t any shocking new reveals about the hardware. The presentation was clunky and poorly executed. By the end, I was having  Wii U flashbacks and preemptive buyer’s remorse about the lack of launch titles.Over the weekend I had an exclusive opportunity to experience the Switch first hand at a “secret location,” thanks to my Gal Friday Gluxbox and I’m pretty confident it’s going to change the game.

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Breath of the Wild Link “greeted” us at the entrance to the space

The space was configured across two rooms with the main room divided into different console use scenarios. Nintendo created an airplane,  a cozy living room, the interior of an RV and a seat in “Mario’s Diner” (to this displaced Jersey girl’s delight and amusement). A huge presentation screen divided the room where Nintendo staffers held gameshow-like demos throughout the evening. The rest of the space featured lounge areas where we could kick back and kick ass.

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It’s a squid! It’s a kid! It’s a squid!

Splatoon 2 was easily one of my highlights. The station showcased both TV and handheld play, and allowed us to team up and splet other attendees. I was massively disappointed with the Wii U, but Splatoon was THE game that revived my console from the dusty graveyard of my entertainment center. Naturally, I was excited to check out a new weapon and MUCH smoother gameplay in Splatoon 2 on the Switch. On the handheld configuration, the gyroscope feeks much more intuitive. The system itself is thinner, smoother and far less clunky than the GamePad was, offering a less frustrating experience that STAAAAAAYS FRESH!

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This is what championship milkers look like

We ducked over to two large glass booths housing Nintendo staffers in silly hats to try out 1 2 Switch. This game, which should come packaged with the console but does not, includes a variety of games that show off the hardware features and functionalities. Wild West Dueling pitted Glux and I against each other in a showdown, eyes locked and intimidation faces on!

If you saw the Nintendo Direct, you may remember a demonstration involving ice cubes shaking in a glass. Without the joycon in your hand, it was impossible to make an impact. But playing Balls (yes. That’s literally the name of the game) you can really feel a number objects rolling around “inside” the joycon (yes. The object of the game is literally to feel balls).

By far the best of the 1 2 Switch demo was a little game called Milk.

Yep. You strategically squeeze and tug the joycon to simulate “milking a cow” and whoever milks the most glasses wins. Hysterical. I was on the floor laughing because I am a grown ass adult here. Is this game worth being sold separately for $49.99? Probably not. Again, it’s a cool way to show off all the capabilities but software like this should really come preinstalled.

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One of three Inkling Girl options in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Many people seem pretty disappointed that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe won’t include any new tracks, but I LOVE the new Inkling additions and their karts. Plus, Nintendo brings back Battle Mode in this version- a nostalgic throwback I’ve been missing in every Mario Kart game since I was a kid. I’m looking forward to reliving my sibling rivalries from afar!

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Making Nintendo Great Again

After several addictive battle rounds and some races, I got called up on stage with a stranger to play a co-op puzzle game, Snipperclips. This may be a cult hit for the Switch. It was unexpectedly, but delightfully engaging, silly and just challenging enough that I didn’t make a total ass of myself on stage. I won the sweet hats Glux and I are modeling above.

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Switch swag

We got some time on Street Fighter, PuyoPuyo Tetris, Just Dance and others. The comfort and ease of using the joycons in their various forms for every game, regardless of intensity, surprised me throughout the event. I particularly loved being able to use the joycon independently in each hand. When we played multiplayer games that utilized the joycon completely independently, they were small, but still totally manageable and comfortable. The whole system felt quite sleek and sturdy, unlike the juvenile and clunky Wii U Gamepad.

If you’re a dude or have bigger hands, you might want to consider the pricey pro controller. I’ll likely grab one for my boyfriend, along with the joycon charging grip (because we are going to be lost in this thing for the rest of the year). We also saw little wheel peripherals for Mario Kart- a fun novelty, but they’ve never done anything for my racing experience, personally.

We had to leave way too soon, but got some nice swag and a thirst for more Switch. March 3rd can’t come soon enough!

If you’ve been quick/lucky enough to score a preorder, I recommend trading your Wii U in sooner than later before the market floods and the trade value drops. I traded my system and several games in on Monday for over $400 in credit!!!  That’ll more than cover the accessories I want to get the most out of the Switch when it finally launches.