Games Inbox: Is Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack worth it?

The Monday Inbox is curious to know what Nintendo will do now Metroid Dread is a hit, as one reader recommends Dungeon Encounters.

To join in with the discussions yourself email [email protected]

Wait and see
Just saw the price for the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. I’m not angry but I won’t be jumping on anytime soon. When you break it down by month (£2.91 a month) I think it’s a good deal – especially with the added DLC pack.

I just don’t think Nintendo realise that there are expectations to be met with the perceived value of subscription libraries and that means releasing more games onto the service on a regular basis.

I never owned an N64 so I was really excited about playing them on my Switch. But I’m not doubling my subscription for a drip feed of six N64 games in a year after launch. I’ll wait and see what they offer, though history has taught me it will mostly be a waiting game.
goldbricks23 (NN ID)

Doubling down
I just saw the video for the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack and… jeez! £17 extra?! Basically double the cost?!

That’s utterly insane, yet judging by the comments on the video people will actually pay that. Absolutely extortionate!

It’s a no from me.
Joseph Dowland

Free and not free
After watching Friday’s Animal Crossing Direct I was fairly impressed in how much free stuff they’re adding especially Kapp’n, the shops on Harv’s island, and extra items. The only thing I wasn’t impressed with was the paid-for DLC which reminded me of the Wii U spin-off game. Once they said it was included in the expansion pass however it might not be that bad.

The price of the Expansion Pass doesn’t seem bad value for money given that there’s some classics from day one and more to be added. As N64 games on Wii/Wii U were £6-7 I only bought the ones I’d played originally on N64, but I’ll be trying ones I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise as they’re included in the subscription.
The Conkster17 (PSN ID)

GC: Do you not mean 3DS spin-off Happy Home Designer?

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Free money
If you subscribe to Epic Game Store’s emails you can get £10 credit on Epic Games Store or $10 if in the USA. I have just done this and within an hour or so I received £10 credit. This deal is available between 15th October and 15th November 2021. You can use it on any full game that costs more than $15, I have put dollars now as that is what I read in the article. You cannot use it on DLC or pre-orders. Also. the £10 expires on 15th November 2021.

To do this open the Epic Games Store Launcher, click on your username in the bottom left corner of the window that appears, then click on ‘Manage Account’. Then click on ‘Communications’ on the webpage that appears and then tick the box next to ‘Yes, email me about Epic Games products, news, events and promotions’.

Then wait a while for your email confirmation.
Andrew J.

Regarding the problem of playing retro consoles/computers which were designed with CRTs in mind on modern TVs/monitors I would like to recommend, to my fellow readers, the RetroTINK 5X-Pro as a good but expensive solution.

I have personally tested it using an Nintendo 64 and the colour reproduction and quality of image is superb, it comes highly recommended by myself.

Nail-biting decision
I eventually convinced myself that I should get a Switch OLED because my original model was a day one purchase and the battery life is poor… or something. I’m pretty pleased overall. The system transfer was relatively straightforward (although Animal Crossing was a bit of a faff, requiring its own app) and the screen genuinely does look terrific when you see the two models side by side.

But what on earth has happened to the game card slot? There’s no groove to open it now, so you have to try and wrench your nail into a gap that’s narrower than a credit card. I genuinely can’t understand what Nintendo were thinking because it doesn’t just feel worse than the previous console; it’s outright dreadful design. Particularly if you’re a habitual nail-biter.

I don’t know what I thought would make me move to digital gaming and stop buying physical products. But I certainly didn’t think it would be the fact that my fingers are too fat to open the game card slot anymore.

Solid experience
I’ve just completed Deathloop and while I don’t think it merits the 10/10 scores it’s got, it definitely doesn’t deserve a lot of the flak it gets either.

While there’s no strong plotline (understandable given the nature of the game) I’ve been engaged by the unpicking of the story behind the world itself and the characters that inhabit it, and I’ve found the AI to be competent – certainly no worse than that of Dishonored. I like that there’s no quicksave, which really adds some stress to the stealth, though I do agree it’s often too easy to shoot your way out.

The ending itself was a little abrupt and unsatisfying, but while the major thread was signposted for you a lot of the minor missions have much less handholding, leaving you to mostly figure out what you need to do where and when, which seemed a reasonable approach.

I’ve enjoyed it. It hasn’t quite lived up to the promise of its premise or achieved the highs of Dishonored 2 for me, but its a good solid 8/10.
Matt (he_who_runs_away – PSN ID)

Judge him
As I roll on my levitation ball through Psychonauts 2, I am really enjoying it! In fact, it has been difficult to put it down it’s so enjoyable. To illustrate, I was playing the game too late when it came to the boss of the cooking show level. I was tired and just wanted to get through the damn thing, so I turned invincibility on after losing about two or three times. DO NOT JUDGE ME! Also, Hollis as a cuddly ram is really adorable and I would buy that as a plushy in a heartbeat.

I am missing the Whispering Rock kids, but I guess other than Lily there was no excuse they could contrive of to bring them into the sequel. Not that your fellow interns aren’t good. Norma’s passive aggressions do make me nostalgic for the simpler, more straightforward bullying of Bobby Zilch. Naturally, Sam is the star, as evidenced by the amount of love she gets on YouTube. Being able to summon a whale is very useful after all…

I’m in the psychedelic, Psi King level at the moment, after having just been through Ford’s ‘hairy’ level. Ah, I thought to myself. I see what they’re going to do here. Is this going to be the Milla’s orphanage moment of the game? I did think they were going to be darker and at the end, we’d see the hair lice for what they really were. But either that would have been too blunt or too explicit. I’ve always thought that Ford was the most intriguing character, and he continues to not let me down. Poor Ford, I just want him to be happy.

I also find Raz’s mother and older sister to be weirdly attractive. Well, in as much as this art style allows anyway. Perhaps I need someone with a magic door to come into my brain? Though I wouldn’t wish that experience on anybody…

Under a bushel
Just thought I’d write in to say how much I’m enjoying Dungeon Encounters. Aside from the cathartic feeling of filling in an entire grid time after time I just found the game was so refreshing to play, a stripped back role-playing game with no flash graphics, convoluted storyline or questionable voice acting.

Only thing I don’t like about it is the music, the rock version of classical music. Doesn’t work for me. But aside from that, and not having a map perhaps when replaying levels, I’m enjoying it.

Platforming through the years
Considering the first video game I ever played was a platformer, Manic Miner, way back in 1983, and for most of the next 20 years it’s probably fair to say the platformer was the most prevalent video game genre, there are surprisingly few that I really look back on with great fondness. I still have a certain nostalgic affection for Matthew Smith’s old school classic and it’s considerably more expansive, much tougher sequel. However, over the years, as other genres have risen to prominence, my enthusiasm for straight platformers, especially 2D ones, has definitely waned.

Looking back, I do have a few 3D titles that I can definitely point to and say I rate though. The most high profile and perhaps obvious of them being Super Mario Galaxy. I know many, including the crew of the good ship GameCentral, rate Galaxy 2 as a superior entry, but although I’d never try to argue it wasn’t also great, I never quite got on with it as well as I did the first one. Something about Galaxy’s presentation and structure was just pure, joyful Nintendo magic from start to finish. The seemingly endless stream of perfectly crafted levels, none of which outstayed their welcome, but were always a pleasure to return to, the wonderful gravity mechanics, the endless invention.

I know this won’t be a universally accepted statement, but I personally take more joy from my memories of the first Galaxy game than I did with any of my time with Super Mario Odyssey. I understand the appeal of giving Mario bigger and more complex worlds to explore with his many, perfectly honed abilities, but I’m afraid I didn’t really enjoy any of Odyssey’s environments enough to want to spend the time in them that the game was clearly hoping I would. If Super Mario 3D World taught me anything, it’s that I like 3D Mario best when he’s given smaller, immaculately crafted playgrounds to navigate, rather than sprawling, open worlds to conquer.

Next up in my pantheon of 3D platform favourites is Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, which is an admittedly short, but impeccably sweet slice of exquisite VR experience. Yes, it’s intensely derivative of the 3D Mario games, but it’s so well done if you put a Mario skin over Astro Bot himself, change the name on the title screen, and you wouldn’t be able to tell it wasn’t a genuine AAA Nintendo release for their flagship plumber. It’s a fantastic experience, amplified greatly by the technology it uses, and I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone who can don a PlayStation VR headset without succumbing to motion sickness.

Finally, I’d like to give a shout out to what is probably now a less high profile title from a while back, Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time. Whilst the overly grimdark and emo-angsty sequels stripped the series of a lot of its initial charm, the first of this rebooted Prince Of Persia series really set a high bar, both for level and art design but also for story and characterisation in an intensely story driven environment. I’ve heard people complain that the combat wasn’t up to much, but I always found it perfectly enjoyable.

For what it’s worth, I loved the feeling of the traversal mechanics too, which gave me just the right feeling of being in control of my avatar’s parkouring activities, as opposed to the Assassin’s Creed ‘hold button and push stick forwards to traverse everything’ approach. For my money, both the physical and narrative journeys the game takes you on are beautifully constructed and perfectly pitched, and I loved the way it ended too. It’s a game I replayed many, many times in the years after its release and always think back on as a greatly underappreciated classic of its (or any other) time.

I suppose I could also talk about the Game Gear versions of Shinobi, but… I suspect like Manic Miner, it’s more rose-tinted nostalgia that keeps them in my heart than anything else.

Although they don’t hold a tremendous draw for me personally, the modern resurgence of 2D platformers and the ever increasing number of high quality indie titles does make me happy though. The genre might not be my favourite but knowing that there are so many game developers still able to forge innovative and compelling titles in that mould gives me great hope for game development in the future.

Surely the most fundamental cornerstones of the platformer are level design and tightly honed controls? With so many teams and studios regularly proving they’re able to master those points, it bodes well for whatever other types of game they may choose to make in the future.

Inbox also-rans
Those DC FanDome trailers didn’t really show anything new. We still have no idea how Suicide Squad actually works and Gotham Knights managed to show less gameplay than previous trailers. Not very impressed.

So glad that Metroid Dread has been a hit and very interested to see how Nintendo will react to this. Hopefully with a proper, maximum effort remaster for Metroid Prime 1. It’s been long enough.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Grant, who asks what do you want to see from GTA 6?

Rumours of GTA 6 have been going on for years now and yet the most recent ones suggest the game won’t be out for several years yet and perhaps not until 2025. Given that huge gap from GTA 5 what do you want to see from the new game to make the wait worthwhile?

You can focus on story, characters, setting, graphics, or everything at once but what do you want from the next GTA 6 and its online companion? For example, would you prefer a brand new GTA Online 2 or an extension to the existing game?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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