I forgot to tell you guys about my new Nintendo Switch. Late last year I sold my old one that I bought back at launch, and this month I bought one of those new ones that has the upgraded battery life. Here's my full, exhaustive review: it's the same as the old one but the battery lasts longer now. Considering I always leave my Switch in its Dock when I'm not playing it and never played in handheld mode for more than three hours anyway, this isn't exactly a huge deal, but... oh well. I got the grey one this time (my first one was Neon), so that's a nice change, and the left JoyCon fits more snugly on this one (it wobbled a bit on my old one). Also I got a tempered glass screen protector this time, and I managed to get that puppy on with ZERO air bubbles, so I'm pretty happy with that.
But what have I been playing on this new Switch of mine, you ask? Well, let me tell you about a little game called...
Fire Emblem: Three Houses: This may be the most difficult video game experience I've ever had. I am atrocious at strategy games, I don't really have a whole lot of experience with the waifu genre, I've never played a Fire Emblem game before, and here I am trying to jump into all these disparate challenges while playing the whole thing in Japanese. After three-ish years of study, I can pretty much hang with most games in Japanese, but it's always a learning experience when you come across some new genre or theme that you don't know any of the words for. Yakuza ranks and culture in the Yakuza games, law terms in an Ace Attorney game, that kind of thing. Fire Emblem is obviously based on medieval Europe, so to start with I have to learn the Japanese words for describing great houses, lords and ladies, the entire peerage ranking system and all the various lines of succession. Then I have to learn all the medieval battle-related nomenclature, like military ranks, battle formations, knights and infantry and spearmen and cavaliers and such. Then I have to learn all the Fire Emblem-specific stuff, and all the made-up names of empires and kingdoms and realms and all that junk...
What I'm saying is that it's an absolute nightmare, but I'm kinda sorta getting through it. Another spanner in the works is that I find Ye Olde Nipponese very difficult to understand at the best of times, so you add all these things together and you end up with a situation where I baaaarely understand anything that's going on with the story or the characters or even the game mechanics. But, I mean, I'm making it happen. I'm going to keep plugging away at it until I just genuinely can't get any further. I'm up to a point where a bad guy is planning an attack on Hogwarts during an upcoming holy celebration day, and I think I'm doing an at least reasonable job of training and teaching all my students so far. We'll see how it goes.
I've also been playing a bit of Astral Chain, which is looking like a VERY solid contender for Runner-Up Game of the Year 2019 so far. I'm about eight hours in, and the combat system that is unfolding as I progress through the game is so wonderfully original and delightfully fun to play. Much like The Wonderful 101, it's something totally new, so it's taking a while just to wrap my brain around it, but I've had a few fights where I can feel it all coming together and I feel like once I can really make it sing it's going to be amazing. There is so much more to it than I thought from just watching the trailers, and it's all designed so cleverly; it isn't about complex button inputs, but rather using every part of the buffalo that is a pretty simply control scheme. New moves and abilities cascade into and out from eachother in really interesting ways, with a big emphasis on timing and situational awareness that I really love.
I'm also really surprised at how meaty the game is. This ain't your grampappy's 6-8 hour Platinum game; this is a real thicc boi of a game that feels like that sequel to The Wonderful 101 that we're never going to get. Levels are long, with some nice opportunities for exploration and some fun little sidequests, and there's a high-tech police station to explore in your downtime between the main operations where you can catch up with your buds, customise your look and the colour schemes of all your Legion summons (I'm going with W101 colours, of course, so the Sword Legion is blue, the Arrow Legion is Green, and so forth), and just generally have a fun time. The characters are a likable bunch, and I really like the way the story is going so far, too. This is one of very few games I play where I actually want to go and track down and read all the lore of the world.
Oh, and it gives you a camera and it wants you to take pictures of every person, monster and assorted thing that you meet on your journey, so of course I have to do that.
- Rune Walsh likes this