What Nintendo can do to make the Switch a success

Under two weeks away from the release of the Switch, there is a lot of speculation going around as to how it is going to do.  Early reviews of it have been promising.  I think the Switch can be how Nintendo rises out of the ashes in terms of its consoles, as they have not been popular ever since the Wii came out.  And considering how the Wii U was a failure- both in terms of lack of games and in console sales- Nintendo really needs the Switch to be revolutionary. Console gaming moved towards the Playstation and XBox, simply because those offered better technology and for the most part, better games.  However, by bucking the trends set by Sony and Microsoft, and keeping true to their past to make their future better, Nintendo can make themselves important again in terms of console gaming.  Here’s how:

Consistently release games.  I have a Wii U, and while it’s a pretty nice piece of technology, there’s nothing to play for it.  Sure you have your Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros, but otherwise, there’s very little.  Super Mario 3D World was a nice title, and there are some virtual console games I play, but there is not one game that would warrant buying a Wii U just to play it.  If Nintendo can produce games- and I think they will based on what we’ve seen so far from them- the Switch will be successful because there will be too much for people not to play.  This begins with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  The game looks great, and hopefully will live up to the hype.  Should Nintendo consistently release games like that, the Switch will be something that people pick up.

Don’t delay releases.  I pre-ordered Breath of the Wild months ago, when it still had a Fall 2016 release.  Even before then it was delayed a few times, and it would go on to be delayed further, now aiming for a March 3 release.  Nintendo has to set realistic goals for themselves with releases, meaning if something isn’t ready or they know it won’t be ready in time, they shouldn’t say it will release only to have them push it back multiple times.  I do understand that things come up during production, but this trend is way too consistent, and if Nintendo ever wants get some of their popularity back, they need to stick to a release schedule.

Translate mobile success into console success.  In recent months, Nintendo reached a much larger audience than previous by releasing Pokemon: Go and Super Mario Run on the mobile platform.  While they are watered down versions of the games we know and love, they captivated many people who maybe hadn’t played them.  I’m not saying Nintendo should make these games for consoles, but they should find a way to motivate mobile gamers into buying the Switch.  I’m not sure how exactly they could do this, but offering special characters, DLC, etc., would be a good start.  It also helps that the Switch is designed as a hybrid mobile/console system, so Nintendo should be doing everything in its power to combine that mobile success with the Switch’s innovative design.

Give the fans what they want.  It may sound like a no-brainer, but fan service is the easiest way to get back to the top.  Look at Rogue One.  Was it a good enough movie without the last five minutes?  Sure, definitely worth the price of a ticket.  But slap that last Darth Vader scene in there and you have an iconic moment, one that the fans would do anything to see, and now all of a sudden Rogue One is more than just a silly spin-off; its the iconic Darth Vader moment we did not get in the prequel trilogy.  Nintendo should look into fan service, and early reports indicate that they have in at least one respect- bringing Gamecube titles to the virtual console.  Realistically, I would play my Gamecube all day long if I didn’t have anything better to do.  We already know that virtual console won’t be available upon release, so I’m hoping that they’re saving it to make it flawless when it finally does come out.

Be themselves.  If I wanted to play Call of Duty or something like that, I’d buy it for my PS4.  What Nintendo needs to do is rediscover why they were popular in the first place- fun.  I can’t speak for others, but when I think of Nintendo, I get this nostalgic feeling of pure fun.  Staying up until all hours of the night playing Gamecube or Gameboy games was a regular habit, especially when it was for a new game with the characters I grew up loving.  All their games have a good sense of humor to go along with the adventure, so what Nintendo has to do is find those roots to introduce to a new generation and help the older crowd (relatively speaking) want to play their games again.

 

 

 

The OA Season 1

I watch a lot of TV.  I don’t have one particular genre that I stick to, so as long as it’s good, I’ll be tuned in.  Netflix and Amazon Prime changed the game so that binge-watching is the hot new thing, but you already know that.  However, there is only one show I have truly ever binge watched, where I sat in one place and did not move from start to finish minus a few bathroom breaks- that show is The OA.

In your head, describe your favorite show as simply as you can.  It might be difficult to condense years of television and characters you’ve spent countless hours with and come to love in a few words, but typically it can be done.  Example: The Sopranos is about an Italian crime family in New Jersey.  Breaking Bad is about a chemistry teacher diagnosed with terminal cancer who makes meth to support his family.  Now, those may not do justice to the complexity and development those shows had, but they are pretty good descriptions for a beginner.  The OA, however, can have no simple description.  Where would you start?  How could you possibly start? The show is abound with content, yet, I do not have the words to describe it simply.  If you asked me what it was about, very frankly, I’d say I have no idea.

The show gripped me right from the beginning, where we see Prairie jump off the bride and end up in the hospital.  The first episode can drag a little bit, but once Prairie assembles her audience, the story grabs you and doesn’t let go.  There was no fanfare around the series as it was announced just days before it released, meaning there was no build up or really any time to tease the series.  That being said, I think it should be done more often, because I went in with a blank slate, not knowing what to expect at all, which was good, because if there were expectations going in, I guarantee the end result would have been wildly different from what anyone could have predicted.

It takes some time for the first episode to pick up.  In all fairness, setting the show’s course would have taken a lot of setup anyway they did it, so I’ll give them a pass here.  Without knowing exactly what we were getting into, it was certainly strange watching the events that lead to those five misfits sitting around Prairie listening to her story.   The series takes us back and forth between present day and Prairie’s early life, eventually into her teenage years and starting in the second episode, the real meat of the series: Prairie’s capture by a scientist studying near-death experiences.  Played by the familiar Jason Isaacs, “Hap” as he’s called uses Prairie along with Homer, Rachel, and Scott to study NDEs, as he calls them, to figure out what happens to people having near death experiences and where they go during them.  This is where the show gets really good, and easily where the most questions come from.

Where most shows that are so ridiculously ambitious lose steam, The OA only picked up.  It was after the fifth episode- where Prairie and Homer revive Scott- that the series was at its best.  Watching that scene, you think you know exactly where the series is going, and just when it gets to that point, it practically drops dead, only to pick right back up and start running at 100 miles per hour again.  That is a trend after major plot developments and it keeps you going, which is part of the reason why I could stomach this whole show in one sitting.  However, the pacing of the show is a little off at times between Prairie’s storytelling sessions and the few timelines going on, but its never so bad as to hamper the viewing experience.  The show’s pacing is good where it needs to be.

The one major flaw was the very end.  We were supposed to see the five open the dimension and reunite Prairie with Homer right?  Wrong.  What we got was not really much of anything.  Should we think Prairie made the whole thing up?  I doubt it.   Sure the books were under her bed, but she was blind for most of her life, so how could she have learned how to read them?  If Prairie is making the whole thing up, what was the FBI trauma counselor doing in her house?  And why did French see Homer’s reflection in the mirror?  Personally, I believe Prairie.  There is too much evidence that points to her being right, or at best leaving the real answer ambiguous enough (like why was Rachel’s name written in braille at the FBI office?) that we would need to see more to really get a good idea of what actually happened.

The show is acted well and looks pretty good, and if there is a second season I’m sure Netflix will up the ante a little bit and get the effects looking better.  I hope there is a second season, because there are way too many questions, and not in a way that does the story justice.

Final Grade: B+, the ending was easily the show’s lowest point and left a bad taste in my mouth that only a second season can get out.

2017 Dunk Contest

After high expectations, the NBA’s annual All-Star Saturday night was a total dud.  After opening with a thoroughly entertaining skills competition which Kristaps Porzingis won, the three point contest was sufficiently boring enough to where I thought of changing the channel until the dunk contest was on.  The highlight of the night was raising money for the Sager Foundation, where DJ Khaled actually made a shot and Steph Curry didn’t. (OK, this one’s a little bit of a cheap shot considering Steph was put on the spot like that and that he was shooting from half court, but really? We have seen it all now. )  Finally, after the presentation to the Sager Foundation, it was time for the night’s marquee event.  Yet, this year’s dunk contest left much to be desired

I will admit, there was one moment where I was almost shocked.  That came on Aaron Gordon’s first attempt, where he tried to go between the legs after catching the ball dropped from the drone.  Though he missed it, and took three more tries to actually finish it, the thought of him doing it got my mind back to last year’s contest where it seemed like anything was possible.  It was, then, difficult to watch him miss this dunk three times, convert the fourth, and then not even finish on his second dunk of the round, only to go home without properly getting to display what he had.  This can be attributed to his injury, so credit to Gordon for showing up where other people may not have, but it definitely hindered his performance and let us all down.

DeAndre Jordan, to almost nobody’s surprise, did not do all that great.  I think this proves we shouldn’t have big guys in the dunk contest, simply because they just can’t compete against players who can really fly.  He did dunk over DJ Khaled at a DJ table, which was the highlight of the first round.  However, the dunk was nothing special at all and DJ was booted after the first round.

To be fair, there was absolutely no way it would have ever lived up to last year’s showdown. The competition last year was one for the ages, and moving forward it’s difficult not to compare this year’s contest to that one.  However, trying it see it as objectively as possible, 2017’s contest plainly sucked.  How many times did either Glen Robinson III or Derrick Jones Jr. attempt a dunk where they tried to jump over at least one person?  Too many to count.  The worse part is is that Jones failed to convert a few times, and Robinson was in a position to lose even though he made all of his dunks.  Speaking of Derrick Jones Jr., he did not impress like everyone thought he might.  He has only played 20 minutes in 7 NBA games, so nerves definitely could have been a factor.  Even if he didn’t leave the dunk contest making everyone think he is the best thing since sliced bread, he did show that he was there to compete, and should he get the chance next year I really think he’ll bring it.  His shoes- all gold Supreme x Nike Air Uptempos- were certainly the winner of the night.  Sorry Glen Robinson III.

The best dunk of the night belonged to Robinson- the 360 between the legs dab.  However, it was nothing we hadn’t seen before, just arranged differently.  Robinson’s other three dunks were dunks over people, which isn’t anything new by any means.   The first and last were virtually the same, and the only way the third one was different was because Robinson windmilled it.  Credit to Robinson, he didn’t miss any dunks, and the dunks he made were clean.  Yet, this year’s dunk contest was disappointing.  Hopefully tonight’s All-Star game will make up for it.

 

Legion- Season 1, Episode 1, and what this means for the X-men and superhero TV

Watching the first episode of Legion was a bit of a thrill ride.  Going into the premier, I had high expectations, and boy did Noah Hawley and his team deliver.  It was nice to see the X-Men franchise take a turn for the better here and hopefully that trend will continue with March’s upcoming Logan.  Minor spoilers ahead, so continue at your own risk.

When the show began, it was a little tough to grasp what was going on- there were obviously a few different timelines, changes between what was real and what was in David’s head, and the mystery surrounding the event that brought him to the mental hospital.  Normally, a show that reveals so little after one episode can be frustrating to follow, but in this case, everything came together just enough to point us in the right direction and tell us what to expect in the upcoming weeks.  We kind of know what to expect here- Legion is Professor X’s son and one of the most powerful mutants in the X-Men universe.  We also do get a taste of mutants not being welcome in society, hence the interrogation of David and all that shady government stuff that long time X-Men fans are familiar with.  Being on the run is another common X-Men thread here as well, and at the end of the first episode we see David, Syd, and a mysterious yet familiar group of mutants and maybe non-mutants running away from David’s captors.  Additionally, all we get are small glimpses of David’s power- while incredible, he does not know how to control it and is very destructive when he does, which sets up the event that leads to his capture by those mysterious government people.  We have seen similar instances of this before and it is one of the reasons why the X-Men series is so different from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Having a mutation  casts people away from society and is what leads David to be institutionalized, with similar instances of stigma around mutations being popular in previous X-Men adaptations. Whether or not we will see Professor X in the series is still to be determined, and even though I personally will not be holding my breath, I think that the show will still be X-men-y enough and different enough to be successful as both a comic book adaptation and as stand-alone (for now) TV.

I believe Noah Hawley struck gold again here.  The first two seasons of Fargo are criminally underrated and this series, with broader appeal to an established comic book community will turn people on to the great work he is doing with FX.  Hawley created and wrote the series and directed the pilot, a visually stunning and intriguing set-up to what should be a thrilling ride and hopefully the basis for more of the X-Men universe on TV.  That being said, I hope Fox starts exploring characters and stories that  Bryan Singer, er, I mean, they have previously not been bold enough to explore.  Marvel Studios repeatedly shows what lesser known characters and stories are capable of, and with Legion, Fox should taste similar success and diversify what we see out of future X-Men adaptations.

Building off that, this is a step forward for superheroes on TV.  The market for comic book based entertainment is probably nearly saturated, with Marvel and DC dominating box offices even with sub-standard films and superheroes taking up increasing prime time slots.  However, before this, cable had not seen any superhero TV like this.  Marvel and Netflix developed some dark stuff with their Defenders lineup including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, but being on Netflix affords those shows with more opportunity to push boundaries in terms of content and story lines.  Plus, those shows have the added benefit of fitting into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, conveniently using the events of the Avengers as plot points when it suits them.  Legion does not have those opportunities, having to insert itself nebulously into the X-Men universe, and we really don’t know where in the timeline this should fit, for a few reasons.  Does anyone really know where the X-Men universe is after 2016’s Apocalypse? Probably not.  As Deadpool said, “McAvoy or Stewart? These timelines are so confusing.”  Same, Mr. Pool.  The darkness of the story and catalyst to its events plus the commentary on mental illness are not always easy to watch or process, but Hawley and his team, throughout one episode anyway, demonstrate the ability to balance them out with some humor and don’t overdo any one element, keeping the plot moving and the story focused on superheroes, which is, after all, why we’re here. That aside, I don’t think it should matter too much for Legion, which has already established solid footing between including familiar X-Men themes and setting a tone that resembles the X-Men films but is unique on its own.  We will definitely learn more in the coming weeks, but with that will come more questions, and hopefully more X-Men in the future.