SNES and 3DS – my favorite consoles

The SNES and the 3DS are my favorite video game systems of all time. And here’s why.

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A Link to the Past

The SNES was a huge part of my childhood, so nostalgia certainly plays a huge part in it. I can’t even tell you how many hours we siblings raced each other in Super Mario Kart and how often I failed to complete this one stage in Donkey Kong Country 2 where the green glibber of death raises – spoiler: every single time. It was much, much later when I first completed DKC2 and despite all of that, it’s one of my favorite games period.

We used to rent games in a video game store, back in the day when you still went and rented movies and games and loved this old grey box so much, we completely skipped the entire N64 era. It was on the Gamecube that I was first introduced to my favorite video game franchise: The Legend of Zelda. I have to admit I missed many classics of the early 3D-era, but I also played a lot of amazing classics from the 32bit-era. Hands down, the SNES arguably has one of the greatest libraries of any video game system and I think it’s a shame Europe never saw Chrono Trigger on SNES. I played it on DS later and it still rocks.

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Donkey Kong Country 2

This is one of the reasons I hold the SNES higher than the N64: a lot of games from that era still hold up exceptionally well today: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Yoshi’s Island, just to name a few. The system is full of cold classics you can just turn on today and they’re just as great.

This doesn’t mean the N64 doesn’t have games you can still enjoy today, but since 3D gaming was still new, developers had to work out a lot of stuff and every single game from that time looks ugly today. Replaying N64 games today, they don’t really feel all that special anymore compared to back then. It was such an exciting time to live in – even if you didn’t have the console (my friends had, though). Ocarina of Time is my absolute favorite game of all time and it’s still great today, but people playing it today for the first time don’t really get why we old fans are praising it so much. Go and play Chrono Tigger – you’ll know why it’s considered one of the greatest JRPGs ever made. The N64 was a pioneer, though. It was a time when gaming changed a lot and that’s why the early 3D-systems are so important.

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Ocarina of Time

Jump forward and I kind of lost my gaming drive along the way. I did play some Wii and some Gameboy Advance and also a bit on the DS, but not as much as I could have. I also borrowed my brothers PS2, but it’s all just some minor time kill. All these systems had great games, but I simply lost interest in gaming for a while. This is where the 3DS comes into play and if there’s one thing I regret, it’s that I bought it a few months too early. Not because of the games and everyone thought it would fail, but because I bought it for Ocarina of Time 3D in June and later that year they released an OoT special edition 3DS – and I really, REALLY wanted that, but couldn’t bring myself to buying a second system so early. Maybe I should have.

And boy was Ocarina of Time 3D a great game. The enhancements they did with the new system worked great. OoT 3D is the best version of OoT you can find. I just love this game to death and in that regard the 3DS delivered what I expected. With my favorite game back in my hands all fresh and new, my love for video games was triggered once again.

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Animal Crossing New Leaf

I admit I did have trouble finding decent games for the 3DS early in it’s life and ended up with some more obscure titles such as Rabbids 3D out of sheer lack of choices, but once the big games hit, man was it a great experience: Pokemon Gen VI, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Fire Emblem Awakening, Fantasy Life, Persona Q, Bravely Default, Animal Crossing New Leaf, Zelda OoT 3D and MM 3D, Luigi’s Mansion 2, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate – and the list goes on! I have 30+ games for my 3DS and yes, I ended up buying the Link between Worlds 3DS XL special edition. Did I regret it? No, because even though my original 3DS was still working, the bigger screen makes it so much better.

Once I have the money for it, I will buy The Legend of Legacy and Stellar Glow is also on my list. There’s Steam World Heist I still want to get and Bravely Second will find it’s way into my claws day 1, I promise! Bravely Default was my favorite game of that year and I can’t wait to play the sequel – of course I downloaded the demo. With Mighty No.9 and

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Bravely Default

Dragon Quest XI, there’s even more great games on the horizon. I do admit I will pass on  Fire Emblem Fates. FE Awakening was an amazing game, but I’m not that much of a tactical JRPG fan.

In the end, it was the 3DS that made me buy a Wii U. It’s a shame it didn’t take off the same way the 3DS did and it still struggles with content, because it’s a great console and the Gamepad makes gaming so much better in so many ways. The few games I have for that system are amazing, though: Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, Rayman Legends, Bayonetta 1+2, Captain Toad (I’m not kidding, it’s surprisingly good!), Xenoblade Chronicles X, Smash Bros 4, Splatoon, MH3U, Mario Maker and even though Yarn Yoshi can’t really compete with the “three big” Platformers on the Wii U (Mario 3D World, DKC TF & Rayman), it’s still worth to play. Let alone the awesome Virtual Consoles games: Metroid Prime trilogy? Super Metroid? A Link to the Past? Count me in!

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Luigi’s Mansion 2

In the end, the SNES has a special place in my heart, because it introduced me into gaming and the 3DS has an equally special place in my heart, because it brought me back to gaming. And the games are just too damn great to resist. 😀 There are countless of rumors about Nintendos NX, but I would prefer if a handheld version would wait a little longer, so I can enjoy more new games on my beloved 3DS.

Getting a Skell in XCX

A huge part of the advertisement of Xenoblade Chronicles X revolved around the skells – one is even on the box art of the game. It’s a key element of the game and truth to be told, a huge customizable mech is always cool.

In some reviews by experts and fans alike, you will hear people complain about the skells, though. Not the mech itself, that thing is incredibly cool, it’s usually about when and how you get the skell.

WVW69ipmjLwrc60xNjHere’s the deal: After you’ve completed story mission 6, you are free to take on the skell-licence-mission. Only after you’ve completed this mission, you are allowed to pilot your first own skell. On the average, you can expect to reach this point in the game around the 30 hour mark, personally it took me 37 hours to get my hands on my first first skell (and 5 hours to get it destroyed) and that is only because I was able to complete the licence-mission very fast. I’m pretty slow otherwise, though.

The licence-mission asks you to clear a mission from every division, so it’s 8 small missions to complete the entire thing. I was lucky ernough to have already completed 2 missions beforehand and thanks to an affinity mission I did just before, I also knew where the rare item was I was required to find in one of the 8 division mini-missions.

So, in other words, to get your hands on one of the key features of the game, you have to play half the game and then do a long and arguably very annoying mission before. And a lot of people don’t like this.

However, here’s my take on this: the skells are awesome, but they change your entire look on Mira. Walking on foot, you’re constantly in awe looking at this huge beautiful world. In a skell it’s suddenly a lot faster and easier to travel around on Mira, essentially making the world smaller. It also takes away the threat out of big monsters. You’re not overpowered, but a skell still helps a lot with bigger enemies and increases your power by a few leaps. You’re able to take on higher leveled monsters you were sneaking around just a second ago.

By having you play so many hours before even giving you the chance to get your skell-licence and then make you work through a long mission until you finally get your hands on one, makes the skell in itself a huge reward. You have to work really hard for this thing and it feels incredible when you finally have it.

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Now, imagine you had access to your skell since the first mission. The world you’ve been exploring with big admiring eyes, would’ve never been as breathtaking as without the skell and you would have probably just walked past a lot of details that otherwise strike the eye. Also, the skell is too strong for the early part of the game, it would make you progress too fast. This is a very long game, it’s meant to be explored just the way you want to and by rushing through everything in a big badass skell, you’re going to miss out on a lot.

Personally, I think it was a very good decision to lock the skell away in the early game, because it makes the game too easy and after having to wait and work hard, the skell is a great reward for the player. After he experienced the game for about 30 hours on foot, the skell suddenly opens up an entirely new side to the planet. How is this not awesome?

Xenoblade Chronicles X

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On 04. december 2015 Nintendo launched the second game I primarily bought my Wii U for: Xenoblade Chronicles X. The other two games are Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Zelda U.

And what can I say? I know which games to buy my consoles for. I loved every second of DKC and I’m loving every second I’m spending with Xenoblade X.

As the successor fo the highly acclaimed Xenoblade Chronicles, obviously the expectations for X were sky high. I’m currently 37 hours into this game and just got my Skell. So far, I’d say they they nailed it. However, you have to keep in mind X is very different from Xenoblade Chronicles, a very story driven game, while the priorities in X are in the huge Open World setting.

WVW69ipSqGsB70-39zAnd what a world this is. The planet you’re stranded on, Mira, is gigantic and it makes you feel very small in comparison. The second this world opens up to you is a breathtaking experience, basically about 20 Minutes into the game or something. And even after 37 hours, I haven’t stepped my foot onto the fifth continent at all and are far from having fully explored the others continents.

As huge as this world is, it’s nearly entirely open to you from the very start. There’s only few areas you can’t get to right away, because they might be locked away behind powerful enemies. And yes, you see level 50 enemies roam the area right next to your city NLA. You’re truly free to explore the world of Mira to your liking when and as much you want and every terrain has different layers, too. Just because you’re following the arrow to your destination and you’re standing on the right spot, doesn’t mean you’re standing on the right layer – you may need to climb into a cave that’s right under your feet, or a tree above your head. Some areas are more straightforward than others, though.

What all areas have in common, though, is their beauty. As this game is a Wii U exclusive, hardware limitations restrict this game from high WVW69iorbmgARNQOCeresolution textures, but they still managed to create a huge open world without loading between areas, it’s all one big world, and still managed to make this game to look nothing but impressive with an astonishing love to details. Even after so many hours into this game, I still find myself adoring this beautifully crafted world. “Of, look, there’s a tree I can climb, that I didn’t notice before, let’s take a look. WOW! What a view!” It’s always like that. Of course it doesn’t compare to the graphics of games like The Witcher 3, but Xenoblade X is nothing but impressive. As huge as it is, it’s just as beautiful.

What I love about this game, is the lack of handholding. I’ve heared many people complain the game actually needs to explain more, but I don’t even think that’s true, we’re just too used to games telling us every step we have to take. Pay attention to what the game tells you, read the manual, if there are any questions left and use your brain. Problem solved. I was stuck in a quest for 5 hours, becasue I was too stupid to solve it the easy way, so I did it the hard way and explored a good chunk of the first continent. The bad part: I kind of wasted 5 hours. The good part: I need this exploration done anyway at some point, so these 5 hours weren’t really wasted after all.

There’s so much to do and you can choose entirely on your own when you want to continoue with the story. I highly suggest doing affinity missions in between the story missions, but sidequests and ?-missions never really hurt as well, especially becasue you can rack up some levels, items and money that way. Fetch quests can be annoying, but you can avoid many of them and besides, I found myself doing some valuable exploring while on fetch quests and even the supposely long and annoying series of quests, before you get your Skell-licence, wasn’t even that bad in my bood – I had 2 from the 8 missions alrealy completed beforehand and knew where to find the missing item for the fetch quest thanks to an affinity mission I did before.

I get distracted all the time, sometimes even within a mission and I love that I can do this. I’m thankful, I can just run off and follow the items, or choose to decide to the the affinity mission that is popping up before me in the city right now, even though I was on my way to do a story mission. The only regulation, however is, while you’re in a story or affinity mission, you can’t do another story or affinity mission. Affinity missions are basically background informations to back up the main story, they’re optinal, but I recommend doing them, because you get a much better understanding of the entire situation and the characters.

498ccad8d4b6b5b3c3f66c60f463a1dfThe combat system is great. It builds upon what Xenoblade Chronicles created and perfected it. It’s like Xenoblade Chronicles, only better. You basically run up to a monster and to fight it you focus on it, or it has visual/aural sensoring and notices you first. You fight on the spot where you are, there are no fighting rooms that are opening up or something and if you’re on a small bridge, you better keep on eye on staying on said bridge. Sure, if you fall down into the sea, you won’t die, but have fun climbing up all the way to your previous spot again.

Based on your class, you can learn different types of techniques correlating with your weapons. I choose to specialize on physical close range sword combat. I have 4 attacks to choose from and 4 different boosts to get the best out of it. It’s a combination that works very good for me, but you can do somethign entirely different, if you want to.

For all the good parts, obviosuly this game is not perfect and has it’s issues as well. However, I think most issues come from genre specific problems and it really depends on what gets on your nerves the most. The music is a hit or miss kind of deal, I usually don’t care too much about it, but some tracks are really not that good, while others are great. Sometimes during cutszenes, the music is way too loud and you have trouble understanding the characters. And you better sit close to the screen, because the front size is dangerously small.

The game comes with english voice acting and I think it’s pretty good. I don’t have that high expectations when it comes to VA anyway, but I would’ve liked to have the option to choose the japanese voices with subtitles. Instead I got the english voices plus german subtitles by default – something that is driving me crazy. I understand the english dialouge, but start reading the subtitles out of habit and end up utterly confused, because the speed of the spoken dialouge and my reading don’t match up. Thank god, you can just disable the subtitles. Their front size is just fine, btw.

The story is not really the strongest either, but depending on how many affinity missions you’re doing, you can get more out of it. Still, the priotity Xenoblade-Chronicles-X-9is the exploration and the Open World concept, while story only plays a secondary role. If you’re looking for a story driven JRPG, you’re looking for the wrong game here. Maybe this is why a good portion of people are disappointed in X, because Xenoblade Chronicles was much more story driven and had overall better fleshed out characters. X may share the name with Xenoblade Chronicles and some key features, such as the combar system, but is overall a stand alone game with very different priorities. I personally love what they did with this game, but not everyone does.

A quick word about the gamepad, because this game is nearly impossible to play without it. The map is on the gamepad and makes your life so much easier compared to entering a menu every time you want to fast travel and in a game as big as this one, you will be fast travelling a lot. The map and everything you can do with is entirely on the gamepad and it shows just how much open world games can benefit from the second screen between your hands. This is where the gamepad can truly shine.

To sum it up, this is a great game, but don’t expect to get the same experience you got from Xenoblade Chronicles. It’s a different kind of experience and depending on your preferences, it might be better or worse than it’s predecessor. Nevertheless, it’s a marvelous JRPG, the best I played this year. This is actually my personal GOTY so far. It’s been a while since I’ve put this many hours in a game that fast. I stopped playing what i was playing before I got this game and haven’t watched a single anime episode, because I’m playing this game every chance I get. And whenever I feel like I just want to finish my current mission real quick, I end up playing for hours straight.

On a scale from 1 to 100, this game is in the 90s for me, maybe 96 or something. I don’t care that much about many of the biggest issues other people have with this game. This game is made for me, I can’t deny that. It really hits my nerve. So excuse me, because I really need to get out there and start the affinity mission I have my eyes on.