Cris Tales for the Nintendo Switch

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to experience the past, present, and future all at the same time? Do you like games filled with adventure, fantasy, and cute animal side kicks? Cris Tales might be the game for you!

This Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG) follows the story of orphan, Crisbell. Crisbell is an ordinary girl, until one day she discovers she is a Time Mage. With her new found abilities to jump from the present to the future or the past, the fate of the Four Kingdoms lies in her hands. She must defeat the fear mongering Time Empress! However, Crisbell isn’t alone in her fight; allies from around the kingdom Christopher, Willhelm, and more band together. She also relies on her animal sidekick, Matias, who guides Crisbell through this brand new world of being a Time Mage.

Cris Tales is surely to be a new favorite JRPG. Right off the bat, the player is immersed in the drama surrounding the Four Kingdom’s fight against the Time Empress. The player learns a lot of the important skills at the beginning of the game. Cris Tales also allows you to venture off and explore. You can talk to multiple townsfolk and learn more. The plot is fun and easy to follow.

The turn based fighting style, allows the player to think through the moves they want to make. I liked this concept for the game. Some traditional RPG’s can get intense with the fight scenes, and by the time you think about what to do, you have to start over. The turn based element keeps the fight scenes simple and kid friendly.

Cris Tales is available on the Nintendo Switch and the Xbox One/Series X.

Fitness Boxing 2 for Nintendo Switch

Need to get out a little frustration, but still like to move to the beat? Then you might like Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Exercise, a game for Nintendo Switch. I came to the game hopeful, because I’ve liked the boxing and kickboxing I’ve tried in the past, but skeptical that it would measure up to the other, very robust, fitness games I’ve already discovered on Nintendo Switch.

Fitness Boxing starts with a comprehensive tutorial walking you through the moves and the basic game interface and how to set your goals and customizations, and only after you’ve completed the tutorials can you unlock other portions of the game. I liked that this was a cumulative and careful learning process, but sometimes I like to drop in and figure things out as I go, so I thought it was a pity you couldn’t skip some of the early steps to just start experimenting. The more I played, however, the slow and steady unlocking of more features made the game addictive and rewarding. Not to mention the fact that jumping into new moves and routines without knowing what I was doing led to some serious sore muscles.

The game integrates the instrumentals of some well-known pop songs (Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, and Marshmello, among others) into its workouts, which I found really helpful when trying to stay on the beat (apparently boxing is all about rhythm?) though I did get distracted trying to sing along. And distraction is BAD in this game, because timing is everything. If you don’t move at just the right time you’ll miss your punch and lower your score, and along with it your “estimated fitness age” that’s calculated at the end of the workout. Me personally, I didn’t really appreciate some trainers’ vaguely judgmental commentary on your performance and estimated age, but maybe that’s just me. Either way it wound up working a number of muscles I forgot I had, and even virtual jabs and uppercuts are strangely cathartic. The specific punches are surprisingly technical and hard to get right, and the instructors (of which there are a pretty good variety to choose from and personalize) are animated in a vaguely unsatisfying style that doesn’t move totally naturally with the actual movements you’re doing – this is mostly concerning in the stretching portion, where doing it incorrectly has real consequences.

All around, it wasn’t the best Nintendo Switch fitness game I’ve tried (Zumba Burn It Up still holds that spot), not least because it’s oddly challenging in unexpected ways, but it’s a solid contender to have in your rotation of virtual workouts. If you like fitness video games, learning in cumulative chunks, boxing, and lively animation, you might enjoy Fitness Boxing 2.

New Pokemon Snap for Nintendo Switch

If you’re an action / military / sports gamer, I’m very sorry, I still don’t have any recommendations for you. If you like gentle, low pressure games, though, I’ve got another highly-anticipated gem to recommend: New Pokemon Snap.

I’ve heard lots of hype surrounding this release and I believe it’s warranted: this game from the Pokemon universe lets you live out your wilderness photographer dreams seeking and documenting various Pokemon in their natural habitats. The game play is relaxing and easy to learn, and you get a thrill of exploration and discovery along with bonus points for capturing particularly good photos.

Here’s the basics: you’ve joined the research team of Professor Mirror, who’s studying Pokemon behavior with the help of his assistant Rita (and some others). He gives you a pod to travel in and a camera to take photos with, and he sends you to various nature preserves. Your pod travels slowly along a preprogrammed course, and it’s your job to keep your eyes peeled for Pokemon along the way. Your camera can scan your surroundings, identify Pokemon, and zoom in to take good photos, and you also have a supply of fruit to toss to attract hungry ones. You must go back to the same course a few times to level up and unlock a new area, but there’s always something new to discover. You can also go to the courses at night to see a whole new set of Pokemon and behavior, including the mystical Illumina effect.

With beautiful scenery, cute creatures, and a variety of courses to unlock, this is a great game to get lost in, and another good entry point into the Pokemon universe. I myself got quickly addicted and was very sad to have to turn the game back into the library. Don’t miss it!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Nintendo Switch

If your 2020 experience was not accompanied by the soothing background music of this gently capitalist video game, this is the time to check it out – not only for the fun experience of playing, but because soon you may be able to visit the Davenport Library in-game! Keep an eye on our website and social media for more details on that programming opportunity. For now, here’s all the other reasons to try the game.

Animal Crossing is (and as I understand it, always has been) escapism at its finest. The idea is, your character has decided it’s time to get away from modern life, and so takes advantage of a unique opportunity: making a new home from scratch on an uninhabited island! In another game, this would be a grim process, probably involving dying of scurvy or dysentery along the way, but not in Animal Crossing. You’re taken under the wing of the Nook family — Tom, Timmy, and Tommy — who guide you every step of the way in creating your island paradise. (Incidentally, you also go pretty heavily in debt to the Nooks, but they’re nice about it and don’t charge interest.) You start out small, building tents, inviting villagers, upgrading to buildings, learning to craft things, catching bugs and fish for the local museum, and more pleasantly domestic tasks. Eventually, you can build bridges and ramps, or reshape the land itself. Everything turns on the idea of customization: lots of options are provided for you to make everything, from your own appearance and clothing, to island decor, to the island landscape itself, into whatever you want it to be.

If it sounds incredibly self-indulgent, it is – but the capitalism previously mentioned offers some valuable parallels to the real world, including using a banking terminal, depositing money in an account, selling items to make a profit, paying off loans, etc. The game is also seasonal and continually updated: each season corresponds to real life in both weather and wildlife, with a number of festivals and holidays bringing special in-game events.

There’s also an excellent social component of the game: a good deal of your success revolves around building good relationships with your adorable animal villagers, recruiting others, making sure everybody gets along, and just generally making the island a nice place to live. Eventually, with the proper memberships and resources, you can visit other players’ islands and share gifts. As previously mentioned, this means you can also visit the library’s island paradise, coming soon! If you’re looking for a gentle, social escape video game, I recommend giving Animal Crossing a try.

Prey Video Game

guest post by Anthony

2017’s Prey is a game I’ve been meaning to get around to playing for quite a while now. Thankfully, I finally got it this winter and I’m glad to report that it exceeded all my expectations.

Prey primarily takes place aboard Talos 1, a research space station run by the TranStar Corporation that orbits Earth. The station is an expansive environment that includes the various labs, offices, and community spaces that the hundreds of scientists and other workers stationed aboard the station need. It turns out that TranStar has been secretly studying alien life aboard the station until they break containment and infiltrate the station leading to the deaths of the majority of the population aboard the station (shocking how these types of things anyways happen to mega-corporations who secretly find alien life in sci-fi stories). You play as Morgan Yu, Vice-President and head of Research for Transtar. You explore the now near deserted station trying to find a way to stop the aliens from reaching Earth while also trying to save the few remaining humans left on board.

Prey does an excellent job building a very interesting setting aboard Talos 1. The different areas of the station are full of interesting details about the world of the game, the work that was done in each of the locations, and the people who worked there. Prey also gives the player a variety of interesting tools to explore and interact with these spaces. There is an upgrade system that depending on which options you choose will change how the aliens, the surviving humans, and the security systems aboard the station react to you. The system also gives you different options on how to approach each problem in the game and gives plenty of opportunities to fight through encounters, sneaking through them, or talk your way through them. While the initial set up for the plot is a little cliché the game does a really good job with a few key plot twists and some interesting details to make the world feel very unique. I really enjoyed playing through Prey and would highly recommend it to any action or adventure game fans out there.

This game is available in XBOX ONE and PS4 formats.

Late Adopter Video Games for Nintendo Switch

Your favorite newbie gamer is back with some new recommendations for you! The theme of this post: late to the party. Not only am I discovering gaming later in life than most, I’m discovering the most popular video game genres later than most people. Read on to discover which iconic video game universes I finally tried and loved in 2020. (Not mentioned: Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — see Wes’ great post about that one.) The second theme of this post is: never too late! If I can achieve my childhood dreams through gaming as an adult, you can too. So don’t be afraid to give these games a try; they’re tested and approved by the clumsiest new gamer there is — me.

First: I heartily recommend Zumba: Burn It Up as a fun exercise game. Yes, I’m definitely late to the Zumba trend, but it was worth the wait. What I really liked about it was the ability to practice Zumba moves and get comfortable with them in the privacy of my own home, on my own schedule. With the video game format, there’s even a degree of feedback that you get to help you improve. Maybe someday I’ll drag my hermit self into a Zumba class, but right now I love being able to do fun things on my own without having to schedule it in and survive crowds and awkwardness. If you’re like me and you’ve always wanted to try Zumba but never had the time, check out this game for a nice intro.

Second: I’m not proud of this, but it’s taken me until now to finally break into Pokémon. Again, I always wanted to be a part of the fandom, but could never figure out how. Well, now I’ve found at least one way to experience it: with Let’s Go Pikachu or Let’s Go Evee for Nintendo Switch. It’s an accessible game for those new to both video games and the Pokémon universe, with good tutorials and fairly intuitive gameplay. It’s low-pressure with achievable goals, and for that reason fairly addictive! Also, as I always suspected, the Pokémon are incredibly adorable and fun to interact with, which never hurts. If you want to finally achieve a childhood dream (like me), relive your fond childhood memories, or introduce someone new to a cute and fun world of training and battles, I definitely recommend one of the Let’s Go games.

Finally, as a bonus for anyone who’s super bored with my newbie enthusiasm for established games, I want to share a quick summary of a fun genre I’ve discovered that hopefully is new(er) to you: the visual novel game. In my opinion it’s a great fusion of video game and novel. The story is engaging, the visuals are good, the mood is restful, but you have to take action to move the story forward, immersing you in the narrative. My favorite from the library is Arcade Spirits, a romantic comedy visual novel where your customized character finds purpose, friendship, love and fun working at the local arcade.

Another type of visual novel game is the murder mystery. As a big reader of murder mysteries, especially historical or classic murder mysteries, these games’ style and story are a great fit, and the gameplay gives me good practice working through puzzles. For a version of this game genre available from the library, try Deadly Premonitions: Origins, where you help a detective investigate the murder of a young woman in a small town.

Untitled Goose Game for Nintendo Switch

Perhaps you already heard about when Untitled Goose Game took the gaming world by storm. If you haven’t, I’m here to tell you that not only is this game good fun, it’s now available for Nintendo Switch, and you can check it out from the library! The game is built on a simple premise: a goose (that’s you, the player) wanders into an ordinary village to ruin everyone’s day. That’s it, and it’s fantastic.

One thing I liked as a newbie gamer is the game’s structure, in which you learn both in building blocks and by being creative. You unlock one area of the village at a time by crossing items off your to-do list (it’s a great list, including ‘lock the groundskeeper out of the garden’, ‘make someone buy back their own stuff’, ‘get on TV’, etc.) and each section lets you build skills and strategies that help you in the next, more complicated section of town. But there’s no particular order of tasks you have to do, and no instructions on how to get them done. You learn how to move the goose, make it pick things up and (very importantly) honk, and then your job is to wander, explore, and experiment until you figure out how to do things on your own. This makes it a good game to build your creativity and strategic skills in a low-stress environment, with simple, charming art and occasional musical accompaniment.

I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed being the town nuisance, moving people’s possessions around, chasing and honking at them. It was almost like a release valve for all my petty frustrations and rude impulses, and the structureless, low-stakes feel of the game made me feel free and empowered to take action (albeit impolite action) in the world. All in all I would recommend this game for all ages as a lighthearted romp with some psychological benefits.

RingFit Adventure for Nintendo Switch

When I bought myself a copy of Nintendo’s hot new game Ring Fit Adventure, I had no idea what a smart investment it would be. Since my purchase in January 2019, the promise of dynamic in-home exercise has become understandably appealing, and copies of the game available for purchase are nearly impossible to find. I’m proud to announce that I officially finished the game’s “adventure” portion this fall, and so I can now officially recommend the game – which I do, whole-heartedly.

The game’s main portion is structured like a pretty typical action-adventure RPG – your customized character finds themself in a strange world of villagers, animals and monsters, which is threatened by a power-mad bodybuilding dragon addicted to the dark side of exercising. It’s up to you and your trusty sidekick Ring to chase down the dragon and defeat him and his minions with the power of healthy, balanced exercise. The game is driven by your actions in the real world: a leg strap and ring accessory record your jogging, squatting, pushing and pulling and use them to move through environments and fight monsters. The more you play, the higher levels you achieve, which unlock new skills, clothing, abilities, and boosters that help you in battle. Everything is on the fitness theme – your boosters are smoothies with real-world ingredients, the skills are various fitness moves, and all the monsters have punny fitness names (yoga mat monsters are Matta Rays, kettlebells are Belldogs, water bottles are Protein Shakers, etc.)

I’ve had a great experience playing this game. The adventure portion of the game makes exercising fun, and it also has other modes that let me fit exercising into my schedule on my own terms. It has a “custom” mode where you can make your own list of your favorite exercises or jogging routes, it has mini-games that you can play outside the adventure for quick workouts, it has a rhythm game that lets you focus on moving to the music, and it even has a “multitask” mode so you can push or pull on the ring accessory while the system’s turned off, and earn points for the game.

Even better, the game makes a real effort to portray healthy, balanced exercise that is personalized to the individual user. Its included warmup and cooldown routines include easy stretches and lots of tips on living a healthier life, and it has an alarm function to help you stay accountable for playing regularly. It even includes lots of accessibility options, including a “silent mode” for simulating jogging (which is excellent if you share walls or floors with neighbors), various settings to adjust, and calibrating the accessories to your own body and strength.

If you’re looking to stay active during cold, quarantined winter months, AND you’d like to try before you buy, I recommend checking out Ring Fit for a family-friendly exercise option.

The Glorious Multimedia World of RPGs

Today, I’m going to share with you one of my deepest regrets: I’ve always wanted to play tabletop games, especially roleplaying (RPG) games like Dungeons and Dragons, but I’ve never had enough interested friends to learn how. I still hold out hope it could happen for me someday, but in the meantime, I’m happy to report there are lots of other ways to experience the RPG world, including podcasts, video games, and of course, books. Primarily, I want to share with you my favorite podcasts and video games that will give you the RPG experience even if you’re flying solo like me.

The arguably most famous – and wildly enjoyable – podcast about Dungeons and Dragons is The Adventure Zone made by the McElroy family. It’s available on a variety of free podcasting platforms including Podcast Addict. The formula is simple: a father and his sons sit down to play a game of Dungeons and Dragons together, recording it in real time so you can follow along with their campaign. The result is hilarious and addictive, and it gives you a real insight into how typical tabletop roleplaying games work. It’s so popular, in fact, that it now has its own graphic novel series!

The Glass Cannon is another option. This podcast is based on the Pathfinder roleplaying game, and is one of several put out by the Glass Cannon network. Like The Adventure Zone, it strives to give the listener an immersive gameplay experience, enjoyable for players and non-players alike. Unlike the Adventure Zone, it has an ensemble cast of various comedians, voice actors, and gaming nerds to flesh out the story and the characters. This podcast is also available on Podcast Addict, among other platforms.

As far as video games go, I personally strongly recommend trying Cat Quest and Cat Quest II for Nintendo Switch. As a self-declared newbie gamer, I appreciated the clear gameplay and intuitive controls as well as the frankly adorable graphics. In the second game (the one I’ve tried), you play as one or both of a cat and dog pair who are dethroned kings trying to regain their rightful places. Just like in role playing games like D&D, these two go on a series of quests to reach that goal, gaining supplies and abilities along the way. It presents enough challenge to be interesting but still manages to be relaxing.

If cute and cuddly’s not your thing, you might enjoy other RPG games like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or the online World of Warcraft. These games lean heavier into the more typical fantasy world of elves, dwarves, dragons, and dangerous, bloody quests. In the case of Elder Scrolls, you play as a prophesied hero with a unique gift, which uniquely places you to deal with dragons returning to the realm.

Wii’s Last Dance — Just Dance 2020

On a rainy, mid-quarantine day, I dusted off my old Nintendo Wii. My goal was the play the the last game made for the Wii: Just Dance 2020.

It was the perfect pick-me-up for a day stuck indoors after days of not going anywhere. While I’m not a super-fan of any of the songs, the game is filled with upbeat tracks. I giggled at the throwback “Everybody” from Backstreet Boys. Not having kids of my own means that even “Baby Shark” was a refreshing change of pace. Other songs from around the world kept me challenged to follow along with the unfamiliar beats and rhythms. I threw enough energy at the game so that it counted as my workout for the day. I would recommend this game to fans of the Zumba workout. It was fun to unlock new avatars, compete for stars and rack up points.

Don’t worry if you’ve let your Nintendo Wii fall into disrepair after switching to a Switch or another platform. Just Dance 2020 is available from the Davenport Public Library in the Switch format as well as PlayStation 4 and XBox One.