Making a console: Nintendo’s and Nintendon’ts

 

The Nintendo Switch is ready to reach the 2000 game threshold, but where does it go from there? 

It’s such a little piece of hardware, slightly bigger than a phone, smaller than most tablets but it packs a punch. It runs reasonably impressive games such as Zelda, Dark Souls and Fortnite without really any problems and the games library recently hit 1800 games… but there lies the problem.

While it might be impressive that such a compact, portable console can run intensive games, it’s no secret that Nintendo have never been one for keeping up with Joneses of the video game world. Sure, it’s impressive that the Switch can run a game originally released for the PS3 – but the PS3 was last generation, and graphics have moved on. The Switch, performance-wise at least, comes dead last in this console generation race.

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(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Developers make games for PC and with some minor alterations get them working on consoles. The PS4 and the Xbox One are about as powerful as mid market PCs. Modern games are built from the ground up to be extremely beautiful and technically impressive. Red Dead Redemption II for example takes up over 60GB of storage on the Xbox One. The Switch though? It only has 32GB of internal storage, meaning there isn’t even enough space on the hard-drive to store most modern games, never mind run them.

The Wii and the Wii U had the same problem. Developers just don’t want to make games for an awkward, under-powered console. Nintendo’s plan has always been to ignore this and instead make high quality games for their own console focusing on their own IPs that they hope will bring in both loyal fans and newcomers. This didn’t work.

For a while Nintendo was in a little bit of trouble. The Wii U just didn’t have enough high quality games to attract consumers to it, but the switch has found a rather clever solution.

Nintendo have opened the Switch to indie developers meaning anyone with some programming skills could make a game for the console. This has given The Nintendo library a much needed breath of fresh air. This turns the Switch’s weakness on their head. Under-powered becomes accessible and means anyone can develop for the console.

However: now the Switch market seems almost too accessible. Scrolling through new releases is like browsing the App Store, and the games there would be more at home on a mobile phone. This is a shame, as we know that the switch can do so much more.

The Switch is doing a lot right and has undoubtedly revolutionised gaming, and it’s great that it has a more expansive library than it predecessors. All Nintendo needs to make sure of is that it doesn’t over-correct. If it does, the Switch will have a bright future.

From the big screen and the small screen, to your computer screen: Hollywood actors in video games

The Academy Award for best actor went to Rami Malek for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. You may also know him from the Amazon Prime original series Mr. Robot, or from the Night at the Museum films alongside Ben Stiller.

Gamers, however, will know him from his work on the 2015 horror video game Until Dawn.

Malek performed motion capture and voice acting to portray Josh, who invites his friends to spend the weekend at a ski lodge on the anniversary of his sisters’ disappearance, kick-starting a unique and interactive horror story.  He worked alongside fellow actor Hayden Panettiere who has starred in TV programmes Heroes and Nashville. 

RamiMalek

Rami Malek as Josh in Until Dawn. (Credit: Supermassive Games)

As video games become increasingly mainstream, more actors are taking on the challenge of acting in video games. Video game acting has evolved beyond voice acting, but is now a full performance. Here’s some of the most prolific actors who have acted in video games.

Sean Bean & Patrick Stewart

Sean Bean and Patrick Stewart both acted in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This fantasy role playing game was the perfect setting for veteran English actors Bean and Stewart. Sean Bean played the illegitimate son of the emperor Uriel Septim (played by Stewart, who dies early on in the game), on a quest to claim the throne and defeat an evil cult. Having these actors involved is a testament to the calibre of acting skills that video games can attract.

Kiefer Sutherland

Kiefer Sutherland took on the established role of Solid Snake in the 5th instalment of the long-running Metal Gear Solid series. Sutherland has been in many films and television programmes, with arguably his most famous role portraying Jack Bauer in 24. His performance has special forces operative Snake was memorable. Even though almost every gamer has heard of Metal Gear Solid, Sutherland’s inclusion in the game widened the fan-base to people who had perhaps never heard of the franchise before.

Gary Oldman, Kit Harrington & Conor McGregor

The Call of Duty series has featured many famous actors over the course of the franchise. A fan favourite, Russian soldier Viktor Reznov, was played by Academy Award winner Gary Oldman (with the inclusion of Malek, that makes two Academy Award winners having appeared in video games). Oldman was excellent in his portrayal of the grizzled Russian sergeant in Call of Duty: World at War. Call of Duty’s characters can be quite two dimensional, but Oldman’s performance solidified the character in our memory. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare also features Game of Thrones’ Kit Harrington and professional MMA fighter Conor McGregor as villains.

Kit Harrington

Kit Harrington in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (Credit: Activision)

Mark Hamill

Most children of the nineties and earlier will remember Mark Hamill‘s portrayal of The Joker alongside Kevin Conroy’s Batman in Batman: The Animated Series. This portrayal of The Joker has stuck in many fans’ minds and is now the iconic voice of The Joker. He reprised that role in Batman: Arkham Asylum and its sequels to critical acclaim. The work of Hamill and Conroy elevated these games from superhero beat-em-ups to fan-favourite Batman stories.

Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson appeared in Fallout 3 as your (the protagonist’s) father. He said that he was attracted to the role for the quality of the script and the considerable amount of dialogue. The studio that makes the Fallout games also created the Elder Scrolls series that has starred Patrick Stewart and Sean Bean. James’ (Neeson’s character) personality and stance was intended to resemble Neeson from the beginning, and the character model even bares slight resemblance.

Charles Dance 

Charles Dance always plays a good villain, and his appearance in CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher III was no exception. Dance played Emperor Emhyr Var Emreis, the most powerful man in The Witcher’s universe. The character was not dissimilar from Dance’s role as Tywin Lannister in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Emhyr is cold, authoritative, multi-layered and a fascinating figure in the Witcher universe – but it’s Dance’s voice talents which brought to life such an excellent character.

Mark Hamill

Mark Hamill in Squadron 42. (Credit: Cloud Imperium Games)

The entire cast of Squadron 42

The upcoming game Squadron 42, however, beats all the previous titles at having an all-star cast. Actors include Gillian Anderson, Andy Serkis, Mark Strong, Mark Hamill and Liam Cunningham. Not a lot of information has been released about this game yet, other than it’s a science-fiction action game centred around space travel. However, the chance to see these actors working together is a very exciting prospect.

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