Why Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition For Switch Is A Bad Idea

I’ve spent the last couple weeks gushing about the Nintendo Switch I got. I love the Switch and it’s definitely become one of my favorite consoles, but I’d be lying if I said it was perfect. The Switch’s online game store is bloated with too many games, the “Joycons” that come packed with the console don’t last long, and the amount of really good first-party games is surprisingly low.

Worst of all, I’ve recently gotten word of a game coming to Switch, one that I feel wouldn’t fit on the console at all. I’m talking about Neverwinter Nights, a game that I’ve gushed about quite a bit. Neverwinter Nights was an old-school RPG made for the PC back in 2002. It was Bioware’s third attempt at a big RPG, and was definitely a daring one.

It was a game that focused less on its single-player content, and more on letting the fans create their own experiences. The game thrived on mods and player-run servers, which allowed it to foster a strong community. It also helped that it was based off a Dungeon & Dragons campaign setting, which already had a large built-in audience.

Of course, the game’s focus on multiplayer and modding weakened it a bit. The main-quest suffered greatly and ended up feeling stale, leaving the “Expansion Packs” and “Premium Modules” to pick up the pieces. While the add-ons had much better stories than the base game, it still wasn’t on the same level as Bioware’s previous entries.

So, what we have is a game that was built with multiplayer and modding in mind. This begs the question: How well would this translate to Nintendo Switch? My answer for this is a bit complicated, so let’s go over the basics. For one thing, Nintendo is adamantly against the modifying and altering of their products. They are against mods and fan-made projects of any caliber, so it’s doubtful that the game will have modding support on Switch. Unless Nintendo and Beamdog find a way to have the modded servers playable on the Switch, then they sadly won’t be able to bring the “pure” experience over from the PC.

Neverwinter Nights relies heavily on its fan-made content and support, and it would most likely flop without it. Gutting out the game’s mods and modded servers will just dissuade more players from wanting to give the game a shot on Switch. Worse still is the multiplayer, which will have to be heavily altered in its entirety. Without any sort of keyboard peripheral to use, there just won’t be any way to properly communicate with other players.

While there is an app for your phone that lets you communicate with other players in-game, I doubt this functionality would be available for the Switch port. After all, most people just tend to play their RPGs without voice-chat, so downloading the app may be seen as “unnecessary” to most. As such, it’s doubtful that there will be any meaningful way to talk with friends during gameplay.

So, is there any way they can craft a fun experience around the Switch port of Neverwinter Nights? Maybe, but it’ll require a lot of work. One thing I’d like to see included would be a bunch of fan-made modules packaged in with the game itself, which will allow non-PC players to experience what other fans have created. Also, it’d be great if they could find a way to somehow include the modded servers from the PC release. I know it would be impossible to include all of them, but it’d still be nice if we Switch owners could get a taste of Neverwinter Nights’ modding scene.

Furthermore, I’d like to see some good revisions to the multiplayer. Maybe find a way to include text-chat of some sort, or create a better voice-chat option. Lastly, I’d like to some new content exclusive to the Switch. How about giving us a new campaign based off the “Legend of Zelda” games? Or how about a module inspired by “Xenoblade Chronicles”? I’m not asking for anything too big, but I would like something that could help the Switch port of Neverwinter Night stand out.

Regardless, I probably won’t be getting Neverwinter Nights on Switch. I already own the PC version and don’t feel the need to take the plunge again. It would take a lot of additions to the pre-existing game to make me consider buying it twice. I hope that Beamdog can put something interesting together for the Switch release, but I doubt they’ll be able to make a port that perfectly captures what the PC version did. I’m holding out hope that they can do something good with it, but I’m going to remain skeptical up until its release.

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Dungeons & Dragons Marathon: Chronicles of Mystara Review

I remember when arcades were something special, back when they were a fun excursion for people who just wanted to dump some quarters on a video-game. Arcades were one of my favorite things growing up, mostly due to how much time I spent in them. I’d spend several quarters on a single game, just in an attempt to see how far I’d get. One of the biggest quarter drainers for me were “Beat-Em-Up” games, which involved the player fighting through levels filled with hordes of easily beatable mooks.

Capcom seemed to be the king when it came to beat-em-ups, since they made so many of them back in the day. You had classics like Alien Vs. Predator, Knights of The Round, Captain Commando, and The King of Dragons! However, there were a pair of beat-em-ups that I felt were way better than all the rest. I’m of course talking about the classic “Dungeons & Dragons” arcade games!

Originally released in the 90s, these two games served as arcade interpretations of the classic D&D board-game. Now, I’m going to be doing things a bit differently for this review. While normally I would review these games separately, I felt like I should review them as a collective package. After all, the second game is basically just the first game with a different story, some new classes, and several new areas.

So, let’s tackle the “Chronicles of Mystara” games: Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara. The two games take place in the eponymous land of “Mystara”, which is one of the original settings for Dungeons & Dragons. Both arcade games plunge you into a fantasy world, and have you do battle against hordes of evil creatures. The two games feature typical fantasy stories, which are filled with typical fantasy characters. The game plays like your average beat-em-up game, but with a twist.

The game adds in RPG mechanics, as well as some rules from the board-game to spice things up. There are a lot of neat little touches, like The Beholder’s ability to block a magic user’s spell-casting abilities. I also liked that the game had a leveling up system, as well as abilities that can only be used a certain amount of times per level. There’s also an item shop available at the end of each level, allowing players to spend the coins they earned on a random smattering of items.

The Mystara games are best played with multiple people, as they were built from the ground up with multiplayer in mind. It’s fun to team up with your friends and fight back the endless onslaught of goblins, owlbears, and magic-wielding elves. One of the games’ most impressive features is the “branching paths” the story takes, which was something most arcade games didn’t have.

Making certain choices in the game result in the player advancing through different levels, collecting rare and legendary items, or fighting new enemies. This gives the relatively short arcade games a fair bit of replay value. Sure, the choices don’t drastically change what happens in the game, but the variety they add is much appreciated.

Speaking of choices, the game offers a wide variety of playable characters. While the first game only had 4 character classes, the sequel upped it to 6. While most characters play near identically to each other, they all boast different abilities that set them apart. For example, Clerics can use healing spells and buff the party, Magic-Users can assault enemies with attack spells, etc.

There’s enough variety here to make the six characters feel unique, while also making them equally efficient in combat. Regardless of their abilities, every character will still primarily focus on hacking away at enemies with their weapon. Let’s move on to the games’ graphics and sound, which have aged remarkably well.

Despite the fact that these games came out in the 90s, their 2D graphics have aged very well. The soundtrack is also fantastic, while boasting some of the catchiest tunes in Capcom history. If I have any complaints about this game at all, it would be that the PC version is pretty bad.

This was the version of the game I played the most, and its lacking in several departments. You can’t change most of the controller bindings, the graphic options are terrible, and overall it’s just a bad port. That being said, the console versions of the game are much better in every aspect.

If you’re one of the people who never grew up on the original arcade games, I highly recommend trying out the console ports. The game is pretty easy to find in digital storefronts, while also being fairly cheap. If you want an arcade game that marries the old-school RPG elements of tabletop D&D with arcade goodness, then this is certainly the game for you!

 

Dungeons & Dragons Marathon: The Dead Alewives Sketches

If you’ve been around the internet for as long as I have, then you are most likely to run into what are called “internet memes”. Memes are basically internet “jokes”, which are usually just references to something dumb or silly. Some memes can transcend the time period in which they are made, and continue into the far future. Several such memes originated from an unlikely place: An old Dungeons & Dragons sketch made by Dead Alewives.

They were a sketch comedy group that existed around the 80s and 90s, while producing several rather entertaining sketches. In essence, they are mostly known for their original Dungeons & Dragons sketch! This audio sketch has a very simple, albeit entertaining premise. The idea behind it is that an omniscient narrator believes D&D to be satanic worship, which was a common misconception around the time.

The narrator paints D&D as pure evil, before showing the audience an “actual gaming session”. We are then shown a bunch of nerds who are goofing off, and playing the game normally. The sketch showed to casual audiences that D&D was harmless fun, and didn’t promote satanic or occult ideals.

The sketch itself had a ton of really good jokes and one-liners in there; my personal favorite is “I’ve got an Ogre-Slaying Knife, it’s got a plus 9 against ogres!” The sketch is simple, but it does what it sets out to do and presents its content in an entertaining and fun way. It was a hilarious and unforgettable depiction.

While the sketch wasn’t popular initially, its repeat airings on the “Dr. Demento” radio program boosted its popularity greatly. By the last 90s, it had become one of the most requested sketches on the program. This eventually resulted in a second sketch, which just wasn’t as funny. It revolved around one of the players bringing their girlfriend to a game, only for the Dungeon Master to get jealous and annoyed.

The sketch was a whopping 7 minutes long, which was more than twice as long as the original sketch! Worse still, it just wasn’t as funny as the first. The first sketch’s humor relied on just nerds being nerds, rather than trying to force in a subplot about a jealous Dungeon Master. The jokes felt too stretched out and there was a bit too much filler for my liking.

It’s not terrible by any means, and there are still jokes that did get a chuckle out of me. On top of this, the voice-work by the Dead Alewives are impeccable as always! Thing is, it just lacked the magic that the first sketch had. There were no opening and ending narrations, no really good punchlines, and just a general lack of creativity.

It’s still enjoyable on its own, but it lacks the unique comedy stylings that the original brought to the table. Heck, most people have even forgotten that this second sketch even exists! It’s pretty obscure, especially for a follow-up to one of the most celebrated audio sketches of its time.

Despite the second sketch being forever doomed to obscurity, its predecessor continues to live on. People still quote lines from the first D&D sketch verbatim, and the sketch itself has even made it into the video-game “Summoner”. References to the sketch abound in most big MMORPGs, while nerds continue to shout “I’m attacking the darkness!” while playing a game of D&D.

The first sketch was simple, but was done really well. So well that it actually got me into Dungeons & Dragons, which I appreciate very much! While that second sketch will never be looked at all that fondly, at least the first one will live on in the hearts of nerds for many years to come. Just like a bottle of Mountain Dew, the Dead Alewives Dungeons & Dragons sketches are just too damn sweet!

Dungeons & Dragons Marathon: Remembering That Weird D&D Cartoon

The 80s was a weird time for animation, mostly due to the watered down stuff you’d see on TV. Every show was trying to be the next “He-Man”, while desperately trying to shill its action figures onto the young audience watching at home. Not all shows were like this, however. Some shows were radically different than what was airing, or tried its best to be more than an over-glorified toy commercial.

You had shows like Galaxy Rangers, M.A.S.K., and The Real Ghostbusters. These were all shows that managed to be entertaining and interesting, while also selling toys! There was another show that also fell into this category, at least in some respects. So, let’s talk about the long forgotten “Dungeons & Dragons” cartoon. D&D began airing in 1983, and ended its run in 1985 with 27 episodes. It told the story of 6 kids who are transported to a fantasy world based on the popular Dungeons & Dragon board-game, due to riding atop a magical theme park ride based on said board-game.

Right away, the concept alone really makes no sense. I mean, why would they make a theme park ride based off a board-game? Of course, the “being pulled into an alternate universe by a theme park ride” makes far less sense regardless. After the six kids are brought to this new fantasy realm, they are tasked by the “Dungeon Master” to help bring peace to the realm. While doing this, they are desperately trying to find a way home.

The characters were certainly interesting on this show. You had Eric, who was the jerk of the team. Despite being a cavalier, he didn’t have a sword and was really only there to be the butt of everyone’s jokes. There was also Hank, who was the archer and leader of the team. All of the other characters filled simplistic roles in the group as well, and half of them were useless in most combat situations.

Most of the episodes revolved around the kids trying to get home or help someone, only to get attacked by “Venger”. Venger served as the show’s main villain, who was constantly trying to kill the kids every chance he got. He only feared Tiamat, who was a ferocious dragon with powers that rivaled his own.

As you can tell, the D&D cartoon had larger stakes than your average 80s cartoon. The show was dark, though kept a playful attitude through most of its episodes. Some episodes only had a few dark elements here or there, while still playing up the comedic aspects.

A good example of this is the episode, “Quest of the Skeleton Warrior”, which featured our heroes meeting said titular skeleton. In the episode, all the kids were forced to face their fears. Most of their fears were pretty tame, or very basic overall. Thing is, that’s not what most people remember about the episode. Near the end of said episode, Hank nearly gets all his skin peeled off by a magic spell! Yes, you can even see his skin starting to peel in the episode itself.

Of course, they save him before he can become another living skeleton. Thing is, this was the only part of the episode that really ventured into dark territory. However, some episodes were just designed to be really dark in nature. I think the episode everyone talks about when it comes to this show is “The Dragon’s Graveyard”.

The whole gist of the episode is that the kids are sick of Venger constantly trying to kill them, so they decide to hunt him down and kill him themselves. It’s a pretty dark subject for a show from the 80s to tackle, but it makes for an interesting watch all the same. Seeing the young heroes pushed to the brink, and willing to kill the main villain was something that no other cartoons at the time were really attempting.

While the show did have some dark and thought-provoking episodes here or there, it always fell back into typical kid show territory. As hard as this show tried, it just never broke away from the constraints of its medium. Despite this, the guys behind the show still act as if it’s a masterpiece of its time.

One of the writers of the show was Michael Reaves, who avidly believed the show was a game of its decade. Heck, he even compared it to “Gargoyles”, one of the darkest kids shows in the 90s! It’s weird that he’d compare D&D to such a dark and revolutionary show, but it’s good to know that he’s proud of what he and his team created!

I’ll be honest, I enjoy the show in spite of its flaws. It did try to be dark and incorporate elements from the board-game, even if the final product came off as bland on occasion. At the very least, it stands apart from most other 80s cartoons. It tried to be more than just a commercial for something and I can at least appreciate it for that. I hope this show does make a return one day, so they can finally animate a proper ending for it!

My Next Marathon: Dungeons & Dragons!

d&d first edition
I love the smell of First Edition D&D in the morning!

If you’re new to this blog, then you may not know that I occasionally do “marathons” of series I’m really into. My marathons consist of me doing constant posts on various entries and adaptations within a singular series, while also putting out my usual stream of content on the side. The first marathon I did was for Phantasy Star, while the second was for Digimon. The marathon for the next few months will be about Dungeons & Dragons!

D&D was the FIRST RPG of any sort to be made, resulting in the creation of a genre that has spanned decades at this point. I recently reviewed Neverwinter Nights, so I thought it was a good time to go and look back at various D&D things made over years. I’ll tackle adaptations, video-games, and even my experiences with said board-game.

Keep in mind that I’m not the biggest expert on D&D. I know the basics of the game and have indulged in many of its adaptations, but I’m not some “seasoned Dungeon Master”. I’m no expert, but I know enough about the series as a whole to give an informed opinion on it.

With that being said, I hope you guys enjoy this marathon. I’ll try to make it last the first quarter of this year, from now until March. I should have enough Dungeons & Dragons material to cover to fill that time-slot! If not, I could I just play and review a bunch of Neverwinter Nights expansions. I’ve got enough of those to cover at least 8 reviews! Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the content I bring next. Thanks once again for supporting my work and reading this blog!