Katamari Damacy ReRoll

Katamari is the most peculiar yet meditative experience you can have on Nintendo Switch. The plot is simple: The King of the Cosmos destroyed the sky in a drunken stupor. You are tasked with recreating the cosmos using everything you can roll. With a stellar jazzy soundtrack & an overall chill experience, it’s an absolute […]

Katamari Damacy ReRoll

Bite Size Review – My 49 Days with a Cell

Sometimes it’s hard to be honest about what you want and what you need, with yourself. I didn’t think to myself that this was something that was going to teach me anything when I landed on My 49 Days with a Cells in the Apple Store. A bit like the Eggs game (which is a time waste, and a very good one at that!)

That’s it. 49 days of these cell’s lives. You are the person who has to take care of them. Easy.

Well, not so much. It turns out that taking care of these little cells is about as difficult as it is to look after ourselves.

For a little while now I’ve been on a journey where I’m trying to learn how to take better care of myself. I’ve had very drastic changes in my life. Just a lot of life happens in a very short time. I suddenly lost my dad and as a result of his death I moved home 4 times in 3 years. During that period, I would have worked two jobs at the same time, just to get the ends meet.

Then, I started to suffer massively from health problems. Two months after I got married, I had a lump removed from my breast, as they thought it was cancerous. I was at the time in a job that was pursuing a dream I wanted but it made me slowly sick and stressed because of the working environment. Since quitting the job due to sickness and being burned out,I decided to go back to college to pursue a Masters degree and work at the same time. More health problems, however, occurred to a point where I wound up having to leave both my college degree and what work I was doing at the time. I had major surgery in January where they removed my uterus and not even a full 2 years later and I’m pending another surgery next month to figure out why things are still wrong.

TL: DR Needless to say, I know the strength of what one of those little cells holds firsthand.

We are back to the land of simplicity, gameplay wise. You’ve got bonus energy to spend on the first cell. What ‘s great, it gives you the freedom to see what you might want to do with your cell, and then you’re going to plan your first week with it. At first, your choices feel endless; food, exercise, culture, rest, play, study and wash are all your main categories and then they are subdivided into categories. So, my first week has started. Through my little cage, I tried to live vicariously, wanting to fly, read and play without end. However, it did not turn out that way.

There has always been a trade off doing too much without caring about other needs such as feeding or sleeping in the cell. Around the time I was halfway through my first lifecycle of cells I recognized that I was making the same mistakes that I personally made.

I just didn’t take care of it. The little cell couldn’t eat properly, couldn’t rest and had barely planned time to take a bath! I was so focused on putting everything in its existence that I would have forgotten to take into account what it wanted or needed. I just didn’t listen to it.

I was so focused on doing what I thought it was important, and wanted me to take notice of the fact Nobody was listening to them.

Ultimately, it was too late to rectify the error by the time I realised that I had left it undernourished, deprived of sleep and stinky. Fortunately, it didn’t die (well, it depends on how you look at it), but on its 49th day, it decided to turn it into a stone.

I started my second round with its previously divided cell (which carries all of the previous cell stats) disappointed, and equally a little mystified. A cell’s life cycle is from 15 to 30 minutes of playtime anywhere, so I was startled when I realized the cells respond to you when they’re in an event — if they don’t like an activity, they ‘re going to tell you.

It took me some time to understand that in some respects life imitated art. These little cells had hopes and aspirations and I forgot the key things to make this a success in the pursuit of that achievement.

Through listening, loving, and caring.

Like how I had forgotten to listen, to appreciate and to care for myself.

They say you should talk to yourself as if you were talking to your friends and I have never been good at taking advice like that. But something really hit home with me about My 49 Days with Cells, it taught me a lot about myself and I’m sure it can teach you something too.

My 49 Days with Cells are available on both the IOS App Store and the Google Play Store for free.

Game Accessibility Standard – A Review Visual

Example of visual checklist for accessibility reviews

As per my last post, I wanted to upload an example image of how reviewers can cover key points within a game that doesn’t necessarily require experience with the disabilities in question.

Try to remember that all of this is to aid the reader to see if there is even the first instance of accessibility tools being present in a game to begin with.

As you’re review or first preview might be the first window that a player has into seeing if the tool they require to play the game is present. These information drops will never be substitute for if these tools are any “good” but it is a way forward for us to normalise the process of this information being available.

There will always be space, scope, and voices for the people who will experience these features on the day to day and should then talk about it. Indeed, these people should be given priority. However, this is an exercise in knowledge transfer and normalisation. That doesn’t need to be any specific voice or a format.

We need to start trying to go with the purpose of getting the information out there rather than focusing on it being 100% right. Because by in large your audiences are gonna help you to dictate what information is important for them to have. Some may prefer long form round ups like Courtney Craven’s over at VG247, or a slightly more streamlined approach such as OllyWrites (tba! You’ll see soon).

It’s not going to be down to any one person to make this happen, but it is going to be down to every single person to normalise the information being shared.

https://www.change.org/p/commitment-from-gaming-journalism-outlets-to-cover-accessibility-in-games

https://myspecious.com/2020/03/29/accessibility-criteria-for-video-games-introducing-the-dvcm/

Should You Care? Women – Critical Lit Games

CriticialLitGames is the brainchild of writer turned coder Susan Gray, her focus with CriticalLitGames is to blend her two loves of literature and gaming using Augmented Reality (AR).

Coming from an arts background, Susan has been writing fiction from a young age starting off with short fiction and novellas moving on later to writing and publishing plays and poems. Her love of writing didn’t end there but seeped into her gaming life. She told me during her chat that when she was younger, she used to write to gaming companies with her ideas for games that she wanted to see. From this love of gaming leant her to coding where she had picked up Q and Visual Basic realising she may not need the major gaming companies to achieve her dreams. She could make the games herself.

Upon completing her PhD in Creative Writing, she decided to try her hand at Unity. Her first foray

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into Unity was in the VR space, but during her testing, she stumbled upon AR. She was fascinated about what she describes as the “breach into physical reality” rather than the separatist nature of VR. She realised that anything could be a host for an extra layer of information over the items we see as commonplace in our daily lives. Her mindthen strayed back to her first love of books. How could she add this layer over a timeless medium without distracting the reader’s attention?

She then drew on the experiences she had as a child and tieing that in with her love of video gaming realised she could create the modern gamebook. Thanks to the technological advancements that have to lead to AR she felt this could add a level of novelty to the everyday.

You can find a demo of her previous work here, and you can follow her progress on Twitter at @CritLitGames, on Instagram @criticallitgames, her blog https://criticallitgames.co.uk, and her Patreon if you want to support what she is up to.

Secret of Mana – Why I’m excited about the remake.

In August 1993, the game was released initially as Seiken Densetsu 2 in Japan on the Super Famicom (SNES) but sold outside Japan as Secret of Mana. Now, as of 2017 Square Enix is has decided to remake the beloved series which will be released in North America on February 15, 2018.

Earlier this summer, a Mana collection containing three pillars of the Mana theme; Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana, and Seiken Densetsu 3.  This was Japanese exclusive for the Nintendo Switch. Now the second game in the series is headed to the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita as well as Steam.

According to Famitsu, this is a full remake with full voice-overs, a new musical arrangement, other new elements like upgraded gameplay and graphics. It will also have local multiplayer on all platforms. All sounds so far so good, right?

Well, with the launch of the SNES Classic launched at the end of this year I’m not too sure. If you were one of the lucky ones, who got these hands of one of these elusive mini consoles you will already have access to the legendary RPG. One of the charming things about the SNES Classic will find that, among other things, the most exciting inclusions was the inclusion of the range of JRPGS. One of the things about the SNES Classic that I love is that its entire library of games has lasted the test of time, so they’re still great today. There are very few games on the consoles roster that I wouldn’t play, which for me was a more enticing prospect than the original NES mini.

So, I’m reminded of how good Secret of Mana is with the SNES mini, but I was struck by how much it could benefit from an update. I’m, personally, not concerned about the new art direction that it’s taking. Chibi style is something that I’ve always had a soft spot for that style, and while there seem to be some odd texture choices, it’s not enough for me to be super concerned.

This is primarily because I’m so excited that there will be a new generation of players who will be able to experience this incredible game with no significant changes to its narrative other than its visual aesthetics. I have a similar feeling of optimism surrounding the remake of final fantasy 7 (although, I’m less pleased with it being episodic, but I digress). So, for now, I’m going to trust that we’re going to get the remake it so richly deserves.

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Animal Crossing : Pocket Camp Review

Animal Crossing has always had the same appeal to me as the Harvest Moon series. It’s like good comfort food; it’s regular, consistent and expected. There are no surprises and satisfies a need that I have of getting lost for a few hours doing meaningful tasks in a world that is not my own. This need for getting the comfort food I’m so used to is the reason why I’m so conflicted about Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

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I started with the Animal Crossing series late, as I never had a Nintendo 64 or a GameCube growing up (my family was a Playstation household growing up – bar handhelds). So I missed the original Animal Crossing, and my first fling with the series was with Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the Nintendo DS and it was love at first play. I loved the character style, the size of the map, how you interacted with the characters and the overall flow of the game. It has a Sims or Harvest Moon effect – where you tell yourself you’re only going to play an hour max of it and suddenly it’s 4 am.

So I was equal parts thrilled and concerned when Nintendo announced that they would be releasing a mobile version of Animal Crossing. The one thing that I didn’t want was it to be completely overrun with prompts to hand over my money to get apples from a tree. (You can find more about my thoughts on microtransactions over at Noobist.com http://noobist.com/gaming/microtransactions-questioning-noise/) It turns out that those fears are only half realised.

camp and chill

When you first start out in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, you’re greeted by the regular faces. You’ll be first greeted by K.K. Slider, and then Isabelle, who’ll get you up and running in your campsite. From then on, everything goes mostly as expected; you’ll be befriending neighbourly animals, collecting fruit, hunting bugs, and customising your campsite & minivan. Most of these events are set up via timers, so you can only do a set amount of things in a certain amount of time. This means that there isn’t as much of a time commitment so its perfect for waiting for a bus or queuing for your shopping but it isn’t so suited for more extended play sessions.

There are things you can do to extend your time should you have extra time to kill. For instance, fishing can be completed in one of two ways. Firstly, is the traditional way where you go from area to area catching fish with a rod. Or you can skip the fishing for a net which catches multiple types of fish at once the catch is (ha!) that it costs leaf tickets. This is where the game begins to get a bit cash happy as this is the games premium currency.

So, for those who unwittingly spent their tickets early on in the game during setup – I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Leaf tickets are a strategy in themselves, a balance of what you want versus what you’re willing to wait for. You can acquire Leaf Tickets in-game at the beginning with relative ease given the stretch goal systems. They give you tickets readily and freely in the beginning just for getting simple tasks done. But the good times don’t last forever I’m afraid.

There become barriers to entry to specific areas like the ore mining camp without payment of some leaf tickets. Or having to pay for trees to regrow, fishing nets, upgrading your bays to purchase more than one piece of furniture at a time. The list gets long and endless, and as a result, loses its sweetness. It forgets that spark that made it go to comfort food, something that you can sit down and relax with to something that is more a convenience snack. Enough to keep you going, but not enough to fill the void.

That’s the best way of summing up what Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is something to play when you’re just casually waiting for a bus or a way to pass a little bit of time. However, trying to get the full-bodied experience of Animal Crossing game will not be found here, or at least not without serious investment.

A Dumb Phone in 2017 – LG B470

When I was planning on myself and Splinters honeymoon this year, there was something that I was adamant about, and that was that I was going to be as tech-free as possible. I was not going to take my smartphone with me (at least, not my daily driver) and I was going to take a hiatus from all forms of social media and internet dependency.

This leads to a couple of issues while travelling; firstly how were you going to get from place to place if you couldn’t book a Lyft to the airport, and when you get to the airport how were you going to get through security without your boarding pass? These were all challenges I was going to have to face without having a handset on hand to do all of these tasks for me that I would have just taken for granted. What I learned is that I certainly do take these things for granted, my iPad served as a grading surrogate for a lot of these unusual tasks. However, it all got done, and our honeymoon went relatively unhindered as a result.

For the honeymoon, myself and Splintor went travelling a fair bit of it. We went to New York to see some of the Pocketnow crew for a few days, then we went to Orlando for five days to go and look at the parks and finally a week in Cancun to rest from all of the running around of the week prior. It leads to a fundamental problem – how am I going to call people or arrange to meet people while I’m over there? If myself and Mark are going to book a reservation for a restaurant, how are we meant to do that completely phone free? Turns out that bit, we can’t.

medium03So, we had to come to some arrangement. How could we remain connected and disconnected at the same time? The solution to that question came in the form of the LG B470, a dumb phone surviving in 2017.

As an AT&T exclusive, it’s not got the highest specs in the world, nor does it have the best camera.

Summary
Screen Size 2.2 inches
Screen Resolution 220 x 176 pixels
Battery Capacity 950 mAh
Camera Resolution 1.3 MP
Processor
Memory
Storage
Carrier AT&T
Other Features Text & Multimedia Messaging, Mobile Web, Text to Speech
Series B470

Though, as laughable as the concept may be for $25 per handset including the prepaid credit that was already on the phone it served our needs perfectly. We could make calls, tell the time, (an unexpected hindrance of continually being attached to a smartwatch. When you don’t bring the smartphone, you tend not to bring the smartwatch either!) and text people were required.

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I remember trying to walk out of Best Buy to text Jules to see which Starbucks near Central Park we were meant to meet and struggling tremendously with the concept of T9. Stopping in the middle of the shop, swearing under my breath as this was something I hadn’t done since my early teens and it had escaped me. I felt like I’d blasted to some point in the future when technology will at some stage get away from my grasp, and I had the confusion I see in my elders. It hit me with the full force of that knowledge, and I was angry that I’d lost that part of my ability. I remember being able to text without looking under my desk in class (Sorry, Mam) and being able to write perfect messages because I had everything down to muscle memory.

It slowly came back, like riding a bike, and over those few days, I discussed with my tech Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 03.15.18friends the concept of reverting to something like this for the two-week process. People were curious how were we going to document our experiences without something there always at hand for us to use. There was a sense of nostalgia looking at a flip phone like this and lamenting for a simpler time.

I don’t think that lamentation is misplaced, and it is a simpler place to be. A simpler place to sit. A simpler place to just exist. I found myself not wanting to be anywhere else except where I was. It gave me an opportunity to be present and with the people who were around me. That’s not something that I get to feel in everyday life; there is some much that is around us that calls for our attention regularly. So, for me at least it was a beautiful gift to give not just to myself but for the people around me. It was what I hoped to get from spending my time being disconnected from the digital world for a bit.

I would highly recommend it, even just for a little while. To force yourself to tune out and turn off. Give yourself and the people you love the time just to be. It just goes to show that sometimes, going a few steps back can push you a few steps forward.

Xbox One X Revealed : E3 2017 [Noobist.com]

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Originally Posted on Noobist.com

What we learned from Microsofts E3 2017 presentation was the unveiling of the Xbox One X. Formerly known as Project Scorpio. Needless to say, Microsoft’s offering has them coming out of the gate swinging!

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The specs on this hardware are nothing short of impressive:

  •  8-core Custom AMD CPU  it is clocked at 2.3GHz
  • 12GB GDDR5
  • 6 Teraflop GPU enabled 4k
  • 326 GB/sec memory bandwidth

Video Capabilities

4K

  • UHD Blu-ray
  • Optical Disc Drive

HDMI

  • 2.0b (out),
  • 2160p @ 60Hz,
  • AMD FreeSync

HDR10

Support

Audio Components

DTS

5.1

DOLBY

  • Digital 5.1,
  • TrueHD with Atmos

PCM

2.0, 5.1, 7.1

Wireless capability

  • Bluetooth Enabled
  • Activation button on front

WiFi

  • Dual band wireless with Wi-Fi
  • Direct for home networks

IR

  • IR Blaster
  • Send and receive signals

Connectivity

  • Power Port
  • 2 HDMI Ports (1 HDMI 1.4b in, 1 HDMI 2.0b out)
  • 3 USB 3.0 Ports
  • IR Out
  • S/PDIF
  • Ethernet Port

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What you need to keep in mind about this hardware is that it is presently stronger than Sony’s offering the PS4 Pro. Microsoft claims it to be 40% more powerful than its competitor’s models, but it does beg the question that struck me when I first saw the specs. “Isn’t this super close to being a decently specced PC?”

 

Given that the exclusives for this console aren’t really unique (Given the fact that you can play the majority of these on Windows anyway) it begs the question as to why you would bother to the price point of $499?

 

The answer to that is relatively simple – you will not be able to get that true 4k resolution if it wasn’t priced that way. Given the graphical fidelity of it, it’s unsurprising to me that it is priced the way it is. However, I fear that the console may be a little bit before its time. HD TV’s have only become standardised in the last few years. 4k TVs are still very expensive, and I fear that most people may avoid getting it for this reason. Or even worse – that they don’t realise they will need a supporting monitor to get true 4k.

It’s down to the individual person as to if they’d notice a difference between Full HD or ULTRA HD and if making that leap to 4k would justify the price point for it.

E3 2017 – EA Press Conference [Noobist.com]

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Original Article to be found at Noobist.com

E3 2017

Ah, E3 2017. Gaming’s version of Christmas. Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 for short) is an annual conference where all walks of life from the video games come together to discuss what’s coming up in the industry this year. Everyone attends: from software developers to retailers and everyone in between. A lot of hype happens around this conference as the big names in industry showcase what they have to offer for 2017.

Madden 18 Longshot

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This year’s E3 lineup starts out strong with a gripping introduction to the campaign mode of Madden 18 Longshot. If you’ve been following any of my work for long, you’ll know I’m not into sports games. They just don’t do it for me. However, I have to say, that the story mode of going through the drama of what it would be life to be an American Football Star had me engrossed. House of Cards engrossed. Hook. Line. And Sinker. Well done, Madden, well done. You can check out the trailer yourself and let me know what you think about it in the comments below.

Star Wars Battlefront 2

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Moving onto Star Wars Battlefront 2, you have to give credit where credit is due. CEO, Andrew Wilson admits from the get-go that they had a lot to learn from Star Wars Battlefront.

Two years ago we launched Star Wars Battlefront and we got a lot of feedback. A lot of it positive and a bunch of it constructive. That’s a uphamism for not as positive.

You know what? I respect that. I appreciate the fact that he can admit that there were a lot of frustrated fans and players from the rather hollow experience that Star Wars Battlefront was. Time will tell as to whether or not they have indeed learned their lessons from the first Battlefront and what will change in this iteration of the franchise.

While microtransactions are still a thing, there is a lot to be said for the studio electing to not have any paid DLC with Battlefront 2. They’re aware the goodwill they built up vanished when they charged what they did for what was essentially four maps. Let them try and earn it back I’d say. They’re aware the game will sell, but they will be under more pressure now to not take the mickey with it.

Battlefield 1

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It’s always reassuring to know that Battlefield 1 will not be left out of the E3 love this year. As Andrew Gulotta, Producer of Battlefield 1 talks through the success of the franchise so far. Though, it did give way to some of the most awkward montages of games live streaming/YouTube experiences of playing BattleField 1 that I’ve ever seen.

It illustrates the power and where the influence for games are going these days (to the players and influencers). It hit home to me at that moment two equally powerful things. 1): They’re paying attention to the movement of gaming and where the hubs are. This is good. 2): They’re taking streamers and YouTubers content to present at E3. Yikes.

The reason why I say Yikes is because it makes me very self-conscious about how young the industry is, and yes, these moments are crucial to a gamers life. I don’t know why, but it showcased this way felt invasive in a way I can’t describe. Communities are built around these things, and generally, it’s not for the benefit of the publication of these communities.

Not that I feel that showing these communities to a wider audience isn’t useful or beneficial – but my fear is for the larger audiences of these conferences that it may just perpetuate the stereotypes of what we face already as gamers. I think that’s what I’m the most uncomfortable with. That and the lack of diversity in that clip. Those who were talking about the engagement in their communities were predominantly white men. I only saw one female, and I know a lot of women who play Battlefield, so this made me feel uneasy.

In the name of Tsar is the latest expansion coming to Battlefield one and it will contain eight new maps all based around the Russian Army around World War 1. There will also be a new competitive battlefield experience, based on the feedback that they’ve received from fans. Patrick Söderlund talks through what to expect in this update.

Later this year we are going to give you a new competitive Battelfield experience. We’ve heard you. You want a smaller, tighter experience focused on teamplay.

We can look forward to hearing more about it at Gamescom later on this year.

FIFA 18

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FIFA is FIFA is FIFA. I know next to nothing about it, except that Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (no not that one) is on the cover of it and contributed his data to the game to help it be more realistic. For those in the eSports world of FIFA,  you’ll be pleased to know that EA is heavily investing in the scene and that more championships and leagues will be coming to your monitors soon.

Need for Speed: Payback

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A bit of Burnout mixed in with some Horizon style open world with the regular additions of the Need for Speed franchise. So, what’s not to like? We’ll find out more about it soon in due time.

A Way Out

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A Way Out is probably EA’s most exciting new title for this year’s E3. From the Studio that did Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. This Prison breakout game is one that should interest the wider community, giving some Last of Us/Uncharted vibes. Lots to be excited about given how stellar Brothers was. I’d be cautiously optimistic about what comes next for this studio!

There is a lot to digest from this E3 2017 presentation from EA. It shows a different side of the company, one that is painfully aware of itself and the market. Yet, hasn’t really hit the nail on the head regarding tone and approach. That being said, there is a lot to be looking forward to in the next year with an impressive lineup of old and new titles.

Best Cases for the Nintendo Switch!

With the new release of the Nintendo Switch on Friday the 3rd of March 2017. New owners revel in their new purchase! (Myself included) However, in the excitement, it is always likely to overlook one of the biggest features of the Switch. That is, its portability. If you have just spent €312 on a console that you intend on carrying with you on communities, you should really have a case to carry the thing in! So lets have a run down of the top Nintendo Cases that are available to purchase right now!

SF/Waterfield Design – Switch Case

SF/Waterfield Design are known for protecting they’re gaming kilt. Already having bags for mobile devices such as the 3DS and the Vita, it is no surprise that they’ve created a case for the Switch. Made from Leather, this bag has a stunning appeal in terms of its appearance. You would not mind carrying this pouch around with you in public. It just oozes of class. With room enough for cables, game cards, and headphones this pouch should definitely be a must see for those who are willing to spend a little bit more to get something exceptionally classy.

SF Nintendo Switch Bag
SF Nintendo Switch Bag

Pre-Order: $79

For those who are looking to move more than just their Switch and Joy-Con around. There is an option for a Multiplayer Pro Case. This can Carry everything from the dock to the Joy-Con Grips all in the typical classy design that you would expect!

Nintendo Switch Multiplayer Pro Case
Nintendo Switch Multiplayer Pro Case

Pre-Order: $149

Gamestop – Official Nintendo Switch Case

For those who are looking for the more official route. Gamestop Ireland are stocking the Official Nintendo Switch Accessory pack. This pack has the case itself, with the Nintendo Switch logo on the front and comes with a screen protector  and kickstand/stand for the Switch included in the bundle. At €20 if you’re looking for the Nintendo solution to your carrying problem, this is a good case to look at!

Official Nintendo Carry Case
Official Nintendo Switch Carry Case

HORI Switch Tough Case (Nintendo Switch)

For those who are looking for something a little bit more robust in terms of protection, but still are looking for something sleek. The Hori Switch Tough case will be a difficult one to beat. It’s hard shell, and focus on protection of the touchscreen built into the case itself makes this case a great alternative for those who don’t like the hassle of having to worry about screen protectors. (But please, put on screen protectors)

£29.99 at Amazon.co.uk

HORI Switch Tough Case (Nintendo Switch)
HORI Switch Tough Case (Nintendo Switch)

So what do you think? Are there any more cases I missed that you think should be on this list? What cases did you get for your Switch? Let me know in the comments below.

Remember to give this blog a share on your favourite social media, and don’t forget we have a Nintendo Switch Unboxing over at Should You Care? YouTube.