For more than six years, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has captured the imaginations of countless gamers, with its beautiful and snowy fantastical trappings, seemingly endless side quests, and massive modding community. The Switch port of Skyrim is an exciting prospect because it makes an enticing promise that the other console versions don’t: being able to play on the go. I was impressed with how the Switch handles this massive (and infamously glitchy) RPG, resulting in a competent port that transitions wonderfully to portable play.

For those who haven’t played Skyrim yet, the game takes place on the fantastical continent of Tamriel, where humans walk alongside talking lizards and feline merchants. The world is filled with various factions, guilds, and kingdoms vying for control. On paper, that sounds generic, but Skyrim’s open-ended design is anything but commonplace. Players explore the world at their own pace, uncovering secret treasures in tombs hidden in mountains or plotting with children to kill an evil orphanage owner. Even a walk through a forest might suddenly be interrupted by a giant spider fighting a dragon. You’re given the freedom to do what you want and develop a play style that interests you. If you’d rather focus on guild quests instead of the main storyline, that’s a valid choice. This flexibility results in a world that you can actively inhabit, not just wait to be shuttled to the next big story beat. Bethesda has done a stellar job packing the lion’s share of the experience onto Switch.

The biggest question on many fans’ minds is whether or not the Switch can handle Skyrim’s massive size and propensity for loading those spaces with numerous foes. During my 35-plus hours with the game, my framerate was constantly above 30 FPS and I never encountered a single dip or stutter. Load times were also surprisingly brief in comparison to the original PS3/360 versions, with a one-minute initial load time from main menu to game world, and then brief transitions taking from 4 to 10 seconds. Everything ran smoothly no matter what area I was in, how populated it is, or what activity I was doing. Control functionality is also satisfying, with a pleasant rumble in the Joy-Cons helping capture the pleasurable thunk of combat when you drive an axe into a foe’s head or whip them off a mountainside with a brush of your sword.

Bethesda didn’t have to make any huge sacrifices to achieve this performance, either. Outside of textures and rough character models (we’re talking about a game from 2011), the world of Skyrim looks as stunning as ever. I noticed no fuzziness in either portable mode or on three different HD televisions of various sizes during my playtime. The draw distance is equally impressive; I could make out distant mountains, cities, and landmasses without any fog enshrouding them. A slight motion blur occurs when you’re turning, but I hardly noticed it all except in dark spaces like caverns. It might not look quite as pretty as the PC version running at ultra-high settings, but it doesn’t settle for adequacy either, resulting in a world that’s constantly nice to look at as long as you don’t examine textures too closely.

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While the lack of mod support for this version is disappointing (its PS4/Xbox One siblings have barebones mod support), the amount of worthwhile content in the core Skyrim experience more than makes up for it. This version also packages all the expansions for the game, including two separate and lengthy quests involving vampires and a rival Dragonborn, as well as the addition that lets you build houses and adopt children. The variety of potential activities in Skyrim is maddening and delightful; this game easily has at least a hundred hours of content, plus countless more if you want to do and see everything. And the novelty of doing all of this while sitting in a coffee shop or riding to work still hasn’t worn off.

My only substantial criticism about this version is the optional console-specific functions feel like gimmicks. You can use motion controls for combat and lockpicking, but both are too unwieldy to be enjoyable. Amiibo functionality rewards you with treasure chests filled with weapons and ingredients for cooking, but you can also get the best Amiibo gear without using the functionality, so it also feels superficial. Ultimately these are optional niggles you don’t have to bother with, so feel free to turn them off and forget about them. The problems inherent in the original version of Skyrim are still here, too, including wonky enemy AI, stiff animations, and bad voice-acting. Some of these issues are part of the game’s charm at this point, so being able to play it on the go essentially made those non-issues for me. This is especially true since so many of the bigger problems that plagued earlier releases, like uneven framerate and glitches, are not present in this version.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of the best games ever made. Years later, that continues to be the case. This adventure offers a rich world, densely packed with exciting things to do, as well as many occasions for creating lasting memories. I jotted down exciting things that happened during this particular playthrough so many times I lost count. I imagine that Skyrim will become a mainstay on my Switch, with multiple playthroughs and characters filling up the save slots before I’m done with it. If you haven’t played Skyrim, or you’re just looking to return and don’t mind exchanging the mods for convenient portability, the Switch version offers up everything that makes this game a stone-cold classic.

Skyrim hit Switch today and with it a host of Amiibo unlockables are available. However, it turns out you don’t actually need amiibo to unlock the majority of the Switch-exclusive gear. It seems The Master Sword will require an Amiibo, but you can find the two other pieces of gear in-game without any of the figurines.

Here’s what you do: you need to make it to the quest “Throat of the World” in the main quest line and proceed to High Hrothgar. There, the Greybeards will teach you the “Clear Skies” shout, which can then be used to clear the way and scale the mountain so you can reach the highest point in Skyrim. You should be here:

Also, there should be a dragon named Parrthurnax if you’re doing the quest. After you talk with Paarthurnax, facing the shrine, take a left on the top of the mountain and go to the side until you find a little cave. Inside you should see a cartoony looking treasure chest. Open it and you’ll find the Champion’s Tunic and Hyrule Shield:

For more on Skyrim, be sure to check out our review of the Switch version as well as a how-to Amiibo guide for the game.

The Switch version of Skyrim is pretty good (you can read our review here). It also comes with amiibo functionality. Here’s what you need to know about it.

You access the Amiibo functionality via your magic menu
Equip the power and then cast it. The spell will light up a place wherever your cursor is pointing. Touch the amiibo to your joycon/controller and a chest will plop onto the ground. 

You can use any Amiibo with it
Mario, Samus, Shovel Knight – you’ll get a chest for every one of them.

The best gear is tied to Zelda Amiibos
While you can use any amiibo to get a chest filled with food, weapons, and apparel, the Zelda chests are the ones that come with unique loot. You have a 20-percent chance of getting one of three Zelda-specific items with one of these chests: The Master Sword, The Champion’s Tunic, and The Hyrule Shield.

You can only use a single Amiibos per 24 hours
This is not a save scum case either where you just quick load back into a previous save and use the amiibo until you get the loot you want (like you could do in Breath Of The Wild). The 24-hour timer plays out across all saves, so don’t try to be clever.

 You don’t need to use Amiibos to get most of the rare gear
Just want the Zelda gear? You can grab everything except the Master Sword without using an Amiibo. Here’s how.

It’s been a rocky few years for SNK, but it was very happy to point out today that it is finally profitable again.

SNK shared its official financial statements in Gazette Magazine today, showing off that the company is doing quite well for itself now despite being in the negatives last year. The difference is significant as well – in FY 2016, the developer posted a loss of 558 million yen, while FY 2017 brought it to a 3.105 billion yen net profit. In other words, it reversed its fortunes.

The company had been struggling slightly after its acquisition by Chinese company 37Games. CEO Koichi Toyama decided that the developer would turn its back on the semi-lucrative pachinko business and focus on video games again, rebranding as SNK instead of SNK Playmore. The first initiative of this newfound passion for games was King of Fighters XIV, which has apparently done quite well for SNK.

 

Our Take
It is heartening to see developers focus on a games-first mentality and find a lot of success from it. Here is hoping whatever it has next (Metal Slug, please), it will be just as successful for them.

Gotham by Gaslight, the next animated movie from DC, has a new trailer out that shows Batman out to stop Jack the Ripper in late 19th century Gotham City.

The movie, set against the real life events of one of England’s most notorious unsolved serial murders, has a star-studded cast which includes Anthony Head, Jennifer Carpenter, and Bruce Greenwood. Bruce Wayne is framed as a suspect of the killings while his alter-ego is desperately trying to solve them in DC’s best known period piece.

The movie releases on blu-ray and DVD on February 6, but will be available digitally two weeks earlier on January 23. Check out the trailer below.

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Microsoft announced today that the most recent Xbox One backwards compatibility update includes Persona 4 Arena, as well as Cars: Mater-National, Jewel Quest, and Tecmo Bowl Throwback.

Strangely enough, it is only Persona 4 Arena’s first version, not the sequel Ultimax with more characters and features. Still, if you were looking to get through P4A’s story mode, this is as good a time as any.

You can find our 2012 review of Persona 4 Arena here and then hum the game’s main theme to yourself if you don’t feel like searching out your copy.

 

Our Take
I don’t understand what the pun is in Cars: Mater-National. Maternational? Maternal? International? Someone help.

Stardew Valley creator, Eric Barone, took to Twitter today to mention that the content he is working on for the game’s much-awaited multiplayer update including content that also affects the single-player version.

The multiplayer update, which was announced earlier this year, has been hotly anticipated by fans eager to get back into the game. Now, those fans apparently have new single-player content to look forward to, though Barone also stated he is going to keep some of the new information secret for fun.

A date hasn’t been set for the multiplayer update yet, but Barone has said it should arrive before the end of 2017.

[Source: Eric Barone’s Twitter]

Last month, a series of deadly wildfires broke out across Northern California, leaving at least 41 people dead and forcing more than 20,000 people to evacuate the area. While the effects of the flames are still felt across California, many people have stepped up to support both the victims and fire relief efforts, including game developer Ubisoft. As of today, new Assassin’s Creed t-shirts and hoodies are available now in the US store, and all of the proceeds for which go to the North Bay Fire Relief Fund.

With a team in San Francisco, Ubisoft like many developers in Northern California has felt the effect of these fires firsthand. “We have employees, family and friends that were directly impacted by these fires,” said Laurent Detoc, president of Ubisoft Americas. “We’ve donated money and we’ll roll up our sleeves volunteering, but we want to do more. The shirts are just one of the ways we can continue to support our neighbors who have lost everything.” 

The limited edition Assassin’s Creed t-shirt and hoodie both display the phrase “NorCal Strong” and are available until December 31. Go here for more information about the North Bay Fire Relief Fund, which has raised more than $20 million in donations to help those affected by the fires. 

 

Our Take
The fires all over California this past year have been devastating. Ubisoft has already given money and support to the fire relief efforts in Northern California, so although the shirts are a relatively small gesture, it’s great to see a developer as large as Ubisoft coming out to support the victims and firefighters while also giving fans a way to express their own support for the relief efforts that continue every day in Northern California. 

Hollow Knight, the 2D Dark Souls-like Metroidvania by Team Cherry, has slipped into 2018 for its Switch port.

In a blog post on their website, the developer was candid and simply said that they need more time for code optimization due to the PC version being taped together in an optimized way. The game is up and running, it just needs a bit more work before it is ready for release. 

The blog post also mentions that other consoles are being considered. When Hollow Knight was originally announced, the targets were PC and Wii U, with the latter eventually changing to the Switch. Now Team Cherry is in talks with other platform holders, but remains committed to getting the Switch version out first.

[Source: Team Cherry Blog]

 

Our Take
I have been waiting for the Switch port to play this game after hearing so much lavish praise for the PC version. I am glad they’re taking the time to get it right instead of rushing it out to take advantage of the gold rush for indie sales on the Switch right now.

Cards Against Humanity is back with another limited holiday promotion, providing the game’s fanbase with another surprising twist, akin to previous events about purchasing wilderness or poop

Despite the company behind the card game of the same name saying they’re done with holiday promotions of this sort, they’re back again with what the company describes as a plan to save America. According to a mockumentary set in the future and their FAQ, Cards Against Humanity is purchasing land along the U.S.-Mexico border, giving each person a bit of the land and retaining a law firm specializing in imminent domain to make sure a wall is never built. The mockumentary promises five more days of surprises to follow, but doesn’t detail them. As the company says on their website, “if you voted for Trump, you might want to sit this one out.”

A $15 purchase comes with additional surprises in later packages, but here on Day 1, all purchasers are being promised an illustrated map of the land, a certificate of promise to fight the building of a border wall, new cards for Cards Against Humanity, and other unnamed items spread out over six physical packages to be sent over the course of December 2017.

There are a limited number of slots available for purchase, so do so quickly if you intend to. You can purchase a slot by heading here.