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NEO S controller review – retro hardware that prioritizes customization and convenience
4:00 pm | May 19, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming Gaming Accessories | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

One-minute review

The NEO S is the newest product from CRKD, the creator of one of the best Nintendo Switch accessories in the Nitro Deck. Despite its compact size, there are a surprising amount of features stuffed into the controller that help it stand out in an oversaturated market of controllers for Nintendo’s console. But, if you want something more versatile, the NEO S is also compatible with PC, smart TVs, and mobile which makes for a great all-rounder. 

Given its extensive range of features that pit its capabilities above its peers, there’s a lot that goes into making the NEO S a controller worth adding to your collection. For those after a new go-to Nintendo Switch controller, the NEO S is cheaper than a pair of official Joy-Con controllers as well as the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. Plus, it offers Hall effect thumbsticks to prevent stick drift, alongside neat extras like adaptable triggers and re-mappable back buttons to help further customize your experience. 

These are features that a lot of budget Nintendo Switch controllers don’t offer, but can drastically improve your gaming experience and mark the NEO S as a standout product in its price range. 

The corner of the CRKD Neo S controller.

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

  • $49.99 / £49.99 
  • US and UK availability
  • Slightly pricier than third-party controllers from PowerA and PDP 

The NEO S costs $49.99 / £49.99, and is available through the CRKD store page or via Amazon store. When compared to other ‘collectible’ controllers on the market, the NEO S isn’t an expensive controller by any stretch of the imagination but still falls a little short of being a hugely budget-friendly option for the Nintendo Switch. However, once you factor in that the controller isn’t exclusively compatible with the Nintendo Switch, since you can also connect via PC, mobile, and Smart TV, its price tag does begin to justify itself.  

Specs

A top down view of the CRKD Neo S controller.

(Image credit: Future)

Design and features

The design of the NEO S is its main appeal. As we saw with CRKD’s Nitro Deck variants, the controller initially sells itself on its collectability. Although the unit we are reviewing is the ‘Classic Clear’ variation, the controller launched as part of a collection of nine controllers, all sporting various, vibrant designs. 

The ‘Classic Clear’ design is quite literal, offering a translucent clear shell that allows you to see all the inner workings. Both thumbsticks and the d-pad and home buttons are black, and both triggers and back buttons are a light gray, but a pop of color is added through the face buttons. As a whole, the design of the controller is a blatant stab at replicating the retro side of 90s hardware, especially with its translucent design and vibrant buttons. It’s a sturdy build, though the face buttons somewhat betray the NEO S with a cheap feel compared to the rest of the controller.

The bottom left hand side of the CRKD Neo S.

(Image credit: Future)

One of the main concerns I had about the design of the NEO S prior to use was its potential discomfort during longer gaming sessions due to its rectangular shape. For players used to using controllers with grips, the NEO S will feel like a drastic difference since it's a very flat gamepad. But, even though the product looks as though it’ll be uncomfortable in your hands after using it for a few hours, curves on the back support your hands and provide a grip for overall more comfortable gaming. 

The design of the back of the controller and where your hands naturally sit during use provide easier access to the pair of re-mappable back buttons. This is ideal if you need to quickly input something without moving your hands from the sticks or buttons on the front of the controller. Even though it does stray from the traditional controller shape in favor of something reminiscent of early Nintendo consoles like the SNES and NES, it's clear that the NEO S has been made with its ergonomics in mind to ensure it's consistently comfortable to use. 

Performance

The NEO S is incredibly easy to set up straight out of the box regardless of which platform you’re connecting it to. For Nintendo Switch, it’s as simple as holding down the central CRKD button in the controller connect screen from the main menu while you can use the USB-C cable that comes with the controller to connect to a PC. 

There are a lot of in-built features that make the NEO S feel like a high-quality product, especially given its reasonable price tag. You’ll feel the benefits of rumble, which you can increase or decrease the intensity of via the app, and motion controls which are essential for games on the Nintendo Switch like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Splatoon 3. For those looking for a more reactive gaming experience, you can fine-tune everything from trigger to thumbstick sensitivity. 

Due to the amount of individual features you can customize, the experience can be tailored to suit your exact needs. Although you can use the controller straight away, there are noticeable dead zones for games that require fast movement such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, meaning that there are certain distances you have to move your thumbsticks before inputs register in- game. Fortunately, the controller also comes with a no deadzone mode which you can toggle on and off in the same way you’re available to adjust trigger sensitivity and remap the back buttons.

The back of the CRKD Neo S.

(Image credit: Future)

This can all be done through the CRKD app, where you can scan in your controller to see your product number and its rarity. This is great if you’re an avid collector of hardware, and lean into the collectible side of CRKD products. However, alongside accessing all this information, a large button labeled ‘CTRL’ (also referred to as CRKD CTRL) is your gateway to customizing your controller and also installing any future firmware updates. Even if you’ve never personalized a controller before, the app does a great job at walking you through it step by step so you know exactly what you’re doing. 

All in all it’s a neat bit of tech that offers everything you could need for a Nintendo Switch controller. Paired with a battery life that lasts around eight and a half hours from my testing, given I only had to charge it once during my 20-hour testing period, it’s a vital addition if you need a decent spare gamepad or something far more comfortable than the Joy-Con. But although its offerings don’t necessarily fall short when connected to a PC, Smart TV, or mobile, they do feel more tailored to the Switch which is why we hold our comparison so close to alternative third-party controllers designed for the system. 

Should I buy the NEO S?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

 Also consider

If you’re not keen on the NEO S, take a look at these two alternatives.

The CRKD Neo S controller.

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the NEO S

  • Tested for 25 hours
  • Tested across Nintendo Switch and PC 
  • Compared to other third-party controllers at the same price point

I tested the NEO S controller on both Nintendo Switch and PC for over 20 hours on a variety of games. For the Nintendo Switch, I tested the controller within games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Super Smash Bros Ultimate, whereas I used it for games like Stardew Valley, Duck Game, and Tekken 8 on PC. The programmable back buttons and customizable dead zones of the controller gave me the opportunity to personalize my settings to suit whatever game I was playing, which is a feature many alternative products lack. 

Given the mid to high price point for a third-party Nintendo Switch controller, I wanted to see how it stacks up against its competitors - especially given the emphasis on the collectible side of the product over its performance.

To ensure thorough and honest testing, I used a variety of other controllers at a similar price, such as the PDP Afterglow, and during the testing period within the same games, and can say with confidence that the NEO S offers a solid, more personal performance due to its customizable features, alongside a sturdy build quality and unique design that makes it a product well worth considering if you’re looking for an alternative gamepad that also looks the part. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2024

Rainbow 2 Pro wireless controller review – a superb Pro Controller alternative
5:46 pm | February 27, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Tags: , | Comments: Off

BIGBIG WON may not be the most well-known gaming hardware manufacturer in the West, but in the Rainbow 2 Pro, it’s been able to provide what I strongly believe to be one of the best Nintendo Switch controllers you can buy.

Almost everything about the Rainbow 2 Pro is of excellent quality, from its comfy textured grips and Xbox-like shell to the near-immaculate face buttons, bumpers, and ancillary remappable buttons. With Pro-adjacent features like Hall effect sticks, trigger locks, and full gyro support, the Rainbow 2 Pro absolutely gives the Nintendo Switch Pro controller a run for its money.

It’s also in a similar price bracket to Nintendo’s official gamepad, coming in at $64.99 / £64.99 for the controller by itself. A more fleshed-out package that adds an alternative D-pad, swappable thumbstick caps, and a charging dock is also available to purchase for $79.99 / £79.99.

Design and features

Rainbow 2 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

At first glance, the Rainbow 2 Pro strongly resembles the Xbox Wireless Controller, or indeed the Nintendo Switch Pro controller with its similar semi-translucent finish. Its face buttons match the layout of Xbox’s pad, which you’d think would be a strange choice for a Switch-focused gamepad. However, this is likely to cater to folks playing on PC as well as Android and iOS devices. Smartly, the Rainbow 2 Pro does feature the Switch layout notation via small text graphics in the center of the face buttons.

The controller feels fantastic to hold right away. A slightly compact chassis and textured grips allow the Rainbow 2 Pro to rest firmly in the hands. This is doubly crucial given the controller’s support for gyro aiming; you’ll never once feel the controller slip or lose grip as you play titles like Splatoon 3 or The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which both strongly feature motion-based input.

The real winner here, in terms of design, is the placement of the four remappable buttons. There are two placed on the back where you’d typically find them on Pro-adjacent gamepads. But an additional two are situated up top, between the triggers. I find this to be an ingenious placement, freeing up the rear of the controller from too much clutter and rendering it easy to click with your index fingers. They’re mechanical, too, offering a delightful clicky feel.

There’s a row of functions at the bottom of the controller, allowing players to access additional convenient features. These include being able to access a Turbo function for swifter inputs, and a button that, when held, lets you assign inputs to those remappable modules.

Unfortunately, there are a few odd quirks to keep in mind. While the thumbsticks are perfectly fine and responsive in movement, clicking them in for L3 and R3 inputs feels uncomfortably mushy, almost like there’s something sitting beneath them. Furthermore, the default four-way D-pad can be inaccurate; I preferred to use the Xbox-like eight-way model that’s included in the box, which I found to be much better overall. 

Lastly, swapping from XInput (used for PC) to Nintendo Switch input is a little awkward; you’ll need to firmly hold down the pad’s Home button, along with a face button, to switch between them. This is something that’s buried in the instruction manual, and won’t be immediately clear to those who plan on using the Rainbow 2 Pro for both PC and Switch. 

Performance and battery life

Rainbow 2 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Said design quirks don’t stop the Rainbow 2 Pro from being an absolutely fantastic controller to play with. First off, it’s got robust connectivity options. You can, of course, hook it up via USB-C to your console or device. And for wireless players, a 2.4GHz dongle is included in the box. As for Bluetooth, once I’d figured out how to enable Switch mode, the controller connected wirelessly to the console noticeably quicker than other Bluetooth-ready gamepads.

The play experience with the Rainbow 2 Pro is also sublime. Hall effect sticks and triggers are incredibly responsive and sturdy. Meanwhile, its ancillary buttons, such as Start, Select, screenshots, and Function buttons, are all easily within reach. The trigger locks are also an excellent touch for Switch users, as the console typically relies on digital inputs for the majority of the best Nintendo Switch games.

Battery life isn’t quite the best, however. Playing wirelessly, you’ll get roughly 15 hours on a full charge. This falls behind the 20-30 hours offered by the 8BitDo Ultimate and the absurd 40+ found with the official Nintendo Switch Pro controller. Still, 15 hours is far from bad. And if you opt for the model that comes with a charging dock, you’ll have a convenient and bespoke way to charge your controller in just a couple of hours.

Should I buy the Rainbow 2 Pro?

Rainbow 2 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The Rainbow 2 Pro is a phenomenal gamepad for both Nintendo Switch and PC, with just a small handful of design oddities muddying the waters. However, these quirks are nothing deal-breaking. And if you’re looking for a controller that’s comfortable, responsive, and features a lovely RGB profile within its semi-translucent design, it’s an easy recommendation from us. 

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we reviewed the Rainbow 2 Pro

I tested the Rainbow 2 Pro across Nintendo Switch and PC. Through playing Splatoon 3, I was able to appreciate its responsiveness and high level of accuracy with the gyro aiming. The controller felt at home with other titles, too, including Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Tears of the Kingdom, and Final Fantasy 14 Online. All of which have decently complex control schemes that the Rainbow 2 Pro handled with ease.

For more coverage on Nintendo Switch hardware, consider browsing our guides to the best Nintendo Switch accessories and best Nintendo Switch controllers. 

Mario vs. Donkey Kong review: can we skip to the good part?
4:02 pm | February 14, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Consoles & PC Gadgets Gaming Nintendo | Tags: | Comments: Off
Review info

Platform reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Available on: Nintendo Switch
Release date:
February 16, 2024

Mario vs. Donkey Kong is full of charm and head-scratching puzzles that are oh-so-satisfying to solve, but it struggles to cement itself as a must-play Nintendo Switch release. Nintendo’s latest puzzle-platformer is an expanded remake of the Game Boy Advance title which was released back in 2004, and, while it certainly looks much brighter for a fresh coat of paint (and significantly more pixels to play with), frustrations and clunkiness hold it back from reaching its full potential. 

The short-but-sweet puzzler has a simple premise. Donkey Kong becomes enamored with Mini Marios - cute, seemingly sentient wind-up toys based on everyone’s favorite red-hatted plumber - and, in a fit of desperation, ends up breaking into the toy production factory to take the lot for himself. Mario, set on getting his own in-universe merch back on the shelves, embarks on a chase to catch Donkey Kong and take the Mini Marios back from him. God forbid a gorilla have hobbies, I suppose. 

The opening cutscenes depicting all this look fantastic on the Nintendo Switch OLED model, with gorgeous colors and details (such as Donkey Kong’s soft fur texture) that make me genuinely want to see some kind of short animated series created in the same style. While not quite as spectacular, the in-game visuals are also delightful, and with smooth, reorchestrated music to seal the deal, the entire package looks and sounds significantly more polished than ever before.

Big brain moments

Mario vs. Donkey Kong jungle level.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

At the heart of Mario vs. Donkey Kong is its puzzle-platforming action, which consists of a series of bite-size levels to navigate Mario through, with the goal generally being to collect three presents (collectibles) and a Mini Mario from each. Players are introduced to a wide variety of different elements - from colored switches which activate certain platforms, to climbable ropes, throwable springs, and more - all of which you’ll have to master to ‘perfect’ each level.

Best bit

Mario leading a group of Mini Mario toys in a Mario vs. Donkey Kong level.

(Image credit: Nintendo / Future)

Levels where players lead a troop of Mini Marios into a toy box before taking on a boss fight were my personal favorite, largely because they add some variety to the puzzling action which can, at times, feel samey. The lil’ fellas also make really cute noises, which adds to their charm. 

The way these elements work in tandem is a joy - there’s little more rewarding than working out innovative ways to utilize all the different tools on offer to progress, especially when the solution is not immediately obvious. At the same time, it doesn’t feel like every puzzle has a set method that you have to follow to grab all the presents and get to the goal. Mario is equipped with some particularly nimble special moves, including a backflip, handstand, and handstand jump, which can be executed to launch him to taller platforms and collectibles. Bouncing around in this way feels brilliant, and just about offsets the fact that Mario’s regular jump is much less impressive than usual in this game. 

These regular puzzles are broken up into a handful of slightly different levels. You can expect to take on shorter challenges to chase down a key to unlock a chest full of 1-Ups, boss fights against Donkey Kong (which involve throwing objects at him repeatedly), and also stages in which you have to lead a line of Mini Marios safely into a toy box. These add some much-needed novelty to the overall experience, and I really wish that Mario vs. Donkey Kong leaned more into this variety.

Trials and tribulations 

A Fire Mountain level in Mario vs. Donkey Kong.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Unfortunately, despite the game’s relatively short runtime (I perfected every level in around 11 hours), things take far longer than you’d hope to become challenging enough to be interesting. Most of my first five hours with the game felt like a drag. Of course, some level of difficulty curve is to be expected, and I’m sure no one would expect the stages to be extremely challenging from the get-go. However, this was the case throughout the majority of the game’s initial worlds - I was only really hooked on it once I unlocked the extra ‘plus’ worlds, which are only available after a significant number of levels are completed.

Even though the early puzzles weren’t particularly mind-boggling, you can still expect to lose your fair share of lives on them just due to the general clunkiness of the game. Players are taught early on that they can pick up and throw enemies around to use as extra platforms and knock other foes off the screen entirely. To do this, you’ve first got to jump on top of their heads, which is very simple in theory, but, in practice, this isn’t always the case. 

A combination of Mario’s generally heavy feel in this game (his regular jump doesn’t go nearly as high as it does in the regular platforming games) and awkward enemy hitboxes mean that, at some point or another, you’re very likely going to end up taking damage from them when it appears you were perfectly lined up to land safely on their head. I noticed this was particularly prevalent with the explosive Bob-ombs. Perhaps it’s their rounded shape, but it seems far easier than it should be to catch your foot on the corner of them and, assuming that you’re playing on the ‘classic’ difficulty mode, be forced to restart the entire level as a result. 

Diamonds in the rough

A Merry Mini-Land level in Mario vs. Donkey Kong.

(Image credit: Nintendo / Future)

Levels typically aren’t long, so losing lives in this way will never set you back too far. However, the frustration comes from knowing exactly what you need to do to complete the level, yet still being made to redo it all because the controls and mechanics let you down. The game’s emphasis is placed on puzzles rather than platforming, meaning you’re never really meant to pull off any particularly difficult jumps. However, it feels that poor execution in this area bloats out the whole experience with annoyance. 

If you’re able to push through these grievances, however, there’s still plenty to enjoy. There are two new world themes to enjoy that weren’t included in the original GBA version - the amusement park-themed Merry Mini-Land, and the icy Slippery Summit. Both of these also have additional ‘plus’ versions, adding a generous handful of new levels that are totally fresh. 

Accessibility features

Other than the choice of two difficulty modes which can be switched between whenever you want, there are no dedicated accessibility features in Mario vs. Donkey Kong, nor are there any options to change the game’s controls from the default settings. 

The easier ‘casual’ difficulty setting allows you to take five extra hits from hazards like enemies or spikes before you lose a life, and utilize additional checkpoints in levels to respawn from when you do take damage. Casual mode also turns off the time limit for each level entirely.

As well as two-player local co-op, which changes levels up slightly and offers an alternative way to play, you’re able to unlock a Time Attack mode, which challenges you to beat everything as fast as you possibly can. Doing so will earn you a shiny medal on the level’s icon on the menu. It may be a relatively small incentive, but it certainly helps add a bit more replayability, since there’s otherwise little point in diving straight back in as you already know all the puzzle solutions. 

All in all, Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a mixed bag. Once the extra ‘plus’ worlds were unlocked, I couldn’t put the game down, but the thanks to the boredom I’d faced up to that point as well; as the hitbox-related frustrations, perfecting every level didn’t come with the sense of fulfillment I’d hoped for. There’s plenty of fun to be had here, no doubt, but it’s perhaps best enjoyed in smaller chunks, and only for those who have the patience to retrace their steps even when they feel they shouldn’t need to.

Looking for more games to play? You can find some excellent recommendations on our list of the best Nintendo Switch games. You can also check out what’s releasing soon with our roundup of upcoming Switch games. 

Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 gaming earbuds review – a decent option for tight budgets
3:45 pm | February 13, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Tags: , | Comments: Off

The Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 gaming earbuds are a smart, budget choice that’ll make a fine gift for younger gamers. Its attractive charging case, along with its responsive touch controls and decent audio performance, present an impressive package. They’re certainly a margin above most other true wireless earbuds at this low price point.

However, there is an element of ‘you get what you pay for’ here, and, while they’re by no means terrible, there are very noticeable caveats to keep in mind should you consider purchasing them. For one, the Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 gaming earbuds feature a rough, overcooked bass profile, which can render your listening experience uncomfortable and potentially ruin in-game immersion. A pretty poor battery life doesn’t help the buds, either.

Still, as far as Nintendo Switch and mobile-compatible gaming earbuds go, the Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 is a solid budget option at £29.99 (they’re presently not available in the US or Australia). However, you may miss some of the extra features and performance found in some of the best gaming earbuds like the Sony Inzone Buds or the 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones.

Design and features

Canyon GTWS-2

(Image credit: Future)

Undoubtedly, the Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 gaming earbuds’ best feature is its eye-catching charging case. While certainly imitating the look of Transformers’ Bumblebee, with a matte yellow finish and angular chassis, it’s not as garishly over-designed as you might think.

The top of the case is split in half, with two panels opening outward like a Lamborghini’s doors. Admittedly, this is quite fiddly, but I can’t help but be charmed by such a peculiar design quirk. A simple LED panel also shows the case’s battery life in numerical value, a nice touch that lets you see battery status at a glance. A couple of RGB strips flank the case on either side for some extra flourish.

Inside, both earbuds are held in place magnetically, and dislodge with relative ease. They’re relatively unremarkable in terms of design beyond keeping to the yellow colorway. An LED chevron on each will also indicate when the buds have successfully paired to your device of choice.

The earbuds themselves are fairly standard in terms of design at this price point. There are no soft tips here, meaning the hard plastic can grate on your ears after some time. I found that this wasn’t an issue up until they needed recharging, though your mileage may vary here depending on the size and shape of your ears.

Performance

Canyon GTWS-2

(Image credit: Future)

The Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 earbuds provide overall serviceable audio for both gaming and casual music listening. Testing on Nintendo Switch, the buds performed admirably with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s clean register and head bob-inducing jazz fusion soundtrack. For games with relatively laid-back soundscapes, the GTWS-2 gets the job done just fine.

However, it’s also worth noting that the buds have a rather flat audio profile, and they simply couldn’t match up to Astral Chain’s busy, bass-heavy soundscape. The character-action game’s usually excellent sound design felt muddled and lost much of its immersive qualities as a result. It was further impeded by what is easily the earbuds’ biggest flaw: that terrible bass register.

To put it bluntly, the GTWS-2 handles bass and lower-end audio with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. It’s got a real thudding quality to it that’s rather brash and occasionally uncomfortable to listen to. It’s so bad that it often registers at the lower end with unwelcome distortion. This problem also occurred when casually listening to music; the opening notes of Kuze’s theme from Yakuza 0 demonstrated this perfectly - those rough guitar chugs lost all their satisfaction and instead sounded like someone was knocking against the earbuds with their knuckles.

Battery life doesn’t do much to save the buds in terms of performance, either. You’ll get a paltry four hours on a single charge. The charging case does fare better, offering an additional 35-40 hours, which is impressive for such a cheap set. It’s quick to charge up via the included USB-C cable, too, taking roughly an hour to go from empty to full.

The earbuds also feature an in-built microphone, handy for calls and voice chatting online. And like many aspects of the earbuds, it’s also just decent. Certainly not as crystal clear as what you might expect from the higher-end Sony Inzone Buds, but it is a good deal less sensitive than the mic found in the Turtle Beach Battle Buds. A working, if unremarkable, aspect overall, then.

Should I buy the Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2?

Canyon GTWS-2

(Image credit: Future)

Overall, the Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 are serviceable and certainly worth the aggressively budget price point. However, the deeply muddy lows and poor battery life mean we’d recommend looking for a more effective pair if you can afford it. The SteelSeries Tusq are a great option here, if you don’t mind the fact that they are a wired pair. 

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

How we reviewed the Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2

I tested the GTWS-2 gaming earbuds over a few days, primarily gaming on Nintendo Switch and mobile. While I found the buds to perform decently for titles with less busy audio design, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Suika Game, they routinely faltered with anything more dynamic.

Considering other pieces of Nintendo Switch hardware? You may want to check our guides to the best Nintendo Switch headsets or best Nintendo Switch controllers.

Another Code: Recollection review – rewriting the past
3:04 pm | January 23, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Tags: | Comments: Off
Review info

Platform reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Available on: Nintendo Switch
Release date: January 19, 2024 

Another Code: Recollection brings two cult classic puzzle adventure games to the Nintendo Switch. Containing both the Nintendo DS game Trace Memory (which was titled Another Code: Two Memories over in Europe and Japan) and its Nintendo Wii sequel Another Code: R - A Journey into Lost Memories, this collection represents the very first time that this latter title has been officially released in the US.

Far from being simple ports, however, Another Code: Recollection offers two full-on remakes that don’t shy away from making some pretty surprising changes to their source material. All of the puzzles across the two games have been fully reworked to take better advantage of the Nintendo Switch hardware and a smattering of additional scenes have been added to the first game.

The biggest alterations are evident in the new version of Another Code: R, however, which is substantially shorter than its original incarnation. A lot of work has also been done to try and bridge the gap between what was otherwise two quite mechanically and thematically disparate titles, including a significantly changed ending that, while still very in keeping with the tone of the original, makes it very difficult to declare whether this reimagining should be considered the definitive version.

Short and sweet

A screenshot showing Ashley and D from Another Code.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Set on the remote Blood Edward Island off the coast of Washington State, Trace Memory sees you take control of Ashley Robbins - a young teenager who has traveled to the island to reunite with her missing father. She’s joined by her aunt Jessica, who promptly goes missing in the grounds of the island’s mysterious ancient mansion leaving Ashley to try and get to the bottom of things.

Armed with the DAS (a suspiciously Nintendo Switch-shaped device that can take photos and store useful tidbits), you navigate around the environment and solve a series of puzzles to progress. You’re soon joined on your adventure by D, a young amnesiac ghost of a former mansion resident, and the pair agree to team up to find Ashley’s family and recover D’s lost memories. 

While the DS game was played from a top-down perspective, Another Code: Recollection shifts the camera to a more modern third-person view with a full 3D version of the world to explore. It’s a major change, but one that seems like an appropriate way to help modernize what would otherwise be an unapologetically old-school adventure game. There are still some clear hallmarks of the portable format, however, like the small cast of characters and focus on compact interior areas.

It’s in some of these interiors that the new camera can become a little awkward, too. It’s extremely slow by default (which can mercifully be adjusted in the settings menu) and often hovers a little too close behind Ashley for comfort. Navigation is cumbersome when her upper body takes up so much screen space and, although it’s by no means a complete dealbreaker, it definitely detracts from the overall presentation at times. 

Accessibility features

The accessibility menu in Another Code.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Another Code: Recollection features several accessibility options. This includes a variety of different hints for in-game puzzles, a navigation assist mode and an autoplay setting for dialogue. Voice acting is accompanied by text throughout.

Dialogue fares much better though, as it plays out in charming visual-novel sequences with shifting manga panel-style boxes and chunky bubbles of text as characters go back and forth. It’s a pleasant visual effect that perfectly compliments the attractive, painterly art direction and greatly enhances what would otherwise be a plain barrage of text. The new addition of voice acting similarly introduces a more cinematic quality to most scenes, though the very occasional instance of less-than-stellar line delivery during major narrative sequences is jarring.

The pace of events is often extremely slow, thanks in no small part to the sheer abundance of explanatory dialogue. However, Ashley and D make for a compelling pair, and the constant trickle of new clues makes it very difficult not to become wrapped up in their mystery if you’re a fan of a more traditional adventure. With supernatural elements and a hearty dose of sci-fi, it all pays off wonderfully in a memorable ending, too.

 Pleasant puzzling 

A puzzle in Another Code

(Image credit: Nintendo )

Given how much Another Code relied on DS hardware for its puzzle solving, making particular use of the stylus and touch-screen, it’s not too surprising that Another Code: Recollection takes things back to the drawing board in this respect. There’s a good variety of mechanics in the changed puzzles here, including the surprisingly frequent use of motion control for everything from tilting a stuck key through a miniature obstacle course to using a candle to uncover a hidden message on heat-sensitive paper. 

These mechanics work well when they appear and the difficulty of the puzzles overall is almost perfectly balanced. Intriguing clues are hidden around the environment and there's plenty of optional character dialogue to help guide you.

If that’s not enough, some new settings do a great job of making the game more approachable. A handful of hints can be displayed on-screen at any time, walking you through each puzzle before finally revealing the complete answer - a great option to have if you’re entirely stumped. There’s also an optional navigational assist mode that highlights key items and adds a prominent compass around Ashley’s body that always points you in the right direction.

Best Bit

An Another Code screenshot.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

After spending hours in a confined mansion, the first time you step foot in the spacious Lake Juliet resort feels almost liberating. Exploring this fresh environment is often a literal walk in the park.

These are superb additions for newcomers that could come in especially handy as you move into the much larger environments of the second game, Another Code: R. Set two years later, it takes place in a sunny camping resort called Lake Juliet. You meet an older, stroppier version of Ashley who has been roped into a family camping weekend when she would much rather be at band practice with her friends. Things take a strange turn after she encounters a young runaway, however, and she begins to uncover a conspiracy that’s intimately connected with both her past and the history of the resort.

The more open structure of this sequel gives you a little greater freedom to explore at your own pace, taking in the lush scenery of the forest setting. Several new mechanics are introduced, including the RAS - a wrist-mounted version of the DAS that has you completing quick-time-event style code-breaking sequences to open electronic doors. Most of the puzzles are not hugely different from those found back in the mansion, though some stand-out favorites - like a segment that sees you trying to recover a floating briefcase with a remote control boat - offer more than enough variety to keep things fresh.

An Another Code screenshot showing a road.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The approach taken with the story of Another Code: R is a little baffling, though. While it’s safe to say that the original runtime of over 15 hours was far too long, cutting about nine hours of content and dramatically changing the ending is a bold choice for a remake. Thankfully, the new story elements feel right at home and the cut content consists mainly of quite repetitive sections. However, it’s still easy to see why some might prefer the original version and, while it makes Another Code: Recollection considerably more interesting for returning players, it’s difficult not to think that newcomers are missing out on the ‘true’ experience.

Either way, Another Code: Recollection is still an enjoyable adventure with plenty of puzzles and a narrative that makes it well worth experiencing - especially now that it’s more approachable than ever.

 For more Nintendo Switch game recommendations, see our guides to the best Nintendo Switch games or the best cozy Switch games. 

A Highland Song review – not all who wander are lost
2:05 pm | December 14, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Tags: | Comments: Off
Review info

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch
Release date: December 5, 2023 

A Highland Song is an enchanting platform adventure game from developer Inkle that whisks you through the Scottish highlands on a quest to find your uncle by the sea before Beltane - the Gaelic May Day celebration that marks the beginning of Summer. On the surface, it appears as a simple adventure that rewards exploration of its environments, but what lies beneath is a journey of resilience and self-discovery embedded within an immersive atmosphere that sinks its hooks into you from the second your character, Moira, sneaks out of her bedroom window. 

Throughout the adventure, you learn to manipulate depths using background illustrations like rocks or small cliff faces to open up the game’s environment, immersing you further into the game. In addition to this, the protagonist Moira narrates elements of the journey, and retells family anecdotes or stories that Hamish (her uncle) would tell her growing up. As these gently interrupt the calming music in the background, you start to feel incredibly involved with Moira’s internal monologue and once again sink further into A Highland Song

While a time limit somewhat restricts the completion of the adventure, you quickly learn that A Highland Song travels at its own pace. It offers something akin to the phrase “the world is your oyster” and allows you to wander until you feel like you can wander no more. This sensation is accentuated by the game’s day/night cycle and Moira’s limited stamina, but, generally, A Highland Song feels like an incredibly open experience.  

Keep to yourself 

A Highland Song

(Image credit: Inkle)

The moment you take control of Moira running from her family home, you’re left to your own devices and encouraged to explore the treacherous Scottish highland landscape. From the get-go, one thing A Highland Song doesn’t deliver is any sort of guidance or handholding in terms of which direction to go in, and while this is frustrating at first since the twists and turns of crags and caves are overwhelming, you soon learn that this gets to exactly what the game is about - exploration. Then, once you’ve soothed the frustration, you learn to appreciate just how much detail is put into creating different layers for you to scale and depths for you to discover.

Even though you walk alone, the hills are home to several characters you can interact with along the way. You’re given plenty of opportunities to chat or ask questions, and occasionally these characters will help you by providing a map or unveiling a path you may have otherwise missed. Generally, once you’ve got either a map or a path from them, you won’t need to speak to them again. But asking questions does help develop your understanding of the setting since they sometimes offer fun slices of lore to help you feel more connected to Moira and her reasons for making the journey. 

Best bit

A Highland Song

(Image credit: Inkle)

Stumbling into my first musical QTE and sprinting alongside a deer to the beat. It felt surprising to be thrust into a rhythm game-esque routine, but it really matched the whimsy of the whole game and I quickly fell in love with these short but enchanting sequences.  

There are moments when this exploration becomes incredibly difficult. You simply won’t have enough stamina to climb rocks and mountains at points, especially when the weather turns, and you’re yet to rest and nurse Moira back to full health. With a constant timer hanging over you, it can be aggravating to have to constantly stop and take cover under a tree or in a cave mouth since this feels like a waste of precious seconds. But, it is realistic. Moira is a teenager, and while she’s insistent that she’s hard as nails, even she needs to rest now and then. 

A Highland Song’s main objective - getting to Hamish before the celebration of Beltane - feels impossible to achieve in your first playthrough. You’ll get lost in the hills and simply won’t make it to the sea in time. However, you’re free to repeat yourself and retrace your steps in multiple attempts to make it with time to spare. Because of how relaxing the entire experience of trudging through the hills is, I felt inclined to try again rather than give in to frustration and feel the need to throw in the towel, which is part of the charm of A Highland Song. There’s no pressure, but you will feel a burning desire to succeed.  

A musical guide 

A Highland Song

(Image credit: Inkle)

Although A Highland Song doesn’t provide a huge number of signposting, there are a few subtle hints that you learn to keep an eye out for. One of these, and something that’s my favorite part of the entire game, is a deer that accompanies you on part of your journey. Once you’re close enough to it, the deer will bolt, and you will sprint alongside it while music swells at the same time, triggering a rhythm game quick time event.  

As you run across the hilltops and the music continues to build, you’re challenged to hit specific keys or buttons in time with the music. These match up perfectly with the melody, making it all the more satisfying to ensure you’re performing well, but if you miss you will also stumble and fall, losing some of your stamina. You’re not punished for missing a beat in terms of having to restart the section, and you have a few opportunities to regain your rhythm before the event ends, but when it does end, the deer will dash ahead, leaving you in the dust and to your own devices once more. 

Accessibility

A Highland Song

(Image credit: Inkle)

A Highland Song offers subtitles whenever there is narration but you cannot change the size of them. Other accessibility options offer things like altering quick time events to only use one button or key rather than several at a time. In addition, quick-time events can be adjusted to have simpler rhythms, and you can alter Moira’s climbing so she never flails, making your experience slightly easier.  

These musical interludes don’t make up a huge amount of the adventure, but you’re in for a treat when you do come across one. Generally, they’re a great way to tell whether or not you’re on the right track since a deer and an open stretch of hill mean you’re heading in the right direction. Although short, they connect you further with the game’s environment, and with the concentration required to hit each corresponding button at the right time, you feel intimately responsible for Moira and ensuring she gets to the next place without losing too much morale. 

The more time you spend with A Highland Song, the further into its painterly landscape you’ll sink. It’s an incredibly easy game to lose yourself in for hours at a time, with its gorgeous environments, well-paced narration, and gentle musical accompaniment. Mixing this with the laid-back gameplay, rather than pressuring you to complete the journey in a restrictive timeframe, is what helps A Highland Song really shine. Although elements of its exploration are frustrating, and you will lose your way at first, there’s enough charm in A Highland Song to keep you coming back for more to see what secrets you might uncover next.  

We’ve got a list of the best indie games if you’re looking for alternative adventures to lose yourself in. We’ve also got a list of the best cozy Nintendo Switch games which might point you in the direction of another relaxing experience too.  

PDP REALMz Sonic wired controller for Nintendo Switch review – not just a pretty face
8:31 pm | December 6, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Tags: | Comments: Off

The Nintendo Switch is no stranger when it comes to fun controllers and accessories, and PDP is usually the brand behind the majority of the eye-catching designs. With products like the PDP Rematch Glow boasting a beautiful Mario-inspired aesthetic, and the Rock Candy series offering translucent casings spotlighting some of your favorite characters, the company offers budget-friendly controllers that would work just as well as display pieces as they do practical hardware. 

So it comes as no surprise that the PDP REALMz series follows in hot pursuit, offering the first look at a set of collectible clear controllers with tiny figures embedded in and layered, thematic designs inside. This gamepad is certainly a visual treat, and while the selling point for many will be the appearance, it’s hard to fault its performance, especially as a budget-friendly controller - and we've spent a lot of time with the best Nintendo Switch controllers. It’s responsive, simple to set up, and feels good to use with solid sticks and buttons, despite not boasting any fancy or 'pro' features.

But, with all budget-friendly products, it's important to remember that certain features - especially on the Nintendo Switch - have been ruled out. The PDP REALMz controller doesn’t have gyro controls, which could be pretty integral for someone who utilizes this ability in games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom or Splatoon 3. Nor does it host any rumble features which diminishes its feature set slightly for more casual players. But, generally, it’s still a surprisingly decent controller given how heavily it leans on the singular selling point of its excellent aesthetic. 

Price and availability

PDP REALMz

(Image credit: Future)

The PDP REALMz Sonic controller is available for purchase right now for $39.99 / £34.99 from a variety of retailers. Players in the US will be able to purchase it through the official PDP store, or places like Target, Walmart, and Amazon. In the UK, it’s available to buy from popular online retailers like Argos and Amazon. Alongside the Sonic design, Knuckles and Tails are also in the Sonic range, and a leafy green Pikmin controller is also available.

Compared to other PDP controllers available, and alongside other competitors in the market such as PowerA, the REALMz controller is only slightly more expensive than its fellow budget-friendly alternatives. For example, a wired PowerA controller with a special design will usually cost around $27.99 / £20.99, but I’ve always found the designs to be a little too vivid and the decals scratch off fairly easily. The build quality alone is enough to set the PDP REALMz collection above other offerings. And, for its collectible nature and solid performance, it’s a fantastic controller to add to your bank of gamepads and makes for a great talking point if you’re an avid collector of all things Sonic

Design and features

PDP REALMz

(Image credit: Future)

The main appeal of the PDP REALMz Sonic controller is its design. Boasting a clear shell with a multi-layered print of the iconic Green Hill Zone, it’s an impressive-looking piece of hardware. The print doesn’t feel as though it can be scratched off easily, which is helped by the multi-layered design being concealed behind the plastic shell.

The left grip contains a small Sonic figure which highlights the quirky collectible side of the series, which also goes for the other controllers containing Tails and Knuckles - so there is an incentive to collect them all. Even though it does lean on the gimmicky side with its appearance, it’s pretty enough to add to your collection.

When in use, the controller also features some white lights to help spotlight its design. The color of these lights can’t be changed, unlike controllers like the GameSir T4 Kaleid and the Gioteck SC3 Pro, but they’re effective in tying together the aesthetic. You can, however, increase or decrease the brightness with the use of the face buttons, but that’s it in terms of personalization. 

Outside of its design, the features of the controller follow the routine of everything you’d expect from a budget pad. The build quality is decent, with the plastic shell offering a sturdy form factor. The bright red buttons and thumbsticks stand out nicely, too. Given its collectible gimmick, you’d expect quality to be sacrificed in favor of the design, but generally, the PDP REALMz controller offers an overall solid design.

Performance

PDP REALMz

(Image credit: Future)

There isn’t much to fault when it comes to the performance of the PDP REALMz controller either. It isn’t trying to usurp the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, so don’t expect a wealth of ancillary features, but that’s not to say its performance doesn’t meet our expectations for a PDP controller. 

Its wired connection means you don’t have to worry about battery life when in use. The included cable is 6.5ft (2m), which is more than enough length for you to sit a comfortable distance away from your setup too. 

Occasionally the all-plastic build does feel cheap, mostly felt through its face and directional buttons. But when in use you don’t think about the weight and feeling of the buttons since the overall quality of the controller is good enough. Generally, buttons feel responsive and satisfyingly clicky which is especially noticeable when you’re repeatedly pressing them. 

The only real drawbacks I found with the controller are the lack of rumble, which isn’t essential but adds to a game’s immersion, and no gyro aiming. With that said a lot of third-party controllers lack both of these features for the Nintendo Switch, and the absence of them doesn't wreck the entire experience. So, even though it’s not offering groundbreaking performance, it’s perfectly solid given its price. 

SHOULD I BUY THE PDP REALMZ SONIC NINTENDO SWITCH WIRED CONTROLLER?

PDP REALMz

(Image credit: Future)

Generally, if you’re looking for a controller to add to your setup that boasts an impressive design without breaking the bank or offering any excessive lighting and features, then the PDP REALMz is well worth considering. It’s not the cheapest controller for the system, but it is a fantastic choice for anyone with a love for Sonic and charming hardware. It makes a perfect gift for younger players, and a great conversation starter for collectors of all ages, but generally - it’s another hit from PDP even if it won’t be your primary controller for the console.

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we tested the PDP REALMz Sonic controller

PDP REALMz

(Image credit: Future)

I tested the PDP REALMz Sonic wired controller with my Nintendo Switch OLED over a few weeks, using it for multiple games on the system including Key-We, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Bubble Bobble, and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. I'm used to using wireless controllers during play sessions with the Nintendo Switch, be it through the Joy-Con or third-party products like the Gioteck WX4 wireless controller, so it was a refreshing change of pace to not have to worry about the battery life, too. In addition to this, with my longest one-sitting session running about four hours, I can happily say the PDP REALMz controller never felt uncomfortable, unlike the Joy-Con usually would during a session this long. 

For a more general guide to making the most out of your Nintendo Switch, you might want to check out our guide to the best Nintendo Switch accessories. However, if you find yourself constantly on the go, you might want to check out the best Nintendo Switch carry cases too. 

Nintendo Switch new version comes with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, themed controllers
8:11 pm | November 6, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

The latest version of the Nintendo Switch OLED is now coming with rather subtle Super Smash Bros.-themed controllers and the actual Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game. The paint job itself isn't as exciting as previous Nintendo Switch iterations, but the console has a couple of goodies coming with it. The full Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game is included in the retail package along with a three-month free trial of the Nintendo Switch Online Individual membership. The whole bundle will set you back $349 and that's pretty good given that the regular Nintendo Switch OLED is priced the...

Ayn Odin 2 review – a portable powerhouse
3:54 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Tags: | Comments: Off
Important note

Picture of the Ayn Odin 2 portable android gaming device

(Image credit: Future/Gerald Lynch)

Note that the Ayn Odin 2 doesn’t ship with any games and that the downloading and distributing of ROMs is a well-documented legal grey area. Please note the use of emulators may violate game developer and publisher terms and conditions as well as applicable intellectual property laws. TechRadar does not condone or encourage the illegal downloading of games or actions infringing copyright. 

Building on the great work of its predecessor, the Ayn Odin 2 arrives as the premier handheld games console for anyone looking for an Android-based gaming device. It improves upon the original Ayn Odin in almost every way, from its faster chipset to its more ergonomic controls - not to mention capitalizing on the broader growth of Android as a gaming platform. 

With the full Android app store at your disposal, the Odin 2 lets you tap into pretty much every conceivable aspect of gaming: whether you’re looking to stream from Xbox Game Pass, or fire up an old-school classic with emulators, it’s only limited by your patience to learn the intricacies of, and configure, varying gaming applications. 

And that’s even before considering all the other handy Android things it can do, from streaming Netflix to browsing the web. There’s a lot to love - and a lot to get through, so let’s crack on with what makes it so great. 

Picture of the Ayn Odin 2 portable android gaming device

(Image credit: Future/Gerald Lynch)

Ayn Odin 2 review - Price and availability

Like its very popular predecessor, the Ayn Odin 2 has been fully funded via an IndieGogo campaign. It's still available to order ahead of mass production, with early backers set to receive their units in December 2023, before it goes on general release.

The Ayn Odin 2 comes in three different configurations, with each also available currently at a pre-release early bird pricing. Here’s a rundown of every model and pricing level:

  • Odin 2 Base: 8GB RAM / 128GB storage, $332 / £274 (Early Bird pricing $294 / £242)
  • Odin 2 Pro: 12GB RAM / 256GB storage, $435 / £358 (Early Bird pricing $371 / £306)
  • Odin 2 Pro: 16GB RAM / 512GB storage, $511 / £422 (Early Bird pricing $447 / £369)

Five color schemes are available: a Wii-like white, a SNES-like grey with purple buttons, an all-black model, plus purple and blue transparent options. All other specs remain the same across all three models.

For this review, we’re looking at the Odin 2 Pro, the middle-of-the-range option. We’d say this is the sweet spot here for price to performance - while more storage is always welcome, you’ll be hard-pressed to find Android gaming experiences that take advantage of the 16GB of RAM found in the Max model.

The Ayn Odin 2 is on the premium end of the scale for Android devices of this kind but is priced favorably against similarly-spec’d Android smartphones, and doesn’t look too bad against the attractively-priced Steam Deck either - though that Linux-based PC gaming device, while serving a similarly entertaining purpose, is quite a different proposition in practice.

In addition, Ayn offers a ‘Super Dock’, a USB-C dock ($64 / £53) for hooking up external displays and controllers. However, a standard USB-C dock gets the job done just as well.

Ayn Odin 2 review - Design and features

Picture of the Ayn Odin 2 portable android gaming device

(Image credit: Future/Gerald Lynch)

The Ayn Odin 2 is, effectively, an Android phone wrapped in a gaming controller. That’s not as unusual a concept as it was when the original Ayn Odin launched in early 2022, with many rivals (such as the Anbernic RG552) and controller grips for your smartphone (like the BackBone One) available. But the Ayn Odin 2 beats out all these alternatives, and its trail-blazing forebear, thanks to excellent ergonomics and powerful internals.

Let’s look at what’s going on inside first. Every model of the Ayn Odin 2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, with a 64-bit Kyro CPU and Adreno 740 GPU. It’s a beefy chipset - though it’s coming up to a year old, it’s still one of the most high-performance options out there, similar to the guts behind flagship devices including this year’s Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Depending on the model you opt for, that’s backed by 8GB, 12GB, or 16GB of DDR5 RAM, and 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of built-in storage. The 12GB / 256GB Pro model we’re reviewing is the sweet spot between price and performance in our eyes. Storage expansion is easily afforded via a microSD slot.

It’s no slouch in connectivity terms, too. A speedy and stable Wi-Fi 7 connection makes for a super game streamer from services like Game Pass, while Bluetooth 5.3 is onboard for hooking up wireless controllers and gaming earbuds. There’s no cellular connection here despite the smartphone-like underpinnings, but there is a gyroscopic sensor for any apps that support them.

The build holds up just as well externally. A solid 6-inch 1080p touchscreen display in landscape orientation sits in the center of the device. It’s colorful and responsive, and reasonably bright, too - though, strangely, there isn’t a huge degree of difference between its brightest and dimmest setting, which can be slightly annoying during late-night play.

Picture of the Ayn Odin 2 portable android gaming device

(Image credit: Future/Gerald Lynch)

The Ayn Odin 2 uses Hall Sensor analog sticks in an asymmetrical (Xbox-style) arrangement. Hall Sensors use electrical resistance rather than physical contact between parts to interpret movement, and are excellently smooth in operation, protected from the dreaded stick-drift that’s plagued Nintendo’s Switch over the years. Adjustable LED lights, which can be set to any RGB color with adjustable brightness, sit both under the joysticks and around the edges of the device. They add some flair to an otherwise reserved design but can be switched off entirely if you find them distracting.

An excellent D-Pad, perfect for a swift Street Fighter shoryuken, sits under the left stick, while well-sized A, B, X, and Y buttons, arranged in the Nintendo style, sit above the right stick. These buttons are a touch smaller than you’d find on an Xbox or PlayStation pad, but have just the right amount of resistance, and are responsive in play. They’re very similar to what you’d find on a Steam Deck. Start and Select buttons sit at the top of the front face, and are easily reachable. Stereo speakers sit along the lower edge and are surprisingly loud and clear given the size of the device.

For anyone familiar with the Ayn Odin 2, there are two significant changes. The first is a physical ‘Return’ (or ‘Back’) button below the right analog stick (a ‘Home’ button sits below the D-Pad on the left-hand side). This Return button wasn’t present on the last model and is a handy additional way of navigating the Android interface without resorting to swipes and touchscreen gestures (the more you can avoid touching the screen, the less often you’ll be cleaning fingerprints off it). 

The second, and perhaps more important change, is the overall depth of the device. The controller grips are deeper than the previous model, and though it makes for a fatter device, it also makes for a more comfortable one. It gives you more to wrap your fingers around, giving you a better hold of the device, and easing fatigue over long play sessions. It’s a fair trade against making for a bigger overall device.

Picture of the Ayn Odin 2 portable android gaming device

(Image credit: Future/Gerald Lynch)

Around the top edge, you’ll find the R1 and L1 buttons, and analog R2 and L2 triggers, capable of discerning between slight taps and full presses. Along the top is also a volume rocker and a fingerprint-scanning power button, a microSD slot, a micro HDMI-out for hooking up to a TV, and a vent for pumping hot air from the internal fan.

The bottom of the device keeps things simple with a 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C 3.1 charging port. That port also features Display Port out functionality, letting you easily hook it up to a monitor and power from a single cable.

Turn the device over and you’ll find a large air intake grille, with an active cooling fan keeping the Odin 2 from getting too toasty. Sitting where your fingertips rest are two programmable buttons which can be set as shortcut buttons.

With measurements of 8.9in x 3.9in x 0.7in / 225mm x 98mm x 17mm and a weight of 15.17oz / 420g, it’s not a pocketable handheld, and a touch chunkier than the original Odin. But its weight distribution and ergonomic grips mean it’s comfortable to play with for hours without much strain. It’s way more portable than a Steam Deck, at any rate.

Overall it’s an impressively comfortable and well-constructed build. There’s no sense of flex to the chassis, smooth travel to all buttons, and no worries about the device overheating, even under the most intense load.

Ayn Odin 2 review - Interface

Picture of the Ayn Odin 2 portable android gaming device

(Image credit: Future/Gerald Lynch)

The Ayn Odin 2 runs off a relatively bloat-free version of Android 13 - so you get full access to the Google Play Store, pre-installed Chrome, the standard Android file browser, and other stock Android apps. You could essentially just live in this view of the device. But Ayn has also tweaked Android with some smart gaming-focused additions courtesy of the pre-installed Odin launcher.

Accessed initially like any other app, it makes for something approaching a more console-like interface. Apps are arranged into a grid and can be organized and sorted by category type (such as Games, Entertainment, and Productivity). Swiping from the left lets you access these different app groupings, as well as letting you tweak the RGB lighting and cycle through three different performance modes for when you want to push the chip a bit harder. Swipe from the right and you can access connectivity options, check storage, tweak brightness, clear the RAM cache, and change device behavior when hooked up to an external screen. The aforementioned performance options, LED settings connectivity and brightness tweaks can be accessed by swiping from the top too, as well as letting you cycle through three fan settings (plus switching them off). However I rarely found the need to go beyond the default performance and fan settings, such is the power and thermal efficiency of the chipset. If you like what the Odin launcher offers, you can set the device to launch straight into it from boot.

Picture of the Ayn Odin 2 portable android gaming device

(Image credit: Future/Gerald Lynch)

When in an app, a swipe from the right also opens up a performance overlay. Here you can check FPS readouts, temperature readings, CPU and RAM usage, and another brightness slider, as well as live streaming app shortcuts, screenshots, and screen capture options. There’s another RAM cache toggle here too, plus a notifications toggle. But the most important part of this interface is the keymapping software - turn it on, and you get a drag-and-drop interface that lets you tie the device’s physical buttons to touch-only games’ touchscreen buttons. It’s a great, intuitive feature that works really well, with profile support letting you test out any number of button mappings for each game.

The joy of being Android based of course is that there are plenty of other ways to customize the device, from home screens to widgets. If you’re running lots of apps, streaming services, or emulated retro games, it’s worth considering configuring a front-end launcher, which can be used to organize your apps and games into a jukebox-like library, complete with game box art, manuals, and other metadata. I’ve had great fun using the Daijishō retro launcher (free, pictured up top) and Launchbox (free, with in-app purchases). But remember that a side effect of tapping into the many apps available, created by different developers, means the experience isn’t as unified as you’d get with a traditional console. 

Ayn Odin 2 review - Performance and battery life

Picture of the Ayn Odin 2 portable android gaming device

(Image credit: Future/Gerald Lynch)

If it runs on Android, it runs on the Ayn Odin 2. It’s the best possible praise you can give a device like this - no matter what you throw at it, the Ayn Odin 2 will take it on at the maximum performance settings.

If you’ve got a mind to indulge in retro gaming emulation, there’s no better Android device out there. Using apps like Retroarch or standalone emulators, you’ll be able to play anything from 8-bit classics up through and beyond the 128-bit sixth-generation consoles like the Gamecube and PS2. Not only that, there’s enough power to considerably upscale these later-day systems, as high as 4K resolutions for outputting on a 4K TV. Though the original Odin could touch upon these 3D systems, performance was a mixed bag, and upscaled resolutions of these advanced consoles would cause the Odin to stutter. Here, it’s almost flawless - better in some ways even, than on original hardware, given the resolution bumps. 

The complicating factor, beyond the legal grey area emulation sits in, is that the apps that make this possible aren’t always immediately intuitive. But the retro handheld scene is a growing one, and you’ll find plenty of guides and documentation online to talk you through getting started if you’re interested.

High-end Android gaming is a breeze with the Ayn Odin 2, too. Demanding titles like Call of Duty Mobile, Genshin Impact, Honkai Star Rail, and Diablo Immortal can be run at their highest resolutions and graphical settings without dropping frames. More lightweight games like Vampire Survivors benefit from a traditional physical control scheme. And if you’re not a fan of touchscreen controls, you can use the launcher’s keymapping tools to bring the physical controls into play on games even where they’d otherwise be unsupported. 

Picture of the Ayn Odin 2 portable android gaming device

(Image credit: Future/Gerald Lynch)

If you want to play the latest console or PC games, they’re not out of reach either, provided you’re set up with subscriptions to streaming services. I had lots of fun streaming titles directly from my Xbox Series X and PS5 to the Odin 2, as well as from the cloud over Game Pass and Nvidia GeForce Now. Wi-Fi 7 ensures a smooth experience provided your broadband speed is up to the task, and latency is an increasingly minor side effect of the non-native gaming experience. 

Taking streaming into account, the Odin 2 has the potential to be a whistlestop tour from the earliest days of gaming right through to modern releases, and being able to have them all on one portable device feels like magic.

And of course, being an Android device, other experiences are open to you, too. You’ll be able to browse the web, stream films from Disney Plus or Netflix, listen to music and audiobooks, catch up on your YouTube subscriptions, plug in a keyboard and mouse, and much more. Like I said - if it runs on Android, it runs on Ayn Odin 2. 

As for the battery, it’s a whopper. With a capacity of 8,000mAh, it’ll last as long as 24 hours between charges. It’ll vary depending on the intensity of the application you’re using. A retro gaming session will take baby sips at the juice, while high-end Android games or 3D emulation will see it drain far quicker - perhaps as quickly as six or seven hours. But even at the low end of the scale that’s a respectable performance. You’ll get a full recharge in around two hours with 65W quick charge. Regardless, the Ayn Odin is going to be an excellent travel companion. 

Should I buy the Ayn Odin 2?

Whether you’re looking to play the latest, most graphically-intensive Android games, stream from your console or the cloud, or tap into gaming’s rich past through its wide-ranging emulation capabilities, the Ayn Odin 2 puts awesome power at your fingertips. Take the time to learn the Odin 2’s every trick and you’ll be unlikely to ever need another handheld.

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we tested the Ayn Odin 2

I spent two weeks with the Ayn Odin 2, using it daily as my main gaming machine during that period. I tested it with Android gaming apps including Call of Duty Mobile, Vampire Survivors, and Genshin Impact, streaming apps such as Xbox Game Pass and Moonlight, as well as emulator apps including multi-system emulator Retroarch. 

I was also able to take the Odin 2 away on a flight during a trip to put its portability and battery life through its paces, as well as compare its performance directly against the first-generation Odin, which I previously reviewed for TechRadar and have also used extensively over the past year.

For more portable options, see how the Odin 2 compares to the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite, and Nintendo Switch OLED.

WarioWare: Move It! review – innovative and ambitious
5:01 pm | November 1, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Consoles & PC Gadgets Gaming Nintendo | Tags: | Comments: Off
Review info

Platform reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Available on: Nintendo Switch
Release date: November 3, 2023

If there’s one thing you can count on the WarioWare series for, it’s simple, silly fun. On that, WarioWare: Move It! certainly delivers - the latest in Intelligent Systems’ fast-paced party microgame series has pulled out all the stops to ensure that anyone playing looks as ridiculous as possible, with motion control-based activities that are designed to utilize all of the Joy-Con controllers’ features, and your entire body to play. 

The story’s premise is simple: Mario’s garlic-munching rival manages to win himself and his friends a holiday to a faraway vacation resort, where they’re each handed their own Form Stones (which, spoiler alert, look suspiciously like your own Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers). Everyone must then partake in microgames (incredibly short minigames which are played back to back until you lose all your lives, and increase in speed the longer you keep going), which require the mastery of various Forms, using said ‘stones’. 

Throughout the short but sweet story mode, you’ll gradually be introduced to these Forms - such as Choo Choo (in which you must position your arms like you’re impersonating a train) and Knight (which has you place your Joy-Con controllers on top of each other, holding them like a sword). Different microgames call for different Forms, and as you progress, you’ll be expected to switch between Forms freely to perform numerous motions.

Before a microgame starts, you’re clearly instructed as to which Form position to take, but the actual movement within the game switches around based on what’s happening on the screen. For the most part, if you allow yourself to get lost in the game and pretend that you’re acting out a motion rather than trying to input a specific control, it’s clear what you should be doing. You might find yourself imitating a car’s windscreen wiper, scrubbing a floor with a broom, or adjusting your arms to block a giant nose’s nostrils. The free-flowing movement is extremely satisfying, and when it works properly (and it usually does), you feel truly engrossed in the action.

Get in formation

WarioWare: Move It! screenshot depicting a microgame where you must pretend to be a train.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Anyone who’s played WarioWare: Smooth Moves on the Wii will immediately see a resemblance between the 2006 game and Move It!, and for good reason. In many ways, Move It! very much feels like Smooth Moves if it was created solely for the Nintendo Switch, and that’s not a bad thing. Some of the quirky poses you’re forced to pull, like Ba-KAW! (which, as the name might suggest, has you impersonate a chicken using a Joy-Con for your beak and tail) could only ever work with the Joy-Con controllers’ more advanced motion controls. 

Best bit

Kat and Ana in WarioWare: Move It!

(Image credit: Nintendo / Future)

The first time the game prompted me to use the Hand Model Form, I was tasked with making gestures at the Joy-Con controller’s infrared sensor. It was exceptionally impressive for this to work as flawlessly as it did, but it was made even cooler since the infrared scan of my actual hand was shown on screen as part of the microgame.

This is a double-edged sword, however, as despite the motion controls working most of the time, the precision needed and expected from you means that you won’t always be able to complete a microgame’s action successfully before the time is up, either due to it not being detected properly or simply because you were holding the controllers slightly wrong before starting. It needs to be said that when you’re getting used to the different Forms, switching between them when they all require the Joy-Con to be held or placed in different ways can be overwhelming. This makes it difficult for anyone who’s not already familiarized themselves with the Forms via Story Mode to simply pick up some controllers and join in - far from ideal for a party game that’s got a significant focus on multiplayer.

Additionally, since the actions you must perform are so varied, it isn’t always obvious what you’re actually supposed to be doing, especially at the first time of asking. Given that you’re only given a few seconds to both work out the action and perform it correctly, it’s infuriating to lose a life when you feel you were just thrown in at the deep end with no concrete guidance - and that’s coming from someone who’s played the game for several hours. Again, it’s hard to imagine this being a game that can easily be shared amongst a group of people who haven’t played before, given that there’s pretty much no time to explain what to do from game to game. 

This confusion is ramped up a notch further when you unlock the microgames that call for button inputs as well as motion controls. When the button-control Form is first explained, the game tells you to simply go with your heart when choosing which buttons to use from game to game. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this means any will do, but that’s not the case. Specific ones must be pressed, and despite the game’s belief that your heart will tell you the answer, chances are you’re going to guess wrong. Practice makes perfect, of course, but WarioWare games thrive on offering simple games that are immediately understandable with even the briefest instruction on what to do, and many of Move It!’s additions fail to fit this brief. Not only that, but there are no options to change button mapping to make the controls more accessible, and this is just one fault that the game has when it comes to accessibility (discussed further below).

Switch hardware at its finest

WarioWare: Move It! screenshot depicting a microgame where you must block a giant nose's nostrils with a doll's arms.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

For those who can get used to WarioWare: Move It!’s restrictions and frustrations, there are some genuinely genius uses of the Switch’s hardware to marvel at. My favorite microgames are those that ask you to use the Hand Model Form, where you hold up the right Joy-Con so that it’s facing your palm, and make gestures that are detected by the infrared sensor. For example, you can close your fingers together to catch a frisbee, or make different hand gestures in order to crack a safe. It’s not often that Switch games use the Joy-Con’s infrared sensor like this, and in Move It!’s case, it never loses its charm.

Another surprisingly innovative feature is Move It!’s use of the Joy-Con wrist straps. I’ll admit, in the seven years I’ve owned a Switch, I’ve not once attached the straps to my Joy-Con, never mind my wrists, so when the game instructed me to do so, I let out a sigh as I had to dig them out of my console’s box. However, this slight inconvenience is well worth it - certain microgames will have you purposely drop your controllers (one has you swing the remote like it’s on a vine to reunite two characters), and some will have you pull them back up with the straps, too - one has you drop food into oil and pull it back out when it’s cooked.

All in all, WarioWare: Move It! is heaps of fun, and I can imagine it being a hit with groups of friends who are all willing to put in the time to learn the different whacky Forms in order to play. Sadly, this only goes for anyone who’s comfortable with playing most of it standing up, as those who can’t may well find its inflexible control scheme limiting and frustrating.

Accessibility features

A screenshot showing the left and right hand option in WarioWare: Move It!

(Image credit: Nintendo / Future)

Accessibility is a huge problem in WarioWare: Move It!. Although it provides the option to specify whether you’re right or left-handed and presents alternative instructions for the different Forms, there are no further ways to customize the controls in any way.

This is problematic since a number of the Forms - such as Squat, At Attention, and Big Cheese - are clearly intended to be performed in a standing position (upon loading the game, a message states that the “best results” can be achieved standing up). It’s difficult to replicate all of these sat down, and as such, some microgames can be very finicky to complete for those who aren’t able to play the game standing up. 

Additionally, for the microgames that require the use of the Joy-Con button controls, there’s no way to adjust button mapping for ease of interaction. One of the games asks players to press several random buttons simultaneously while the Joy-Con controllers sit flat, and this could prove troublesome for anyone with limited mobility in their hands. 

How we reviewed

I spent around six hours playing WarioWare: Move It!, and in that time, I completed the main story (in around two hours), unlocked all of the 200+ microgames, and tested out the game’s various single-player modes. I played on a Nintendo Switch OLED console mainly in docked mode on my TV, although I tested it in handheld mode too (by using the console’s kickstand with the Joy-Con detached). 

If you’re on the lookout for more fantastic games to play on Nintendo’s hybrid console, be sure to check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch games. To keep up with future releases, you can also read our roundup of upcoming Switch games.

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