Features

5 must-have Nintendo Switch games that aren’t Zelda

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When the Nintendo Switch launched, one game dominated all conversation: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The highly anticipated flagship title captured hearts everywhere with its “open-air” freedom and ability to approach situations from any angle imaginable. Gamers were transported back to their school days of sharing secrets and trading stories on the playground — “You did what to kill what?” and “I didn’t know you could use that to do that!”

But that was well over a month ago, and if you got the Breath of the Wild then, your time in Zelda’s fantasy world of Hyrule is probably winding down. Or maybe you’d like to put off beating Ganon and see what else the Switch has to offer. Luckily, the system has plenty of games to complement one of the greatest ever made.

Snipperclips

We included Snipperclips in our list of the best games of 2017 so far, and for good reason. The Switch exclusive is the other killer app of the launch lineup, and is able to provoke shouts of annoyance and delight in equal measure. You play as two pieces of paper that can cut each other into any shape to solve different puzzle types. The closest game to Snipperclips is Crayon Physics or Scribblenauts in the amount of leeway in solutions that it affords the players.

Snipperclips is ideal for two, and is the showcase for the Switch’s built-in multiplayer — even Snip and Clip, the player characters, evoke the shape of the Joy-Con controllers themselves. Because the game comprises a series of brainteasers, casual and even non-gamers can join the fun. Early on, the solutions to the puzzles were fairly one-note, although this could be indicative of our lack of creativity. Our solutions usually involved variations of turning each other into bowls or combining ourselves into one big bowl (see the screenshot above). But eventually, the game opens up with variety; you and your partner must use your lateral thinking abilities to the utmost. If you always have a ready Player 2, Snipperclips is essential for your Nintendo Switch library.

Fast RMX

Consoles have typically launched with a racing game that pushes the hardware; Fast RMX — a futuristic arcade racer like F-Zero or Wipeout — fits the bill for the Switch. Digital Foundry has called the Switch exclusive “perhaps the most beautiful portable game ever,” and it’s easy to see why. Fast RMX has twelve racing machines blitzing along at hundreds of kilometers per hour on tracks with tornadoes and thunderstorms. The visuals work in concert with the sound design and HD rumble (you can feel those tornadoes vibrating in a circle in your hands) for a multisensory spectacle.

The game is a technical marvel. In handheld mode, Fast RMX runs at the Switch’s native resolution (720p) at 60 frames per second. When docked, the game runs at a dynamic resolution (but mostly 1080p), still at 60 frames per second. Even more impressively, these specs are maintained when played in splitscreen two-player and even four-player modes, which is just sheer technological wizardry. If you’re going to buy one game from this list, get Fast RMX. Its full-fledged single- and (online!) multiplayer modes, with time attack in a future patch, provide almost infinite replay value. Not bad for something developed by five people.

Graceful Explosion Machine

Shoot-em-ups are perfect games to be entranced by, and Graceful Explosion Machine is a beautiful and engaging exemplar of the genre. A timed exclusive for Switch, the game is a side-scrolling shooter where you pilot a spaceship through four planets to get home — these aren’t games that you play for the story, but for the mechanics. And Graceful Explosion Machine delivers the mechanics in spades. It kits you out with all the gear at the start: a basic gun, a melee energy sword, screen-clearing homing missiles, and a long-distance Kamehameha-like blast. Then, the game leaves you to figure out how to chain together explosions with grace and efficiency.

The result is a score attack game as good as Geometry Wars and Resogun. The frantic, in-the-zone chase after the combo multiplier, as well the drive to be stylish in weapon use, is reminiscent of Bayonetta or any of Platinum’s masterpieces. It helps that Graceful Explosion Machine’s art direction is clean and easy to parse no matter how hectic the chaos becomes; HD rumble also provides a unique feel for each weapon. A ranking system (that peaks at S+ for a perfect run — no hits and an unbroken multiplier) plus global leaderboards round out the package. Earning an S+ and seeing that you’re only 27th in the world keeps you coming back for more.

Snake Pass

Snake Pass is a mascot platformer with a mascot who can’t jump. A 3D collectathon to rival Yooka-Laylee, Snake Pass puts all of its challenge in what is usually the most intuitive part of platformers: moving the player character. Every minute detail of controlling Noodle the snake’s movement is in your control, from the orientation of his head to whether he’s gripping a surface. It’s a puzzle platformer where your body is the puzzle — Banjo Kazooie and Captain Toad meet QWOP and Octodad.

The Dark Souls of snake-based games, Snake Pass is equal to From Software’s skill-based series in providing both frustration and relaxation. But once you get past this high initial learning curve — it’s a bit like driving a weird, heavy, ropey car — the game becomes more deliberate, and is a matter of planning where you want to slither next. Noodle’s ridiculous contortions are greatly enhanced by the game’s production values, which show the effectiveness of Unreal Engine 4 in rendering cartoon visuals (and the ease with which the Switch supports an off-the-shelf engine). A soundtrack by David Wise of Rare fame transports you to the Nintendo 64 era, when you played these games for the sheer fun that they entailed.

Lego City Undercover

The only non-indie on this list, Lego City Undercover is the best the Lego series has to offer. While other Lego games practically required you to be familiar with the fandoms they spoofed, Lego City Undercover shines on its own merits with an original story that stars supercop Chase McCain as he infiltrates the criminal underworld of the titular Lego City. The game is a Grand Theft Auto that, as trite as the phrase may be, truly is fun for the whole family. Its pop culture references range from Columbo to The Shawshank Redemption to, of course, The Matrix. Dad jokes abound.

Originally a Wii U exclusive, Lego City Undercover returns on the Switch with a bevy of improvements that include a 1080p presentation when docked, vastly improved lighting, and — perhaps most important of all for a Lego game — local co-op. You will need an extra pair of Joy-Con or a Pro Controller to get in on the two-player action, though. The open world of Lego City is nowhere near the breadth of that of Breath of the Wild, but sometimes it’s just comforting to play a game that tells you what to do. Best of all, the Switch’s portability makes Lego City Undercover the most complete handheld Lego game to date, and allows you to snap up the game’s hundreds and hundreds of collectibles wherever you are.

SEE ALSO: Demon’s Souls to Dark Souls III: Ranking the Series

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Features

How to get your bumpy fitness journey back on track

Start slowly with a smartwatch

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Redmi Watch 2 Lite

The rise of smartwatches and wearables is revolutionizing healthcare in an entirely new way by allowing us to take charge of our physical and mental well-being right from our wrists.

Anyone can quickly jump-start a fitness routine designed for their level. But if you haven’t kept up with your fitness routine over the past year, I’m not going to blame you. I’ve been hibernating most of the year, too!

The thought of figuring out how to start working out again seemed daunting. But wearing a smartwatch can help shake off the dust. Such is the case when I wore the Redmi Watch 2 Lite — I knew right away it’s time to get back in shape.

Know your fitness level and start slowly

It’s been a while since my last workout, so I remembered to take it easy. Starting off with something as rudimentary as a week of stretching is fine.

I decided to begin my fitness journey with quick runs, yoga, and quality stretching. If you’re unsure where to start, smartwatches usually have workout modes built-in. In my case, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite offered 100 workout modes — from core sports like outdoor running, and even freestyle workout tracking.

It also includes support for GPS, Glonass, as well as Galileo, and BDS satellite systems to improve accuracy in tracking your outdoor runs and rides.

Keeping my heart healthy, unbothered and happy

Before working out, I used to pick a Spotify playlist that’ll last the entire duration. Then, I just head off and skip some rope or run on a treadmill. Or go outdoors when the sun is setting down.

I’d do anything to keep my heart rate up without depleting my strength. It helps with my concentration and focus — something that we need to consider beyond our workouts, too.

The Redmi Watch 2 Lite has an optical heart rate sensor that continuously measures heart rate during exercises, or even when you’re lounging around day or night. On the plus side, it helps me track my stress levels and wind down through guided breathing exercises.

Take essential breaks to power through

Hitting your fitness goals as soon as possible might be your main objective for now, but you shouldn’t work out relentlessly. Take breaks. Come back better and stronger.

Throughout my journey, I learned how important sleep is, especially in helping your muscles recover. It actually matters the most during training.

Although sleeping requires far less energy than most daytime activities, I was surprised that it’s still an active period for burning some calories.

Seeing statistics on my wrist about my sleep quality helped me understand recovery better. For in-depth understanding, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite syncs with a dedicated Xiaomi Wear app — which works with any smartphone.

Somehow, I learned more about my sleep stages as well as my heart rate and blood oxygen levels when I’m snoozing, and how they’re an important indicator if your body’s doing well. I realized that my sleep quality can help me determine how much effort I’ll make on my workout the next day.

Stay active, no matter what

Consistency is key. I’m a deep believer that our habits don’t just appear out of nowhere. A significant reason is that things don’t just happen in a split second — time is needed to get stronger, build muscle, and lose fat. Having a visual reminder of my workout streak motivates me to keep going.

This is why I enjoyed the Redmi Watch 2 Lite. It packs a 262mAh battery capacity which, based on my regular usage, lasted me for at least 10 days.

It’s great having a smartwatch with a solid stamina that can accompany you through your fitness journey. You don’t have to spend a lot of time charging your device every now and then, so you can continue being active and staying on track. Hit your goals right!

Ready, #GetFit, and #StartNow!

Imagine having a smartwatch that can certainly get you a week’s worth of time in between charges. For a budget smartwatch, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite certainly impressed me on how it can be a long-lasting companion as I try to get my fitness journey back on track.

It also looks chic and it doesn’t feel cheap, even for a retail price of PhP 2,899. Plus, the screen has a reasonably good quality.

The Redmi Watch 2 Lite comes in various colors such as Ivory, Black, and Blue. Meanwhile, the straps showcase different colors that complement the watch, namely Pink, Olive, and Brown.

Get the Redmi Watch 2 Lite on Xiaomi’s flagship stores in Shopee and Lazada.

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Accessories

These HyperDrive accessories make your Macbook fun to use

Don’t worry about ports and connectivity anymore!

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We all know most Macbooks have limited connectivity hubs. The removal of useful ports made Apple’s notebooks slimmer and sexier.

It’s one of the reasons why I got a Macbook Air as my daily driver. I want a device that helps me get the job done, eases my workflow, and makes me look cute while typing on my keys.

And I’ve accepted the compromises. I bid goodbye to the several ports I’ve enjoyed while using a Windows laptop. But just because I bid goodbye to USB-A and HDMI ports, it doesn’t mean I won’t be using them anymore.

Getting all the ports you need

After purchasing my Macbook Air, the next thing I did was buy necessary accessories. When you only have two Type-C ports, the best thing to do is get a form-fitting hub carrying all the other ports you need.

I got the HyperDrive SOLO 7-in-1 USB-C Hub, a docking station that securely attaches to my Macbook. It sports a 60W Power Delivery USB-C port enabling fast charging for the laptop.

Faster data transfer

Notably, there are two (2) USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports capable of 5Gb/s transfer speed — perfect for your accessories that are still using USB-A. For instance, I still use my old external hard drives and I haven’t replaced its cables, which still uses a USB-A port. There are also smartphone cables that I use when I transfer photos to be attached to our reviews.

Speaking of which, the solo hub comes with UHS-1 MicroSD and SD ports. Basically, it lets anyone do a data transfer quickly. It’s perfect for when you’re in a time crunch, transferring photos and videos from your mirrorless camera or your GoPro.

Make calls and listen to music

There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack for those who don’t have it. Although my Macbook Air has one, I remember using premium, ultra-thin Windows notebooks with no headphone jack. Somehow, I loathed them while I was reviewing them. It was inconvenient to make calls and do remote work.

Thankfully, solo hubs like this are compatible with Macbooks, Windows, and even Chromebooks. As long as you have a Type-C port, you’re good to go.

Watch videos in crystal clear resolution

If you need to present or watch a video but prefer to watch it in crystal-clear resolution, fret no more. HyperDrive’s Solo Hub comes with a 4K 30Hz HDR video output.

It’s one of the reasons why it caught my attention while I was scouring for a docking station. Most accessories I found (and those coming from OEMs) are incredibly cheap, but are also incredibly lacking.

While this solo hub comes at a steep price of PhP 4,768 (US$ 90), it’s a price I’m willing to pay to get everything in one place instead of buying several accessories to make sure I stay connected.

Enjoying a smoother 4K

A lot of us are still cooped up in our homes, dealing with a remote or hybrid working setup as the pandemic surges. Some probably have an external display for work and leisure, and some have a 4K monitor because they want to indulge and serve visual treats for their eyes.

But just because you have a laptop and a monitor capable of a 4K display and 60Hz refresh rate, it doesn’t mean your job is done. If the cable you have doesn’t support 4K, how do you think your monitor can display a crystal-clear resolution?

Though my solo hub supports a 4K output, it caps at 30Hz. Luckily, Hyperdrive also offers a USB-C Pro Video Adapter. For a magnificent viewing experience, I can connect to a high-resolution monitor with displays reaching 3840×2160 resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate.

Hyperdrive is composed of two adapters: one with USB Type-C male to MiniDisplay Port female, and the other has a Mini DisplayPort male to HDMI female.

This versatility supports any setup that best fits you and your lifestyle. Further, it works with any USB-C Macbook, iMac Pro, Ultrabook, Chromebook, and even smartphones, tablets, and devices using a Type-C port that needs to display up to 4K60Hz resolution.

The HyperDrive USB-C Pro Video Adapter retails for 2,952.

HYPER comes to the Philippines

HYPER, an accessory brand based in Silicon Valley with a strong focus on Apple, data storage, and connectivity products, brings its shop to the Philippines. Get discounts up to 25% off during Hypershop’s Grand Launch on Shopee starting from January 17 until January 23, 2022.

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Features

Samsung The Serif: What’s it’s like to watch on an artistic TV?

You just can’t help but fall in love with it

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I have always been in love with Samsung — smartphones, tablets, accessories, and their digital appliances. There’s just something suave about their designs that please my aesthetic, evidently amplified in their lineup of lifestyle TVs.

That je ne sais quoi had my eyes set on having The Frame and The Sero for its bespoke vibe that somehow fits the lifestyle I’ve been dreaming of. But in a twist of fate, I found myself completely hooked over Samsung’s The Serif. And it’s far different from the lifestyle TV’s I’ve always been eyeing on.

Coup de foudre (Love at first sight)

The Serif, designed by the Bouroullec brothers, carries the Bouroullec principle in its design — practical, sensuous, exquisite, and sophisticated. Wherever you place this artistic TV, it certainly embellishes any space.

It fills a room with grandeur beauty, thanks to the fusion of art and technology resulting in an avant-garde form factor that makes it a sight to behold.

At a glance, The Serif is unconventional. Somehow, my eyes fell in love the first time I saw it. Maybe because it’s dressed in white? Or maybe because I’m a designer and The Serif, in some manner, is reminiscent of serif typefaces I’m familiar with all too well. Times New Roman. Playfair Display. Baskerville.

If you squint your eyes a little, it forms the shape of the letter “I” in those serif typefaces — with its strokes on both ends giving an impression of an expanded I-beam.

Cool, right? Maybe that’s why I’ve fallen in love right away. It’s not my usual type, but from the get-go, I knew I’m captivated like a firework show.

An exalted home decor

What makes it appeasing to the eyes of many — urbane or gauche — is its ability to look graceful and charming, and even elevate one’s home. Its evocative, 360-degree style along with its practical setup and artistic technology helps it blend anywhere. Whether it’s in your living space, your bedroom, your dining area, or even your sanctuary-like bathroom.

It has an elegant cable management system hiding unsightly wires needed for display, power, and connectivity. Further, it comes with a detachable floor stand so you can place The Serif on top of a TV stand or a raised, marble floor.

Or you can also place it in the middle of the living room as if it’s a cultivated sculpture. In some ways, I’d think of The Serif as prized ornamentation: Portable, versatile for any home style, and suitable for a culturally-refined taste.

When you’ve successfully placed the TV to your liking, you can turn it up a notch and use Ambient Mode to install and exhibit art pieces that can act as wallpaper. Instead of having a big, black box, you get a power-saving feature that spruces up your home.

Can’t take my eyes off you

Yes, The Serif is easily explained through Frankie Valli’s 60’s pop-rock “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” It’s my anthem for every time I fall in love — which is quite rare — but it also applies in the way I experienced Samsung’s Parisian-looking piece.

Its picture quality is breathtaking. I was mesmerized, awestruck at the sight of its QLED panel parading vivacious colors and exceptional contrast. I thought to myself, “the devil is surely in the details” especially with how its 4K resolution and AI upscaling worked hand-in-hand to present dynamic shows, even if it’s content from the distant past.

Samsung’s Quantum Dot Technology also put in the work, bringing out the best of any content down to the tiniest detail through a 100% Color Volume.

Though I’m no stranger to how QLED works, I’m still enchanted reveling in a spectacular display for months. It made me want to skip work and lounge around. At some point, I pondered how I could spend a day staring, marveling at The Serif’s beauty.

But instead of being smitten for days, The Serif helped me embrace the art of slow living — dilly-dallying, mellowing out, falling in love with life, and becoming more intentional with my time.

Meaning, less work and more time for things that give me joy. That includes basking in films and series with European sensibilities or catching up on dashing animés to serve as my muse for my art and poetry. Because if you have a TV as remarkable as this, how could you not make the most out of it?

Smart and good-looking

I like my partner the way I like The Serif — serving looks, intelligent enough to carry a conversation, and smart enough to make things work with ease. It’s just convenient when everything seamlessly connects. Part of the reason why I got my claws on Samsung’s ecosystem. I’m not giving it up easily.

SmartThings, Samsung’s app to connect their smart devices, has been central to my connected lifestyle. It helped me link my devices, and sync my smartphones and tablets to The Serif. At times where I misplace the gorgeous, curved remote control, I turn to the SmartThings app to activate the TV and navigate the screen.

Sometimes, I adjust its settings such as sound and brightness. Sometimes, I play around with Ambient Mode where I collage my memories, which I directly send using my smartphones.

When I’m feeling sprightly, I use the NFC technology feature by placing my smartphone on the top bezel — another way to connect instantly. The screen automatically turns into Ambient Mode to cast music from my smartphone and display visual effects that move along with the beat.

Moreover, it’s easy to cast videos on TV or mirror your smartphone’s screen whether it’s through Smart View or Tap View. The Serif is full of unique tricks that’ll make your exquisite watching experience a bit modern and convenient.

Je t’aime, Serif

Props to Samsung for producing a sculpture-like piece that can instantly add pizzazz to an otherwise boring space. Lifestyle TVs don’t get a lot of appreciation because of their unconventional style and features that are seemingly unfamiliar for most people.

Little do they know, they have a picturesque display and crystal-clear sound quality, too, that makes up for a remarkable experience. It’s like watching your favorite shows while touring Musée D’Orsay. That chic, classic Parisian aesthetic is all over The Serif.

It’s probably The Serif’s pièce de résistance: the je ne sais quoi, the allure that you can only experience when you’re graced by this perennial beauty, the one-of-a-kind experience that makes you fall in love with it, with yourself, and with the life you’re living. I guess it’s safe to conclude: I’m in love. Au revoir.

Samsung’s The Serif comes in two sizes: 43-inch (PhP 55,999) and 55-inch (PhP 79,999). The lifestyle TV is available in authorized Samsung dealers nationwide.


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Samsung Philippines.

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