Nintendo Switch Preview

Kids playing video games

Last weekend my boys and I got to play some games on the new Nintendo Switch! We attended a launch event in Hollywood, and as I noted on Instagram, it was totally worth the drive. 

video game player and girl with multicolored hair

We’ve been anticipating the Switch’s arrival for months, and the boys were really excited that it is finally here. I’m still super old-school, so I am content to play LEGO Star Wars on the Wii U (and let’s face it, I would have been fine playing Atari for the rest of my life if things hadn’t evolved from there) but I was definitely curious.

Mario party

The selling point of the new Switch gaming system is that it can be used as a console hooked up to your big screen TV, or taken on the road and played like a tablet. So it’s sort of a cross between the Wii U game pad and the Nintendo DS systems. When the Switch is in console mode, you use the little “Joy-Cons” as multiplayer remote controls, docked in a Joy-Con grip so you can use them like a pro controller, or just use a pro controller. When you go portable with it, the Joy-Cons re-attach to the Switch and you use them both to play your single player game.

Nintendo Switch product photo

There’s a great video to demonstrate these different ways to play here.

At the launch event, the kids and I mostly used the Switch in console mode, but I did take a moment to pull the unit out of the Switch dock to see what the graphics looked like when I was playing the new (and also hotly anticipated) Nintendo open-world video game Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The graphics were great on the big screen, but you can really see the definition on the Switch unit itself. It looks better than any hand-held and certainly better than the DS or 3DS.

Boy playing Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

The game is awesome. We only got to play a 20-minute demo version, but it was enough to make us all wish for a Switch and the game. Kit wakes up from a 100-year nap and gets a cool magic tablet that shows him where to go on his quest. But as Kit’s controller, you get to choose where to go, what to discover, and what to do. It’s like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, but in a video game.

Breath of the Wild screenshot

We also played some neat games that you control with the Joy-Cons: Arms (first person knock out game, which my kids mastered instantly but I could not seem to grasp) Poyo Poyo Tetris (like playing Tetris, but with Gremlins), Splatoon 2 (another kid-favorite: you get to move the world around by tilting the Switch in handheld mode), 1-2 Switch! (quick-draw fire at your opponent game), and Just Dance 2017:

You can barely see the Joy-Cons in our hands because they are so small. It makes dancing much easier than with the bulkier Wii U remotes. In these pictures we are totally rocking out to “Cake by the Ocean.” The kid beat me with his sick moves.

The launch event was a gamer’s theme park. It was the coolest arcade this side of the 1980’s, no quarters needed. (These kids today. They have no idea.)

woman under giant Mario hat

We need much more time with the Switch to give it a thorough review, but from this limited experience, I can see that it’s going to be a big hit. The Switch goes for $299.99 and game cards are $49.99 and up, not compatible with the Wii U or Wii. So it’s basically a platform replacement. This is a paradigm shift for the one-at-a-time console family, like we have been since getting our first system in 2009.

Not that it matters much at the moment. The Switch has sold out everywhere already! And with a game release schedule spreading out the awesome new titles for several months, I’m betting they’ll continue to fly off the shelves (and out of online retailer warehouses) as fast as they come in! Check out the Switch website for more details and videos.

Harlem Globetrotters Return to Southern California (Ticket Giveaway)

Harlem Globetrotters are coming back to Cali in February. Win tickets here or use our discount code below when purchasing.

harlem globetrotter little girl

My kids and I have gone to see the Harlem Globetrotters at STAPLES Center a few times now, and each time it’s a great show. It’s totally worth the trek downtown and I don’t say that lightly. Wherever you live in SoCal or if you will be visiting during their shows here, there is a Harlem Globetrotters event coming near you! And new this year (we have GOT to see this) the Globetrotters will debut basketball’s first 4-point line! I have no doubt these superheroes of basketball can hit those shots.

Celebrating decades of smiles, sportsmanship and service to millions of people worldwide, the world famous Harlem Globetrotters will return to the Los Angeles area Feb. 11-19. It’s a great family adventure of wholesome fun that makes for special memories. Their one-of-a-kind show is unrivaled in the world of family entertainment with incredible ball handling, hilarious comedy and loads of fan interaction, including a post-game autograph signing.

For $7 off your tickets use the promo code: CALI when you visit: http://www.harlemglobetrotters.com/socal

  • Ontario at the Citizens Business Bank Arena on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 2 p.m., and 7 p.m.
  • Anaheim at the Honda Center on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 2 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 18 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Mission Viejo at the Saddleback College Gym on Monday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m.
  • Los Angeles at the STAPLES Center on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 12:30 p.m., and 5:45 p.m

I’m giving away a 4-pack of vouchers good for tickets to any of the above shows! Leave a comment on this post (not Facebook!) to enter by 11:59 PM on Thursday, February 2. Winner will be chosen by random drawing from qualifying entries. As soon as I receive your mailing address, I will mail the vouchers to you. Extra entry if you follow Agoura Hills Mom on Instagram or like my page on Facebook (just let me know in your comment).

Blast City Laser Tag: Winter Break Activity

Blast City game room, for while you’re waiting to play

For parents* who are fans of Kids World at Lindero Canyon and Kanan (and other indoor playgrounds) but whose kids are getting too big to spend hours in the arcade, climbing tunnels, or the battle ball pit, I’m excited to tell you that Blast City Laser Tag, which opened recently right next door, is there for the kids to enjoy once they graduate from “little kid” status.

Big kid in motion

Blast City is a two-story laser tag facility that is “fully immersive,” so it’s just like the kids get to play their favorite role-playing video games but in real life. Each game is $10 for “12 minutes of intense action, fog, light effects and great music.” Referees are stationed throughout to offer assistance, but parents can enter the game with the kids (you have to play too, though). Equipment includes vests and laster tag guns, and participants have to watch a video and go through equipment training before playing the game. Kids 5 and older can play, and it’s not just for kids – plenty of adults play the game, too.

Equipment staging area

My kids got to check it out as guests of Blast City, and I have to say I was a little bit nervous because the 9-year-old has had negative experiences with laser tag in the past, but he gave this place two thumbs up! The staff who run the facility are very knowledgeable and helpful and they’re super into laser tag, which really adds to the experience. The boys were both tired and sweaty after two games. It was such a successful visit that Blast City gift cards were purchased for their Christmas stockings and they were both really happy to find them!

Blast City Laser Tag Arena

Blast City is open for open play Wednesday through Friday starting at 3:00 PM, and all day on weekends. The facility can be booked for birthday parties and corporate events, or you can reserve private games for your group of 10 or more. This actually sounds like an awesome team-building activity for your department at work.

Blast City Party Rooms and Rates

Better yet, because Blast City is right next door to Kids World, you can split your family up and send the older kids to play laser tag while you chill with an adult beverage in the back at Kids World and the littles pummel each other with soft foam balls. Who said there’s nothing to do over winter break?

*This goes for grandparents too. My kids’ grandparents brought them to Blast City, so I have them to thank for the legwork for this post.

Blast City Laser Tag
618 Lindero Canyon Rd
Oak Park, CA 91377
BlastCityLA.com

All photos by Barbara Tracy