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.

Glasses USA – Where You Can Serve Your Selfie

At Glasses USA you can buy eyeglasses online quickly and easily and best of all, they are very affordable.

I have needed vision correction since I was about 12 years old. First I just wore glasses in class – that lasted until just after college. By then I was using a computer most of the day for work, so my eyesight rapidly declined to the point at which I needed glasses or contacts for everyday vision. It wasn’t until 2012 that I finally sucked it up and got laser eye surgery, and I wish I had done it much earlier, because I’m already old enough that my eyesight is fading again not because of the shape of my eyeballs’ lenses, but because of age.

I know, I know. Get off my lawn.

For the past 6 months I’ve known I really needed to get driving glasses, especially for night time driving, but going back to the eye doctor or visiting an optometrist was just not at the top of my list of things to do, you know? Enter Glasses USA!

Glasses USA is a website that allows you to buy eyeglasses online. You can browse through their many different styles, enter your prescription and your pupillary distance, and pay for them online, then voila! Your glasses arrive in your mailbox a short time later. I tried the service myself!

I selected my frames from the Home collection. I found the search tool very easy, especially its many filters that helped me narrow my choices down by color and shape. I was looking for glasses that look just like the ones I used to have before my surgery, because I loved them.

Since I couldn’t try the frames on to see how they looked on me, I took advantage of the virtual “try it on” tool. I uploaded a photo of myself and the glasses miraculously appeared on my face:

If you don’t look too closely it actually looks like I’m wearing these cute red frames in this photo! (I won’t show you the photos of my picture with the glasses that don’t work on my face at all.)

The hardest part about ordering my glasses online, and it wasn’t even really hard, was measuring my pupillary distance. Since my eye doctor hadn’t included that in my prescription, I had to measure it myself. Actually, I roped my coworker into doing it for me, where she just took a ruler and tried to measure the distance in millimeters between my two pupils. I took an average of three measurements and added it to my order.

Shipping and returns are free, which is pretty great, and the frames with lenses are very reasonably priced. Once I placed my order, my new glasses showed up in my mailbox in just a few days! As soon as I put them on, I could see distant objects and signs clearly again! I was so pleased that Glasses USA got it right on the first try.

Aside from all the work that the eye specialists at my doctor’s office did, I feel like I did this myself, and it was so easy. Now I can take lots of selfies with these glasses and look extra smart. Also, I can see when driving again. It’s a win-win!

There are always tons of discounts at Glasses USA so check them out when you are looking to buy eyeglasses online. If you are like me, you will put your new eyeglasses in the weirdest places and then forget where they are, so it might be good for you to buy several pairs.

I received a complimentary pair of eyeglasses to facilitate this feature. All opinions and suddenly clearer vision are my own.

BrickPiggy LEGO Rental: Yes, It’s a Good Idea

Boys with LEGO set

They’re not even mad that I sent it back.

With all of the services out there that were designed to make your life easier, of course there’s one that lets you rent LEGO kits and send them back when your kids are done with them. Or when you’re done with them – LEGOs are just for kids, right?

Yes, BrickPiggy is exactly that service. You sign up for an account on their LEGO kit rental site, choose a kit pricing level, then order your kits to be sent. For a fee as low as $24.95, you get 2 kits to play with for 30 days. Then you disassemble the kits, put all the pieces and instructions bag in the mesh bag they came in, then mail it back in the free mailer. And then you can continue to get more kits, just like that!

I know what you are thinking. “What if my kids loses some pieces?” Because that’s exactly what I thought when I first read about BrickPiggy. But there’s no penalty for missing pieces! Plus, BrickPiggy includes some extra pieces just in case.

The other question I wondered about was “What if my kid doesn’t want to return the kit?” Well, you can simply pay BrickPiggy the retail price of the kit and keep it! Same if you forget to return your kit within 30 days.

Sounds too good to be true, but my kids and I put it to the test. Since they are both into the Minecraft LEGO sets, I ordered a Minecraft kit from basic level of 350-700 pieces. It came packaged in a lovely box with gift wrap, a special bright orange foldable building mat that you get to keep, and the mesh bag for returning the kit.

The set was big enough for my boys to split and assemble together. Then they put it on a shelf in the family room so they could play with it while it stayed at our house.

It may be small, but the boys will tell you it took a long time because it was “complex.”

The biggest surprise for me was that when it came time to disassemble the kit, the boys enjoyed that just as much if not more than when they built it!

It was easy to shove everything in the bag, stick the return mailing label on the outside, and then place in our mailbox. The boys weren’t even sad to see it go, because they had had their fun. Our experience was fantastic, and I am not surprised that BrickPiggy was created by two moms who love to foster their children’s love of building and creating, but aren’t fond of the clutter!

A BrickPiggy subscription would make a wonderful gift, especially for those kids you love who live far away. Or for families who don’t have the room to store every LEGO creation the kids every get. Or its millions of pieces!