AceNS (Hardware) Review

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What’s in the Box?

  • AceNS 3 in 1 Loader
  • RCM Jig
  • Micro USB to USB Cable

Packaged in a sturdy plastic container, the device comes with everything you need to get started. My first impression was relatively good, the jig seeming well-made and working each time I used it. The micro USB cable is probably the shortest one I’ve had to date, and if you have any reasonably-sized tower for your desktop, you’ll find it hanging from the port. It’s not necessarily an issue since most people will likely have ten or so of these cables lying around, but it’s worth mentioning. I do find myself rather fond of the smaller cable however, allowing me to keep it with me without it getting in the way, it fitting back into the box nicely even without its cable tie.

Before discussing the unit itself, it’s best to address the elephant in the room; this is undoubtedly Xkit’s RCMloader design. From the design, the weight, even the RCM jig, everything is identical (the AceNS rebranding aside). Immediately, it’s easy to dismiss this as something terrible, but it does come with benefits. Everything that was great about the RCMloader still stands true here; the loader does what it advertises and does it well. Supporting up to six payloads, which can be easily changed by connecting it to a PC using the included cable, and a simple button to change between them, I’ve enjoyed using it. It’s a huge leap from having to directly use a PC to inject payloads, but it isn’t without fault.

The first is perhaps the killer for some; the device uses capacitors as means of power. Put simply, it won’t retain any kind of charge between use. A little unsure as to how I could put a metric to this, I tested to see how many times it could inject a payload consecutively. This process involved me turning the system on with AutoRCM installed, injecting the ReiNX payload, removing the device before it could start charging from the system, then restarting the system and repeating the process. Doing this, it managed to function eight times, so if you happen to have seven friends and don’t want to wait to charge it when you all decide to play Mario Kart together, you’re in luck! Though with charging only taking around six seconds, this is likely irrelevant. It’s worth mentioning the Ace3DS team have another model in the works utilising a battery in oppose to the capacitors here, so if this is a deal breaker for you, it might be worth holding off.

While altering payloads is as simple as plugging the device into a PC and it showing up as a normal drive, the process of switching between them is a little flawed. A positive here is that the device can be charged using its micro USB port, something incredibly useful for those with AutoRCM installed and no means of charging it using the Switch before use. The real negative is that you can’t use the button to switch between payloads when it’s powered like this. I can understand why; with the device plugged into a PC like this, you can edit its storage and in turn, the configuration file with the current payload listed. Even so, if booting into Hekate with no payloads on the Switch itself, I’m left with having to either mess with the configuration file directly, or plug the device into another USB-C port. Thankfully, my laptop has one spare, so this wasn’t so much of an irritation for me, but I can understand it frustrating some.

Whether it’ll stand the test of time is a matter in and of itself. The connector at the head of the device feels loose enough as to rattle if gripped or shaken, but not to any point of real concern at this moment in time. Aside from this, it feels sturdy and well-built. The micro USB slot holds the cable in extremely well, and the button provides a satisfying and stable click when pressed.

Overall, I do think the AceNS is, well, ace. If you can get past its use of capacitors and have a way to keep it charged handy, it’s something worth picking up. While essentially the same product as Xkit’s RCMloader, the price difference is largely minor, the AceNS retailing for $18 on several major flashcart sites. If you’re somebody who prefers to use these as retailers in oppose to random AliExpress or eBay sellers, this could be another reason to grab one.

snakebyte Tough:Case (Hardware) Review

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Looking at the box the case came in, my first impressions were reasonably good. The red and white colour scheme gives it an official-looking and professional design, with the information presented clearly. What did strike me as odd from the offset was the colour of the case on the box. Far less garish than the promotional images, it comes across as less of a strawberry pink, and more a violet. This came as a pleasant surprise; I don’t dislike the brighter colours used in the promotional images, but the toned down purple is a much better fit with other things I own, it actually looking like a perfect match to my Kindle Fire.

Getting it out of the box, the coloured areas are made of a sturdy plastic, with a clear window on the back to see the Switch logo. It looks reasonably nice and I didn’t hesitate to see how the Switch fit in. Seating the system and Joy Cons together, the plastic grips to them nicely; this makes it a little difficult to remove the system later on, but if you’re planning to primarily keep the system in the case, this will likely be a positive point for you. With the ports and fans left exposed, you’re free to switch cartridges and charge the system as you see fit, safe in the knowledge the system won’t be overheating as you do. I’m a little disappointed to see the power button and volume buttons covered. With plastic on top of them, you’re forced to really put some weight onto the buttons to get a response. If you keep your Switch in sleep mode, this could again be a non-issue, but to me it’s a significant irritant. Add to this a slight bulge in the case where the aforementioned buttons sit and it’s something I find difficult to overlook.

From a protection standpoint, this case does a relatively good job of keeping the system safe. While I don’t have a hammer handy to hit it with as the box advertises, I did try punching the back of the system. Though my fist aches a little, the system remains in good working order. Of course this will only be the case if you hit it from the back; the system has no such protection on the front. This is what it is really. Between the raised edges to hold the system in place, and the slightly higher Joy Con analogue sticks, the system will likely survive a fall on its front assuming it falls flat. If any kind of corner hits it though, you might be wishing you had something a little more substantial. The lack of consideration for the Joy Con analogue sticks is also a bit of a shame, but I’m not really sure what could have been done about this. If the edges are raised further, the system would become growingly more uncomfortable to hold, making the additional protection inconsequential.

I can imagine this case pairing well with a good glass screen protector, but as it is, you should still have a reasonable peace of mind if it’s dropped. With the added bulk of the case, you also won’t be able to dock your Switch. This is really something made with handheld gaming in mind, and for this purpose, it’s fairly good. While too bulky for the dock, the system feels pleasant to hold, and as an added bonus, can also have a charm fitted to it. Considering its strengths and weaknesses, I don’t think this case is for me, but I also think it has fantastic use for protecting the system against the everyday damage of children. Its rugged and sturdy feel, paired with the difficulty in removing the system, make for an ideal means of child-proofing the system. It’s not to say there isn’t use here for the everyday Switch owner, but I feel a more average user would be interested in docking the system, in using tabletop mode, or even wanting to put it in a bag knowing the screen is safe. The folks at snakebyte have certainly made a Tough:Case, but at the cost of the system’s core versatility, you have to debate whether it’s worth the sacrifice.

Senran Kagura Reflexions (Nintendo Switch) Review

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This has been a month of firsts for me; in these past few weeks I’ve reviewed my first fighter game, acquired my first IKEA furniture to assemble, and now I find myself sitting in front of my first Senran Kagura game. I’ve seen ninjas, cooking, and water gun fights from the series but at all times simply looked from afar—no more I say! Promised an experience available exclusively to the Nintendo Switch, one to utilise its unique features more than any game before it, I step, nay leap, into this world of infinite possibility.

A Heart in Five Pieces

The story told in this game is that of a shy and well-endowed female classmate. After suddenly calling you to the classroom after school, much to her surprise, you appear. It’s around this point her intent becomes clear; increased heart rate, rosy cheeks, an arm position that must be causing some serious pain to her chest—all signs of love yet to be confessed. Unsure of how to express her true feelings, she humbly requests your help in searching herself. Senran Kagura Reflexions is a story of blossoming love between friends, set across several well-illustrated landscapes. On the surface, you may mistake it for any other high school romance, but it’s in its core gameplay it flies far beyond anything that has come before it.

Reflexology—the technique of applying pressure to various parts of the hand to rid the body of pain or illness. Her hand in yours, you caress her palm, her fingers, and her thumb, until her mind is taken to another realm; a land of dreams and make believe. Here, she can truly express her feelings with no remorse nor regret. The caveat is that these feelings will only come out with further reflexology… Elsewhere on the body. A key advertising point, where you choose to massage her body will change the outcome of the dream sequence, and the game does do reasonably well here in making the same events more interesting. With each scene having five different routes, each marked by their own colour for you to know which route touching a certain place will lead you down, there is a relative sense of realism at play here. If you want to spend the session prodding her inner-elbow, you might be thanked for making her feel relaxed; and equally if you spend the session slapping her gelatin breasts, you might be called out for your deviant ways.

Before you can reach the session’s penultimate dialogue, you have a chance to relax her more than any simple massage with Glorious Reflexology. Starting with only your hands to work the stress out of her thigh, you eventually unlock a roller, brush, and massager to really help find the words she is aching to say. Each of these adding unique gameplay sequences, they go a long way in helping the game feel less repetitive. Of course, with there only being four glorious techniques, you still may find yourself tiring of them towards the end of the story. Thankfully, the development team took this into account, and allowed you to skip this part of the dream in the later stages of the game, giving you the chance to work through at a much faster pace and touch her heart in a way nobody else could. It’s a shame there’s only one character included in the purchase price, as you find the game is over before you really get a chance to know her, but at the same time, the journey to the end point is an experience in itself. If do you find yourself yearning for more, four additional characters are on the way, with Yumi available today as purchasable DLC, and the rest being released in the coming weeks. While the limited content is a shame, I find myself unable to justify a complaint with the asking price being so low (£8.99 / $9.99).

High Definition Rumble

A significant selling point for this entry in the Senran Kagura series, Reflexions uses the Switch’s featureset to its fullest, putting HD Rumble at the forefront of the gameplay experience. I find myself split in this regard; on one hand, I constantly was in a position of not really noticing the significance of it, but on the other, when I was specifically putting attention on the rumble, I could match it to the events on-screen remarkably well. A keen example would be in the Roller Glorious Reflexology sequence. When I first played it, I felt the rumble as the roller was put on the back of her leg, but when I really paid attention, I noticed the intricacies; each notch and bump on the roller genuinely felt defined in the Joy Con feedback. It’s impressive the degree of subtlety and integration the development team managed to achieve in what is ultimately a very unsubtle game. I had a similar experience with the Massager in a Glorious Reflexology sequence; the Joy Con vibrated subtly when being held, and felt as though it was being pressed against something as it was pressed down.

This of course extends beyond the more obvious moments, each touch, rub, and slap giving some sort of feedback. Remembering an early promotional video for the game, where the game’s director said how he wanted to recreate the feeling of a pudding and water balloons using HD rumble, was where my curiosity for the game stemmed from. Slapping the breast of the game’s protagonist, I can say I wasn’t disappointed. It felt as a water balloon or a gelatine pudding might as it rippled in a way I would expect the aforementioned balloon or pudding to. It’s absurd, it’s stupid, but it is a great deal of fun.

A Game for Degenerates?

Senran Kagura Reflexions has a clear target audience in mind, and markets itself well towards this audience. With long-time series fans at the centre of this, it also does well in attracting those of low moral standing, and those simply looking for a fun experience. The obvious attraction comes from prodding and slapping the various areas of the game’s heroine, but there lies unique charm in each of the game’s dream sequences. From the little sister, to a female warrior, a teacher, or even a schoolgirl in the gym storage room; this game caters to many a strange desire, wrapping them in the hazy package of fantasy as if to say “it’s okay, it’s not really happening.” I don’t really understand the appeal in these, and while the range of alternate dialogue and interaction were welcome, I feel the game could have thrived further by properly integrating a plot and character development into this instead of blindly catering to what is ultimately fetish culture. That being said, such an approach would be to take away from the raw and unadulterated entertainment value provided by its disjointed and shameless choice of scenes.

The game also provides ample customisation options to the player. Do you want your heroine to have a pony tail? Pigtails? Bangs? Two pairs of worn underwear around her ankles? A double knot? Senran Kagura Reflexions has you covered. With more customisation options being made available as you progress through the story, you can develop her wardrobe at the same rate as her personality, and relationship with you as the player. Being able to change her hair, outfit, and lingerie, as well as having the ability to add up to eight accessories to the equation, the experience can truly be made your own.

Final Thoughts

When all is said and done, it’s hard to really come to a conclusion with this game. Were it a full retail experience, I would be throwing criticism at the sheer lack of content, but for its price tag, you really do get what you pay for. Here you have a short but sweet overly sexualised experience full of laughs and slaps. If you can get a group of friends together to play, it’s something I feel I can wholeheartedly recommend, if only for the one-time experience. There may also be a niche audience in those wanting to try out the HD Rumble, with the feature not overly used to this extent in other Switch games, but whether it’s worth your money just for this is perhaps something more subjective. All in all, as long as you know the kind of game you’re getting yourself into, you’re bound to find some fun to justify the cost.

SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy (Nintendo Switch) Review

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Fighting games are not my forte; if you’ve ever read any of my press event writeups, you’d know this. While I can often see the appeal, the reliance on swift and complex input patterns, combined with the hours of practise required to really start having fun with others; really it just isn’t for me. It’s a genre I can appreciate from afar, and I’m happy with that relationship. Enter SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy—SNK’s latest in a long line of fighters, and their debut title for the Nintendo Switch. What particularly caught my eye in the advertising was its focus on one button combos and accessibility, so here I am as a relative newcomer to the genre to see just how accessible a title it is.


Before I can so much as talk about the gameplay, the elephant in the room should be addressed. Where I say elephant, I of course mean the scantily dressed women cherrypicked from SNK’s rich history. The plot has these women placed in an occult manor and told to fight one another for their freedom. The manor itself is its own pocket dimension, and the fear of these fighters is to be used to bring it into the real world. As you progress through each fight, you get a short cutscene of those you’ve defeated being engulfed by sand, or simply lamenting in shadows; all this leading to the penultimate fight with the evil hooded pervert. I’ll give it some credit in coming up with such a crazy idea, but I find myself disappointed to see just how little effort has gone into fleshing it out. Why are they wearing such revealing clothes? Why these women in particular? Who is the hooded pervert? Why is his manor in another dimension? Why should I care about any of this? Even where the game did something good like adding unique cutscenes depending on which two fighters you picked, it falls short; these interactions feeling so stale and lacking in chemistry. The game tries to use its design and target demographic to put across a story of cheap laughs and miscellaneous sexualisation, but that’s really all it is. It’s a shame honestly, I love the freedoms a game like this has to put across something wild and absurd, but SNK Heroines just ends up coming across as lazy.

It’s not to say I didn’t get a few laughs out of what was shown. It had a few moments that caught me off guard, but looking back, these scenes were flamboyant and over the top just for the sake of said cheap laughs. It’s easy to say a game like this shouldn’t be taken seriously, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for such lazy writing. Where I do believe the story mode succeeds is in providing a short introduction period to the game as a whole. Featuring just a few fights strung together, it’s a particularly non-intimidating way to get stuck in. That’s really it though, and even saying that, it’s nothing that couldn’t be accomplished by playing the game’s survival mode.


With my issues with the plot put to one side, I did actually find a lot of fun in the gameplay itself. SNK Heroines promised an accessible fighter and they delivered on just that. The game’s tutorial mode features a step by step guide of each element in isolation, and allows you to build yourself up to a point where you’re comfortable before jumping in. With no reliance on strings of inputs or complex manoeuvres, the entry level is quite pleasantly low. To me, the depth of combat stems from two main areas: attack cancelling and the Spirit Gauge. Attack cancelling is simply using another attack while one is currently in progress, interrupting the animation and allowing for swift and satisfying combinations. Special charge is where the game makes use of its tag mechanic. The Spirit Gauge is used for both special moves and dream finishers. Special moves use up a proportion of the gauge to perform powerful attacks; while you can still use special moves with a low Spirit Gauge, the attack power will be weakened. Dream Finishers are how battles are ended. Instead of simply reducing your opponent’s life to zero, SNK Heroines tasks you with reducing their health to a certain point, before having to use a finisher move to actually end the battle. These moves can be dodged and blocked, allowing for fun late comebacks and counters if not used properly. Where this ties into the tag mechanic is how the Spirit Gauge charges—the character not currently in play has their gauge charge quicker. It really is that simple, and yet this alone incentivises constant swapping between your two characters and a rapid play style. It’s also worth saying both characters share the same health meter, so the extent of the tag system in this game really stretches to optimal use of the Spirit Gauge and allowing for a more diverse range of available moves.

I’ll admit I’m still not entirely sold on the genre itself, and this game hasn’t done anything particularly revolutionary in my eyes to sway my opinion, but what it sets out to do, it does well. The core gameplay is simple enough that while I don’t necessarily desire to rapidly improve my skills, I feel myself capable. It’s something a person could really sink time into, or something to be pulled out with friends for some fun. While it isn’t as easy to pick up as something like Super Smash Bros, it does a good job in making an intimidating genre inviting to new players.

What’s Left?

Now the plot and fighting are out of the way, there’s really only one thing left to talk about: character customisation. This is one area where, for better or for worse, the development team clearly put a lot of thought into. With each character having three costumes, each with a set of colour options, and a huge variety of accessories for their head, back, hips, and any other part of the body you could think of, these characters can be made your own. These costumes are largely the same kind of revealing attire I’m sure you came to this game for, but there’s one or two that really stood out to me as just amusing. One of these sees everybody’s favourite busty police officer don a pristine and primed premier moustache to match the costume’s western theme.

A part of me wishes the game embraced this direction further to put across something more amusing and fun. I don’t necessarily have an issue with a game like this for its overly sexual themes, but I wish it would have something more to set it apart from every other game with similarly skin-baring women. Even so, if this is your kind of thing, you can not only dress to impress, but place your fighters on a range of backdrops in a range of poses for your picture-taking pleasure.

All things considered, I don’t believe SNK Heroines to be a bad game. It’s certainly not a game for me, but it’s one where its strong points shine through despite this. Were it more creative in its offerings, I feel it could appeal to a plenty larger audience, but if all you want is an easy to pick up and fun to play fighter with a bare-bones plot and tons of customisation, it’s something I can definitely recommend.