The Nintendo Switch had its blowout presentation this past Thursday (Jan. 12) and in it’s wake the internet has seen no shortage of message board posts and web articles calling Nintendo’s latest foray into the console space a failure. While the news surrounding the systems expensive peripherals and paid online has been less than stellar, the core idea that Nintendo is pushing is exactly what I want from them. A quirky console that tries bold new ideas and is home to all the excellent 1st party Nintendo titles is something that I look forward to every time a new console cycle comes around. The biggest problem the Wii U had was that, compared to the Wii, it really failed to try anything drastically different. In a lot of ways it really just felt like an under powered system with a cheap plastic tablet attachment.
This is one of the areas the Switch really succeeds in. The concept is entirely novel. Sure, people may have heard of tablets before. In fact most people have probably heard of items like the Nvidia Shield, which markets itself specifically as a gaming tablet. But while the Shield tries to emulate home console gaming on the go, the Switch instead chooses to change the way we play games both at home and on the go through their new controller, the Joy-Con. The Joy-Con controllers are absolutely jam packed full of interesting tech, from their HD Rumble to the motion tracking camera, there is no shortage of new ideas within the Switch. The problem with all this new tech is that no one outside of Nintendo’s internal studios will most likely feel any desire to make use of this technology, resulting in the features becoming largely forgotten as time goes on. There’s a chance aspects of the Joy-Con’s tech will become more heavily used, but odds have it most 3rd party support will be in the form of more traditional games. Which is absolutely Ok, we don’t need all those features in every game, and they certainly will not fit into every games mold.
It seems as though Nintendo makes consoles for their own studios more than 3rd party Developers. While Sony and Microsoft make courting as many 3rd party studios as possible a huge priority, Nintendo seems to design their consoles around the games they want to create internally. That’s one of the things I love most about Nintendo, and why I would be upset if they were to ever become a software only company. Nintendo games feel very much at home on Nintendo consoles in a way they never could on a PS4 or Xbox One.
The games are another reason the presentation was met with scorn, and once again I find myself in disagreement. 2017 will be one of the greatest years for Nintendo releases in years. In one year alone we will be playing the most ambitious Zelda game yet, a new Mario sandbox, Splatoon 2, and Xenoblade 2. 3rd party titles at this point are pure gravy. We’re also getting a number of Wii U ports which, while being closer to launch would have been nice, will pad out the downtime for the many people who never owned a Wii U.
Overall, the Nintendo Switch is excelling for me in all the areas I care about. Great 1st party titles, interesting console, and cool new technology to mess around with. The Switch is never going to be the Call of Duty or Mass Effect machine that people want it to be, and that’s Ok. As long as it gives me those Nintendo games on an honest to goodness Nintendo console, I’ll be there Day One.
But I mean yeah that smartphone app thing is fucking stupid. Come on Reggie, you’re better than that.