Let’s just get this out of the way up front…I’m a huge Nintendo fanboy and Zelda looks amazing. I cannot wait for that game. Arms looks like it’ll be super fun, too. Now that we’ve established that, here are some thoughts on the Switchand Nintendo in general…
Nintendo seems to avoid good decisions like the plague.
Seriously, Nintendo. What the hell, man? The Wii U was a colossal failure selling only 14 million units. That’s less than what the PS4 sells per year and that’s for the entire Wii U lifetime. You’re coming in late to the game with a mostly portable system that might last as short as three hours long, with impossibly tiny controllers using gimmicks that can’t possibly be mainstream enough to attract third party developers.
You’re competing against two rival consoles that are the same price, likely to be far more powerful, and already have great catalogs of games on them. Not only that, but they run actual sales during the holiday’s that are often too good to pass up, while Nintendo rarely ever drops a price. We don’t know much about the Switch and it comes out in a month and a half. It seems like Nintendo have taken a step back, looked at what the competitors were doing, and decided to do worse. I am confident that the Switch will sell better than the Wii U, but that’s a very very low hurdle to jump. Really, as long as it’s not a Virtual Boy, you could step over it without any effort at all.
The Switch launch window highlights
I liked the presentation. I didn’t get Metroid or whatever Retro Studios has mysteriously been working on for the past several years. Those two things don’t even have to be the same thing, either. It was a fun event, though, and I honestly didn’t expect either of those things. As I mentioned before, Zelda and Arms look great. Arms looks like a mix of Punch-Out!! and Sega’s strafe heavy arena mech fighting game, Virtual On. Seriously, just compare those two bad boys.
Skip to 1:15 to bypass the setup and watch the actual game.
It’s a stretch (pun intended), but it came to mind immediately after seeing footage of Arms. Just replace boxing spring arms with guns and lasers and stuff.
In addition to those games, the new Octopath Traveler looks really interesting. 1 2 Switch looks like fun, but too creative and weird to be anything besides a pack-in game. I’m excited to see another Bomberman game after all this time, especially because the growing consensus is that Konami hates its fans. I’m not sold on it being a $60 game yet, but we will see.
Honestly, they have yet to top Saturn Bomberman, and that is almost 20 years old. Fire Emblem Warriors has the potential to be wildly fun and promising. All those Dragon Quest games will do very well in Japan and will hopefully come to America or at least have an English option. Super Mario Odyssey left me very confused, but it does look like a lot of fun. To me, the characters in Xenoblade 2 look strange, which seems to be a theme for the series.
Another mostly lackluster launch
All in all, Switch’s lineup looks okay. There are only five games at launch, and four of them aren’t Zelda. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe doesn’t come out until April 28th. While that’s not a long time to wait, how is that game not ready!? It will have been out for almost three years by the time it releases! How was that not a launch game? Pokemon has basically been confirmed for it, but wasn’t mentioned. Why didn’t we see something like Super Smash Bros 4 Deluxe? It would have definitely sold systems. Nintendo doesn’t always seem to know what their fans want. It’s not that they don’t have good games at launch, it’s just a bit much asking Zelda to do all the heavy lifting. Besides Zelda, I really don’t see any reason why an Xbox One or PS4 owner would invest in a Switch.
For the most part, I have near infinite respect for Nintendo. Here are some important points to make about their seemingly lack of business sense. For one, they make games when they are ready to. They wait until they have a good idea, and then they make it. They could easily go the EA/Activision route and release a new 3D Mario game, Mario Kart, Smash Bros, Zelda, Pokemon, whatever annually and each one of those games would sell like crazy. Instead, they plan on making games that can be played for years. Super Smash Bros. Melee is proof of that. There was also no mention of the Virtual Console.
Please let the Virtual Console be better than the Wii U’s
All we know about the Switch’s online plan is that it will be free until Fall, then it will cost an unknown amount. It will not be free after that point, and you can’t do anything but shop without the paid subscription. Along with the ability to play online, you will also get your choice of NES or SNES game to choose from. They will have added online functionality, which is fantastic.
The downside is that you lose the game you chose at the end of the month. Seriously. It’s like Nintendo saw that Sony and Microsoft gave out a couple of free games every month and said “That’s a great idea. Let’s almost do that, but worse.” While I think it’s great that you can select a game, I feel like you really should be able to keep it if you’re paying a monthly fee. That’s Nintendo’s decision though. If a company does something you don’t like, don’t support it.
The Wii U actually had quite a good Virtual Console, but it never received the attention that the Wii’s Virtual Console got. It is better, but it’s missing several systems and dozens, if not hundreds of games. Going through the Wii menu was a total drag, too, so it wasn’t much better to go that route. So far, they haven’t mentioned anything but NES and SNES, so there could be more to choose from. Hopefully, they will put Gamecube games on there as well as the old TurboGrafx-16, Sega Genesis, and all the rest.
Is it backwards compatible at all?
Can you download Wii U or 3DS titles on the Switch? They said in the past that it won’t use the physical media, but seemed to side-step topic. Obviously, it won’t have a Blu-Ray drive on it, but maybe it will allow you to transfer the games you’ve downloaded? Let’s hope.
Why it’s “mostly portable”
I say mostly portable because it doesn’t have an HDMI out on the system itself. As far as we know now, it can only send a signal to a TV through the dock, That means that if you want to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on your buddy’s TV, you have to bring your dock along with you, which is probably as much or more cumbersome than just bringing a standard console system. On top of that, they are getting rid of the Miiverse and worse yet, the Street Pass function.
Street Pass, in my opinion, was one of the most creative and best things to happen to video games in the last generation. Walking around with Fire Emblem Awakening and always finding new challengers made the game last so much longer than it would have without it. The games they released that revolved around you walking around with your system were mostly great, but always original. I was really hoping that it would make a return, but alas, here we are.
The accessories cost way too much
The Nintendo Switch has a dock that serves as a charging station and an output device. The portable nature of the system means that you will probably play it in different rooms of the house, and it might be nice to have a dock for more than one of your TVs. Well, if you do that, each one will set you back $90. The Joy Con set will cost you $80. I understand that they have a lot of interesting technology in them, but man that’s expensive. The Pro controller costs $70. If the Pro controller doesn’t carry over every single feature that the Joy Cons have, then it feels over priced.
We still don’t know how much the online service will cost, either. Additionally, it only has 32gb of on board storage. That’s inexcusable. Even though it has a micro SD card slot, it’s embarrassing. As I write this, there is literally a 256gb USB drive on sale for $45. The two competitors have a minimum of 500gb built in storage. It’s a shame that Nintendo didn’t try to out-do the Wii U, a system that came out over four years ago.
I am really do hope Nintendo does well
Nintendo has a chance to turn things around, but with the recent decisions, it doesn’t seem likely. It’s like they were really far behind in a race and to get a boost they merely put on slightly better shoes. And for some reason they thought red and blue shoes would really help. I will still purchase one at some point, it does look pretty good. I really hope they do well, I truly do. My criticism isn’t about trying to damage or berate the choices Nintendo has made, but to offer up a checklist of the things I feel they should improve on. If they pull out all the stops, and make a lot of fantastic games, they could make it happen. One last thought…
I used to think this as blasphemy to suggest what I am about to say, but here it is: If Nintendo went third party, they could make so many more amazing games. Consider this, Mario Kart 8 sold 7.5 million games across 14 million systems. That’s over 50%, which is insanely good. They clearly put a ton of effort into making that game, as it is absolutely wonderful. However, for a little more work, they could have released it on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
There are about 10 million Xbox One users. That might seem bad compared to the 14 million Wii U’s, but keep in mind that Xbox has no real market in Japan, and it’s been out for one year less. The PS4 has about 50 million users. There are 1.2 billion PC gamers. If Nintendo went third party as Sega did, then the same game could potentially sell tens, if not hundreds of millions of units more than it did.
If all of Nintendo’s first party efforts, Super Mario Bros, Smash Bros, Mario Kart, Pokemon, you name it, they would sell like crazy. The profits that would fall into their laps would allow them to hire more people and make games much faster and more frequently. They could take more risks. If they licensed their characters out to movie and TV studios (which is rumored to be happening), they could absolutely clean house. I personally hate the idea, but think it would be the best thing for Nintendo and their fans.
What are your thoughts?
What do you think about the Switch? Is it amazing? Is it terrible? Let us know what you think!