After the commercial failure of its previous home console, the Wii U, Nintendo has a lot to live up to with the Nintendo Switch. It was only at a special Tokyo event in January this year that we finally started to learn the much-needed details about the console.
Nintendo’s new hybrid console was to be an amalgamation of three different playing styles, split across a big-screen mode, handheld mode and tabletop mode respectively. Slide the Switch console into its docking unit and place the two Joy-Con controllers in the grip frame for the typical big-screen experience.
Remove the Switch from the dock and you can attach a Joy-Con controller to each side for its handheld mode. Finally, two Joy-Con controllers can be detached from the console and used separately for multiplayer games in Tabletop mode. Nintendo’s message is simple: Play at home; play anywhere; play with anyone.
For a handheld, the Switch is light and slick. Its Joy-Con controllers fit comfortably into the grip frame and feel somewhere in the middle of an Xbox One and PS4 controller. When turned sideways and used individually, the Joy-Cons are reminiscent of a miniature NES controller – or the Gameboy Micro – for those familiar with the handheld console.
It was an ambitious move for the company, but a calculated one nonetheless. Nintendo has dominated the handheld market thanks to the success of its Gameboy and DS consoles.
This, coupled with their recent foray into the mobile market with titles such as Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes, is proof that Nintendo recognizes that more consumers are looking for titles to play on the go. By playing to its strengths, Nintendo has managed to create a revolutionary console that combines big-screen gaming with gaming on the go.
Nintendo Has Learned from Previous Mistakes
It’s not been an easy ride for the company. Despite the Wii U’s early start on the competition and the fact it featured some killer titles – Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. 4, Bayonetta 2 and Hyrule Warriors to name just a few – the console lacked the necessary third-party support to keep up with the likes of the PS4 and Xbox One.
As more developers slowly backed out of supporting the console as a result of weak sales, it became apparent that Nintendo was flogging a dead horse.
For all of the Wii U’s great features, Nintendo seemed too comfortable resting on the laurels of its predecessor. As a result, not enough had been done to secure its success by pushing the merits of the system. Instead, consumers were left baffled, unable to differentiate between the Wii and the Wii U, with many confusing the swanky Wii U gamepad as nothing more than an add-on peripheral for the Wii console.
Nintendoes What Its Competitors Don’t
And then we have the Switch. A console so clearly defined by its unique characteristics that it couldn’t be anymore Nintendo if it tried. Nintendo’s key messaging for the console is rooted in understanding of its fan base; many of whom now fall into a demographic of people in their mid-20s to 30s leading increasingly busy lifestyles.
The versatility of the Nintendo Switch means it’s adaptable to the individual lifestyles of its players. As a result, there has never been a console better suited to meet the needs and demands of a modern gaming audience. At long last, Nintendo finally seems to get it.
And it’s a good thing too, because let’s be honest: Nintendo isn’t best placed to be directly competing with the PS4 or Xbox One, especially with a combined total sales figure of 75 million units between the two consoles. Instead, Nintendo is doing what Nintendo does best; being different.
Different enough and flexible enough to let Sony and Microsoft fight their own battle, while Nintendo stands confidently between the two, ready to win the hearts of the PS4 and Xbox One owners who are looking to try something different or ready to lapse on either side, but perhaps when the price drops.
Switch Can Set You Back a Small Fortune
With an RRP of $300, the Switch isn’t exactly cheap. It’s also worth noting that this price doesn’t include a game, with software costing between $19.99 and $59.99. It’s unfortunate then that the one game specifically designed to demo the technology in the Switch’s unique Joy-Con controllers will set you back $50. 1-2 Switch is a collection of mini games built around multiplayer.
If the game were significantly cheaper – or free – more people would be able to experience Nintendo’s HD Rumble and Motion IR features in its Joy-Con controllers.
The Switch also has a memory issue. With an internal memory of just 32GB (Xbox One and PS4 launched with 500GB for comparison,) the purchase of a microSD card is pretty much a necessity if you plan on ever downloading content from the online store.
Even without the consideration of digital store purchases, software and hardware patches promise to slowly consume the console’s internal memory.
There are also concerns regarding syncing issues with the left Joy-Con controller, with several owners reporting the loss of connection mid-game. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé recently addressed these issues in an interview with TIME.
I experienced the problem twice as a result of interference between the Joy-Con controller and the console, and it was quickly resolved by moving the console.
Switch Up the Software
Nintendo is keen to demonstrate it has learned valuable lessons regarding third-party support, with the company repeatedly emphasizing that the Switch will be supported by a large number of developers.
With more than 80 games in development for the console, and Nintendo still refusing to budge on information regarding its virtual console line-up – where we’ll hopefully see titles from the SNES, N64 and Gamecube in the future – we still have the likes of Mario Kart 8, Super Mario Odyssey, Skyrim and Splatoon to come later this year.
For the time being, there’s the simply awe-inspiring Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. This is without doubt the best entry into the Zelda series to date, and one of the greatest video games of all time. Nintendo’s open-world Zelda game manages to retain all the defining traits of the series, while providing a unique experience for both fans and newcomers alike.
The world of Hyrule is bigger than ever before and has never looked so beautiful. BOTW is a game that encourages exploration. Thanks to Link’s newfound abilities to seamlessly climb and glide through the skies, players will find their curiosity consistently rewarded thanks to the game’s impressive amount of collectables.
Super Bomberman R is fantastic multiplayer classic, but the most fun to be had with multiple players is to found playing Fast RMX; an incredibly impressive racing game that fans of Wipeout and the F-Zero series will feel right at home with.
Another must-buy is I Am Setsuna, a nostalgic throwback to the turn-based JRPG series of the '90s. We’re yet to see the likes of Netflix or other streaming apps make an appearance on the Switch – a shame, considering the portable benefits of the console.
Worth Waiting For
The Nintendo Switch is a great console and perfectly designed to meet the needs of gamers who may not have the time to spend the hours needed in front of a TV at home. Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild may be enough to win Nintendo fans over, but others are best placed waiting for a stronger software line-up and perhaps even a price drop.
The Nintendo Switch is a cool, slick console, well worth a purchase whenever you decide to pick one up. As Nintendo continues to demonstrate its awareness of an increasingly demanding base of consumers, the future can only get brighter for the company. We’re looking forward to seeing Nintendo’s future plans for the console at this year’s E3 conference in June. You’ll be able to read all about the highlights of the show at Highsnobiety.
In other Nintendo related news, see the secret message the developers left us to discover.