What a difference a year makes, right? A year ago, Nintendo was in a completely different place than it is now: the Wii U had bombed horribly, the 3DS was slowly trucking along, and everyone was scratching their head when it came to Nintendo’s newest console, the Nintendo Switch. Oh sure, we were all excited for it when we saw that first video showing it off, but after that Nintendo presentation that showed off HD Rumble and minigame collection 1, 2, Switch !, opinions about the system were…..mixed. Oh sure, games like Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 were all really great games (and in the case of last two genuine surprises), but for a lot of people, it didn’t seem like Nintendo had learned any lessons from the Wii U’s failures, and it remained to be seen whether the Switch would be a success or if it would a Wii U 2.0.
But then a strange thing happened. The Switch did really well; like really well. So well in fact that for the first few months of the system’s life, it was next to impossible to find one, it sold more units in 10 months than the Wii U did in its entire lifetime, and the system that many publishers were writing off were now having to take a second look at it and realizing “oh shit, we need to get our games on this thing!” It’s safe to say that Nintendo is back. Or is it? Is the Nintendo Switch worth buying after almost a year of being on a market? Well, short answer is yes absolutely but that’s not to say that the system is flawless either, and so on this inaugural edition of a feature that I’m calling “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” (name not final), lets look at some of the positives, the not positives, and the really not positives of the Nintendo Switch.
*Nintendo Switch click noise intensifies*
One of the things that Nintendo prides itself on is creating new and unique ways to play their games. Sometimes it works out well, like the Wii’s motion controls and dual screens of the DS, sometimes it starts off interesting but slowly gets ignored as time goes on like the glasses free 3D of the 3DS and the Wii’s motion controls, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out as people had hoped, like the Wii U’s Gamepad and……the Wii’s motion controls. Point is that Nintendo has had a reputation for trying new things for their systems, or “gimmicks” as the more cynical among us on the net call it, and the Switch is no exception. This time, the Switch’s big selling point this is the ability for the system to switch between being a home console and a portable device. And you know what? It surprisingly works well.
I know people go back and forth on whether it’s a high definition handheld or a portable console, but regardless of where you fall, being able to switch (ha!) seamlessly between playing a game on the go or on the TV is ingenious and strikes a nice balance between being unique but not really something that’s forced down your throat like motion controls. And while I’ve mostly been using the system in handheld mode (at least when playing games like Xenoblade Chronicles 2), the idea of being able to do both is really cool. As a bonus, the being able to seamlessly switch (ha!) between TV and handheld mode is also easier to explain and show off, which in turn makes it easier to market the system, and thus lead to the console currently making mad bank. So good on you Nintendo: you made something unique with the Switch.
"It's just like one of my Japanese animes!"
This one is kind of an acquired taste, since I know this doesn’t affect everyone, but the fact that the Switch is region free is nice addition to the system. While it’s not the first time a Nintendo system is region free (that honor belongs to the Nintendo DS), it’s still nice to see that you can play any game from any region on your Switch. But it goes beyond just that.
You see, besides being able to finally get (in many cases) the superior special editions that Europe and Japan usually get and actually play the games that come with them, I’d argue that it would make it easier to get games that we normally wouldn’t get otherwise, since you could show developers that their games do have an audience overseas by buying these games, as well as organizing campaigns to get games localized *cough* Mother 3 *cough*. Again, I know that not everyone would take advantage of the system being region free, but as someone who was there when fans had to beg Nintendo of America and Europe to localize the first Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story, as well as Earthbound fans getting the short end of the stick for years, it’s nice to see Nintendo embracing the idea of letting people play their games regardless of region. Took them long enough.
“Wow, Nintendo makes good games? I’m shocked”, I hear you say. And yeah, say what you will about Nintendo as a company, but even the most cynical and jaded among us can agree that they can make some truly excellent games, and the Switch is no exception. But what makes the Switch such an interesting case is that not only does the system have a fair number of excellent games, but the fact that these games all came in just the first year of the system’s life.
Besides the really big games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, which everyone and their mom has talked about, there’s also the previously mentioned Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which I’ve retroactively added to my GOTY 2017 list, Splatoon 2 is a load of fun, Fire Emblem Warriors is a guilty pleasure, and while it didn’t have much life after launch, ARMS was still a fun ride. Then there’s the ports of older Wii U games like Mario Kart 8 and Bayonetta 2, which are getting a second lease on life, and as of the time of this writing, we can look forward to ports of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (now with 20 percent more Funky Kong!), a new Kirby game, a new mainline Pokemon and Fire Emblem games, Metroid Prime 4 and most important of all BAYONETTA 3!!!!! *fangirl screaming intensifies* Sorry, got a little excited. And that’s not even counting some of the big third-party games like DOOM, Skyrim, and Sonic Mania, as well as some future games like ports of Wolfenstein II, Dark Souls Remastered, new games like Shin Megami Tensei V, Valkyria Chronicles 4, and whatever Project Octopath will eventually be named to name a few. Whether the Switch can continue its momentum into its second year, it’s safe to say that the Switch’s library has been incredibly strong so far and can only get stronger going forward.
So I’m going to put a huge * on this one, because like the system being region free, I know a lot of people don’t really care about stuff like a dedicated browser and apps like YouTube and Twitch, but at the same time it’s still really jarring to see how barebones the system is, made even worst by the fact that they removed stuff from the Wii U like Miiverse (which I’ll get to in a bit).
Even crazier is that a lot of it seems like no brainer inclusions in this day and age. There’s no cloud saving, no multimedia app support like the aforementioned YouTube, made even more odd when you consider A) the system has been marketed as a portable/console hybrid and B) the 3DS has it, and there’s no traditional voice chat unless you get an app on your phone, which for the longest time was useless because you couldn’t use it while using other apps or taking calls. Yeah, you read that right; Nintendo made a voice chat app on your phone that couldn’t work if you tried to make a call….on your phone. I personally don’t use a lot of those non-gaming apps, and lack of a proper voice chat system is far from a deal breaker for me, but a year into the system’s life, the fact that the system is pretty barebones is still a bit disappointed.
I guess you could say Nintendo is.......doooooomed! I'll let myself out.
One of the biggest problems that plagued the Wii U is that third party support wasn’t the best. Sure you have companies like Capcom, Bandai Namco, and Ubisoft still supported the system, but they dropped off really quickly, and it was basically Nintendo and indies keeping the ship afloat for the system’s life. The Switch on the other hand, has done a lot better on the third party in the system's first year, and looks like it’ll get a lot better as the year goes on. But at the same time, it could be better.
Okay look. I know a lot of you are going to say something in the comments, so I’ll address a few things. Yes, a lot of the third party games that the system’s gotten so far are great. Yes, a lot of the reason third parties didn’t jump on the Switch bandwagon was because of how bad the Wii U did, and are now doing what they can to bring games over after they saw the system prints money. Yes, indies have really stepped it up, giving us great games like Stardew Valley and Celeste. And yes while I can live with EA keeping its tire fire formerly known as Star Wars Battlefront II far, far, away from the Switch, it’s great to see companies like Bethesda get on board with the system. All of that is true, and it’s not like the system is starving for more games, but when I look over at the PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 fans who have Monster Hunter World and Dragon Ball FighterZ, as well as future games like Soul Calibur VI, I can’t help but stare sadly at my Switch and think of what could have been…..or will be. Soon. I hope.
"You were the chosen one!"
Another thing that raised a couple of eyebrows during Nintendo’s Switch presentation was that the company would join the dark side and *gasp* charge for online! But in all seriousness, while I’m not personally opposed to Nintendo charging for online, I can see why a lot of people would be concerned especially since they were the only one of the big three who hadn’t charged for online, so to suddenly shift to that is quite sudden. No for me personally the biggest problem when it comes to Nintendo going the paid online route is a one two punch of A) we know next to nothing about it this new service and B) Nintendo doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to online play (see the Wii, DS, and depending on who you ask the Wii U and 3DS).
Well, that first point’s not entirely true. Besides the obvious date the service goes live, we do know that it’ll cost at most $20 a year (not month), and it’ll have something called the Classic Game Selection, which according to their site will let you play a wide variety of classic games with online. Oh and you’ll also get exclusive eShop deals, which if Nintendo’s past history is anything to go by, really won’t be worth a whole lot; you know, unless saving three bucks on A Link to The Past gets you hyped. But despite knowing all of that, there are still a bunch of questions I have to ask, like how is the Classic Game Selection going to work? Some people have said it’ll be like Netflix where you have access to a bunch of games, but will we still be able to play them when we cancel our subscription? Will this replace the Virtual Console? What other cool stuff will we get as part of this service? I’m sure we’ll know more about this as we get closer to September, and I admit we don’t know enough to make a judgement yet, but at the same time there are also just too many unknowns right now to blindly get excited about this strange new world we’ll soon be entering.
I have no witty remark to put here. I just really want to know why we still haven't gotten Virtual Console on Switch yet.
Look, I know it seems weird to get mad that I’m not able to buy Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time again, and there have been a lot of Neo-Geo and arcade games that have been added to the system. But at the same time, the Virtual Console is kind of staple at this point, and has been a part of Nintendo’s consoles since the Wii. So why is it that after almost a year on the market, the Switch still doesn’t have it?
I know the argument people often make about that is “why have a Virtual Console, when the NES and SNES Classic are things?” And those would be fair arguments if A) the systems had more than 20 games on them, and B) the systems were bloody easy to get a hold of. Say what you about Nintendo and them being stingy about the games that came out (especially during the Wii U where they would piece meal them), but the Virtual Console was always a great way to try out games you may have missed or introduce beloved classics to a newer generation, and to not have that here feels like a massive disappointment in my opinion. Not only that, but now you have even more games to pull from than ever before; not just obvious stuff A Link To the Past and Super Metroid, but also from the Gamecube, the Wii, the Wii U (though to be fair, both of those two might be harder to emulate on account of them using motion controls and the Gamepad respectively) or even some of the handheld games. Seriously, how cool would it be to play F-Zero GX on the way to work or Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance? How about adding a GBA Virtual Console and letting us Westerners finally play Mother 3 legitimately, since you know the system is region free? The possibilities are endless, and I feel Nintendo is shooting themselves in the foot by not having a proper Virtual Console on the Switch. So yeah, I never thought I would say it, but please Nintendo let me buy Super Mario World on my Switch; I’ve already bought it a bajillion times already, what’s a bajillion and one?
These are the real questions that keep me up at night.
Seriously Nintendo what the hell? You had a really good thing going with Miiverse, and then you just decided to shut it down! Why? It was legitimately one of the best things about the Wii U. Sure it was limited to what you could do, and it wasn’t as robust as say other message services, but by god it worked so beautifully and gave us some of the funniest shitposts I ever saw (never forget Dafoeverse), and I weep every time I think about it being gone.
Seriously I don’t get why Miiverse isn’t on the Switch. Was it too expensive to maintain the servers? Wait……is that the reason you’re going to be charging money for online? Because if that’s what it takes to see people ask why Metroid can’t crawl, I will gladly give you money for that. Seriously Nintendo, bring back Miiverse; it was RIP in pepperoni too soon. And before anyone hops into the comments and says “but Goof, Splatoon 2 has something like Miiv-“NO, SHUT UP IT IS NOT THE SAME THING AND YOU KNOW IT! WILL NOT HAVE SPEAK ILL OF MIIVERSE LIKE THAT! *cough* My point is that it’s just not a very good substitute and I would love to see Miiverse proper come back.
A.K.A. the real Citizen Kane of video games.
Forget everything else I just said, this is the greatest sin of the Switch. Forget Metroid Prime 4 and Bayonetta 3, why hasn’t Federation Force, a.k.a the greatest Metroid game, nay the greatest Nintendo game, nay the greatest game ever made, has yet to get a sequel that it truly deserves?! It is a travesty! You better announce Federation Force 2 at E3 this year Nintendo, or I and like the two people who liked Federation Force will write strongly worded comments online!
……..I actually don’t care about Federation Force one way or the other. I actually couldn’t think of a third thing to knock the Switch on, so you get my attempt at humor. I’m totally joking guys! Hahahahaha………please don’t kill me, Metroid fans.
The Switch in my opinion is one of the most interesting consoles that Nintendo has ever released, and I’m not just talking from a design or game standpoint either. It’s a system that went from being a mysterious new gaming device, to a console that got people excited with an interesting idea, to people looking at with cautious optimism, to finally printing money. In one year, the system has turned around Nintendo’s fortunes, and while it does have some problems, they don’t take away from how great the system is with an impressive library of games so far that only seems to grow. So great job Nintendo; here’s hoping year two of the Switch is just as great as its first.
But seriously Nintendo. Virtual Console. Mother 3. Make it so.