I have managed to get some game time in with the Nintendo Switch this past week since it launched and although the console feels refreshing there are still question marks over how much this console will really change the gaming landscape. Many people believe Nintendo’s console will revolutionise the way we play games or be a catalyst to changes in the gaming world to move to a more dynamic, handheld solution. These are not thoughts that I share and there are some clear reasons why.
Firstly, let’s start by congratulating Nintendo on a fairly solid hybrid gaming console. No other console in history has ever made it feel like I am capable of playing console quality games wherever I please. I do have to point out that Nintendo’s marketing strategy of encouraging people to play on the toilet is somewhat misguided considering their flagship title for launch is a 100+ hour game. Not happening Nintendo! No matter where you play the Switch though, you will find it hard to go back to playing mobile games or even the 3DS after experiencing Zelda on the go!
On the subject of Zelda, Breath of the Wild has been one the most well received game releases in a very long time and this can only help Nintendo sell this console. Admittedly, I am sitting on the fence on a purchase purely due to wanting to play through this new Zelda title, even despite the console’s drawbacks (more on this later!). It almost doesn’t matter that the launch title selection is sparse when you have hours of game play in just one game. Of course, if you are not a Zelda fan you may be finding it hard to justify but when Mario Kart and Super Mario Odyssey come out then maybe the Switch will be a more attractive proposition to the mass market.
The ability to disconnect the joy-con controllers was also a feature I didn’t know I wanted until I tried it. No controller restrictions may have been a strange experience to adopt but once I had adapted I found it difficult to put the joy-cons back into the controller to continue playing.
Excuse the terrible title pun, I couldn’t help it! Whilst I’m apologising for my offensively bad jokes, Nintendo have been celebrating a successful launch as the Switch sales show it is one of Nintendo’s most successful launches of all time, more so that the Wii in the US which speak volumes. Unfortunately, this has not come without some teething problems. It would be unheard of for a technologically innovative piece of hardware to release without some problems so what has been raised by the early adopters.
Firstly, the left joy-con has said to have connectivity issues which is no doubt more than annoying for those that have experienced this but at this stage it seems to only be affecting a small amount of Switch owners. Hopefully this is something Nintendo can fix with a patch, as opposed to trying to solve with their advice of keeping the console away from other wireless devices! Only time will tell if this is something more sinister and whether Nintendo will have to fix it with updated hardware.
Speaking of keeping the device away from wireless devices, there is another reason to do this and that is to avoid dead pixels from appearing on screen. It is somewhat baffling how this was not a consideration before the console shipped seeing as nearly every human being on the planet owns a phone that they take with them everywhere! It may seem like a defect but according to Nintendo it’s not. It definitely needs a better fix if I am to purchase one of these consoles.
One other thing that is a barrier for purchase is the cost. We have known about the cost for quite some time and many people are prepared to pay it. I think this trend will only continue as owners are effectively marketing the console wherever they take it and it’s only when you try the console that you realise how much of a nifty device the Switch is. Even so, I need a little more incentive before I can cough up over £300 for a new console and one game, no matter how impressive it is!
Other feedback has included a short handheld battery life and small storage space which are both annoyances but not deals breakers. However, there is one unanswered question that I will need an answer to before I can hand over my money to Nintendo and that is regarding the online multiplayer. How will players play online when in handheld mode? Obviously when docked the console will use your household WiFi but with no information shared regarding the online service it is hard to know whether this will be a truly social experience when out and about. The latest Mario Kart 8 Deluxe trailer suggested this will be doable with up to 8 handheld consoles all nearby but to access online multiplayer will this tether off of our mobile internet allowances? It seems to suggest a system similar to this will a mobile app being touted as the multiplayer mechanic for the Switch.
There is no doubting that Nintendo have achieved an impressive feat and there may be legs in the console yet, considering we still have multiplayer, virtual console, online gaming services, entertainment apps and more to come. With a few drawbacks right now, it could well be a monumental challenge for Nintendo to push through and reach the dizzy heights of the PS4 but so far the signs show that Nintendo are at least revitalised with the Switch and it is great to see them back!