Can you believe it's already been a year since the Nintendo Switch launched? I suppose the adage is true, time flies when you're having fun! With a year under its belt, we discuss the highs/lows from its freshman year and what the future holds for Nintendo's mobile console!
Roughly a year ago, I was sitting on the curb in between a Dickey’s BBQ and a Gamestop waiting, with 3 other people, for a chance to get my hands on Nintendo’s latest console, the Switch. Me and my companions had been part of the foolish few who hadn’t pre-ordered the much-anticipated console early, so we were relegated to sitting outside for hours, much like people used to do for concert tickets or movies, until 11:59pm when they would release the consoles to the general public.
Gamestop had told us they had 4 extra and they would be sold on a first come, first serve basis. Being the longtime fan of Nintendo, that I am, I was unwavering in my decision to do my time, in order to be the proud of owner of this revolutionary console. After about 7 hours of sitting outside on the unforgiving concrete, telling passersby that the four of us were the end of the stand-by line, the store finally began distributing consoles. As I waited, I thought about how I couldn’t wait to play the Switch and deciding on how late I’d stay up. Once I got the 2nd stand-by Switch and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and arrived home with it, I was out like a light. Contrary to R. Kelly’s song, my mind wanted to stay up, but my body was telling me no. My first experience with the Switch would have to wait until the next day.
A year has passed and Nintendo is celebrating the 1 year anniversary of their remarkable product. So, the question is, was it all worth it? To answer that, let’s dive into my first year with the Nintendo Switch!
How Has the Nintendo Switch Done Thus Far?
Typically, when a new console launches, the game library isn’t anything to write home about. The company usually has 1 game from their flagship IP, and then has to line-up more games to release shortly, thereafter, so fans won’t develop a case of buyer’s remorse. Sony is the first to come to mind as a company who bucked the trend, as it didn’t really have that game-changing launch title when the PS4 came out. Instead, they opted for more re-releases from the PS3.
Being the traditionalists that they are, when Nintendo released the Switch, there was really only 1 launch title, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Sure, they had the severely overpriced 1-2 Switch and several smaller titles, but Zelda was the main attraction, and it was the best thing Nintendo could’ve ever done.
Nintendo didn’t need several games to fill the time until their next game. They only needed Zelda. Breath of the Wild included one of the largest maps in video game history, taking the massive map from Skyrim and blowing it up to be 10x that. Just the idea of becoming a well-traveled explorer in this expanded Hyrule was enough to keep people invested in this game, long-term. Furthermore, the latest adventure with Link featured a captivating story, filled with a memorable soundtrack and the long-overdue inclusion of voice actors. It was so good, it ended up winning several awards and was even the first game to earn a perfect score in our metrics.
As fans spent several months traversing through Hyrule, Nintendo released their fighting game ARMS, Pokken Tournament DX, several indie titles, and a re-release of Mario Kart 8, entitled Deluxe. While MK8D and Pokken Tournament DX were awesome re-releases and ARMS turned out to be a fun twist on the fighting genre, Nintendo’s next big title happened over the summer with Splatoon 2. The squid-inspired sequel added all kinds of new weaponry, customizable features, and gameplay modes to keep fans of the first game happy, along with bring in new fans, at the same time.
After Splatoon 2 came a bunch of smaller games, but nothing groundbreaking. That is, until Mario came along, and no he wasn’t joined by Rabbids. October of 2017 saw one of the greatest Mario games make its debut with Super Mario Odyssey. The game took the classic platformer and squashed it like a Goomba, as Cappy and Mario explored this brave new world. This charming take on one of gaming’s most established heroes made for a memorable experience, as Mario was introduced to new cities (including a Samurai-inspired land, New Donk (York) City, and even a new version of the Mushroom Kingdom.), new features (like blending in classic 2D game modes inside 3D models, seamlessly.), and a new ability to take over your enemy’s body that totally isn’t possession, unless it is. Mario has needed some revitalizing for quite some time, and Nintendo accomplished that with this exceptional take.
Throughout the rest of the year, Nintendo’s bigger releases mostly came out of one publisher, Bethesda. The renowned company re-released Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, DOOM, and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, making the holidays the most metal time of the year at Nintendo.
To summarize, for its first year, the Nintendo produced 3 major award-winning games (Including Legend of Zelda winning Game of the Year), built relationships with several 3rd party developers to bring more diversity to the Switch, and became the fastest-selling console in the US (selling more than 4.8 million consoles in just 10 months). Even though I’ve never understood the importance of giving the general public a sales report, it is an important metric for Nintendo, given their obscurity in the console race, over the last few years. In one year’s time, Nintendo rectified all of their previous failures and took the limelight, it used to own, with Nintendo Switch.
What Are the Nagging Issues?
Despite all its success, the console has its fair share of issues, most of which have been around since launch. For starters, the biggest negative against the Switch is its limited storage size. It’s remedied by the used of a MicroSD card, but the problem stems from the 3rd party developer Switch releases. Developers like Bethesda, haven’t been able to minimize the storage size for any of their games, making it tough to keep all of your favorite apps, without a MicroSD card.
Another issue Switch owners deal with is the fluctuating battery life when using certain apps. For games like Zelda and Skyrim that require a significant amount of juice to run, the battery on the mobile console tends to deplete faster. Meanwhile, when playing Super Mario Odyssey or Hulu, the undocked console can utilize the full length of the battery life. Hopefully that battery increases as Nintendo figures out new ways to update their successful console.
Speaking of Hulu, Nintendo’s neglect of providing streaming services for the Switch is another nagging issue. When Hulu was released on the Switch, in November, Nintendo didn’t want to recognize its availability. Instead, they just put it on the Nintendo eShop and moved on with their day. No other streaming services have been added, since, which is a shame. Outside of a few of their main games, playing Hulu anywhere in your home is one of the best things to do on the Switch. The screen is bigger than your phone, you can stand it up anywhere, and you don’t have to waste the battery on your phone. It’s a great device for streaming, that is, if Nintendo would make it a priority to add more services.
Finally, my last issue is with the underdeveloped resolution. When the game first released, I didn’t think that the lack of 4K would be a big deal, but the more I’ve played the Switch and compared it to the likes of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, the more the resolution hinders the gameplay experience. This becomes especially prevalent when playing re-released titles like Telltale’s Batman Season 1 and the Bethesda games. I’m not saying I need 4K but having a resolution better than 900p on my TV or 720p would be nice.
Why Do We Love it?
What makes the Switch one of the best things to come out of Nintendo is the same thing that inhibits it from becoming a go-to streaming service, it’s uniqueness. When Nintendo of America’s President and COO, Reggie Fils-Aime was asked about why streaming services weren’t a priority, he essentially said it’s because they wanted the Switch to be a unique gaming device and streaming services aren’t unique. Well, mission accomplished, because the Nintendo Switch is the most unique system on the planet.
It’s obviously unique in its ability to seamlessly change from a stationary console to being on the move. However, there is more to it than that. The Switch allows gamers to play in ways you never thought possible with a traditional controller. The Joycons allow gamers to experience games any way they’d like, whether it be the traditional console to TV way of playing, playing it like a Nintendo 3DS XL (just without the 3D effect), or taking off the Joycons and going back to the days of the Wii. With the Switch, the options are endless.
Furthermore, the games exclusively made for Nintendo are absolute treasures. We’ve already gushed over how good Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, and ARMS have been, which is remarkable in-and-of-itself. How many companies could say that by the time a year had passed that they had at least 5 titles, made from within, that made their console worth buying? The answer would be probably 2 but the data may not justify the claim.
Where Does Nintendo Go From Here?
The future is bright for Nintendo’s mobile console. At last year’s E3, they announced that a true-to-form Pokemon game was in the works. I doubt it’ll be released until at least 2019, but the fact that it’s coming is worth the wait.
Until then, Nintendo is focusing their efforts on their next gimmick for the Switch in the form of Nintendo Labo. Labo is a cardboard-based product that is supposed to be used as a vehicle to make the Switch into more than just a video game device. With it, gamers can create interactive robots, fishing rods, a house, and various other imaginative uses. While the Labo is a cool way of shaking things up, it is in its purest form, a fun gimmick. A gimmick that could wind up destroying your $400+ investment. Nintendo Labo is scheduled to release April 20, 2018.
The highlight of 2018, in terms of video games, may come from the Metroid game they announced, just last year. It’s been a while since Samus has had her own console game, so it’s exciting that we could finally experience it in 2018. It’s likely that Nintendo will reveal more for the game at E3 2018. What we can confirm are that Kirby Star Allies, Yoshi, and Mario Tennis Aces are set to release in 2018, but those aren’t as big as a Metroid game would be.
What we hope is in the cards for 2018 is the announcement of a Super Smash Bros. Switch game, Mario Party Switch, and the release date of a Virtual Console. Then again, we’ve been waiting for a year to hear anything about a Virtual Console for the Switch and Nintendo has been mum on the subject. If there are two things that we’ve learned about Nintendo, over the years, it’s that they are horrible about reading the room and will do whatever they want whenever they want, hence the Labo and Nintendo Directs.
Is It Worth Buying?
Since buying the Switch many have asked me if it was a console worth owning. To that, I say yes. I will never get the 7 hours of my life back waiting or the $400 I spent to purchase the Nintendo Switch and the games, but I would do it again, if I had to redo it. Just being able to experience games like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, along with being able to take the console on the go to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and ARMS with friends has made it all worth it.
It’s still a growing system, but it’s an investment that I believe to be a worthwhile one. Nintendo believes wholeheartedly in creating lasting gaming experiences to be played amongst friends and that’s exactly what the Switch accomplishes. Furthermore, their new philosophy of gaming, to acknowledge the competition has allowed their games to grow in ways they haven’t been able to for decades. The Nintendo Switch is the best thing to come out of Nintendo in a long time, and they’re just getting started. I can’t wait to see what they produce as 2018 goes on!