I’ve been a lifelong fan of Nintendo, how many gamers can’t say the same? My earliest memories with them go all the way back to the SNES. Games like Super Mario World, Mario Kart, Donkey Kong Country & so very many more helped nurture my love for the medium. Still, I feel the time has come to stop living in the past and stop dwelling on the nostalgia & childhood memories. Nintendo just aren’t the home console powerhouse that they once were with only the most diehard fans sticking with them. Each new console brought with it some type of new innovation that really helped them to standout from their rivals. It is that innovation that seemed to be the exact thing which would turn so many people off of the consoles all together with many labelling certain aspects nothing more than gimmicks.
Personally, I haven’t owned a Nintendo console since the Wii which I quickly sold after becoming disinterested in the motion controls & lack of games that held my interest. The last Nintendo console that I truly invested in was the GameCube, a fantastic underrated machine but even that is regarded as a commercial failure for the company.
This brings me to the announcement of their latest home/play anywhere console, the Nintendo Switch.
To me, this whole launch feels very reminiscent of the Wii U. We have a console that does something new & innovative but it is these exact things that will hold it back from being a true rival to Sony & Microsoft. I just can’t help but feel like this is just another system that will likely only appeal to the diehard fans that have stuck with the company through thick and thin. Will this console make people jump ship from their PS4 or Xbox One? I think we all know the answer. Yes, there are those who will buy this console as an accompaniment but is that enough for Nintendo? Is that really what they have become?
The Switch is a play anywhere console that comes in the form of a glorified tablet with removable controllers that most children will struggle to hold. It is being reported to have a resolution of 720p & a battery life of less than 3 hours depending on the game. You can play the system while it is charging which is a plus and if you don’t feel like doing any of that you can of course use it like a regular old home console. There is no doubt that Nintendo have proven themselves to be the masters of portable games systems. With mobile gaming being bigger than it has ever been, you can make an argument for this being quite a smart business decision. Only a couple of weeks ago, Super Mario Go released on the Apple store so it really shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Nintendo are diving head first into the mobile gaming market. Just look at the success of Pokémon Go.
For any console to succeed it needs to have games to support it, that is what truly sells any console. The issue is that the Switch has a really confusing launch/upcoming games line up. Rayman Legends, Just Dance 2017, and Steep are accompanied by Disgaea 5, I Am Setsuna, and a handful of other games. The true system seller comes in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the open-world Zelda game that we have all been waiting for. While it does look pretty damn amazing, many have raised concerns over its short development time. Not only that but the game is supposedly launching on the Wii U as well so there seems to be little incentive to upgrade if you already own that console.
The most disappointing thing for me is the lack of depth in the games being released. Yes, playing Skyrim on the go will be pretty cool but most people have already paid for Skyrim twice and the game is going on 6 years old. Super Mario Odyssey looks very interesting indeed but that won’t be coming out until the end of the year. Mario Kart 8 is already available on the Wii U, again where’s the incentive to upgrade? And then we have a laughable re-release of Super Street Fighter 2. Don’t get me wrong, I love that game but its 24 years old. If Sony or Microsoft attempted to market the re-release of that game with any kind of hype they’d be laughed out the building. What happens when Bethesda releases Elder Scrolls 6? Will this console be able to handle it or will it be left behind?
What about the price of the system? Well, here in the UK it will set you back around £280. You can get an Xbox One S for £200, enough said.
Will the Switch get 3rd part support from big game developers? I’m not so sure. The Wii U had decent support from companies like Ubisoft & EA early on but they soon abandoned the thing when the sales were poor. Rayman Legends was supposed to be a Wii U exclusive but that soon changed. I can’t see anything but the exact same story playing out this time around unfortunately.
Like many of you out there, I was hoping Nintendo would return to their roots and give us a true home console to rival the others but they’ve truly lost me on this one. With the Scorpio which has 4k capabilities releasing this year and whatever Sony have lined up, I am genuinely concerned for Nintendo’s future as a console creating company. The Switch will appeal to those diehard fans but will that be enough this generation? Only time will tell. Will their continued dependence on Zelda & Mario begin to lose its appeal? I have no idea how it hasn’t already but some people just never seem to tire of those franchises.
Let me just be clear, I love Nintendo for the same reasons as everybody but they’ve failed to listen to their audience. If this leads to them becoming purely a software producing company then I won’t complain, maybe that’s for the best.