After an unexpectedly long hiatus (more on that at the end), I am back to writing, this time around my thoughts on the recently announced Nintendo Switch and how it has unexpectedly led me to rediscover just how good my 3DS can be.
I think it is safe to say that for anyone who considers gaming a hobby of theirs a new console launch is a very special time. The weeks and months of speculation building up to the announcement tends to get people excited even if they have little intention of buying the console. None encapsulates this better than the Nintendo Switch. Everyone knew the Wii U had not really met expectations and Nintendo was beginning work on a rumoured console-handheld hybrid dubbed simply ‘NX’. The rumours went on for months, when rather unexpectedly the console was announced as the Nintendo Switch in a brief event last October promising more information and the ability to try the console in January. I am likely not the first person to suggest this, however I would not be surprised if Nintendo had never planned to make the announcement they did in October. Instead their hand was forced by a surprising number of leaks from the normally pretty water tight Nintendo which meant it was better to publically announce the console early than risk a full blown leak.
So January 13th came and with it the big presentation, I personally did not watch it live owing to it being on at a soul crushingly early 4am. But I awoke the next morning eager to find out what the most innovative of the three big console makers was doing next. First and foremost the rumours were true, the Nintendo Switch was a hybrid console, the ‘Switch’ itself is a large tablet screen with controllers which can be attached to the sides or used separately allowing for ‘portability’. The console also comes with a dock that you plug into your TV, slot the Switch into its dock to see whatever game you were playing on the tablet appear up-resed on the TV. To many people it appeared to be the true culmination of what the Wii U began with its somewhat limited off TV play feature. So first impressions were good, the general concept was intriguing and Nintendo was doing its best to make its marketing as clear as possible (more on that later though). Furthermore as people from outside Nintendo got their hands on one for the first time, many people’s concerns were laid to rest, the screen was crisp and vibrant despite 720p resolution and crucially the transition from dock to tablet and vice versa was near enough seamless.
But for the sake of some sense of balance I will now touch on a few on the ‘missteps’ I feel Nintendo made with the Switch. First and foremost the launch line-up. Now do not get me wrong the games announced for this first year are extensive and varied. However if you buy a Switch on day 1 you only have around 5 games to choose from, with the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild likely being most people’s choice. Whilst I am no businessman it would seem to make a lot more sense to wait and release the Switch during the Christmas period, with better sales and a broader selection of games. Speaking of games (again) the decision to not bundle the game 1-2 Switch with the console baffled many, myself included as it is a mini-game collection basically playing the Wii Sports role for the Switch. Furthermore the pricing structure for the games seems questionable in places, I am looking at you ARMS. Next we have something of the elephant in the room, online service. As many will know Nintendo has always been a little behind in terms of online infrastructure compared to Sony and Microsoft. Though when Nintendo announced an online subscription service similar to PlayStation Network and Xbox Live people wondered if they had turned a corner. But as with many things Nintendo, the idea was there, but they were let down by the execution. For example it has been announced that the Switch will allow voice chat and the ability to have group chats, friends lists etc, kind of expected nowadays but we will take it. Oh but wait this is done via a mobile app and not by the Switch itself… Yet more bafflingly if rumours are to be believed while Nintendo will offer a free NES/SNES game to subscribers each month like PS Plus or Games With Gold, you only get to play the game for a month then it is removed. So close yet so far eh Nintendo? Lastly I want to touch on the aspect that caused perhaps the most controversy, the price. The Switch was announced at £280/$300, this is without a game included. As many were quick to point out you can buy a PS4 bundled with games for less than this, so why buy a less powerful alternative? On this point, I would direct you all to read an article by Chris Scullion about how Nintendo should be marketing the Switch as a handheld not a home console. https://tiredoldhack.com/2017/01/19/lets-not-piss-around-the-switch-is-a-handheld/(warning strong language). As for my views I will not dispute it is a lot of money, especially when you factor in the cost of the additional hardware. But if the price really bothers you that much, firstly no one is forcing you to buy one and secondly just wait. If you aren’t desperate for one at launch, wait and it will likely go down in price and begin to be bundled with a game, thus limiting the financial impact slightly.
Overall, once the dust had settled, my feelings on the Switch could be summed up as: “That’s a really interesting concept, taking your games anywhere, I might not buy one straight away but it’s a consideration for the future” Following this thought however, that little rational voice in my head made two very important points:
- You don’t do much long distancing traveling, you are never far from your PS4, what’s the point of a more portable console?
- YOU OWN A 3DS THAT IS SITTING IN A DRAWER WHICH YOU NEVER USE!
This realisation coupled with the fact that I had hit a bit of a wall in my current console games, caused me to brush off my 3DS for the first time in a while. The only real use it had over the past year or so was acting as a controller to allow me to play Super Smash Bros for Wii U. But now it was time to use it as a console in anger once again. I attempted to carry on playing Ocarina of Time 3D, then remembered why I stopped playing. (Look the game might be utterly amazing, but I just can’t get into it, the gyro controls especially) I’ve had slightly better luck at replaying A Link Between Worlds, though it’s taken some adjustment to get back into a Zelda and handheld mind-set, but I’m enjoying that a great deal. More interestingly however is that I have recently purchased Terraria for the 3DS. Now I owned this game on PS3 and enjoyed it immensely, it was the perfect time sink, great for listening to podcasts and such. I am hopeful that provided the controls work effectively the 3DS could be the perfect platform to play Terraria. Long story short, if I do end up going through some sort of 3DS resurgence I would not be surprised if the next Nintendo console I got was not a Switch but actually a New 3DS, but time will tell.
Now on to the last aspect of this article: ‘me’. Firstly an apology for not having written anything for this site in over 7 months. It was my intent to write more regularly, however I got caught in a situation whereby when I had more time to write I was lacking inspiration, whereas now I have a few ideas for articles but struggle to find the free time to write them. In short, life gets in the way. My podcast Gamers Without Borders has continued though, although in more recent times has had to move away from weekly episodes once again owing to my schedule, but I intend to continue with both that and this site, it will just occur on a more ‘as and when’ basis.
I do hope you’ve enjoyed this piece and I hope to be back soon!