Nintendo’s recent news about their new console, the Switch, has been met with a large variety of positive and negative reactions. Nintendo recently showcased the key features and intended usage of its new console in a first look video released online earlier this month, and shared other information like developer/publisher support — to a somewhat mixed reaction from the gaming community. Some like it, some don’t, and some don’t know what to think. Nintendo also has chosen to withhold a lot of information, or at least they have left a lot of blanks for fans to fill about their new console. Here at Volcano Bakemeat, we’ve got our own reactions and thoughts about the Switch, and decided to share them with you in this article.
So please check out our thoughts below!
I’m fairly agnostic when it comes to my game company loyalties, but deep down I can’t deny that I’ve always been a Nintendo fan. My first real console was a SNES, and I have a lot of great memories with the games I played on it. That’s why it’s been especially painful for me to watch Nintendo suffer over the past 5+ years, falling behind in the videogames industry thanks to Playstation, Xbox, and especially mobile devices. I’ve always hoped they would bounce back after they announced their first major profit loss in 2012, but they instead proceeded to lag behind or shoot themselves in the foot with trying to go after the “casual gamers,” having limited developer/publisher support, and using low performance technology.
However, the Switch gives me hope that Nintendo may finally be able to turn things around for the company. Nintendo has always been known for being innovative with its games and console devices, and they’ve always been known for creating fun and memorable game experiences above all else. Until recently, they’ve been caught in this loop of trying to match their competitors (Playstation, Xbox, and mobile devices) and re-capture some of that market share, but in doing so they became a market follower rather than a market leader with their products — and this is contrary to their nature as a company and a brand.
The Switch, in my opinion, highlights Nintendo’s return to making innovative products that create new experiences, and shifting their focus back on how people use their products instead of focusing on what the product can do. In the Switch trailer, we see people (note: not kids; young adults) playing AAA games on the Switch at home, out with their friends, in the car, etc. It emphasized the simplicity and intuitive nature of using the console, while also subtly showcasing a versatile game library — a major pain point for gamers with Nintendo’s past consoles. By building the console around these use cases, Nintendo has carved out a very nice competitive niche for itself: it doesn’t appear to be a major threat or replacement for high-end consoles or PCs, while offering more than a mobile device can do with the same degree of mobility and ease-of-use. In other words, the Switch might be able to win some market share back from mobile device users while also building its own unique audience. If the price point is comparable to most tablets or base level consoles ($200-300), I think Nintendo might be able to hit a home run with this.
Only time will tell if the Switch proves to be a success or a failure, and it’s undeniable that Nintendo will face serious challenges with the changing landscape of video games and how we play them, the shift towards high-end consoles, and the lack of confidence gamers have in Nintendo, given their recent history of lackluster products. But I personally feel optimistic about the Switch, because it accomplished something for me that no console maker has been able to do in a long time, and only Nintendo has been able to do before: it made me feel wonder. The Switch feels like a new way to play the same games I love, and instead of focusing on gimmicks it focuses on making it easy and fun to play these games anywhere I want with whoever I want, and that honestly makes me feel curious and excited to try it.
And, if you ask me, that’s really what Nintendo is all about, so I’m glad to see them embrace this with the Nintendo Switch.
Some of my earliest gaming memories involve Nintendo consoles disappointing me. While there is no doubt that the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube were great systems, it’s similarly difficult to deny that they were outshined by the PlayStation and its successor on both occasions. Nintendo’s very public split with Sony ushered in an age of little to no third party support from which they are still trying to recover, and all the Ocarina of Time’s and Metroid Prime’s in the world won’t change the fact that Sony (and later Microsoft) have simply boasted a larger catalog. They also can’t make up for both of the Gamecube’s abysmal Star Fox games.
The Wii took a different tactic by promising that it would revolutionize gaming with immersive and innovative motion controls, only to release a console that did well commercially, but in terms of substance was mostly waving your arms around and playing Wii Sports with your aunt. Skyward Sword and Prime 3 aside, even the first party titles were missing in action, with Mario Galaxy being largely by-the-numbers and Super Smash Bros. Brawl being a hot mess that is still a perfectly fitting punchline almost ten years later. Xenoblade Chronicles may have been the best JRPG of that generation, but there’s little argument that it wouldn’t have been ten times better on a console that actually had the power to back up its scope.
I was resistant to the Wii U after feeling betrayed by its predecessor, but it was able to entice me into a Black Friday purchase with promises of Cloud in Smash, a Star Fox that is actually a Star Fox game, and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Those titles ended up being forgettable, disappointing, or rage-inducingly terrible, in that order. Now the Wii U just takes up a lot of space in the entertainment center, and will be relegated to a Zelda box for when I want to play Windwaker with a fixed third act or (if it ends up delivering) Breath of the Wild comes out.
What I’m saying, and what this all has to do with the Switch, is that I’ve been burned four times in a row now, to increasing degrees each generation. If the trend continues, when I open the box for the Switch, a spring-loaded cartoon boxing glove will punch me in the balls. Nintendo, give me a new Metroid. Give me a console Fire Emblem of the same caliber as Awakening. Give me some actual quality third party games like you have promised repeatedly but failed to deliver. Then, maybe, I’ll consider taking a chance on the Switch. Until then, I will stick with your handheld division, which has yet to let me down.
You know, I want to give in to the hype. I really want to. The hype train is usually the craziest party around, because you and god only knows how many other people are all stuck on a train, and all you want to do is party, and the more you party the wilder the party gets… and the harder you want to party. But I’m not sure where this particular party train is headed, and only time will tell if the train stops in Miami or if we end up running out of steam in the video game industry equivalent of Detroit.
That trailer promised me social functions, durability, and a battery life to match a space shuttle (ok, maybe it didn’t explicitly promise these things, but it certainly built hype around them). Batteries are still the most frustrating part of portable electronics, durable devices are still not exactly easy to find, and social networking functions are usually fads at best. Twitter is having trouble, for example, and I don’t think I need to mention Myspace. In my opinion, any kind of social function on an electronic device is a risky move.
And yet, despite all this, I still find myself excited. The idea of being able to take the most recent Elder Scrolls game with me to whatever family function I want is too enticing for me NOT to be excited. Fresh games from all of Nintendo’s dusty IPs and a chance at a mainstream console/tablet hybrid that offers more family friendly non-casual games than its competitors? It sounds like a dream come true. So while I might not be boarding the hype train just yet, I’m eyeing ticket prices.
Also, I’m terrified of the price tag.
Nintendo has always been the console that’s squarely in parents’ corners. Their “Wii would like to play” marketing campaign pushed the idea of families playing together and the Switch ad made it obvious they wanted this trend to continue.
The Switch’s best selling point, from a family angle, is probably that parents don’t have to worry about buying two different systems for at home or on the go playing; they’re buying both at once. In an era where the kids and casual market share is mostly going to apps, creating an innovative mix between portability and a bigger screen, with co-op bundled into the same tiny package is a genius way to differentiate yourself.
There is, however, one aspect of the console I haven’t seen anyone talk about much: How tiny those side controllers are.
In the Switch’s promo video, we saw that the modular system has skinny side controllers, the left and right “joy-cons” which can be used as independent controllers or slid onto a larger controller. Cool. Tiny controllers for tiny hands (or cramped large hands), normal sized controllers for big hands. Once again, cool.
But, as someone who’s spent any amount of time with small children whatsoever, mark my words: Those controllers will get lost. Or broken. Or chewed on. Same with the tiny cartridge games that look like they’re about the size of DS games.
I foresee waves of consoles, played awkwardly and then abandoned completely because its family can’t find the left Joy-Con. The parents don’t want to buy a whole set of new Joy-Cons when they only want a right one, and gosh darn it, the kid can still play their game perfectly fine with the left one.
Then, it’ll be found years later behind a couch cushion and the family will look at it and think “Oh, right. That went to the Nintendo thing.”
I hope I’m wrong. I hope Nintendo’s neat-o modular tricks, family friendly gaming, and push for 3rd party support helps bring the system back to its glory days. That being said, if you can’t find your left Joy-Con, always check between the couch cushions.
I’m going to be the beaming light of positivity for the Nintendo Switch. I saw that trailer and nearly cried with excitement. There are definitely downsides to consider with the Switch – how often will we lose the controllers? Can the battery life be anything like they’re suggesting? And really, how great has Nintendo been to us over the years? All fair. All so, so not the point.
Just take a moment and consider – the Switch is offering the opportunity to make any game a mobile one. And yes, I’m aware nothing is officially confirmed or denied – but that was definitely Skyrim and Breath of the Wild being played everywhere other than the couch. That doesn’t mean Nintendo is trying to compete with Sony and Microsoft – they’re competing with tablets and smartphones.
Your typical gamer isn’t going to be leaping to the next Nintendo system without good reason, and I legitimately think there’s good reason here. Sure, when you’re home, you’re probably going to want to play the majority of your games on your sweet PC rig. But then, you’ve got this really enjoyable play-through of Fallout going on this console you picked up on the side – and guess what? You can take that on your trip to visit your parents back in Chicago. Certainly beats playing Candy Crush for six hours of travel time.
I do have my concerns about the Switch, but the simple premise that you can take any console game anywhere – it’s pretty awesome.