Review: Bright future for Nintendo Switch game console
March 10, 2017
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Just the name itself commands powerful emotions for many. Whether it’s a younger game enthusiast who has come to respect the history of the company, or somebody who’s experienced each console release dating back to 1983 with the NES, there lies a mutual understanding of Nintendo’s knack for creating unique and amusing experiences. With the previous console generation, however, Nintendo’s Wii U system was a commercial disappointment. While still managing to appease some enthusiasts, only 13.56 million total units have been moved to date, an output that was more lackluster than the 2001 Gamecube’s 22 million.
With their eyes on redemption, Nintendo has just recently unveiled the Switch, hoping once more that their experimental nature in the realm of consoles pays off.
The Switch is an ambitious concept that attempts to intertwine the experiences of a handheld and a traditional home console. The system itself is essentially a traditional tablet that sports a 720p 6.2 inch screen, that comes with two “joy-con” controllers as well as a dock. Nintendo has emphasized the system is capable of three “modes.” In handheld mode, the two joy-con controllers attach to the sides of the screen to create a streamlined experience from anywhere. In tabletop mode, the screen rests on a kickstand for single or multi-player experiences. Lastly, the screen may be placed in the dock which outputs to the television, creating a more traditional home console feel.
To start, Nintendo has nailed their primary focus of being a home-and-on-the-go console. There’s something stunning about abandoning a game on the big screen and being able to pick up where you left off wherever you are. Aside from the impressive hardware capabilities, the system also launched “Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” the latest installment in a beloved Nintendo franchise. However, it’s more than just a refreshing update to the series. “Breath of the Wild” is a pronounced “system seller,” tempting anybody skeptical of the Switch’s $299.99 price tag. Frankly, however, a current investment in the system is an investment in the future, as the Switch’s potential has yet to be fully explored.
To be frank, the Switch’s complete software lineup at launch is rather anemic. Aside from the aesthetically-stunning Zelda, the pool of games is shallow, and even what is presented leaves a lot to be desired. “1-2 Switch” serves as essentially a demo for the joy-con controller’s’ capabilities, a rather underwhelming demo at that. It’s hard not to feel as though “1-2 Switch” is a poor attempt at re-creating a Wii Sports kind of experience that often comes across as gimmicky, and far from memorable. A few bright spots exist beyond “Breath of the Wild,” however, including the charming puzzler “Snipper Clips,” and fan favorite indies such as “Binding of Isaac” and “Shovel Knight.”
Fortunately, the future of the Switch in the realm of software looks promising. “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” is slated for April 28, and fellow Nintendo IP “Splatoon 2” is expected sometime this year. Fans can only hope that Nintendo finally garners strong third-party support for the system, and that hope could be fulfilled with future releases such as “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” and “NBA 2K18.” Lack of said third party support was a factor in the Wii U’s dismal sales numbers, and it appears Nintendo has acknowledged and plans to address that reality moving forward.
If $299.99 is affordable for you and you’re a dedicated Nintendo fan, it’s likely the Switch is already in your possession. For everybody else, there’s no rush at all. Zelda is a phenomenal title, sure, but outside of that element the Switch can feel like a bit of an empty vessel. With Nintendo’s commitment to independent titles, potential buyers can have some confidence in the console’s longevity. For now, you’re just fine sticking with your Wii U and/or 3DS.