My personal opinion seems to be the vastly unpopular one, but I don’t understand why people are so excited for the Nintendo Switch.
Last week, Nintendo doled out plenty of details about its upcoming Switch console, which is slated to launch March 3. You can read all about it in one of our recent articles. If you don’t know much about it, you should probably read up before diving into this piece.
Let me preface this by saying that I owe a lot to Nintendo. I grew up with the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. Pokemon was my first love in gaming. But at this point, I’m not a fanboy. The Wii was fun, and the Wii U had squandered potential. But I’m not exactly willing to go out on another limb here with the Nintendo Switch. The last time I trusted Nintendo with a neat, gimmicky console, it was the Wii U that I’m currently in the process of selling because I haven’t played it in six months and I only own two games for it.
And after seeing the details about the Nintendo Switch, I’m a little irritated. Nintendo wants me to trust it yet again, but given its recent track record, I just can’t.
Let’s talk about online play. Ever since the advent of online play, Nintendo consoles and handhelds have featured spotty capabilities at best. Just try splaying Super Smash Bros. online on any of Nintendo’s previous consoles. It doesn’t work very well. Now Nintendo wants to charge money for its online services. I don’t mine playing for PlayStation Network. If I played my Xbox One more often, I wouldn’t mind paying for Xbox Live. But Nintendo’s online features have never really worked. Why should I start paying for something that didn’t work to begin with when it was free?
Not to mention, the free game of the month that comes with Nintendo’s new service will only be free for the month’s duration, unlike with PlayStation Plus where the game is the user’s until he or she stops subscribing, or with Xbox Live where the game is the user’s forever. It’s like paying for a month-long rental when other services offer better rates. Again: why would I want to pay for this, Nintendo?
Then, the console itself is $300, which isn’t bad…but it isn’t great either. I can buy an Xbox One or PS4 for that kind of money, and they have established libraries and player bases. What does the Switch offer? As of yet, not much.
It only boasts five launch titles so far. Five. I’m no historian, but that’s got to be the lowest number of launch titles in recent memory. And of those five, two are already-released ports from other platforms (Skylanders: Imaginators and Just Dance 2017, which released in October 2016), and one is a collection of mini-games that arguably should have been a free Wii Sports-esque pack-in (1-2 Switch). That leaves Super Bomberman R and the much-delayed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as the only two launch titles that could be substantive enough to move units. And of those two, Zelda is also launching on the Wii U, making Super Bomberman R the only Wii U exclusive. Wow. That’s a bit pathetic.
The console’s accessories are expensive. A pair of Joy-Con controllers is $80. The grip to connect them like a “normal” controller is another $15. A $95 controller is the most expensive I’ve ever seen and is a bit ungodly compared to the price of PS4 and Xbox One controllers. Yeah, the Joy-Cons can be used in halves (so one pair is kinda two separate controllers that can sometimes be used as halves), and they do have more capabilities than other gaming controllers. But until I see them in action and see a library of games that utilizes them well, I just can’t justify spending so much money on the console and a second Joy-Con pair at launch.
The console itself will barely last a handful of hours on a charge when it’s undocked, making the “you can take it anywhere” function a little underwhelming. Sure, you can take it anywhere, but it’ll be nothing more than an uncharged brick after just three hours of Zelda. The idea is cool, but such a short battery life limits its usefulness. Again I must ask: what’s the point? It’s like Nintendo is trying to sell a prototype rather than a finished product.
Even more confusingly, the console itself is hard to understand. How exactly do the Joy-Cons work? How often will I be able to split the controller in half to share with a friend? Will I need to buy a second pair to use with a friend for some game? Is it a proper successor to the Wii U that’ll last six years or so, or will Nintendo be replacing it again in three? The console has a touchscreen. Does that mean some games can’t be played docked and displayed TV since the touchscreen will need to be in the hands of the player? Will games with touch capabilities exclude couch co-op? It’s just hard to understand the console without first seeing it in action or at least getting a better explanation from Nintendo.
The way I see it, Nintendo is trying to sell me a console with absolutely overpriced controllers, a tiny launch library, online play with an unreliable track record, limited on-the-go capabilities, and a confusing set of untested, new, possibly gimmicky features.
And the company expects me to trust it and buy the Switch just because its pedigree says the console might be good…so long one excludes exclude the Wii’s lack of the third-party support and the Wii U’s entire lifespan. So basically, if I turn a blind eye to the past decade of Nintendo console gaming, Nintendo says I could see a reason to trust the brand and believe the Switch won’t eat my money the way its last console did?
Sure, Nintendo. Just keep smoking whatever’s in that pipe of yours.
If the Switch comes out of the gate swinging and can prove it’s here to stay with a growing library of games that’s worth my time and money, I’ll be more than happy to jump on the bandwagon and snatch one up this upcoming holiday season. But until then, I have to sit on the sidelines and see if the company will come through.
Fool me once, shame on you and the Wii U. Fool me twice, shame on me. And I’m not about to be fooled twice. I just don’t see why the Nintendo Switch has people so excited.