Finally, after months of teasing, the Nintendo Switch has been officially revealed. Nintendo held a conference on Thursday, January 12th, and had an event showcasing the games and console the following day. My initial response to the console was abrupt, and a lot of the following information seemed to confirmed that. However, after digesting all of the information that we have over the weekend, here are my final thoughts on the Switch before the console is released. This will be based on information from the conference, the Treehouse stream, and various press releases, and news stories published around the same time. I won’t be talking about every detail about the console in depth, as this is primarily about my opinion, but I will give details and sources for the info where I feel applicable. I’ll break down my thoughts into four categories: the hardware, the service, the games, and the marketing. Without further ado, let’s get into this.
The console itself isn’t very well known. According to Gamespot, we know that the hardware is based on the Nvidia Tegra, it can output 1080p while docked and in television mode, its tablet screen is a 6.2” multi-touch 720p display, it contains 32GB of internal storage, and has up to six hours of battery life. We don’t have any actual specs as Nintendo, in its infinite wisdom, is being vague about the consoles guts even though the launch of the Switch is less than two months away. However, looking at the games and how they look and perform, it doesn’t look like the Switch is very powerful. I feel safe in assuming that the Switch will be weaker than the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. However, I still feel that the hardware is powerful enough to handle most games with little compromise.
The controllers, or Joy-Cons, have 20 hours of battery life, feature motion controls similar to the Wii remote, HD rumble (more on that in a minute), and an IR camera. They do not have a directional pad, but do have a button layout that could be used as a dpad. I’ve also heard that the triggers are pressure sensitive and not analog but I can’t collaborate that information so take that with a grain of salt. Most hands-on impressions say that they’re comfortable, but most of the pictures I’ve seen make the Joy-Con look uncomfortably small. The special SL and SR bumpers look way too small on the inside portion of the controller, but there is luckily a wrist strap that locks into that part of the controller that thankfully makes the bumpers bigger.
I guess I won’t know until I actually get my hands on them, but right now, the Joy-Cons look uncomfortable and cheap despite them being genuinely interesting and sort of what I wanted the Wii remote to be. I should also point out that the lack of a proper dpad and the potential of non-analog triggers is a problem for games like Ultra Street Fighter II and Fast RMX, as well as future fighting and racing games that come to the console. Those games are going to be unplayable on the standard controller that comes with the system and that’s not good. Finally, the HD rumble, which is just haptic feedback rumble, is being reported as barely noticeable. I’m not sure what the benefit of having this is, but I’m sure it’s mostly just going to contribute to the cost, which I’ll get to soon. There is also a plastic shell that can transform the Joy-Cons into a standard-like controller called the Joy-Con Grip. While it’ll be better than using the Joy-Cons seperately, it’s still too awkward looking and small to compare to a standard controller. However, I do appreciate the option.
The Pro controller on the other hand looks to be a standard controller and its form factor looks similar to a Xbox One controller. However, while it does have a standard dpad, I don’t know whether or not it has analog triggers. Nintendo seems to be very negative on analog triggers, which is surprising considering the GameCube controller had some of the better triggers in recent memory. Overall, I think the Pro controller is going to be a mandatory purchase for anyone who wants to seriously play games on the Switch for a long period of time.
Now the final point for the hardware is the prices. The Switch will be $299.99 and that includes the console, the dock, the left and right Joy-Cons, the Joy-Con Grip, two wristbands, a HDMI cable, and an AC-adapter. The pro controller will be sold separately for $69.99. Joy-Cons can be bought individually for $49.99, or in pairs for $79.99. The Joy-Con Grip will be sold for $29.99 and unlike the Grip being sold with the console, can charge the Joy-Cons, and the dock can be bought separately for $89.99.
First the controllers and accessories. They are all super overpriced. $70-$80 for a controller is ridiculous, especially when the consumer can buy a game for the console for cheaper. Nintendo should have just taken the loss, especially when they are most likely selling everything else at a profit, and sold them for $30-$50 instead. Now for the console. $299.99 is a fair price but it’s not great. I looked up tablets that have some of the capabilities of the Switch (since I can’t compare directly since we don’t know the specs) and I found a tablet that cost about $50 less and has a bigger screen, better battery life, and identical internal storage. Now, while the tablet doesn’t come with a controller, it is possible to sync one with it so it still has the capability. So I think the price is good, but it’s nothing incredible. The tech in this console isn’t anything impressive or remarkable. It’s merely comparable so it’s not a good price, it’s not a bad price, it’s simple fine. That’s if you look at it as a handheld device. As a home console, it’s noticeably less of a good deal. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One right now are the same price as this, and while they’re not portable, they are more powerful, and have less concessions in regards to the controllers (dpad, triggers, form factor, etc). Again, on it’s own, it’s not a bad price, but the competition is just offering more for the same amount.
This one is going to be a lot shorter since there’s really only one way you can go. Nintendo is going to charge for their internet services for the first time. The price isn’t known yet but will be free at launch until Fall 2017, and will include access to online multiplayer, access to a smartphone app for voice chat and online lobbies, special offers and discounts on digital games and content, and one free NES or SNES game a month. To start off, I hope Nintendo will use this extra money to make their online service more robust and more reliable. Nintendo doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to online play. The Wii’s service was terrible and the Wii U’s service was adequate but unremarkable.
However, it’s also because of that I think they won’t be able to do that. The other parts of the service seem to confirm this. A separate app to communicate online? On my phone no less? I can just use another app for that. Why would I use your shitty proprietary app? It makes no sense. Also, the free game a month thing is temporary. After the month is over, you lose the game. They’re basically renting you a game a month for free, that Nintendo chooses. With Sony giving, not renting, you six games a month and Microsoft four games a month, that is just dumb, tone deaf, and is more proof that Nintendo lives in a bubble where they still think their 20-30 year old games are so valuable, they couldn’t possibly give them away. The same games they charge $5-$10 on their Virtual Console service. How greedy can you be, Nintendo!? (By the way, no word yet on what they’re going to do with Virtual Console games.)
This is where things get a bit more interesting but also troubling. Several games were shown and announced, but I’ll focus on the games that have gameplay shown and playable with one exception that I’ll mention later. Stuff like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, No More Heroes 3, and Fire Emblem Warriors seem cool, but I need to see actual gameplay before I can get excited about it or comment on it. I can’t really go by a title name. Anyways, I’ll address first the system seller (or is it?) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It looks like Nintendo has learned from the mistake that was Skyward Sword, and this looks like a true 3D Zelda game ala Link to the Past except expanded upon (you know, like a sequel is supposed to do). Like Twilight Princess, this is the title you need to buy if you get a Switch at launch. However, if you already have a Wii U, Breath of the Wild is also coming to that console the same day. Therefore, you don’t need a Switch to play its best game at launch. It’s true that a lot of people don’t own a Wii U, since it wasn’t successful. However, it’ll also be way cheaper and easier to buy a Wii U and a copy of Breath of the Wild on March 3rd than to do the same thing but with the Switch.
You might think you would just get the console for some of the other games that are coming out at launch. However, your choices are going to be sparse as there’s only five games confirmed at launch. The aforementioned Breath of the Wild, Skylanders Imaginators, Just Dance 2017, Super Bomberman R, and 1/2 Switch. Skylanders Imaginators and Just Dance 2017 are already available on other platforms (in the case of Just Dance, all the platforms) so that’s not a reason to get the Switch. That leaves Super Bomberman R and 1/2 Switch. Super Bomberman R looks alright, but the graphical style looks ugly to me and I’ve never been a big Bomberman fan so that’s not a selling point to me. However, 1/2 Switch looks SO TERRIBLE! That is not a video game. There is no actual gameplay on the screen. The electronic interaction with that game begins and ends with tutorials on how to play the mini-games and keeping score. You could get the same effect from a Bop-It with a IR sensor.
Moving on to games in development, I thought Arms looked really silly but after looking at some gameplay, it looks fun. It’s being shown off as a motion controlled game but they did say that you can use a normal controller, which I appreciate. However, the game is mostly just punches and throws, with little variation to either. So I’m worried that it’ll be too shallow to give a lasting gameplay experience. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looks like the definitive way to play that game. The inclusion of all the DLC, a few new characters, and a legitimate Battle mode are all great additions, but there’s not enough added to warrant buying the system and the game if you already have a Wii U and a copy of Mario Kart 8. Splatoon 2 looks like just more Splatoon, which isn’t a bad thing, but like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, there’s not enough different to make it a system seller. SnipperClips looks like too small of an experience to buy the console for, but it does look like a sleeper hit. It seems like a really interesting puzzle game. Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is basically just Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix but with two extra characters (Evil Ryu and Violent Ken) and some slight tweaks and a better retro graphics mode. Once again, sounds cool and it’s probably the definitive edition of this game but there’s not enough to justify buying the Switch.
Don’t care about FIFA 17, especially since there are rumors that it’s going to be the last gen version. Don’t care about NBA 2k17, although it’s good that Nintendo got that game on their system since it sell really well. Being able to play Skyrim on the go is cool, but the rumor is that it’s not the Special Edition that was released this past holiday season, but the original release from 2011. Sonic Mania is going to be released on other platforms but it’s good that it is coming to Switch. I Am Setsuna, Steep, and Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition were already released elsewhere. Fast RMX looks likes more of the same from that franchise. Rogue-likes aren’t really my thing so Has-Been Heroes doesn’t interest me. You should be seeing a pattern by now. Most of the game coming out may be okay or pretty good. However, nothing is spectacular, nothing is noteworthy.
However, the one game that is noteworthy and exclusive to the Switch is Super Mario Odyssey. This is the only game that wasn’t playable because it’s not set to be released until this Holiday season. A lot of people are comparing this to Sonic Adventure and Sonic 06. My first thought was the canceled CD-I Mario game Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds because that was also going to be set in more realistic areas. Despite it looking strange to see Mario interact with one world with semi-realistic graphics and human models, the gameplay looks great. It seems like you’re going to have a lot of control over Mario similar to Super Mario 64, except even more so. I’m actually really excited for that game.
Overall, the game selection is my biggest problem with the console. Few of them look bad to be fair (1/2 Switch is easily the worse title in the lineup) but none of them are compelling reasons to buy the system. I suppose only having one game to start off with is okay (Breath of the Wild) but this is the majority of the games that are going to be released for the next few months. It’s not a great lineup. I know Nintendo says it has 80 games in development for the Switch and a bunch of 3rd party developers are coming on, but the one game Electronic Arts showed was a FIFA game. That’s not very good. I mentioned before that I think the Switch can handle games with little compromise, but I don’t think it’s powerful enough for 3rd parties. Why would they take the risk on another Nintendo console and downgrade their titles to put it on the Switch? It didn’t work on the Wii, and people didn’t buy their stuff on the Wii U. I think the Nintendo Switch is going to be lacking 3rd party support again, which means you can’t play Call of Duty or Star Wars Battlefront 2 or Final Fantasy XV on the Switch and that’s going to regulate the console to a secondary console. And you don’t win a high percentage of the market as a secondary console.
Here it is. The one reason I think the Switch might have a chance. The biggest issue the Wii U had was the name. Most people not in the know about video games didn’t know the Wii U was a different console. Hell, even video game journalists didn’t know the Wii U was a new console when it was revealed. However, Nintendo have been aggressive this time around, releasing a promotional video, and even showcasing the console on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. More importantly, the console has no Wii branding whatsoever. None of the previous controllers even seem to be compatible with the Switch. This is a clean break from the Wii. This is Nintendo realizing that the Wii isn’t their branding the way PlayStation and Xbox is Sony’s and Microsoft’s. The company’s name itself is its branding, which make sense since Nintendo doesn’t really do anything else other than gaming anymore, again unlike Sony and Microsoft. I think they’re going to focus on selling the tech, which is what worked for the Wii, but I hope they don’t do something typical for the company to mess it up.
For example, despite the teaser trailer being effective, the actual reveal press conference was awful. Most of my negative initial feelings for the Switch were due to that conference, which was more focused on announcing games than it was actually showcasing them as well as boring people by demonstrating their “cool” technology that we’ve seen in other devices before. The message of the teaser trailer was “look how convenient and simple this is” and the message of the press conference was “Look at us try to impress you with our bullshit gimmicks that we’ve done before.”
Furthermore, as of this writing, the Switch pre-orders are already sold out. Nintendo has had issues with keeping up with demand, often times on purpose in order to artificially boost positive press on their product. Nintendo is going to do this again because it worked for the Wii, despite the fact that it didn’t for the NES Classic and it pissed people off when they did it for the Amiibos, and they confirmed it by announcing that they’ll ship 2 million units worldwide for the month of March. Overall, I do still think that Nintendo is actually doing a good job marketing the Switch since the have a different name and they’re making sure people know that, that this is a brand new console. However, they’re still not going to operate with the consumer’s best interest in mind, which is frustrating and one of the reasons I really dislike Nintendo.
My final prediction is that the Switch might have strong initial sales but as soon as word of mouth spreads that it doesn’t have any compelling games, much like the Nintendo 3DS, sales are going to drop. It’ll be up to Nintendo then to do something drastic to save the console from failure. The severe lack of compelling software leads me to believe that the Switch simply isn’t ready. I think the only reason the system is coming out now is because Breath of the Wild is ready. They could release the Wii U version now and release the Switch version later, but I don’t think they want to do that. As a result, this is what we get: a poor launch lineup due to the system seller being ready before everyone else is.
Some people argue that most consoles don’t have strong titles at lineup so it won’t matter. I don’t believe that’s always the case, as the PS4 and X1 had pretty good launches. Even if you do believe that’s true, it’s not like that’s still not a problem. You shouldn’t expect a console to not have good games at launch. Otherwise, why are you buying it then? Anyways, the biggest problem the Switch has is that the PS4, X1, and PC gaming exists. The Switch doesn’t have anything compelling enough (except for maybe Zelda and Mario) to make people choose the Switch over those platforms. Will it be successful? Maybe. Will it be the next Wii? No. The Switch will be third place behind the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Maybe next time, Nintendo will do something more conventional or will at least make a console that allows more conventional games to be played on it. Maybe next time, Nintendo will stop being Nintendo and switch it up.
What are your thoughts on the Switch? I’m sure you have your own opinion so let me know in the comment section. Just know that this is my own informed opinion that I am entitled to just like you are with yours. Maybe I thought about something you hadn’t and maybe you’ve thought about something I didn’t. Just be civil and let’s get a conversation going. Peace and Love, gamers and players! Colorwind out.