Nintendo Switch Launch Lineup Is Predictable And Woefully Lacking
When the Nintendo Switch was first unveiled, everyone anxiously feasted their eyes on the debut trailer.
Perhaps surprisingly, it showed a variety of interesting games and most importantly (for those who notice such things), there weren’t any children. Well, there were younger individuals – teenagers, for example – but there weren’t any kids. These two compelling facts begged the question: Has Nintendo finally decided to shift their laser-focus on the younger demographic and produce a system that might actually appeal to a wider audience…? And will there be intriguing variety out of the gate?
The answer to both questions, evidently, is no.
One look at the launch lineup tells the veteran gamer everything s/he needs to know regarding Nintendo’s marketing direction. I’m still not sure why Nintendo apparently has zero interest in producing any new mascots after 35 years; there’s nothing wrong with iconic faces, of course, but ZERO new characters in three and a half decades? Why? Every new Nintendo console has a Mario, Zelda, and Metroid in some form, which is fine, but continuing to spin out the same tired mascots is just lazy in my estimation. And of course, the mainstays were always aimed at a younger audience because back in the day, they were all young. Gaming was for kids, people. Let’s not forget that.
Now, if we examine the recently revealed launch lineup for the Switch, we notice a couple things. Firstly, it’s clear that the focus on family-friendly entertainment hasn’t shifted at all and in fact, there’s little that will appeal to older gamers like myself. Secondly, it’s woefully anemic. At this point, they’re naming a grand total of four games for launch day, which is entirely unacceptable, especially considering the number of games on store shelves when a new PlayStation or Xbox launches. Hell, the Vita even had 20. But 4? That’s not going to cut it and is exceedingly disappointingly, regardless of the titles themselves.
Speaking of those titles, however, we actually see there’s only one truly compelling game. Just Dance 2017 is ridiculous; it may appeal to a particular demographic and it’s nice to see gamers getting off their asses and moving around but I mean…come on. Then there’s the silly-looking party game called 1-2 Switch and frankly, I couldn’t possibly care less. Skylanders Imaginators is exclusively aimed at kids, as that’s the only audience dumb enough to fall for the admittedly ingenious marketing tactic where you sell new characters in physical form (toys coming to life on the screen!). And hey, I was dumb as a kid; we all were. Gotta grow up so we can stop being dumb.
At any rate, that only leaves The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which I suppose is worth a Switch purchase all by itself. The PlayStation 3 had a lot more launch titles than the Switch but the only really great one was Resistance: Fall of Man, right? And that sucker cost $600 out of the gate, double that of the reasonably priced Switch. But there was far greater variety in the PS3 launch and indeed, in any launch in recent memory. The PS4 launch was excellent and Xbox One was decent. Sadly, launch lineups for Nintendo consoles continue to suck, and you can’t release a new system with four measly titles, especially when only one has any shot at being fantastic.
Then there are games we’ve already had for a while, like I Am Setsuna and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and the fact that the other AAA title, Super Mario Odyssey, won’t even be on store shelves until the holiday season. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is interesting but there’s no knowing when it’ll arrive and the obligatory stuff, like NBA 2K18 and yet another Mario Kart… ‘yawn’ I sort of like the throwback titles like Super Bomberman R and Has Been Heroes but seriously, these appear to be little more than mildly amusing digital downloadables that are a far cry from the blockbuster AAAs that we all want to see with new systems.
And yes, it’s all very, very “kiddie.” It’s not a bad word, per se; it just means Nintendo has a particular demographic with this console, and it obviously doesn’t include aging gamers like me. Yes, yes, I know everyone is going to throw the “fun” argument at me, that Nintendo is about fun (which is insulting and stupid, as it implies that games designed for older individuals somehow aren’t fun, or are less fun), but let’s face up to facts: “Fun” is obviously 100 percent subjective. What you really want to use is a word like “innocent” or “inoffensive” or “charming.” That makes sense and I agree with it, but that doesn’t change the focus of this system and these games.
I keep hoping Nintendo will produce an exclusive title that really does cater to the widest possible demographic but so far, I’m not seeing it. Maybe the new Zelda qualifies but again, that’s only one title. By and large, the Switch is clearly for a younger group of gamers and worse, the launch lineup – and the games in the “launch window” – are just not cutting it. That’s extremely disappointing, Nintendo. Once again, you’ve failed to realize that no matter how many gimmicks a system has, even if they’re wildly innovative, it’s all pointless without the software. You didn’t figure that out with the Wii or Wii U (a few gems among mountains of shovelware) and apparently, you still haven’t figured it out.
Let me know when you do. Maybe then I’ll buy one of your products for the first time since 1990.
P.S. Is anyone else worried that single-player experiences will also be seriously lacking on this machine…?