Why the Switch Might be the First Nintendo System I’ve Owned Since the SNES
I’ve been playing video games since the days of Pong. I worked like a dog doing chores to earn my NES when I was eight years old. I was firmly on the Super Nintendo side in the epic and now legendary SNES vs. Sega Genesis debate that often captivated entire playgrounds (though I did own the Genesis later as well). I will always credit Nintendo with getting me to love games – Atari was just a taste, and not enough to really hook me – and hence, the company will forever occupy a very special place in my heart.
But I haven’t owned a Nintendo system of any kind since the SNES. Weird, right?
Not really; let me explain: When the N64 came out, I was at the start of my role-playing obsession, so PC and then PlayStation were my obvious platforms of choice. On top of which, I loathed the N64 controller and had little interest in seeing Mario and Zelda in a 3D world. When the GameCube came out, I was firmly entrenched in the PlayStation universe after a glorious RPG run on PS1, and I’d already had and loved the PS2 for a year (and let’s not forget the kind of year PS2 had in 2001…want me to rattle off the list of amazing titles?). And again, I hated Nintendo’s controller design choice, and I’d also decided to try Xbox.
The Wii and Wii U were little more than jokes to me. I understood and respected Nintendo for what they did; after the GC, a lot of journalists and analysts thought Nintendo would throw in the hardware towel, as Sega did after the Dreamcast died. But Nintendo opted not to fight Sony and Microsoft on the exact same turf and produced a system that stood out in terms of how the player interacted with the game, and magically appealed to non-gamers, a feat I never thought any video game manufacturer would manage. They got kids, senior citizens, and people who hadn’t played a video game since the arcade days.
But as a core gamer, I really never bought into it. Motion sensing never clicked for me (didn’t like PlayStation Move or Kinect, either, if you’re wondering) and the endless amount of shovelware for the Wii was just comically bad. The Wii U? That really was a joke and perhaps the biggest mistake Nintendo has ever made. A high-definition version of a system that has been failing for years? Has anyone seen the sales charts for the Wii? It hit a hundred million in just a few years and after that, sales dropped off the face of the earth; you couldn’t give one away after that illustrious start.
And yes, I should add that as I grew up, I tended to want to play grown-up games. Yes, I’m well aware of all the so-called purists out there, scoffing and mocking and going, “Nintendo doesn’t make kiddie games; they make games for everyone.” Yeah, whatever. I get it. Their targeted demographic is indeed lower than that of Sony or Microsoft; that much is obvious from their first-party software and the general type of game one would find for their consoles. Yes, I’d rather play an Assassin’s Creed or an Uncharted or something like that. And yes, I liked to see the best of the best in terms of technical achievement, and that really wasn’t found on the freakin’ Wii.
But there’s another big reason I’ve avoided Nintendo, and I’ll get back to that in a minute. In the meantime, I can say the freshly revealed Nintendo Switch might actually be the first Ninty system I own since the mid-’90s. Why? Well, though I don’t really care about the portable aspect (I have a Vita but I never use it and I haven’t had a Nintendo handheld since the GameBoy Advance), I like having the option. I like being able to have a larger screen than normal, I like having the option of a controller in my hand while the screen is separate, and I like the idea of taking the whole thing with me (and it doesn’t look very big), being able to play something on the move, and when I get to where I’m going, switch back to playing on the TV.
The controller seems ultra-beefy and square but I saw the option of that more standard gamepad in the trailer, the one that looks a lot like the regular Xbox S controller. That’s great, though I do wonder how those small Joy Cons will work on their own if you want to play with someone else (and each player has one Joy Con). Also, I have to say that I’ve decided to pass on Xbox One this generation and as I’ve always been a multi-console owner, it seems a little weird just owning a PlayStation 4. And it’d be nice to have something that’s just so different from PS4 in terms of both hardware and software.
The software especially is a draw for me, provided it exists. This is the big caveat and brings me back to the main reason I haven’t dealt with Nintendo in a long while: They just don’t make enough great games for their home consoles. This started with the N64 as far as I’m concerned. Yeah, everyone knows certain names from each Nintendo generation but frankly, they had like one or two major first-party titles each year and that was about it. Plus, they just never bother trying to create any new mascots, which has always bugged the hell out of me. Months and even years would go by before I’d see something on a Nintendo console I’d actually want to play and in between, the aforementioned reams of shovelware.
That has to change for the Switch. I know Nintendo has released that list of 48 partners but none of that matters until I see the games. And I’m already a little worried as they’ve revealed only a very small handful of titles (one of which, Skyrim, is an existing game), and this thing is supposed to come out in March…? That doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies. So far, the only reason anyone can imagine to nab the Switch on launch day is the new Zelda and yeah, they have to do better than that. A lot better. When the launch rolls around, I want to see at least two or three games I want to play and more importantly, a solid handful of titles coming down the pike that I also want to play. No, not just another Mario or Metroid, one each in late 2017 and 2018 respectively. That doesn’t cut it.
But I really would like to see plenty of that patented Nintendo flair because it would act as a nice contrast to my PS4. One of the reasons I don’t have Xbox One is because in addition to the lack of exclusives I want, the gaming experience is virtually identical across those two platforms. Switch would offer something completely different and that includes the software perspective. As for price, $300 is my limit; I don’t think this machine is worth more than that. Lastly, as I said above, handheld functionality isn’t a huge deal for me but this larger screen is fantastic, and I like the entire unit’s flexibility. Just because I don’t plan to do it much doesn’t mean I don’t like the option.
In regards to the specs, which we don’t know much about yet, that doesn’t really bother me. I don’t expect this thing to compete with PS4 Pro or Xbox One S; I’d rather have lower specs, more great games, and a good price. I don’t need another powerful console and obviously, I’d just play any third-party multiplatform titles on PS4. I want Nintendo for the experiences I can’t get anywhere else and no, that doesn’t require a monster piece of hardware. That being said, it still has to be at least proficient if not especially impressive. I have to see a few more games that are a good ways along the development path but for the most part, the specs don’t concern me.
So, that’s it. If Nintendo can show me the games and I’m convinced there are enough of them out there to warrant a hardware purchase, it seems more than possible that the Nintendo Switch will occupy a place in my entertainment center. Back to the fold after over twenty years…I look forward to it. 😉