The Nintendo Switch arrives in a little over 6 weeks and I’m already wondering if it’s too early to pitch a tent outside my local Game Stop. I’ve spent the morning pouring over every article I could get my grubby little hands on, talking with customers and generally picking this thing apart. Every time there’s a new system released, it’s important that I look at its functionality in regards to 42 and how it will fit in with our overall goals, which are to provide customers a relaxed, inclusive gaming environment. On the surface, Nintendo Switch appears to do just that, but I wanted to take a closer look.
After engaging in some online discussions, I have to admit I’m disappointed with all the negative responses coming in for the Switch, especially because I couldn’t find very many negatives with the announcement. The critique I’m hearing the most often is that it’s overpriced. Guys. At launch Wii U basic was the same price but had half the features that this one does, the Deluxe version was $399 for more storage and a sensor bar. The Xbox One debuted at $499 and to this day Xbox One continues to be the most glitchy console we have in the bar. We primarily use it for streaming from Twitch because when you attempt to use it for gaming, the controllers disconnect all the time and it comes up with error messages constantly. The PS4 was released for $100 more at $399, and it’s a decent machine but it SO MANY of the games are single player. Single player games just aren’t worth it for us to purchase—more on that later.
I will concede that the pricing on the accessories is a bit much. I’m a bit inclined to turn a blind eye to cost when it comes to being able to engage multiple customers in a game, but $90 for the Nintendo Switch Dock, AC adapter and HDMI cable? I can get a cable on Monoprice for $5, thank you, but the rest I can’t exactly live without if we want to provide people with a genuine multiplayer experience at 42. I never want to tell someone that their friend can’t play because a controller isn’t charged, or we ran out of controllers due to cost issues. The controllers themselves are $79.99 for two, and the Pro Controller stands alone at $69.99. Yikes. These things looked cool in the video—the IR sensor was a nice touch and I’m looking forward to seeing unique ways that it’s incorporated in gaming. I was just about sold on the “HD Rumble” techniques, but I’m beginning to wonder why I need to tell how many ice cubes are in that imaginary glass…
Okay, so what about the hardware? It’s admittedly low on storage space at 32GB, but I’m optimistic that microSD cards and the use of physical game cards for games will alleviate some of the onboard storage concerns. The battery life of only 2.5 to 6 hours was brought up a few times as a limiting factor, but with the addition of the USB-C connection for charging, I’m already picturing charging it with my battery pack on the go, in a similar fashion to how Pokemon Go players charge cell phones. Besides, we’ll have places for you to plug in behind the bar, as always.
The other thing I’m hearing from naysayers is that there are a limited number of games available on launch day. When have we ever gotten a wide selection of games on launch day? Calm your tits. I still wonder when Xbox One is going to release their good games, and it’s been three freaking years. I kid… sort of. Nintendo Switch is releasing one major game at launch: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and three other games to keep you occupied until other games are released. Many games like Super Bomberman R, Arms, Sonic Mania (includes new zones), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Lego City Undercover are all being released in Spring of 2017. That should be more than enough to keep your mind off the wait for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in Fall.
On to the really exciting stuff. Am I the only one who is losing my mind over the idea of third-party developers creating games for Nintendo? It’s About. Freaking. Time. Nintendo has been alone on an island for some time now, but seeing that list of over 50 partners and hearing from Patrick Söderlund from EA in regards to FIFA ’17 being released on the Switch gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Think of the Indie game possibilities! Not to mention all the major names are there: Activision, Ubisoft, Bandai Namco, Square Enix… all the same developers I drool over every time I visit their booths at PAX. Now, this doesn’t mean that every developer on their list will release a game, it means they’ve acquired developer kits for the platform. Still, as ever the optimist, I’ll continue to keep my fingers crossed.
Finally, one last word on multiplayer. Many of the games shown during the presentation were multiplayer focused. Even games like the 1-2-Switch, which could be a bit cheesy, are easily a great icebreaker tool in the bar to get people engaged and playing together. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe isn’t new, but it’s something that anyone can play in seconds. The same pick-up-and-play functionality appears to be true for Arms, which utilizes physical motions instead of complex button combinations to take out your opponent. What I’ve witnessed at 42 is that sometimes the best games are the simplest. The ones where you can take your mind off your day and just play with friends, or make new ones.
Overall, I’m still extremely excited for the Nintendo Switch. So much so that I posted our Release Day Launch Party already. We got in on the pre-order, but you know how that goes. It’s likely that I’ll be waiting outside a store in the cold anyway. Come down, check it out, and let’s grab a glass of mead and talk about your thoughts on it.