Xander's Thoughts on Nintendo Switch

By Xander (XandoCalrissian)

It’s been less than 24 hours since Nintendo wrapped up their Switch announcement. An announcement that seems to have people divided. In this time of confusion and wondering what to do next, we all need one thing: My opinion. That’s right, what follows will be my outlook on the Switch and on Nintendo overall. This by no means reflects the opinions as a whole of Motor City Gaming, just my very own. I’ll catch a ton of flak for my opinion so before I begin, let me tell you where I’m coming from.

(This is a fairly long history; feel free to skip over this if you just want my opinion. I’ve marked where that begins further down the page.)

I was born in the summer of 1985. One of my earliest memories is being in my parent’s bedroom (the one with the extra TV) when my brother got our NES. That machine would be my best friend for the foreseeable future. Even though I accidently broke one of the controllers when the wire got mixed up in an exercise bike spoke, we toughed it out and remained friends. I would always brag to other people about how close Nintendo and I were and how we spent all of our time together despite our many differences. I mean, I was a young boy and it was a computer. Who would ever think anything would blossom from that?

Well, in 1991 we took our relationship to the next level. For Christmas I received a Super Nintendo. This one had better graphics, a sleeker design, and more importantly; it was mine. I loved that machine, and still do. Arguably my favorite game of all time (EarthBound) was released for that system, and so many other classics along with it. When the SNES and I were together, it was clear to see this was more than a friendship. We were committed to one another, and we didn’t care who knew it. I still look back adoringly at my time spent with SNES and how much I grew and changed as a person.

I even got my first Game Boy around this time period. Being able to take my friend anywhere with me was great. Who needed soccer and other dumb playground games when I had Mega Man in my pocket? Even though I had to sit in direct sunlight and hope I could see everything, I loved my Game Boy and was rarely seen without it.

Enter 1996, the Nintendo 64 is released. Again, I receive one as a Christmas gift and I was so excited. Super Mario 64, and Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire kept me company until Mario Kart 64 and Goldeneye came out. My brother and I would play together all the time, especially when Bomberman 64 came out. I was entering my teenage years at this point and was beginning to meet new people and making new friends. But one thing remained constant. Nintendo was always there for me when everyone else wasn’t. I decided to take this to the next level.

It was a cold November morning in 2001 when I got my GameCube. I stood outside the local Best Buy and made my commitment to Nintendo. I owned a GameCube before a PS2 or an Xbox and I stand by that decision to this day. Sure, Sony had some fun things, but the GameCube was always my favorite. In an era of very little online play, I always chose GameCube versions over any others. Another big step in 2001 was getting my Game Boy Advance. Even though the day after I bought it, it was stolen, it didn’t waver my love for that platform. It was practically a portable Super Nintendo! Nintendo had stolen my heart and I didn’t care.

In 2005/2006 we started getting more and more information about the coming Revolution. I was stoked. Even though everyone said it wasn’t on par with the PS3 or Xbox 360, I didn’t care. Nintendo had always been about being innovative and having fun, and that’s exactly what the Revolution was going to be; innovative and fun. Then they dropped the name. Wii. It stung a little, but who cares? As soon as I played it in the GameStop for the first time, they could have called it “Xander’s a fat piece of crap” and I would have bought it. This system made me feel like I was learning to play video games all over again. I was in my early 20’s; still living at home, working full time, and I had money to burn. And that’s just what I did.

I bought everything that struck my fancy about that machine. Sure some shovel ware slipped in, but it was using cool motion controls and I could play with all my friends as they were getting drunk and we’d have a blast! And then it happened. Things slowly started falling away. I was getting less and less great games like on the GameCube and seeing more and more games appealing to a different audience. Nintendo started looking at younger people and older, more mature (and experienced) people. I was left in the dust.

I’ll never forget the E3 of 2008 when Nintendo gave their press conference and we saw things like Wii Music and Wii Fit. Where were all the games I wanted? Why was I being ignored? A representative of Nintendo was asked the question I wanted the answer to. “What about the hardcore fans, what do you have in store for them?”

 

“Oh,” Nintendo responded. “They still have Mario Kart and Smash Bros. They’ll be fine.”

 

I bought an Xbox 360 shortly after that. I had never felt so betrayed! I was always a day one purchaser of Nintendo products. But here I was, my heart ripped out and still beating on the floor as Nintendo stomped through leaving bloody footprints as it went to be with its new friends.

Whatever, I had new friends too and I could play online with them! I was getting some great games on my 360 and my DS Lite was still always in my pocket. I could look back at the old times. But I’d learned my lesson. When the 3DS was announced I was bitter and angry. I don’t need another gimmick, you jerks. I just want my old friend back. I didn’t even bother getting a 3DS when it was released. I was perfectly fine sticking with my 360 and playing all the old Pokémon games. I wouldn’t be hurt again.

I don’t remember when it was exactly, maybe 2012. I started getting phone calls and text messages from Nintendo. I would see pictures of my old friends Mario, Kirby, Donkey Kong. They were having new adventures and they looked like they were having fun. So I gave in, and met with Nintendo about a 3DS. We quickly began reminiscing about old times. I fell right back into a comfortable place with Nintendo. I still didn’t have a Wii U, but I was definitely interested. An old romance was being rekindled.

But sometimes you just can’t repair what’s been torn apart. I never fully committed back to Nintendo. I did eventually pick up a Wii U and about a year and a half later I sold it when I realized I just wasn’t playing it and wanted a new Xbox for my other love, Gears of War.

That’s a really roundabout and long way of saying that I love Nintendo, but in my later years I’ve grown to accept that I am not their key demographic anymore. It’s almost like Star Wars. The prequels are clearly not meant for me. I can still get something out of it, and there is realistically a lot of cool stuff to see, but it’s presented to in a way that just isn’t as good as I want it to be.

 

(Skip to here if you just want my opinion on the Switch announcement!)

 

That being said, I’m still excited for the Nintendo Switch. I think it has some really good things going for it. Was that the revealing presentation I wanted it to be? No, but I also don’t think it was the dumpster fire everyone else is saying it was. Shotty translating aside, it gave me exactly what I wanted. I got to see the first party games I wanted, as well as a gimmicky party game that looks like it will be a ton of fun with my non-gamer friends. I also saw a fantastic amount of third party support. (I also haven’t researched much beyond what was in the 1-hour presentation; so bare with me if I miss anything)

A lot of people saying that Skyrim for the Switch isn’t a big deal, and they aren’t wrong, it’s a 6-year-old game coming out for a new system. But that isn’t what that announcement is about. It’s about showing that one of the biggest third party developers is working with Nintendo and excited about it. Square Enix is bringing one of it’s biggest IP’s, Dragon Quest, to the Switch and their introducing a new IP as well and it looks pretty awesome.

Arms looks like the kind of stupid fun I come to expect from Nintendo. It isn’t a ground breaking game that I expect to be the highlight of EVO this summer, but it again looks fun. And I physically ached watching that new Splatoon trailer. That’s my biggest regret about selling my Wii U; I can’t play that game anymore without going to a friend’s house.

Super Mario Odyssey will be worth the price of admission, I promise you. The last time I doubted a Mario sandbox game was Super Mario Sunshine, and that game was so much fun. And I trust I don’t have to tell you how incredible Breath of the Wild looks. And yes, you’ll be able to play it on Wii U, but it is a selling point to be able to take it with you and play it, even if it’s only for a few hours before you need to plug it in again.

Is the battery life amazing? No, but you’re taking a home console with you wherever you go. You can’t expect it to be that great. Laptops don’t even have that kind of battery power and we’ve had those for decades. You will get up to 6 hours if you are playing games that don’t require as much energy. So games like 1,2 Switch should last you a while, or if we get confirmation of virtual console, those games will take up very little power. And if you’re truly in it to put a long time into a game like Zelda, you’re either traveling or at home anyway. Either way, power isn’t far from where you are.

I’ll agree $299.99 is a little higher than I would have liked, but it is a lot of new motion sensing technology and, still a gaming system. $249.99 would have been ideal but Nintendo holds its value and they know it. The price of the accessories is high, but it’s also high quality. They know their equipment is going to be handled by children and make sure it’s durable enough. This is something they’ve always done. Look at the bomb blasted Game Boy at the Nintendo store. It still functions after being hit with a friggin’ bomb!

When the original release trailer debuted back in October I was quick to complain that this looked real dumb and not what it should be to bring Nintendo back to it’s rightful place amongst the big 3, and I was quickly slapped down and reminded that we don’t know anything yet and that I should think of the possibilities. Now it seems the shoe is on the other foot. I’m still just as hyped and everyone else is in panic mode.

I’m in regardless of what we learn, but there are a few things that would definitely feel better about the higher price. I would love confirmation of a virtual console and to know that my past purchases will be supported and not in the way that the Wii U and Wii were connected. I just want my games to work without going through a sub menu. Also, cross-platform support like the PS4 and PS Vita have would be great. I hope that the networking is as figured out as the other two. I don’t want anymore friend codes; I just want to play with randoms and do a name search to find friends. If we can get something along those lines, I’ll be content.

For me, as I try to predict the future as best I can, I think this will be a system I really get behind. As someone with two televisions in the house (one in my living room and one in the basement) I can’t tell you how happy I’ll be when I’m in the middle of a dungeon in Zelda and my wife decides she wants to binge watch The Office for the 60th time and I don’t have to stop what I’m doing. I’ll be thrilled to carry my Switch to the bedroom and play for an hour before going to bed. I’ll look like a super nerd (but what else is new?) when I’m walking with my Switch around as we run errands, but I have a feeling that’s what Nintendo is going for.

We still have 7 weeks before the system is released and I’m sure there are more details coming our way. Hopefully you’ve found a new way to look at things from my story and be a little more patient as this system finds its place. If the time comes and you still aren’t sure, check back with Motor City Gaming in a few weeks and hear what the guys from GameZilla have to say after getting some hands on time with the Switch.

So, is the Switch the system to completely redeem Nintendo and put them back in competition with Sony and Microsoft? Not by a long shot, but just like it was for me growing up, it will be there when I need to be.