Back in March, I wrote a piece on here that talked about my initial thoughts and first impressions of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo’s newest gaming system that combines elements of a portable handheld with a mainline console. I said it in that piece, “it’s up to the early adopters to play the role of the guinea pig within the console’s first six months.” Well, more than six months have passed, and a lot has come out in regards to what this nifty hybrid machine can do. Now that we’re further into the lifespan of the Nintendo Switch, and with Super Mario Odyssey out in stores, this guinea pig right here is going to lay out the good and bad of what this system has to offer.
The biggest heavy hitters the Switch has to offer are, of course, the main Nintendo exclusives, and the exclusives, so far, are some of the best Nintendo has offered in years. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the complete package many wanted with the Wii U release, Splatoon 2 takes everything the original had and gives it a welcomed spit-shine, ARMS is a rather welcomed party fighter, Breath of the Wild is the next big great installment in the Zelda franchise, and Super Mario Odyssey is a fine amalgamation of everything great from the Mario franchise, all rolled into one game. Of these, I’d call everything but ARMS definitive must-owns; ARMS can be a bit repetitive and your mileage may vary on whether it’s worth the $60 price tag, but the others? Your Switch library is incomplete without these titles.
As for third-party games, expect to find a plethora of ports to fill the game library. Bethesda has made it a priority to create custom ports of DOOM and Skyrim for the system, as have 2K for their NBA and WWE games, although the latter two may be a bit more on the underwhelming side, compared to what Bethesda is doing for DOOM. Rereleases of Dragonball Xenoverse 2 and Fate/EXTELLA serve as fine shelf-fillers, alongside Disgaea 5 Complete, Puyo Puyo Tetris, even L.A. Noire, the first Rockstar game on a Nintendo console in eight years, and there is a large plethora of NEO-GEO arcade games available in the eShop, but where the Switch really excels is with its selection of indie games.
From the creepy and gloomy The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+, to the joyous and adventurous Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero, there are several amazing indie titles to be found on the Switch. My personal recommendations lie with Azure Striker Gunvolt and Blaster Master Zero, two retro-style sidescroller shooters that pay great homage to the olden days of Mega Man and, of course, Blaster Master. And along with the minimalist rhythm game VOEZ, the super-fast F-Zero tribute of Fast RMX, and established names such as Stardew Valley and Shovel Knight, the Switch has formed itself into an excellent indie machine. Even Adult Swim Games is getting in on the Switch, that should be a solid great sign. Oh, and also Sonic Mania is on the eShop, it’s PERFECT on the Switch.
Of course, every game system has its fair share of duds. And this console had it early with 1-2-Switch, a game that, yes, everyone agrees should have been a pack-in and serve solely as an HD Rumble tech demo. A few missteps were also taken when WB Games’ licensed Cars 3 title stalled at the starting line, but other than those and a few shovelware-esque eShop games, the Switch has had more hits than misses. But do be wary of some of these AAA multi-plats (coughcough2KcoughcoughEA), your mileage WILL vary.
Now, I know some will bemoan the lack of an actual Virtual Console, and to those, I say this: PATIENCE. In the meantime, Nintendo has decided to rerelease some of their older arcade – read: ARCADE – games, in the new “Arcade Archives.” line, such as the original Mario Bros. and Punch-Out!!, with more rolling out in the months to follow. But going back to VC, I do expect there to be some kind of implementation to come, especially since, as of the Switch Ver. 4.0.0 software update, the Super Smash Bros. Wii U adapter for GameCube controllers works for every game on the Switch… kind of. The controller’s buttons don’t quite match that of the Switch, so functionality is at around 90%, but as for that rumored GameCube VC? Well, I’d say it’s only a matter of time and a matter of Nintendo trying to make the games compatible with both emulation and with the Switch controller functionality. Remember how SNES and N64 games worked on the Wii? Yeah, it’ll be like that.
In all, the first year of the Switch has been very impressive, in terms of its game lineup and in its sales, with over 7 million units sold by the end of Q3 2017. Sure, the launch was a bit on the small side, save for Breath of the Wild, but going into December? There are PLENTY of games to fill your catalogue up, from both Nintendo and third parties, and with companies like Capcom, Bethesda, Square Enix, and Bandai Namco giving a solid thumbs-up for development on the console, the Switch will, in my mind, continue to impress and improve throughout its second year.
Unless you’re EA, who’s shrunken into a pile of suck recently.
So there’s one big question to ask, regarding the Switch:
Is now the right time to buy?
Well, that all depends on what you want and need from a console.
For one, the Switch is going to be locked in at its $299 price point for a while. You can easily pick up an Xbox One S or a PS4 Slim for $249 or lower, especially on Black Friday, and you’ll more than likely get better output from multi-plats on those consoles than on the Switch. So if you want to play games like DOOM and Skyrim and NBA 2K18, you’re probably better set on playing it on the other platforms. In terms of entertainment options, the Switch is slowly rolling out streaming services, with Hulu being the first big platform available on the system – additionally, if you can understand the Japanese language, you can download NicoNico for the console and watch videos on there.
Those aren’t going to be selling points for the Switch, though. If you look at the television commercials and its larger ad campaign, it’s centered around the dual functionality of its docked and handheld modes, and more importantly, a locked-in focus on their own first-party games. Yes, Nintendo consoles will always center around and cater toward fans of Nintendo’s games and IPs, that’s a given. With that said, on average, most will be more of a fan of Mario and Zelda than, say, Uncharted or Gears.
But if you ask me, though? Now is the perfect time to buy the Switch.
Right now, the Switch is a hot console on the up and up, with demand remaining steady going through to Black Friday in a couple of days. The Nintendo Switch is a very unique specimen, indeed, a mix and blend of new technology and old familiarity, combining into a game console that focuses on what the others don’t: games that give you what you pay for. And with both Zelda and Mario alone, you are guaranteed to spend dozens upon dozens of hours trapped in those games – just ask Tyler. Nintendo really needed to bounce back after the disappointment of the Wii U, and personally, I’d say they’ve bounced back and then some.
In closing, here is my “starter kit” list for the Switch – just maybe don’t buy it all at once, if you value your wallet.
Nintendo Switch console
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller (trust me)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Super Mario Odyssey
a screen protector (NOT from PDP, trust me)
64GB microSDXC memory card (at least)
a travel case
And lastly, no, this was not a paid editorial. I’m just a fan of the Switch.