When the Nintendo Switch was first announced back in October, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself actually interested in the console. Now I haven’t owned (nor wanted) a Nintendo console since the SNES, so this was quite the revelation for me. I was excited at the possibility of getting some of Nintendo’s most popular handheld franchises like Pokémon or Fire Emblem in HD and with much more powerful hardware than the 3DS.
But then the Switch conference happened and I remembered why I haven’t owned a Nintendo console since the 90’s. For a company that always seeks innovation, Nintendo seems to be a few steps behind when it comes to everything else.
Case in point, they formally announced that the Switch won’t have region locking. That’s great, but this is something that Sony and Microsoft have implemented a long time ago and Nintendo is only now getting into the swing of things.
For a company that seeks innovation, Nintendo always seems to be a few steps behind.
Speaking of following the footsteps of the Sony and Microsoft, the Nintendo Switch will also have a paid online service. Now I’m mainly a PC player, so the idea of a paid online service has always been something that irked me, but at the same time I understand why it’s necessary for consoles.
The problem here is that Nintendo is following the formula of Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus but somehow making it so much worse. Not only are Nintendo’s monthly free games basically rentals from the NES and SNES era but their implementation of online voice chat is to use a smartphone app. If I wanted to use my phone to talk to my friends I’d rather call them up normally than use an app.
Let’s not forget that Nintendo has a poor history when it comes to implementing online in their systems in the first place, so having to pay for something like that just continues to be less and less appealing.
In my opinion this just shows how out of touch Nintendo seems to be with both their audience and the video game community as a whole.
Speaking of being out of touch, let’s talk about how much Nintendo seemed to focus on their new controllers, the Joy-Cons. Nintendo spent a lot of time focusing on these new controllers and they have a lot of features like motion controls, sensors, and the new HD Rumble. They even showed off two games that took full advantage of the controller’s features: 1-2-Switch and ARMS.
But while watching this segment of the presentation, I can’t help but be reminded of the Wii U tablet. That too was an interesting controller scheme that hadn’t been done in the past, but because it was so different and unique very few developers actually fully utilized it.
The Joy-Cons are interesting and different, but so was the Wii U tablet.
I have no doubts that there will be some titles that will use the Joy-Con to its full potential (the WarioWare franchise comes to mind) but for the most part, this sort of thing just feels like a gimmick. Most third-party developers will aim for multi-platform releases to maximize their profits, and when one of those platforms has control features that aren’t available on the others you end up not utilizing those extra features at all.
And that leads to my final disappointment with the Switch conference — the games.
The above image showcases the lineup of games for the Switch that Nintendo of America tweeted out. While this isn’t a comprehensive list and the Twitter account does promise more on the way this year, I can’t help but be disappointed and underwhelmed by it.
I suppose the biggest disappointment are the games available at launch. You really only have one big name coming out on March 3 and that’s Breath of the Wild while all the others just fall flat in comparison, especially if you’re looking for a single-player experience.
Even then the rest of the year just seems so weak, with the only real standouts being Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Everything else are either new IP that don’t really generate much excitement or remasters and ports of older games like Skyrim which turns six this year.
I realize I might be in the minority and this will likely be drowned out by all the hype surrounding the Switch but I feel like there’s no justifying a purchase of the Switch in its current state. Who knows, maybe the next few months will change my mind as more games get announced and Nintendo gives out more details on their online service. But if I base my purchase on their conference alone, then they definitely failed to sell me on the Switch.