I was full of hope and optimism going into the Nintendo Switch presentation. A co-worker and I spent the day leading up to it discussing our wish list, what could make the console great, and how we were ready to pre-order at a moment’s notice. Then the presentation actually happened, and I felt like a jilted lover, or that I had witnessed infidelity tragic enough to walk away from a lifelong torturous relationship.
Let’s start at the beginning. The evening started with a basic rundown of the new console, but offered nothing in the way of hardware specifications. Many were waiting to hear if Nintendo would announce an achievements system; no luck. In fact, the Switch’s online presence looks to be just as messy as the Wii U’s. There appears to be no built-in chat support. If my understanding of the translation is correct, in-game party chat will occur on your smartphone via a Nintendo app of some sort.
One of the Switch’s greatest potential strengths is its portability, which was touched on. But what’s the point of a portable system if you don’t have any games you want to play on it?
The first game announced was 1-2 Switch, a game that… doesn’t really need a Nintendo Switch? Or something? I’m not really sure. What I do know is that Nintendo is asking a bunch of anti-social and introverted gamers to make eye contact with each other to play a game of high-tech rock paper scissors. No one is taking their Switch to their fun summer picnics for their grandma to play. Next was Arms, a motion-control fighting game that would be right at home in the Walmart bin of $2 Wii games. Already we’re starting to see a major problem.
It looks like the Switch is trying to recapture the success of the Wii. Except the Wii wasn’t actually all that great, and the amount of shovelware, either first or third-party, was astounding. But in another sense, the Switch is already setting itself up as just another Wii U, a gimmicky console that can’t compete with other home gaming options with only a few great games.
Speaking of great games, there were some good moments in Nintendo’s Switch reveal. The Splatoon 2 announcement, although an early contender for cringiest moment of 2017, is sure to please many people. The same goes for Xenoblade 2. I’m not a huge fan of Xenoblade, but I understand that many people are. Super Mario Odyssey also looks like a lot of fun, and is the kind of game I could definitely sink my teeth into. But how many of those games are set to be released at launch? None.
Of the games shown, only 1-2 Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are launch titles. Zelda is sure to give the Switch a stronger launch than the Wii U had, but it’s also important to keep in mind that it will also be released for the Wii U. Personally, I don’t want to spend nearly $500 CAD just to play the new Zelda. I’ll just pick it up on the Wii U.
This leads to the crux of all Nintendo’s problems. They’ve given me no reason whatsoever to pick up the Switch on March 3. They’ve also ignored potential reasons to buy it, like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Steep, FIFA, and I Am Setsuna. Four good, maybe even great, games that are all coming to the Switch. But where were those announcements? Hidden in the wings of internet announcements, that’s where.
Throughout the presentation, it also became clear to me that as technology advances and games become more expensive and stunning, the gap between eastern and western tastes grows continually larger. Nintendo just seems so out of touch with the modern gaming world. It’s a company run by senior businessmen who don’t know what the public really wants but presents itself with a false bravado based entirely on past successes. Why should I care if your controllers have advanced rumble features that feel like ice cubes if I never want to play anything using those controllers? I am baffled by Nintendo’s decision to showcase 1-2 Switch and Arms, two games that look right at home on the Wii. A company with as rich a history as Nintendo should have done better than this with a console as potentially unique and fun as the Switch.
Nintendo: You keep making the same mistakes, falling into the same traps, and continue to try to “innovate” to stand out from the crowd. But I think it’s time for me to stop giving you my money. Millions of people have defended you for years, but this may just be it.
I look forward to playing Mario Kart on my PlayStation 5.