I just don’t have that Switch itch

Before I begin, you should be aware that this article is going to be an analysis of Nintendo’s releases as written by someone whose last Nintendo purchase was a DS. Just before that, it was the GameBoy Advance SP (Tribal Limited Edition because I was that sort of child). Before that, it was a GameBoy Colour that I had at the age of about six, presumably to nibble on. I’m sorry to go all first person on you, but I just think it’s important that you should know that this is a light-hearted piece which should not be taken as some kind of vociferous takedown of Nintendo. (From which I’m sure they would never be able to recover.)

What I’m basically saying is: keep your tweets to yourself.

Whether the Switch will be a success is really anyone’s guess. It’s a mug’s game to try and predict how well a Nintendo product will do. Take the Wii: an entirely unremarkable console, which everyone in the world has. For every person, there is a Wii. Often, there’s more than one. It’s a common and horrifying trope that you’re never more than three feet away from a rat. I would contest that the same can be said for a Wii. Wherever you may be, in your house, in a field, up a tree, on a pioneering space mission to Mars, there will be the tell-tale gentle blue glow of the disc entry and a long forgotten copy of Wii Sports lying or floating somewhere in the vicinity.

The Wii has become a household feature, every bit as ubiquitous as a fridge, or weetabix. It’s the high watermark to which Nintendo will be aspiring.

But then there’s the Wii U, which, in spite of some spurious reports, I’m still convinced no one actually owns. And that’s every bit as inexplicable as the Wii’s success. Unlike the Wii, which was the equivalent of a child turning up to their science fare with a Betamax and a pot of chicken soup, Nintendo seemed to actually put some effort into making the Wii U a viable gaming system. In what is yet another indication that free market theory is cock-a-hoop, this didn’t work, and Nintendo were roundly punished for trying to do something well. And so it was back to the wacky gimmick-of-the-week drawing board.

There’s been much made of Nintendo’s drive to innovate, often stated by people who don’t realise that innovation’s not always good. Nicholas Cage’s The Wickerman was innovative, pushing the boundaries of just how much shit one can shovel upon a beloved classic.

Innovation for the sake of innovation isn’t exciting, and too often Nintendo seem to have fallen into that trap. It’s not too difficult to picture the scene at Nintendo HQ, as tired and pleading employees gather around a pile of scrap paper, each with a techy word written at random on it as years of mind-mapping and focus groups have devolved into some maniacal process of word association.

“Cloud-based…” One employee reaches for another scrap, “…captcha.”

A collective sigh goes up. Another employee shoves past, purposefully grabbing at the pile of paper.

“Ethernet!” He proclaims confidently, slamming the paper down on the table in front before looking decisively at the other card. “Ethernet!”

There’s a long pause as everyone stares at the paper pile of their shame. The silence is broken minutes, maybe hours later by a maniacal cackling coming from a corner of the bleach white room. Everyone turns to see a man sitting flush against the wall, eyes wide and bloodshot, his scraggly white beard matted against his 1991 ‘There’s No-shi like Yoshi’ t-shirt, dog-eared copies of Nintendo Power magazine piled in a fort-like structure around him. His laughter rising, he pulls out two scraps of paper from his pockets and holds them aloft, screaming in a shrill tenor.

“CONSOLE… HANDHELD!”

The Nintendo employees look at one another. Sure, it’s not great, but they’ve been at this for years and need something, anything to show for their time, lest they be moved into marketing.Will the Nintendo Switch be a success? Will it be any good? Who knows? All we can say for certain is that one doesn’t guarantee the other. I wish the Switch no ill will, mainly because it’s a piece of hardware and showing any kind of feeling toward it would be weird but also because it does at least look like Nintendo are trying. The bells-and-whistles design philosophy of reinventing over and over again is getting a little grating, sure, but hey, I’m willing to give it a chance.

What was that? Am I going to buy the thing? At £280?

Oh, fuck no.

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