Nintendo’s new console clacked into the dock of my heart right away.
The Nintendo Switch. Revealed on the 20th of October 2016 via a YouTube video on Nintendo’s channel, it is the Japanese company’s newest foray into the console market. It is a hybrid home console and portable console that (presumably) seamlessly blends the two kinds of gaming together through various neat little tricks such as controllers that attach and detach from the console’s main body and a dock that connects it up to a large screen. In short, it’s at the very least an interesting new stab by the famed video game company, and for me, I think it’s a wonderful idea.
The main and key reason as to why I love the Switch so much is the fact that I can have a big (ish) console experience on the go. It’s the console’s key selling point and it really works for me. The idea of not having to wait to get home to play the newest AAA game or being able to continue that experience wherever you go is just so charming to me. On top of that, the Switch seems intuitive in how the transition between home console and portable occurs. Just the sheer idea of being able to play Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (and other similarly large games) on the go excites me so much.
“But why?” you hypothetical reader must be asking. “Why does bringing these big experiences along with you mean so much?” Well, because it doesn’t keep them constrained to a single space in my house. I don’t need to sit down in this single space and dedicate a large chunk of time to play a significantly deep game. I can take it along with me anywhere. This is fantastic for me personally as, due to my university schedule and large amounts of time spent travelling, I’m always out and about. I don’t need to stop playing until I really need to. Additionally, its portability allows me to play it in bed, which sounds simple, but for me that’s so important. It means I can have a more relaxing time playing video games than having to sit down on an uncomfortable chair (but that’s more to do with my own living situation than any wider universal thing).
For me, portability is so important, not just due to time constraints, but because I don’t need to put much physical effort into playing the console. For me, sitting down and setting up my console is quite a hassle, and as someone with mental health issue and many deadlines, it becomes a little too great a hassle for me to play console games. But with the Switch (and its presumably easy set up and booting up), I can pick it up and play it extremely easily. This means I can (as said earlier) just relax with it anywhere I want. Also, it means I can play it whenever my mental health is good but I’m not at home; a key enemy for my gaming habits. So its portability is a major factor into why I want it and why I think the console could be great.
So yeah, it’s quite easy to see why the ‘big-console-experience-on-the-go’ is just a good concept by itself, but the Switch has some other tricks up its sleeve that further convince me to want it; this trick being multiplayer. Throughout the trailer, we see people playing big console games with each other (such as Mario Kart or Splatoon) wherever they may be. This is SUCH a great feature for me! Again, due to my schedule, sitting down with my friends online to play a game is quite difficult; it’s far easier for us to schedule time to hang out together (which is also a generally more preferable situation). The ability to play big multiplayer games wherever we want with whomever’s save or everyone’s save is such a wonderful thing.
Of course, this comes from the fact that the Switch has the two detachable controllers that I mentioned earlier. Now yes, they may be a bit small, but for spontaneous games of whatever we want, I think they are a very good thing. Additionally, the trailer showed a bunch of people playing across two Nintendo Switches (if that’s how we are going to pluralise the name of the console) in close proximity of each other. If this is an indication that there is going to be wireless communications possible between two consoles without the need of an internet connection, that’s amazing news. What excited me the most was the idea that you can still connect up the more-home-console-looking-controller, the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. This means that you can have a probably more comfortable and responsive controller to use wherever you want. Again, having this big-console experience, especially in multiplayer with friends, is such a draw to me, and its simplicity makes me love the console more.
But I’m not blindly going to love this console; there are some potential major issues that Nintendo has yet to address. The first is price: I’m not expecting the console to be extremely cheap upon release, but it certainly has to be competitive to cheaper than the other two major consoles. This is because of the second issue I can see: its power. Again I’m not expecting 4K HDR gaming on this console, but if it is too weak, it may not be competitive enough against the other two consoles in the generation; and if it is indeed weaker, it must be priced as such. Finally, what I’m most worried about is the launch window games. The Wii U and the 3DS both suffered from a massive lack of quality games when they released. If the Switch doesn’t launch with either a strong and large selection of games or a killer app, it really won’t do well or be worth getting until it has either of those things.
But I’m still really, really hopeful for the Nintendo Switch. It has been such a long time since I was genuinely excited for a console’s release. It has enough fantastic features and tricks that make it all worth getting excited over and accepting those warts I mentioned above. Nintendo, I hope you prove that my excitement was worth it.