A couple of months ago, I wrote an article that never ended up being published about my predictions on what was then-known as the Nintendo NX.
If you recall that time period before the official reveal of the Nintendo Switch, where we all knew that Nintendo was up to something but weren’t sure what, you’ll remember the awkward excitement and cautious worry that seemed to buzz around everybody’s heads. Things have noticeably calmed down in the Switch’s first few weeks, and it definitely seems so far to be a success. So I’d like to look at my predictions and statements that I made and see how well they ring true—and how well Nintendo has listened to us.
“What we can assume about the NX from the shaky and minimal information we have is that it’s meant to be a console and handheld hybrid–imagine a console that was just the Wii U’s game pad and you get the general picture. It seems to be an evolution of what the Wii U was trying to accomplish–a home console with a dual screen layout and touchscreen compatibility. It’s raised plenty of eyebrows, but Nintendo is refusing to give us any definitive answers about what the system is going to be.”
It’s always weird to have your information on a product that’s meant to be released in the upcoming months come from leaked schematics, but for a while, that’s all we had to go on for the Switch. That said, it was always a safe bet that the design from the blueprints would be more-or-less accurate. The whole design seemed very Nintendo, plus we had the statements from developers who were working on Switch games to back them up, and Nintendo never denied the plausibility of the leaked designs being genuine—a pretty heavy clue. Though I feel like my comparison to the Wii U was a bit daft in hindsight, as I now view the Switch as an evolution of the Wii U rather than just a successor—that’s part of what’s made the Switch stand out.
“If we’re being realistic, Nintendo will sell plenty of NX units just off of brand loyalty alone.”
This one seems pretty true. I know a lot of people who chided the Wii U but who were very anxious to get their hands on a Switch, but initial sales figures look fairly promising. We’ll have to wait for more figures to really determine the success of the Switch in terms of sales, though early signs look good.
“Nintendo doesn’t just appeal to the young adult and teen demographic–it appeals to the younger and older crowd as well. The company’s cemented itself as the family-friendly powerhouse of video games; most parents know that if their young child wants to get into video games, they can rely on Nintendo to provide them a kid-friendly and entertaining alternative to more hardcore franchises, and if the NX truly is portable, then that’s just a bonus for kids needing entertainment when they leave the house.”
I probably should have been a little bit less specific when I say “children”; I think “families” is a much better description. Nintendo really appeals to families as well as children, and I think the Switch is great for the family demographic. Games like 1-2-Switch! and Just Dance are perfect for kids and adults, and easy enough for anyone in the family to understand. The party market is also something that I think the Switch will be able to tap into, though probably not with that kickstand feature that was played up in the initial trailer. In that regard, it’s similar to the abundance of party games that were released on the Wii (hopefully with a lot less shovel ware this time around). The portability may not end up being the defining characteristic of the Switch, but I still think it works great for when kids don’t want to stop playing their games just because they have to get in the car with their parents.
“While Sony and Microsoft are busy simply making a new PlayStation and Xbox every few years, Nintendo has been experimenting with their hardware trying to make each new console unique. Maybe the Wii’s motion controls were gimmicky, but they at least set the system apart from the PS3 and Xbox 360, two consoles which, when you get down to it, were pretty interchangeable with one another.”
Hoo boy, I threw a bit of shade at Sony and Microsoft, huh? Well, I stand by what I said as far as their consoles being similar to one another. Make no mistake, I like the Xbox and PlayStation consoles a lot, but you can’t deny that Nintendo has always been, for better or worse, much more willing to experiment with their consoles. A lot of people call Nintendo’s consoles gimmicky. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. At the end of the day, the features of the Wii were what helped sell the hardware, and that pattern didn’t repeat with the Wii U. Let’s hope the Switch helps Nintendo’s sales fall back in line.
“We’ll probably see quite a number of ports of Wii U games in the first year of the NX, and while those are fine, Nintendo’s first priority has to be getting out must-have games and exclusives for the systems in the first few months. They need to give gamers a reason to buy the NX at launch so that they won’t struggle for initial sales and lose faith from developers, like what happened with the Wii U.”
Well, what I said about the Wii U is definitely true. It desperately needed more third-party support in order to help itself stay afloat next to the PS4 and Xbox One, but has Nintendo learned from their mistakes? They claim to have, so we can at least take comfort in the fact that they’re aware of the problems of the Wii U, but their launch window of games hasn’t been super satisfying. Aside from obvious standout The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the games released so far have consisted mainly of ports, with a few sequels to franchises here and there that will potentially appeal to people who haven’t yet snagged them. Not the strongest launch, but I remain hopeful. We do know that a couple of very promising exclusives are on the way, so I won’t call Nintendo out just yet, but the failure of the Wii U is still fresh on everyone’s minds, and nobody, least of all me, wants to see Nintendo crumble again.
“Nintendo also needs to make sure that their titles at launch are engaging enough to last throughout the system’s lifetime, and not just be a demonstration of what the system might be capable of. Instead of making something like Wii Sports and Nintendo Land, games that were essentially glorified tech demos, make something like Super Mario World and Super Mario 64–launch games that became hallmark titles for their respective systems. Don’t set the boundaries too low–set them high, that way it’ll only be more impressive when you break them later.”
Less a prediction and more a challenge, yes, but I stand by this statement. Nintendo used to be the king of launch titles, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild might be their first huge launch title success since the 90’s. Maybe the Switch’s launch window wasn’t the greatest, but I’ll give it this: it gave us a title that I, alongside many others, consider essential for any Switch owner. That’s the big point here. It’s a must-have title for anyone buying a Switch. While Wii Sports was a fun way to show off the Wii’s motion controls and Mii feature, it’s not something that every Wii owner must have in their collection (they just happen to have it since it was bundled with the console). Of course, I can’t expect a landmark title every single month, but the Switch, at the very least, needs exclusives that will push console sales. That’s another aspect where the Wii U just wasn’t able to succeed—having games that will define what the console can do and entice the consumer to send their hard-earned cash.