I didn’t get up at 4am this morning to watch the Nintendo Switch Presentation – I’m not a masochist. But I logged on first thing to devour all the juicy information that Nintendo revealed about their new console. And it left somewhat of a dry taste in my mouth.
The main thing I was hoping for was games, games, games. Nintendo have been pretty quiet in 2016, with only a handful of titles trickling out of their studios for Wii U and 3DS. So I assumed, like many, that they’d been beavering away on Switch games and would reveal a bevvy of titles to launch with their brand new console. This doesn’t appear to be the case.
Super Mario Odyssey looks bloody great, even if the ‘real world’ sections seem slightly odd. Watching the trailer made me salivate at the prospect of playing another 3D Mario game, but it won’t be out until ‘holiday 2017’. It was the same story with many of the other ‘launch’ titles. Most will be coming later this year (or probably next year, or even the year after that in case of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which I struggle to believe will launch this year), and only five titles will be ready for launch day: 1 2 Switch, Just Dance, Skylanders, Super Bomberman R (hey, Konami still make video games!) and Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Zelda is of course a must buy, but since it’s also coming out for the Wii U, I don’t really feel like I need to rush out and buy a Switch at launch – especially since the other launch titles are somewhat uninspiring. I’m sure many other people will be feeling the same way. There seems little point in getting a Switch until the number of games is at least in double digits.
In general, the games that were revealed were – apart from Mario and Zelda – fairly underwhelming. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Fire Emblem Warriors look great, even if they’re both seemingly very far off. But Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe come across as slightly tarted up versions of the Wii U games I already own, so I don’t feel the need to rush out and buy them. Arms looks fun, if a little lightweight. And the rest… well apart from new versions of FIFA and Street Fighter II, that was about everything of note.
It’s not exactly an inspiring list. What the hell have Nintendo been up to for the past couple of years? Where are all the amazing first party games?
And the price! My god. £280 for a Switch with no games included, and £75 for another pair of JoyCon controllers. Yowch. At this selling point, Nintendo have priced themselves out of the casual market, and they’re also charging a good £80 more than it would cost for a PS4 with pack-in game – yet their console is significantly less powerful than Sony’s machine. As a fan of Nintendo games, I will end up buying a Switch at some point – but I wonder who else will.
Anyway, let’s take a look back at my ‘wish list for Nintendo Switch‘ and see which ones we can tick off:
Battery life of at least 8 hours
Nope, nope, nope. They reckon it will have battery life of 2.5 to 6.5 hours depending on what you’re playing. That, frankly, is rubbish.
A new ‘proper’ Metroid game
Uh uh. We got Mario and Zelda, while new entries in other Nintendo franchises were notable by their absence.
One terabyte of storage – minimum
Pffft, definitely not. The Switch will have 32GB of storage. 32GB. I’m starting to wonder whether Nintendo know what the hell they’re doing.
Game saves on the cloud
Possibly. It’s not quite clear at this point, but they’ve certainly announced a new online service. Speaking of which…
A subscription-based Virtual Console service
Well, Nintendo’s new online subscription service promises a free NES or SNES game each month, so that’s something at least, if not quite the ‘Netflix for old video games’ that I was hoping for. But next to Sony and Microsoft’s monthly free game giveaway, it seems positively stingy. And the wording seems to suggest that the games will only be playable for a month before they get deleted from your hard drive, which seems even stingier. Hmmm.
A big fat no. Corrin is still MIA.
Some sort of crossbuy thing
Nope. Although this one might still be a possibility.
Hmmm, there was no mention of GPS. But then again, Nintendo didn’t reveal hard specs for the console either. Put it down as a maybe?
Again, no. At least, not that we know of. UPDATE: The Switch definitely won’t have Streetpass. Or Miiverse, which seems like a bizarre decision, as the social network is one of the Wii U’s best features.
Nope. Yeah, I know it was a long shot.
To sum up, I think the Nintendo Switch is a great idea. The idea of a home console you can take with you on the move is very appealing, and it has some neat features. The JoyCon controllers in particular look pretty nifty, and the ‘HD Rumble’ they feature sounds like a great innovation. (Apparently they can simulate effects like ice cubes rattling around in a glass in your hand.)
Other features sound good, but hardly essential. It’s good to hear the console is region free, but that’s only going to appeal to a minority of people who import games. And the fact that you can play with eight players on one console is great, yet will only be utilised by a tiny percentage of the audience. Especially as the JoyCons cost £75 a pair.
Which brings me on to the two big negatives hanging over the whole presentation like the permanent wreath of cloud around Zelda’s Death Mountain: the price and the lack of games.
Really, the Switch needed to be £200, £250 max. At £280 with no games, it’s already put me off buying one at launch, and I’m sure the same is true of many others. A console seen as ‘underpowered’ compared to its (now ageing) rivals shouldn’t cost nearly a third more than them. And the price of the accessories is eye-watering. The infrared camera on the JoyCon is a nifty idea (apparently it can detect hand gestures and will be able to record video in the future), but it’s also a gimmick that is unlikely to be used often, and we could probably do without it for the sake of bringing down the crazily high cost.
But the main reason for buying any console is the games, and I just don’t see enough of them. Zelda: Breath of the Wild remains the big draw, but that’s already coming out for the Wii U, a console I already own. The rest are either ports of old games, niche titles, reworkings of Wii U games or so far in the future that they don’t even have a name yet (like Shin Megami Tensei – New Title).
It feels like Nintendo are making the same mistakes all over again by launching an expensive console with poor battery life – just like they did with the 3DS, which saw a price cut mere months after release. And it seems like only yesterday that the late Satoru Iwata was publicly apologising for the Wii U games drought, yet here we are again with a Nintendo console that has gaps in its release schedule so big that you could drive a bus through them.
It was only last year that Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime claimed that the company had learned from its mistakes on the Wii U. Certainly, this time around Nintendo has managed to convey much more clearly what their new console does in comparison to the muddled messaging around the Wii U. But Reggie also said this:
“We have to do a better job from a software planning standpoint to have that continuous beat of great new games that are motivating more and more people to pick up the hardware and more and more people to pick up the software.”
Judging by the sparse line up of Switch games for the year ahead, Reggie hasn’t been listening to his own advice.