The Nintendo Switch: A Mixed Bag – Editorial

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Thoughts on the Switch from a guy who played it.

Let me apologize for that title immediately. The phrase “a mixed bag” has long been considered the laziest phrase a reviewer can use when talking about a video game, but man, is it accurate here. The Nintendo Switch is the most mixed bag that ever did mix.

I say this as someone who played the Nintendo Switch in New York City on January 13. I say this as someone who was damn near creaming at seeing Odin from Shin Megami Tensei in Unreal 4, and as someone who started screaming in his hotel room when Suda 51 said, I think, those four magical words: Travis Touchdown is back. I pre-ordered a Switch the night pre-orders went up, I was overall extremely happy with the software side of Nintendo’s presentation, and I managed to be enthusiastic about Nintendo at levels I hadn’t been in years.

As I write this, I’m still so excited.

I played Splatoon 2. It’s great. It’s Splatoon but with mechanical and competitive improvements (no more spawn camping!), and even more stylistic.

The Switch screen is sharp, bright, and beautiful. The bezels aren’t nearly as intrusive as the initial videos made them seem.

At its best, some of the Joy-Con implementation feels like a full realization of the Wii’s promises. Moreover, the HD rumble is a fun gimmick that actually works.

That Mario game looks like the freshest take on Mario since Galaxy 1, and this comes from someone whose favorite Mario game is 3D Land.

The Pro Controller is the best controller Nintendo has ever had.

We have a weird, open-world, future Zelda game coming at launch that aims to shake up the formula in massive ways.

And it’s (generally) region-free! Don’t forget that!

But the critics aren’t wrong. Almost every criticism of the system is spot-on, and I have a few more to add:

The L and R buttons are so small that I went out of my way to tell a Treehouse employee collecting feedback that they don’t feel great, while another Splatoon player immediately agreed with me.

The Joy-Con, and especially the Joy-Con Grip, are not terribly intuitive to hold in the way they should be. Though my play time was limited, I’d be lying if I said I was comfortable holding them the entire time. They’re small, the button placement is weird, the shoulder buttons aren’t great, and the sideways mode is not my favorite way to play video games, to put it softly.

ARMS is Wii Boxing with the movement of Pokken Tournament. Splatoon 2, while great fun, plays and looks exactly like Splatoon with new stuff in it. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is just Mario Kart 8 with more stuff. I’m still not convinced that Zelda is anything more than an also-ran open-world action game with a Zelda skin, and I say that as someone who played it. 1-2 Switch feels like Spin the Bottle on Wii U. No software on the system feels wholly fresh outside of Holiday 2017’s Mario game.

Switch graphics don’t look all that much better than Wii U graphics. If you told me it was the same different between a game being played on a PS4 vs. a PS4 Pro, I would believe you.

The accessories are expensive, the console is expensive (borderline too expensive in my opinion), and Nintendo announced that they are finally charging for online without immediately convincing arguments that paid online is worthwhile for the consumer.

Are you kidding me? Monthly usage of NES games that gets taken away at the end of the month?

There is so much to be positive about on the system, and yet, there is just as much to be critical about. I enjoyed my time playing many of the games, and yet, fears for the future of this thing slowly creep in.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope everything negative I wrote here is 100% wrong, and Nintendo Switch is everything we all dream it to be. I hope it’s the system that brings it out of the funk that is the Wii U’s legacy as a commercial failure, and more than that, deserves to be.

From what I played, I just don’t see it yet. The price isn’t a deal-breaker, but it’s not exactly where it needs to be. The launch lineup is a game or two short of where it probably should be. The graphics aren’t much more impressive than the last Nintendo system. Overall, the console just isn’t inspiring to me in the way the Wii was (yet).

If you email me in a year and tell me how unfounded all my concerns and pre-release criticisms are, there would be nothing more pleasing. That everyone bought the Switch and everyone loved it. Because man, nothing would make me happier than to see that the phrase “Travis Touchdown is Back” is a lucrative one.

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