Break out the cake and candles, it’s time to wish a happy birthday to Nintendo’s latest child, the Switch. It’s been a year since the handheld/home console hybrid hit the shelves, and it’s pretty safe to say nobody could have predicted what a meteoric rise it has had in that time. Expectations were completely blown away for some, while others remained stoic and unfazed by the console; so now that the first year is out of the way, it’s worth having a look at great things the Switch has done, and what could still be on offer in the not-too-distant future.
THE GOOD FROM YEAR 1
PORTABILITY: Nintendo’s biggest challenge was walking the fine line between home console and handheld; and with continual support of the 3DS, it was questioned as to how the pair would fit in each other’s ecosystems. Thankfully, with the difference of gaming and the playability and portability of the console, the Switch offered a completely unique and different experience to the 3DS, which not only allowed Nintendo to begin building a new market for this console but also not alienating existing 3DS owners.
GAMES: While everyone was absolutely enthralled with The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild on release, some gamers were still wary that Nintendo wouldn’t be able to hold up a year’s worth of titles to keep the new console afloat. With a thorough mix of first party games, third-party titles and indie offerings, the Switch went from strength to strength. I were given brand new exclusive games with Splatoon 2, ARMS, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and Super Mario Odyssey, as well as a series of ports and re-releases with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Minecraft, Sonic Mania, and Pokken Tournament as well. Indie games also got to see new life on the Switch as well, which boosted Nintendo’s standing with many different publishers in the eyes of the gaming public. THE PERIPHERALS: Nintendo have gone all out this time around when it comes to providing peripherals to support the Switch, and I for one welcome it. The additional coloured Joy-Cons, the Pro controllers, the licensed cases, it’s all amazing and looks really good. The fact that you can customise your Switch by picking a different set of Joy-Cons each time you play is one of my favourite things, and really gives a sense of style back to the gamer. I just can’t wait to see more colour combinations.
THE FUTURE: Nintendo’s work not only with first-party teams but with third-parties and indie developers has put them in a really good position – they’ve set the console up for a decent run already, and forged or mended relationships that saw several titles and franchises move away from them in the past. This can only be a good thing, as I see Nintendo really returning to what made them a great company to begin with – the focus on the games, rather than the silly gimmicks. Nintendo’s push to return to the forefront of gaming has placed them in a more affectionate light to gamers, who may have been swayed away by where the company had been headed before.
WHAT NEEDS WORK IN YEAR 2
OS: Let’s face it, as great as the Switch is, there’s still a fair few teething problems with the console. Let’s start with the lack of cloud saves and transferability – while it is understandable to a degree that Nintendo is trying to minimise damage around homebrewing and breaking open the console for potential piracy, it is detrimental to gamers everywhere to know that if your console goes bust, you’ll likely lose all game save data and have to start everything again. With the option for expandable memory, it should be first priority on Nintendo’s list to allow saves to be migrated to the removable storage, or at least to a cloud-based system for peace of mind.
Along with this, the Switch seems to lack additional apps that would really make it a beast. While proposed for a future appearance, the current lack of Netflix and YouTube means that while it is a great gaming console, it has no use for those who are looking for something with that little bit more. Couple this with no plans for social apps to appear, and you’re missing a lot of things that appeal to people in the modern day. We get that Nintendo wants this to be a games console first, but missing features such as a basic web browser is a little annoying.
CONNECTIVITY: Let’s not mince words here – the Nintendo Switch Chat App is trash. Again, I can see why they’d do something like this and release the app in a separate system so that it doesn’t tie down console resources when trying to play, but having to have multiple devices active when you’re trying to play a game is very counterproductive. Especially when you have to get the two devices to talk together to enable everything to work properly.
VIRTUAL CONSOLE: You knew this one had to be in there somewhere. The Switch is the PERFECT console to really hit that nostalgia factor, and Nintendo haven’t even made a peep regarding the Virtual Console coming to Switch. Given that they’re currently obsessed with shrinking down their historic devices and selling them at a premium, don’t expect to hear an announcement regarding Virtual Console’s appearance on the Switch any time soon – not at least until the Gamecube Classic Mini gets a release… THE 3DS: Nintendo, it’s time to have a chat. Sometimes there’s something that you’ve had for so long that gets to a point where, despite how amazing it is, needs to be put away. Forget about the past and start focusing on what you have right here and now, in front of you. It’s calling out for Pokemon, for Super Smash Bros, for Metroid 4. As much as I loved the 3DS, and as much as it gave us over the many iterations and years of service, it’s time to put it out to pasture where it can roam with all the other Nintendo favourites, until you choose to resurrect it as a smaller version of itself replete with some of the greatest titles all in a neat little package.
Of course, there’s so much more I could add to what makes the console great, and a list three times longer about what needs to be added or what I think should be there, but for a first year you have to admit, Nintendo is back and in a BIG way. If this is what year one had to offer us, I can’t wait to hold on for the ride and see where it takes us.