The Switch has a lot to offer gamers and the industry alike


This article titled “Why I am confident enough to pre-order a Nintendo Switch” was written by Alex Hern, for theguardian.com on Friday 13th January 2017 15.08 UTC

When I went to bed on Thursday night, I knew I would be pre-ordering a Nintendo Switch as soon as I woke on Friday.

I had some rules for myself, of course. The price had to be right; there had to be at least one game I wanted coming on launch day, plus at least one other shortly after; and the implicit promises made in the first announcement – that it would be a truly hybrid system, as capable on-the-go as docked – had to be kept.

But why did I even consider pre-ordering? After all, committing to a console sight unseen is generally considered a bit silly. You could end up with a big block of plastic sat under your TV for a decade, slowly gathering dust. I know the feeling of looking sadly at an unused gaming gadget: I bought a PS Vita.

But from the first footage Nintendo showed of the Switch, it was clear that I was their target demographic made flesh. That’s not just a function of the bearded hipster types the company used to show off the hardware: it’s also because the Switch seemed to suggest a reappraisal of sorts for Nintendo, accepting its position as a secondary console for those with one foot in the gaming market already and offering an element of flexibility for people whose lives don’t revolve around video games.

I’m not a natural Nintendo customer. I don’t own a Wii U or a 3DS, and though my heart yearns for a bit more Pokémon in my life, I never really considered getting either of them. I already don’t have enough time to play every game I want to on my PS4, and the presence of an iPhone, iPad and the aforementioned dust-gathering Vita in my life meant I was loath to pick up a second portable console.

The Switch managed to convince me it would be neither of those. Its portability gave it a reason to be in my life despite the fact that I already have a PS4, while the fact that it’s a fully-fledged console made me more confident it won’t sit gathering dust except on long trips overseas.

Waking up on Friday morning, my resolve was simultaneously attacked and strengthened. The British price for the Switch, at £279.99, is £30 more than I’d expected and £80 more than I’d hoped. There’s not even an unfair exchange rate: pre-tax, the price is £233, or $285. In the US, the pretax cost of the Switch is $300. Thanks, Brexit.

Other aspects of the announcement were a mixed bag. Generally, learning about new features of a console should only be a good thing, and the Switch has a lot of previously unannounced features, from the gyroscopes and IR cameras in the “Joy-Cons” to the presence of a fully-fledged online service. But Nintendo’s history makes those features as potentially concerning as they are welcoming: I’m not looking forward to reliving the dog days of the Wii with a rash of unnecessary motion controls, and I’m certainly not confident enough in Nintendo’s online chops to pay them money for the privilege of struggling to play games with my friends.

So why did I pull out my credit card anyway? It’s all about the games.

The launch title is there. I have no doubt that my Switch will spend a few months as the Zelda: Breath of the Wild machine, and I’m OK with that fact. That’s good, because the non-Zelda titles are … slim. Only one other first-party title will be on the shelves, the motion controlled party game 1-2 Switch; it’s the sort of thing I’d be overjoyed to receive as a box-in title, along the lines of Wii Sports or Playroom VR, but for $49.99, I think I’ll just buy a board game.

More importantly, the future line up suggests I’ll be using the system for some time. A lot of ports from Wii U fill the short term comfortably, while future titles including XenoBlade 2, Splatoon 2 and a beautiful, untitled, Square Enix RPG rounding out the foreseeable future.

Then there’s Super Mario Odyssey, the first major Mario platformer since 2010’s Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii. For me, the game is full of red flags: everything from the “open-world”, “sandbox” gameplay to the bizarre placing of Mario alongside realistically proportioned humans in “New Donk City” to Mario’s impeccably rendered hair.

Those don’t mean the game will be bad, of course, but they tend to be fairly highly correlated with things I’m not overly eager to see. Weird 2006 Sonic game where he falls in love with a human woman, I’m looking your way.

At the same time, there hasn’t really ever been a bad game in that thread. Mario 64 revolutionised the genre, and its follow-ups Sunshine and the pair of Galaxies were all stellar platforms in their own right.

In six weeks, I’ll find out whether or not I was overly optimistic. I’ll be £280 down, plus the cost of the new Zelda. Plus, probably the cost of a second pair of Joy-Cons. Still, one final upside: the Switch charges with a USB-C cable, which means my MacBook Pro powerbrick is all I need to take on holiday with me. Two ill-advised, probably over-priced purchases cancel each other out! So that’s all good then.

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This article titled “Why I am confident enough to pre-order a Nintendo Switch” was written by Alex Hern, for theguardian.com on Friday 13th January 2017 15.08 UTC

When I went to bed on Thursday night, I knew I would be pre-ordering a Nintendo Switch as soon as I woke on Friday.

I had some rules for myself, of course. The price had to be right; there had to be at least one game I wanted coming on launch day, plus at least one other shortly after; and the implicit promises made in the first announcement – that it would be a truly hybrid system, as capable on-the-go as docked – had to be kept.