Nintendo Switch, $299.99
The last time I bought into a so-called game-changing device, I ended up with a ball-and-cup game from Japan (called Kendama) that I promised I’d practice until I was a master. Much like my pie-in-the-sky ball-and-cup promises, Nintendo promised the world with its new console, the Switch. Has it delivered? Let’s just say I’ve taken more balls to the face than have landed in the cup — but in our own distinct way, we’re getting there.
The Nintendo Switch was unveiled in October 2016 and saw a quick turnaround to release day, March 3, 2017. The hybrid console is aptly named, as one can switch from playing games on the television to roaming about with the console, itself both a stationary and mobile gaming device, through the use of a tablet screen and controllers that latch onto either side, labeled the Joy-Cons.
Nintendo is no stranger to innovation when it comes to its meat-and-potatoes systems. The GameCube, released in 2001, was shaped the way one would expect, given its name, and games came on the mini-DVD format, which, outside of use in-system, never took off commercially. The Nintendo Wii came next (2006), with controllers colloquially referred to as Wiimotes. There is no shortage of Wii-Wii jokes on the Internet.
Now, with the Switch, Nintendo continues in the tradition of giving fans something they never knew they wanted: a portable console. A console that is also mobile. A cool gimmick that, in the end, means squat if the games aren’t worthy of your time or money.
The biggest seller of the Switch thus far has been Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Breath of the Wild is a phenomenal game, receiving praise far and wide for being a truly innovative, open-world role-playing game featuring everyone’s favorite androgynous man-child, Link. Everyone wanted to play it, everyone wants to play it, but does the Switch want to allow folks to play it?
Word to the wise: In modern gaming (or modern anything electronic, really), purchasing anything on the day of release means that you are going to be a test monkey for developers who were forced to release an unfinished product by deadline, regardless of the bugs and other things that might pop up. The Switch has been no exception thus far. Bugs, such as a delay between the Joy-Cons and the system, which connect via Bluetooth, have made games unplayable or harder than they should be. Other issues seem petty compared to game-crashing glitches, but some users reported the ease with which the tablet’s screen could be scratched permanently by Nintendo’s own dock to hold the tablet upright.
If you want to be the first on your block with anything, these types of things should come as no surprise. Microsoft and Sony have also released systems before they really should have, but in the end, everything is remedied through a series of downloadable updates.
Another issue with the Switch, as with all new consoles, is the lack of games available on day one, Breath of the Wild being the sole standout. Games that are available now for the Switch include the role-playing game I Am Setsuna and Snipperclips, in which players cut out characters from virtual paper using virtual scissors to solve virtual puzzles. As you can imagine, the games are freakin’ flying off the shelves.
At least owners will soon have a few more options: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Fire Emblem and more are due out in the near future.
It’s far too early to say whether or not the Switch will be a successful system. After all, it is Nintendo. With every new generation, Nintendo surprises the world with something truly unique, and in the end, isn’t that what we want from our developers? Well, that and something to play, I suppose. Cross your fingers!
Chris O’Neal likes to switch it up on them. Follow him on Instagram at @atchrisoneal.