Completely out of nowhere, everyone and their mother wanted a Nintendo Switch. With sales outpacing the Wii, it’s quite impressive to see this amount of energy and excitement surrounding a Nintendo console, especially when the system had an empty launch lineup with one killer app. Also interesting to note is the lack of emphasis on waggle controls like the Wii, but rather an emphasis on the games promoted the system greatly. When Nintendo first unveiled their new console to the world in October 2016, Internet skepticism spread like a wildfire in California. Is it powerful enough? It’s not that powerful of a system. Are there enough games? Zelda is great, but where are the other games? In January, Nintendo gave us a banquet to look forward to.
Super Mario Odyssey stunned fans everywhere and made longtime Nintendo fanboys nerdgasm of a new nonlinear Mario game in HD. (And it was everything we wanted, too!) Splatoon 2 also surprised fans with a surprisingly early release window. I remember seeing some people express concern and curiosity why Nintendo didn’t just have a remaster of the Wii U game like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Xenoblade 2?! That’s a huge game, and it’s releasing this year?! No way, I smell a delay. The biggest surprise of them all was zero delays. Every game released according to plan. Something very rare in the industry. With all of these giant games releasing like rapid fire, you could tell what kind of Nintendo we’re getting.
In the year 2015 and especially 2016, Nintendo definitely slacked in big first party games. Nintendo seemed to become tired and almost went on sabbatical in 2016. Little did we know that they were shifting their focus entirely towards the Switch. It really goes to show how much trust they had in the Switch as well. What company ditches their console almost two years in advance? Other than Sega with the Saturn, historically, very few successful companies lose faith in their products when it fails to reach their expectations. So, what gave Nintendo so much confidence in the Switch, a console that could’ve easily flopped? Well, there’s one answer to that: games.
Look at the PS4. While the PS3 was not a flop by any stretch of the imagination, with nearly 90 million units moved in its lifetime, Sony wanted that PS2-like energy again with their platform. At E3 2013, Sony had one message in their press conference: “We have a ton of games.” Interestingly, the PS4 didn’t quite deliver on that promise until 2015, but it still became the fastest selling console of all time at launch. That promise was enough for consumers. Today, the PS4 is chock full of great exclusive games under its belt with plenty more coming next year and Sony is still giving consumers the same promise from 2013. “We have a ton of games.” Sony didn’t try to shift the message halfway through the console cycle either unlike the competition (their slogan is still Greatness Awaits for crying out loud, or This is For the Players in the EU). If you sing a song that works with the crowds, why change it? That philosophy contributed to the PS4’s consistently monumental success.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Nintendo watched Sony’s success like a hawk (Microsoft, too, of course.). So, Nintendo did what any sane company would do and deliver that same message to the populace. Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, Metroid, Splatoon, it’s all here on the Switch. That’s a great deal for customers who want to play video games. It also helps when Nintendo found their footing on who to market the Switch. From the reveal trailer to the multitude of TV spots that contain Imagine Dragons’ Believer, the audience knows that this system isn’t for Nickelodeon child actors, but for everyone. College students, elementary schoolers, adults, elderly people, anyone. Their message is as clear as day and it works. They don’t really need a slogan, they just need to show people having a blast with their incredible games.
In my opinion, Super Mario Odyssey is my favorite game of the year. It definitely surpassed Breath of the Wild for me, but that is personal preference, as both games are critically acclaimed and are solid game of the year contenders. Let’s not forget the greatness of Splatoon 2 and Mario and Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. There’s also Doom 2016 and the L.A. Noire rerelease…wait, those are third-party! Rockstar published a game on a Nintendo home console? Sure, it’s a last gen title, but it’s still a solid title. They could easily port GTA V on the Switch and make even more money off of it. Anyway, this is an unprecedented amount of support from third-party publishers that sees no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Rockstar, Bethesda, EA, and Square Enix are some of the publishers on the Switch train. Don’t get me started on the indie support of the console, which competes with the PS4 as some indies are timed exclusives.
2018 looks very promising, too. Kirby and Yoshi will see major installments on the platform (typing that alone makes my heart jump with joy). The next Pokemon generation will arrive on the Switch likely this year. If the stars and planets are aligned properly, Metroid Prime 4 could hit the tail end of 2018. We know so much little about next year, but it could be so much greater than this year in terms of volume of games. E3 could easily be a bigger year for Nintendo. Please announce a new Paper Mario game. Please, Nintendo…er, sorry about that. What else gives the Switch the honor of “best Nintendo console”? Well, the console itself!
Yes, the Nvidia Shield existed for a long time. The concept of a console-handheld hybrid existed for an even longer time. You can argue the Super Game Boy introduced the idea of playing portable games on the TV screen, and I would agree. However, we didn’t see the concept executed exceptionally well until the Switch arrived. The console is slim, speedy, lightweight, and convenient as hell. All for a reasonable price. Simply picking up the Switch makes you want to play it. It almost feels like Play-Doh, as in whenever you touch it, you want to play with it.
The hard, matte finish is smooth and the buttons have a satisfying click when you press them. The Joy-Cons make the trademark snap sound when you slide them on the side of the tablet. When you power the system on, the cute little chime as it boots up is inviting to the player. There’s almost nothing clumsy about the Switch, with the exception of the dock…fuck that thing. The plastic easily scratches the screen and it’s annoying to properly plug in the Switch. I always take multiple attempts to put it in docked mode, but when it works, it’s quite fast. If you don’t mind paying for the Nyko dock which is a much more appropriate design and doesn’t scratch the soft screen, then the dock is a non-issue.
I always thought the PS4 is a super convenient console, but the Switch vastly surpasses it. Don’t get me wrong, the PS4 is still a mighty speedster and I still enjoy it, but the Switch lacks the long install times and constant updates in games. That is an advantage with it being cartridge-based of course and I don’t doubt bigger games like L.A. Noire require much longer install times as that game takes a lot more storage than say Super Mario Odyssey. The packaged 32GB SD card is incredibly tiny and inconvenient to consumers who want to pop in NBA 2K18 but have to fork over more cash for a larger 128GB SD card. Let’s not ignore the severely weak screen made out of plastic. Gorilla glass isn’t that expensive, is it? Not to mention the ridiculously expensive Pro controller, twice the price of a Dualshock 4 or Xbox One controller.
Yes, the Switch has its flaws. However, have you ever witnessed a more energetic and appreciated platform? The Switch is the new darling of the industry. Everyone wants it, and everyone who has it loves it. Like the PS4 (no offense Xbox One, you’re still great), it’s the console everyone must have if they want to play video games. With the perfect message, perfect games, and perfect execution and design, it’s safe to say Nintendo knocked it out of the park and is ready for more action. Is it the best console Nintendo created? It’s too early to tell as great consoles must come with great legacies. So far, though, the Switch reawakened the global admiration of Nintendo as a household name and pushed them back to the forefront of the industry. Because of what it accomplished in its launch year, it is nothing short of remarkable and I cannot wait for its future.