11 Sep Nintendo Switch Has Become One Of My Favorite Consoles (Of All Time)
As you all already know, I’m a huge Nintendo fan(boy). I take their side constantly and when others criticize them for their moves, I often find myself playing defender. Nintendo has been a company that I’ve always appreciated and as someone who likes to walk to the beat of their own drummer, I can appreciate their dedication to being true to who they are. Nintendo is a quirky, odd, fun Japanese video game and toy maker who has spent the past 30+ years creating some of the greatest games ever made. Their influence is second-to-none and their library of properties should exhibit their overall importance to the industry. Nintendo’s mascot, Mario is the archetypical video game character. The NES has become the progenitor of the modern home console and was the savior of video games back in the 1980s after the crash of 1983. We all can appreciate what Nintendo has done for the industry and while they sometimes make us scratch our heads with confusion, they have created some of the best experiences in gaming history. I applaud them for continuing to be original, different, weird, and fun. Their newest console, The Switch, is no different and fits their philosophy perfectly and that’s been an important aspect of its success. I know this may be blasphemous, but the Nintendo Switch is quickly becoming my second-favorite Nintendo console of all time and definitely in my top 3-5 consoles ever. What makes the Switch so good? Why does it stand out? How does an underpowered hybrid console win our hearts over? There’s many reasons as to why…
Switch Represents the Culmination and Merging of Styles
Nintendo has been in the home console game for decades. It all started with Pong-like games in the late 1970s and early 1980s as part of the Color TV Game series. Nintendo then branched out into arcades and also created some of the earliest handheld games with the Game & Watch series. This represents the beginning of different lines from Nintendo. As Donkey Kong went on the sell millions of cabinets, Game and Watch games were developed for people on the go. Eventually Nintendo created the NES as a new foray into the home console market. Luckily for us the NES took the world by storm and gave home consoles a new leg to stand on and a new era of console gaming erupted into the 80s and 90s. In 1989, Nintendo released the wonderfully revolutionary Game Boy. While it wasn’t the first or most powerful handheld, it’s low price point, durability, excellent battery life, and great library caused it to become THE name in handheld gaming. Just as the NES caused all video games to be dubbed “Nintendo” the Game Boy was the common term for just about any handheld gaming device. Playing a DS? It’s a Game Boy! PSP? Game Boy. Turbo Express? Game Boy… Nintendo had two entirely separate product lines, handheld and home console. Over the past three decades Nintendo would often lean upon its handheld line to compensate for when the home consoles were not performing as they needed to. The N64 relied on the Game Boy/Game Boy Color, Game Cube on the Game Boy Advance and DS. Most recently, the overall failure of the Wii U forced Nintendo to heavily rely on the astronomical success of the 3DS to make up for the loss. The Wii U had only sold roughly 13-14 million units during it’s 5 year life span while the 3DS sold well over 75 million units. Many fans thought that the Wii U would mark the end of Nintendo as a home console manufacturer much to our deepest and darkest fears. We feared that Nintendo would only make handheld devices in the future and while I loved the 3DS (still do!!) I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Nintendo home consoles.
As 2016 entered the Autumn, many rumors circulated around the Internet, that Nintendo was working on some kind of Handheld/Home Console Hybrid. Then on October 20th, 2016 Nintendo hosted a press event and unveiled, the Nintendo Switch. A brand new console that could easily “switch” from being in handheld mode to becoming a home console to play on your TV. We were blown away and preorders sold out in minutes…my internet went out in my house that night and I couldn’t pre order one (eternal sadface). It was at that moment that Nintendo finally decided that two product lines wasn’t the right move and they merged their handheld and home consoles into one unit. Since its release the Switch has gone on to sell close to 40 million units, close to 3 times that of the Wii U in half the time. The Switch has gone on to be a bonefide hit! It has merged the styles and given gamers a variety of experiences. The Switch library is one of the most diverse I can think of, loaded with: indie games, JRPGs, action games, platformers, and some of the best Nintendo games ever released. The merging of styles and the combination of lines have only helped the Switch’s success. Since Nintendo no longer has to split their efforts between console and handheld, they can focus all of their releases and third party titles in one direction.
I predict that many of the Switch’s heavy hitters would have been released on handhelds in the past. Octopath Traveler, Link’s Awakening, Fire Emblem, Pokemon, Kirby, and Yoshi may have all been released on a successor to the 3DS if they had remained separate. With both product lines as one, it means all the games go to one place and Nintendo is focused on making the Switch experience as good as it could be. Nintendo has definitely benefited from this model as we’ve seen many titles hit that coveted million sales mark since their launch. Focusing the laser to empower one console has helped to invigorate the fanbase and have solid releases month after month. Looking at the Switch calendar right now is quite daunting in the best way possible with one major and lengthy release each month, fans shouldn’t have no time to complain about the number of games! July 2019 – January 2020 are JAM PACKED!
- July – Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3
- August – Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Astral Chain
- September – Link’s Awakening Remake, Dragon Quest XI
- October – Luigi’s Mansion
- November – Pokemon Sword and Shield
- December – a Month to breathe…and play SNES games
- January – Tokyo Mirage Sessions
As a gamer who was used to getting 2-3 Nintendo console releases a year, it’s amazing to see big releases each month, but thankfully the focus is in one spot allowing developers of all sizes to sink their teeth into Switch and give us amazing games. The focused product line has also helped to bolster the indie scene and has given we gamers even more to play…
Switch Has Taken Advantage of Indie Gaming AND The Retro Revolution
In the late 1990s everything had to be 3D. Everyone wanted to make THEIR Super Mario 64 or the next Ocarina of Time. Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon held a commanding lead over the video game industry as the successors to the throne. Even Sonic made his way to 3D on Dreamcast. Then it seemed like every game was a AAA First-Person Shooter for a while. Each generation has their trends and in the past it’s been impossible to avoid them. If you didn’t like grey-brown grit than the PS3 generation was harsh for you. If you weren’t all in on the online shooter the last 10 years have been tough. Thankfully smaller, independent companies have been given the platforms necessary to show that they’re not to be disregarded. While indie games owe a large portion of their accessibility to Xbox Live Arcade and Steam, Switch has become THE place to play many of these little gems. Indie games have become a major part of the conversation with games like Bastion, Inside, Shovel Knight, Stardew Valley, Axiom Verge, and Celeste all being Game of the Year contenders. The Nintendo Switch is loaded with amazing indies (Nindies) and the console’s portability has made it the perfect way to play most of them. Playing Shovel Knight and Bastion on Switch has been brilliant and I don’t want to play them elsewhere (except MAYBE on PC).
Indie games have proven that video games don’t need giant worlds and impossible budgets to be considered high quality. As many indie games draw influences from the retro games of the 80s and 90s it would only make sense that the big game companies would follow suit. Over the past decade we have seen a rebirth of 2D games, whether it be platformers, RPGs, fighting games, and shoot ‘em ups. Nintendo has been focused on delivering a handful of great retro-inspired games as they continue to support the New Super Mario Bros. series, Donkey Kong Country Returns, the Yoshi series, and Metroid: Samus Returns. These games play like they did 20+ years ago and feel to be a direct response to the retro revolution we’ve seen since 2010.
Nintendo has shown that they’re the perfect partner for so many of these indie developers. I, for one, almost always prefer to play indie games on Switch and I’ve repurchased so many indies I had in the past to take with me on the go. It’s also quite cool to see a 2D Mario and Donkey Kong next to games like Steamworld Dig and Celeste. I made sure to buy Cuphead and will absolutely purchase Ori and the Blind Forest when it releases on Switch, indies just feel RIGHT on this console.
In conjunction with indies and retro-inspired games, the Switch is chock-filled with retro collections, arcade ports, NES, and SNES games. Just last week Nintendo has bolstered their online collections to include 20 SNES games, including Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island, Super Metroid, A Link to the Past, and Breath of Fire. This in conjunction with the current NES library available gives gamers over 70 retro games to play on the go. If you sign up for Nintendo Switch Online (only $20/year) you get access to these right away, 70 retro games for the price of a budget title!
Other developers have also added their classic catalogs to the Switch. If you peruse the Switch E-Shop you’ll find all sorts of collections with everything from Mega Man to Sega Ages or Resident Evil and King of Fighters. Companies like Sega, Capcom, and SNK have worked alongside developers like M2 and HAMSTER to distribute and optimize classic console and arcade games for Switch. Nintendo has intelligently built their console to not only embrace the new and different, but also to give us access to a significant portion of video game history. You can even play the original arcade version of Donkey Kong which was thought to have been lost to time. The prices on these collections and games are fairly reasonable and they allow gamers to see what the past held. I’m big on accessibility so the availability of these games at a low cost is very nice to see. Nintendo has doubled down on retro and it’s paid off for them greatly.
Accessibility, Ports, and Imagination
I’ll reiterate this, but I think the most important aspect of entertainment, art, and creativity is access to experience it. We can go online and look up famous paintings, or download classic novels on our kindles. You can log into Spotify and Apple Music and for a small monthly fee play any song that they have in their catalog. I think that this is important for video games as well. Games boast a near 50 year history with thousands and thousands of games released over the past five decades. It would be a shame if we didn’t have services that allowed us to find and play through the history of gaming. Switch has become one of my favorite consoles of all time for many aspects, but accessibility is one of the most important. The games are good, but it’s also amazing to be able to jump from Donkey Kong to Super Mario Bros. to Secret of Mana to Street Fighter II to Final Fantasy VII to Breath of the Wild. All these games can be on your switch with just a click of a joycon. If you wanted to play through the history of Mario ALONE you’d have a pretty easy time of it, sure there are some games missing from the storefront, but you can get a fairly good idea of where the games came from and where they’re going. The Switch represents a lot of new things about gaming, but it also isn’t afraid to celebrate the long history and great games we’ve been able to play. There’s even a lot of obscure titles available through Arcade Archives. I’ve always been a huge Street Fighter fan, but Switch has given me access to King of Fighters and Samurai Shodown. I can now see how these series have played off one another and silently competed with each other, gaining a better understanding of how fighting games developed in the 1990s.
Ports are a sticking point for some gamers, as they’re upset that too many games are being ported to Switch. As someone who loves to take his Switch on the go, I think I’d like MORE ports on the console. I want to see every first party Wii U game, every collection, classic arcade ports, 10 year old PC games, 5 year old PC games, every Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest…and PERSONA 5!! When we have these ports we win and while the games may not be new, they’re always going to be new to someone else. It’s nice to have one console that I can fit in my backpack that is loaded up with dozens of the best games of all time and collection after collection of my favorite games. There are times I will play Mega Man X on Switch then jump to Tetris 99 in just a few seconds, while I’m sitting on a flight to Florida. It’s quite unbelievable and has bolstered a library that may have otherwise been lacking. When the Collection of Mana released earlier this year, I jumped for joy! I want to play everything on Switch! And when Dragon Quest XI releases later this year, I know that it will conquer my Autumn.
What’s great about Switch is that if you’re tired of ports, remasters, and remakes, then you can soak in the dozens of games that have completely revolutionized their series. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has shot up to the tops of many “Greatest of All Time” lists as has Super Mario Odyssey. Nintendo has taken two of their most celebrated series and reinvented them to work in imaginative new ways. Both games have challenged their genres and have become the new gold standard in their fields. In addition Nintendo has worked internally to create original and quirky games like Arms, Splatoon, and reinvented Pokemon with Let’s Go. 3rd Party developers are also back on board as Square Enix has found a way to breathe new life into the turn-based JRPG with Octopath Traveler. Platinum Games has gifted us the new and brilliant Astral Chain and Ubisoft has found new and fun ways to work with Mario in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Arika and Nintendo have also worked together to craft the best Tetris game since the Game Boy with Tetris 99. While some of the names may be old, the experiences are new and different in the best way possible.
All of this is great, but the real reason why the Switch is so good…
There are SO.MANY.GAMES
The ongoing sarcastic joke about Nintendo Switch is that “there are no games for it”, which is definitely incorrect. Do yourself a favor and go to nintendo.com or log into your Switch to check out the online marketplace. Each week there are heaping handfuls of games being released. Are all of them masterpieces? No, but many of them are good to great. I’ve scheduled 5-6 games that I must play by year’s end 2019 and all of them are Switch titles and their genres range from Action to JRPG to Adventure to Strategy. There’s no shortage of great experiences on Switch. I’m actually in awe at how many excellent games are on the list. While I’m a greedy boy and request more and more, it’s amazing to see how many wonderful experiences you can play right now.
In the end all we gamers want is a diverse library of experiences and access to great games. Switch has that and thanks to the support of ports, indies, and 3rd parties there’s never a lull in the release schedule. I would suggest the Switch to just about any one, based on library alone. While gamers like to brag and boast about power, it doesn’t matter how strong a console’s processor is if you’ve got nothing to play on it. What Switch lacks in power, it makes up for in experiences and ease of play. I remember the first time I put my Switch on sleep mode only to pick it up later to start exactly where I left off. It felt like the future, for real. It’s always in my backpack, so If I want to grind a few levels at lunch or play through a stage or two while waiting for an appointment, I can without issue. Sometimes it’s hard to pick what to play! Being able to transition from handheld to docked also adds a nice level of variety to gameplay. I can grind in Final Fantasy while watching TV but if I want to soak in the beauty of Hyrule I can pop the Switch in the dock. I can play hundreds of great games anywhere at anytime. The Switch makes any car ride, flight, or awkward lunch that much less awkward.
The Switch has become my second favorite Nintendo console behind the SNES and my third or fourth favorite console of all time behind: SNES, PS1 and Dreamcast. It’s completely reignited my love for gaming and has shown me that it’s not all about power, but about the games and fun. I will always love my gaming PC, but Switch is the perfect travel companion for any gamer. And when the Switch Lite comes out in September of 2019, it’ll bring the joys of Switch to more and more people due to its reasonable $200 price point. This console has made me incredibly happy and I cannot wait to see how it continues to succeed in the future!
Also…play a lot of Smash Bros. ok?