MetalFRO's Blog

Posted on Mar 8th 2017 at 01:00:00 PM by (MetalFRO)
Posted under Nintendo Switch, console launch, Nintendo, launch games, Zelda

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Image shamelessly linked from My Nintendo News.

As I begin writing this article, it is less than 1 week until the launch of the Nintendo Switch console.  By the time this article is posted, the console will have been released.  Because I didn't have the money to pre-order a Switch when the pre-orders were announced, I may well miss out on the launch of the console, unless I'm fortunate enough to score one from the nearest GameStop, Best Buy, or Target, the evening after the midnight launch.  Barring that luck, I suspect it will be a few weeks before I'll be able to get my hands on one.  However, with the Internet hype machine leaking information, and Nintendo themselves feeding the public little crumbs of info over the last few months, I've been sucked in like never before.  I was intrigued by the launch of the Dreamcast, though hopelessly unable to afford one at the time, and I was very excited prior to the launch of the Wii U, though ended up not being able to afford one until nearly a year after launch, but with the Switch, and the possibilities it brings to the table, I have to say I'm more excited than ever.

Throughout my life, I've always sort of gone back and forth between portable/handheld gaming and console gaming.  I started on the family home computer, then got a Game Boy.  I later bought a Sega Genesis, and years later, a Game Boy Color.  I then bought an original PlayStation and Sega Saturn, but didn't wait too long before I grabbed a Sega Nomad.  Somewhere in there I snagged the NES, SNES, and TurboGrafx-16, though those were all used and well after the fact.  I skipped the Game Boy Advance, in favor of a Game Cube, and later a PS2, but when I finally snagged an Xbox, I had a PSP in tow.  And after getting a PS3, before I bought my Wii U a couple years later, I scored a used Game Boy Advance SP.  So while the most recent consoles I have purchased have been traditional home systems (that being the Xbox 360 and the venerable ColecoVision), it would seem I'm due for another handheld.  Indeed, I have finally purchased a Nintendo DS variant, and anxiously await its arrival in the mail, hopefully in the few days following this writing.

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Image shamelessly linked from CNET.
I think, deep down, we all wanted to have this kind of functionality from a game system.

Leave it to Nintendo, stalwarts of doing their own thing, despite the industry's constant winds of change, to create what may well be the biggest paradigm shift in console gaming since they captured the casual market a decade ago with the Wii.  While the Switch may not be immediately poised to replicate that runaway success, given the ubiquity of smart phones and tablets that now frequently meet that casual player's needs, the shift comes more from the vantage point that, unlike the Wii, this device is inherently capable of meeting a multitude of gamer needs and wants.  You have a system that is powerful enough to be considered a home console, that will look and play nicely on your large-screen TV.  At the same time, you can pull that console off the shelf, and take it with you, having the ability to play anywhere, on the go, as if it were a handheld system, like Nintendo's own 3DS, or Sony's recent system, the PlayStation Vita.  The hardware's design is such that it can achieve both, and packs enough power to make it work.

The Switch also marks the first time Nintendo has really opened up hardware development and worked so closely with an outside party during that development process.  By listening to developers, who gave them feedback after the difficult platform that was the Wii U, Nintendo went out of their way to design hardware that was not only functionally easier to design for, but also had open standards to allow for far easier ports of existing titles, and new games, by supporting graphics engines like Unreal Engine 4, Unity, and other, similar  standards.  In a way, the Switch is to the Dreamcast what the Wii U was to the Sega Saturn.  The Saturn was notoriously difficult to develop for, because of its dual-CPU architecture, so when Sega developed the Dreamcast, they made the hardware much simpler, and worked with Microsoft to get a version of Windows CE to power the system, so PC ports could become an easy prospect.  In the same way, the Wii U was underpowered, and because of the older Power PC architecture, was difficult to eek enough power from.  Now, with the NVidia Tegra architecture powering the Switch, and with that technology so tightly integrated, it should be far easier to port games over to it, quite possibly easier than any previous Nintendo console.

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Image shamelessly linked from Hardcore Gamer.
I am really looking forward to Snake Pass on the Switch. According to the dev team,
once they had their Switch dev kit, it took them only a week to port the game over
to the new hardware so it was in a playable, reasonably completed state.

I have a few minor concerns, however.  As with many skeptics, I wonder if the short battery life will hamper my ability to play on the go.  Sure, I can buy a battery pack and keep charging, but I'm not anxious for the Switch to be the next Game Gear, in terms of battery life.  Because of the architecture, and the compromises that have been made to keep costs down, the Switch could be slightly underpowered, and may be less attractive to some devs who put out AAA titles.  Not that folks go to Nintendo for the AAA experience, outside of Nintendo's exclusives, but this lack of 3rd party support has hurt Nintendo during the last generation, and the inability of the Wii to keep up with its HD competitors meant that it lagged behind as well.  As many first impressions videos as I've watched on YouTube from those who say they have large hands and that the Joy-Con controllers feel fine in their large hands, I still worry a bit that my large sausage fingers will be too big for the buttons.  And although there's a lot of hype and excitement for the Switch right now, and a much larger cadre of 3rd parties on board with over 100 games in development, will the new "constant flow" policy Nintendo has of pushing out first party content on a regular basis be enough to sustain momentum with the console so that sales don't dip off after the first 3-6 months, only to pick back up for Super Mario Odyssey, and then die back down after the Christmas rush?  Will 3rd parties see the system being successful enough to entice them to port their games?

Despite the potential issues the Switch might face, I believe it can, and will, be successful.  Nintendo has already done a better job of marketing the Switch prior to its release, than they did during the entire lifecycle of the Wii U.  Between showing it off on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, all the work they've done with YouTube personalities and gaming industry folks, to the Super Bowl commercial and the recent partnering with celebrity John Cena, it's apparent Nintendo knows how hard it fell with the Wii U.  They saw how little they pushed that, and since the Switch is a whole new concept, and drops the "Wii" moniker altogether, I believe it's poised to do well.  The fact that pre-orders were sold out everywhere within a day or two, and demand remains strong, shows that at least there's plenty of initial interest, and as more great software comes out, and more developers jump on-board, I think we'll see the Switch surpass the Wii U sales numbers.  Nintendo is already predicting it will do well, and I hope they're right.  I hope their new strategy will find them the success they're seeking.  In the meantime, once I can find one in the wild, I'll be happily paying for it, taking it home, hooking it up, and enjoying Super Bomberman R and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, regardless of what the industry says or does.

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Thanks for the article! I'm looking to buy one this summer when I hope availability will be more widespread. I'm really looking forward to playing Zelda and Mario on the go.
A friend of mine picked up a Switch on launch day and is enjoying it a lot.  I got to play Zelda and the Shovel Knight prequel Specter of Torment on it, and it seemed pretty cool.  I'll probably pick one up around the end of the year.
So does it play on a TV at all or is it just a big GameBoy?
@Tynstar:You can connect it to the TV via the docking station's HD cable or play it as a handheld.  Also, you can use it as a tablet and use the joy con's with the controler.  Personally, I like playing it as the handheld.  Vita spoiled me.
Looks like the publicity is working as my other-half who has no interest in gaming saw the advert and went "ooooh I want one".
It will be interesting to see how it does. I dont get it but Nintendo hasnt made a system for me since teh GameCube and I dont like handheld gaming.

I got one on launch and have really enjoyed it. Have Zelda: BOTW and Bomberman and downloaded Fast RMX. If you were into the Vita/PSTV scene, you'll be really happy with the Switch as this feels like a fully portable console experience now that really blends both TV gaming and on-the-go, without feeling cheap or gimmicky. Its easily the most beautiful handheld experience ever and isn't a slouch when hooked up to the big screen either.
I was a bit skeptical of the concept at first myself, but once I got it in my hands and played with it a bit I was actually pretty impressed. It feels good and the switching back and forth between handheld and TV when you put it in the dock is as seamless as they claim. A couple questionable hardware design decisions aside, I'm pretty excited about it and can't wait to play more games on it.
Thanks for all the comments, everyone, and sorry I've been absent the last couple days since the article went live, but I've been busy!  I managed to get one on launch day after all, as a local store happened to have 2 of them on the shelf!  No physical games, though, so I had to hit the "big city" the next day to grab Breath of the Wild and Super Bomberman R.  Both games are fun, and I've definitely been sucked into BotW big-time.  Foreshadowing - next month's article will most likely be my impressions after a month with the Switch.  Right now, it's all good, so I'm hoping this new Zelda adventure will keep me going, and as the story unfolds, I'll continue to play and enjoy it as I have been.  I'm looking forward to a couple additional physical releases (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth +), as well as a couple additional indies like Snake Pass, Graceful Explosion Machine (I think that's what it's called), and at some point, I'll pick up the Shovel Knight Treasure Trove so I have the 2 additional campaigns.  Looks like it's going to be a great year for Nintendo fans!

@Tynstar: I can safely say that while I spent the first few hours with the system via handheld mode, the docked mode is no slouch, and it plays really well.  I really like the fact that the sleep mode holds you game exactly where you were, and when you power it back up, you're immediately at the spot you stopped at.  That's a huge feature, because it means you can get right back into the action w/o delay.

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