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My final post about the Switch before it comes out

switch neon bundle
Alright, so I want to make this my final post about the Switch, at least until it comes out. I don’t tend to give this much attention on here to new hardware, but the Switch is… different.

After the presentation on January 12, I was left… confused. It was really a weird presentation overall, it was disappointing but also had some really exciting aspects. I didn’t know what to feel about it, so I decided, after posting my “live” reaction, that I’d sleep on it for a few days and figure out what I actually think about the Switch.

So… let’s gather my thoughts, and let’s rant about this.

I will try to get the most stuff I can think of out of the way so I can not post about the Switch again until release. So this might be a bit long. But this isn’t a pointless post. I try to not repeat too much of the stuff I’ve said before, though I might.

Console launches and why the Switch is the most exciting platform in the last 20 years at least

So here’s my thing with console launches… Basically none of them since the N64/PS1 era (the last paradigm shift in gaming) have been exciting at all. It’s always just “here’s last generation’s platform, but a bit stronger” (even the more exciting ones (I guess Wii and Wii U?) weren’t that exciting). A power upgrade isn’t terribly interesting, which is why I only get excited for consoles because of what games I’ll get to play. Platforms are just what let me play games, and aren’t really cool in and of themselves. Power isn’t exciting in the console realm, especially nowadays, because PC will always trump the consoles by a massive amount (while getting more and more affordable and accessible). Consoles need something different to be exciting. There’s a reason I didn’t really post about the PS4 and Xbone before those came out (one post about the PS4, where I got a lot wrong in retrospect, and none about the Pointless Box), they’re just the same thing as before. None of them did anything the previous ones didn’t. (Wii and Wii U were close, but a bit of foresight was enough to know they were not that big a deal)

The Switch is easily the most exciting platform since the advent of 3D graphics. The idea that you can bring the same games you play in HD on your TV anywhere on the go without network latency is pretty big. Sure, it might not (see: definitely won’t) end up being as powerful as the other guys, but that’s not really the point. The point is the portability and the easy switch between the TV and handheld modes and the simple controllers you can snap off and give to someone else for multiplayer. It’s not something any other platform has done. It’s not a HUGE change, but it’s enough to put it miles ahead of the competition as far as being a gaming device. No weird new gimmick (just the same ones since the Wii, basically), just straight up gaming. Anywhere. Plus the whole sharing controllers thing is nice I guess, not sure how real-world analytics will fare when looking at if people are playing it at parties or restaurants or whatever. My prediction: not much. I would love to see the data a year after release though, that would be nice.

Sure, I’m hyped for the games on it, there’s no question about that. If it wasn’t sure to get good games I wouldn’t care about the console, but it’s Nintendo so quality exclusives are definitely gonna be there. But it’s the first time in a long ass time that the hardware itself is a big part of the excitement. Controllers basically stopped evolving after the SNES (they all use the SNES controller with analog sticks, Nintendo basically perfected controller design), hardware upgrades are expected and boring and usually not as significant as people think… It’s so rare that something really unique is done.

The console itself: controller, price, release date, region free, whatever else comes to mind

300$. That’s 400$ here in Canada. That’s kind of a lot. Much more than I was expecting. But that’s not all. Accessories; prices are through the roof. Want an extra set of Joy-Con controllers? 80$ (100$ in Canada). What? And that doesn’t include a grip, which cost 30$ (40$ in Canada). The Pro controller is 70$ (90$ in Canada). Want an extra dock to set in front of a different TV? 90$ (probably 110$ in Canada)… not too sure why. These are insane prices, much higher than they should be. Let’s just say it this way. In Canadian dollars, you can buy a PS4 bundled with a game for 350$. 400$ with no game is madness. The value proposition is rough for most people. I can see the value (2 games alone make this a worthwhile purchase) but Nintendo have a hard job ahead to convince people who aren’t me. A 3DS situation is definitely possible here.

The release date of March 3rd is really nice. Doing a full reveal of the console less than 2 months before release is a superb thing that other console manufacturers should take note of. It feels so good to know that the Switch will be in my hands in no time. That goes for games too, devs need to stop announcing games early.

The base controller… it looks really small. Like, REALLY small. I tend to have issues with small controllers, so a Pro controller is almost definitely on my buy list (though I have no issue with the handheld mode). But hey it’s Nintendo. They can make almost anything comfortable to hold, they did so nicely with the Gamepad. I will say I noticed the 2 shoulder buttons on each joycon (when attached to the grip) very quickly during the presentation, and their positioning is a lot better than on the Wii U gamepad. My only real problem is that there’s no real D-pad, since the D-pad is a set of face buttons. Not a big fan of that. I fully understand why (since each separate joy-con is also it’s own controller), but for single-player it’s a bit annoying. From hands-on impressions though apparently the base controller is really nice, so are separate joy-cons.

I don’t know why the Switch has a touch screen when said touch screen can’t be useable in TV mode. Just… what’s the point? Are some games gonna be handheld mode only?

The Switch is region free. Thank you Nintendo for not being shit about that this time.

Battery life needs some help… but we all have leftover portable chargers from the pokemon go days, right? No problem then. If not, they’re cheap. Gripe gone. And 2 and a half to 6 hours is not much less than the 3DS and Vita (if it is even less at all). So whatever. A non-issue if there ever was one.

32 GB space sounds bad, but considering how expensive the console already is I’m happy it’s not more. The fact that it takes Micro SDXC means you can expand that quite a bit (reports say it will support up to 2TB, so whatever man), if you want to. Plus… why is anyone buying digital games on any console unless they’re digital-only games like Sonic Mania? Buy physical, it’s cheaper (because price goes down faster, and pre-order deals, and Amazon Prime) and you get to actually own a thing. Buying digital in this day and age is ridiculous on console (on PC it’s fine, since discounts are always around there even on new releases).

Paid online is stupid anti-consumer shit

PS+ on PS4 is stupid and bad. Xbox Live is stupid and bad. Whatever this will be called, the Switch online services, it’s gonna be stupid and bad. There’s nothing more anti-consumer than making people pay to play a game they already paid for, using an internet connection they already pay for on a system they paid for. I don’t care if you get “free games” (they’re not free, you’re paying for a subscription you schmucks). Even those “free games” aren’t even “free games” with the Switch because they expire every month (I consider this a rumor, but that’s the info we have now, so there).

You don’t pay-to-play online on PC unless you subscribe to MMORPGs (which I’ve never done, I hate that idea). There’s no subscription fee for Steam or any other non-shitty service. Why would it be a thing?

1-2 Switch should be a pack-in… or should not have been made at all

Like seriously, no one wants to pay 50$ for that. It’s a pretty dumb game. I have no idea who the target market is. I’ll go with “drunk people that will forget the game exists after playing it once”. I want to see the meeting that somehow led to this game being made, it has to be amazing to see serious business people pretending to milk cows.

It’s a really stupid idea. Waste of budget that could’ve gone to a decent project. Take the 1-2 Switch budget go to adding even more individual hairs to Mario’s mustache or something (no seriously he has individual mustache hairs now).

2017 will be an incredible year for Nintendo and the Switch, and that’s probably not enough

Here I’ll talk about games. I will only really mention what’s what’s announced, so there’s possibilities that some rumors are still true, we’ll see.

See, if any other system had a year that had a big open world Zelda, it would be considered a great year on that ONE GAME alone. If any other system had a year that had both a big open world Mario, it would be considered a great year on that ONE GAME alone. The Switch is getting BOTH of those, and Splatoon 2, Xenoblade 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, maybe Fire Emblem Warriors, plus who knows what else will be announced later (heavy rumors for Pokemon Star, Smash Bros port with new characters). And there’s a bunch of smaller games like Arms, Snipperclips, Fast RMX, Super Bomberman R, Ultra Street Fighter 2 and Disgaea 5 Complete (plus some multiplat stuff that is irrelevant … and might be put on Switch BECAUSE of the irrelevancy). But I wonder if that’s enough for the average gamer to give a crap. I don’t know. People have this weird tendency to hate Nintendo for no reason at all. Or freak out if games have this mystical thing called “color”. Is the 2 biggest games of the year BY FAR enough to sway people? We’ll see. They’re not brown (I’m sad that this is still a thing).

Anyways… Time to be positive here and say the biggest truth of all here: 2017 is just amazing for the Switch. The best first year for any modern console, it’s not even close. Heck, it’s better than the entire life of the Xbone (now and in the future). Super Mario Odyssey alone just looks so fantastic I would buy the Switch at launch just to have it sit there doing nothing until that came out. It looks that good. It’s more open like Sunshine and Mario 64 were (but much much bigger), and there seems to be some new cool gameplay ideas and different environments with different challenges. I must have this game.

Then there’s Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which just looks amazing. If you don’t think so yet, you haven’t been looking. Sure you can get it on Wii U as well (I find it to be a mistake on Nintendo’s part to make them simultaneous releases, should’ve delayed the Wii U version), but I’d rather have the option to go portable with it, plus the slightly better graphics on the Switch version.

Splatoon 2 looks fucking awesome. I love the first one, this one adds new weapon types, new subweapons and the super weapons are all completely different. Plus new maps (with some cool designs, from what I’ve seen). The paid online thing is stupid though, so I don’t know how much I’ll get to play this, but the paid service starts in the fall so we’ll have a couple months of Splatooning without having to pay extra for no reason at all.

And hey Mario Kart 8 was great, so a new version with a proper battle mode is even better. Hopefully it has new Grand Prix to go through, rumors did mention new tracks that haven’t been announced. That rumor might be false though.

It was a pretty good game but I wasn’t the biggest fan of Xenoblade (though I liked it a lot more than Xenoblade X). At the moment Xenoblade 2 looks really cool though, and Nintendo (as well as one of the devs) are insisting on a 2017 release. That would be a pretty big game too.

There’s a lot of smaller games that are fun little distractions in-between too, plus the potential of more stuff being announced before the Switch launch (we’re already getting a Direct for Fire Emblem Warriors in 2 days, so more games is definitely possible). Some rumors might still be true, and if not E3 has some potential to be big (though, you know, curb your expectations, E3 usually sucks for every company). Arms looks like it will be interesting to look at, Super Bomberman R is a nice surprise (and will be the multiplayer game of choice for the launch), Disgaea 5 is awesome (and this version has all the DLC), Fast RMX looks cool (an almost-sequel to the apparently really good Fast Racing Neo), Ultra Street Fighter 2 is freaking Street Fighter 2 so obviously it’ll be solid… and hey Sonic Mania is coming to Switch, and will be the best version of it due to portability.

2017 is HUGE for the Switch. Most people just don’t realize it. Year 1 is completely fine. Lets hope Nintendo can spruce it up just a bit by E3, and can keep it up for following years… But even just as it is I’m satisfied.

The launch isn’t actually bad

I mean, it’s not great, but it blows nearly every other console before it at launch out of the water, with it having Zelda: Breath of the Wild at launch. It has very few games at launch, sure, but the fact that it actually has something GOOD is crazy. The Wii had Twilight Princess, so that’s close enough (thought Breath of the Wild looks so much better than TP it’s not even funny). With that alone I’m pretty satisfied. The fact that it has one game worth playing puts it far above the pitifully bad launches of the PS4 and Xbone (which got a higher number of games but none that were worth playing).

The Switch starts with 1 undoutedly-amazing game that will win a ton of GotY awards… plus Bomberman for a fun multiplayer game. And I guess 1-2 Switch if you’re drunk and like wasting money on crap. And following launch the release schedule isn’t completely barren either. So… yeah, the launch is fine.

The third-party conundrum (AKA why people are stupid about third-party on Nintendo platforms)

One of the biggest complaints about Nintendo since the N64 has been their lack of third-party support. For a good long while it was a meaningful complaint, because the NES and SNES was really strong in that aspect and third-parties still made exclusive at the time.

However nowadays third-parties almost entirely make their games multiplatform (with a handful of mostly-niche exclusives and handheld games (interesting…))… So why would third-party support matter THAT much ot the Switch? Everyone complaining “I don’t get Nintendo consoles because they don’t get third-party games” are idiots, because they most likely already have other platforms that will play those games. So clearly the one thing that SHOULD matter for any platform is whether you’re interested in the exclusives, right? Third-party games, unless they’re exclusives, should not be a factor when deciding whether to buy a console.

There is a good argument for getting Switch versions of multiplats though, if you end up grabbing the console. And I think that one pretty much speaks for itself: portability. For PS4/Vita multiplats I always recommend going for the Vita version, it just makes sense. Portability trumps power in many cases. Plus with Switch you can play on the TV as well, so it fits both niches at once. The only exceptions to that rule are if control is better on PC, or if performance is really important to the gameplay (in which case you get the PC version).

So it sounds like I’m contradicting myself, but I’m not. Just offering 2 different points. Third-party shouldn’t be an influencer for you if you already have a platform that plays these multiplat third-party games. However if you do get a Switch, that’s the platform where getting multiplats makes the most sense(with some exceptions)… if it even gets them, which leads to my next point.

Other third-party problems with Nintendo

Plus the other problem with third-parties when it comes to Nintendo… Well, right now third-parties are doing exactly like they did with the Wii U, releasing subpar trash instead of their main stuff (except NIS, and Konami seems to have put a little bit of effort), with their plan being to use those games’ bad sales as an excuse to stop supporting it. That’s exactly what happened with the Wii U. It’s dumb. Heck, Bethesda is actually really unclear about whether Skyrim is the enhanced edition or not… it would be baffling if it wasn’t, but they’re not saying. If it’s not the remaster they’re basically doing the same shit if it’s being released at full price (kinda like EA releasing ME3 on Wii U at full price while the other consoles had the entire trilogy for less).

Something different should happen between Nintendo and third-parties, since multiplats aren’t gonna work out (except maybe for Japanese devs)…

When will Nintendo start hiring other devs to make exclusive games with Nintendo franchises (or new Nintendo-owned IPs, because why not)

Third-parties should be a tool for Nintendo. A tool to get more games out. They actually have done this many times before, even recently. They got Platinum Games to make the amazing new IP Wonderful 101 (and then used them as code monkeys to make a bad Star Fox game), funded the development and publishing of Bayonetta 2, some of the handheld Zelda games were made by Capcom, Namco made Star Fox Assault, Team Ninja made Metroid Other M (a better game than you have been lead to believe), Squaresoft made Super Mario RPG, Hudson Soft made the Pokemon Card Game on GBC, Game Freak making Pokemon still to this day, Rare doing lots of Donkey Kong games and Star Fox Adventures (they were “essentially” first-party at the time, but not entirely), and I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of things.

So what I want to say is… do more of that. Nintendo has a shitload of franchises that are dormant. Well… wake ’em up! Get deals with outside dev studios and get them to revive series, or produce smaller games for the big series. Have them under your supervision, but give them lots of creative freedom (because we don’t want to end up with another Star Fox Zero). Some series need new ideas, so why not? Get From Software to make a new StarTropics. Get WayForward to make a 2D Metroid. Get Platinum to make a Star Fox from scratch (instead of being code monkeys for a bad game). Get Shin’en to make F-Zero. Find some cool indie dev to make a new For the Frog the Bell Tolls, or Ice Climber, or Advance Wars, or Famicom Detective Club or Adventures of Lolo. I don’t really care, just get some devs to make games for you. It’s madness that you don’t do it more.

The Switch needs a solid, constant output of games, and this is a pretty easy way to do so. Get other people to make the games, and act as the quality control. Nintendo, you’re still at a point where you have a shitload of money in the bank. Use it, get more games out.

Virtual console

I don’t very much care about virtual console because… I have all these games already. But if they reset virtual console and start trickling the releases again like they did with Wii U I will punch them in the face (figuratively). This VC should at MINIMUM have everything that’s on the Wii U. Even better if it also has everything that’s on the Wii VC.
VC games supporting online is potentially cool though.

Voice chat from a smartphone app is the weirdest shit ever

Like, what? Yeah that’s all I have to say about that one. It’s just dumb. The fact that you have to pay for the online and the voice chat somehow requires a smartphone is baffling. I don’t understand it.

Overall

There’s a lot of very valid concerns with the Switch. Nintendo are still not out of their Wii phase as evidenced by stupid shit like 1-2 Switch (but maybe that game’s eminent failure will make them think twice about doing stupid crap like that again), and they are adopting shit other companies are doing like paid online, and the prices are ridiculous…

But despite all the confusion and weirdness and negativity at the official reveal presentation on January 12th, I’ve turned around from “I’ll reluctantly pre-order it” to being really positive about it and being super excited about it. I mean, have you SEEN Super Mario Odyssey? I’m hyped as hell for this console and nothing will stop me.

… I think I covered everything I need to here. Now to not talk about the Switch ever again…

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