So the Nintendo Switch has finally been completely unveiled. It’s coming out March 3rd, which is much sooner than we anticipated, but it’s also going to cost £280, which is much more than we wanted, especially considering that’s with zero games. Only five games are confirmed for launch, a figure we’re not expecting to change over the next month, so we’ve pre-ordered the console and Zelda. That’s it. We’re going to have a brand new Nintendo Console with no multiplayer games. We can’t afford a second pair of Joy-Con controllers because they’re £75. Thankfully Zelda is only £40 on Amazon, but the RRP is £60.
There were plenty of cool little features we didn’t know about, like the IR camera that can detect gestures and distances, or the high-definition rumble that helps to make the joycons feel like different objects (apparently mostly glasses full of ice). While these are interesting and we’re definitely hoping Nintendo can do something cool and make some really different experiences, we can’t help but feel these cool features will only get used in 1,2 Switch and then never again, but are responsible for pumping the price of those controllers up.
The online offering appears to be mostly terrible. Voice chat is possible but you have to do it via an app on your phone. I’m not sure if you’ll be getting game audio through your phone too, but it makes no sense to not be able to plug a controller into your headset. What if you want to do other things with your phone, or if your phone runs out of battery? It seems like an unnecessary complication for a system that already exists in a much better form on consoles from three generations ago. Not only is this voice chat awkward but you’re paying for the privilege, with the ridiculously slight incentive of getting a free NES or SNES game each month (with added online functionality) that you don’t get to keep past the month it’s available.
Of course the greatest problem with what Nintendo have shown so far is with the software lineup. Even looking past the disappointing games we get to pick from for launch, there was nothing to surprise or excite anybody. Bomberman that looks like it did on the N64, re-releases of Mario Kart and Skyrim, a barely changed Splatoon they’ve stuck a ‘2’ on to, identikit ports for Just Dance and Skylanders. There’s nothing that screams innovation beyond the minigame collection 1,2 Switch. Even that looks like it will struggle to justify a RRP of £40, as everyone is saying – it should have come with the console.
All these signs point to a Nintendo that is increasingly out of touch not just with core gamers, but with the market as a whole. Perhaps the screenless 1,2,Switch could capture people who would usually play board games but that’s a tiny market. Casual gamers won’t be tempted away from their iPads and phones, hardcore games won’t leave their consoles and PCs. Instead this feels like a meagre offering towards Nintendo die-hards like me who’ll buy any old garbage they put out. I’m sure we’ll get a Switch, and I’m sure we’ll enjoy Zelda and perhaps a handful of others games this year, but the hype level has plummeted to subterranean levels and Nintendo’s poor decision making is entirely to blame. I’d like to say maybe next time Nintendo, but unless they do something very impressive this year, I’m not so sure there will be a next time for Nintendo home consoles.