Previously, I wasn’t planning on getting a Nintendo Switch, at least not at launch, but Nintendo’s live presentation the night of January 13 changed my mind.
I have played Nintendo ever since I was five years old when my parents picked up a used NES for my brother and me from a kid on our block in New York who wanted to upgrade to an SNES. Our first games were Ducktales, Battletoads, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the latter two of which I still have not beaten to this day. I later got to enjoy classics like Super Mario Bros 3, The Legend of Zelda, and Mega Man 2, among others.
I was never absolutely loyal to Nintendo, but I still played my brother’s Super Nintendo after our parents gave that to him and a Sega Genesis to me. That was late into the 16-bit lifespan, and my family considered me to be “addicted” to video games, so they refused to get a Nintendo 64, although my brother finally got a PlayStation when he complained about my gaming habits enough.
In truth, I had little else to do. I had a hard time focusing enough to read books because kids books were generally boring to me, and I often lost track of what I was reading due to my then-undiagnosed ADHD. I was also unathletic and had no one to play outside with other than my brother, who used me as a punching bag, in Palm Coast, FL.
To this day, after a GameCube, Wii, and Wii U, I am more devoted to Nintendo than ever. Even though I enjoy Xbox and PlayStation and will freely attest that they offer plenty of features that are better than Nintendo’s, I have always had a soft spot for Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, and the plethora of other series the company owns. Some criticize Nintendo for falling back on popular franchises, but they do show far more creativity and variance than the yearly Call of Duty and Madden offerings.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild looked amazing from the moment that it was unveiled. The Zelda series has always emphasized exploration, but the game’s world has never been this tremendous with such a level of freedom before. Everything about the game looks beautiful, and it looks like a chance for Link to get off the rails his games have been on for so long. Of course, the game is also coming to Wii U, but the Switch version appears to be pushed harder. Then again, the Wii version of Twilight Princess was inferior to the GameCube version, but the Switch contains the necessary features of the Wii U to make the versions more likely to be equal.
Super Mario Odyssey looks insane. Mario throws his hat like Odd Job from James Bond and gets to run around a huge New York-like city and a bunch of fantastical landscapes. How is that not cool? Lately, the Mario series has been so focused on “new” or “3D” (whether or not on 3DS) variations of the original Super Mario Bros formula that the sense of grand scale and exploration that Super Mario 64 had at its time has felt lost. Odyssey gives huge places for Mario to jump around and explore with refreshing new features surely absent from the yearly Call of Duty.
While Arms and 1, 2, Switch both look silly to me, they still show creativity unavailable anywhere else, the sort of creativity in Nintendo’s first-party Wii and Wii U games that were obscured by an overload of shovelware and poor sales respectively.
And of course, the hardware is the most fascinating part of the new console. The Joy-Con controllers finally allow for two players right out of the box and entail just about all the control methods of Nintendo’s past controllers without the need for buying extra hardware. I always like separated feel of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk but never liked the wire connecting them or the limited responsiveness of the early motion controls. Now proper motion two-hand sensing is built right into a set of controllers that also allow for all more traditional button and analog stick methods. The super-accurate vibration feature, IR sensor for gestures, and NFC sensor for Amiibo are just more unexpected but much appreciated surprises.
While I never used off-TV play much on Wii U, Switch does it right, with the whole console transitioning to a handheld form. I’m afraid to bring it everywhere with me due to it being a fairly large and expensive compared to a 3DS, but its more tablet-like aesthetic and easy transport with the Joy-Con controllers allow it to do what was impossible on Wii U—forming a true fusion of console and handheld.
While finances are tight, especially with the impending Affordable Care Act repeal, I decided to use a gift card to place a preorder. Whether I pick it up at launch is up in the air, but I am thoroughly impressed with what I have seen of the Nintendo Switch so far.