The Nintendo Switch

File 02-06-2017, 15 52 19

I got some time with the Nintendo Switch this week and was impressed and disappointed in equal measure.

In some ways it felt like a big PSP, but one which is much cheaper and with a sense of ‘toy’ about it. Admittedly I was not playing with it on a big screen which apparently makes all of the difference and the controllers are brilliantly designed, but again the cheap plastic did put me off a little.

Zelda is great, Mario Kart is what it is (an average racing game that is loved by those who played it as children), but there is a sense that the graphics and everything else are a few years from the past. Great to play and fun of that there is no doubt, but it does not offer the wow factor you would expect from a new games console.

I see a sub-set of people really enjoying the big screen / small screen setup and I see the vast majority preferring what they have already which is a gaming experience that does feel cutting edge on the Xbox and PlayStations.

I hope I am wrong because I love Nintendo, but this feels like a missed opportunity to me.

One thought on “The Nintendo Switch

  1. There’s a great series of books by MIT called Platform Studies ( https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/series/platform-studies ). Their book on the Wii was eye-opening; going all the way back to the original Gameboy (and the LCD Game and Watch before that) Nintendo’s philosophy of “lateral thinking with withered technology” has kept them in the realm of fun and reminded the industry that there are constraints to that mean “as powerful a set of chips as we can jam on this thing, power needs, heat, fan noise, form factor be damned” isn’t the only way to go. (The Wii was a great example of this; barely more than a Gamecube, it sat politely and quietly and discretely on the shelf in a small apartment… but then used the idea of physical controls to bring in entire new gaming paradigms)

    At its worst, Nintendo relies on gaming nostalgia and gimmicks, but there’s a consistent heart of gameplay and fun here.

    Also we’re at a very early stage. Just like the GameCube could play the Wii’s Zelda game, both Zelda and Mario Kart play pretty well on the last generation. I think we’ll see the system stretch its legs with playing with more realistic settings in the new Mario.

    And that said; I got rid of my Xbox One, because it wasn’t doing much that Xbox 360 couldn’t do. So even with the power systems, is there that much the “cutting edge” is offering? May PS4 playing with VR? (which is whole ‘nother ball of wax, my guess is the way it claustrophobically isolates gamers from their physical environment means that it will be a recurring novelty, but an important one, like how they still make 3D movies and maybe Kinect-style games.)

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