Five reasons why I’m excited about the Nintendo Switch

With less than three weeks to go before the Nintendo Switch makes it into consumer hands, my anticipation couldn’t be higher. Hopefully Nintendo will realise the potential otherwise I’ll be eating my words in 12 months time, but as of this moment, here’s five reasons why I’m excited about the Nintendo Switch.

A chance for Nintendo to break away from the underwhelming Wii U.

I think we can all agree the Wii U was more or less a failure for Nintendo. I own one, it has had it’s moments (and the moments have been glorious – Mario Kart 8 anyone?) but they’ve been few and far between. Messy and confused marketing and a lackluster lineup of games which took nearly the consoles lifespan to fill out haven’t helped the image of the Wii U. With third party releases growing thinner and thinner and the main Nintendo franchises taking their time to arrive it was obvious the Wii U was a sinking ship.

It wasn’t however a bad console with some really fantastic ideas surrounding it and it’s DNA runs very visibly into the Switch which takes what was great about the Wii U and distills it into a very versatile home console in its own right. Luckily Nintendo has made the wise decision to leave no association with the Wii brand, leaving any taint or confusion in the past. Hopefully they can bring the online aspect up to scratch and usher a new era for Nintendo in multiplayer gaming.

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Nintendo first party releases and the first year of games.

It’s all about the games with Nintendo and arguably it’s the only reason they remain relevant in the home console market to this day, at least in the west. How Nintendo manage to repackage and reimagine franchises that have been around for decades, yet make them relevant and still, after all these years fun and exciting just blows my mind and really, honestly, it’s the main reason to own any Nintendo hardware in my opinion.

The Switch is already looking to have a very strong first year with major first party releases in every quarter and within the first twelve months we’re seeing a Zelda and a Mario main release and then in 2018 a brand new Fire Emblem! This is some exciting stuff for any Nintendo fan and really it bodes well for the future of  the console as ultimately the Mario and Zelda franchises shift units.

There’s been a lot of discussion over Nintendo’s day one launch lineup for the Switch. Personally I think it’s a strong one with The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild right out the gate and a mix of third and first party smaller releases filling the gaps. Yes if you’re not interested what-so-ever in Zelda there might not be much for you there, and without a doubt 1-2 Switch should have been included with the console but hell, we have a brand new Zelda on day one to play with. That’s huge!

Then we have the enhanced edition of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in April, Nintendos new franchise ARMS in ‘Spring 2017’ and Splatoon 2 to look forward to in the summer. Then on top of all that, a new Xenoblade game and all the third party releases and indie games. Even more promising though, with more games being announced all the time, developer support is growing steadily for the Switch. There’s no two ways about it, if Nintendo deliver without delays and with games up to the quality of previous entries the first year is looking strong.

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So many ways to play.

One of the greatest aspects of the Switch is just how versatile it is with more ways to play than ever. The roots of the design seem clear with heavy nods to Nintendo’s history with portable gaming and the Wii U gamepad with it’s build in screen. Not only do we have a home console but need to nip out somewhere for a couple of hours and we can now take it with us without any real hassle or compromise (bar the battery life). However it doesn’t stop there; Nintendo have squeezed motion controls in via the joycon controllers and a capacitive touch screen (finally) and if you really want the standard console experience grab a pro-controller and there you go.

The potential here for the creative developer is huge with plenty of control options available, but it also means that the traditional games also have a space that doesn’t disadvantage them with untraditional control schemes. This may mean I turn to the Switch more often than my other consoles and PC purely for the convenience of choosing how and where to play, even if that means the difference between lounging on the sofa or lying in bed.

Online services and its potential.

Nintendo and their online services are … well … they’re archaic and they leave a lot to be desired to put it politely. Which is obviously a crying shame because when Nintendo and multiplayer spring to mind, so do joyous hours spent on Street Fighter, Bomberman, Mario Kart, Smash Bros, the list goes on. When I was in my youth, finding another gamer on a regular basis for local co-op was easy; now I’m an adult with responsibilities and have a partner who’s only regular gaming amounts to a serious Tetris addiction (seriously, we checked on twin galaxies and she could potentially hold a world record if we could film it!) I really struggle to find other people to play with. This isn’t so much a problem on PC or the other home consoles which provide easy ways to play with others across the world, however Nintendo has never been friendly toward online gaming and with an online lobby and voice chat announced so far for the Switch, and doing away with the godawful friend code system, I’m hoping this could be an about turn for the company. As a paid for service it looks to be cheaper than Sony and Microsofts counterparts but at the loss of free (recent) monthly games you can keep. So swings and roundabouts there. Lets hope Nintendo don’t drop the ball on this one!

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The hardware.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the Switch. From the press shots, to the hands on articles and the comparison pictures to other similar hardware it just looks fantastic. The Wii U gamepad felt like a fisher-price toy and the Switch looks and sounds like it will be anything but. This is only a good thing as if you’re spending over £300 (with games etc) on a brand new console you want it to feel like it justifies the price. I’m on my third 3DS now having owned the original one, the XL and now a new3DS and the build quality and feel have only improved over time with each iteration. Good hardware goes a long way in making the experience all the more enjoyable and the Switch looks like a fantastic and more importantly adult piece of kit that will hopefully improve the perceived age of the average Nintendo gamer and give the console much wider appeal.

So there we have it. Five reasons why I’m excited for the Nintendo Switch. There’s still a lot of ifs and buts and large question marks hanging over major features, even with under three weeks to launch. Hopefully Nintendo can keep the hype train rolling past release and the console has a bright future, otherwise I just spent £340 to play Zelda!

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