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[Promoted from our community blogs, a hardcore fan looks back at the last 90 days]
Holy Macaroni, these Arms Global Testpunches have been fun, haven’t they? Well with that little blast of hype-steam out of my system, lets take a look at how the Switch is doing after 3 months of being available to the general public! It really doesn’t seem like it but it’s already been three months and while there have been some changes and additions, it still feels like the Switch is somewhat lacking in some areas. In others though, the Switch has been an utter delight. As for whether or not I’m still in the honeymoon period though is kind of a tough question to give a definitive answer to. Let’s take a quick look at some good, hard, numbers to see how the Switch is selling: According to VGChartz (Geeze, I wish I knew of a better source) the Nintendo Switch has sold nearly 2.9 million units world wide, with North America being responsible for over a million of those units sold. While I can’t find when the Wii U sold its millionth unit, it had sold 3.5 during the first quarter of 2013 and again, not sure if this means the fiscal year of 2013 or the literal year of 2013. It is projected that the Nintendo Switch is likely to outsell the Wii U in that similar timeframe…or rather it was since I’m sure we’re quickly nearing the deadline for that particular timeframe. For what it’s worth I do clearly remember being able to find Wii U consoles just about anywhere a couple of weeks after launch. The Nintendo Switch however sells out moments after stores open when or if those stores get re-stocks.
Before I embarass myself further by talking about financial information that I only vaguely understand, let me shift towards the Nintendo Switch as a console. At launch, the Nintendo Switch was only capable of playing specific Nintendo Switch game carts or downloaded games from yet another console-specific eShop. As is tradition, the eShop was depressingly bare during the first couple of weeks of the Switch’s self life. In theory, the software drought is lessened from the fact that the Nintendo Switch is completely region-free. If you don’t mind importing, you can play any region’s game cart on any region’s Switch console. During the first weeks of the Switch’s life for example, European and American gamesters could either import or utilize a simple work-around to download the Dragon Quest Heroes collection which (at the moment) is exclusive to Japan. To this day, that’s the only way to get Dragon Quest Heroes 1 or 2 on the Nintendo Switch and quite recently, the Japanese region launched a 3-game Seiken Densetsu collection (Final Fantasy Adventure, Sword of Mana and the unreleased (in the west) Seiken Densetsu 3). Over the past few months there have been some games that launched early in some regions but there are very few regional exclusives to worry about at the moment. A cool thing I’ve noticed is that if a game is launched in Japan and is going to launch in the west, it’ll list on the feature screen that it has multiple language options. This probably isn’t a 100% indicator of imement import but even if those games don’t come over, game software recognizes what region your console is set to and changes its language track accordingly. Early adopters of Disgaea 5 for example could play the game with English text even if they downloaded or imported the Japanese version of that game. It’s kinda neat like that!
Behold my Moon-Demos!
Now then, if you’ve purchased the Nintendo Switch on March 3rd all you can really do with it is play games or change the home screen’s theme from white to black. You are able to create profiles and Mii characters or link an existing profile to the console, along with its associated Mii. Creating Miis is somewhat buried in the console’s setting menu but there are new options for eye and hair options and possibly also facial structure and features. At any point while you’re playing a game, you can hit a new circle-in-a-square button located somewhat inconvieniently below the left analog stick. There’s also an option on the home screen for pairing controllers which streamlined the process to a very nice degree, especially if you’re pairing new Joycon which is as simple as slipping them onto the Switch itself. Pro Controllers have a sync button but after pressing that all you really need to do is hold the L and R button for a couple of seconds. If you were to buy a Nintendo Switch today, somehow, than all you can really do with it is play games or re-read this paragraph up to this sentence because 3 months later, the Switch still doesn’t have a Youtube, Netflix or, web browser app. At the very least I would have thought the ability to change your home screen’s theme might have been expanded upon by now but it’s still just a black or white theme with no option for anything different. At the very least, let me use my screenshots as my home and lock screen backgrounds Nintendo!
I’m going to stop beating around the bush now because a game’s console is only as good as the software it features so let’s talk games! On launch, if you chose not to purchase a shiny new SD card and dislike downloading games, you had a choice of 5 games (Zelda, Just Dance, Skylanders, Bomberman R and, 1-2 Switch). Three of those are easily written off: Just Dance is a game I’ve never played but looks like decent party-fun on a console that doesn’t yet have The Jackbox or Mario Kart. Sylanders is another one that’s easy to write off if only because of the high price to get into it: You’re not just throwing down $80 on a game and a portal but also untold 10’s of dollars on necessary figures to get through the game. Sylanders could be the best series in the world but I wouldn’t know because I’m cheap and also that’s not my Spyro. 1-2 Switch is the third that can be written off since even now, it’s $40 too much for what’s essentially a set of pseudo games whose purpose is showing off the HD Rumble feature of the Joy Con controllers. This leaves Super Bomberman R and Breath of the Wild: A Legend of Zelda (these are games that I’ve actually played too so enjoy some credibility).
Super Bomberman R is very arcady and based on what I know of Bomberman (admittedly little: I’ve only really played the side-scrolling game boy game and the TI-83 mock-up) this is a really solid arcade game. There’s a lot of disonance on display though: between the cutscenes and menu screens and actual gameplay, you’re going to have to face three distinct art styles in this game. The story mode is also incredibly goofy: the acting and scenarios are on a level that would make Dic cartoons of the 80’s and 90’s seem somber and drab in comparison. The single player is also INCREDIBLY difficult for me so while I do feel satisfaction if I’m able to beat a boss or a particularly tough level, it’s not enough to keep me playing since the gameplay doesn’t change up in any significant way outside of the stages introducing icy floors or slopes. I’d suggest waiting for a price drop but I know a lot of Bomberman fans might have grabbed this on day one since this is…well, it’s actually bomberman unlike that grim-dark abomination that the Xbox 360 got on launch.
Then there’s the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This game is a behemoth and it’s been argued that the less you know going into it, the better the overall experience so I’ll try to be brief and vague. The mini-dungeons all look the same so I hope you liked Tron. The main dungeons all look the same and feature an annoying voice in your head which tell you to do the SAME THING in the SAME WAY but the actual puzzle solving is fairly open ended and intuitive all around so it gets a pass. These dungeons aren’t Portal good but not even Portal 2 was Portal good: these are all pretty good puzzles with some of the puzzles being finding the shrines themselves. The bosses can be taken down in a variety of ways since this isn’t a Zelda game that gives you their weakness 15 minutes before you find them so that’s another plus. This game will kick your ass but it’s not Dark Souls: once you get armor and find decent weapons, you will be able to tank a bunch of damage and you will be fine. The weapons break quickly and easily but resources respawn so if you know where your favorite Royal Claymore spawns in, you can technically never run out of them. Arguably, there are no side quests here that match Anju & Kefei but there are a couple of really good ones and for once in the series, ruppees actually feel like they have value to them. The last thing I want to say is this: Everyone talks about how awesome one specific island is but for me, there was a boss you find on a mountain and that encounter floored me with just how amazingly epic it was. If you have a Switch then statistically you already own this game since somehow, this game has an install rate of over 100% (or it did at one point).
100+ hours later and I still haven’t found a bear
If you bought an SD card and downloaded digital games than you may have been pleasently surprised by a few things. For one thing, switching between software on the Switch (sigh) is a really quick process, not just compared to the Wii U (which was slow as Final Fantasy) but also compared to the 3DS (which is also slow but not nearly as slow). At launch, a very plesant surprise was Blaster Master Zero which is a sort of remake of the NES original. I consider it to be a great hold over until the Switch gets Bloodstained or Metroid and what’s more, BM-Zero has recieved some free DLC recently. Another pleasant surprise has been the weekly launch of Neo-Geo classics. They’re not being classified as Virtual Console games but it’s been a nice means of bolstering the Switch’s library during a time that could be seen as a drought. Another highly noteworthy launch game on the Switch eShop is Snipperclips which is a co-op puzzle game. The presentation reminds me somewhat of The Amazing World of Gumball: you play as one of two slips of paper and your goal is to cut the two pieces in such a way that they can either fit into a shape or move an object from point A to point B. It’s a hugely fun multiplayer game but it’s also a lot of fun to play solo.
Lusty little shapes, aren’t ya?
I haven’t mentioned it yet but Nintendo has kept to some of its arguably annoying past habits with The Switch ie: releasing questionable, older games onto their newer hardware. I Am Setsuna is digital for Switch everywhere but the Japanese have a physical version. I’ve never played it before this version and while I like the gameplay (which is similar to Chrono Trigger) the locations are very similar and the characters seem somewhat cookie-cutter. The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ is another game that’s new to the Switch but which you may have played years ago on your PC or Xbox 360 or whatever else. There was a limited physical release but it’s also on the eShop and I would strongly recommend downloading the game since my physical version doesn’t want to work most of the time. I think my issue is unique though since I haven’t seen very many other people having that issue. The Tomorrow Corporation planned on launching 3 of its games to the Switch on launch day (World of Goo, Human Resource Machine and the highly satisfying Little Inferno) but frustratingly, they didn’t launch until about 3 weeks later with no explination. This isn’t the first such software launch snafu since another game, Constructor, was meant to have launched on the Switch some time ago but the day came and went with no word of where that game may be (checking GameFAQs, it looks like this will launch on the 9th of June in Australia). These are independent games though so I suppose launch issues can’t be helped but more openness would be welcome.
If you were to ask me in March what the killer app for Nintendo Switch is, I would tell you Breath of the Wild after chortling because that’s such an easy answer. I might also recommend Fast Racing Neo if you cry about F-Zero not existing any more and Snipperclips if you have a friend. If you were to ask me now in June what the killer app for the Nintendo Switch is while assuring me you already played Breath of the Wild on Wii U or a friend’s console, I would probably tell you to wait a bit for Splatoon 2 or Arms to launch unless you really want to play a list of games you might have already played on another platform. There are a lot of good games to play on the Switch after all like NBA Playground, Shovel Knight, LEGO City Undercover, Snake Pass, Wonder Boy or, Mr. Shifty. Minecraft is on here too but I wouldn’t recommend that because the draw distence is kinda bad and you’ve probably already built the entire cities of Rapture and Arcadia years ago. What does it matter if Disgaea 5 is a great port that contains all additional content if you’ve already played through it on the PS4? I fully understand that I’m in the minority of people who have never played these games before I got them on Switch…but maybe I was a bit hasty since a few of those (Snake Pass, Mr. Shifty) launched on the Switch at the same time as every other console…Yooka Laylee didn’t though, I’m still waiting for that to disappoint me.
Behold the Power of the Nintendo Switch!
So let’s say you have an extra $300 burning a hole in your pocket and you stumble upon a Nintendo Switch at your local Target*R*Us*Mart. Well the first thing to accept is that you’re still going to need more than that to get much out of the Switch: there are still no pack-in titles and the base unit only has 32GB of memory with a chunk of that being used for the operating system. If you’re satisfied downloading demos then actually I have good news there because you don’t have to deal with demo play-limits anymore! That’s right, you can plat the demo of Just Dance 5, 10, 25, even 50 times if you want to! None of the launch software has seen a price-drop yet so you’re still going to be paying a lot for Breath of the wild but the recently released Ultra Street Fighter 2 is only $40 so…that’s probably a better bet than 1 2 Switch. Pro Controllers are still $70 which is a bummer but people seem to be overlooking the fact that extra joycon are $80 which is a super-bummer but I’m the kind of person who has always complained about the high prices of extra controllers. E3 is right around the corner too so there’s no telling what, if anything, might be about to change as far as The Switch and its peripherals are concerned.
It’s been three months since I picked up my Switch and it’s clear that this thing was pushed out to market sooner than it should have been. Despite being a rush job with a questionable library of games at the moment, I don’t regret my purchase but I still think it’s too soon to commit to purchasing the Switch unless you really want to play Breath of the Wild but you don’t have or want a Wii U. Wonder Boy, Shovel Knight, Mr. Shifty and, Disgaea 5 are all great and highly recommended if you haven’t played them yet. Mario Kart 8 is also really damn good but if you already played it on the Wii U then you already know what you’re in for. I knew perfectly well that I was buying the Switch based on future potential and that’s still very much the case if you’re still on the fence now. The problem is, a lot of the games we know are coming are still somewhat old: Azure Striker: Striker Pack is on the 3DS and that was recently announced for the Switch. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is another one that’s been out for a while but that will be on the Switch soon. Payday 2 and Skyrim are also on their way but both are very old at this point. It seems like outside of Nintendo mainstays there isn’t too much to get excited about on the Switch unless you’re really into indies. That is, it looks like that right now: Again, E3 is very close and already there are leaks and announcements coming out so while things look a little thin now, that can all change with a single video or presentation. There’s no reason for games like Injustice 2, Marvel vs Capcom 4, King’s Quest or even the Crash trilogy to be announced for the Nintendo Switch. I guess we’ll find out in the next few weeks and personally I am crossing my fingers for King’s Quest on Switch…and Telltale Batman…Also a Rusty Lake collection. Yeah, Rusty Lake make mobile games but on Instagram they didn’t give me a solid “no” when I asked them about Switch development at random. Let me dream my little cube dreams while I wait for Seiken Densetsu to get to me.
I can Dream…I can Dream…