Final Thoughts And Advice On Nintendo's Switch Console
As has been the case for past couple of generations in the home console space, Nintendo went in a different direction than either of its rivals (Sony and Microsoft) with the Switch. Once again, Nintendo's newest console does not engage the competition in a specs war. And oddly enough, it does not feel as though Nintendo has specifically conceded the high-end gaming market to the Xbox One S or PlayStation 4 Pro. Instead, there is almost an air of arrogance, as if Nintendo refuses to even acknowledge that there is a world of consoles beyond its own realm. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, either. The beauty of the Switch is that it strolls into the console space and demands attention because of its unique abilities, even though it's wielding older generation platform hardware. I was skeptical the hybrid approach would work, but with Nintendo's challenges to keep up with extreme demand, I'm no longer a skeptic. And after spending some time adventuring with Link in Breath of the Wild, dare I say I'm even a fan.
Nintendo is not out of the woods yet, however. After the Wii U flopped (compared to the Wii), Nintendo found itself in need of a win, much like the position Microsoft was in with Windows Vista and later Windows 8/8.1. And like Microsoft, it appears that Nintendo has the win it needs, in this case with the Switch. But is it fool's gold? After spending an extended amount of time with the Switch, I don't think it is.
What I think and how reality actual plays out aren't always the same thing, or else the Patriots would win the Super Bowl every year (I'll have to be satisfied with five out seven in the Brady/Belichick era). The Switch has come out of the gate like a freight train on rocket fuel and is the fastest selling console in the company's history, but once the initial fascination wears off, then we'll find out if the Switch has the legs to be a long-term success. Even if Nintendo isn't all that concerned about employing previous generation hardware, gamers might be. Some developers certainly are as well—Stardock, the development studio responsible for Ashes of the Singularity and Galactic Civilizations, is not planning to develop games for the Switch. Interestingly enough Stardock CEO Brad Wardell doesn't believe the Switch really needs third-party support, but we're not so sure. It's been more than a month than the Switch launched and there are only two titles—Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8, the latter of which just recently became available.
It is easy to be sucked into the Switch's appeal, and I'll admit that I am, to an extent. Forgetting about the hardware inside, actual game play is fun, and that is what it's all about. And it's not just about Zelda, it's also about the controls, the smoothness of which the Switch can go from one mode to another, and the overall design. Outside of the way the wrist-straps were built—they're a little too difficult to remove from the Joy-Con controllers and there's nothing to stop you from getting them stuck backwards—this is a well built console with a clever take on gaming.
The ultimate question here is, should you buy a Switch? There isn't a straightforward answer. Sounds like a cop-out, right? Here's what I can say about the switch—though it is a hybrid gaming system, the larger focus is on mobile gaming, and that is where it excels most. As such, it's not necessarily at odds with other home console options if you can afford more than one. That's especially true if Nintendo ends up leaning heavily on first-party games. Zelda alone probably doesn't warrant getting a Switch, but as Nintendo fleshes things out with Mario and other iconic characters, it will be easier to justify, even if you already own a PS4 or Xbox One.
On the other hand, if you're mostly interested in gaming in front of your big screen TV, I would advise waiting to see how things play out. Yes, the Switch can output to 1080p, but not all games will be rendered at that resolution (Zelda runs at 900p in TV mode). Other consoles are better suited for gaming in the living room, both because of faster hardware and much larger game catalogs. Plus they're media hubs, whereas the Switch is mostly focused on gaming, at least for now.
The bottom line is this—the Nintendo Switch is a unique console and a potential game changer, but it's also not for everyone (not yet, anyway). It excels as a portable game machine, and if that's what you're most interested in, you're not likely to be disappointed with the Switch. You will, however, have to be patient for more games to arrive.
One last word about the Switch. You may have noticed that I didn't spend any time talking about its online capabilities. That's because there isn't much to talk about at this point. You can add friends and engage in multiplayer in supported titles, but the full online experience won't launch until this fall. When it does, it will be a subscription service, which opens up a lot of questions. I'll look to answer those later this year, so stay tuned.