Torn on Switch

Torn on Switch

Last night was of course the Nintendo Switch reveal stream…  that seemed to occur for pretty much everyone at an extremely awkward time.  For me personally it kicked off about 10 pm, so I was able to tune in as I was winding down a night of running Nightfalls (and sometimes failing) in Destiny with Squirrel and Jex.  I talked a bit yesterday about my mixed feelings regarding the Switch and its launch on twitter.  Every fiber of my being wants this console, but there is also the logic center of my brain that keeps reminding me of the not amazing track record I have with Nintendo consoles.  I will get more into that later, but first to talk about the details we learned last night.  The Switch is in fact coming a lot faster than I expected with a launch window of March 3rd 2017, or for those who think in these terms….  if I am counting correctly 8 weeks from the Friday I am writing this post on.  In the short term I will be able to play the console personally in a few weeks at Pax South, and there will be a series of demo events happening in “major” cities…  which means nowhere event vaguely close to the fly over country where I live.  They have confirmed two launch titles…  the first of which is 1, 2, Switch which is another one of those Nintendo gimmick games like Wii Sports that while extremely fun is in large part a tech demo for all of the new “innovations” they have woven into the new system.  The launch title that matters however is Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Now yesterday I said that a lot of it was going to ultimately come down to price.  The first leaked price of $250 seemed like a viable option and potentially even a day one and pre-order system for me.  Shortly after that another price started circulating which was $350…  and that was definitely going to be a wait and see price point.  The final reveal targeted things at $299 which is a figure that I am not quite sure about one way or the other.  I feel like ultimately…  we are going to need to see more details about what actual titles will be available at launch.  I am not sure if Zelda is enough to push this console for me at the start.  However I also know if the Nintendo track record holds… this means that if you did not pre-order your console it is likely going to be next Christmas before there is a reasonable flow of units to the shelves to allow folks to make that late impulse buy.  I remember when the Wii launched in November, it was late February before I even saw one on a store shelf, and even then it was probably mid summer before they were a regular enough occurrence to warrant not noticing.  Nintendo is extremely horrible with supply chain management and producing anywhere near the right number of units to meet the current demand.  This is evidenced by the fact that you quite literally still can’t find 3DS units on store shelves, from a drought that started around Thanksgiving.  Similarly you essentially have zero shot in hell of finding a Nintendo Classic console yet.

Where my brain begins to temper my desire to buy this console is when I think about my general track record with Nintendo.  Growing up I was absolutely a Nintendo fanboy, getting my Nintendo Classic shortly after release and my Super Nintendo a few months after launch as well.  Similarly I saved up my money and purchased a Gameboy within the first six months.  So when the Nintendo 64 launched in college I was similarly smitten with the console, and spent way more money than we should have been spending at the time for the unit given our already strapped college life existence.  While enamored with the early titles through Zelda…  an event occured that pretty much killed me caring about the later titles.  PC Gaming got absolutely amazing, and I got my 3DFX 2 card which made everything that I was seeing on the Nintendo 64 start to look extremely sluggish and primitive.  So instead of caring about Goldeneye, I was playing GL Quake.  The other problem the Nintendo 64 had was the lack of role-playing game support, and when Squaresoft took the Final Fantasy franchise to the Playstation I followed it.  That said I have so much nostalgia for those early days of Nintendo, so I keep purchasing the consoles hoping to rekindle some of that magic.  In the end however of my consoles they tend to be the ones that gather dust.

The other huge problem that I have found is that my life really does not fit a mobile console that well.  I have both a 3DS and a Vita and they maybe see some play time once a week as I am looking for something to do before falling asleep.  The Wii U seemed like an awesome idea, but the limited range on the unit made it largely useless to me.  My expectation was that I would be able to play the screen unit wherever in the house I wanted to, and maybe even out on the back patio.  The reality however is that I need to remain within roughly 8 feet of the unit to keep a stable connection.  So as a result currently the unit is set up in the bedroom so I can play it from bed… but that makes for awkward gaming any other time.  Ultimately I think the real problem for me with Nintendo is that they seem to be extremely focused on gimmicks.  The Switch as a console is a gimmick, and while I don’t think it will be the frustrating experience for me that the Wii controls were…  I definitely think it is going to attempt desperately to function in methods other than your standard game console.  This focus on gimmickry also seems to come at a massive cost in processing power and graphical performance.  While Zelda Breath of the Wild looked gorgeous in its own way… watching the footage last night it definitely felt like a game that was not quite as detailed as the current generation of console games.  While the Switch has courted Bethesda to put Skyrim on their new console…  Skyrim is also a seven year old game at this point.  In the montage of games… I didn’t see much in the way of modern ports which concerns me that we are setting up for another Wii U situation… where the console is simply not powerful enough to run the style of games that the majority of publishers are creating.  That said… you buy a Nintendo console for the first party games and I really want to see some more firm times on when more of those are releasing before committing.

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