I might not be a "gamer," but I have been a huge fan of Nintendo's video game consoles for about three decades now. The NES was the first console I ever owned, and I can't even imagine how many hours I spent as a young child playing Super Mario Bros., Castlevania and all the other classics. Sure, I strayed from Nintendo with a TurboGrafx-16 here and a PlayStation there, but over the course of my life I have owned every single one of Nintendo's home consoles from the SNES and Nintendo 64 to the GameCube, Wii and Wii U. Yes, I even bought a Wii U, though basically just to play Super Mario 3D World -- by the time I bought the console, it was already apparent that it was a flop.
Now, I am a Switch owner. I pre-ordered the console as soon as pre-sales were made available, and a Switch was shipped to my door on launch day along with hundreds of thousands of other Switches that were shipped and purchased in stores this past weekend. It's still early, but for me the Switch has already succeeded where the Wii U failed miserably and yet I can't help but worry that the biggest problem with the Switch is still Nintendo itself.
Before things turn sour, let's look quickly at where the Switch succeeds.
The original Wii console was nothing short of a phenomenon. It reinvented the home gaming experience, combatting Sony and Microsoft by opening up home console gaining to entirely new audiences, young and old. The idea of making physical movement a big part of the gaming experience wasn't entirely novel, but this was the first time controls like these were introduced in a mass-market console.
Nintendo's Wii was a stroke of genius, and sales numbers aside, the Wii is one of the most successful video game consoles of all time in my eyes. It succeeded in completely reinventing home gaming; it was unique for the sake of the experience.
Then, the Wii U came along. Nintendo's previous-generation console was also unique, but not for the sake of the experience. It was unique for the sake of being unique. Nintendo tried much too hard to dream up another sea change in gaming like the Wii was, and it failed miserably. The oversized touchscreen controller added absolutely nothing of value to the experience, the lack of available top-tier games was inexcusable, and the console flopped. Hard.
In my mind, the Switch has already succeeded in the same way Nintendo's Wii was a success. The new console again reimagines the way players interact with their games, also by switching up the controller paradigm -- but also by switching up the notion of what a home console is. As powerful as mobile chipsets and other components have gotten in recent years, there's no reason that a home-quality console cannot be repacked in a mobile device, and that's exactly what Nintendo has done.
But at the same time, the Switch is already failing in the same way the Wii U was a failure. Nintendo has clearly rushed out another console in an effort to put space between itself and rivals, and it has once again done so with an incomplete strategy and with a launch-day lineup of games that is, quite frankly, pathetic.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is epic. The delays that had enraged Nintendo fans were instantly forgiven and forgotten the moment this new game launched. It's an absolute blast from start to finish -- well, I haven't even come close to finishing it yet -- and it packs in everything fans want from a Nintendo game. The rest of the Switch's launch lineup various from meh to downright awful.
Here's the complete Nintendo Switch games list covering every single title available right now:
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Just Dance 2017
- 1-2 Switch
- Super Bomberman R
- Snipperclips -- Cut it out, together!
- Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
- Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
- I Am Setsuna
- Fast RMX
- Skylanders: Imaginators
Ten games. That's it. Some of them are fun for a brief while and others are just downright bad. 1-2 Switch is likely the biggest disappointment of the bunch, since it should have been the spotlight Switch game at launch. It's a collection of mini-games that showcase the different ways users can utilize the motion controllers, but it's boring from start to finish. Remember how amazing Wii Sports was? Okay, now imagine the exact opposite of that.
New games are coming as soon as later this month, and the next big launch is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which will be released next month on April 28th (remember, you can save 20% by pre-ordering it now). But that doesn't help Nintendo's biggest fans, who all rushed out to buy the company's hot new console only to grow bored of it soon after, thanks to the unacceptable lack of games available at launch.
Once again, Nintendo is showing signs of valuing its business first and gamers second. The lack of games is the most troubling evidence of this, but just look at how overpriced accessories are like the Joy-Con (which doesn't even ship with a Charging Grip) and Pro Controller are. Nintendo became what it is today by creating experiences people love, not by rushing out unfinished products in an effort to get a jump on the competition.