I’ve had a hard time trying to justify buying Nintendo’s new console. For a start I’ve still got tons of games to get through on my PS4 – there’s no way I’m turning my back on the library of titles that I’ve got sat underneath my TV right now and the last thing I really want to do is add another console to the pile.
I travel a fair bit, spend plenty of time commuting and also enjoy playing games in bed. A quick 30 minutes of Monster Hunter or Hohokum often sends me right to sleep. On top of this I don’t always have access to my main TV and turn to either my 3DS, my Vita or my phone to save me from Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (Google it if you’re not British).
At first I wasn’t convinced that the Switch would be a suitable replacement for a ‘proper’ handheld console like the Vita or 3DS. The poor battery life was the main concern and also the multitude of ways you can control the device had me wondering if developers would use control schemes more suited to home console users rather than portable users.
These were warranted fears. Remember reports that said the battery was only 2 hours if you were playing something ‘intensive’ like Zelda, or when you saw the control schemes for 1, 2, Switch and Arms. None of this gave me hope that the Switch would be worth carrying around with me.
So what’s changed? Firstly, reports suggest that the battery in the Switch actually isn’t that bad at all. With Zelda: Breath of the Wild being the most graphically intensive title available at launch, tests have been carried out using that game specifically. Results show that the Switch runs for over 3 hours, meaning it’d most likely last a fair amount longer when tasked with running something a little less demanding. On top of having a battery better than anticipated, Nintendo have seen fit to do away with proprietary connections and have a straightforward USB-C connector that you can charge through. So even if you do run low on juice, you can treat your Switch like any other modern device and simply charge it through USB.
What hasn’t changed is the discrepancy in control schemes. There’s no getting around the fact that some games simply won’t be suitable for a gamer on the go. Anything that relies on motion controls, like Arms’ ‘punch in real life to punch in the game’ mechanic, simply won’t work when you’re on a bus.
This is a two-way street though, because already we’ve seen ‘home’ gamers be denied access to a Switch title. Voez is a rhythm game for the Switch, based on an existing series of iOS and Android games, and as such uses only touchscreen controls. The game simply cannot be played whilst it’s in the dock and displaying on your TV. So whilst it means that consumers will need to be more aware of what they’re buying and whether it’s ‘compatible’ with where they intend to play it, it does mean this is an issue that could be turned into a strength. The Switch is now a console that’s happy to house both home console only games as well as portable console only games.
The last thing that makes me think that the Switch is ready to replace my Vita and 3DS is the support for independent developers. Before the console even launched, Nintendo presented one of their ‘Nintendo Direct’ videos focused solely on indie developers (or ‘Nindies’, if you will).
A solid line-up of titles and developers were presented with games of nearly every genre present. The Vita and 3DS used to be the console of choice for people that wanted indie gaming on the go, but now the Switch looks to have stolen their thunder in a big way. This a massive shift in ideology for Nintendo and it’s not just that they’re opening their console up to smaller developers (thanks to support for Unity and UE4 off the bat).
Nintendo also seem happy to showcase games that are ‘heavily influenced’ by previous Nintendo games. Axiom Verge, which is essentially a modern day Metroid game, has been bandied about as a Switch title and should appease those waiting for the return of Samus Aran. People have also been crying out for a new Advance Wars game, which we now have in all but name in the shape of Wargroove.
Now, some of you may like the more quirky and more ‘mature’ games that the indie scene offer. In the past, something like Binding of Isaac wasn’t allowed on Nintendo machines. Literally – in 2012 Nintendo denied it certification because of its ‘questionable content’. Nowadays, it’s logo is proudly displayed amongst a mass of others. Games like Gone Home, That Dragon Cancer, Hotline Miami, Firewatch – all games that are ‘mature’ in their own unique ways – could easily sit on the Switch now.
And if all of that doesn’t convince you – you know there’s going to be a huge library of classic NES, SNES and N64 titles to play on it. Plus there’ll be a Pokemon on it eventually.