To Switch, or Not to Switch?

That, is the question.

The Backstory

A little over a month ago, March 3rd to be exact, Nintendo released its new video game console: the Nintendo Switch. To my surprise, the anticipation and hype around this console was pretty high up there. I didn’t hear much about it until around the Super Bowl – needless to say, I was a laggard…

After seeing a few ads for it on TV, I asked a few work friends if they had heard about it. As expected, a few of them knew about it, and one was uber excited for the Switch. I began looking a bit more into the system and have to admit that I was pretty intrigued, but thought that the price point was still pretty high. At $299.99 USD, that puts it at the same price point as systems that I would consider more elite gaming than family fun – think PS4 and Xbox.

I wasn’t buying it.

I remember growing up playing Nintendo NES and SEGA Genesis; Gameboy and Gamegear; Virtual Boy and DreamCast… you name it, I’ve probably played and/or owned the console at one point in my life. Before Sony and Microsoft (PlayStation and Xbox, respectively), Nintendo and SEGA ruled the marketplace. With Gameboy, Nintendo mobilized gaming, then SEGA brought in their Game Gear in as a competitor (yes, there were others from Atari and market players, but these were the big ones). Once Sony and Microsoft took over the markets with PlayStation and Xbox, many of the ‘classic’ gaming companies were either dissolved or absorbed by others. Nintendo, however, was able to stick around and continue developing, targeting a different segment than other gaming companies: the family gaming community and younger gamers.

The Gameboy hung around, too; developing into the Gameboy Color, then Advanced and continued up to the 3D -> 3DS. PlayStation tried to take some of the market of mobile gaming with the PlayStation Portable (PSP – which, I still own and play occasionally), and later the PlayStation Vita, which, to me, turned out to be a huge disappointment. PlayStation was supposed to have the ‘continuance’ feature that allowed users to take their PS3 games on the go with the PS Vita – that didn’t come to fruition, leading to my selling of both consoles.

Thus, I was skeptical on the Switch – what would make this system better than the rest?

I kept digging – yeah, the system looked cool, but was it worth $300? Based on watching the ads and reading a few specs about it, I thought “no.”

That is, until the day before it released.

What Changed?

A few buddies of mine are in a bowling league. I got a call during lunch to see if I could fill in for them on the Thursday before the release of the switch. On a side note: I had just watched The Big Lebowski that week and was definitely in the mindset to go bowling. I told them I’d fill in and went out to an old-school bowling alley near their neighborhood to try to help them out (keyword: ‘try’; I was awful the first time, but getting better – in my defense, I had only been to one bowling alley in the past 6 years, multiple times, but same alley, and it was shit).

I get to the alley and meet up with my friends to start our game. I’m the third one to get there; the fourth guy comes a few minutes after me. We thought his tardiness was work related; nope, he spent too much time watching YouTube videos of the Nintendo Switch, and he wanted to tell us all about it. For a guy who says he isn’t a good salesman, he sold all of us on the idea of getting one.

He and his girlfriend were heading to Walmart for the midnight release right after we finished. He invited me to tag along, and I almost took him up on it. Unfortunately, I still hadn’t completely made up my mind, so I headed home instead (or fortunately – he got the last ticket for the store’s stock of the Switch).

Lucky for me, I live in an area in which some people would call “bum-f*ck” (nowhere, for those who don’t know what that means). Why is this lucky? There are about three Target’s and two Walmart’s within a 20-minute drive of my house, with virtually nobody between said stores and myself. After I got home, I thought about going out to a midnight release at GameStop or Walmart; a few of my friends had gone to them and were texting me about how they got one. Again, I decided not to.

According to a few friends, Amazon Prime in our area was supposed to release the Switch also – they may have, and all of us missed it since they went so fast, or this never happened. I was up late working on a project for work, so I figured I would give that a shot. Let’s be real, once the adrenaline kicks in of trying to find a high-demand product, it’s hard to say ‘no’ to anything. I think this is where my decision was made for me.

The next morning, I woke up a little early, thanks to my dog wanting to share my pillow with me. I work from home on Fridays, normally, so I didn’t have anywhere to be right away. I was up, so I might as well take a ride to a nearby store and see if I can get lucky. I got to Target at about 7:45 AM, they opened at 8 AM. There was a pretty long line already formed next to the door. Reluctantly, I parked and approached the line to see if anyone was aware of how many they had in stock. Much to my surprise, there were still a few left!

About two minutes later, a manager for the store walks out and hands me a ticket: (I think it was) Number 13 of 15 for Nintendo Switch (something to that effect). I made it!!! I was stoked – even though I wasn’t sure if I wanted this system 24 hours ago. I got the Switch, Zelda and a pro controller.

I was excited to play – unfortunately, I had a jam-packed day ahead of me. I returned home by 8:45 to get my workday started.

As the day went on, my excitement around the Switch came and went. I couldn’t decide: keep it and enjoy, or sell it online for a couple hundred dollars over what I paid for it. After the workday ended, I decided I might as well open it.

First Impressions

First thought on the unboxing: the system was much sleeker than I had thought it would be. A little longer than I had envisioned, but that is okay. I unpackaged and laid out each piece:

  • Console
  • Left and Right Joy-Cons
  • Joy-Con Straps (2)
  • Joy-Con grip
  • Dock
  • Power cable
  • HDMI cable

Okay, excitement was back. Then came configuration – pretty quick and simple, and, like other systems, the console needed an update Day 1.

After updating, the first thing I noticed was the app store, or e-shop. I sign in and browse the available games. I was impressed to see a few old-school games that were available – and even more excited when I looked at the lineup that is expected for revived games. I download a demo of Snipperclips to test out some of the Switch functionality, specifically, the two-player mode with only one Joy-Con set. It was surprisingly fun, though I’m not sure I was ready to spend the money to purchase it. After all, I had Zelda: Breadth of the Wild to start playing.

The next thing I notice is the lack of a web browser or app for watching movies, even from the SD card. I was surprised to hear that there are not currently plans for a media app and they are leaving the world hanging on the idea of a web browser add on. After missing the boat on these two items, I’m shocked Nintendo has been so vague and hush on the subject – to make this the ultimate mobile entertainment system, those are two crucial parts.

I start Zelda and am a little let down by the graphics. Once I get past that though, it’s over. I could spend hours playing this game – and so I did, for a few days. At this point, there are only a few games available for playing – at least only a few that I’m interested in. I played Zelda for a good while on the first weekend, then a couple of times the next week. It was a decent game, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t awed by it.

By the end of the second week, I had sold the system to one of my aforementioned friends whose boyfriend got one at a midnight release. Yup, two weeks and I sold it. Not that I didn’t like it, more so that one of my friends wanted it a hell of a lot more than I did and there wasn’t much use for it in my hands at the time.

Round Two

By time my birthday came around (two weeks later), I decided I would go ahead and get another system in preparation for Mario Kart. There was a lot of news around the system’s expectation to continue selling out through the year made me worry that I wouldn’t have one when my pre-order of Mario Kart arrived at the end of April. I also went ahead and pre-ordered the upcoming Lego: City Undercover game to hold me over in the meantime.

Two days after I pick up my new Switch at the same Target (remember, bumf*ck), I get a call from the friend I sold my first one to. They decided one Switch in the house was enough for them, so she wanted to know if I’d buy it back. Luckily, I hadn’t opened the new one yet, so I was able to try and sell that one – otherwise I can return it!

Since getting LCU, I’m pretty happy with the system and play regularly. I rarely use the docking station – if I’m going to sit down and play a video game on a console with a TV, it will more than likely still be on my Xbox One.

Final Thoughts

All in all, the system is really cool. It has a lot of potential to be a great system, the pieces just aren’t all there yet. For me, this stems from the game lineup, or, lack thereof. I hope to see Nintendo bring more Mario titles to the Switch – as of now: Mario Kart is releasing on 4/28/17, Super Mario Odyssey is due out this upcoming holiday season and there are rumors of a Mario Sports and/or Super Smash Brothers release in 2018. Let’s be real, what can bridge a generation gap better than Super Mario? How did they miss that at launch?

In addition to this, I’m a little confused, or maybe concerned as to why Nintendo didn’t include a media app (streaming or local) or a web-browser. I have read that this is because the Switch is supposed to be a ‘dedicated gaming system,’ but that’s absurd. When creating this product, Nintendo chose to take on two markets: the console gaming and the mobile gaming. If you expect your customer to put down their phone full of apps, you’re going to have to bring more to the table than just games – this has to be an entertainment system, period.

All this said, there is a pretty vast game lineup ahead for the rest of the year – hopefully developers can keep on track with the production and distribution of the game titles so that they are not as difficult to get as the consoles are (in some areas – not mine!). It would also be interesting to see what multiplayer lineups Nintendo will bring to this system outside of the sports world

As for the concept and execution of the design of the console deserves a round of applause for Nintendo – they did a phenomenal job in my opinion. Being able to take my games on the go completely changes how I will be gaming in the future – and that future is looking brighter and brighter with every press release around the Switch!

Personally, I would recommend the Switch (I bought two of them!), so long as there is a game out or coming soon that you could see yourself spending a lot of time playing. There are a lot of old school games that one could geek out on, but if you’re looking for new content, you’re going to have to wait a while.

 

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