Three months with the Nintendo Switch

Eric Abent - May 26, 2017
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Three months with the Nintendo Switch

It’s been nearly three months since the Nintendo Switch launched. Those three months have been filled with a lot of excitement, from the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to the revelation that the Switch actually sold really well on release. I’ve had a Switch of my own this entire time and I penned the SlashGear’s review of the device, giving it a 7/10. Now that we’ve had a few months to let things simmer, has anything about my opinion changed?

Let me start off by saying that I’ve been spending a lot of time with Switch. I bought a PS4 shortly before the Switch launched (I’m a PC guy so I was a little late to the console party this generation), but I’ve been spending far more time with my Switch. That the Switch has managed to pull in the majority of my attention really says something, especially considering that it has a fraction of the library of the PS4.

Part of what’s kept my interest with the Switch is the high level of quality in the Switch’s retail and eShop titles. Breath of the Wild, of course, is incredible, and I’m still not quite finished playing it yet. But beyond the obvious suspects like Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, there are a suprising number of gems available on the eShop. The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth Plus, Graceful Explosion Machine, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, Kamiko, and Snipperclips are all titles that stand out as absolutely worth the money.

I was pretty enamored with the Switch hardware back when I reviewed the device, and in the time since then, I’ve only grown more fond of it. I’m convinced that Nintendo has something special here, and I hope that more people try it for themselves and see what the commotion is all about. That, I feel, might be one of the roadblocks for the Switch: I was certainly excited before I got my own, but I didn’t realize how cool it truly was until I actually had it in my hands. That’s why I think Nintendo’s recently announced Summer of Play tour is an excellent move.

When it comes to hardware, I really don’t have any major gripes. With all of the complaints that started cropping up after launch, it appears that I was one of the lucky ones – no bent Switch, no desyncing Joy-Cons, and no dock that leaves my Switch screen all scratched up. That isn’t to suggest that these problems are widespread or, alternatively, rare; we really have no idea how common they are. The ones who are content with their purchase and aren’t experiencing any problems are more than likely not going to speak up. The ones who are having those issues will, because no one likes spending $300 on a new console only to find that it’s defective in some way.

Personally, I think the Joy-Con controllers are excellent, and the tablet itself is a solid piece of equipment. Obviously, you need to be okay with accepting that your games will never look as good as they do on Xbox One, PS4, or PC, but given the Switch’s portability, that’s a sacrifice I’m okay with making. It isn’t a hard truth to accept when you’ve got games like Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to play, either.

Speaking of the Switch’s portability, I have to say that I’ve spend very little time playing this thing on an actual TV. When I was reviewing the console and Breath of the Wild, my playtime was split pretty evenly between TV mode and tablet mode. In the time since then, though, I’ve been playing exclusively in tablet mode. The Switch is perfect for playing in bed at the end of the day, or taking along in the car when we go to visit my girlfriend’s parents upstate. I’m sure I’ll hook the Switch up to my TV again at some point, but for now, tablet mode is definitely my favorite way to play the device.

When I originally reviewed the Switch, I said that I didn’t think it was worth a purchase until the end of 2017. By that point, games like Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2 will be out and the eShop will have many more games available. I still generally think that’s true, but it’s no longer an issue of only having one good game to play on it. If you’re like me and you’ve never played games like The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth, Shovel Knight, or Disgaea 5 elsewhere, then a Switch purchase becomes even more attractive. On the other hand, if you have played those games and the idea of having them on a portable console is appealing to you, then you can still probably buy a Switch at this early stage and get a lot of mileage out of it.

However, despite all of my positive feelings about the Switch, my primary concern remains. Nintendo isn’t doing very much to instill long-term confidence in the Switch, and a lot of that revolves around the company’s unwillingness to talk about the Switch’s incoming online systems. The amount of information we’ve been given about the Switch’s online system is exactly the same now as it was three months ago.

We’ll probably hear more about this stuff at E3, but regardless, Nintendo is waiting too long to deliver solid details about a system it’s already said it will charge money for. The Switch was definitely launched too soon in that regard – not only are friend codes still present (something that I think will go away eventually) but we don’t have any staples of Nintendo’s previous consoles either. The virtual console is still missing, and I’m not entirely sure why when the virtual consoles on 3DS, Wii, and Wii U were so successful.

It does feel a little weird to be complaining that I can’t purchase old games I’ve already bought three or four times elsewhere, but I don’t really care that Nintendo is going to charge me again to buy the same old ports I’ve bought in the past. The novelty of having something like Super Mario Bros. 3 or A Link to the Past on a console like the Switch is just too appealing. Nintendo, I think, made a major misstep in not having the virtual console ready to go at launch.

We don’t even know if Nintendo has plans for a virtual console because the company has been so secretive about what it’s plotting for the Switch’s online service. We know we’ll need to use a smartphone app to manage our online presence, but we don’t know when that app is coming. We know we’ll have to pay a fee to play online, but we don’t know when that’s being implemented or how much that’ll cost. We know that Nintendo wants to bring apps like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube to the Switch, but we don’t know if it’s actively working toward that.

So far, this doesn’t really seem like a service that’s worth my money. For the record, I don’t think we should pay yearly fees for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network either, so I’m not really sure what Nintendo needs to do in order to make me feel like it’s justified in charging that fee. I do know that what Nintendo has discussed thus far doesn’t make me confident that it’s truly figured out how to offer an online service as good as the ones its competitors offer, and it’s going to take a lot to change those feelings.

READ MORE: Nintendo Switch ReviewI’m also still worried about Nintendo being Nintendo. When it was clear that the Wii U was floundering, it was almost as if Nintendo abandoned it before anyone else. I’m worried that the same thing will happen to the Switch if sales start sliding. Granted, I think Nintendo has done a good job at marketing the Switch thus far, which is great considering it’s a night-and-day change from the previous generation, but if Nintendo slips into Wii U mode with the Switch, then this thing is definitely going to fail.

Luckily, there’s been no indication of that happening yet. On the contrary, all signs point to Nintendo going full steam ahead with the Switch, throwing most of its weight behind the device and machine gunning out first party games to build value quickly. That’s encouraging, and Nintendo needs to keep it up – if the Switch can continue to have a great first year, then it will definitely be set up for long term success. Nintendo has the resources to ensure that happens, so we just need to see the company put the pedal to the metal and market the Switch like it’s the best thing since the NES.

What do you Switch owners think of your first three months with the device? Are you happy with your purchase or do you wish you’d have waited? Head down to the comments section and let us know!


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