Friday, January 13, 2017

Nintendo Switch...Will it Live up to it's Hype?

If you're reading this blog, then I'm pretty sure you like video games. If you like video games, then you may have been like me and stayed up late (well, late for me at least) on 01/12/17 to watch Nintendo's presentation for their newest console, the Switch.

I haven't poured over much of the content today on social media, but what I have it seems people are firmly on one side or another when it comes to this new hybrid it or hate it. I really haven't seen many people that are straddling the fence. 

You have your Nintendo loyalists that of course love it and will buy it day one. Then you have your hardcore gamers that turn their noses up towards Nintendo for a myriad of reasons. Where do I stand? That's a good question. Let me see if I can explain my stance, but first let me take a walk down memory lane and explain my relationship w/ Nintendo.

I like Nintendo. I always have. I grew up in the Atari age, in fact the last console my dad said he would ever buy me (and my older brother) was the Atari 7800. This would prove to be mostly true, then again "Santa" gave me an NES a few years later. I loved the NES. I have many fond memories of pulling weeds at my aunt's house to earn money to buy one of my first NES games, Bubble Bobble. I remember sneaking NES games with me to Jr. High school to trade with friends. I remember the first TMNT game on the NES pissing me off. Those were the times.

When the SNES came out, surprisingly I wasn't interested in games. Blame it on girls I guess. My younger brother eventually would get an SNES and I'd play it sparingly, but I really didn't do much with games until the N64 was announced. That was the first console that I bought w/ my own money. I remember the day I got the call from Toys R Us that my console was ready to be picked up. Talk about living on cloud 9. Mario 64 was utterly amazing and I couldn't put it down. Sadly, the console would ultimately disappoint me as the caliber of games just didn't capture my attention after the novelty of Mario 64 wore off.

I followed the news of the GameCube and would eventually get one for Christmas after it had been out a year or so. I thought it was a great little machine, but by that time Microsoft had already wooed me away w/ their original Xbox. It seemed if Nintendo was starting to get lost in the shuffle with more competition and as much of a fan I was, my attention (and dollars) went elsewhere. Nintendo would eventually reel me back in w/ the Wii. I bought it at launch. I remember sitting outside a Super Target in the freezing cold w/ my wife and brothers waiting to get it on launch day. I also picked up Zelda and fell in love with the game...until I had to go fishing in the game for something. 

Ironically enough, I think my favorite Nintendo console, outside of the original, is the Wii U. I agree that Nintendo didn't do the console any favors with the name and the marketing for it was horrible. I didn't buy it on launch, but eventually ponied up the money and bought a Zombi U bundle from GameStop. Today it's the most played of all of the modern consoles I have. My 7 and 5 year old girls enjoy playing Super Mario World, Yoshi's Wooly World and other games. They fight over who gets to use the tablet controller. Heck, I love the tablet controller and opt to use it over the Pro controller on certain games. 

Now comes the Switch. So far I think Nintendo has done a pretty good job at showing off the hardware and describing it's many play styles, but what concerns me still are the games. Granted a few of the launch titles and upcoming titles look good, but what I'm waiting for (as many others are) is to see what the 3rd party support is going to be like. Frankly, Nintendo hasn't had good 3rd party support for a home console of theirs since...the N64? 

The console itself is very intriguing to me. I'm not a big portable fan so that feature isn't a big draw for me, but I can see myself playing it sitting on the couch while "watching TV"...similar to what I do now w/ the Wii U. The Joy Con controllers, while small, looks to be better than I originally thought and may make playing retro games on the Switch that much more authentic if you will. I'm very happy to see a Pro style controller coming and that it's design hasn't changed much from the last generation.

I get people's concerns that the Switch may not be the savior that Nintendo needs. However what I'm already sick and tired of hearing is that it's not 4K, it's under powered, it's this or it's not this. People are complaining that it's not even as good as the PS4 or the Xbox One and why won't Nintendo just release a "regular console".

Let's face it people. This isn't the 1980's or even the 1990's. The landscape of video games has changed a lot in the 30+ years I've been on this planet. Competition isn't what it used to be and Nintendo isn't the king of the hill anymore. I believe Nintendo knows this and they've come to grips with it. Instead of trying to complete with Microsoft and Sony, they decided to take a different path and it all started with the Wii (some may argue it started w/ the GameCube). Nintendo isn't afraid of trying something new and I commend them for that. That isn't to say that things don't blow up in their face, but what I don't get is why are people bashing Nintendo for trying to be different? What's wrong with being different? Most gamers have more than one game system these days; so if they want that super powerful mega house game system to play 4K HD super graphic heavy games they can. I believe Nintendo is just trying to find their niche in this crowed market place and there is nothing wrong with that. It's fine if you don't like it. Go back to one of the other two big companies, but Nintendo is banking on people playing their games and consoles to have fun, to enjoy the gaming experience.

With the GameCube, Nintendo finally decided to use optical media for the first time...but went a different route with their mini-DVDs. Now they are going a different route w/ flash media...and I think that's pretty cool. Heck, this is one of the features on the Switch that intrigues me the most. The Sony PlayStation Vita has blown me away with the type of games they can cram onto an SD card and honestly that alone has given me hope that Nintendo will be able to replicate that (and take it to another level?) on the Switch. Even the images of the games' packaging that recently came out is starting to get me excited.
Will the Nintendo Switch live up to it's Hype? I think it's way to early to say. I think it'll perform better than the Wii U, but then again that isn't saying much. However taken how dominate Nintendo has been with in the handheld market ever since the original Game Boy was launched, I see them being able to market the Switch to that group as well as the home console market. I think the Switch has a lot of great things going for it, but like any platform it's the games that make the difference. While I'm glad to see that Zelda is going to be a launch title, I believe having a new Mario game ready on day one would have given the Switch a tremendously large boost. Then again, it'll take me forever to get through Zelda so I can wait until the holiday 2017 season for another big game. I know I'm in the minority here however.


So, did I pre-order a Nintendo Switch like the millions of others last night or in the wee early hours of 01/13/17? Yes. I kinda talked myself out of it, but then all of those great Nintendo memories rushed to the forefront of my thoughts. That and the whole Classic Nintendo debacle at retail for those who didn't pre-order. Not long before noon today I searched out various vendors online to see who still had pre-orders and it didn't take me long before I realized they were pre-selling out fast. GameStop, gone. Amazon, gone. Walmart, gone. Thankfully I did get an order in for the Switch (and Zelda) at Best Buy. The neon colored bundle was already gone so I had to settle for the basic package, but with young girls in the house that may be a good thing as I could see them fighting over who gets to play with the red or blue Joy Con controller!

Just like the video game market has changed over the last 30 years, so have I. While I still love games (obviously), I'll be 40 in a few months, have a family and a job that requires me to travel and takes up a good bit of my time. I have a lot of other hobbies as well that are constantly fighting for my attention. I'm not that 20 something guy that can sit on the couch and play games all day. If I play games now for more than 2 or 3 hours straight I feel as if I wasted my time. I don't need the Switch to be a blockbuster PlayStation or Xbox killer. I just need it to provide me with some quality, fun to play titles...which I know Nintendo will deliver on. If they get the 3rd party support that most of us would like to see, that will just be a bonus. I buy Nintendo consoles to play the Nintendo franchises. If I really want to play a big budget title I can always fall back on my Xbox One. 

March 3, 2017 can't get here fast enough for me. I'm excited about this new path that Nintendo is taking. I'm prepared for a little disappointment here and there, but I have faith that the powers that be at Nintendo will deliver on their promises. 

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