I has been 18 years that I’ve considered myself a fan of Nintendo consoles. Let’s take a look back. I am one of those gamers whose first game console ever was the original NES. It came with Mario and Duck Hunt on the same cartridge and of course, the Light Gun. I got the NES somewhat late in its life cycle, as I was two years old the year it was released in America, but I loved it. My brother and I spent countless hours shooting at ducks and trying to save the princess in the various Super Mario games. The system was perfect for me at that age and I’m sure it captivated not just children but adults as well.
The Super Nintendo was released in 1991 but my family didn’t own one until a few years later when the system was sold bundled with Donkey Kong Country. The Super Nintendo improved upon the NES in just about every way possible. The games looked amazing in comparison. NES games began to get more complex as the controller had two additional face buttons and introduced the L and R shoulder buttons. In addition to the amazing first party games they had, some games grew up with me like Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat and Primal Rage.
At this point in my life, I was a hardcore gamer, gaming on PC, SNES and at the arcades. News started coming out about the next Nintendo console with 3D graphics. This concept at the time was mind blowing. Months before the Nintendo 64 launched, Quake launched on PC and I was floored – fully 3D environments and enemies were something I had never seen before. Knowing fully 3D worlds were coming with the N64 was incredibly exciting.
This is probably the most excited I had been about an upcoming Nintendo console until now with the imminent Switch.
So why did I become uninterested in Nintendo? Sony released the PlayStation as a less powerful system but by the end of the PlayStation life cycle, the games were way better looking because of the storage medium of the CD vs the Cartridge. Nintendo knew they needed to go to a disk based storage with the next console. Sony went to DVD, where you could watch movies on your PlayStation 2 and Nintendo went with mini DVDs. At this point, as a teenager, Nintendo is starting to lose me. The PlayStation dominated and the PlayStation2 continued its dominance throughout its generation as well. The PlayStation 2’s games mixed with its multimedia play-back capabilities made it the most bang for my buck. Again, Nintendo had a more powerful console than Sony, but it didn’t matter and this must have been the shift in Nintendo’s approach to the way they created consoles.
The Wii’s marketing was aimed at children, not at their original audience (people like me who grew up with the brand). Blinded by this success, they tried to capitalize on it and called their next system the Wii U. This name, along with a horrible demonstration at E3 in which they only showed us this massive, clunky looking, toyish looking tablet controller put it behind the eight ball. They wanted to try to replicate the hand held DS experience on the console but were met with disastrous consequences. Dual screen was great for a handheld to make up for the small screen size. This just didn’t seem necessary for a home console and third party developers mostly dropped off because of this. Nintendo, at the time of this writing, has sold 13.8 million Wii U consoles worldwide. It has a one year head start on the PS4, which has sold 54.1 million consoles.
In October, we knew we were going to get a preview for Nintendo’s new console. The rumors for the system said it was going to be a hybrid system for home console use and mobile on the go usage. I was cautiously excited before the preview because after seeing how clunky and toyish the Wii U controller looked, I was picturing more of what Nintendo showed us. Upon first seeing the trailer, I was amazed that the Switch looked like a piece of premium hardware. In the design of the hardware, Nintendo looks like they are trying to cater to the older, more tech savvy crowd. The rumor that the Switch would revert back to using cartridges was shown to be true in the trailer. Sacrificing an optical drive to save space and also battery life makes 100% sense. Nintendo has said that Netflix and other streaming will not be launching with the Switch, but I don’t feel that this is a deal breaker as many of us probably have at least 2 other ways to consume such media.
Some people have complained about the launch lineup and that the games that will be coming to the Switch are ports of Wii U games. I personally think this is fantastic because so few people even owned a Wii U (like myself), so ports make a ton of sense. I’m actually disappointed we aren’t getting more ports of Wii U games during the launch window. Hopefully E3 will show us some more ports along with a huge list of 3rd party games coming for the new system.
In January, we got the full Nintendo Switch reveal live from Japan. The hardware looks impressive. The $299.99 pricing was pretty much expected, though I was hoping for a 250.99 price tag. The high price of the accessories seems a big excessive. Other than the amazing new Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild trailer, the new Mario Odyssey was probably the most impressive game shown at the conference.
With Zelda being a launch title, we will hopefully get two brand new Zelda games for the Switch in its lifetime. With the Switch being a hybrid handheld and home console, I am hoping for our first console quality Pokemon game that is not a spin off, but rather a main game in the series. I truly hope the Switch will replace not only the Wii U but the 3DS. The 3DS is an old system and is beginning to show its age. For example in Pokemon Sun, when in double battles or Battle Royal, I experienced frame rate drops.
I have the Switch pre-ordered because it looks like an impressive piece of tech, and I think this is the future of gaming; gaming that is accessible and comfortable to use in the home or on the go. Nintendo has caught my eye with their home console for the first time in 18 years. There are still unanswered questions about the Switch, but I’m trusting that Nintendo had learned their lesson from the missteps with the Wii U and will blow us away when we finally get the answers to those questions at release.
David Duncan is the host of the Synthaholics Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter.