Nintendo Switch is just about into its second year and I absolutely love the little console. But I have to admit, when the Switch First Look video appeared back in 2016 I was less than convinced. I couldn’t imagine ever taking the Switch out of the dock and playing it in various different places like the smiley, sexy people in the video were doing. I also had reservations about the battery life in portable mode, and I wondered if Switch games would suffer as developers stripped them down to run on what I initially thought was something akin to a next-gen 3DS with a TV cable.
But it turned out that all of my perceived negatives were actually the Switch’s major strengths. I absolutely do play my Switch outside of the dock, in fact I probably split my Switch gaming fairly evenly between portable and docked mode. Some games I prefer playing in handheld mode, but, if I am playing something on the TV and someone else wants to use it, I’m perfectly happy to pull the tablet out of the dock and carry on gaming from the sofa. The fact that the transition from TV screen to portable screen is so instant is amazing, and something I imagine was pretty complicated for Nintendo to implement.
The Switch’s portability also means that I find so much more time for gaming. The modern gamer has a very busy life and Nintendo knows this. The Switch is perfect for little stints of gaming whenever you’ve got a spare ten minutes, and I’ve never once had a problem with the battery life exactly because I’m using it in such short bursts. But I think the real beauty of the Switch isn’t just that the hardware is geared towards busy modern gamers, it’s that the games themselves are too.
I got Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as my first Switch game and the reason why was simple: I love Mario Kart multiplayer, raging blue shell tantrums and all! I’ve been playing Mario Kart with my friends ever since the N64 days and it really is my favourite gaming franchise. But, unlike the N64 era, I don’t have the time to play through single player to unlock all of the tracks, characters and karts super quickly – I wanted to be able to play with my friends, straight out of the box, no content missing! Nintendo understand this need and made every track and every playable character bar one available from the get-go. Sure, I have played through single player in the months since I got my Switch, but I was able to have huge multiplayer tournaments with all of the tracks right from day one. I’m really hoping that Ninty take the same approach with Super Smash Bros and all of its stages and fighters now that that’s been announced.
I think Nintendo have also adapted their most famous franchises (core Mario and Zelda games) to modern lifestyles as well. It used to really annoy me that, during the old Mario games, you were forever having to go in and out of levels every time you got a Star/Shine. Now, Power Moons can be obtained in quick succession without leaving a level, no stop-starty backtracking required. Zelda’s open world overhaul was even more of a revelation. After a relatively short tutorial area at the beginning of the game, the whole map becomes available. You can explore wherever you want whenever you want to. There’s no specific item requirements to gain access to all of the regions and that allows you to explore freely in any direction. Even Nintendo’s courtship of indie developers screams adaptation to modern lifestyles. There are so many great, short indie games that can be enjoyed in their entirety even when your gaming time is limited. I’ve played through Oxenfree, Night in the Woods and Dead Synchronicity to name just a few, all relatively quickly.
I can’t help but wonder if – with the failure of the Wii U – Nintendo were forced to look at themselves as a company and really figure out how they could fit into the modern lifestyle. Impressive Switch sales suggest that they’re making all the right decisions, but it’s not all about the hardware! I honestly think a new approach to software has benefited them (and me) immensely.
View Jack’s thoughts on Pokémon biology by clicking here.