I began gaming in 1996 with the PlayStation, and since the original Xbox hit the market, I’ve been playing both sides of the so-called “Console War”- and it’s great. While I always understood the indelible mark it had left on the industry, I hadn’t owned any Nintendo system (save for a Gameboy Color which was almost exclusively my Pokemon machine). When the Switch landed in March of 2017, I observed from afar – I had no affinity for Zelda, so Breath of the Wild didn’t interest me (at least until the review scores landed). I’d played Mario Kart 8 with my housemates (even the DLC), so Mario Kart 8: Deluxe fell on deaf ears. And yet, on a strange whim, I picked up the system (and both of these titles) in May 2017.
Excited to jump into Breath of the Wild and test out my new toy, I was immediately struck by its beauty… and its emptiness. After playing Mario Kart for a couple of hours with friends, I’d seen everything.
Should I have avoided the Switch?
Fast forward to the present day, and I’m very pleased to have been incredibly wrong. Over Christmas 2018 I’ve played my Switch more than my Xbox One or PlayStation. I’ve restarted Breath of the Wild, and begun snapping up games in the eShop like it’s going out of fashion. If I can buy a game on any platform, I opt for the Switch first.
But how? What happened in that year and a half to completely alter my thinking?
In truth, there isn’t one simple answer – just many that add up. For one, Breath of the Wild isn’t the only title to grab such glowing scores. Super Mario Odyssey was a game I played for hours on end over Christmas 2017. Intrigued, my partner started it and actually finished it before me and is still plugging away at the post game.
Nintendo placed seemingly insane bets that paid off – allowing Ubisoft to craft a tactics game blending Mario and The Rabbids was absolute insanity on paper, but it’s easily one of my favourite Switch titles. Ports from the Wii-U like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker have bolstered the lineup of exclusives on the Switch – sure you can play them on Wii-U, but they’re best enjoyed on the Switch. Don’t even get me started on revisiting Kanto in Pokemon: Let’s Go! – I smiled from ear to ear.
The Switch itself was a gamble – drastically underpowered compared to its competition, but with the tradeoff being extra portability mean the Switch goes everywhere with me when I travel. And when I do, I can pop into any number of indie titles – even some that you can’t get on the PlayStation or Xbox, like my Game of the Year contender Into The Breach.
Arguably the biggest reason for my newfound affection for Nintendo landed in December of 2018. Super Smash Bros: Ultimate isn’t the first in the series that I’ve played – but it is the one I’ve enjoyed the most. It’s roster of characters, a multitude of stages and array of music tracks are not only a shrine for Nintendo history but gaming history in general. After playing as Samus, I WANT to play a Metroid game. Playing as Ike has me itching for a Fire Emblem title. And even playing as variations of Link got me to play the original Legend of Zelda on Nintendo’s Online service.
I had low expectations for the Switch – not because I doubted Nintendo’s craft, but I did doubt they’d be able to offer me, a fan of Uncharted and Halo, something to get excited about. Above everything else, the Switch has earned its place as one of my favourite consoles of all time, and things can only get better. If 2019 does indeed give us Animal Crossing or Fire Emblem, I’ll welcome those franchises onto my console with open arms despite knowing so little about them. And when Pokemon comes I think I’ll hibernate for weeks to catch ’em all.
Which consoles have surprised you? What are you playing on the Switch? Let us know in the comments below!