Around this time last year, I reviewed the Nintendo Switch for Roobla.com and awarded it a 7.8 out of ten, concluding that it was a promising piece of tech that didn’t feel quite finished. One year later, I am revisiting my assessment of Nintendo’s hybrid console to see if it has made the leaps and bounds I hoped for it.
The Nintendo Switch has come someway towards being a better game console. One of the single largest gripes around launch time for the Switch was its dearth of software. It was either Zelda or 1-2 Switch for your big-hitters and a smattering of indie titles to pad out your library. Since then, Nintendo has had a resurgence. A reprieve of fortune and consumer interest has seen Nintendo Switch already out-sell the Nintendo Wii U just one year into it its lifecycle. This highlights both how much of a commercial flop the Wii U was as an intriguing but limited hardware proposition, compared to the successes of the Nintendo Switch, with its multi-branching approach to playing videogames and its play anywhere with no compromises messaging.
Thus, with consumer interest in abundance, this has drawn the opportunistic eyes of third-party developers and encouraged them to experiment by porting older titles to the Switch. Some developers have gone all in by releasing Switch ports of their games at the same time as on PS4 or Xbox One. Due to the hardware limitations compared to Sony’s and Microsoft’s machines, the quality of these ports has been a bit sketchy, with titles such as WWE 2K18 and Fifa 18 being the runts of the pack. Conversely, Bethesda’s port of Doom 2016 is a technical masterpiece, given that such a title has no business running on the mobile chipset that powers the Nintendo Switch.
So on the one hand, you have large third-party developers bringing their titles to the Switch and testing what works on that platform and its marketplace. On the other hand, Nintendo’s approach to bringing in and facilitating independent developers to bring their games to the Nintendo E-Shop has also been successful. This is no doubt helped by the Nintendo Switch being easier to develop for than the Nintendo Wii U, but it demonstrates Nintendo’s willingness to work with the smaller fish in the videogame industry. Primarily, the Nintendo Switch is marketed as a hand-held device which can also be used as a home console. With that in mind, it helps to have a slew of reasonably-priced and focused indie titles that lend themselves to that ‘pick up and play’ mentality when pitching your machine to gamers. Nonetheless, this is encouraging for the future of Nintendo and the independent development scene that such a large player in the industry is allowing such widespread access to its platform and online market place.
As a purebred games machine, the Switch has come a long way, with Nintendo going as far to port their more successful Wii U games to the Switch to give them the audience they finally deserve. That said, as a multi-media machine, the Switch still lacks in some key areas.
There is something to be said for a mobile gaming device with so much hardware power relative to other handheld units that doesn’t have a Netflix or YouTube App. I guess Nintendo wants to keep the focus on gaming for now, building their arsenal of third-party developers and marketing their coveted first-party IP to a revived fan base. Although considering much of the Nintendo Switch advertising was focused around taking the thing on the go, online streaming services would greatly increase the Nintendo Switch as a prospect for those still on the fence about buying the Switch.
Online sharing still lacks behind the PS4 and Xbox One. While there is a button to take photos in a quick and snappy manner, recording and sharing videos – of which you can have approximately ten seconds of recording time – still feels archaic. Ten seconds of video is good for capturing punchy little ‘wow’ moments but not ideal for people wanting to record long-form video for YouTube, although this was perhaps by design by Nintendo.
The UI, while as fast and responsive as it was last year, still feels bland and underwhelming. Nintendo has abandoned the jaunty tunes and animated icons playing over hardware menu screens from the Wii and Wii U era. Switch’s UI, by comparison, feels static. You flick through your library of games, a thumbnail denoting each game, to a silent screen with nothing but little ‘clicks’ when moving between screens. I guess this is a banal criticism, as the UI can be viewed as a mere pass through to accessing your games but it doesn’t give of that energetic and dynamic vibe that Nintendo so successfully communicated through their marketing.
In terms of price, the Nintendo Switch holds strong at £279.00 for a new console without any games or extra peripherals, although there are bundles which include a game and a pro controller which make the overall cost cheaper than if you were buying each component separately. It is well known that Nintendo products hold their price for a while so if you’re holding out for a price drop before jumping on board, be prepared to wait a while. The appeal of the Switch comes down to your lifestyle. Do you travel a lot and want an upgrade to your 3/2DS. Do you prefer home gaming and want a machine that gives you Nintendo first-party software and, albeit at a lower technical quality, third-party software? I guess that is what has made the Switch such a success, that is can be a different piece of hardware to so many different people.