Flicked The Switch

After much deliberation, I’ve taken the plunge.  Done the deed.  Made the bed.  Climbed the mountain. Ran the marathon.  I’ve finally picked up the Nintendo Switch.   Despite being burnt by the Wii-U somewhat I wasn’t so keen to invest in Nintendo’s next flagship console.  It’s not that the Wii-U had a poor selection of games, there is a handful that justifies a pick up if you get one for the right price and there’s plenty pre-owned out there. Super Mario 3D World, New Super Mario Bros. U, Bayonetta 2, Pikmin 3, Splatoon, Super Smash Brothers 3, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and Wonderful 101 to name but a few. It’s more that the device didn’t really know what it wanted to be. Is it a home console? Yep. Is it a portable? Well if you’re in the house it is and the game supports remote play. Incorporating the Wii name confused consumers. “Is it an add on? Is it new? I already have one.”In terms of technical achievement it was the next step from the massively successful Wii that came before it but that next step was a club foot. A twisted ill thought out half step.  It wasn’t enough to be that killer device for all the family that the Wii was and they failed infiltrate the home and more importantly family gatherings in the same way.  Nintendo could see that this wasn’t working… Less than four years into the Wii-U’s life cycle, hints of a new mysterious NX were made by Nintendo which surely sounded the death knell, with president Tatsumi Kimishima stating, “When the NX is released, the Wii U business will slow…However, the NX is neither the successor to the Wii U nor to the 3DS” All very intriguing but we’ve been here before. The Wii-U tried “new” and went out with a whimper.  After Nintendo saw 2014 as one of its largest financial losses in its modern history. They were on the ropes. What could we honestly expect from this new device that can truly be regarded as something else? What is that “something” which will pull people away from the iphones, the tablets, the big two powerhouses, PS4 and XBOX One?  The sceptics were not convinced.  Nintendo have had it. Down and most definitely out. Then came the first look video…

“Shit!  Is that the next Zelda??!  On new home console?!?  It’s called Switch?   Weird name.  Hang on a second.  He’s dismantling his joypad.  What’s going on?  He’s stuck them on the console.  To charge them no doubt.  Whoa, he’s taking it with him!”  In the first 30 seconds you knew exactly what you were getting.  By the time the video was done you’re safe in the knowledge that if you have a dog, you go on planes, you can play basketball, you’re a child, you have a cute bob haircut and party with your mates on rooftops then this is for you.  To quote Adrock “this one’s for you and you and you”  Everyone was in Nintendo’s sights again.

Yet still, I held off, fingers still blackened by the Wii-U that seeks solace in the loft.  But it’s an itch that I had to scratch.  Friends and colleagues proclaiming daily Zelda to be ambrosia, nectar, manna from heaven.  The promise of instant flexible portability.  Zelda on the move.  Mario Kart 8 deluxe with all the extras and the revamped battle mode whilst on the bog.  The joy cons being more than just a gimmicky controller but a true joy to behold (pun well and truly intended). Snippercuts being a big bag of greatness. So I picked one up.  At present, with only Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Zelda I have more than enough to go at in the short term and enough has been written about these that I don’t need to repeat here.  However, what struck me is how technically impressive the thing is.  Gone is the cheap plasticky feel of the Wii-U.  The spongy screen.  The oversized tablet.  The switch is a sleek, sturdy solid unit  (It even survives a 1000ft drop).  The transition from TV to handheld is surprisingly smooth. Not as smooth as the adverts would have you think.  You have to re-engage the unit with L&R when ready but that’s sensible.  No one want’s their game to continue on as you’re removing it from the dock.  In swapping from big screen HD TV to the tablet you do lose something but that’s only to be expected in sizing down and in the main it’s no slouch and performs admirably.  First impressions are very good and with Splatoon 2, Mario Odyssey and Metroid Prime 4 on the horizon along with the usual FIFAs, NBAs etc  the future doesn’t look too bad.

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