Switching Gears

Lately, the Nintendo name seems to have an asterisk tacked onto it, and I don’t really understand why. It wasn’t always like that though. My childhood was filled with adventures in Hyrule, Mario-partying the day away, and that one period of time when me and two friends would link up on a three-way phone call and play Metroid Prime together – you know, normal stuff.

Throughout all of that though, I can’t remember the Nintendo stigma existing. Sure, there were the console wars, but not this constant negativity that surrounds Nintendo now. I first noticed it in high school when I would spend countless lunch breaks defending that the Gamecube wasn’t a “kid’s” console and that Wind Waker wasn’t a “children’s” game. After that, it was always an endless argument that I would seemingly always find myself on the losing end of; from high school, throughout college, and even now as an adult. I understand their are some decisions that Nintendo makes that might urge you to furrow your brow and scratch your head, but is any company perfect?

So after thinking about what it could be, if there was that one answer to the question, I’ve come to the conclusion, that there isn’t. So instead of trying to understand why, I figured I’d choose to focus not on past failures or successes, but instead what we know and still don’t know about the Switch. Nintendo can, hopefully, make the right decisions this time around and try and shake this notion that they are somehow inferior or disappointing no matter what they do.

First thing’s first, Nintendo NEEDS to get third party support for the Switch, but not for me. Honestly, I could care less. I am not buying Nintendo consoles for games that are available elsewhere. I am buying Nintendo for Nintendo, but not everyone is. I am always going to buy the next Nintendo console and handheld. They don’t need to worry about winning me over, they’ve won me and millions of others over already. In order for Nintendo to make some gains with the Switch they need to win over the gamers who maybe don’t care about every Nintendo release that comes out. It’s the only way the console will increase it’s install base and have longevity. The list of developers who have announce they are working on games for the Switch is a very promising list.

Confirmed developers for the Switch.

Secondly, Nintendo has got to improve their online infrastructure and the service that they offer. They have alluded to a new, hopefully aggressive, approach to internet connectivity with the Switch, but they really cannot afford to lose in this area. Native voice chat needs to be included. Have you tried playing Splatoon in the higher level competitive modes without being able to communicate? It’s horrific. Mike and I had to use voice chat apps on our phones so we would be able to efficiently strategize our gameplay. Also, friend codes need to die. They are an outdated, impractical way of interacting with people. I understand some of the decisions that Nintendo makes are influenced by keeping children safe, but their are other ways to safeguard children and integrate parental controls that can be beneficial to kids and families while not being a burden to older gamers.

The final thing that I am excited for with the Nintendo Switch, and the thing I think Nintendo got right this time around, is that they are staying true to what Nintendo has at it’s core; innovation and creativity. I don’t think I am alone with the sentiments that I am glad Nintendo isn’t just putting out another box with powerful specs to match or surpass the Xbox One, Scorpio, Playstation 4, or the PS4 Pro. Nintendo has always been an innovator in the world of gaming, whether it’s with their console, the controller, or gameplay mechanics. So, with the Switch they are trying something that no one else has done. It keeps the business competitive and evolving. Sometimes their ideas don’t get utilized by third party developers at all, or sometimes when they are they aren’t always executed properly, but the Switch is different. It not only has new and creative control schemes and abilities with the Joy-Con™, but there is also an emphasis on traditional gamepad controls. Oh, and the fact that I can take my console caliber Zelda with me out of the house or on trips is pretty bad-ass.

photo cred: nintendo.com

All of this being said, Nintendo seems to be keeping their fun and innovative side stimulated with the Switch, but they are also trying to coerce some of the more hardcore gamers back to Nintendo after they may have felt abandoned by the Wii and the Wii U. Those are the people they need to win over, and I think they have a formula this time around to appeal to casual and hardcore gamers.

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