We finally get to see the Nintendo Switch this week. All (or at least most) of our questions will be answered. Most importantly, we’ll come away with some idea of how this thing will fit into our lives. For some, the Switch will be like any other console. I’ve already heard a few say their Switch will stay connected to their TV, and never leave its dock. That’s perfectly reasonable, but for me, it’s most exciting as a new portable console.
That’s kind of the beauty of what Nintendo is claiming to offer here. Assuming it’s everything we imagine it is (which is a big assumption, I realize), it can be exactly what everyone needs it to be. And right now, I need it to be a portable system. I bet I’m not alone in that either. Despite everyone having a much more powerful computer in their pocket already, there’s still a need for dedicated portable gaming consoles.
(Screenshot via Youtube/Nintendo Mobile)
Playing Games on a Smartphone Still Sucks
Yes, there are some great smartphone games out there. Games that are designed around touchscreen control that doesn’t just draw an analog stick and buttons on the screen. But after a while, you get tired of games that ask nothing more of the player than an occasional tap or swipe. You want something more complex, and those games feel terrible on a smartphone. Fake touchscreen analog sticks never work quite right, and get really uncomfortable after prolonged session. I want the direct control that can only be offered by a physical analog stick, D-pad, and buttons. While there are controller attachments for phones, support is app by app and build quality varies drastically. Most of all, though, I’d rather just take a device out and start playing right away.
Even Nintendo games aren’t as good on smartphones. Sure, Super Mario Run was OK I guess, but can you honestly say you wouldn’t prefer a proper Mario game? One where you had full control over his movements? One with complex level design, whose challenge didn’t come from your inability to move left?
Public Transit Commuters Need Something to Do
Whether it’s because they want to save the environment or they just don’t want to deal with traffic, more people are choosing to take public transportation to work these days. When you take a train or bus to work, something amazing happens. You get so much time back. When you drive to work, you can’t concentrate on much more than the road. When you take public transit, you have time to read, close your eyes and clear your mind, or catch up on your massive video game backlog. I love JRPGs, and thanks to a daily train commute and a Playstation Vita, I had time to play through Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. (Which, by the way, is a fantastic RPG series that everyone should play.)
With the Switch being the same system at home as it is on the go, I’ll be able to play and finish Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And hopefully, I’ll be able to get into some games that I missed on the Wii U. Like Xenoblade Chronicles X. (Please, oh please, oh please.) Also, unlike the Vita, this will likely be Nintendo’s only platform from now on. They’ll have no choice but to support it just as well as, if not better than, they did the 3DS. Within a year, there should be plenty of games for us to choose from. I hope.
Television Time Isn’t So Abundant Anymore
This is true for anyone now living with a significant other, who maybe doesn’t share their enthusiasm for games. You share a TV with someone else now, and you don’t have nearly as much time for console gaming as you did when you were single. Now, this problem could be solved with a gaming laptop, but it’s hard to curl up on the couch with one of those. Handhelds are kind of the perfect compromise. Your partner gets to watch their stories, you get your gaming time, and nobody gets lonely.
This is such a common situation that every console manufacturer has found some kind of solution. A PS4 will stream to a Vita. An Xbox One will stream to a Windows tablet (or any Windows 10 computer). And Nintendo, who started this whole trend with the Wii U, now is continuing it with the Switch. As a bonus, you can take the Switch with you when you storm out after the inevitable fight about how you never talk anymore. Good looking out, Nintendo.
(Photo: Screenshot via Nintendo)
Better Game Boy Advance Experience on Virtual Console
This is purely theoretical at this point, as we have no idea what Virtual Console on the Switch will look like. But if it’s anything like the Wii U’s, chances are Game Boy Advance games are on their way. And they will finally be portable again. These games were designed to be played on the go. Having to stay near a Wii U to play them kind of defeats the purpose.
And yes, I know you can get a Raspberry Pi or other handheld emulation device. I don’t care. Games have value and people should be paid for their work. Also, GBA emulation on Wii U has been pretty great as far as accuracy goes and doesn’t require any tinkering. When you only have a 45-minute commute to play games, it’s better to have a thing that works the way you want it to right out of the box. Now if only they could get Boktai working on it.