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My First Two Weeks with the Switch

It’s been quiet here at Jinja Bobot since the Nintendo Switch was released on March 3rd. Overall, I’m blown away by the hybrid console and it’s probably on pace to becoming my favorite system of all time contingent on what the game library looks like over the next few years.

I’d like to take some time today to share my own personal experience with the launch and compare this nifty toy to some desires and predictions from the past.

Launch Day

I may have got

My new friend.

I wanted to enjoy the Switch’s launch so much that I did so twice. I was able to preorder the system on announcement day, Jan. 12th, with Gamestop which assured myself that this would be the first console (or game) I bought at a midnight opening! I arrived at around 11:20pm and meandered around the store for a while before running into a fellow gamer buddy whom I’d met in the preorder line a couple months earlier. At 11:55pm, they told us to line up according to our selected numbers. Outside. In the cold. I had #20.

Into the chilly night we went and I endured a brisk 25 minutes in eager anticipation as I watched customer after customer skip off into the parking lot with their new prizes. Finally, I acquired my Switch and a blue carrying case. No games. It would be a tough night not playing Breath of the Wild, but as you’ll see that’s how it had to be.

I got home and set the thing up and proceeded to purchase two digital games: I Am Setsuna and Snipperclips. Easy choices. Then, for the next hour, I sat in the still darkness of my living room and, like a little kid, enjoyed some Switch for the first time! I was in love with a Nintendo portable that finally had such high resolution graphics! For so long, I was jealous of the PlayStation Vita with its beautiful screen and hated how it made me chafe at the 3DS’s poor showing for so long. Now, I had the best of both worlds…a screen even better than the Vita with games that bore the Nintendo logo.

Heaven.

The following morning, after playing some Snipperclips with the family, I got to enjoy another launch day at Best Buy from which I had preordered all of my games! (I enjoy the 20% discount with their gamer program.) I picked up Breath of the Wild, Super Bomberman R, 1-2 Switch, and Just Dance 2017. To make the morning even better, I also purchased all 5 of the new Zelda Amiibo, a Pro Controller, and an extra set of neon joycons. Oh, and the Wii U version of BOTW to boot!

I may have gotten carried away...

I may have gotten carried away…

First Impressions

The very first thing I said aloud when I opened the box on launch night was, “It’s so small!” (That’s what she said.) It was true, everything seemed smaller than I’d imagined: the joycons, the dock, and even the screen. The dock felt light and cheap but of course there’s no batteries or weight to it and so it’s destined to feel that way. Yet, once you turn the Switch on as a portable you realize how ginormous that screen really is. It is big and beautiful!

My hour with I Am Setsuna was mostly played with a silly-looking perma-grin on my face. :-) Such crisp graphics from a game with such a cool, wet mood and so perfect for the late night. After all this time, I was finally playing the NX Switch! My years of playing the Wii U became a distant memory as I was now playing the same thing except with the system in my hands (and not on the console). I haven’t even touched my Wii U since.

The system feels solid in your hands and the neon joycons give it a bright accent that still keeps me glancing when I walk by it. Pulling off the joycons and sliding on the rails is nice and easy although those rails weren’t very intuitive at first. It’s easy enough to slide them on backwards…and then really difficult to get them off! Do it right, though, and everything is straightforward enough…although I expect the design will be improved in future hardware releases.

The game carts themselves are somewhat unusual. Obviously, they’re no longer optical media which is great. Games load much quicker now as Nintendo avoided making the PSP mistake with UMD’s. (I can still here the sound of those things rattling in my head.) The odd thing, though, is that the carts rattle when you shake them. Very odd. 3DS games don’t rattle, but these do? I’m still not sure why. I’ve also run into some issues where I put a cart into the Switch and it wouldn’t load it. Pushing them out and then back in again fixes it, but it’s still an issue I hope they resolve. Also, my wife’s Switch had some issues with Breath of the Wild crashing early and often. I tried to debug the issue by swapping our carts to see if it was a game issue or system issue and we haven’t seen it happen again. Maybe some dust?

Still, I’ve seen Just Dance 2017 crash once as well as Super Bomberman R and Breath of the Wild, too. Hopefully, these are just the normal launch issues you see with any software in general and get remedied quickly.

Past Predictions…How Did I Do?

As details of the Switch (formerly known as the NX) leaked, we here at Jinja Bobot made some predictions and hopeful requests about what we wanted to see from the console so it would “dominate the market.” Let’s see how we did.

Firstly, a year before the Switch was released, I called for a $350-$400 price point. At this time, the idea was that price was low enough to be competitive with the PS4 and XBox One, while still high enough to allow for the high-end technology I wanted to see powering the system. Ultimately, the launch price was set at $300. However, that price doesn’t include the $70 Pro Controller which I feel is a mandatory purchase to properly enjoy the single-player experience. Plus, the Switch Pro Controller is a wonderful accessory that feels smooth in the hands and looks great!

This puts the system at a virtual $370 and one I’m happy with.

Secondly, aesthetics matter and the Wii U was never a good-looking system. It was decrepit, really. The GamePad had some character, especially the special Wind Waker edition, but the console was the most boring hardware Nintendo has ever provided its fans. I wanted a retro look owners could be proud of. While the retro look didn’t come to pass, Nintendo certainly designed a beautiful console. It’s sleek, gray-toned look was unique and polished and, as an early surprise in their 1/12 announcement, the neon-colored joycons added the perfect splash of color to make the whole system pop! Add to that the flexibility of providing multi-colored joycons in the future and the system will enjoy a potentially endless array of wonderful renditions for years to come!

 

Can you even imagine a Super Famicom rendition like this some day?

Can you even imagine a Super Famicom edition like this some day? This retro look is exactly what I had in mind so long ago and fingers crossed we see something like this for real and not just in fan art.

Thirdly was my desire to make it dead easy to port games to. Third party support is something Nintendo’s home consoles have had problems getting since the Nintendo 64 days (with the notable exception of the Wii). Great games from non-Nintendo developers are a must because Nintendo can’t provide a consistent software stream all by themselves throughout the lifetime of the Switch. To get third party support requires two things: big hardware sales and an easy path to porting games over. The hardware sales look to be on track early as all the launch Switches have sold out and continue to sell out almost as quickly as they become available in stores. Developers will love seeing this.

As for porting games over, all reports are that porting is easy! In fact, developers are even porting more games than expected! This may be the best news of all for Nintendo and hopefully portends a strong and robust game library that is made stellar by Nintendo’s own first party releases! (Plus, can we haz Dark Souls games?)

Fourth, and a call I’m proud to have made, I wanted Nintendo to kill the concept of the second screen and end compatibility with the Wii and Wii U. While I loved the two-screen experience, the concept goes back to my former point which is that it made porting games more difficult. Older games couldn’t be so quickly brought over to the Wii U because additional game design was needed to take advantage of the GamePad screen. Bummer. The Switch went back to the single-screen experience thereby eliminating that need. (They also killed off in-game Mii’s which took even more pressure off third parties.) Then, just as I wished, Nintendo recognized that an install base of just 14 million Wii U owners was not enough to justify backwards compatibility. In doing so, they were able to forego optical media, drop the second screen, and eliminate any extra hardware to support Wii and Wii U titles. The Wiimotes were finally rendered obsolete (huzzah!) along with the nunchucks, sensor bar, and lower-resolution games of the past.

What we’re left with is a refreshing and new experience all its own, unencumbered by a history of naming confusion. The perfect choice.

Lastly, one promise made for the Wii that never became reality was one I hoped for with the Switch, making every old-school Nintendo game available at launch. Not a few new titles a week. Not just certain systems. All of them. As it stands, while this may become a reality over the next year, we couldn’t be further from it at launch because exactly zero older games are available. (Oddly, a bunch of Neo Geo games are available.) Disappointing, but I didn’t buy a Switch to play Super Mario Bros. 3 so we’ll see what happens in a few months as they are introduced online and gamers awaken from their Breath of the Wild haze.

Still, I’m happy with these predictions and how they played out.

The Immediate Future of the Switch

Things look bright for the Switch as we just enjoyed our first post-launch release day (The Binding of Isaac) and many new games have become available on the eShop including World of Goo and Human Resource Machine. Next week we’ll see a Switch exclusive, Has-Been Heroes (a $20 physical title which is neat), and soon thereafter PuyoPuyo Tetris which should be great couch-op fun! The next big title will be Mario Kart 8 Deluxe at the end of April followed closely by a new title, ARMS.

Switch’s are hard to come by right now with limited stock being sold almost as soon as it’s put on shelves and, of course, the scalpers are at it again. Still, these are all great signs for Nintendo as the Wii U didn’t enjoy anywhere near this great a launch. In fact, I’d bought an 8GB Wii U before procuring the 32GB model at launch and actually had to sell it AT A LOSS as it was too hard to find a buyer. With the Switch, selling at a $50-$100 profit would’ve been dead simple

Breath of the Wild is getting perfect scores all over the place and is easily the best Zelda game ever made and, quite possibly, the best game Nintendo has ever released. I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve played of it and lamented every minute I’m not able to these last 17 days.

Nintendo, it looks like you’re back on the map and I can’t wait to see more!

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About John Blanco

John Blanco is an avid game collector and loves to write about his hobby as much as he participates in it. He run the Denver Retro Gamers Facebook group in Denver, Colorado, and coordinates swap-style meetups with dozens of other collectors every couple of months.

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