On March 3, 2017, the Nintendo Switch released after fewer months of anticipation than expected. Seriously, this thing was down to the wire, with Nintendo barely introducing the thing before it was out of the gate. The Nintendo discourse was as usual, in the post-Wii U era. People were either excited about the console/handheld hybrid idea, or still convinced Nintendo was doomed to fail, then either shut down, go third party, or start making mobile games (well, that last part turned out pretty well). But then something unexpected happened.
Nintendo had an awkward press conference, then the thing dropped and immediately sold out everywhere. People like myself couldn’t even get their pre-orders on time. Nintendo had an overnight hit, and the numbers have only skyrocketed since. Now we’re in March 2018, and the first year of the Switch has felt like a rollercoaster. So let’s take a minute to reflect, and look back at the good, bad, and ugly parts of Nintendo Switch’s first year of life.
The Good: Holy Crap, This Thing Works
The Wii U didn’t work, largely because the gimmick didn’t gel with anyone. The tablet seemed to confuse consumers and developers alike – nobody knew what to do with it! But the one thing that people seemed to like was treating the tablet like a handheld. The screen was a funky, washed-out resolution and the range was bad, but the idea was intriguing. So the Switch being a promise of that gimmick living up to its full potential seemed like a pipe dream. And it worked like a charm. The first time you pop the handheld into the dock while everything is on, and the image pops over to your TV almost instantly, it’s like magic. Nothing works as advertised that well, but the Switch nails it. It felt like the first time in history full, console-tier games could be taken on the go. It’s the perfect concept, especially for millennial-aged folks like myself.
The Bad: Nintendo Still Needs to Nintendo
Yeah… a year in, and Nintendo is still lagging behind the competition in some pretty serious ways. The eShop is a wreck in terms of organization and searchability (although indie games are killing it still), and the online infrastructure still hasn’t officially launched in the way Nintendo planned it. There’s still no sign of a Virtual Console (which appears to be held hostage by the online stuff for now), and perhaps worst of all, Nintendo still hasn’t figured out cloud saving. It’s the little quality of life things Nintendo still struggles with, despite multiple examples of this stuff being out and successful existing in plain sight.
The Ugly: Ports, Retail Woes, and My Nintendo
Okay life, port-begging ain’t a problem, and many of the ports that have landed on the Nintendo Switch have been great. But there’s two sides to every coin, and there are some… problematic ports as well, to say the least. For example, 2K Games tried to cram WWE 2K18 on the thing, and while that’s an admirable idea, a quick peek at Digital Foundry can show the whole thing is a dumpster fire. Other ports are fine, but struggling with the default Switch cart size, and the costs associated with them. Games like LA Noire, Mega Man Legacy Collection, and Resident Evil Revelations are requiring installs to either get the full game, or access all games in a multi-game collection. Finally, My Nintendo, the replacement for the Club Nintendo loyalty program, is just bad. Like, it’s really bad.
This has pretty much been my takeaway from the first year of the Switch. The system is great on both a hardware and software level, but we haven’t made it all the way without a few bumps in the road. Some of which have yet to be smoothed out. I’m a huge fan of my Switch, and all the little things it’s capable of. And it’s just getting started – who knows what the next year or two will hold, and just how long will the Switch be able to last? Will the hybrid device still be able to hang when or if the next console generation kicks off? Or will the “underpowered” platform be able to continue coasting on its gimmick? I’d wager yes, as long as Nintendo can continue making waves with its smart marketing and dope software. If the Nindies and third parties keep interest as well, the future will only get brighter.