Well it happened folks. I have officially transitioned into my third decade of human life. And I’m happy to announce that I feel the youngest I ever have! I’m at my healthiest and wealthiest, so I think I’m doing it right, although I’ll probably lose both of those traits as the plans in this decade include spawning human children. Parents who are reading, I’m sure you can attest to physical health and money going straight down the drain following that life event.
A quick note about birthdays: I’m not a huge fan of them. Well, celebrating them. A birthday is okay inherently because it means you’re still alive. Here’s the thing, though: unless you live in a terrible third-world country owned and operated by warlords and towns that have more AK-47s than people, surviving another year isn’t particularly difficult. Even for me, a person who does notoriously stupid things, I usually get by with some cuts, some broken bones, and a letter from my health insurance company letting me know that I owe them money and still haven’t hit my deductible yet. But (and knock on wood) it’s rare to get full-on taken out by natural causes that plague the rest of the world: starvation, disease, these are actual problems in a lot of countries, and it always felt weird to get presents, aka rewards for simply not dying in a first-world country.
Now, I’ve historically never been a fan of celebrating my birthday, even when I was a kid and before realizing the aforementioned things. Since a gaggle of fun-ployees sung Happy Birthday to me in a Friendly’s amongst a cacophony of laughter from my family as I cried from being the center of attention, it really hasn’t been my thing. I think I was 3 or 23 when that happened. It’s all so hard to bring back those repressed memories.
Rather than ramble about how I’m not a fan of celebrating my birthday, this post will take a different direction. As September 3rd was officially my birthday, it’s also exactly six months past the launch date of the Nintendo Switch, which debuted on March 3rd. So let’s celebrate in style, not by embarrassing a grown man by handing him an ice cream cone head and singing at him, but with a blog post, discussing exactly six months of the Nintendo Switch!
Like any good fan of Nintendo, receiving a brand new console is a moment to be treasured forever. To call it exciting would be the understatement of the century, for these moments don’t happen too often. The difference in my adult life is that a March console release is practically equidistant from Christmas and my birthday, but it doesn’t matter, because I can buy whatever I want. Finding time to play it is where I run into problems!
But on this Holy Day of March the 3rd, I took a day off work and sat down to crack it open. And boy was it a sight to behold – by far the Switch is the most beautiful console they’ve designed. Almost appearing like an Apple product, the slick rounded edges and density of the tablet didn’t have that cartoony Fisher-Price look like that of the DS consoles, even with my Neon JoyCon selection. It was and definitely is a monumental step for Nintendo as far as the console design process goes.
I fired it up and even the UI looked like it had matured gracefully into a spritely thirty-something. A little plain, and I hope that UI themes and customizations become a feature as they were on the 3DS, but it still showed that Nintendo wasn’t playing games here. The software is ultra-responsive and the touch screen ability is reflected in the size of the icons themselves.
Eventually my attention was drawn away and I realized I needed to experience Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, so like any normal adult I licked the cartridge to verify that it was indeed childproof, gagged for a few seconds, dried it off, then put it in and played. While I had many complaints about Breath of the Wild, it was definitely an experience that I enjoyed. Not one I particularly I want to have again, but still one that was pretty cool.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Cave Story+ were among the only physical releases that interested me for a good long while – my summer gaming time being mostly consumed by Ever Oasis, Hey! Pikmin, and Urban Trial Freestyle 2, also motivating me enough to complete a trifecta of long-form 3DS game reviews as the newest member of The Well-Red Mage crew. Interestingly enough, nothing really grabbed me on the Switch, however, and so it pretty much sat there for the most part, trickle charging for months.
I’m not a fan of digital-only games but while I was playing through Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Breath of the Wild, occasionally I needed some breaks to play something else. I did actually grab a few digital titles when the price was low enough and my curiosity got the best of me.
Fast RMX was fun for a bit, before I realized the rubber-banding was so horrible that actually gaining skill in the game was pointless, as enemies would always catch up to you. It was far worse than any game in the Mario Kart series ever was, and so I managed to hit roughly 50% game completion before throwing in the towel.
Kamiko was entertaining for about 2 hours before I 100% completed it on every class, and I think I picked this up due to the very low price point and the fact that I was craving a top-down Zelda title after feeling so burned out on Breath of the Wild after “only” 55 hours.
Jack Box Party Pack 3, to this day, is some of the most fun I’ve ever had, and I’ve busted it out at several parties and loaded up the teams with 8 people. Everyone loved it who played, and it’s been a rousing success that, like most things in life, pairs extremely well with booze.
There were a few more that I experienced, but overall, the indie selection has done little to impress me. But furthermore, indie games aren’t going to sell a $300 console. And here is where I want to get a little bit more general in my six-month ramble.
What I’ve noticed is that beyond the initial running around in Breath of the Wild, there wasn’t much attracting me to the Switch and making me want to play. Sure, even before Zelda burned me out, the novelty of lounging around the house or playing console-grade games on the bus wore out pretty quickly.
Keeping in mind that this machine was marketed for “take-anywhere gaming,” I do find it strange that the two biggest releases this summer were both online multiplayer games. I primarily play on a bus, thus completely removing both Splatoon 2 and ARMS from the realm of possibility. Granted, I am aware that there are single player modes and I am also aware that most people play the consoles at home where they have a network connection, but the selling point that got me and people like me to invest in the Switch because they are constantly on the go doesn’t line up with the primary function of these two games.
I’m sure there is a person somewhere out there in the world that can name every type of cheese in the world. It’s an amazing talent, I think, and the issue isn’t that it’s not an amazing talent. If that person were me, if I was the Cheese Man, and I was hired by a guy who was writing a book about all the cheeses of the world, I would imagine I would be filled with absolute glee. “Finally, a chance to use my very specific ability!”, right?
Then on the first day of work, I showed up and he told me that now he’s only focusing on cheeses from Spain. I’d honestly be a little bit let down. Here I am with all of this potential to name thousands of cheeses, and yet I’ll only get to use maybe 10% of my knowledge. That is how I feel about the Switch so far and the summer focus on the multiplayer releases.
But, hey, I’m very excited to hear that the summer multiplayer lineup games are selling like hot cakes. More people buying a Switch sends the message to Nintendo that we want more game support on this system. And hey, new games coming out is always a good thing, even if they’re not for you. They might convince someone else to buy the system, and dumping money into a thing that you like can only benefit you more. That being said, I’m looking forward to the single player experiences that really let me use all that the Switch has to offer.
Earlier today I was reading a review on a recently purchased Switch that completely mirrored how I feel about the system. And the more I read, the more that something dawned on me: a ton of the more critical opinions of the Switch are coming from gamers who own a Playstation Vita. I’m going to try really hard now to not turn this article into rambling on about how much I love the Vita. Hear me out.
When the Vita was released, the selling point to the gaming community was essentially a console-quality experience on the go. For those who have invested time and money in the Vita, despite Sony’s best efforts to murder the Vita in the west, it’s an incredible console with a hefty arsenal of console-quality games. While I am a relatively new inhabitant on Vita Island, my cost of admission was half the price of my new Switch. So far I’ve accumulated an amazing collection of almost 30 physical games, even more than my 3DS, mind you, and with more on the way, for collectively less than $500 total spent, if I had to guess. What I got in return is some of the finest gaming experiences I’ve had in my decades of playing.
I don’t own a PS4, but if I did, I’d be able to stream my gameplay all over the house straight to my Vita. With Wi-Fi, I can stream gameplay over the Internet, which apparently works very well according to my co-worker Dave. If I had a Playstation TV, I can play many of those Vita games up on the big screen using a Playstation controller. See where I’m going with this?
The features that were toted as making the Switch a game changer for bringing console-quality games on the go were already on the Vita for the most part. And none of the technical advancements were significant in comparison when compared to the previous generation. Owning a Vita and then buying a Switch took a lot of the wind out of the sails of excitement. Furthermore, convincing Vita fans that the Switch is the “new Vita” is going to take a lot more in the ways of game releases, and I think that getting some RPGs on there is going to make the difference. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is hopefully going to jump-start that.
Around the time that the Switch was originally revealed, I can recall no happier group of people reacting than the Vita crowd. With what I consider the far superior handheld form factor when compared to the 3DS lineup, the Vita had everything you needed to play just about any game – dual joysticks being the most critical element. With Sony bombing at bringing the Vita to the west, I can speak for a lot of us Vita folks that the thought of that beautiful form factor being lost due to corporate incompetency stung hard. News of Nintendo bringing fourth not only a new console, but a portable one that mimicked the same basic shape, albeit bigger and more powerful, was a pretty great feeling.
Point is, after six months of owning my Switch, it’s clear that it wasn’t really a big, huge update that brought something new to the table, particularly for a Vita guy such as myself. The graphics are pretty but not that much prettier than the WiiU or even the Vita. The UI is nicer but not that much nicer and far less refined than the WiiU GUI (what an awful combination of words). The game selection is ongoing and promising, but still primarily consists of remakes and indies.
The Nintendo Switch surely has a bright future ahead of it, but right now it’s an uncooked baby chicken that needs to mature into the Thanksgiving turkey. Little known fact – all chickens are actually baby turkeys.
Still, here we are, and major league games are trickling out slowly. We’ve had some good reveals lately, including L.A. Noire announced earlier today, and I’m very confident that Super Mario Odyssey and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are going to be incredible gaming experiences that warrant the purchase by itself.
I’ve definitely enjoyed my time with the games I have played, but right now while it’s hard to find a Switch, my recommendation is this: go buy a Playstation Vita. That’s right – your boy Geddy, Nintendo fan for life, is recommending you go and buy a Vita. Which is exactly the advice I gave before the Switch was released for those who weren’t convinced yet, as a matter of fact, and I still stand by it.
While the Switch is still trying to get its foot in the proverbial door in terms of third-party support, I can confidently say that there is already something for everyone on the Vita, even though the console itself is definitely on its way out. Of course, I can say the same for the 3DS, but I have the creeping suspicion that a good chunk of the population who would buy a Switch this early in its lifecycle already has a 3DS.
I can only assume that there are more Vita owners like me, who are not convinced yet that the game offerings on the Switch will be able to replace Sony’s second and probably final handheld. The Switch has a long life ahead of it for sure, but hold on to your large bills for now, for there are dozens of games at far lower prices, in a very similarly styled package, that might just be right up your alley.
I’m excited to see where it goes, and I still eagerly check NintendoLife daily looking for news about new releases coming out, but the initial excitement has certainly died down for me. I want to see big numbers of third-party AAA titles before I’m totally sold on my own purchase. Six months later and another year older, and I’m all about those numbers.
Are you still holding out on a Switch? Picked one up already? How are you enjoying it after six months? Happy you purchased now, or do you feel like you could have waited longer until more releases are on the horizon? Let’s hear about it in the comments!