My reaction to the Switch reveal is, aside from having felt spoiled after seeing the Eurogamer leaks, one of neutrality. OK. So it does handheld and home.
The real question is going to be the games. Games will make or break the system.
“Malstrom,” says the reader, “why are you being Captain Obvious?”
It is because many people out there, especially reporters for their tech departments, do not understand games. Hardware does not sell game consoles. Games sell game consoles. I know this because this is the case for every game console since the 1970s.
The hardware is always a negative. No one likes paying for hardware. But they will bite the bullet in order to get to the games they want.
There could be some deal killers with the hardware. Is it too expensive? Does it have decent battery life? Is it durable?
Folks, yesterday I spent over a hundred dollars buying a Turbo Booster for my Turbografx 16. The Turbografx 16 is a piece of shit hardware that was incredibly cheaped out by NEC. While the NES can do composite, the Turbografx 16 cannot… you must buy an adapter for it. You must buy an adapter for it to save games. You have to buy an adapter (multi-tap) to play multiplayer. It is ridiculous.
But the Turbografx 16 games are so good, I am willing to fork over the bad hardware in order to get to the games.
Right now, the Switch is only highlighting the hardware (with some indications of software). It is difficult to judge the Switch because we need the other half of the equation: the games. The reason you do not feel excited is because you do not see any games you are excited for. However, Nintendo hasn’t told us about Switch software yet.
If you look at prior console hardware, especially the classic consoles, you can see just how terribly made they are. However, the game library transcends those consoles and we have forgotten them.
The NES horizontal cartridge slot bent the pins creating the flicking image problem. The NES controllers are rigid with right angles and not that comfortable.
The Sega Genesis has multiple models that degrade in sound quality as you go further. You also needed another controller with more than 3 buttons to effectively play Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat.
The Super Nintendo hardware was so bad that slowdown was rampant and some genres of gaming couldn’t be represented well on it (such as shmups).
Turbografx 16 was badly put together hardware (see above).
The Nintendo 64 controllers tended to break.
The Gamecube looked like a ridiculous lunch box.
The Wii has so many plastic gizmos and addons that you need an additional container just to store all of it else it overrun all civilization.
Wii U has the gamepad… ugh.
PlayStation 1s always failed. PlayStation 2 and 3? Meh.
Xbox 1 would catch fire. Xbox 360 had red ring of death.
Interestingly, when we look back, we tend to overlook the flaws of the hardware depending on the quality of the game library.
The potential issues of crappy joy-cons or battery life can be fixed in time. Those do not seem integral within the system. In the future, we may get better ways to do these things.
You don’t feel excitement, you feel meh, because there are no games shown. We already know about Zelda: Breath of the Wild. 3d Mario is going to be more 3d Mario, as is Mario Kart going to be more Mario Kart. Skyrim is Skyrim. Launching game consoles is very hard which is why we will see many early ports and simple sequels at first.
Nintendo is a CONTENT company. In the past, hardware reveals accompanied the new killer app like Super Mario World or Mario 64. With the Wii, it was about how gameplay was going to change. With the Switch video, there are no new killer apps truly shown. There is no gameplay shown. The feeling of neutrality and ‘need to know more’ should be the default reaction.
Where are the games?
Everything will depend on the games.
We cannot say much about Switch until we see what games are coming out for it.