Nintendo Switch: The good, the bad, and the ugly

In a roughly 14 hour period spanning Thursday night and Friday morning, we received an onslaught of Nintendo Switch news. A lot of new information was revealed, including details about the Switch’s release, its online systems, and its launch titles. As a lifelong Nintendo fan, I’d been looking forward to these events since they were announced, and I thought I’d take some time to go through my personal hits and misses with Nintendo’s Switch reveal.

The Good

I actually feel that there was a lot of good to come out of Nintendo’s event. For starters, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild looks absolutely incredible and it’s going to be a launch title. Obviously, we all assumed it was going to be on the Switch at launch, but getting actual confirmation is always good.

Even though it’s still early and there are still some unknowns about the Switch, I think $300 is a good price for the console. I think a lot of people will disagree with that analysis, but I’m just happy to see that Nintendo didn’t go any higher. With the Xbox One and PS4 at the same price point, $300 was probably the best we could have hoped for, realistically. It’s an affordable price for people who are interested and it gives Nintendo room to shave a bit off the top if sales are slow to start with.

I think the extra functionality of the Joy Con controllers is a great thing, too. During Nintendo’s event it became clear that these are more than simple game controllers. While they aren’t quite as gimmicky as something like the Wii Remote, they’re still more than a traditional gamepad. Built-in amiibo support is great, and I think the extra functionality they have in games like ARMS and 1-2-Switch will be good, even if 1-2-Switch seems a little strange.

USB-C on the Switch is a great move, and with the current shift to that standard in Android, it should mean that there’s no lack of chargers when you need some juice on the go. There’s always the worry that game companies opt for some proprietary connector – as they usually do – but USB-C support means that we won’t need to buy a special charger just to make portable gaming viable.

Nintendo’s event also did a lot to instill confidence in the year ahead. A lot of third-party developers came out to support the Switch, and all-in-all, Nintendo has announced around 35 games for the console, which is a respectable number for a time period that spans about 9 months. Nintendo is going to have to continue to woo third-parties as time goes on, but at the start at least, there seems to be a good amount of support for the Switch.

On top of that, Nintendo is also throwing a large amount of first-party support behind this console. Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe were all announced for 2017 releases, and with Breath of the Wild scheduled for launch day, there’s a significant first-party lineup that shows Nintendo is taking this more seriously than it took the Wii U. As someone who ultimately felt let down by the Wii U, that’s a very nice thing to see.

The Bad

However, there’s another side to this coin. While a lot of first-party titles will launch for the Switch within 2017, the launch lineup leaves a lot to be desired. Games confirmed for launch day include Breath of the Wild, 1-2-Switch, Just Dance 2017, and Skylanders Imaginators. Aside from Breath of the Wild, there isn’t a whole lot here for me. That may different for Nintendo’s younger fans – the core target group for Nintendo, we should remember – but as it is, the Switch will be a $360 Zelda machine for me and many others at first.

The future of the Switch looks bright, but launch day is decidedly lackluster. Nintendo should have done more to ensure that the Switch had more than four games at launch, because right now, Nintendo has me right where they want me: I’m excited about the Switch and I’m ready to spend. There just won’t be much to spend my money on, so instead I’ll buy a Switch and take my time with Zelda, which will be the only launch title I’ll pick up.

If Nintendo wanted to blow the door off its hinges, it should have paired Breath of the Wild with either Super Mario Odyssey or Splatoon 2 at launch. It’s been years since we’ve had a Mario title, and even longer since we’ve had an “open world” one in the vein of Super Mario Sunshine or Super Mario 64. It’s hard for me to believe that Nintendo didn’t have the lead time it needed in order to make Super Mario Odyssey a launch title.

Not offering a pack-in game is a pretty big mistake, too. 1-2-Switch would have make the perfect pack-in game for the Switch: it’s a collection of mini games that shows off what makes the console unique. In plain terms, it’s a tech demo. It’s the Switch’s Wii Sports. Instead, there is no pack-in game for the Switch and 1-2-Switch is being offered as a standalone title for $50. With that being the case, I can promise you that 1-2-Switch will never see play on my console, and that’s kind of a shame.

The Ugly

Perhaps the ugliest thing to come out of this event is accessory pricing. Put simply, it’s ridiculous. $50 for a single Joy Con? $90 for an extra dock? If you’re buying this for your kids, you may as well glue those Joy Cons to their hands, because once those lost Joy Cons start racking up – something which is bound to happen – you’re going to go bankrupt.

Offering additional docks for $90 means that most people will likely be moving their single docks when they want to switch (get it?) TVs. That’s obviously what you need to with any other console, but the point here is supposed to be that the Switch isn’t like any other console. Pricing the docks so high means that Nintendo and consumers miss out on having the Switch be a global presence in their house, and that’s a big opportunity wastes, in my opinion.

Let’s also touch on online play. Nintendo has announced that whatever online service the Switch uses will cost money eventually. It’ll be free at launch, and then in autumn 2017, it’ll become a paid service. This is the first time Nintendo has put online multiplayer behind a paywall, and it puts the Switch in line with the PS4 and the Xbox One.

Even if you accept that online multiplayer is something that you should pay a fee for (which it isn’t – online multiplayer works just fine without any extra fees on PC), there’s no proof that Nintendo knows how to craft an online service worth paying for. Up until now, Nintendo’s online networks have been awful, centered around a friend code system that is both unintuitive and unnecessary. If Nintendo is going to ask me to pay money to play online, it needs to prove that it finally understands online. So far, I don’t have any evidence to suggest that it does.

Finally, can we just talk about the fact that seeing Mario alongside what appears to be normal humans is a little weird? I’m sure Super Mario Odyssey is going to be great because most Mario games are, but yikes. Definitely got some Sonic ’06 vibes from that one.

Wrap-Up

Despite my complaints, I’m still very excited for the Switch. I’m much more excited for the Switch than I was for the Wii U, and I certainly think that counts for something. The Wii U was a disaster for Nintendo, and with its strategy for the Switch, we see that it’s learned something from that. There have definitely been a few stumbles, but based on what I’ve seen so far, the Switch seems to be in pretty good shape. What are your hits and misses from Nintendo’s Switch reveal? Let us know in the comments below!