If you’ve been absent from reality today, you may have somehow missed the preview trailer for the new Nintendo Switch console. The hype has been building around the reveal of this machine for weeks, even months. I have mostly ignored Nintendo for a long, long time, which is incredibly sad. The only occasions on which I’ve played a Nintendo game in the past 10 years was when TLOZ: Skyward Sword was released, or round at a friend’s house. The pervasive feeling experienced by most was that the Wii and Wii U weren’t serious consoles. Nintendo became a company that seemed to pander to younger audiences and families. After watching the trailer today, I am excited. I am excited to be excited about a Nintendo product.
The so-called ‘hardcore’ gamer crowd distanced themselves from the Wii and Wii U. I thoroughly dislike the term ‘hardcore’, but it will suffice as a term to refer to those who felt the previous Nintendo consoles were too gimmicky to appeal to them. Nintendo was seen as a ‘casual’ gamer’s console. Again, I dislike the term ‘casual’, but this is how the gaming community was divided. Hardcore gamers played PC, Xbox and PS games, and casual gamers played mobile and Nintendo games. Admittedly, I was one of the people who saw Nintendo as a casual gamer’s console, though I gradually learnt that their library of games wasn’t as lacking as I first thought. Maybe not as robust as the Xbox or PS library, but there was enough. I simply didn’t know, because of the way Nintendo marketed itself.
The Nintendo Switch trailer will go a long way to reversing those long held opinions for many reasons. Firstly, the name. ‘Nintendo Switch’ is almost an imperative. Switch your way of thinking about us. Switch your console of choice. The name is usually the first thing you know about a product. Nintendo Switch is snappy, pithy, and evokes a plethora of notions before you even learn anything about the console itself. ‘Switch’ is dynamic, ever-evolving to meet the needs of the fans and consumers. Wii and Wii U were seen as almost silly names, and, as a Brit, they have unsanitary connotations. ‘Switch’ lends the platform an air of credibility; it’s a proper name for a proper console.
The new hardware will also be a massive draw. The Wii console was small, petite, even cute. Without even looking under the hood of the Wii, you knew it wasn’t for the hardcore crowd. The design of the Switch is sleek, modern and highly functional. While we don’t know the exact specifications of the Nintendo Switch, the very fact it can run Skyrim says something. It may not be able to deliver what the PS4 Pro can or Microsoft’s Project Scorpio will, but the Switch makes up for that with sheer versatility. You can dock the console in front of your TV to play on a big screen. You can use it as a handheld device. The controllers, or ‘Joy-cons’ as they’re called, detach from the side of the game screen and use them wirelessly as two separate controllers. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a traditional controller that will be best used when the Nintendo Switch is docked. It’s a novel concept, but it’s not gimmicky. The design is innovative, unique, and will open up a world of truly wonderful gaming experiences.
Perhaps the most vocal criticism of the last two Nintendo consoles was their library of games. For the Wii and Wii U, Nintendo had a very particular style of marketing. They knew their fan base, and tried to keep them as happy as possible by amassing what is actually a strong first party selection, without really trying to change the opinions of everyone else. Alongside Nintendo’s less than excellent roster of third party titles, it was a deal breaker for many. The image below shows a sample of the third party partners the Nintendo Switch has accumulated. It warms my heart. There are some incredibly strong affiliates among those named, and there may even be more to come, considering the image only shows a “sample” of the partners. If these developers can bring strong, third party titles to the Nintendo Switch, and manipulate the hardware effectively to create unique gaming experiences, I can honestly see Nintendo finally being able to trade blows with Sony and Microsoft.
I’ve been a long time sceptic of Nintendo. I looked on with vague interest as the Nintendo NX rumor mill began churning. Nintendo liked to do what Nintendo liked to do, and I couldn’t see them breaking character. As the reveal crept closer, I sensed a change. Small hints that this time Nintendo were going to try something different, and not quirky-different, as is their usual tact, but innovative-different. The Nintendo Switch has piqued my interest in a forceful way, and for the first time in years, I am considering switching my opinion of what Nintendo can offer.