Nintendo Switch: Looking Back at Year One

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by: Hairball

The Nintendo Switch was announced late 2016 and came out on March 3, 2017, one year ago today. To be honest, I wasn't convinced as Nintendo had started to go down the road of irrelevance in the last few years. It's definitely a cause for celebration with the Switch's one year anniversary.

I was totally wrong, and the initial demand for the Switch was immense! There were long lines at stores throughout the world and the console was sold out on Day 1. Up to the launch, there had been ridiculous amounts of hype that I haven't ever seen in recent times for Nintendo. People were really excited for the system, and the people interested in the system didn't sound like the typical video gamer.

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I was a little skeptical at first because the game list at launch was rather weak. The main titles from Nintendo were 1-2 Switch - which looked pretty mediocre, and at the end it was, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild which was a long delayed Zelda game that was ultimately ported from the Wii U. BOTW had outstanding reviews, with many calling it the game of the year despite it being only March at the the time! Besides Zelda there wasn't much in the first few months, but more games gradually came along from various publishers and even from indies - small independent developers, building a decent library for the Switch.

I didn't get myself a Switch until April when Mario Kart 8 Deluxe came out. The main reason I didn't buy at launch was that I wasn't much of a Zelda fan, and there wasn't really much that interested me until Super Mario Odyssey towards the end of 2017. Although I had played the original Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U, I decided to re-buy the game because of the new enhancements to battle mode and the ability to have the game for a current system. MK8D was fun because MK8 was fun, but being to able to take it around easily with split Joy-cons is a fabulous feature.

And since the Switch's release there has been continually a steady stream of Wii U ports. It's kind of annoying but I guess from Nintendo's point of view a lot of people have never played these games because they didn't have a Wii U, so there's a lot of potential revenue sitting there that they can't ignore.

Back to the launch, as mentioned earlier I was initially skeptical of the hysteria. The hybrid concept is a great feature, allowing you to play in a variety of modes. It's great for flexibility, and perhaps I didn't see this as a huge selling point as I mainly play consoles at home on the TV screen. But with the growing popularity of mobile devices, this was a big selling point for a lot of people.

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Initially, it felt like the second coming of the original Wii, bringing back all the lapsed gamers. I started reading r/NintendoSwitch on Reddit a lot and it was like all these people haven't played Nintendo games, or even video games at all for the last 5-10 years. Why do so many of these people want to get back in?

I wasn't too sure myself, but maybe it's the whole slick package of the Nintendo Switch, the hybrid nature of it, and it is without question the most powerful portable video game console ever made. People love their smartphones and tablets, so naturally this fit in well with the current technology market. The new Joy-cons seemed like upgraded Wii remotes at first, but they have far better precision, HD rumble, and the ability to dock to the Switch or to a Joy-con grip is quite ingenious. People love having options and flexibility, and the Switch screams that out loud.

Video game consoles have traditionally been clunky and require a TV and living room space. The Switch lets the player have that environment, but also the ability to play wherever they want, as it turns out this was a game changer. It's pretty amazing that the Switch console is smaller than the Wii U gamepad, it has all this power packed into a little unit.

I didn't see the appeal of the hybrid functionality, but after thinking it about it more, I can see why this concept works, especially with the millennial market, considering the strong IP and reputation Nintendo has for producing great video games. The Xbox One and PS4 are more powerful machines but they don't have the punch that the Switch has this time around. And now that third parties are coming back with more games, this is a very positive step for Nintendo.

Although I much prefer playing on the big screen at home - the portable nature of the Switch makes it very simple to transport to use for travelling or going to other people's houses. Even if you bring along the dock it's not too bulky at all. So even though I rarely play in portable or tabletop mode - which I find an inferior gaming experience, it turned out to be a great feature for me at the end.

2018 looks like it'll be a year of continued success for the Nintendo Switch with big releases coming along such as Nintendo Labo, Kirby and Yoshi games. Nintendo must keep the momentum going by producing great titles or else things will dry up like they did in the latter part of the Wii era.