It’s been 2 years since the Nintendo Switch launched, and what a two years it’s been!
Ever since I got the amazing chance to get hands on with the Nintendo Switch at a press event in Hammersmith in February 2017, I’ve been an avid advocate for what many consider to be one of gaming’s greatest consoles; with over 30 million units sold across the world, a huge number of high quality first party and third party AAA and indie titles, and an absolutely rabid fanbase, it’s hard to not see why the Nintendo Switch has seen this enormous level of success. Initially, during the first reveal trailer, I was admittedly skeptical, seeing the convinience, switching from docked and undocked modes, the design of the Joycons and worrying performance of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in some of the trailers had me worried. There had to be something misleading here. The Joycons had to have poor battery life or be flimsy. Surely the transition between docked and undocked had to have some sort of delay. There had to be a fault.
…But upon seeing it in action with games like Splatoon 2, ARMS, and Breath of the Wild in Hammersmith, I was absolutely floored – The thing was real. The hype was real, and the Nintendo dream was still alive. Saying this, however, it’s undeniable that the initial launch library of the Switch was lacking in more ways than one – Zelda was amazing, but 1-2 Switch, ARMS and Super Bomberman R could only sustain the rabid, feverish fans for so long – Soon after, people started worrying that the Switch would end up much like the PlayStation Vita – Amazing hardware, beautiful screen, great battery life but a terrible selection of games and software… Then we got two games that I would argue began the ‘golden age’ of the Nintendo Switch, which ended recently – Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and Super Mario Odyssey; these two games had been hyped since they were announced, and, thanks to their charm, universal appeal and accessibility, they became instant successes – Couple this with ports of popular titles such as Bayonetta, Okami, The Binding of Issac Afterbirth+, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and, of course, the technical marvel that was DOOM, and the Switch had established itself quickly that it was a system that was staying.
Despite some titles like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 being somewhat disappointing in terms of performance and content, there was no denying that – as more and more high quality indie titles like Rocket League and Hollow Knight made their way onto the Switch – the Switch’s library was only growing stronger and stronger by the week. Soon indie developers started reporting that the Switch was a veritable gold mine for their profit margins, with some claiming their sales on the platform had beat other systems like the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam by nearly 800%; this, again, only opened the already wide-open floodgates even further for more and more independant and non-independant developers and publishers to bring their games to the Switch. The thing was near-entirely guaranteed to make you your investment and development costs back at the very least.
So now we sit here, in March 2019, two years on from the Nintendo Switch’s initial release with Yoshi’s Crafted World, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Animal Crossing 2019, Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, Metroid Prime 4 and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake coming in the near-future… But what else could await us in the coming days, weeks, months and years?
One topic that’s been on the forefront of a lot of people’s minds at the moment is Microsoft’s reported prodding with the Nintendo Switch, possibly in an effort to bring Microsoft-owned IP’s, software or systems to the console as a sort of advisory role – I do think that, whilst Nintendo’s Online Service is serviceable, it’s in dire need of a full rework – The console lacks any sort of online functionality that has become standardised by their competitors; in-console messaging and texting, in-game voice chat and party support, free games that aren’t 20-something year old NES titles, and a total lack of a trophy or achievement system – I feel that Microsoft is looking to assist in this regard, possibly with the caveat that they’re permitted to bring their Xbox Game Pass to the system; it’s certainly an interesting theory, and an even more interesting opportunity for Microsoft and Nintendo…
Furthering this, I also feel that we can expect a new hardware revision for the console soon as well – A decent number of AAA developers have expressed concerns that the Nintendo Switch’s hardware is, at the very least, becoming somewhat underpowered to be able to contain their projects and IP’s – Square Enix, for example, have expressed an interest in porting the Kingdom Hearts franchise to the Nintendo Switch, but are limited purely by the hardware of the console in terms of Kingdom Hearts 3; this can result in one of two options – We either see a brand new Nintendo Switch XL of sorts that packs updated Tegra hardware, or we see a new Dock that contains an external GPU or hardware configuration that boosts games further in Docked mode, leading to possible ‘Docked Mode Exclusives’. To be honest, either in my mind would be ideal!
Other than that, I think we can also expect a few more JRPG ports similar to Dragon Quest XI S, like Persona 5 R, Catherine (Alright… Not a JRPG but roll with it…), Ni No Kuni, and possibly even NieR – We already have a multitude of great games like Game Freak’s ‘Town’, Platinumgames’ ‘Astral Chain’ and Square Enix’s Oninaki coming, so I think 2019 will really be the year of long-surviving replayability in games for the Switch. A celebration of those games you can’t help but pump hundreds of hours into!
So that’s my thoughts on the Nintendo Switch, two years from launch and looking two years ahead… Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below!