It’s the third of March. As I look upon the mountainous path through Hyrule’s east Necluda ahead of me, it try my luck climbing a tree. Perched on top of the tree is a rock. I know what that is, this unnatural place for a rock can only mean one thing. I lift the rock and the lack of control triggers that cutscene we all know by now: You found me! A happy Korok hands me his “seed”. I know this by now as I’ve collected 900 of them in normal mode, and this is the 460-sometthing one in master mode. One full year after my first foray into Breath of the Wild, I’m still playing.
G’day TAY. I had this one year of Switch article that I wanted to post last week, didn’t finish it, and hey, our lovely overlord Z issued a theme week. I rewrote the article a bit, was about ready to add some pictures, and would you look at that, a wild Nintendo Direct appeared. Rewrite a bit more and finally it’s done. So a little late to the party but still: Wiim’s One year of Switch. Amazing how time flies and all that.
So first off, last year I wrote about Nintendo’s instance on calling the thing a “a home-console you can play on the go”. The gist of that piece was that I thought Nintendo would be focussing on creating home-console style games for the system. Well I was kinda wrong in the end. Third party developers and publishers are screaming about their game’s fantastic handheld version for the Switch. And in a recent interview, Mario Odyssey is said to be developed with the hybrid nature in mind. So yeah, the Switch is a hybrid, and people love it for it. So the first year has spoken and Nintendo has a hybrid on their hands. So my next article might be an obituary to the 3DS. But for now, it’s Switch time.
The Switch’s first year is spectacular in so many ways. The first few months, it was labeled the Zelda machine and with an over 100% attach rate it’s easy to see why. And in some respects it still is. I still haven’t 100%ed my master mode file (i have everything in normal though). And in between games I like to continue gathering Korok seeds and doing my 1000’th attempt at the Trial of the Sword master mode (I haven’t been handed my ass by a Zelda game like this since the Original NES game).
But thankfully, the Switch isn’t all about Zelda. Despite that game taking far and away the most of my time, there’s other games too. Splatoon was great on Wii U and Splatoon 2 is even better on Switch. I double-dipped with Pokken tournament the very moment they announced Blastoise as DLC (I can’t wait to lay the smackdown on Charizard over and over and over as Blastoise XD). I double dipped in Mario Kart 8 too, i couldn’t pass up on having the best Mario Kart to date as a portable game. Just two more weeks and Kirby Star Allies goes live. And I was hyped before, but the demo proved this is going to be sweet. I’ve also played a ton of Skyrim (since writing my previous theme week entry, i’ve completed the story mode of Skyrim). And I played a fair bunch of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, Puyo Puyo Tetris. Bomberman R and I still have the distinct feeling I’m forgetting to mention some games I have. That’s a lot of gaming for one year, but there are two standout titles I played to death but haven’t mentioned yet. The first is Mario odyssey which is beyond fantastic. But the other… the other one.
Imagine when you were a child, it was your birthday. And on this special birthday, everyone you love is there and smiling. Everything you have wanted for your whole short life is giving to you, but then you also got presents you didn’t know you wanted. You get the best food and snacks and you stay up late playing with friends and family. Now condense that feeling.
Take your condensed feeling of childlike wonder and happiness and combine it with your teenage years. You’re in a sport as a teen, everyone is watching as the clock ticks it’s final few seconds. You take your sport item of choice and you manage in that final split second to score the deciding point. The game ends and the crowd explodes into cheers. Your name is resonating throughout the field as you feel like your dreaming (maybe you are) and the whole world is at your feet. Condense that feeling.
Take your feelings of childlike wonder and teen-like power, and mix it into an art style that harkens to those days in the 90’s when you were playing with super power. Mix it with a soundtrack that just screams the very best video games have to offer in any age. Feel this particular surge of excitement as your player character leaps into battle, his battle cry never tiring in every turn based battle that this game has to offer; My blade is UNBENDING. And that in a nutshell is Project Octopath travelers.
Playing the demo for POT, your mileage may vary of course, but for me, this game was something special. Playing JRPG’s as a teen gave me some of my most cherished gaming memories. POT not only stands as a JRPG in the vein of classics like Chrono Trigger, FF VI and Secret of Mana, but it takes it with a modern twist. This JRPG rekindled a love that I thought was confined to those teen days when I hormones made everything more extreme. Feelings that were very much marked as an element of my teenage years brought back to life through the magic of a 16-bit style. It’s really wild to think that Nintendo’s new game console makes a third party developer like Square give a game that’s truly something new, exciting and great. I gave up on third parties during the Wii years.
The Switch today as a result of it’s first year, is a gaming system that plays the best Zelda and the best Mario since years. It plays third party games like Skyrim, Doom, soon Dark Souls but also DBX2. In a landscape of media players the Switch is a laser-focussed gaming machine.
So what of the Switch tomorrow? We don’t know to much yet, and I fear that Nintendo has front-loaded their best efforts making it hard for the second year to keep the momentum going. But a game like Octopath Travelers has me hoping that third parties will finally pick up the pace with Nintendo and we may see a Nintendo dominated market once again.I wrote this before the last Direct though, and more ports were announced, but also the fact that Smash Bros launches this year. And I’m on board with the idea that this is actually a new Smash and not a port. We don’t know for sure, and I kinda hope they don’t change the underlying mechanics of Smash 4 that much (I prefer 4 over Melee) but I do hope they take the Brawl page for single player content.
If they manage to get both Smash 5 and Pokemon for this year, then they’ll have a fantastic second year. There’s a big catch though, there’s the elephant in the room that is the NeXtBox and the PS5. Conventional wisdom leads me to believe that they’ll be announced next E3. Conventional wisdom doesn’t account for mid-generation upgrades though, so I might be off, but I’m calling PS5 at E3. This means that the Switch will have a more direct competition even if the PS5 isn’t a hybrid. They both compete for your wallet in the gaming category after all.