This isn’t my first Nintendo console, but so far it is getting much more use than my previous two encounters. When I got my Gamecube over a decade ago, my parents quickly forbade me from playing on it after seeing what it did to my grades (c’mon, I was a second grader back then), and my 2DS (yes, I bought a 2DS. Eat me), while having its own fair share of good games such as Pokemon X and Fire Emblem: Awakening, definitively made it clear that mobile gaming just wasn’t my thing. So, here we are at the Switch: another Nintendo console that relies on a gimmick, is once again not the bargain console, and is underpowered, to an almost hilarious extent, compared to its so-called competitors.
I’m really liking it so far.
While I’d never take mine on a bus, the thing does make great sense for when you’re traveling on a plane (as I did just a week after I bought it, and it was perfect for killing a few hours I had to endure whilst waiting in a terminal), so the gimmick of easy portability for once isn’t just for show... well, not completely anyway. The Wii U’s tablet and the motion controls from the Wii are still here, but they aren’t the end all, be all of the console. The price... is still stupid (an Xbox One S clocks in at under $300, so it’s Microsoft that can claim the honor of being the cost concerned choice... we’ve come so far since that $500 E3 pricetag announcement), but at least this makes so, so, so much more sense than a Wii U, which at best was always a $250 console, sold for a price no one was buying, pun intended. And I actually kind of like the lack of power this thing has too, since it demonstrates my biggest gripe with PC gaming: it doesn’t matter how much power you have, it’s how you use it. And given how the first party titles look at times, this thing can put the Xbox and Playstation to shame at times.
The design’s good too. Nintendo has this weird quirk of making stuff that looks like it should be uncomfortable to hold, but feels incredibly natural once you get your hands on it. The Switch itself feels nice when it’s in travel mode, and the pro controller (as pricey as it is) is my second favorite controller among all my consoles, way above the Dualshock 4 and second only to the Xbox One controller. Although, damn you Nintendo for reversing the A and B buttons for no good reason, just so that you can be different from everyone else. Anyway... almost across the board, the hardware’s all good. But what about the software?
Well, this is where my one main caveat with this machine comes in: only buy this as a secondary console. PC, Xbox, PS, whatever: if you want this to be your primary console, well... you can, but that’s like expecting a motorcycle to be your primary vehicle. Grocery shopping, moving stuff around, passengers; you’ll probably want to look into something else for more conventional uses. The Switch can run third party stuff, but most of those are games that’ve already been out for a while, or current stuff that has to be toned down so much it’s almost sad to look at. If you have to bend over backwards so much, why not just get another console for the same price, that’s made to handle so much more?
I’m not saying there aren’t great games on here, it’s just that the the third party support is... not what I’d call necessary. Especially when you can sell it on its first party games alone. I haven’t gotten a chance to play Mario Kart 8 or Splatoon 2 yet (come on discounts, kick in already), but going by Zelda and Mario, this thing already has some killer apps. Breath of the Wild, an RPG with a Souls influence that works for once, and is enjoyable... and Super Mario Odyssey, a game that can cure depression, instill a renewed faith in humanity, and could probably cure cancer if given the chance.
It’s not that I don’t like Breath of the Wild, but in a sense similar to how I felt about Horizon Zero Dawn, I’m somewhat perplexed to what all the fuss is about. It’s very, very good, but I think Jim Sterling was more than justified in his 7/10 score. The weapon degredation system is stupid at best, it could use just a tiny amount of story structure, the horses are annoying (well, all videogame horses are annoying, so I can’t blame Zelda too much for this one), and some of the mechanics related to combat and traversal are hair pulling at times. Given that SMO was released in the same year, and that Zelda came out alongside games such as Wolfenstein 2... was 2017 really the amazeballs year for gaming everyone said it was?
Alright, so what about Super Mario Odyssey? Well... oh, my, god, this game. It is virtual, real, pure joy. It’s if cocaine and LSD were combined into a gaming experience. Every time I’ve started it, I’ve put at least 3 hours into it each time, and every time I’ve felt like I could put another 3 into it. It’s wonderfully simple to learn and play, yet hides a surprising amount of depth in its incredible world(s). Every setting is inviting, and they all look amazing. The boss battles are actually fun. If Rare had kept making Banjo Kazooie games, they’d look something like this. Breath of the Wild, you’re good and all, but Super Mario Odyssey is the best Nintendo Switch game you can buy right now.
So... yeah, I’m liking the Switch. Here’s to it not getting a hardware refresh in the near future (oh please god no not another one).