Initial Thoughts on the Nintendo Switch

Friday January 13th, 3.00pm, the time where Nintendo officially stepped out of the shadows and gave us a big dirty look as to what is living under their red trench coat. 

To coincide with the event myself and Ben have put down our thoughts and initial opinions on what we saw, the highs and the lows.

Although not necessary viewing, the below video is the presentation in its entirity, it runs close to 90 minutes.

BEN: Starting with the price announcement. $299.99 USD, that's approx $400 Aussie with the current exchange rate. For a Nintendo console I think it is a little high for Australia given that an Xbox One S 500gb with a game retails here for $399. What did you think?

BRENDAN: Price wise I’ve said and felt for a while the Switch would sell for around $300.00 to $350.00 AUD, which I feel is the sweetspot. It was interesting they dove straight into dollars and cents, maybe selling the system first would have been a smarter play. Nintendo Australia have confirmed a price of $469.00 AUD and two SKUs, one featuring black JoyCons and the other with containing Fluro JoyCons. That $469.00 launch point is insane, and a figure I feel will impact initial sales of the Switch.

BEN: Yeah that price does feel pretty damn high to me. Might put me off picking one up at launch. They also announced their version of an Online Subscription model, similar to Microsoft and Sony’s requirements for online play. At launch though the service will be free at least until they implement the pricing in the later part of this year.

BRENDAN: The online subscription is something interesting to me, no price point has been announced at the time of writing but it is required to be able to chat or even arrange gaming lobbies with fellow Nintendo gamers online. Another thing that is particularly baffling is apparently lobbies and voice chat are done via smartphone app, what the hell is this? One positive of the subscription is also giving you a monthly game "rental" from the NES/SNES back catalogue, the SNES games will have online play capabilities as well. 

BEN: So similar to the Games with Gold and PS Plus subscription model. In that case I hope they make the pricing comparable, as both of their competitors are including new release games  and current gen titles as part of their monthly offerings.

The release date was also a big part of the announcement, being March 3rd. Honestly I think there was a missed opportunity here. March 10th would have been better for marketing. Could have shortened it to Mar10 and spelled out Mario. But alas they didn’t. And releasing two days after Horizon Zero Dawn means I won't be ready to play anything on it for a few days after regardless. And with Mass Effect Andromeda not long after that, anything Switch related is immediately on the back burner for me.

BRENDAN: Holy shit, I didn’t even think about the Mar10 idea, genius actually, a much better idea than having the guy from SEGA on stage literally give us nothing apart from a vague dream and copious amounts of confusion. Late February and March are going to be bumper months for gamers, I assume a lot of sick days will be taken, I know I will be for Andromeda.

One thing I noticed after the release date announcement was the emphasis on the whole “3 ways to play”, those options coming in the form of TV Mode, Tabletop or Handheld. Picking up right where the debut trailer left off, clips of gamers playing their Switch at the park, in the air or at home on their couch. I liked how they then lead into the battery life of the Switch, providing play from 2.5 hours up to 6 hours when fully charged, probably not the numbers gamers were hoping for but still not a complete disaster nonetheless.

BEN: You and me both for Andromeda. The Joy-con controllers were actually pretty interesting and I like the design and layout. However my biggest concern was the size of the things. They looked pretty tiny in the hands of the Nintendo presenters. This could be a problem for me with my giant mitts. I have enough trouble with mobile phones and the current Nintendo products.

BRENDAN: It is a bit of a mixed message, Nintendo throughout their entire Switch marketing campaign have emphasized adults playing this machine, people on air planes, bros on road trips, all above the age of 18. Then these teeny tiny JoyCon controllers are unveiled, I could certainly see myself snapping one of them blue ones in half on more than one occasion.

On the topic of controllers the Pro Controller coming in at $99.95? Stupid, stupid, stupid...

BEN: Let’s talk games, One of the earliest shots they had was for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which looks to be an updated version of the Wii U game. I would have preferred a new Mario Kart instead of retreading the same courses over again. The 1-2 Switch reveal was interesting and looks like it should be bundled with console for free like Wii Sports was back on the original Wii, sadly it won't be. I can see many a drunk moment with friends trying to outplay each other in all the little party games. New IP ARMS just screamed Japanese design, especially with that trailer, which had the full grown man throwing punches at the school girl…. Yikes…

BRENDAN: I think Nintendo missed the mark big time regarding the games announced/unveiled. 1-2 Switch looks like the lesser version of Wii Sports, looking more like a tech demo than an actual game; I will admit the burger eating level got me interested. ARMS I just didn’t get, looked boring, clunky and overall underwhelming. Mario Odyssey was a big wow moment, it looks fantastic and also showed Mario running around locations from Earth. Special mention to his Swiss Army knife hat as well, curious to see the full range of actions mario will be able to do with it.

Seriously how the hell is Mario Kart 8 not a launch title? THE GAME ALREADY EXISTS ON WII U!! April 28th? Massive missed opportunity there and one of the many missteps of the launch event.

BEN: Mario Odyssey looks really cool and seems to be the first real Mario sandbox world since Mario 64 (Sorry I missed the Gamecube era so can’t comment on Sunshine). And the running around New York City looks like it could be really fun. And what's up with eyes on the hat? Creepy! Also not surprising but Splatoon 2 was confirmed (complete with special posing by the developer every time he said the title), sadly another title that won't be out at launch.

BRENDAN: Skyrim on Switch does nothing for me, I played that game inside and out back on the Xbox 360 and that was enough, I have no urges to now repeat that experience in a park or in the back of my friends van. A few things I did catch, albeit briefly, were Ultra Street Fighter 2, Bomberman and Rayman clips, classic games loved by many, sad they are just ports though...

Ben: Skyrim means nothing to me as well. Yes I understand how great it is and how everyone loved it, but I never got past the first dragon when I played it, and to be honest was never really all that into it. Also being a 5 year old game at this point, I would have liked to see Bethesda maybe drop something a bit more recent on the new platform. DOOM perhaps? Maybe Fallout 4 even?  And the other western 3rd party game announced by EA was FIFA. Again, nothing against FIFA, but nothing groundbreaking there either.

A lot of the other titles that were announced also completely missed the mark for me. But then again, I’m probably not the one games like Fire Emblem Warriors and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are designed for. Xenoblade did cause me to give an audible gasp however with the majestic giant dragons present in its announcement trailer.

Brendan: Yeah there was a heavy focus on the Japanese flavour with their game reveals, Nintendo as we all know, walk to the beat of their own drum and the Switch catalogue we have been shown for launch and beyond, is consistent with that drum beat. Leading off with 1-2 Switch and ARMS wasn’t the way I would have started the event, the way they ended it though, best part of the entire presentation...

Ben: Of course they saved the best for last. Just when you thought they were wrapping up the conference by crossing to Europe and US heads of Nintendo, Reggie Fils-Aimé asked the legendary Miyamoto and Breath of the Wild producer Aonuma what the release date for the latest Zelda title would be. Both denied to answer but not long after we were treated to gorgeous trailer for the game which confirmed that the game would be available at launch for the Nintendo Switch (and also releasing on the Wii U on the same day). Also someone needs to correct me if I’m wrong, but did it seem like they were bring back the draw distance fog from the N64 days in this trailer? And voice acting in a Zelda game? While it’s about time, it doesn't feel right to me somehow. Regardless, I’m looking forward to picking this title up, even if I get it on the Wii U at first (If I buy digitally is it cross buy with the Switch?)

BEN: Overall, there isn't anything here that's making me throw money at the screen yet. So until there is something besides Zelda that peeks my interest, I’m sure I will be skipping this one at launch.

BRENDAN: In closing, the presentation just didn't speak to me the way I had hoped, a weak launch slate coupled with a cloudy message and a price point which is far too high has left me feeling deflated. I still have hope for the product and feel it has a tonne of potential, especially if they start rolling out Metroid, Pokemon, Yoshii and Star Fox titles. I still have a pre-order for the Switch, but am debating whether I wait six months until additional titles are available.