Nintendo Switch Thoughts: Such Wasted Potential

MiiThe Nintendo Switch is by far the most disappointing console I have ever bought. Not because it is bad, per se but because I had such high hopes for the platform that it just totally failed to deliver on. I have been enamored with the idea of a portable home console since the original Gameboy came out in 1989. Even with the limitations of poor battery life, one of the worst monochrome LCD screens in existence, the inability to play in low light without a monstrosity of a battery-sucking, glare-inducing magnifier / light, the ability to take my NES favorites like Mario, Zelda, and Tetris was pure magic. With the exception of the ahead-of-its-time Sega Nomad, Handhelds always seemed like isolated ecosystems two generations behind the rest of the gaming world. Even the Vita felt closer to the most beautiful PS2 than a handheld PS3.

Enter the Nintendo Switch. Now, you have a home console that can be played anywhere. Handheld and home games are no longer separate experiences; the same game I play on the TV is the same game I play in the palm of my hand. This was my gaming Nirvana.

However, Nintendo has a habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The preview even in January was horrendous. No focus on third party support, more hokey gimmicky control schemes, and shallow party games that no-one asked for. Outside of the fanboy strongholds, the gaming community was drinking the Haterade. I still put in the Pre-order when it was available. Even then, it took a long while before the pre-orders sold out—the only people who wanted this thing was the scalpers.

There was the slow trickle of news before launch: Much more expensive than the more powerful PS4 and XBone, Zelda’s season pass, 2 hour battery life, no virtual console, no video streaming services, paid online, old, underpowered graphics chips, underpowered processor, the handheld mode significantly drops the system ability, the useless kickstand, save games locked to the console, the Titanfall 2 lead developer stating about how truly weak the system is and explaining why it can never get proper AAA titles. When it was released, it had a slew of problems: artificial scarcity, system overheating, warping, and melting the SD card, the dock destroying the screen, dead pixels, the screen buzzing, glitching, even disconnecting, and the defective joycons losing sync. The system is a hot mess failing left and right.

Then there is Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. Somehow, this game was almost universally given 10/10 across the board. Personally, I am seriously dumbfounded by how this game achieved that score. This game is so full of really poor design decisions and technical problems, I can only assume that most of these review were paid for. The season pass is inexcusable. This game is already so devoid of meaningful content, that locking such things as a hard mode and extra quests behind a season pass is criminal. In fact, the game itself can be beaten in less than 50 minutes! As I said, the game itself is a devoid of meaningful content: the map is pretty much baron, just miles of nothing. The shrines that do populate the world are short, repetitive, and monotonous. The Korok seed hunting is boring. The enemies are so easy that they are an annoying nuisance rather than a fun challenge, even the big bad Guardians are trivially destroyed by even a pot lid. There are four actual dungeons in the game and they only last about 15 minutes, with an easy boss fight at the end. Hyrule castle is more tedious than difficult, since you just have to take out about 20 or so Guardians, which, again, can be killed by any shield. No challenge, just tedium. The Master Sword and about 10 Guardian arrows takes Gannon out like a little bitch.

The weapon durability system is just plain broken. Most weapons, you only get like two or three hits and you are scrambling to find another weapon. But the enemies are so easy, it is just more annoying than anything else.  The stamina system is just as bad, without at least two full stamina meters, you can’t really do anything. Running is a joke and good luck climbing when it starts to rain. Motion controls are back and somehow are much less precise than the old pointer controls of the Wii. The worst part is the ugly, dated, graphics. The really low resolution is very obvious on the TV, movement is really choppy as it struggles to keep a frame rate above 20 FPS, the textures are muddy, and the texture pop-in is annoyingly noticeable. To make it worse, it had the misfortune of coming out just days after one of the finest games of they year, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and while Horizon does everything better across the board, Zelda somehow got all the praise.

The Switch, as much as I want to love it, is a joke. It has no games, and the one big game it does has is mediocre at best. What few games it does have seems to consist of ports of old indie games that are on all the other systems, overpriced Neo Geo games, ports of Wii U games, Zelda and Mario Kart, and shallow party games such as 1-2-Switch. As for the future, it pretty much seems to be getting more of the same: a 3D Mario game, a “sequel” to Splatoon that is more of an enhanced port of the original, Arms (a vapid fighting game), a bunch of XBox 360 ports such as the un-legendary version of Skyrim and a “custom” port of FIFA, and some more old indie games that have been on other systems for years. Simply put, at $300, it is more expensive than the competition and you get a much worse experience with very little potential for future offerings. Maybe things will change for the better but, right now, it is by far, some of the worst money I spent.

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