At the very end of 2017 I purchased a Nintendo Switch. The decision came after months of sitting on the fence and, at one point, after having tried the ‘console’, giving it a bit of a roasting over the build quality of the main display unit (I referred to it as ‘one of those cheap Android tablets or a sat nav’).
So why the sudden change of heart? Why go all in now and why is it suddenly one of my favourite gaming devices of all time? It would appear I am not alone either, the console has received glowing reviews across the board. It is officially the fastest-selling console of all-time in the United States and has already sold over 10 million units worldwide and is matching the Sony PlayStation 4 sales pace.
The Old Switch-a-Roo
Looking back at the day of the big reveal, the day we finally knew what the Nintendo NX was, is somewhat awkward for me. After being initially impressed and denouncing the Switch as a masterpiece, my opinion quickly changed. I felt it was under-powered, a bit ropey in the build department and at one stage a nail in the coffin of Nintendo.
When a colleague brought a Switch in to work for me to try out, I felt my negative opinions were justified and reinforced. I didn’t like the build of the main unit (I still don’t), also the kickstand is flimsy and awkward and the accessories are an absolute rip. There was nothing of interest for me in the content department either. Regardless of everyone in the known universe raving about Zelda Breath Of The Wild.
I set down the console. Said thank you very much but it’s not for me. I never thought about it again.
Until December 28th 2017.
The Times They Are A Switching
I’ll be honest, when I bought my Switch (along with Super Mario Odyssey and Mario and Rabbids Kingdom Battle) I did so whilst getting an incredible bargain thanks to a time-limited deal for December 28th only. I’d raised a few bob clearing out some of the remainder of my retro collection with the intention of purchasing a Switch in the new year. The deal was too good to pass up and with the festive season and my birthday having passed I was a bit overcome and thus went all in.
Comments from friends and colleagues and influence from Switch owners on social media over previous weeks had given me a reason to revisit and re-evaluate. It would not be long before a parcel arrived and I’d be off and running with the newest gaming sensation from Nintendo.
To date I have yet to dock the Switch. In fact it is still in it’s protective shipping wrapper. What purpose the Switch qualifies, for me, is that of an incredible handheld. I think it has become my go to console because I know that regardless of being docked, or tossed in a rucksack, I am getting the full fat, full beans experience and not some watered down handheld port. Something that, unless originally or specifically developed for, other handhelds sadly suffer from in comparison to their bigger, under the telly siblings and/or rivals.
I owe a lot of my infatuation with the Switch to the incredible Super Mario Odyssey. It has immediately become my go-to game for the commute. I can while away 90 minutes or so clearing a kingdom, cleaning up loose strands and collecting moons. Tire of that and with a quick cart change it’s on to Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for a bit of frenetic tyre-squealing, shell-tossing action.
Upon arriving home in the evening it’s a mix of daily chores and, more importantly, quality family time with my wife and children. I’m presently studying for an IT certification so that takes up a couple of hours. By the time I’m done it’s late enough to think about hitting the hay. However there’s just enough time to squeeze in a little gaming before bed. I own a PS4 Pro as well as the Switch, yet more often than not I now reach for the Switch.
Because it is quick and easy to get going. Press a button, wake it out of sleep mode. Slap in a cart or tap a button to launch an eshop title and within seconds you are off and running. With the PS4 I fire it up, press the home button, ignore a bunch of messages and spend about ten minutes browsing the store for deals or downloading a patch or system update before even contemplating firing up a game. That’s precious time wasted. Time I don’t have to lose if I want to play some games.
I’m a big fan of Elite Dangerous and Persona 5 and have made healthy starts with both of them. Yet I fear I will never finish them as I just don’t have both the time to invest in them or enough ‘bum on seat’ time in front of the television. Sure, I could remote play with my Vita, but could you imagine playing Elite Dangerous (or several other titles for that matter) on a portable? Beside the smaller display, button configuration compromises are the major pitfall for me. I now rarely remote play. The Switch on the other hand, that’s different. That’s a full fat console in any of it’s configurations.
This got me to thinking, is the reason the Nintendo Switch is such a runaway success thanks to gamers just like me? Busy adults, parents, casual gamers etc. In part at least.
The Secret Of My Succe$$
Modern life is fast paced. We complain often of having no time to do anything, yet as adults we spend the majority of it either working or wasting a good percentage of our free time. Take a look around you on your next commute home. After likely spending the best part of 8 hours or so in front of a computer, how many people around you have their head buried in their smartphone? Checking apps, social media and so on. Aimless, endless thumb flicking. It’s depressing.
Now how many of the people around you are closet adult gamers? How many wish they could get home and fire up the PS4, XBOX One and so on and while away some time on their favourite game? Yet for the majority of those folks, when they get home they have a similar schedule to the very one I just described.
This is where the Switch, I think, fills the void. Again, because it is a full fat console the feeling of playing a ‘dumbed down’ device does not become a restrictive factor. Yes, you could suggest a smartphone game or a 3DS, Vita and so on. But it’s not the same. I’m talking about people that want the full AAA experience but don’t genuinely have enough time in the day to dedicate to gaming. The Switch, in this respect, is an absolute Godsend.
And I think that as the weeks have gone by, and as I am able to invest more time in gaming than I would otherwise have before, and again because of the opportunities the Switch offers, the more I feel that there are others out there in a similar position. The more I feel that older gamers who do not want to lose that connection are turning to the Switch because of the experience it offers.
Add that in with the younger gamer base, the casual gamers, existing loyal customers and this new wave of busy adults, parents and what not and I think you have a reasonable explanation as to why the console has become such a success.
In fact, just the other day I was on my morning commute squeezed amongst bodies on a packed train. I was playing Super Mario Odyssey when two gentlemen stood next to me were discussing trying to fit in a bit of time for gaming at home.
Both parents, both busy, both keen gamers. Both wheezed whimsically until out the corner of my eye I noticed one of them nudge the other and heard them say “that’s what we need, one of those” and signalled over to me happily hammering buttons and beaming at the loveliness that is Super Mario Odyssey.
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