I’ve had the Gameboy (all of them), 3DS (both), GameGear, the PSP (both), and the Vita (both). I used mobile games to quit smoking. Instead of taking a smoke break, I’d go for a walk and play a game for 10 minutes. Instead of smoking after a meal, I took Mario or Sonic out of my pocket and played until the urge passed. It worked, gave my hands something to do and my anxiety somewhere to go. For better or worse, I traded a smoking addiction for a mobile gaming habit. Almost any day on my lunch break you can still find me in the break room playing a game. One could say mobile gaming is important to me.
My family and I got the chance to see the Nintendo Switch at Pax South before it launched. I could already tell it was going to be a hit. A full power console that could go with you was something I’d been dreaming of since I was a kid. So had everyone else apparently, the line for the demo was 3-4 hours. Nintendo’s claim looked legit, so we pre-ordered one.
Amazon dropped off our new console March 3rd and we immediately set it up and my wife started playing Breath of the Wild. We were stunned, the game looked gorgeous and played perfectly while the switch was in the dock. Now for the moment of truth. I pulled it out of the dock, slipped the joycons into their channels and handed it back to her. The game didn’t glitch a single bit, it just kept playing as if nothing had happened. The holy grail of gaming had been delivered. Who would have thought Nintendo, the “games don’t need power” people would beat the likes of Sony to the punch?
Don’t get me wrong, the Vita and 3DS are great portable systems and there are several games I will be playing on them in the future. I still haven’t played Majora’s Mask and I want to complete all the tracks on Wipeout but as for a comparison between the portable systems, the clear winner is the Switch. I can only play on the smaller portables for about 45 minutes to an hour before my hands cramp and my eyes burn. The controls and screens are just too small. The Switch hits the sweet spot for me. I’ve played several multi-hour sessions on it with no adverse effects. The device is still small enough to fit in my jacket pocket if I detach the joycons (a simple process).
The newest update for the Switch system adds some much-needed features. The most important to me is the ability to transfer save games to external storage. Nothing is more frustrating to a gamer than loosing a save game they’ve spent 50+ hours on. It also adds a 30-second screen clip recording (it always had screenshots) and the ablity to save those to a card as well.
Anytime a new system launches there’s always the question of developer support. Who will make games for it and how many? It’s a deciding factor in a system’s success. One of the major downfalls for the Wii U was a very limited catalog of 3rd party games. The switch has been popular enough to get attention from the likes of Bethesda who will be releasing Skyrim and Doom on the device by the end of the year. Several other big name studios have also pledged support, Sony and EA have both released games and there’s a rumor that even Microsoft might port some titles to it. The Shop app was pretty barren on day one but now there are a decent number of titles available. Rocket League and Skyrim are the two my family are most looking forward to.
Speaking of family, my kids and wife hogged the Switch so much that I decided to plunk down the cash to get one of my very own. I opted for the Splatoon 2 Edition with its neon pink and green controllers. It isn’t out of the ordinary for my tribe to have more than one of a console. To a lot of people this will sound ridiculous but it’s how my family spends time together. We don’t go to professional sports games and don’t have motorcycles or jet skis, gaming is our hobby.
My wife and I just had an excellent date night and when we got home we busted out the Switches and fired up Splatoon 2. We had a blast playing together. She’s a better player at this particular game than I am but we frequently came in the top two spots on the winning team. If you’ve never played, Splatoon is a unique game. It’s a shooter that doesn’t require spectacular reflexes and precision aiming. Anyone can play it and feel successful. You play as a Squid that shoots ink from various weapons to cover as much of the world’s surface as possible in your color. It’s one of the best times a couple can have together; take my word for it. The game has the right balance of putting your loved one on a team with you and then putting them on the opposition team, just to keep it interesting.
Lots of people complain about the battery life, but lets face it, battery technology is what it is. If they put a much larger battery in the system it would be too big and heavy. With the plethora of charging options in the world it really isn’t a big deal. I haven’t killed it yet and I play more than your average kid. I always have a portable external battery on me. What tech geek doesn’t? I get around 2.5 hours of Mario Kart or Splatoon 2 before the battery needs a recharge.
If your gaming hobby isn’t allowed to consume all of your fun budget and you need to pick just one console to purchase. I’d say get the Switch and this is advise from a person that owns and plays every console and portable since the Atari 2600. You really can’t beat it. I imagine it will go on to be one of the best-selling systems of all time.