IT’S CHRISTMAS. Or at least, it was when I first thought about writing this post. But then, like the rest of you, I was flung bodily into that time of year wherein walking around in a drunken haze at 10am, clutching a Port-based concoction that you actually can’t stand the taste of, and trying to forget your own name via the conduit of eating too many of those tiny pretzel snacks, is no longer the social equivalent of being Nick Clegg. So naturally, it was difficult to find the time.
As we stomp toward New Year, the designated coup de grace of trying to drink yourself to death so as to stave off the glaring, screaming existential horror of another year gone, and oh look the entire world is on fire as well, you’ll all be pleased to hear my entire gaming world has been INVIGORATED. REJUVENATED. REBORN ANEW AT THE INCESSANT BEHEST OF OUR RED-DECKED PLUMBER PREACHER. Or, as the title actually suggests, I’m really enjoying owning a Nintendo Switch.
I finally dug deep on November’s capitalism cavalcade Black Friday, preferring to do my hysterical punch-a-Nan spend-a-thon from the comfort of a work meeting with the constant anxiety I was about to be found out, or asked a question that would mean I’d miss the Amazon Lightning Deal. Anyway. I got it. It’s all fine. Stop panicking.
Since then, lunch times at work have become positively tolerable.
If you’re a regular reader of this site, which you’re not because I don’t even post ‘regularly’, you’ll know I’ve long been an advocate for portable gaming. There’s still something magical about taking a device with you wherever you go; unmoored from the sofa/TV, desk/monitor, you’re free to roam, to be who you NEED TO BE, should you decide to look up from your screen (you won’t).
I think it came from long car journeys. As a kid, we’d travel frequently from our Geordie based abode back to the Motherland, the city of White Roses. That’s Newcastle to Leeds, in case you didn’t catch the thinly veiled references. Taking my gaming with me then was important, and although it is markedly less so these days (I rarely get the train, for example) I’m still in love with the idea.
What I’ve wanted, YEARNED for, for many years, is a proper portable gaming experience. I enjoyed the PSP and the DS Lite was fine, but both felt limited to a level of detriment that stopped me really loving them. The Vita came close, but those thumb sticks just didn’t cut the mustard, or spread it, and Sony followed through on their historical promise of making hardware and then forgetting it ever existed.
The Switch looked great, but the reported hardware drawbacks, not to mention the sky-high price tag prevented me from becoming an early adopter.
Still, I’m not totally late to this party, and after a few weeks with the machine, it turns out the Switch is exactly the thing I’ve wanted for so many years – in so much that it has, quite genuinely, changed the way I consume games. Bravo Nintendo, you did something right. Remember this feeling from 1992?
The Switch’s killer chorus, its main hook, is quite palpably in its multi-tool design. A home console that becomes portable in seconds, with a controller so flexible it can oblige one player in three different guises, or break off into two for multiplayer wherever you are. What utter magic.
If anybody here remembers the Dreamcast’s wacky memory card, the enormous block that you stuck in the top of that enormous controller, that had its own screen and worked independently? The Switch is exactly what I dreamed that memory card would be, what it very nearly was – finish playing your game on the TV, grab the portable and continue playing in some way while you’re on the move.
So while the Switch inspires what may be some very personal bewitchment in me, it’s also doing it right on the software front. And ultimately, it’s this that’s turned me into such a proponent of the console.
The Nintendo Switch has GAMES
It’s difficult to award Ninty the reverence it probably deserves for making two of the best games of the year. Mario Odyssey and Zelda: Breath of the Wild are competing at real games sites across the internet for Game of the Year; they are both undoubtedly immense, landscape-altering achievements. But one of the things that got me playing so vehemently from the beginning, before I owned many games, was Rocket League.
I don’t even like Rocket League that much.
I mean, okay I do.
But suddenly, the chance to play this little thing on my lunch break, changed lunch breaks for me. It felt like big screen experience gaming away from the console, for the first time. Perhaps because I’d played it on PS4 previously, but perhaps because this is the kind of game that suits both of those home and away environments to the ground. To begin playing through a season at home and continue that while I’m at work, made the whole experience more exciting and addictive than I’d even presumed it would.
Nintendo have sputtered through the last few years, tripping up over their own legs like a drunken gazelle and demanding the entire country flail about in front of their TVs for yet another Christmas, while having a penchant for lagging hopelessly behind the competition in almost every area, refusing to move in any direction other than away, drastically, from their core audience. With the Switch, everything, at last, is changed.
Its ever-increasing array of indie titles available on the eShop is a testament to the ethos overhaul Nintendo seem to be approaching the Switch with. Similarly, releases such as Doom and Skyrim, forthcoming promises of Bayonetta, Wolfenstein II, Outlast and Payday 2, are all indicative that the console is able to roll up its sleeves and deliver games of a certain ‘non-Nintendo’ ilk in its own unique way.
So, before the New Year rings in, and we begin next year’s tussel to fight off Loot Boxes or Ladbrokes the Game, or Free Child Slave with the Season Pass, here’s to one astounding 2017 gaming achievement.
That’s probably all from me for this year, so if you’ve kept with the site through spates of drought, put up with my somehow unending incompetency in both the written word and the maintenance of this site, well I salute you. And thank you.
Boom boom pow, away!