The Push and Pull of Nintendo
I got a lot of problems with the Nintendo Switch! And now you’re gonna hear about it! Ok, ok, I don’t hate the Nintendo Switch, I think I just have an issue with the perception of it and why Nintendo tends to always get a free pass. At what point do we look at the output for the Switch and conclude that it’s spotty at best. There are large swaths of time where the Switch just stays swaddled between the walls of its stand because there is simply no reason to take it out. That is a serious bummer! Going back to late 2019 when Link’s Awakening, Ring Fit, Luigi’s Mansion 3, and Pokemon were released, it has been relatively quiet. 2020 brought unforeseen complications that seem to have gravely depressed the output at Nintendo and also saw the release of a mega-seller with Animal Crossing. But the rest of 2020 was mostly wind and tumbleweeds. The same can be said for 2018 too. And 2021’s slate seems troubling (though still heavily unknown).
Of the top 15 selling Switch games, 5 are ports/remakes and 1 (Breath of the Wild) was a Wii U game that made it to the release of the Switch. Since the Switch was released almost 4 years ago, 12, yes a dozen games have simply been taken from the Wii U library and put onto the Switch. I would also argue that 3 of those top-selling games are sequels in beloved series that came with serious, you can’t allow these things to happen any more Nintendo, complications that tarnished (subjectively) the enjoyment of the Switch releases. This brings me to the forgiving Nintendo over and over again part of the discussion. Nintendo makes great games, they make feel-good games for all ages, but they also are the encyclopedia definition of 2 steps forward 1 giant step back. Super Mario Maker 2 should have been better than the original, but Nintendo’s ignorance towards online necessities clipped the potential this sequel could have had. The problems of sharing and finding levels with people as well as not expanding the game with enough properties the community wanted (Mario 2, where were you?) led to a worse game than the first. Animal Crossing sold a bajillion copies and clearly helped a lot of people get through a tough year, but it was also hamstrung by Nintendo’s life-long misunderstanding of how people want to utilize online and co-op play (also you can’t play Excitebike or Punch Out so Gamecube Animal Crossing 4 Life). Pokemon Sword and Shield is the third sequel that seems to have missed the mark for the Switch. Not only were there significant performance issues that could drop the frame rate to absolutely unacceptable levels but for the first Pokemon game that was on a TV console level of hardware, the game didn’t change all that much visually or with the fighting mechanics, especially with the animations attached to the fighting still being Gameboy-esque. When do the rose-colored glasses towards Nintendo start to clear up?
I think ultimately my problem with the Switch comes down to the fact that it’s kind of just the PlayStation Vita. Why do people clown on the Vita ad-nauseam but the Nintendo Switch gets a pass? Both systems had problems with first-party output and major third-party development is scattered at best, but both were/are fantastic ways to play smaller indie titles. Both systems have hardware benefits and complications, from the quality of the screens to the usability of the controls to the technical issues (visuals/frame rate) of fitting console-quality games onto portable systems. Vita exclusives dried up pretty quickly, though I think what’s there is mostly good and certainly underappreciated. How much has truly come from Nintendo on the Switch though? I’m not any sort of Playstation Vita truther, nor do I have any dislike towards Nintendo or the Switch, I’m just curious when the varnish starts to rub off of the Switch, isn’t it just a Vita successor?