Switching It Up! - My First Day With a Nintendo Switch


My roommates typically spend their nights chatting, drinking, and enjoying each others company on our back porch. Being a party-pooper with no interest in drinking and the smoking of substances sometimes known as “the weed,” I only join them on rare occasions. On one such occasion, one of them purchased a Nintendo Switch. They played colorful and vibrant games bursting with creativity and possessing an aura of magical delight. They did this with comfort and liberation from the shackles of a stationary television or desktop monitor. The device seemed to fit perfectly in their hands, and the gleeful smile on my friends face told me everything I needed to know. I had to buy a Switch.

While I knew I would purchase one eventually, some time passed before I finally decided to do so. Video games cost money. While the Switch is fairly priced, I was not prepared to sink funds into a new platform while I still had other gaming duties to attend to. I have a PS4 with an untouched copy of Horizon: Zero Dawn sitting on a shelf with its brothers in neglect, Persona 5 and Gravity Rush 2, sharing its fate. In addition, I have grandiose ambitions for my YouTube channel where I'm going to pump out some generic reviews and fail my way through lets plays of my favorite grand strategy games. Furthermore, I had a PlayStation Vita and it provided me a similar experience.

Observant readers might have noticed in that last paragraph an inconsistent usage of tenses. I switched from the present tense word “have” and the past tense word “had.” Unlike the rest of the faults in this writing, that was intentional. I still have PS4 games awaiting attention and I still have a YouTube channel with more ambition than content, but I no longer have a Vita. I sold it and all the games that went with it. I'll remember it fondly for the creative spirit found in Tearway and for introducing me to the awe-inspiring world of Gravity Rush. I'll also remember the countless hours I spent in repeatable games like Nuclear Throne and Geometry Wars 3. The Vita was the perfect place for short burst games that more and more find a place in my life as I become busier and less able to dive into sweeping, all consuming adventures. I loved that system, but the final days came when I took one long trip as a car passenger. On that trip, I completed a game that has taken me years to finish. I saw the end credits of Persona 4. In the weeks that followed, the Vita sat alongside my unplayed PS4 games and gathered dust. I cleaned that dust, took it to my local video game shop, and returned home with a Switch.

Day 1:

I bought the Switch used. I would have preferred to have bought it new but it was the only one the store had available. The $30 in savings didn't seem worthwhile due to a small, unnoticeable, but still there nick on the corner of the screen. I suppose that softens the blow of buying games for it. I feel lucky to have got it at all. As I headed towards the game shop's exit, a guy at the register asked about buying a Switch only to find I was leaving with the last one. Poor guy. I was also thankful I got the black controllers and not the red and blue versions. I like my technology to look like a monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Boring and uniform, that's my style.

I grabbed all the pieces out of the bag with childlike excitement. I then spent some time trying to find a suitable place for the dock but found that the power brick is quite sizable and didn't fit in with the other devices sharing my entertainment stand's power strip. It probably could if I disconnected some cords and moved them around, but I didn't feel like it at the time. The dock, to this day, is not hooked up. However, there was an open spot elsewhere in the room. Right next to my bed there is an outlet used by my phone charger and formerly used by a PS Vita charger. I always looked at the Switch as a replacement for the Vita. It would fill that space in my mind, and now it would fill that space in my room. I fooled myself if I ever genuinely thought Id play the Switch with a TV. I only ever wanted it as a handheld console. It is a handheld.

On that note, I endeavored to correct a mistake I made as a Vita owner. That mistake was buying physical games. It sucks being on a long trip, wanting to change games, and realizing your stuck with what you got. Why on Earth would I buy a physical copy of Lumines? Resale value? Ha! I got dirt for that game. With that pain in mind, I made the decision to go all digital with the Switch. However, I don't trust Nintendo in the same way I trust Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo has demonstrated aggressive incompetence in online spaces, most importantly the honoring of digital purchases indefinitely. I can buy Mass Effect on the 360 and play it on the Xbox One for free. Hell, I could buy games on the Vita and play them on the PS4 for free. Its up in the air where the future of video games and consoles will go, but I want to keep my stuff wherever it happens to be. In a sense, I do not want to ever be compelled to buy a second copy of Mario Odyssey because Nintendo didn't want to build the infrastructure to make that possible or because they just want my money a second time. Nintendo continues to demonstrate a backwards philosophy towards online gaming with that Splatoon voice chat fiasco I've heard about, as well as other arbitrary console limitations. Their actions do not inspire confidence. Regardless, I feel like giving them the chance to prove otherwise, if only for the sake of ease.

Dedicated to the idea of the all-digital Switch, I set up my account. I choose a blue background and a Yoshi for my profile avatar. I actually never had a Nintendo console before. Everything seemed alien to me. When creating the profile image, the system spat out all sorts of potential characters in hopes that I'd identify with one. They tried appealing to a nostalgia I didn't have. I knew most of these characters, and had enjoyed some of their games through emulation, but I've never been connected to Nintendo's Disney-esque cult of personalities. It was as if the intention was a welcoming warmth by old friends, but the result was an overwhelming crowd of strangers. So why did I pick Yoshi? He's cute and I know he makes fun sounds. He also has a long tongue. I respect that.

I was surprised to see the refreshingly simple system UI. Its just a background of white or dark gray with little boxes where games might go. No advertisements or invasive apps I'll never use. It was snappy too. I was able to move between tiles with blazing speed. I stopped using the PS Store on PS4 because it started to get bogged down by all sorts of garbage, so it was a breath of air to use a UI free of baggage. This thing was designed to play games! Video games! Nintendo made it very clear where their priorities are.

With games on the mind, I finally opened up the eShop to purchase some. I was presented with nice loading music and navigated my way through a large list of potential buys. I soon found what I was looking for and bought my first Switch game. No, not Mario or Zelda. It was Battle Chef Brigade! I bought the Switch to replace my Vita, remember. I had been eyeing the game since Alex Navarro did an Unfinished of it. I'm drawn in by the “not-quite anime” art style and the beaming positivity I saw expressed by the characters and the games world. It called to me as if it was the game I have been craving for ages, only I never knew I was craving it. Its not like much else I play. I don't typically play side-scrolling action games nor do I play match three games. However, the combo seemed irresistible. It was released on Steam, but when it came out I thought it would make a better handheld game and resolved to wait for the coming of the Switch. That day came, and I bought Never Stop Sneakin' and played that instead.

Never Stop Sneakin' might actually have been the game that tipped the scales in favor of me buying the Switch. I became fascinated by it through the Giant Bomb Quick Look. Like Battle Chef Brigade, the art style just hooked me. Its a clever homage to Metal Gear Solid in visual terms and also in its humor. Lots of dramatic camera shots in cut scenes showing people doing ridiculous action crap. A bad guy has kidnapped all the presidents through the use of a time machine? Not if I have anything to say about it. The one stick gameplay makes it reminiscent of the dual joystick games Id play on my Vita. Its cool. I had a great time with it while Super Mario Odyssey was downloading.

It seemed wrong to have a Nintendo console without a 1st party game. Mario is the mascot of not only Nintendo, but also video games overall. I've never played through a full Mario game and felt some weird gamer guilt over that fact. People have been claiming this to be the best Mario game since 64 which means there has never been a better time to give a Mario game the attention it deserves. I played through the tutorial kingdom and the one with the dinosaur. Its good! I don't feel as though the gates of heaven have opened up and granted us the gift of the chosen video game, but Odyssey is fun.

The day was passing me by fast as I explored my new toy. I was enjoying what I had, but I also wanted a game to utilize the unique 2 player functionality the Switch possesses. Essentially, I wanted to break out that kickstand, pull off the joycons, and go to a roof party with it. I thought people would be so impressed with me. Id be the talk of the town. “Hey everybody, Andrew has a Switch,” they'd call out to the people who would stare upon me in awe. That fantasy never happened, but I did buy Mario Kart 8 and had a lovely night playing it with my girlfriend. Success!

The Days After:

I got around to playing Battle Chef Brigade and made most of my way through the story. The game introduced mechanics at a pace I found to be a tad too fast. I never really felt I had mastered something by the time they were teaching me how to do something else. However, I love the story and world a thousand times more than I thought I would. I want to cosplay as Mina and make delicacies. Its fun, charming, and neato!

Never Stop Sneakin' started to bore me as levels started to get longer and jokes started to repeat themselves. It does fill the purpose that Nuclear Throne and Geometry Wars 3 used to fill on my Vita, which is that its a good game I can play in quick bursts and put down without getting too attached to what I'm doing.

Super Mario Odyssey became the first Mario game I played through to the end credits. Don't think I'll go back very much to find the moons I missed, but the time I spent with it was great time indeed.

I've played Mario Kart wirelessly with my Switch owning roommate and a friend whose crashing at our place while on leave from the Navy. The competition is fierce and unrelenting.

Overall, my first experiences with the Switch have provided me with exactly what I wanted. It serves its purpose as the Vita 2, but also makes me more excited about video games than I have in a long time. I'm playing new and exciting games. I'm having fun. Fun! Yeah, I'm having fun.