I pre-ordered a Nintendo Switch the morning they went live on Amazon. It comes out in less than four weeks, and I’m still not exactly sure why I ordered it.
There are logistical reasons, of course: I run a games website, therefore it’s a good idea to keep on top of all the latest technology and trends. But outside of that, as a simple gaming consumer, what exactly am I going to get for my £280?
I still don’t quite know, to be honest.
I’m getting the latest Nintendo home console, which is also a portable hybrid. Though the size of the unit along with its battery life – around three hours – means that I’m not going to get much portability out of it. I’m not saying other people won’t take it everywhere with them – it’s just not something I can see myself doing. Perhaps I’ll use its mobility to continue a game in bed away from the TV, or to move to a different room, but for me, that’s as portable as it’s going to get.
I’m getting the ability to play Nintendo’s latest games – which, on launch day, means the hotly-anticipated Zelda: Breath of the Wild and not a great deal else. I’m not going to lie; I am rather looking forward to seeing how Zelda has evolved. I grew up with Nintendo and Zelda; A Link to the Past was the first console game I ever completed. The last Zelda release I touched, however, was Twilight Princess. It’s kind of exciting to be getting the chance to reunite.
I’m also getting the signature Nintendo “quirkiness” – the ‘JoyCon’ controllers with their ability to become a standard pad or two smaller pads for multiplayer. I’ll be able to milk cows, 2007 Wii-style, in 1-2-Switch, and I’ll be able to use them to swing some punches when Arms releases later in the year. It isn’t Nintendo without some gimmicks – and whilst these usually take the forefront of their consoles, I’m glad it’s not exactly the key focus here. I’m not sure I’d have pre-ordered if it had been.
However, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about Nintendo Switch that means I don’t know exactly what my money is paying for. Nintendo have yet to reveal any technical specification for the console – we can only surmise it’s much less powerful than its Xbox One and PS4 competition. We still don’t know a great deal about its online services, how (or if) Virtual Console is going to work, or if previous purchases can be brought over to the Switch. For me, having never really purchased any Virtual Console titles – besides a couple SNES games on a 3DS I don’t even own anymore – it’s not the end of the world, but for others it could be a dealbreaker. At least knowing that Virtual Console will be a part of the system would be nice; I’d like to play older games from my childhood, and the handheld element of the Switch would be nice to do that on. And yet, even though I’ve already ordered one, I still don’t know if that will be possible.
There are lots of things that I already don’t like about the Switch – the handheld unit’s short battery life; the fact that it only has 32GB built-in memory (come on, this is 2017); the fact you can’t charge your Joy-Con controllers while you’re playing – but somehow, against my better judgement, I want to like the system. I want to unpack it on 3rd March and be excited to get started; I want to be pleasantly surprised by its interface and ergonomics; I want to revel in its ease of use. I already know it’s never going to replace a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One for me, but I want it to be a nice little distraction from those. Whether or not it will be however, remains to be seen.
Nintendo have only four weeks to fill in the missing gaps when it comes to our understanding of Nintendo Switch. Who knows whether they will or not – I imagine it’s going to be a case of seeing what happens once it ships.