As someone who has recently built a powerful gaming PC (nothing out of the ordinary, but something very capable with the new GTX 1060 and i5 6500), and who owns a PS4, I’m starting to make room for another player in my living room.
That player, is the Nintendo Switch.
When the Switch was first announced, I couldn’t help but feel angry and bitter. As someone who sold my 3DS and lost most of my game library (due to Nintendo’s horrible cloud gaming platform or lack thereof) and an avid YouTube watcher (who despises Nintendo’s aggressive take on stealing YouTuber’s money who supports them), perhaps I didn’t have the best frame of mind when hearing about the console’s features and announcements.
Most of the Nintendo Switch ads seemed targeted towards middle schoolers clustered around a table for one, but the 720P screen, small battery life, and expensive peripherals were a huge turn off. Additionally, the lack of a Netflix app on launch, among other online missing features was enough to seal the bag until a month ago.
Zelda wasn’t really enough to bring me back into the Nintendo Eco system. It just looked like a cartoon version of Horizon Zero Dawn or any other open world game that we’ve been slammed with the last few years. IF I haven’t finished Witcher 3, why would I bother with a new open world game like BOTW?
While I hadn’t completely disregarded BOTW, soon Nintendo’s online games started to peak my interests. I started hearing about games like Arms–a completely new game from Nintendo with a new twist on the fighting genre.
As someone who just bought Tekken 7 and was unimpressed with the visuals as well as lack of flair in the fighting moves and characters themselves–Arms intrigued me. Arms seemed like a game made for fighting game fans who “can’t get into fighting games”. And, that’s exactly what it is.
Does the Nintendo Switch Have Good Games?
When I finally got the Switch (by setting up notifications on Amazon through a third party notification site) I decided to get Arms, and I wasn’t let down. The motion controls (while not my preferred method of control) felt intuitive, accurate, and a good sample of what the joy cons are capable of. In fact, they are so capable that some people prefer them and even attain high ranks with them. The best comparison would be like holding two Wii motes–but we never saw a competitive fighter on the Wii take advantage of the control method like Arms does.
But it’s not even so much the motion controls, but rather the tight mechanics and creative ideas within Arms that make it so compelling. Sure, the characters are lively, fun, and full of style–some perhaps too much so, but my favorite thing about Arms is how hard it is to master but how easy it is to play. Instead of learning combos and shifting through menus, I’m actually playing the game trying to figure out how to dodge punches, jump, and grab correctly. In a sense, I’m learning to be a better fighter by actually fighting, which is something I’ve never felt before in a fighting game. The levels are also unique and while some “mini game” modes in the game feel cheap, the core ranking mode feels airtight.
I like how the game doesn’t have a huge campaign like Mortal Kombat (a campaign I felt that was too cliche to finish) and that the game focuses instead on making maps unique and the progression of skill through the game’s ranked mode feels fair and balanced. Who knew it was so hard to make a good ranking system? Well, Nintendo nailed it. It’s 1v1 fun requiring only a pass through the lvl 4 difficulty of the campaign mode (nothing to scoff at) with a good system going from lvl 1 to lvl 15 in ranking. If you win you go up, if you lose you start to go down. But there does seem to be some sort of loss prevention in the beginning since I haven’t actually lost any ranking in losses.
Strangely enough, I also really dig the game’s interface. It just feels so simple and clean and connecting to matches is fast.
Why Play Nintendo Switch Online Versus PS4 or PC?
After being impressed with Titanfall 2’s single player campaign and unique online mech-fighting mode, but being let down by the mostly repetitive gun play of Battlefield 1, I haven’t found too much online gaming innovative or compelling on the PS4. Perhaps the most unique online gaming is in the form of Friday the 13th, with its player-driven stories and opportunity for role play.
However it’s not an exclusive, and it’s buggy as hell. Year after year we get more online titles for consoles, like the yearly COD, and this year a new Battlefront game–but these games are just the same game over and over with slight twists on the same formula.
On the PC we have huge titans like Overwatch and Player Unknown Battlegrounds that are quite fun but don’t feel unique in the same vein. These titles feel like more polished versions of games that came before, like Team Fortress 2 or H1Z1 respectively.
Nintendo, while completely failing in other areas, is really striking it out of the park this time with the games on the Switch–spare as they are.
Splatoon 2 One of the best Shooters in 2017?
Conversly, we have Splatoon 2 coming now, which–like Arms, is perhaps one of the freshest and most unique multiplayer experience in years (alongside Splatoon 1 of course). The original game both baffled, joyed, and frustrated me with how much of a diamond in the rough it was.
With unskippable news briefings and lack of communication features, as well as some oddly contrasting difficulties in the main campaign (some parts were way too easy and some parts way too hard), I left Splatoon 1 on a sour note, but man did I pour some time into it in that one month of gameplay. I can’t really think of an online gaming experience that has stuck with me as powerfully since. Now that Spatoon 2 is out, I can’t wait to dive back in.
So far the Switch seems to be bringing the best from Nintendo with unique games that really strive to stand out. All of the things I didn’t like about the Switch are still here, but my other console and my PC have these features and I still find myself being intensely intrigued by my switch’s titles since they feel so unique.
Does the Nintendo Switch have a Good UI?
As someone who values my PS4 for it’s ability to work as a multimedia powerhouse, and someone who values the power of PC graphics, I still find immense value in my switch. The general UI of the Switch–surprisingly enough, makes the system feel like is a Nintendo system made for me the first time. I found that the 3DS felt too “kiddy” and that the Wii U ultimately felt like some type of gimmicky toy. Sometimes my PS4 feels to cluttered with too many icons and random advertisements I can’t get rid of.
The Switch’s UI is different. It’s clean, minimalist, and perhaps simple to a fault (take for example, the lack of online social features). At the end of the day however, it feels refreshing.
The sounds on the Switch’s menus are callbacks to the retro Nintendo of old, with pings reminiscent of Mario when you select an item, and there’s no incessant kiddy music this time. The entire interface is simple and streamlined, and it lets your game’s visual icons take the forefront. In some ways, I feel like the design elements of the Switch really summarize my feelings on the console and the company’s direction.
Is the Nintendo Switch Worth It?
It’s not that online features like voice chat or applications like Netflix aren’t important or unnecessary–it’s just that in order to justify it as a purchase, the Switch needed to be different. With a remarkable aptitude for gaming on the go (I’m still surprised how smooth and good looking the games look on such a small tablet) and powerful unique games, I think it is definitely worth getting.
For me, the 3DS felt almost like a “gameboy expansion” with graphics and presentation aged only a few years, but the Nintendo Switch feels like a new portable gaming revolution altogether with fine games, and a no nonsense approach that adults like me on the go can appreciate.
Whether you like 60 FPS powerhouse multiplayer games like Splatoon 2, or competitive fighter games that break out of the mold completly, or even just an immersive single player experience, the Nintendo Switch has good core titles so far, and more soon to come.