By Daniel Murphy
In October 2016, Nintendo announced their new hybrid console, the Switch. It’s been amazing to see what people all over the Internet first said about the Switch when it was announced versus what they say about it now. My first impression of the Switch was great, but before its release, I didn’t think Nintendo stood a chance at lasting another generation at the pace they were going.
Here are a few topics I thought about when I revisited the ad for the Switch announcement:
Why did I think so poorly of Nintendo prior to the Switch?
Let’s take a walk down memory lane to the time before the Switch. Remember the Wii?
The Wii was a console focused on motion controls that brought in casual gamers everywhere (mostly with Wii Sports). Although the Wii was a big hit, it wasn’t a console that people considered to be their primary gaming machine, and, since the GameCube was released, most people thought of Nintendo consoles as their “secondary” console.
After that came the Wii U, which was poorly advertised, sold worse than it was advertised, and was overall a gigantic flop. Most people who owned a Wii U still couldn’t tell you what the point of the tablet controller was. There was little to no third-party support, so you were buying a Nintendo console solely to play Nintendo games, which wasn’t enough to make Nintendo appealing at the time. When Nintendo released the Wii U, it had a name that gave the impression that it was an upgrade to the Wii (think iPhone 7 to 8), but it had a clunky controller that wasn’t appealing.
Everything was pointed in the wrong direction for them.
Where I thought Nintendo was headed before the Switch
For all the flaws I just mentioned, Nintendo still had two things going for them: 1) their first-party games were still excellent and, in my opinion, some of the best first-party games on any console, and 2) their handheld systems sold like crazy. I thought that in order for them to succeed, they needed huge support from third parties, graphics, and power that could compare to Sony and Microsoft, and they needed to throw away the gimmicks. If this new generation console failed, then I thought they should produce games and sell them on other consoles—can you imagine playing Mario Odyssey on PlayStation 5?
My initial reaction to the Switch announcement
I wasn’t blown away when I first watched the Switch announcement. I wasn’t disappointed, either, but I had my reservations. It seemed a little gimmicky and a little too good to be true. Could this hybrid system really be as easy as the commercial shows to switch from console mode to portable mode? Would the Joy-Cons be that easy to take off and on to play without having to connect them in the awful way it was to connect a Wii Nunchuk?
One thing I was very surprised about was seeing Skyrim on there! Nintendo had a reputation of having childish games and no third-party support, so seeing Bethesda’s Skyrim on there could give Nintendo new life!
What I thought when I bought the Switch
I started traveling a lot for work, which at first was great but soon became just a lot of alone time that quickly led to boredom. I was never really into handheld consoles and was ready to try something new. Plus, I was running out of things to do in my hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. I bought a Switch with Breath of the Wild, and I was blown away! Zelda had matured into an open world game, it was in fact as easy to switch from handheld to console mode as the commercial made it out to be, and it was lightweight with a good-sized screen. 2017 was a slow drip with games, but everything they came out with—from BotW to Mario Rabbids—was a hit. I couldn’t get enough.
Four years later
Switch is my favorite system that I’ve ever owned. It’s been a gold mine for indie games, it has had plenty of third-party support, and the hybrid experiment was a huge success. I’m glad I was wrong about what I thought Nintendo should do because I don’t mind having less resolution in graphics, and I’m glad they attempted a new gimmick rather than being cookie-cutter. I’ve made new friends with the interactive games such as Mario Maker and Animal Crossing, and I’ve been able to bring this system with me literally everywhere.
I’m excited to see what’s next for Nintendo. I do think they could benefit from a graphics upgrade, but I’m not sure how much more they could push the limits with a handheld console. I look forward to what’s in store for us with the next generation, and this time I’m going into it with a stronger opinion of Nintendo than I’ve ever had before.
Let me know what you thought of Nintendo around the time of the Switch announcement and what you think of them now in the comments, or reach out to me on Twitter to talk about it. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!