In my approaching thirty-three years of life, a lot of which has been parked in front of a screen with controller in hand, I never got to participate in the launch of a brand new console though I always wanted to. The way things always played out was that I either didn’t have the money for these expensive machines or it was the case of something like the last round of consoles: The Wii U, PS4 and Xbox where I had the available funds but they boxes didn’t have the most compelling of launch titles. Given that we’re in the world of PS4 Pro’s and Xbox One Scorpio’s, the traditional days of a console life cycle appear to be numbered with it now making more sense of console manufacturers to iterate on their existing machines in the same way smart phone makers do.
With the upcoming Nintendo Switch, now revealed to be arriving in under two months time on March 3rd 2017, I thought that this was the time I would get in on the ground floor, waiting in line with other hardcore fans as they count down the minutes until a store clerk opens a store at midnight for people to rush in with their pre-order slips in hand. Having stayed up until well past 1:30AM this morning watching the Nintendo Switch presentation last night, the decision was made pretty easy for me. Before heading to work this morning, I went and pre-ordered….The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for my Wii U.
I won’t ever come down on someone for liking what they like, but for a long time now, I’ve been pretty soured on Nintendo. You can’t deny that their software is some of the best out there, but the company as a whole does so much to make you dislike them I’m surprised that they have as many die-hard fans as they do. Whether its delaying games, alienating third parties or creating a black market for their hardware by crafting supply shortages, it gets really hard to separate the artists who make games like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Super Mario 64 from the bone-headed executives who choose to steer the company the way they do. After the Nintendo Switch reveal last October, Nintendo at least gave off the impression that they were at the very least trying, and it made it feel okay to be optimistic about buying a piece of their hardware again.
The reveal trailer showed a Nintendo that I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. Gone were ridiculous people flailing around with motion controller wands, instead replaced by people holding controllers in their hands and you even caught a glimpse of third-party games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and NBA 2K17. It didn’t take long though for Nintendo to bring us back to reality with their hour-long presentation yesterday evening. Instead of wowing the audience with games like a Sony would do either at E3 or their own PSX event, at least a quarter of the presentation was devoted to showing how the system works, something I thought was communicated quite clearly in the just over three-minute launch trailer.
When they eventually got around to talking about games, it was pretty abysmal. They showed off launch titles such as 1, 2 Switch and….sigh….Arms, both games that looked like they should be pack in software and not full-fledged products that will be full priced games sold alongside Breath of the Wild. Not only that, but they looked like the type of software that we pretty much got tired of back in the days of the original Wii over ten years ago. I even jokingly thought that Arms looked a lot like the motion-controlled Kinect fighting game Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth.
Well none of that matters because The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a launch game!!!!
Yeah, Zelda looks great, it is a Zelda game after all, but here’s the problem with that: I already own a console that will play this game and you might have one as well if you’re the type of person who went and pre-ordered a Switch today. I’m sorry, but it’s not enough for me at least just to have a Zelda game anymore. This just reminds me the exact same thing that happened with Wii back in 2006 where I already owned a GameCube that could play Twilight Princess thus negating a need for a Wii until other pieces of compelling software showed up, which took a pretty long time. Arguably the best post Twilight Princess game for the Wii was Metroid Prime 3: Corruption that didn’t arrive until August of 2007. Super Mario Odyssey, the new 3-D Mario game that has me the most excited for a Mario game since the original Super Mario Galaxy looks amazing, even system selling good, but that doesn’t arrive until holiday of 2017 and given Nintendo’s track record, that may or may not miss that date as well. By then Switch’s will be easier to find and perhaps even bundled with Odyssey. Lest we forget the hardware shortage of the NES-mini console where hardware trickled into stores leading scalpers to sell the device for well over its asking price.
There’s also the matter of price of the accessories for the Switch, which in Canada where I live is ridiculous. The console itself at $399 CAD is pretty reasonable seeing as how you can take it on the go, but the Pro controller is $89.99 CAD and the Joy-Con controllers, the ones that slide onto the left and right on the console are bundled together at $99.99 CAD. I hate to boil things down to simple economics, but you’re not doing a good job of selling me on a console that for many months will only play games I can get on machines I already own with spare controllers that are well above the price of new games, of which there are many good ones coming out over the next couple of months. Some of the games that have since been revealed as within the March 3rd launch window like Rayman Legends and Lego City Undercover have been on the market for many years now and have been heavily discounted.
Will I ever get a Switch? Perhaps, but it’s going to take more than a launch Zelda game to convince me to throw down over $400 on a new console. The promise of the Switch’s portability still makes it something that I want to get excited about, but what’s the point of having a portable console if there’s no compelling software in which to play? I hope that Nintendo can turn this around and get more people on board, or even entice people with whatever Retro Studios is working on, a new Metroid or the rumoured GameCube virtual console, but the goodwill created by the Switch’s reveal was undone pretty quickly after last night’s event that just felt like the Nintendo that we’ve sadly grown accustom to: a big hit every once in a while followed by a drought of software. I’m happy for those who will make the Switch come March, but for me, I’m content with Breath of the Wild for Wii U right now.