Is the Nintendo Switch a good console?
I’ve had many mixed thoughts on the Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch has been out for years now and has demonstrated what it is and is not capable of doing and I was very pessimistic about it when it was first being talked about. However, I’ve been surprised at how well it is doing. It sold very well for a reason that I just can’t figure out and the first-party support and quality of games have been exceptional.
Nintendo has almost always been amazing when it comes to their games but their hardware, not so much. Even the 3DS was technically a league behind the PS Vita, the Wii was just a GameCube with poor gimmicky controls and the Wii U was just downright awful. But the games… have all been great with the exception of Super Smash Bros Brawl on the Wii and The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (we just don’t talk about that one). We know that Nintendo isn’t looking to compete with PC gaming, PlayStation, and Xbox, I think they’ve made that very clear.
First, let’s get the Switch’s gimmick out of the way. The very mobile console that mostly delivers home quality games on a tablet-sized device. The battery is most impressive and so are the Joy-Cons, mostly. I say ‘mostly’ because for a hardcore gamer or even casual gamers, the Joy-Cons are very small and clumsy, especially the joysticks. Playing a shooter with those joysticks would be a horrid experience, luckily for Nintendo, they don’t really have a shooter on their console since it’s generally more family-friendly games. Also, the quality of the games on the Switch is drastically hindered compared to the same game on a PS4, Xbox One, and PC. I’ve had the honor of playing Rocket League on the Switch and the shame of playing Fortnite on the Switch and I can say that not only were the graphics cranked down as far as the developer could get them, but even so it still was an unsteady 30fps at 720p. Now playing a game at 30fps at 720p isn’t horrible if it’s a steady 30fps and the game’s anti-aliasing and graphics style are designed with that in mind, but 3rd party games aren’t. With the modern standard for games being 1080p at 60fps, the Switch just looks and feels outdated for the most part.
However, every Nintendo first-party game has been incredible thus far. We know the titles: Mario Odyessy, Zelda Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart, Smash Bros, and a few more. But the problem is, is that not only can I not afford a Switch but I’m not about to spend all that money on 3 or 4 games that I want. For a hardcore gamer, it’s not a very logical choice unless you have a good income. Next, most of the games on the Switch you probably already own on the other console(s) or PC. Many of the games were either just ported to the Switch, ‘Remastered’ for it, or are crappy downgrades.
What does a Switch have to offer a hardcore gamer? Not much. The only titles a hardcore gamer wants are those they grew up with. However, games that are nostalgic are a luxury to a gamer. Buying a console and games at full price just because it’s a franchise that you grew up with is often usually a luxury because we have all moved onto new games. For me, I grew up with Mario and Zelda games and I loved them and I still do, but now I have many other games I enjoy and they are all on the same gaming platform. Other platforms also have many more games and a wider variety of games so it makes the most sense that a hardcore gamer would do most of their gaming on a PlayStation, Xbox, or a computer. Nintendo has made themselves an afterthought, only for hardcore gamers to look over and see if the latest installment of their childhood franchise is worth paying for the console and a game or two. Now for a college student like myself, I don’t have the money or the time for such an inefficient use of money. Now of course for those gamers who primarily play Nintendo games and love their consoles then the Switch is a no-brainer for them. Personally, I feel bad for the gamers that think Nintendo is a good choice for a primary gaming platform, it’s simply a narrow field of gaming and has little potential for those players to experience better games or at least different games that they may also enjoy.
The online multiplayer for the Nintendo Switch is also very poor which is a big deal for the hardcore audience. We really need to be able to chat without friends, play games with them and compete with or against one another. It’s a big part of gaming these days as it grows more and more social. I’m really disappointed that Nintendo crapped the bed on this again. I hope they fix this to compete with the other gaming platforms. The power of the console is below par and it is a problem for hardcore gamers. Having a game run at an unsteady 30fps is painful to play and leaves no chance for immersion. Only first-party games have a chance to run well on the console since they are made from the ground up to be well optimized for it. Again, the issue with that is that we don’t want the only good games to be made by Nintendo, which makes justifying the purchase difficult and future risk. Lastly, the hardware is already out of date and was a few years before the Switch was released. Now yes the hardware is very power efficient which is impressive in comparison to even the best PCs and consoles but that won’t help the games and the quality of what it can do or what it will be able to do in the future, the only thing that is good for is to make the battery last longer. This leads perfectly into my next point.
The best thing about the Nintendo Switch is that it is the only gaming platform that is still a gaming console. The PS4 and Xbox One are just crappy gaming PCs. The Nintendo switch has nothing on the home screen begging you to get Xbox Live or social media apps or movie streaming crap all over, the store isn’t a button away. No, the Switch quickly turns on and can quickly be put into a game with no issues. Downloads are small, few and far between, the console and controllers all have great battery lifespans or can be easily plugged in. The thing just works. It’s simple, it’s light, it’s easy to use, and the games compliment that perfectly by using the simple “easy to learn, hard to master” forefront that can make any game good. The Nintendo Switch is a humble piece of hardware that doesn’t get in the way of your fun, other than frame drops and low-resolution games.
As you can see I’m torn as to how to feel about a console that took away the chance to be powerful and instead it became mobile. I can understand that now Nintendo’s mobile line of 3DS’s now has to compete with smartphones so they needed to make something that could be simple, accessible, and fun for everyone. I personally think that a good mobile console like a 3DS could easily stand on its own as long as it’s properly supported. But nevertheless, Nintendo went down the road where the main flagship console needed to also fill the shoes of a mobile gaming console. It’s impressive I’ll admit but at the cost for those who are looking for a more hardcore experience. But on the other hand, the first party games are still so amazing that it’s hard to ignore, hence my mixed emotions. I would have preferred that Nintendo make a console that was still powerful but was still taking advantage of the fact that it’s a game console and not a crappy PC like PlayStation and Xbox. Leave the mobile gaming to the 3DS, it has done a great job and I think it still can, especially since smartphone games all suck.