Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thoughts on Nintendo Switch

Nintendo unveiled their newest console, the Nintendo Switch, today, October 20, 2016. Cousins Matt and James react to the teaser trailer, seen below:

James: Oh, I think that looks awesome! I'll be buying it.

Matt: We need more details. I mean, Neo Geo X did the hybrid thing back in 2012. And Turbo Graphix 16 did it with the Turbo Express, granted that required a separate purchase. I don't find the hybrid aspect all that impressive in itself.

James: If your PS4 came standard with a Vita, you’d be pretty happy about that I imagine. And the specs and everything are important, but I’m very impressed by the three forms of play, especially the detachable mini controllers that let you play portable but not have to hold a big unit. That’s very appealing.

Matt: Sure, but it's not what I'd call revolutionary. And how much horsepower are we sacrificing for that? I know, I know, it's Nintendo's plan to just make fun games regardless of tech. Anway, I wish we’d seen more games. Any games. The Zelda one looks nice, I suppose.

James: I think it’s pretty impressive either way, but it could be game changing depending on the horsepower. If you have something as portable and functional as that, with the same or slightly better guts then the Wii U, that would be a first of its kind. It’s only a reveal, so I'm sure the games will be out soon. They wouldn't relaunch without a solid opening day lineup so to speak.

Matt: I don't know about that. N64 launched with two games: Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64. And here they go again launching mid-console cycle. Historically that his not worked well. See also: Dreamcast, Wii U. I want this to be good, I really do. But I have to look at it through the lens of someone who has been burned again and again by the Big N.

James: I’m not saying it can't be bad, but after one poor launch, and an early re-ignition, you'd have to think they've learned something. As someone who didn't hate the Wii U, I have confidence in them right now. This will be a big hit for them. Especially if there’s some kind of cross compatibility with 3DS.

Matt: This is checking all the wrong boxes in terms of their launch, including date (mid-cycle) and demographic. Is this meant for kids? Adults on the go? Why should I get this when I have a 3DS and a PS4? How is this better than just a cell phone? I'm afraid this might do so much that it loses its identity, you know? People want machines that do one thing really well, not a device that does a lot of things pretty well. I'm nervous for Nintendo with this.

James: I see what you’re saying, a jack of all trades is master of none. But I think its uniqueness will overcome that possibility. And as far as marketing, this looks like they're shooting for more young adults like the Vita. They'll always have kids because of their first party stuff, but marketing and designing for teens and up seems like the way to go. Looking at this ad, I think that’s the route they’re going. If it fails, it will be due to people not giving it a chance because it’s too different. They’re not the company that makes the heavy duty game machine, and once people learn to accept that, maybe they can enjoy Nintendo for what it is and stop pining for what it isn't and hasn't been since 1995.

Matt: If it fails, it might be because people didn't give it a chance, but it also might be because it sucked. I know you like Wii U for what it is, but can you honestly say it doesn't suck? Mario, Zelda, and not much else. Like you know I love Sega CD, and there are some really strong games, but overall it sucked. It all comes down to software. Dreamcast had another year or more of life, but they cut software support, so it died. Original Wii had some great games, but mounds of shovelware, so it became irrelevant. We're still getting some quality software on PS3, so it coexists with PS4 and Xbone.

James: I don't think it’s fair to say the Wii U sucks at all. In 20 years, it will be looked at the same way the GameCube or Dreamcast is viewed today. Underappreciated in its own time, overshadowed by two behemoths. It had superb first party support and little else, but that hardly constitutes "sucking" and to compare it to Sega CD is a bit unfair. Wii became irrelevant to you and I, but it made big money and kids/families still play the Wii. So again, I can't say its anything resembling a fail. The Wii U’s biggest drawback was being too niche and straddling the fence between old and new hardware. I think the Switch will correct that error. Have faith!

Matt: I see what you're saying, but no one is going to look at the Wii U with the same reverence as the Dreamcast. DC was seen as revolutionary. Maybe people will recognize its missed potential, sure. I agree there. And I think the Sega CD comparison is fair enough: both were supposed to be a big company's next Great Thing, both had great potential and some awesome first party games, and both died young.

James: But the Sega CD was never on par with its competition. The Wii U could hold its own, but the CD was complete gimmickry.

Matt: What do you mean by "on par?" I could argue that Wii U was never on par with the competition. And to call the CD format gimmickry doesn't hold much water when you consider that it went on to become the standard in gaming for nearly a decade. Now, did Sega CD use the CD format to its fullest potential? Hell no.

James: FMV games are not the same as what games on PlayStation were though. Just because it was a disc doesn't mean anything. The Wii U may not have been the preferred choice, but it had ports of games that were comparable or equal to the Xbone or PS4 version. And if they weren't as great, they didn't feel massively behind. Nothing the Sega CD did made it competitive.

Matt: The problem is, what was Sega CD competing against? PCs? Turbo Graphix CD? Sega CD outsold TGCD five to one. But was it going against SNES too? Was it in addition to the Sega Genesis, or a separate system? Nobody knew then, either. But there WERE killer Sega CD apps like Sonic CD and the Lunar games, just not a whole lot, which was the second issue. As for format, one of the big reasons N64 didn't sell as well as PSX was because the 64 used carts. And the GameCube used minidiscs that no one liked. Sega CD games being on CD was important. Format DOES matter.

James: Of course format matters, but did it matter in THAT instance? No. The system still mostly sucked and people didn't like it by and large.

Matt: People didn't like it, same with Wii U. And looking at the Wii U software catalog, it mostly sucks, with some great games here and there. In terms of format, Sega CD couldn't have done FMV games without the CD storage space. You couldn't have gotten the soundtracks, or the near arcade perfect ports like Final Fight without the extra CD space. Sonic CD wouldn't have been the game it was without that CD space.

James: It had a few hits, but categorically it’s a much worse system. Wii U is a lot closer to PS4 then Sega CD was to PlayStation. Wii U and Sega CD will both be cult hits, but I think the Wii U will be remembered the same as the GameCube. In 20 years, people will still be dying to play Mario Maker again. I really think your Nintendo bias/ Sega-love is clouding your judgement a little.

Matt: Wii U will hold up better than SGCD, I agree.  But I also see both as failures. Or at least severely misunderstood.

James: Commercial failures.

Matt: Yeah, I hear both systems have their fans.

James: Never met one.

Final Verdict on Nintendo Switch:

James: Buy one! Nintendo is great!

Matt: Sonic CD was awesome.  

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