The Nintendo Switch – Is it Worth Buying?

The Nintendo Switch – Is it Worth Buying?

The Nintendo Switch is an incredible piece of hardware that combines both a home console and portable system into a single piece of hardware. The supplied docking station turns the Switch into a full-fledged home console system capable of outputting 1080P 60fps graphics to a HD television. The system also charges when attached to its docking station.

The joycons are versatile controllers that can either be held in both hands like Wiimotes; mounted to the Joycon grip and used like a traditional controller; or mounted to the sides of the Switch to be played on the go in portable mode. Nintendo even released a Pro controller specifically for gamers that want a more traditional controller when gaming on their TVs.  It’s a seamless design that makes so much sense, it makes you wonder why it hasn’t been thought of until now…. or has it?

The Wii U was Nintendo’s first attempt at making home console gaming portable. While limited to local play, the Wii U’s bulky gamepad could play most games on its small, 6.2′ screen without using a television. Problem was, the Wii U’s gamepad was bulky and only capable of ‘streaming’ the software off the Wii U, which is why the gamepad was never truly ruled as a true portable device. It had touchscreen capabilities like a tablet, but some gamers argue that it wasn’t always responsive to the player’s input.

The Nintendo Switch is a different concept entirely. The main console is a tablet-sized device that can be taken anywhere (think Nintendo’s 3DS), and it’s actually capable of playing games instead of ‘streaming’ them from a secondary device. When placed inside its ‘Dock’, the Switch becomes a full-fledged home console that can be played on the television. The docking unit also provides additional processing power to the console, enhancing in-game performance.

Physical Nintendo Switch games (or retail releases as they are called) are released on cartridges (i.e. high-bit rate SD cards) versus DVDs on the Wii U. Additionally, the Nintendo Switch comes with 32gigs of internal storage for digital game purchases through Nintendo’s online eShop store. A much larger SD card can be purchased to increase the Switch’s storage capabilities, but this is not to be confused with physical gamez that are also released on the same format; the Switch has both a cartridge port to play these games and a secondary SDcard port for storage expansion.

What’s the difference?
There are technical differences between The Nintendo Switch and Wii U. In handheld mode, the Switch is capable of outputting 720p (1280×720) on its 6.2′ LCD touchscreen. The Wii U’s gamepad, on the other hand, is capable of outputting 854×480 via FWVGA (i.e. Full Wide Video Graphics Array). When docked and connected to a television, the Switch produces gorgeous, 1080p 60fps graphics. The Wii U is capable of producing 1080p resolutions, but the frame rate can vary based on the game being played (i.e. 30fps-60fps). This fact can also be argued about the Nintendo Switch.

The Wii U has one advantage over the Switch — it is backward compatible with the Wii. Not only can the Wii U read and play Wii game discs, but gamers can visit Nintendo’s eShop store and purchase certain Wii titles in digital format. Additionally, the Wii’s wireless controllers were also compatible with the system. The Nintendo Switch has abandoned backwards compatibility altogether.

Software Support:
The Nintendo Switch launched on March 3rd, 2017 with a handful of respectable launch titles. Game titles like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Bomberman R and I Am Setsuna indicate that Nintendo is serious about targeting hardcore gamers. But at the same time, they are also relying on the Switch’s 8-player capabilities to rekindle the ‘family’ play environment the Wii was responsible for creating. 1-2 Switch – a party game that utilizes the Joycons’ motion track technology – was also released alongside the Switch on March 3rd, reinforcing the family play element that it originally pioneered with the Nintendo Wii.

Early sales figures indicate that 1-2 Switch did not sell well, and this was due to complaints of the game feeling shallow, and being nothing more than a glorified tech demo to showcase the Joycons’ new HD rumble capabilities. Whatever the case may be, 1-2 Switch is actually fun to play with a group of people. Whether the game is worth its current MSRP of $50 is another story entirely.

This doesn’t mean the Nintendo Switch isn’t capable of attracting the casual crowd that once adopted the Wii, while also catering to the specific tastes of hardcore gamers. Snipperclips – a Nintendo eShop exclusive for the Switch – is an entertaining, co-op puzzle game that supports up to 4 players. The game’s premise is to cut the other player up to solve increasingly difficult puzzles. While not a ‘party game’ in the traditional sense (i.e. a collection of quick mini games like in 1-2 Switch) its 4-player, co-op mode still encourages family play, while also providing a solid (and memorable) game playing experience. As poor launch day sales for 1-2 Switch have proven (reported by Media Create via Gamer (http://www.4gamer.net/games/117/G011794/20170308056/)
Life-to-Date Sales: 79,536), the interest of casual gamers has evolved past quick, mindless mini games that offer little gratification. 

Hopefully, Nintendo will not see the failure of 1-2 Switch as a defeat, but an opportunity to release better ‘casual’ party games. Are these games really needed to ensure the Switch’s success, though? It’s doubtful; but if Nintendo really wants to recapture the audience that once purchased the Wii, they will need to develop new franchises to gain this demographic’s interest. Hardcore Nintendo fans have Mario Kart and Splatoon 2 to look forward to, and this doesn’t include other Switch titles scheduled to release throughout 2017.

What Should You Buy?
The Wii U undeniably had some of the best games ever released for a Nintendo console (and as far as this journalist is concerned, it was the Dreamcast console of its generation). Games like Beyonette 2, Pokken Tournament and Xenoblade Chronicles are incredible games that helped to carry the Wii U through long, agonizing software droughts. Thing is, most of these games were developed and published by Nintendo themselves. Third-party support for the Wii U was non-existent by this time (sans indie developers and the occasional RPG), and this was due to poor hardware sales and terrible marketing on Nintendo’s behalf. 

Nintendo has officially said that Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be its last official game for the Wii U
(Source: Engadgethttps://www.engadget.com/2017/01/19/breath-of-the-wild-last-nintendo-wii-u-game/) and that all of its future games will release on Switch. Right now, a brand-new Wii U console retails for $250 (one hundred dollars cheaper than its $350 launch price), which is still a bit expensive for a now defunct console system. The Nintendo Switch retails for $299.99, and the AAA titles that are currently planned for the system (i.e. The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim, FIFA 2018, etc)  make the Wii U’s game library (first-party Nintendo releases not withstanding) pale in comparison. And when you weigh the pros and cons together – and realize that going forward, you’ll be able to play AAA releases both at home and on the go – the Nintendo Switch becomes a versatile piece of hardware that is worth investing in.

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