January 09, 2017

Opinion: What I Want To See From Nintendo Switch

Well, here we are, later this week we are going to get the goods on just what the Nintendo Switch will be able to do, the games it can play and more. While there has been a lot of rumours about games coming, features of the machine, clock speed and more, I am going to detail the few things I want to see Nintendo do, in order to survive past this home console release.

Release More Games...

It sounds simple I know, but Nintendo have proven of late that they are not capable of keeping a release schedule, even releasing games between regions can prove too much for them often. Now while Wii U got a few retail games from Nintendo last year, in Zelda, Star Fox and Paper Mario, I think that was about it, 3DS got a stack more, ending the year with Pokémon. Now given that before Switch was announced, officially, Nintendo merged their hardware arms together, one might hope that their internal and second party studios will be making for one platform going forward.

Of course, until the event that is just a wishful thought, but of course, new content is going to be what people want, Nintendo have a rich history of games that they can release via the Virtual Console platform. On the Wii, the service launched with a bang and then kept the content coming, even when the popularity of the console started to wane, they still kept releasing old games, heck even other platforms not made by Nintendo were supported. On Wii U, Nintendo started to trickle out the content again, but within 12 months, the classic consoles like NES, SNES and N64 dried up, but then out of nowhere, we got GameBoy Advance and then Wii games and most recently Nintendo 3DS, but even with the addition of three extra platforms, there are hardly any games on the platform. On Wii U there are right now, over 230 titles available, from 6 platforms and on Wii there were 380+ from 9 platforms, the difference in the numbers should not exist, even more so when you count NES at 679, SNES at 530 and N64 at 270, the number of Virtual Console releases, for home console only is dismal.

There are rumours that Switch will support Gamecube games on Virtual Console, even at launch and that is fantastic news, but with 650+ games, the odds of even 50 being released are not good, based purely on the track record of Nintendo. Nintendo could supplement their big releases by actively promoting the games via the virtual console before the game releases, imagine before we get the next Metroid game, that over the weeks leading up to its release, all the classic games were released for people to play, if Nintendo can balance the game releases, that will help them greatly.

Get Online Right…

Nintendo are no stranger to gaming online, I mean even the Nintendo Entertainment System supported online functionality, yes, the console released in 1985 had online functions, so it has been strange to see them flounder so bad in the modern age.

The Gamecube had a LAN adapter that was sold separately, much like the PlayStation 2 did, but while some games used it for LAN play only and only two used it for Online play, it was pretty pointless otherwise and when the Wii released, they announced that it would have online gameplay and a digital store, but then was locked down by the now infamous friend codes. With Wii U they did away with the codes, but then their digital store took a hit, with a clunky layout and then people having to repurchase the same virtual console games that they bought on the Wii, that they could even play via Wii mode on their Wii U, but when it came to online play the Wii U was still missing major parts like voice chat, groups and such.

When Nintendo entered that deal with DeNA, a lot of people took hope that they were going to attempt to do the right thing with their online infrastructure, I mean they would be hard pressed to go backwards. They did away with Club Nintendo and released My Nintendo and now offer digital goods and discounts, which is a start, but then with the release of Super Mario Run, they went backwards again. A 2d mario game that has to always be online is crazy, which means a game that would be perfect for those flights across oceans is now not playable, they need to find that balance and they need to find it before the machine releases.

Accessories Galore? I Hope Not…

During the Wii/X360/PS3 era, it seemed that every few months a new piece of plastic gaming equipment was released from Gutiars to Drums, DJ Tables to Tennis Rackets and more, the amount of that stuff that I had gathered over the years was crazy, one of the best parts of the current generation of consoles is that mostly, that stuff is gone.

Given the rumours that the JoyCons on the Switch can be replaced, with other layouts or options, means that the amount of plastic junk is likely to increase again. What makes it even worse though is that each of the JoyCons appear to have motion control options built in, which sadly means more crappy plastic shells for them to sit in are likely. While Nintendo will never be able to stamp out all the cheap plastic options for their consoles and handhelds, but I would love there to be a really limited number of optional add-ons or accessories for the Switch, as the machine is designed to be taken with you, I don’t want to have to lug additional controllers, plastic shells or even worse with me, just to get the “right” experience.

That is not to say that JoyCons could be replaced with something great, almost right after the Switch was formally announced back in October, someone released a mock-up of a Gamecube version of the JoyCon and that would be fantastic, even more so if Gamecube games come to the Virtual Console. More than that, colour is not going to be a requirement, but it should be offered, purely because grey/black is bland. Now I am not requesting the Spice Orange from the Gamecube days again, but even the fan creations of themed controllers, based off past Nintendo consoles would be welcome.

Nintendo is a global company, time for their console to be the same…

On Nintendo, how can a company that has existed for over 125 years be so stupid at times, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS were all region free platforms and it was amazing. The home console market has been locked down since day one and while most of the time, those locks were because of different TV’s sold in different parts of the world, you know NTSC Vs Pal, 50hz Vs 60Hz and so forth, but when HD TV’s became the normal, we all dropped from those prehistoric terms and globally started to embrace 1080p and while you might understand it with the Wii, as it did not natively support HDMI, the Wii U did, so why then was that platform locked down.

PlayStation 3 did something crazy when it released and announced that the machine would be region free, Xbox One followed suit as well and now it is time for Nintendo to catch up. Being on holiday in Japan or America and seeing a game for a region free console that you can’t find here or see amazingly cheap overseas is such a pure joy giving moment, seeing games for a Nintendo platform and knowing it won’t work here without either owning a machine from that country, or hacking your console is a letdown. I understand some might state facts like, it’s not possible to have games released in all countries around the world day one, with languages and such, but it is, Xbox do it, PlayStation do it and heck even Nintendo do it, with their big released, Pokémon Sun and Moon released on the same day around the world, except for Europe, where it released a week later.

But then we get things from Nintendo like Rhythm Heaven Megamix on Nintendo 3DS, it released in America during E3, but here in Australia, we had to wait another 4 months and given that the game has minimal written words, it boggles the mind why that happened. Nintendo have released games within a few days around the world, but only when it suits them it seems and with the rumour that Zelda Breath of the Wild might release on Switch at launch in Japan and America but not for Europe, of which Australia is likely to be saddled with, which hopefully is not going to happen. As the world becomes more connected with the power of the internet, for Nintendo to lock the Switch down, would be a stupid decision that no Nintendo fan could contest.

While we only have a few more days to wait, to learn all about the Switch, I really hope Nintendo have truly learnt from past mistakes and release a console that is attempting to behave like a modern platform. It needs to be open to indies, but also keep the crap shovelware off the platform, but players need to be able to find new games all the time, not spend weeks or months waiting for Nintendo to deliver a game. They need to also let players enjoy the experience, free from the arbitrary constrictions that Nintendo have used in the past, region locking, once a week eShop updates, the world has evolved and its time a Nintendo home console does as well.

If you want to know what times in Australia you can watch the event on Friday, made a nice map, which I have borrowed here, but hit up their full site for all the links to the live streams and get in contact with the other Nintendo Nerds that will be watching, I know I will be.

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