I’ve been a Nintendo fan all my life, all the way back to the original NES, and probably will continue to be. I’ve owned every Nintendo system (including the Virtual Boy) so I’ve been there with them in their highs and lows. After a really big mistake in the Wii U, the new Nintendo Switch feels like Nintendo emerging from the ashes like a phoenix. Revitalized and refocused. It feels like their rebirth into the Nintendo of old.
The Wii U shouldn’t have happened. Nintendo was too eager to ride the coattails of the once-in-a-generation success of the original Wii and the result was a system that never really managed to take off. People were confused, thinking it was just a new controller for their existing Wii. And although they tried, Nintendo was never able to overcome the confusing messaging of its launch.
To put the Wii U and Switch launches in comparison, I was able to walk into a GameStop the Sunday (yes Sunday) that Nintendo released the Wii U and walk out with a Deluxe set without ever seeing a line. No one knew or cared about it, on the other hand lines for the Switch are huge. And it’s probably because gamers see that Nintendo seems to have learned from the last decade and are coming back focused on what made people love them in the first place – great games. And the upcoming lineup is full of indie titles as well as franchises from the heyday of Nintendo, so this system is going to attract some of the more traditional Nintendo audience.
Right off the bat lets get this out of the way. The Switch isn’t a console despite what people including Nintendo are telling you. It’s basically a custom Nvidia gaming tablet with a dock that allows it to output video to a TV. That’s it. Nintendo has recently realized that the direction gaming is headed is that of mobile. It’s a hard pill for “hardcore” gamers to swallow, but you just have to look at how much money games on the App Store make and the installed base of iOS and Android devices to see that Nintendo was really smart to embrace that format while still throwing a bone to the “hardcore” so they could play the games on their TV.
It’s not a gimmick like the Wii U’s GamePad. Instead this is Nintendo for once in their modern era actually evolving to embrace the trajectory of modern gaming, and in some ways even being ahead of the mindset of a segment of gamers who are resistant to change. It’s not risky and it’s very smart. I’m excited by this Nintendo grabbing core gamers and basically saying “evolve or die”. If you want to play the latest (perfect) Nintendo titles like the masterpiece The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you’re going to be doing it on a tablet instead of a traditional console.