I received my confirmation that my Switch is on the way today with mixed feelings. There was a lot of excitement, but ambivalence as well.
I have a Switch coming because, as a member of the press, I'm obligated to get every major console as soon as possible for coverage purposes. With our review unit going to Mike, I sucked it up and dropped $350 on a Switch and a copy of Zelda. But the moment I hit the "confirm" button on my order, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. I knew at that moment that I probably would have waited until the fall to get a Switch if I weren't in the press.
As well as more grounded speculation about the form it's actually likely to take.
In the months since, my personal excitement has grown as I've had a chance to test the system for myself, as well as take a closer look at Zelda. Flaws aside, it's a neat little platform, and I'm sure I will have a lot of fun with it.
But would I buy it at launch? Ehhhh.
The Joy-Con issue looms over everything
It's not being talked about quite as much now, but the Switch's Joy-Con desync issue looms over everything. While Mike hasn't had as many problems as others, it's a pervasive problem that has affected multiple outlets. Today, Digital Foundry confirmed that the Day One patch, which rolls out many of the Switch's initial online features, does not resolve the desync issue.
Nintendo has been mostly silent on the issue, but they won't be able to avoid it much longer with the Switch about to reach the general public. It should be noted that this sort of thing happens all the time during console launches. Sony consoles in particular are notorious for their launch unit hardware hiccups, and everyone remembers the infamous red rings of death with the Xbox 360. It's usually better to just wait for the first hardware revision, no matter which console you buy. The Switch is no different.
There's no Virtual Console
Virtual Console is far from perfect, but that hasn't stopped me from loading up my Wii, 3DS, and Wii U with tons of old games (I think I've purchased Super Mario World four or five times now across different platforms). Sure, they're just ROMs, but sometimes it's nice to be able to dip into Ninja Gaiden or Super Mario Bros. 3 and feel the warm fuzzies.
The Switch's lack of Virtual Console at launch isn't exactly a deal breaker, particularly with Zelda sucking up so much of the oxygen; but Zelda isn't going to last forever, and it would be nice to be able to take a break and jump into a VC game from time to time. From the sound of it, the best we can hope for in the near-term is Nintendo's online service, which will offer free retro downloads each month for less than $30 a year. But as someone who never plays online with Nintendo consoles, I'm unlikely to get it. In the meantime, Virtual Console probably isn't getting a full rollout until this fall, when the Switch itself figures to be more mature. All the more reason to wait.
Zelda is on Wii U
Here's the real kicker: Breath of the Wild is going to be on Wii U. Sure, it'll look better on Switch (my recollection is that it's a fair bit clearer), but not so much better that it'll ruin my enjoyment of the Wii U version. This isn't exactly a standard definition versus high defition situation. Funnily enough, there's actually precedent for this, as I played Twilight Princess on the GameCube rather than the Wii. And you know what? I'm kind of glad I did. Twilight Princess really deserved to be enjoyed without the novelty motion controls.
Anyway, my point is that Zelda won't be so different on the Wii U. Being the kind of game it is, I'm also more likely to play it on my television, neutralizing one of the Switch's main selling points (though it'll be nice to have the option to move to my armchair and play with a cup of tea). If Zelda were only available on the Switch, it would be a whole different story. But it's not, so here we are.
The bulk of the games won't be out until fall
This is a broader issues with most launches. Even the PlayStation 4, which by most measures has been well-supported throughout its life, didn't get a truly killer exclusive until Bloodborne came around in early 2015. My old rule of thumb was that I would wait until a console had at least five must-own games before I decided to invest. The Switch has one in Zelda, but the rest are mostly party games (1-2 Switch) or indies that are available on other platforms.
Happily, things will get better this fall. More indie games will becomes available, Splatoon 2 and Mario Odyssey will arrive, and the Switch's library will begin to look more robust. But in the very near term, there's not going to be a lot to play on the thing outside of Zelda—a game that isn't even a platform exclusive. There's a reason it's being called a "soft launch."
And then there's everything else. I've already had plenty to say about the platform's comparatively high price, the ludicrously expensive accessories (which are completely sold out), the poor battery life, and the extremely limited storage. Just today, Nintendo revealed that the Switch will utilize Friend Codes, a system that should have been retired five years ago.
The fact of the matter is that there are more great games than ever; and even if you're a Nintendo diehard, the 3DS has an enormous library that is still well worth exploring. It's more than possible to wait on the Switch. In fact, if you're planning on standing in line at a midnight launch (cough, Nadia, cough), I would advise it.
But hey, I don't blame you if you're succumbing to the hype. Console launches are exciting, and the high price of admission includes being a part of the hype and the conversation. Hell, I just spent an entire article highlighting the Switch's issues, and I'm still pretty hyped to dig in to Zelda. There's really nothing like breaking into a new console for the first time.
But that feeling will still be there in the fall. Or even next year. And when you break it open, you'll have a much more fully-featured console and way more games to play. Sure, we all have our own preferences, and some people are just early adopters. But as for me, I'd probably wait.
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