It’s no secret round these parts that I have a teeny, tiny soft spot for Nintendo. The company more or less defined my experience of videogames for a good decade, from my first Game Boy right through to the tail-end of the GameCube era, when I began to feel the pull of the PC, with its endless specs and promises of power. Even since then though, I’ve stuck by Nintendo, going through the Wii, the 3DS, and the Wii U with hardly a complaint (well, maybe the occasional one about the Wii U…), and even picking up a PS4 last year felt in some strange way like a betrayal.
With all that in mind, it’s not exactly a surprise that I’ve already put down a pre-order for a Nintendo Switch, and I think you’d struggle to find any of my close friends who wouldn’t have laid money on it. I just kind of hoped I’d feel a bit happier about the decision.
Here in the UK, Nintendo’s live presentation aired at 4am, and despite a brief pull to set an alarm for 3:55, I eventually (wisely) decided it could probably wait until a more human hour. Still, I work up earlier than normal, to give myself time to watch the trailers, sort through the news, read the specs, and place that pre-order, all before heading into work to spend the whole day writing up that very same news.
“Zelda looks great obviously, but it sort of has to, doesn’t it?”
I remember the sinking feeling kicking in pretty quickly. Top of the Eurogamer livestream when I woke up was that UK price point: £280, a pretty vicious, Brexit-inspired alternative to the American $300. That’s £20 more than I paid for a PS4 Slim in September, and now a good chunk more than you’d pay for the same PS4 bundled together with a game or two. Throw in the extortionate, mounting controller and accessory prices, the need to pick up an SD card to make up for the laughable 32GB storage, and the fact that even the games themselves have enjoyed a price hike up to £60, and the Switch began to look like a weighty burden for my already strained credit card.
Luckily, the games were there to lift my spirits. Did you watch that Zelda: Breath of the Wild trailer? Go watch it. I didn’t think I could possibly be more excited for the game before Nintendo unveiled that footage, and now I’m genuinely struggling to cope with living in a world where that game exists and I haven’t played it yet. Super Mario Odyssey looks like the sort of trippy, surrealist fare that only Nintendo can create with such verve and polish – sure, the unbearably named New Donk City looks unsettling to say the least, but most of Nintendo’s finest have had an uncomfortable edge to them, a twisted subversion below the bubblegum exterior. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe I can probably do without, just because I already own it, but I’m so there for Splatoon 2 after my frankly unhealthy obsession with the first. Even Arms looks like it could be pretty great. I’ve never bought a boxing game in my life, but trust Nintendo to find some twist to tempt me into it.
“I’m having dark visions of the Wii U.”
Except other than Zelda – a game originally meant to release years ago on a different console, remember – none of these are going to be there at launch. Instead, we get Bomberman, Skylanders, and Just Dance, backed up by 1-2-Switch, a game I’d be thrilled about if it came bundled with the console, but can’t quite bring myself to pay full price for. And yeah, Zelda looks great obviously, but it sort of has to, doesn’t it? Because it’ll probably be the only Switch game I own for a good few months – at least until the vague ‘spring 2017’ release of Arms, if not Splatoon 2 in the summer.
I’m having dark visions of the Wii U, a console that I don’t exactly regret buying, but which has been gathering dust for so long that I would seriously struggle to justify the purchase to anyone who asked, let alone ever recommend anyone else ever take the plunge. When the biggest confirmed third party game is a port of a six-year-old Bethesda RPG you know things are looking ropey (come on Ubisoft, please just confirm Beyond Good & Evil 2 for the Switch already and put us out of our misery!), and I can’t help but feel that the Switch will once again be nothing more than a very expensive box that you need to own if you want to play Nintendo games, the extortionate cost of entry to being a fan of EAD Tokyo.
“I’m an addict and Nintendo is my dealer.”
And there’s the rub, isn’t it? Because I haven’t really pre-ordered a Switch. I’ve pre-ordered Breath of the Wild. And because I’m a brazen lunatic, I’m willing to spend £300 to play it with slightly crisper HD graphics and maybe play it on a train every now and then. And because some idiot somewhere along the line left me in charge of my own money, I can (and will) make terrible decisions like that. I’ll buy a Switch to make sure I’m playing the best version of Zelda, to play Splatoon 2 even though it looks more like a port than a sequel, to get my hands on Super Mario Odyssey even if it gives me twisted nightmares about misproportioned plumbers roving the streets of New York, doing backflips off yellow cabs.
I’m an addict, Nintendo is my dealer, and I’d probably sell off a grandmother if I had any left in order to get my next high. So I’ll be there on March 3rd, Switch clutched in hand. I’m probably booking the day off work, and I’ve already warned my girlfriend. And yeah, it’ll probably then sit unloved for a while, waiting for the next first party game in Nintendo’s spotty release calendar. But I’ll have played Zelda. So it’ll be worth it.