Impressionistic Impressions of the Nintendo Switch Presentation

The Switch Itself

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$299 is an interesting price, but more interesting still is the lack of a rigid European number. I suspect we have an unstable currency to blame. Ah! The silent hand of Brexit rears, ready to strike consumers from across the pond. An easily foreseen consequence of one of the most disastrous socio-political decisions of the 21st century. Always fun when global economics pokes its head in to leer at us gamers.

No region locking is a choice that doesn’t particularly benefit me – I’ve never thought, boy, I’d like to play this video game, but I HATE understanding all the words! – but I enjoy increased freedoms enough to feel joy for all the speedrunners and collectors out there. Did you feel that? That’s Nintendo loosening our bondage a little. How naughty.

Also, President Tatsumi Kimishima used a switch pun to land his segue. Double naughty. I like it.

Keeping with this sensual theme, I suspect snapping in the detatchable joy-cons will be quite… satisfying. Nintendo is a tactile-minded organization, and there are so many little slots and ports to play around with. The dock for home TV-play. The dual joycons. They even come with wrist straps – kinky. Do you think I’m getting a little too horny for this? Let me assure you, no one is more excited by the Switch’s potential for erotic titillations than Nintendo themselves.

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I rest my case.

If there exists one word to sum up the Switch, let it be: Liberation. It can be played on a TV, as a tabletop stand, or as a handheld. “Play indoors, outdoors – anywhere you like.” Fabulous. Nintendo has succeeded in making TV console gaming seem so… missionary. Are you into group play? Invite a friend – each joycon can be used as an individual controller. Maybe you’ve had a bit of wine and you’re interested in a high endurance session? The battery lasts from two-and-a-half to six-and-a-half hours. Or, charge the system as you play – the fun only stops when you want it to. Exhibitionists can make use of the screenshot button, and Nintendo has even promised video recording capabilities in the future – an exciting prospect for amateur filmmakers.

Nintendo shall make libertines of us all.

Listen, I think you get the point here. The Nintendo Switch is a deeply erotic console. But that’s exciting. That’s important. Where the last two consoles possessed passing novelty, the Switch holds allure. Nintendo has something special here – something that sets it apart from being: Console, but by Nintendo. During this year’s Giantbomb #Weed3 livestream, Dave Lang said: “Never count Nintendo out.” Truer words were never spoken – the Switch is Nintendo’s best console debut in years. Now we just have to wait and see come release: March 3, 2017.[1]

The Games

1, 2, Switch

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Nintendo’s typical Hardware-Presentation-as-Minigame fodder, à la Wii Sports. Ahhhh. Like a cold beer after a long day at work – something to look forward to, but not to be overindulged in. Hone your dexterity with gun dueling, shaving, and cow-milking – among other phallic activities. Fun for the whole family.

 ARMS

FUCK YOU, THIS VIDEO GAME IS JUST CALLED ARMS. I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO GIVE YOU EITHER CONTEXT OR EXPLANATION, OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT THIS NINTENDO VIDEO GAME IS CALLED ARMS. INCREDIBLE. I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE SEQUEL, LEGS.

Splatoon 2

Guys, Nintendo gets it. The Splatoon 2 presentation was delivered by a man in a labcoat (Producer Hisashi Nogami) rocking akimbo squid-gun accessories, giving a role-playing monologue that treated the Splatoon universe as completely, totally, 100% real. In a phrase: Chaotic Good. This is the essence of Splatoon’s memetic identity – from “You’re a kid now / You’re a squid now” to the meme-hub that was its lobby, Splatoon was always destined for devilish mayhem. Also, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved to see Nintendo follow through on a new property. But of course, we know they would never leave a beloved IP out to die.

Never ever.

Super Mario Odyssey

We all laughed and said, “Look! Mario is invading our world!” But is it not us that is invading his? I fear for our small plumber friend. What will the weight of late capitalism introduce into his mind, his demeanor? Will we begin to hear a tired lilt in his whimsy? Will the oppressive specter of The City not slow his step? Dampen his joyous expressions?

At the very least, the trailer confirmed what I already knew: Bowser is, indeed, a sexy dad. And, in that, take what small comfort you can. This is the end of Mario as we understand him. This is his awakening. His bildungsroman. His Odyssey.

Xenoblade 2

I think I am, perhaps, the worst person on earth to give you impressions of a JRPG. I think – and know that I say this without a shred of irony or doubt – that the JRPG is worst genre in all of gaming. I understand what it is, why it is, and why people like it. I am simply not one of those people. Here are my impressions:

There were several overdesigned characters, an overdesigned sword, and an overdesigned giant monster. They moved around awkwardly, spoke some toothless dramatic dialogue for which I have absolutely no context, and stared at an open field while the title “Xenoblade 2” faded in on the screen. I’m sure it will be a fine game that I will have next to no interest in.

Skyrim

This confuses and excites me. I’m not sure why anyone would want to play Skyrim on the Switch. Not because Skyrim is a bad game, or because the Switch is a bad console, but because we’ve played Skyrim on so many platforms, so many times now. The market for this seems… exhausted. But I’ve been wrong before. Maybe people really do love Skyrim that much.

What excites me is that this seems like a sign of future collaboration between Nintendo and Bethesda. Even if it just means Bethesda’s next property gets a Switch retail release alongside the Xbox One and the PS4, I’m happy for them. Though something in my gut tells me to expect more. Nintendo loves their exclusivity, and Bethesda isn’t above taking risks as a publisher. Keep an ear to the ground.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Not since the cartoonish swashbuckling of Wind Waker have we seen such a strong voice in a Zelda game. Twilight Princess dipped its toes into Lovecraftian cosmic horror, but didn’t have the chutzpa to fully realize the existential dread of an invasive parallel reality. Skyward Sword’s heart was in the right place – with its attempt to present the origins of the Zelda-verse as a mythic tale – but was ultimately unwound by the franchise’s legacy of open world design. What we’re looking at right now is the most straight-up anime-style presentation of a series that has long struggled to find its tonal identity. Too long it could coast on the novelty of innovation, but – now that the Zelda format is more ‘tried and true’ than ‘untried and bold’ – Nintendo has had to confront the fact that their Zelda stories are fairly pedestrian.

So, credit where credit is due – here are the two most important narrative changes Nintendo has brought to the table:

1) Voice acting.

This should go without saying, but grunts and barks don’t (and can’t) sell lofty drama. An epic confrontation with an ancient, eternal demon lacks punch when it looks down at you and goes “HURRR” for two seconds while you read a text box. But now we have voices that croon, and shout, and cry, which is doubly important because…

2) Emotions.

True fact about the Zelda franchise: there are only five looks across its entire near-three-decade history. Happy face, sad gaze, cruel pleasure, inquisitive head cock, surprise. I swear to god that this is true. So to see Zelda cry – cry! With tears and everything! – was nothing short of astounding. Now that Nintendo is taking the series in a loftier narrative direction, it is crucial that they take advantage of the next-gen hardware to breathe a little life into these stale, trope-y characters.

Despite their simplicity, these are some pretty bold changes for a franchise so obstinately rooted in its past. Even if Nintendo doesn’t stick the landing, this will be the Zelda game that we remember as the turning point for the series.

 

These have been my thoughts and musings on the Nintendo Switch presentation. I look forward to the Switch, and pray to god that I can afford it come release day. Thanks for reading.

 

Tom Loughney is a boy with severe economic anxieties and a content oeuvre that includes games writing, video game video analysis, and a storytelling podcast about major media. Follow him on twitter @loughnessmonstr

 

 

[1] Brief aside – everybody on stage kept snapping. Everyone in the promo videos kept snapping. All the music included snapping. Were we being hypnotized? Conditioned, somehow? What ghoulish machinations have we been embroiled in? All I know is that I really want to kill my congressman all of the sudden.

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