With the recent reveal of the Nintendo Switch, and it’s impending launch day of March 3rd fast approaching, I have been going on…and on…and ON about the system. Picking apart and analyzing every little bit of the Switch hardware, software coming out, and Nintendo’s general hype building in preparation for their big move.
It’s really looking like a “wait and see” scenario right now, with Nintendo taking their sweet time getting up off their asses to deliver.
In my attempts to analyze the Big N’s strategies involving the Switch, I’ve voiced my opinion that I can’t quite shake the idea they didn’t learn the right lessons from the Wii U, as it looks as if they are repeating them in due process. Mounting launch costs (both console and add on prices), unproven tech involving gimmicks like HD Rumble and IR sensor on the controllers (“Joy-Cons”), and a seemingly rushed launch day that currently looks to be doing more harm than good, and I’ve got this familiar sinking feeling in my stomach I’ve felt before.
With all of that in mind, I’m constantly reexamining my critique of the Switch, to attempt to see the value of what Nintendo is offering. I preordered the thing, dammit, so I’m really not trying to put myself off before launch day. If anything, without straining myself at least, I want to be genuinely excited to finally get the Switch in my hands come March 3rd. A bad console launch is one of the last things a gamer wants to suffer from, right next to the effects of pregaming with Everclear.
I’ve already come to terms with the idea that the Switch launching so early in the year really indicates a “Soft Launch”, kind of an attempt at Nintendo’s part on rushing the thing to market, to strengthen it’s value and better prepare the machine for it’s destined money making holiday window later this year.
Considering how hard Nintendo royally dropped the ball on software last year for the Wii U, it’s not like they have the luxury of just not making money for the majority of this year, so the earlier Switch date makes sense, at least from a business stand point. Having seen what Nintendo has to offer, it leads me to believe it is from a business stand point only that the Switch will deliver initially, but I have my fingers crossed.
While I still intend on writing an article about what appears to be the only saving grace of the Switch during it’s launch period (Zelda: Breath of the Wild), I thought I would take one more moment to look at a few of the other exclusive *NEW titles on the Switch, that Nintendo is hoping will get our engines revved.
I mean, come on guys. That is like 95% an already released game, and due to the Switch’s online not even being ready at launch, MK8 will have more functionality on the Wii U than the Switch till later this year.
The three titles I’m taking a closer look at today are ARMS, Snipperclips, and 1,2 Switch, all exclusive titles for Nintendo’s upcoming console. I will take a moment to figure out what these unique titles are bringing to the table with the Switch, and whether or not they will help to make the launch day fantastic.
I am now going to take this moment to immediately douse your flames of excitement, by reminding you that only one of these games is day one (1,2 Switch), with Snipperclips dropping a couple weeks later, and ARMS tentatively positioned for Q2 (April, May, June).
Oh yeah, did I mention the Switch will only have 7 games on launch day, only two of which are exclusive? Excited yet?
Starting with a look at our first “launch game” with ARMS, this game takes a slightly different approach to the 3D fighter, with a behind the shoulder approach of fisticuffs, relying on combos, grabs, dodging, and strategic weapon usage rolled into an accessible fighter. Think Punch Out! meets Wii Boxing.
I remember the lead designer at the Switch presentation referencing “Rock, Paper, Scissors” when speaking about ARMS, and after the Live Treehouse event, it looks as if roshambo had a stronger inspiration for this title than I initially imagined, as the title has a heavy emphasis on countering with the right move at the right time design.
A basic, but somewhat strategic mix up kind of game.
The big stand out question for me while watching ARMS being demoed was whether or not it would have the same lasting longevity as a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors; seeing the light of day only in moments of bored indecisiveness. The game was exhaustively referred to as accessible, which is worrying to hear for a fighting game, as most of the greatest have a mandatory jumping on point of difficulty you just have to struggle with.
Needless to say, I was not able to discern in such a short amount of time whether or not the title had a serious meta-game to it, or whether or not it would basically devolve into a mindlessly satisfying button masher, but one of the reps did mention “frame advantage”, which inspired some confidence.
I think ARMS has a chance of being the most memorable of this presently discussed launch bunch, even if we have to (sadly) wait a couple months to see if that’s the case. The rep mentioned that ARMS wisely took a page out of the Wii U’s failed play book, by offering up both traditional and motion controls for the title, giving players options in the matter.
Having said that, the rep also drew a comparison to Splatoon, citing the motion controls as the more ideal option with very little practice. Considering Splatoon turned out to be a surprise darling proving gryoscopic controls can work efficiently in a competitive arena, ARMS may yet surprise gamers with a depth of play and addictive quality only the Switch’s Joy-Cons can offer.
OR it may just be a $60 drop in the bucket which will recount the same awkward arm flailing simulator Wii Boxing did at 100% of the cost but…we’ll have to wait and see.
Next up on our “Will they won’t they give a shit about Nintendo launch titles?” quiz comes Snipperclips. Snipperclips is a co-op puzzle experience, which sees two players going through a series of puzzles they must work together to solve, in what I’m guessing will be an unforgiving, tough as nails take on the puzzle genre.
Upon first glance, it doesn’t look like Snipperclips is looking to challenge the members of Mensa, or will even give Professor Layton a run for his puzzle making money, as Snipperclips looks to be a cutesy, quirky, quaint, co-op experience you and your closest non-gaming buddy may get a laugh out of, however.
The main hook of the game has both characters being able to “snip” the other, cutting the partner into a relevant tool that can help solve the current puzzle. The few examples they showed were incredibly simple, from popping a balloon to sharpening a pencil.
There was no time limit, and the players could be reset on the fly, with virtually no way of failing. The game appeared exceedingly forgiving AND seemingly impossible to lose at even, leaving me wondering if the most puzzling aspect of the title was who it was actually aiming to challenge.
I concluded very quickly Snipperclips was indeed that ideal couples/family game: the title that is the stop gap between the core and casual gamer of the bunch, the gateway drug to help coax along the unsuspecting Zelda-less heathens of our lives.
While not impressed by Snipperclips, I will at least concede the demographics for this game do exist, and at a $20 price point, despite having no seriously redeeming qualities aside from a charming aesthetic, Snipperclips may not need to do much else but lie dormant next to a Nintendo logo on a store shelf to sell several million copies.
1,2 Switch is next on the agenda, looking to comfortably fill that token mini-game launch compilation slot Nintendo is so fond of filling. Unlike the benefit Wii Sports had with the freshness the motion controls brought with it, or the appealing promise Nintendo Land ultimately failed to inspire other games to follow up on, 1,2 Switch looks only to be switching it up in terms of what’s left to scrape out of the bottom of the mini-game barrel.
And that is indeed a screenshot from 1,2 Switch, from the mini-game simply titled “Milk”, which doesn’t look like the richest experience from the demos thus far.1,2 Switch does include a variety of other mini-games of varying degrees of attractiveness, including Quick-Draw, Copy Dance, and Eating Contest.
The selection of mini-games packaged into 1,2 Switch shows off the questionable bells and whistles that Nintendo has packed into the Switch’s Joy-Cons, including the HD Rumble, and IR sensor, which help you interact in new, exciting ways you’ve only ever dreamed of.
The Treehouse Event showed off several of the mini-games involved, some of which, like Copy Dance and Table Tennis, were some of the few that had that fine balance between goofy and engaging. Others, like Eating Contest and the game simply entitled “Milk”, left a lot to be desired, as the novelty of the games seem so extreme, I wonder if either would get even a second chance after the 30 seconds of awkward novelty wore off.
Other games still, like Quick Draw and Samurai Training were more imagination than actual gameplay, upon further scrutiny. In both theory and execution, the titles offer some interactive charm, but when you get down to the nitty gritty, both players will effectively be interacting with either game a mere second or so and a single button press.
With all of this in mind, I’m not sure whether to applaud Nintendo for their ingenuity of having the player be apart of this abstract design, or smack my head in disbelief that the big N found a way to sell you the idea of a game, and for you to imagine the rest.
All that said, Nintendo really is selling you more of an experience with 1,2 Switch than genuine, hard data gameplay, as 1,2 Switch heavily relies on the players to complete the idea, through enthusiastic participation and role playing, in a sense.
In fairness, the Treehouse Live event only showed a handful of mini-games, and IGN’s write up of their hands on mentions Nintendo’s reassurance that these represented a small portion of what’s on offer, but I must insist, Nintendo perhaps is starting to scrape the bottom of the mini-game barrel to come up with any more creative endeavors in the min-game launch line up arena.
1,2 Switch doesn’t have the advantage of the previous two mini-game compilations had, not being bundled in with the system, and debuting with a $50 price point, it looks so far through previews of the game that 1,2 Switch is the hardest sell yet from Nintendo’s token mini-game launch compilation lineup. The game seems to lack the robustness Wii Sports managed, and fails to be that hectic insanity Wario Ware has perfected, while still lacking the more abstract design approaches of Nintendo Land.
Despite all of the obstacles I see standing in this title’s way, if we consider the almost non-existent variety of savory Switch games at launch, and the stupid gimmicks I always underestimate the general populace totally eating up, 1,2 Switch may prove me wrong in terms of sales.
I’m shooting in the dark here by saying this game isn’t packaged in with the Switch, because Nintendo either doesn’t want to send the message that this is their mission statement for the Switch, or they don’t have a lot of games at launch and need every last title to round out it’s roster.
This might be a little from column A, little from column B scenario, but whatever the truth is between the two, I’m comfortable in pointing out this certainly feels like a glorified tech demo for the Joy-Con functionality, and an attempt to justify the “HD Rumble tax” that helps contribute to the $70 price point that the Joy Con’s are going for…without mentioning the extra $30 charging grip that compliments the controllers.
I was about to conclude the article with some final thoughts, but remembered at the last second there was one more launch title worth ridicu…err, analyzing, and let me reassure you, the joy I have in bringing forth discussion about the game and it’s developer staggers me.
Yes, gaming fans, it looks as if Konami has taken time out of their busy schedule of mailing envelopes filled with piss to Hideo Kojima and counting their pachinko machine profits to hype Bomberman R, exclusive to the Nintendo Switch. A throw back to the old school Bomberman titles you kinda remember from the 90’s, you’ll get to relive the classic days of blowing you and your friends up as you walk down memory lane with an *unbeatable franchise.
To its credit, Bomberman R does look as faithful as any of the old school titles you may remember, but with swanky new HD visuals. Despite a faithfulness to the original formula, I stand annoyed at Konami for a vast number of reasons, including picking Bomberman out of their huge stable of available properties to go with (see above), while simultaneously failing to generate hype for the Switch.
Out of all of Konami’s offerings, this seems like one of the weakest picks they could have gone with. Especially compared to the rest of what they have; no one’s going out to buy this console for Bomberman.
It’s not even as if Bomberman is the only cost effective/low overhead game out of their old franchises they could have developed for the Switch that would have made bigger splashes, either. Ignoring the massive hype franchises like Zone of the Enders, Suikoden, or Silent Hill would have brought forth as launch titles, I feel as if other simplistic old school titles like Goemon, Gradius, or Contra would have spoken to far louder fan bases on either side of the globe.
Hell, even a remixed/repackaged Castlevania would have caught a lot of peoples attentions.Plus, it would have competed with Konami’s former star employee Igarashi, and his spiritual successor to the Castlevania series Bloodstained, which is the kind of pettiness I feel Konami really shoots for.
Again, Bomberman R looked fun, even if the demo was the only one in the entire event that had troubles with controller connectivity, which made me unsure whether or not Konami informed their rep it would be an additional five dollars to unlock player two’s controller. The old school charm for Bomberman R wore off pretty quickly of course, as I waited with bated breath for the moment of truth…
It’s more likely than you think.
And before I launch off into an exhaustive rant about Konami’s infinitely stupid ingame practices, I will give them the SLIGHTEST moment of pause, in admitting I was unable to find out whether or not it was easier to earn gems solely in-game, or primarily through real world currency. It’s likely you can just gain the gems through in game play, no biggie.
I still however, wouldn’t put it past Konami to roll out some pay 2 play bullshit in some form, just because they can. Considering the shop tab is one of the only visible on the main menu of Bomberman R…
…and that Konami has a notorious reputation for shoving micro-transactions into their other franchises, including allowing you to skip playing their games by paying to “achieve” 100% status, and further destroying huge series with cheap pay to play gimmicks like Castlevania and more recently MGS V…
I honestly don’t even care if I’m being a knee jerk alarmist here: any chance I get to turn up my nose at any possible Konami misstep I will more than gladly take.
I felt as if I had some grand finale to close on, but it’s 6 AM and I don’t care anymore. So there you have it: a slew of reasons why the Switch is testing my patience, and why I question myself when I immediately preorder new consoles, despite knowing video game system launches are fool’s errands, and why I’d be better off just waiting a year and a half for either the first big price drop, or the third killer app worth having.
I guess much like Nintendo, I will never learn how to do it right.