By Neil Merrett and Wormatron
In a relatively short space of time since its unveiling late last year, Nintendo has released its latest console, the Switch, on to an uncertain public well acquainted with your Xbox Ones and Playstation 4s.
From a purely financial point of view, Forbes, citing figures from gaming analysts Superdata, suggests that first year sales predictions are a bit “grim” for Nintendo’s hybrid handheld and home console system, which is proving to be a unique prospect nonetheless.
“SuperData estimates that the Nintendo Switch will sell 5 million units in 2017, so effectively its first 10 months between March 3 to Dec 31,” noted Forbes.
“They cite that it may be difficult to penetrate a market as a “second console” for many players, given the combined 79m install base of the PS4 and Xbox One.”
Writing for the publication, Paul Tassi disputes the analyst’s findings that the console comes with a high starting prince and a lack of strong launch titles.
“US$300 was the best price the Switch was ever going to get, and while I think that it needs a pack-in game, I don’t think the price will be a barrier,” said Tassi.
“And the report itself acknowledges that Zelda will drive sales, but Breath of the Wild, now racking up a collection of perfect review scores, will be one of the strongest launch titles for any new console in recent memory, so I believe they may be underestimating i.t
But how does it play?
After a week with the machine – the perks of a gaming journo – Parsons argued that it delivers largely on the mission statement, a triumph of design and functionality, even with a limited launch line-up of games, except for one flagship title.
“I’m still marvelling at the design and functionality of the hardware. The tablet-based console slides home with a reassuring click and the game continues on the telly exactly where you left off. That same click happens when you add or remove the brightly-coloured JoyCon controllers,” he said.
“If versatility is the guiding light of the Nintendo Switch, then the storied Japanese company has nailed it right out of the gate.”
However, Parsons argued that the console was not without its challenges and setbacks that may puzzle audiences not familiar and besotted with the sometimes mysterious ways of Nintendo, when compared to more technically powerful machines.
“Arriving with a price tag of £279 , the Switch is more expensive than either of its immediate competition (save the PS4 Pro) and that’s before you’ve even thrown in a £45 game. Want an additional controller? That’ll be £64,” he said.
Taking a more technical view on the new system, Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry argues that the Switch is a concept that the company’s maligned Wii U console should have been, with a number of its predecessor’s games set to be made available in the coming months.
“It’s a better built machine, sporting higher grade materials, an innovative Joy-Con controller setup, and a gorgeous screen. The company’s strength in handheld design is clearly tapped into, and while it may be pushed as a home console first, it’s more appetising to see it as the successor to the 3DS,” said Thomas Morgan.
“Switch rightly takes the crown as the most powerful dedicated gaming handheld right now, but the bonus is its effective, and seamless home console mode.”
Despite the praise, Morgan argues the hybrid concept is not without limitations, whether in the battery struggling to last beyond three hours of more intensive games such as Legend of Zelda. Alternatively, when docked into the console unit for home usage, the known technical specification are beyond other available home systems such as the PS4 and Xbox One that have been available since 2013.
“There’s no denying this is still a compelling piece of technology. Putting aside the controller sync issues and an unconvincing stand, there’s a lot to celebrate. The Joy-Cons adapt brilliantly to any situation, and the tablet is ruggedly built in most other regards, with a smart finish, delivering games at a quality beyond anything we’ve seen on a handheld,” said Morgan.
“It’s a cliché, but the value of any hardware rests on great software, and it’s Nintendo that will be the one to watch going forward. As the years roll on, we can fully expect the Switch’s potential will be better tapped into, and fine-tuned to impressive results.”
So that’s what the experts think, but what about the casual idiot on the streets, brace yourselves for the first few hours of what we casually call Wormquest.
As a historic record, Squareblind will be live streaming the realities of console innovation in the second decade of the 21st century here:
We will also be running a live blog of reaction, mirth and Joy Con frustration – Click here for updates.
23:23 Fortune favours the Joy Con – Bloggers and gamers have been in certain cases experiencing issues with the left Joy Cons, a situation Squareblind seems to have avoided so far. In some cases, first day patches have resolved possible issues experienced by individuals, with recommendations to attach the controls to the Switch during downloading. However, other solutions include the classic spend to overcome solution of getting a ‘pro-controller’ .
When the left Joy-Con is working, I’m experiencing extreme lag on the input. I installed the system firmware.
— Andrew Reiner (@Andrew_Reiner) March 3, 2017
repeating myself here, but: i had zero disconnection issues with the switch pro controller. it’s a 70 dollar solution, but there you go.
— Arthur Gies (@aegies) March 3, 2017
22:53 Tommy’s been in touch – No updates from the security footage on the missing Switch, so he’s sking for divine support. If you know of a deity with a love of Zelda, his involvement would be appreciated right about now by one scrappy developer..
@squareblind No updates as of yet! My thoughts and prayers are with me now though.
— Tommy Refenes (@TommyRefenes) March 3, 2017
22:29 Missing Switch for Meatboy co-creator PART Deux – Will this is developing fast, Tommy has now created a hashtag for the ordeal. We’re facing #Switchgate everyone. As it stands, warehouse staff continue to search, the developer has got a $US100 voucher as it stands. But will he get his console. We’re into the dark side of first world problems here.
22:19 BREAKING NEWS missing Switch for Meatboy co-creator – @TommyRefenes, known as the creator of Mirthful platform challenger Super Meatboy has taken action into his own hands over a missing Switch, that he has allegedly ordered. We’ll keep you posted on developments..
at Amazon now warehouse trying to find my shit https://t.co/28jqYfHiwa
— Tommy Refenes (@TommyRefenes) March 3, 2017
22:00 Passive aggression and bomberman – There is a lot to appreciate in the social scope of the olde Switch, up to eight players gaming whenever they want. But that is an awful lot of time spent playing with friends. Is it worth buying someones asks on Twitch of a £50 retro-themed title? Probably depends on the quality of companion.
18:10 Taste test time – It seems that the widely reported fact that Nintendo has produced Switch cartridges with a bitter acidic test have come under robust testing
Doesn’t taste like anything tbh pic.twitter.com/VXVof1mo4f
— Dave Jewitt (@IrregularDave) March 3, 2017
— squareblind.co.uk (@squareblind) March 3, 2017
17:40 Sony gets in on the magnanimous thing – Another gaming rival seemingly happy join Microsoft on welcoming an official ‘second console’ into the market. Will this goodwill last into the lucrative Christmas period in 2017?
Today’s a big day for @Nintendo! Congratulations on launch, we can’t wait to play. 💙
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) March 3, 2017
17:15 Back to Fast RMX – It is easy to lose oneself in paper craft. Racing it is.
16:38 Why have you deserted us? – In terms of paper craft highjinks, it seems the audiences are somewhat more somewhat more muted than HD futuristic hover racing – go figure.
— twitch.tv/wormatron (@TheWormatron) March 3, 2017
16:02 On to the Snipper Clips – Out come the Joy cons for a charming bit of paper craft theme-puzzling with Snipper Clips. Friendships may well end during this. It seems that the “right way” will be whoever owns the Switch in question. But immensely satisfying snipping your partner into handles and wineglass shapes to capture fireflies or make your pliable to be picked up by an amusement crane.
15:28 Beware the claw – Questions remain over the shape and size of the Joy Con controllers when clipped together in console mode. Worm particularly concerned about Cerpal Tunner Syndrome – he could just be melodramatic. But the shoulder buttins are rather smashed together!!!! Thank heavens for the Pro-controller. It must be worth £65 if professional is in the name.
15:23 Fast RMX, the RMX stands for remix – Is it Wipeout? Is it F-zero? Essentially it is colour matching at high speed, but a possible winner to share and tear when out with the Switch.
14:59 Bomberman Down – Well that escalated quickly. A welcome return to multiplayer story man on Bomberman has led to a humiliating defeat to the first boss and his nefarious magnetic bombs. Akin to a repeat of DeepBlue vs Kasparov. The machines have won. The Switch is greater than an average human mind.
14:21 Bomberman Brothers – What better way to embrace the future and a new console, than a classic two player story-mode bomberman, not seen since the early days of the Super Nintendo.
14:11 Wiggle Waggle – He has his water, and a pot noodle is on the boil as the day one patch is loaded. However, the excitable Worm has some concerns over the console’s build quality, not least in the docking of the Switch, although the screen is banging. There is a lack of satisfying click of the much advertised Switch from Hand held to home console, he opines.
14:08 #JesuisNintendo – The console is not proving everyone’s cup of tea, not least at it’s current flashpoint, but interesting response from those not supping up the cool aid. Even rivals are getting involved, how long will it last if the console starts making inroads to mainstream gamers?
I’m not an Nintendo person. I’m not impressed with the Switch.
But if you are, and you got one, have many funs with the Zelda games.
— Xbox Canada (@XboxCanada) March 3, 2017
13:30 Heroic beginnings – Heroic effort from Ian at DPD to get the Switch to Wormy towers. The 63rd Switch delivery he estimates to have made today with a customer list well into triple figures. System update underway….