Sparse Launch Lineup
Console launches generally aren’t things to write home about, but the Switch lineup is looking especially sparse on the Nintendo front. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the big leader of the pack, launching day one on March 3.
By itself, Zelda may be enough to surge interest in the system, but any other big series would still help at launch. The system will also be getting a fun looking party title called 1-2 Switch. Besides that, Skylanders Imaginators and Just Dance 2017 are the only other games confirmed for day one right now.
It’s strange to think that only two Nintendo games are confirmed for launch day, and most of the titles announced by Nintendo, including Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2, are still coming with no firm release date. The Wii carried 21 day-one titles in the US, and after the Wii U failed to capture attention initially, Nintendo should be looking to push out compelling titles for the Switch before too long.
Expensive Controllers and Accessories
The Nintendo Switch is a console like no other, letting you play at home and on the go. As such, it’s going to have quite a few accessories and controllers. The Joy-Con controllers that slide into the sides of the Switch tablet are the main feature, but there’s also a Pro controller available. The only problem, however, is that controllers and extras for the system are going to cost you quite a bit.
The Switch comes with both the left and the right Joy-Con, the basic controllers. But if you want a standard style controller with the Pro, you’re going to have to shell out $69.99. That’s more than the price of a brand new Switch game. Additionally, buying anymore than the two Joy-Cons that come with the system will set you back $49.99 for one, or $79.99 for a pair. These are pretty steep prices for a system that looks to be so co-op and party play friendly.
Of course, there’s already a few extra accessories like you’d expect, with a pair of wheel accessories for $14.99 or a Joy-Con Charging Grip for $25. It just seems like a strange decision for Nintendo to charge so much for extra controllers, as the Switch Pro manages to be more expensive than both the DualShock 4 and Xbox One controller.
Nintendo has a fairly solid looking lineup of multiplayer and party games coming like 1-2 Switch, Arms, Splatoon 2, and more. With their usual family focus and a reasonably priced $300 system, such pricey peripherals may not be as friendly.
Paid Online Multiplayer with Few Benefits So Far
Shortly after the Switch presentation, we found out that online multiplayer will be free when the Switch launches in March. However, once Nintendo’s paid online system is in place this fall, you’ll need to pay a subscription fee to play games online. While this isn’t necessarily unheard of (PS Plus also had a free trial period), it’s not an easy move for Nintendo.
Nintendo has never had any form of payed online before; this is something entirely new to the Switch, and a cost that may throw off some longtime fans. Hopefully, Nintendo’s online system has been optimized enough to warrant paying a monthly fee, as the Wii and Wii U would have had a hard time justifying any kind of pay with their slim online offerings. This is doubly true considering that Splatoon 2, a huge multiplayer title, is set to launch before the paid system is introduced. Players transitioning from the Wii U will get invested in Splatoon 2, then have the to shell out more money to continue playing the game online once fall rolls around.
Depending on the price range, the Switch’s Online Service may drop an uncomfortable and unjustified price tag down the line. We do know that subscribers will get access to a free NES or SNES game each month, but at the end of the month, that game goes away.
It may be a good idea for Nintendo to have some kind of scaling price system, with additional downloadable content, deals, or features available for higher subscriptions. This would allow users to feel like they’re getting more bang for their buck after the initial trial period ends.
At the very least, they should include a free trial for the online subscription for anyone that purchases a Switch at anytime. Purchasing a brand new console and then having to immediately put more money down to play online is an incredibly difficult sell. A one or two month trial would allow new players to see what Nintendo’s new system has to offer and if it’s worth it for them, rather than giving an initial bad impression with a pay wall.
Small Internal Memory
The Wii U had an abysmal internal memory size, leading many players to go out and purchase extra USB sticks or hard drives to use. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this has changed with the Switch, as the system only has 32GB of internal storage. This is especially confusing in the wake of a more digital push from Nintendo, like getting a free downloadable NES or SNES game if you subscribe to their monthly online service.
Video games in general have been making a big push towards digital distribution, with even the 3DS releasing some titles as download only. Now, the Switch storage can be upgraded with Micro SD cards, but this is still another additional purchase that you have to make. It’s going to get pretty pricey if you plan on downloading a bunch of games on your Switch, and have to keep buying additional SD cards on top of everything else.
While the competing systems, Xbox One and PS4, have hard drives that can reach up to 1TB now, the lack of internal storage for the Switch is just baffling. The cartridge-based system for titles may help cut down on installation sizes, and maybe Nintendo has found a way to reduce sizes overall for the system. At the moment, however, it just seems like a big missed opportunity.
No Pack-In Title at Launch
Nintendo announced what you’ll get inside the Switch box when you pick one up at launch, and strangely it doesn’t come with a free pack-in game. The last few Nintendo systems have had a tradition of giving purchasers one game that really shows off the capabilities of the new system.
That’s why it seems so odd that Nintendo didn’t immediately announced a free game that instantly comes with the Switch, something that 1-2 Switch looks perfect for. A party title with a fun twist that has you concentrating on other players instead of the screen – it’s a great way to show off what makes Switch special. The fighting games Arms could have been another good choice, as it requires the use of the Joy-Con controllers and could show off Switch’s graphical capabilities.
Maybe in the coming weeks Nintendo will announce a free download for all Switch purchasers, but at this point in time it doesn’t look like we’re getting a free game.
HD Rumble Joy-Con Controllers, and Few Games Using Them
The new Joy-Con controllers for the Switch are neat little pieces of hardware with some surprising functions. First off, the Joy-Cons just pop on and off of the actual Switch tablet system itself, but they also feature motion sensing and some scarily accurate rumble.
During Nintendo’s presentation, the company touched on some of the tech aspects of the controller, saying it can tell whether your hand is in a rock, paper, or scissors gesture. Nintendo uses the term HD Rumble as a new feature for the Joy-Con, noting how the new technology increases the tactile feedback you feel from the controllers. During the presentation they described how you can feel the sensations of shaking a glass with ice cubes in it, and then water pouring into that glass. If the technology on they Joy-Con works correctly, the new rumble features could be a really interesting addition to gameplay.
These are incredibly cool features, to be sure, but at this point there aren’t a ton of games that take advantage of motion control and rumble. Right now, 1-2 Switch looks to be the only title fully utilizing the Joy-Con features, with other titles like Arms on the way. For something that Nintendo put a big emphasis on during their presentation, it’s a little weird there aren’t more titles to immediately utilize the new technology.
No Trophy/ Achievement System
A Trophy or Achievement system seemed like an obvious feature going into Nintendo’s Switch unveiling, but we didn’t hear any indication that the console will be getting one. We’ve had rewards systems like this on PlayStation and Xbox for years, and while the Achievement craze isn’t what it once was, many people still love completing extra challenges and earning that Gamerscore.
Recently, with Nintendo’s mobile titles, we’ve seen basic trophy systems awarding players with medals that they can then spend on extra digital content or discounts. You could speculate about this being a testing ground for a full Achievement system, but it’s hard to say anything definitively right now.
Even if it’s a feature coming down the road, Trophies/ Achievements seems like such a small addition that could boost a player’s enjoyments of titles. Hopefully, we can see some kind of addition further down the road.