The unveiling of the Nintendo Switch last week has generated a divisive if intrigued response from the gaming fraternity.
While the launch price and thin games lineup has generated plenty of angst among gamers, the hardware itself has people excited for the prospect of blockbuster AAA games being played on-the-go.
However, regardless of how impressive the console looks and feels, it needs good software to justify the purchase. And at $470 in Australia at launch, the Japanese gaming giant is working hard to stem skeptics of the console-handheld hybrid’s value.
When Switch launches on March 3, it will be sold alongside five games: The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, 1-2-Switch, Super Bomberman R, Skylanders Imaginators and Just Dance 2017. No matter your interest in that lineup, it’s incredibly thin, and shapes as an unimpressive and uninspiring start to the console’s life, even with the highly anticipated Breath Of The Wild in there.
Nintendo, however, isn’t concerned. Nintendo of America boss, Reggie Fils-Aime, has defended the launch lineup, telling CNET it isn’t not the “be-all and end-all” for the console.
To some degree he’s certainly right: Switch stands to get the likes of I Am Setsuna, Has-Been Heroes, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, among others, before May. Then there’s the likes of Splatoon 2, Fire Emblem Warriors, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Super Mario Odyssey before Christmas.
“It really is the steady pacing of content that continually reinforces for the people who bought into the platform why they made a smart choice,” Fils-Aime said, “as well as what compels people who might be sitting on the sidelines to jump in.”
This is an obvious counter to the issues the Wii U faced. Nintendo’s successor to the immensely popular Wii got off to a solid start upon release in late 2012, but interest quickly waned as the games lineup became increasingly sparse. Instead of spreading out releases, quarters of the year were stacked with multiple big-name launches, leaving Wii U owners without a new game for months at a time.
Nintendo says there are more than 80 games currently in development for Switch, and you have to wonder whether the likes of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2 are ready to go for launch, but are instead being held back to fluff the year with Switch releases.
Fils-Aime has been doing the rounds since last Friday’s Switch event, and spoke to Time about the natural progression of the hardware, and how in some regard, the Wii U was — despite its failures — a “necessary step” towards the Switch.
“And it’s interesting, as consumers think back, the fondness and the memories shift. I joined the company as GameCube was ending its life,” he explained. “And as we look at the install base of the platform, certainly it’s not one of our higher install base platforms. And yet it seems the talk now is all about how consumers are hoping that there’s a GameCube Virtual Console, which I just find interesting.”
Interesting, sure, but surprising? It shouldn’t be. Despite the Gamecube not having as big an install base at the Wii, or the PS2 and Xbox directly during that generation, it had a strong third-party lineup, and an acclaimed first-party one.
You could say that it was the “Dreamcast” of its era, in that it was an under-appreciated console by the mainstream. Gamers have fond memories of the Gamecube because it was a nice alternative to the other consoles available, and aside from servicing fans with exclusive Nintendo content, it was backed up by the same third-party titles appearing on the PS2 and Xbox.