Happy Borntday, Mr. Switch

Saturday, March 3rd was the Nintendo Switch’s first birthday. I celebrated in the best way that I could: I baked a cake and spent the bulk of the weekend playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It was a pretty darn good weekend.

Although I definitely tore through that cake too quickly. My belt is feeling a little too snug…

Anyway! Switch is a year old now, and there’s certainly a lot to reflect upon. Most of them good! That said, I guess let’s start with the more negative things.

First: Still no Netflix or YouTube or internet browser apps. I mean, I get that the thing is supposed to be games-focused, and dumber people might get frustrated when unable to use them on the go if they don’t have wi-fi access. But I would really like to be able to do any of those things through the Switch. It’s not a huge deal for me personally because my TV’s Netflix app is fine and the PS4 picks up the internet/YouTube slack. I’d still like the option.

Second: The Switch eshop is still a mess. No delightful background jingle, no good way to filter down titles, and it still suffers from a weird slowdown. There are so many games released every week now that some manner of content division would be nice, whether that means applying simple categories or through promoted content. And whenever I try to watch videos through the eshop, they buffer in incredibly slow for reasons that I just can’t understand. It has improved slightly over time (by adding a “games on sale” button), but there is still a long way to go.

Third: Dock marks. I guess Nintendo didn’t do any long-term testing of how sliding the system in and out of the dock would affect the Switch’s screen. Because it does. My Switch now has faint but permanent scrapes down the sides of the screen where it rests against the dock. It’s really not a big deal and they’re barely noticeable, but it still drives me nuts.

I think that’s it. I think those are my major gripes with the Switch so far. But I’m not really a big complainer, so assume that others would find many more. Onto the good things!

A: The games! There are so many of them! We’re getting like a dozen releases a week now, and while the bulk of those are cheap indie titles that I wouldn’t ever consider touching, there’s almost always a couple of solid-looking games tucked away in there. It also makes me very happy to hear that a lot of the indie games that Nintendo promotes go on to sell more on Switch than any other platform. Not from a competitive sense, but in the sense that the Switch is helping to find a greater audience for these games that may have otherwise gone largely unnoticed.

B: Nintendo’s games! We got a new Mario and a new Zelda and a new Xenoblade all in the same year. I mean, what else even could you ask for? Splatoon 2 is pretty wonderful too, and even though it’s lost a lot of steam, I really appreciate what they did with ARMS. Even that goofy little 1-2-Switch is a ton of fun when you have a large group and play the party mode. Of course, there’s quite a lot of good stuff on the horizon as well, but Year One is going to be impossible to top.

C: Off-screen play. It’s a huge part of why I liked Wii U so much, and the Switch is just the proper implementation of that doomed console’s best feature. I appreciate being able to bring my Switch everywhere (read: to work) with me, but really the best part is that I can pop it out of the dock at home and then play a game while having a show or movie on the TV in the background. Or pick it up and bring it over to my bed so I can play in even more comfort. Or take it to the toilet with me if I so choose (but normally I won’t because I don’t like sitting on the toilet for long periods of time). It really makes my PS4 seem lacking in comparison.

I think three pros and three cons are enough for now. Besides, I’m no so much deep as to really think about a video game console as much more than simply a video game console. My PS4 does all sorts of crazy stuff but I really don’t give a hoot about any of it other than the internet browser. I guess the blu-ray player is nice too?

But yes, there’s a few thoughts about the Nintendo Switch after a year with it. I love the thing to heck, and I look forward to the many wonderful years we have ahead of us.

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