Gaming has gone through quite the transformation over the past couple of decades.Many areas of gaming have seen a rise in this trend, as mingling in person becomes usurped by instantly accessible online media. Even games that traditionally take place in social environments have traversed into an online realm – just look at the rise of casino games such as online blackjack and roulette.
Where once upon a time you’d be organizing LAN parties or all-night Mario marathons, now it just takes donning a headset to be transported to a virtual world.
With the Switch console, Nintendo seems to want to tap into the ‘golden era’ of gaming. It wants to replicate a time where multiplayer meant playing split-screen, and gaming with friends meant gaming in person.
The fluidity of the design is one of the leading selling points of the Switch. As well as allowing for remote play by connecting with friends or devices, it is fully transportable via a detachable ‘joy-con’ controller.
This means it can move with you – playable via touch screen or the controller. It can also be docked at friend’s houses, connecting to the television and allowing for some of that good, old-fashioned split-screen gaming.
Thinking outside the box worked well with the Wii. Though the console had its naysayers, its quirky games and unusual, physical gameplay stood out from the competition – particularly when Sony and Microsoft were battling to win the same audience. Perhaps that’s why certain insiders are hailing the release of the Switch as the best move Nintendo has made since the mid-2000s.
What should we expect from the Switch?
Aside from the console’s unusually fluid approach to gameplay, there’s lots to look forward to when it comes to game releases.
Nintendo has long capitalized on nostalgia and its place in the history of gaming. This is particularly evident in long-running characters, such as Mario and Link, which appear in games for each new device. Donkey Kong and the Pokémon series also continue their legacies with each new release.
As for other new titles, this is one area where the Switch may just slip-up. Though the unusual and social gameplay certainly has its advantages, there are some games where developers have deemed it to be simply unsuitable. Resident Evil 7 is one of these, with producer Masachika Kawata stating: “I'm looking forward to the possibilities of the system itself, but we have no plans at the moment regarding Resident Evil on Switch."
Survival and horror games aside, it seems Nintendo is sticking to its roots when it comes to upcoming Switch titles – which may not be a bad idea.
A glimpse of the future and a nod to the past
There is no doubt that Nintendo are the kings of the handheld gaming market. The Game Boy sold just under 119 million units worldwide, and the DS was hugely popular. The company also had great success in the home console markets with the NES, SNES and N64. In fact, the Switch joypad is a very much a nod to the N64 in both look and feel.
It therefore makes perfect sense that the Switch is a handheld device that transforms into a home console – it bridges the gap between past and present. It also lends functionality, adding Wi-Fi connectivity to the mix. However, using the Switch to browse the latest in gaming news may still be tricky, due to it not including a web browser.
One thing seems certain: The Switch looks set to unite social and old-school gaming with a modern, functional twist. The question remains as to whether this shall be successful – but with its release date in March coming ever closer, all eyes are sure to be on the Switch.