I grew up as part of the video game generation. The reason I call us that is because everyone in my age group, well, almost everyone, had the exact same experience: at age 4, 5, 6, or 7, we sat down for Christmas or birthday and were handed a big, wrapped box. Inside that box was something special, something magical. Something that could transport you to another country, planet, or universe: a video game system.
Sure some kids were cool enough to have the Sega Dreamcast or the original Sega system. Some were lucky enough to have an NES and a Super Nintendo. Personally, my first system was a Macintosh computer that I played Oregon Trail and Quake on. (Yes, I’m well aware of the terribleness that the very first game I ever played also happens to still be viewed as one of the goriest video games of all time.) I then graduated up to a NES, and then to it’s big brother, the SNES.
But we eventually all had a Super Nintendo. From there, we graduated to a N64. Ohhh the N64. What a beautiful piece of machinery. And how cool was it that you could actually plug something into it to make the graphics better? I still remember playing Hey, You! Pikachu!, sitting there hunched over my controller and screaming into the little yellow microphone only minutes before the game would’ve been late to BlockBuster. I still remember the rush I got of plugging in my Pokemon Red cartridge into my controller to get my level 100 Charizard into my game of Pokemon Stadium, killing Alan in Goldeneye, and saving Hyrule in The Ocarina of Time.
The Gamecube was also pretty great. Resident Evil 4, still billed as one of the greatest games of all time, was and is still believed to be best played on the Gamecube. It was also so cool looking. It was a cube, for chrissakes. How cool is that? In a world that’d been dominated by rectangles with various curvy lines on them, a cube was quite the dramatic shift.
But that’s when Nintendo started dropping off for me. I got a PS2. That was very exciting. I could finally play the games that everyone at school was talking about. No longer was I shunned into the nerd corner of gaming for just being able to play Super Smash Brothers, Luigi’s Mansion, and Pikmin. I could now have normal kid conversations about cool games like Grand Theft Auto 3, True Crime: Streets of L.A., and Metal Gear Solid. My PS2 broke, so my parents got me a Wii for Christmas after that. It was cool and all, yeah–I still have it to this day, and it’s probably my favorite console I have–but now what could I do? What could I play with my friends? Wii Sports? (It’s tons of fun now, but it wasn’t when I was 13.)
That’s when I started getting into gaming… not hardcore, I’m by no means a hardcore gamer, but more so than I was before. I bought an Xbox 360, started playing all the big AAA titles, got into RPGs… You know, normal adult games.
And then… Oh God… the Wii U. I really don’t even want to talk about it. I played it once, maybe twice at a friends house. I don’t even know of any games that came out for it except for the typical Super Smash and the one game I played, ZombieU. It was really just a Wii with slightly upgrade computing power and a handheld. Shame, Nintendo… Shame…
That’s why today when I was patiently (ha) waiting for the latest announcement from Nintendo, I was kind of nervous. I wasn’t sure what they were going to do. There’ve been a lot of rumors over the last year about what exactly the Nintendo NX would be. Would it be like the Wii U? Would it have discs or cartridges? Would it have a second screen? Would it have motion detection? Would it be just a handheld?
Well this morning, Nintendo unveiled their newest system: the Nintendo Switch. The Switch will do just what the name implies: switch between a TV/at home gaming console and a handheld. But oh no, you don’t just need a TV to play it. It’s its own screen.
Lets say you take the Switch on a plane with you. You pop in (what I’m assuming is) an SD card with the game loaded up, take off the controller/screen sides, and play away. It’s hard to describe without seeing it, but it’s going to be baaaad ass. Here’s the reveal video.
Get it? Good. Are you excited? You should be.
A few eagle-eyed viewers may also have noticed a very, VERY interesting addition to the video. That’s right. Skyrim. Why, you may be asking yourself, would Nintendo be using a Bethesda game for their promo video?
Well, after showing off the Switch, Nintendo revealed that they’ll actually be partnering with different video game studios other than themselves. How about that? We’re finally going to be getting AAA titles on Nintendo. 8-year old me would be so excited.
Shit. 25 year old me is excited. This is what the Wii U should have been, in all honesty, and Nintendo knows it. They realize they messed up with their last console and made something that people are actually going to enjoy.
Only one game has been announced so far: Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But oh my God does it look amazing. It’s open world, first of all, which takes quite a bit of computing power, so we know the Switch has that going for it. The art style is also absolutely breathtaking. I can’t get over how beautiful this game is. Every time I see a new clip from the game, I just get blown away by how artful the game looks. And… The icing on the cake is that the only footage we’ve seen from it so far has been captured on the Wii U. I can only imagine how gorgeous it’ll be on their next generation console.
To me, it feels like Nintendo knows they fucked up. They know they came out with an inferior system half-way through a console cycle, tried to pass it off as new and cutting-edge, and it wasn’t. I hope that the Switch will make up for that–not only playability, but price, as well.
Whatever the future of Nintendo brings, one thing’s for sure: no longer will handhelds and consoles be two separate systems. No longer will AAA titles be exclusive to Xbox and PlayStation. Finally, little kids whose parents think that Nintendo is the ‘kid-friendly’ system of choice will have the freedom to play not only the AAA titles that their friends are playing on PS and Xbox, but the games that every child should play: Mario, Super Smash Brothers, and Zelda.