Nintendo, Switching it up?

So it's Friday, and here's my first Friday thing. Fortunately, last night in Tokyo, Nintendo had a big thing where they formally for realsy announced the Switch and gave out a release date and prices and most importantly its starting lineup of launch titles. So let's take a look.

Right now it's going to be released on Friday March 3rd, for $299 in the US. What this will get you is the little console screen, the dock for your TV, and one controller (called a Joy-Con, apparently). For around $450 some vendors like Gamestop have bundles available that have this base system plus 3 games. For just north of $500, you can get a bundle with 5 games. And for a whopping nearly $650, Gamestop has a bundle listed with a base system and 7 games. They all seem to come with Zelda: Breath of the Wild, so Nintendo is banking hardcore on people wanting to experience that game. And of note, it is interesting to see Nintendo lead with a Zelda game, NOT Mario.

One thing that is painfully obvious about these bundles though is that none of them include a second "Joy-Con." Which is perfectly fine if you don't have friends. But considering they run $80 EACH for a complete controller, it would have been nice to see one included in a bundle somewhere. Controller colors are... interesting. You have the standard grey that matches the system colors, and then they have a handful of other color options... what I see available for preorder are: Neon Blue (a light almost robin's egg blue), Neon Red (close to the classic "Nintendo red" that you see in the Switch logo itself), and a weird option of one red and one blue. Even more weird is that you can apparently JUST buy a left or right side of the Joy-Con controllers for $50 each... which I guess is awesome if you break or lose one of the pair? But to me just seems fucking bizarre. 

Now here I'm going to be a little cynical. I can totally foresee the following happening... Nintendo is kind of notorious for not being able to meet hardware demands. Just look at how that NES Classic Edition is doing, basically the only way you can find it is on Ebay for more than double the price. Same with the Pokemon Go Plus. Same thing happened with the Wii when it launched... and the N64... So it seems fairly safe to expect that the same will happen with the Switch. Now, imagine a world where all the Joy-Cons sell out as well, because hardware. Now imagine a world where people have to buy the individual sides of the Joy-Con to make a complete controller for $20 more than the cost of an actual Joy-Con... oh yeah, and the thing you need to put both of the little controllers together to make a large console controller that we're all used to? Those are $15 each. And I would almost be willing to put money on whatever odds are out there that the "Joy-Con Comfort Grip" (seriously, that's what the thing is called that you slot the controllers in to make a real controller) will sell out.

So it will be interesting to see if a half-Joy-Con will be able to play all the games perfectly fine (I'm expecting them to feel cramped), or if you basically NEED the full controller and comfort grip for the sake of your hands. $50 for a controller for a console these days seems about the norm. $80 for a standard controller seems pushing it just a bit. If that $80 controller doesn't come with a "comfort grip," that's where I would start getting annoyed at controller prices. 

But enough about hardware. We all know that what makes or breaks a console system is the game lineup. And one of the most difficult things for any manufacturer to nail is their launch lineup. Let's see how Nintendo did.

  • 1-2 Switch - Party game that will probably show off the Switch hardware much like Wii Sports did for the Wii
  • Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Skylanders Imaginators
  • Just Dance 2017

Wait... that's it? Oooooh, so that's what will be available Day 1 in stores... but apparently Nintendo has a "Launch Window" and let's see what other games are available during this window.

"March 2017"

  • Has Been Heroes
  • I am Setsuna
  • Super Bomberman R
  • Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together!

"Spring 2017"

  • Mario Cart 8 Deluxe (April 28)
  • Sonic Mania
  • Lego City Undercover
  • Arms

After "Spring 2017"

  • Splatoon 2 (Summer 2017)
  • NBA 2k18 (September 2017)
  • The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (Fall 2017) (I wonder if Bethesda is still denying this one?)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Holiday 2017)

Again... this makes me say, "That's it?" I know there will be all the virtual console stuff that is likely to carry over from the Wii/3DS/Wii U... but still. I don't even think I make it to "underwhelmed" when I look at this list... what's below underwhelmed? Subwhelmed? I don't know, but I'm there.

"But wait a minute, Chop! You said earlier that Gamestop has a launch bundle with 7 games! How can it have 7 games if there are only 4 available day 1?!" You might say. And I would probably respond with, "I don't know, Gamestop is stupid and you should stop shopping there." This is what Gamestop has in their sales listing as of today:

"The Nintendo Switch Gray Joy-Con Ultimate Bundle includes: Nintendo Switch with Gray Joy-Con Console, Clean and Protect Kit, Legend of Zelda Breath Wild, Has Been Heroes, Redout, Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth, 1-2 Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Just Dance 2017."

So the answer is "I don't know." I'm going to assume that "Redout" and "Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth" are Virtual Console games. And I guess Has Been Heroes and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are preorders? We all know how Gamestop loooooooooooves their preorders. But other than that, it's 3 of the 4 Day One titles. *ALL* of the Gamestop bundles include Has Been Heroes though, so maybe that tells us how early in March that game is expected to actually come out.

I guess we will see by the end of the year how well the Switch turns things around and impresses. I expect big sales, just because it's Nintendo. I expect it to sell out pretty much everywhere, again just because it's Nintendo. Am I personally going to get one? Probably not. Right now there's nothing for it that makes me go, "Man I have to play that!" If I had friends nearby who played Smash Brothers, maybe the planned Switch version of the franchise would be that game, but as for right now, it isn't.

If you want, you can watch the whole Nintendo press conference on the Switch right over here

That's it for today. What do you think about the Switch hardware and game lineup? Do you have faith in Nintendo to have a game library better than this looks so far? Do you expect the Switch to sell out and have a base price on EBay of $800? Let me know what you think.

 - Chop