Right now at this very minute, Nintendo is on top of the world again. The Nintendo Switch is selling as well as the Wii did all those years ago and the Big N can barely keep up with the demand. Nintendo is back, but they’re not just ‘back’. The Nintendo most of us 30/40-something-year-olds grew up with has returned.
There is much to compare to the days of old. The first thing many old-school fans would have noticed was that they finally dropped that dreadful ‘we want to be like Apple’ dull grey and white look for IN YOUR FACE red. It’s a return to the bright and colourful days of Nintendo’s best days in the business. Most important of all are the games. Slowly but surely third-party support is returning to the Nintendo Switch and combined with fantastic first-party releases it’s becoming a great place to play games. I do however remember that initial Nintendo showcase that took place nearly a year ago to the day. On 13 January 2017, we all got our first taste of what exactly the Nintendo Switch could and would be. The hybrid system was Nintendo’s future, but there was one big problem that had me very worried – 1-2 Switch.
Nintendo has for years been hellbent on being the console of choice when it comes to being something you enjoy with family and friends in the same room as you, and now you were going to… milk cows at a braai? Have they completely lost their minds? Make no mistake, Nintendo and ‘complete wacky out there humour’ is one and the same. If you’ve played something like Tomodachi Life you would know that they’re masters at being completely fucking weird, but this time they were playing with their future. At that infamous Nintendo Direct 1-2 Switch was the first game to show off what their new console could do. I remember a feeling of genuine dread and fear. Was this going to be the end of Nintendo? Was this silly game going to spell doom for one of my favourite publishers in the business? Understand, at that point the Wii U was a joke and that reveal was just a step too far. 1-2 Switch was not the answer to where Nintendo needed to head to next. Instead, it was a reminder of what traditional gamers really did not want. The best thing that ever happened was that Nintendo charged a price for it and that it was not packed in with the console. People voted with their wallets.
Along with the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which made the Switch a household name, came a bunch of traditional games. Titles such as Fast RMX, Super Bomberman R, Snipperclips and more all but thumped 1-2 Switch. The people had spoken and it wasn’t going to end there either. Having learnt their lesson for hyping up Wii Sports two generations earlier, most educated gamers ignored 1-2 Switch like a plague and kept buying those fantastic classic titles that could now also be taken on the go. Now, this isn’t to say that 1-2 Switch sold poorly. It sold over 1 million units to date. It’s just that when you compare it to Breath of the Wild or Stardew Valley that it fades away by comparison. This is the best thing that could ever have happened to Nintendo’s new console.
Since then we have seen traditional classic games taking the Switch by the scruff and running with it. Be it AAA or Indie games, the Switch has become a gamer’s paradise. Publishers are falling over each other to ensure they get a piece of the action and it’s just feeling like the 80s and 90s era Nintendo experience all over again. Unless there is a sale (like the recent 50% discount) for 1-2 Switch it never features in the top sales on the digital store. Since launch, Nintendo has also focused their future on their own more traditional games (such as Metroid Prime 4) and if the recent Nintendo Direct Mini is anything to go by that trend is not about to end. We’re not complaining. Quite frankly, gaming on a Nintendo platform is the best it’s ever been since the NES and SNES days. No, we won’t forget about Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Maker on the consoles before it, but we’re just glad Nintendo are once again getting their teams to work on games we really want. I have no problem with them trying out their weird and wonderful experiments. Without them experimenting and testing the waters our industry does not move forward, but it’s time to return to what works.
Simply said – if Nintendo kept going down this road without taking a second to rethink their path it would have been an easy 1-2 switch for me.