written by Fyren
I have been gaming for decades now. Since my earliest gaming memories I have wished that mobile gaming was better. From burning through batteries on the original GameBoy to the cut down and simplified experiences on the PSP, I felt like these platforms could have delivered more. The PS Vita promised to solve my woes, by delivering a true console quality experience in the palm of your hand. While the Vita did manage to follow through on that promise with a handful of titles. However, the lack of 3rd party developer support and general lack of full, top quality releases eventually led to the system just disappearing into memory. Enter the Nintendo Switch. Again, promising console quality gaming on the go. For the first time it seems that gaming on a highly portable device will achieve the vision that I had years ago.
The number of high quality ports coming to the Nintendo Switch is highly promising. Just a few days ago, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, was released for the platform, bringing another in a growing line of full AAA games to take their show on the road. This release follows games like Skyrim, Bayonetta 2 and Doom in setting the Switch up to be a go to platform for hardcore gamers to take these experiences with them. As a primarily PC gamer, I find myself loving the Switch for providing me a way to take my favorite PC games with me to the office, or wherever else I find myself. Mobile games designed for cellphones have never held my attention in the way that these games can, but now the AAA experience has gone mobile as well.
It is not just the big AAA titles that are receiving ports to Nintendo’s latest system either. Huge indie successes like Stardew Valley, Darkest Dungeon and The Banner Saga have also made their way to the mobile console and have enjoyed continued success in doing so. These games make for fantastic mobile experiences and are much easier on the Switch’s comparatively underpowered hardware.
Speaking of the underpowered hardware, I wouldn’t expect the latest and greatest titles to be coming to the console. However, there is a gigantic catalog of truly excellent games from the Xbox360/PS3 era that could easily be ported. Games that could get another shot, or games that could get a new breath of life in them were they able to be taken mobile. As the average age of gamers continues to rise this sort of mobile experience will become increasingly more valuable.
The multiplayer experience is where many large developers are focusing their efforts in today’s market; increasingly we hear about games as a service. Online connections, cross console play, and ongoing monetization are things the rest of the industry is talking about, while Nintendo is remarkably quiet about such things. The multiplayer capacity of the Switch is sorely lacking in many respects, but also quite good in others. The fact that I can, using the Joy Cons, play with up to 3 other people in Mario Kart is a great boon when visiting with friends. However, even with 2 Switches we can’t play with 8 players. The consoles do not have any way to connect to each other directly, which for a handheld device, seems like a massive oversight. From what was seen during the E3 Press conference this year though, it appears that Nintendo will be looking to rectify that problem. They showcased a short demo of their newest Mario Party title with a map stretching across 3 different console screens which were placed flat on a table. Here’s hoping they expand on that and bring this functionality to their other titles as well.
The recent launch of Fortnite on the Switch also shows off what developers can do for online multiplayer on the platform. However, starting in September, Nintendo will be charging a subscription fee, starting at $3.99/month, for the online functions of the console. While this is cheaper than the online services offered by their competitors at Sony and Microsoft, it is still a bad deal from where I sit, in front of my PC where online services are free with very few exceptions.
Nintendo have positioned themselves to offer the first handheld console that appeals to every single facet of the gaming market. If, and only if, the ports of games like Wolfenstein II continue to make their way to the system. Nintendo has never had a strong presence from 3rd party developers on their platforms, because they’ve never really needed to. Their 1st party games continue to be excellent and are often system sellers, but the world, the times and the market are all changing. These ports and 3rd party releases could catapult Nintendo farther above the competition than they have ever been. My vision for mobile gaming is nearly realized, but not just yet.