Nintendo Switch & Launch Line-ups


I’m rooting for Nintendo. They are putting most, if not all of their eggs into one basket with the Switch, attempting to unify home and portable on one system. I’m hoping that they succeed, as they make wonderful games and the industry would be far less interesting without a dedicated, Nintendo platform.

I’m not feeling all that confident though.

At this stage, I have no interest in buying a Switch. I watched the presentation last week and came away underwhelmed. I like the design and appreciate Nintendo’s boldness in trying to change the way we play, but I think they are in danger of falling short. The price is a little too steep – Switch will be the highest priced console on the market - the launch line-up too barren and early third party support is lacking. It's great that the Switch will be region free, but that’s not going to contribute to sales. Realistically, how many titty games will be on Switch? Not nearly enough to convince the import perverts to put down their Vitas. And finally, I still don’t understand who, outside of the core, is asking for home console quality experiences on the go.

Zelda Breath of the Wild looks amazing, but I’m happy to play it on my Wii U. One last reason to dust it off before firing it into the Sun. No More Heroes was a pleasant tease, but it was just a tease, and the bizarrely named Octopath Traveller looks lovely but there was no indication of a release date. Getting Sega’s Nagoshi-san on stage just to say that he’s considering making a game for the Switch was odd, and you have to be concerned about other developers taking a similarly noncommittal approach.

It’s impossible to objectively state whether a launch line up is strong or weak, as we all value different things. With that being said, the Switch’s launch line up is weak (fact). With the exception of Zelda, which we’ll be able to play on Wii U, it’s essentially a tiny selection of ports and non-bundled party games. The release schedule for rest of the year looks a little empty, though Mario Odyssey and to a lesser extent Splatoon will generate a lot of interest.

But then how good do we usually get it at launch?

Initial line-ups are a mixed bag. Nintendo hardware often arrives with a new Mario, though not this time around. Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Land, Super Mario World, and Super Mario 64 each led the charge for their respective platforms and helped to ensure strong sales right out of the gate. Tetris, an all-time classic, was available at the Game Boy’s launch and Wii Sports was the game that sold tens of millions of Wii. On the other hand, the DS line-up was a shitshow; the Super Famicom had only two games at launch (F-Zero and SMW) as did the N64 when it arrived in the US (Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64). Conversely, the Wii U had over 30 games in its initial US line-up, and we all know how that turned out.

Sega had some solid launches, if you discount the time they stealth released the Saturn and sunk their own business. Panzer Dragoon, Daytona USA, Space Harrier 2, Hang-On, Powerstone, NFL 2K and Sonic Adventure were all day-one titles in the West for one Sega console or another. Microsoft launched the Xbox with Halo, which remains their flagship franchise, and games like Ridge Racer and Wipeout helped Sony register a surprising debut. However, The PS2 was a glorified DVD player at launch and the PS3 failed to make a convincing argument for getting a second job.

The Atari Jaguar launched in November 1993 with two games: Cybermorph and Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy. Jesus Christ.

For every Mario 64 there are a dozen Knacks; for every Panzer Dragoon there’s whatever crap launched with the 3DO. The Vita had an outstanding line-up, featuring Uncharted, Lumines, Wipeout, Rayman Origins, Super Stardust, but the system still bombed. The PS2 had an average launch selection, yet went on to become the best-selling console of all time. I guess launch line-ups don’t matter after all, huh?

The Switch's launch line-up is a bit shit, but it remains to be seen whether it will have any lasting effect on its future prospects. I’m sure there’s plenty more to come in the next few months, as it’s vital that Nintendo and their partners put their best foot forward as quickly as possible.

I’m out at launch, but very interested in seeing how this plays out.

Comments

  1. I totally agree with on all aspects of the Switch, but there is only one thing that's going to make me purchase it.....Zelda. Game looks amazing. Thats the only reason i bought a Wii was for twilight princess, which was a pretty decent game, no ocarina of time. I will prolly wait till the switch goes down in price. so basically spending $300 for one game cuz nothing else out there / future will interest me. cheers!

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    1. Zelda does look great, but I think I'll be fine playing it on Wii U. I doubt there'll be much difference between the Wii U and Switch versions. Or at least not enough to bother me.
      There's every chance that I will buy a Switch eventually, once it comes down in price. No More Heroes, Octopath Traveler, the inevitable Monster Hunter - there should eventually be enough for me to justify a purchase.
      Cheers for stopping by!

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