Two years after the initial announcement of the Switch, the console seems to be enjoying the wide success that its older brother, the Wii U, would be massively jealous of. Stellar games such as Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey have rocked the gaming community and received widespread acclaim, while third-party games that people never thought would ever grace the annals of Nintendo games have been announced and released (I’m looking at you, Diablo 3).
Yet while there’s a lot about the Switch to celebrate, that doesn’t mean it’s without its fair share of criticism. So let’s take off our hype goggles for a moment and look at how the Switch has been disappointing to some of us.
Main Menu Interface
Nintendo has never been one for ugly designs, so I’m curious as to why the Switch UI is so simple. It’s not bad, it’s just… eh. The black (or white) design is too plain and feels too empty. I wish Nintendo would follow the precedent they set in the 3DS and implement customizable themes, pins, and badges to add some flair to the menu. Of course, the Main Menu is fully functional and that’s what truly matters. But would it truly be that hard to offer more customization to the players? When the console first launched, I imagined that it was something that would come later because they were more focused on releasing the console. Two years passed since then, and there hasn’t even been a mention of it. Come on Nintendo, get with it.
Profiles are bland – they’re no more than a simple image – and friends lists are barebones and unimaginative. And although I appreciate the fact that your profile says how many hours you’ve played a game for, I do miss the Activity Log that was included in both the 3DS and the Wii U. There was a simple satisfaction in seeing the average amount of time I played a game, the total time I played the game, etc. The new system is no more than a mere approximation of how much I’ve played, and it pains me to play a game for a couple of hours and not see the timer move up. Perhaps I’m just being overly nitpicky.
Let me start by saying that the eShop is an unmitigated disaster for a simple reason: There is no eShop jingle.On a more serious note, the eShop has some flaws that could be fixed. Perhaps I’m spoiled because of Steam on PC, but unless I know specifically what game I want, finding a cool game on the eShop is very hard. There are far too many games out there, and not enough ways to sort through them or even a decent amount of curation. Perhaps there could be a way to recommend games to you based on what you played or what you’ve bought in the past. As it stands, the games that are most noticeable are the AAA best-seller and recent releases.
Ah, online functionality, Nintendo’s Achilles’ Heel. Remember when Nintendo gave everyone free Online during the Wii U days? Ah, those were simpler times… When I was younger, one of my favorite things to do after school was power up my Xbox, get in a Party with my friends and just chat with them. Nintendo’s Online doesn’t offer any of that functionality. The fact that you have to use your phone to chat in-game is honestly atrocious. At that point, I might as well just use Discord for free. Yeah, Nintendo’s Online is pretty cheap and it gives you access to SNES games, but at this point, it feels more like a half-baked service than a thoughtfully implemented functionality. Plus, should it even be a service? Perhaps I’m spoiled from my time at PC, but to pay for an online service like this seems wrong to me…
It’s been almost two years, and people are still getting defective Joy-Cons when they purchase their Switch. I got lucky and have had mine work straight out of the box, but many people have had to send theirs to Nintendo for repairs.
To make matters worse, Nintendo recently announced a Super Mario Party bundle with a pair of Joy-Cons for $99.99 and I’m reluctant to buy it because I don’t want defective Joy-Cons. Ever since launch, there have been occasional mentions of a possible fix by Nintendo, but a simple search through Reddit shows that people are still having issues with the Joy-Cons.
The Switch is not necessarily a modern home-entertainment console, but why couldn’t it be one? Up until a few days ago, the only available video software was Hulu – which is only available in the United States. But why stop there?
As I was writing this section, YouTube decided to finally release an app on the Switch. Thanks, Nintendo, for the serendipitous release. Still, I would like to see other video streaming apps on the Switch such as Twitch, Crunchyroll, and Netflix. Honestly, that last one not being on there is a huge surprise. Of course, these aren’t deal-breaking pieces of software, but it would be kind of nice to have them available on the Switch. But even then, the UI is such a mess that it makes it a hassle to scroll for software, so perhaps it’s a good thing that there isn’t much software out?
Yes, the Switch is currently receiving a record-breaking amount of support from third-party developers, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Most of the third-party games that are currently on the Switch (or about to be) are old games that most people have already played. Games like Diablo 3, Wolfenstein, or Dark Souls are fun to have on the go and are great for those who have never experienced them, but they’re not new games. Where’s Fallout, Assassin’s Creed and Red Dead Redemption 2? It’s not the end of the world to not have them on this console, but it sure is a bummer.
Although games such as FIFA are released simultaneously on Switch and other consoles, the Switch versions tend to be lacking and subpar in comparison to the others. FIFA 18, for example, did not have the Story Mode that was a huge part of the game’s marketing. I guess it’s better than nothing though…Even a personal favorite of mine, Dragonball FighterZ, came out seven months after the initial release. Fighting games thrive with a strong community, and the one on Switch is almost non-existent because most people already owned the game – some even already owned it twice. It’s even worse because the Switch has no built-in Ethernet capabilities (you need to buy a $30 adapter) so a game that is heavily dependent on timely inputs suffers from it. For many, there’s barely any point in buying this version, unless you want to play it on the go. But I guess that’s the main selling point of the Switch.
Overall, there are still many things about the Switch that could be better. Don’t get me wrong: I love the Switch to death; it is the perfect console for on-the-go gaming and an excellent indie machine. All of the first-party games released on it so far have been superb too, and the Joy-Con functionality some of them get (such as Mario Party) is incredibly innovative.
It is exactly this love that makes me critical of the Switch. It’s great, but I want it to be better. Nintendo has shown us time and time again just how capable they are. I’m certain that in the future, most of these issues will have been resolved – Nintendo has just been a bit too slow on the uptake.