How the Switch Became my Indie Machine

I felt burned by Nintendo. Almost like they’d let me down. While I still played my 3DS, the Wii U was a device I was becoming increasingly resentful of. Support for the console dried up almost immediately after a strong 3rd party developer presence upon release. After only a short few years, It was a device I was buying one, maybe two, games for a year. And even then the games I were buying, I’d only end up playing them for a few hours before they just started gathering dust on my shelf, forgotten.

I became increasingly frustrated with the device and Nintendo, and as a result was very reluctant to pick up the Nintendo Switch when it was released last year. But like the predictable, weak willed consumer that I am, the promise of a new Zelda and Mario titles eventually wore me down enough to pick one of these up when stock eventually became available again. And guess what happened…

Shock of shocks, my snap judgement of the device was completely wrong. Who would have thunk. I was very quickly taken in by Breath of the Wild, which went on to be my favourite game of 2017. Super Mario Odyssey went on to be on of the best games in that franchise since Super Mario 64. I even invested a ton of time into Sonic Mania on the device, after bad mouthing it so when I was trying to talk myself out of buying one.

So it’s obvious that I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I hope you’re invested enough that you’re going to forge ahead reading this anyway. While it was games like Zelda and Mario that really made me give in and pick up a Switch, they’re not the reasons I’ve stuck with the device to this day.

After I’d spent my time with the big Nintendo franchise titles, I found myself looking at the thing and wondering what other use I’d get out of it until the next big first party release. To my surprise though, despite my misgivings, I picked up one interesting looking indie game on it, and then another, and then another. Before I knew it, I was gravitating towards a certain tier of game on the device and enjoying them far more as a result.

It also made me notice a change in my approach and use of the device. Initially, It was rare that I removed the Switch from the cradle, and played everything on my television, using its dog faced joy-con controller. It was when I started Playing Sonic Mania on there that I found myself snatching it out of the charger and playing the game in the handheld mode more and more.

While games like Zelda were very difficult for me to play on the device itself, most other games on there benefitted from the pick up and go approach that the Switch marketed itself with. It’s around now that I realised; what I originally saw as just another gimmick of a Nintendo console, it turns out the Switch is a genius little piece of kit.

Different games on the console benefited from the different play methods, at least to me. They really had made a combination of a console and a handheld, and made it work. Playing games on the handheld never felt as cumbersome as it did with the Wii U, this felt like the actual final form of that idea.

Steamworld Dig 2

It was now I spent a lot of time playing games like Steamworld Dig 2, Battle Chef Brigade and Never Stop Sneakin’. Games I probably would have scarcely looked at on PC or other consoles. Stylised kind of “metroidvania” or action based puzzle game felt like a dime a dozen before, now I was eager to give them a go on my new device. The ease of just whipping the Switch out of its cradle and playing these games for short bursts before just putting it to sleep and picking up where you left off is such a nice feature, something the bigger console still struggle with.

It’s got to the point now that I’m finding myself not wanting to play a particular kind of game when I see it being covered through the media, because it looks like the kind of game I’d get the most out of it from playing it on the Switch. I thought this exact thing looking at the early talk of Iconoclasts. I actively want to avoid picking the game up because I want to play it on Switch, despite the fact there are no plans for it. Then there’s that remake Secret of Mana that’s coming out real soon. It’s a re imagining of a classic Super Nintendo game, and what’s it coming out on. The PS4. Not just that, it’s going to be coming out on the Vita.

Metal Gear Solid inspired, Never Stop Sneakin’

I don’t want to bash the Vita, but I feel like the device already had its last gasp years ago, the fact that it’s still getting support is pretty admirable. But also frustrating as a guy who just spent a bunch of paragraphs raving about how much I like the Switch. This is only a short term complaint though, with the sales for the Switch already passing the lifetime sales of the Wii U, I’m not fretting too much about 3rd party developers getting their games onto the device in the end. It’s just a matter of patience.

Although no amount of patience is going to be enough for some of the more eager Switch fans. Those who want to see literally everything make its way onto the smaller system. There has been a fervour over porting Monster Hunter World onto the Switch, it’s been of such an intensity that even Capcom have had to address it, on multiple occasions, to tell people it’s just not on the cards. Personally, I don’t want to see the new Monster Hunter on Switch. But that’s me.

My best times playing the franchise have been on console, while I feel like the amount of fun I was getting from playing the franchise on the 3DS was always handicapped. I can understand why people want it though. With the franchise having such a long time presence on handheld devices, such as the 3DS and the PSP before that. Some people view the series as a portable one. But not to me. I value a particular type of thing in portable games, and that venn diagram had very little crossover with the things I value from console games.

The least likely exclusives to ever come about

It’s not like I have forsaken the television aspect of the console entirely. It ultimately comes down to session length. I want to spend a longer amount of time playing the likes of Zelda and Mario, drinking in their visuals and taking my time with them. That’s not an experience I feel I need whilst hunched over a smaller screen. It will be the same when I pick up Bayonetta: the most bizarre Nintendo exclusives. But the thing all of this boils down to is also the best thing about the Switch:

It’s that the options are always there, and for people who have the opposite opinion to me, who will only play their device one away or the other, there is nothing stopping them from doing so… Except maybe battery life, but shush. While the device might not have the raw power of the other consoles, and that prevents some amount of cross platform, there is still more than enough from Nintendo to make up for this. Look at their future releases migrating from the 3DS; Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Phoenix Wright, Animal Crossing.

While we won’t be seeing literally everything coming to the device, there is going to be a huge selection of games to pick from in the coming years, and a healthy number of them exclusive to the system. While this is never going to become my main gaming platform, it’s become a secondary platform that I really value. Like the 3DS before it, but with the potential to provide games in the future of the same calibre as Breath of the Wild. I’m really glad Nintendo pulled it around again after the failure of the Wii U, and I’m additionally glad that they feel brave enough to still come out with barmy ideas like the Nintendo Labo. No other company is mad enough to make a risk like that.

Nintendo have just separated themselves from the head bashing of Sony and Microsoft, and it does nothing but make the Switch a stronger device for it. I love the Switch and let’s be fair. I’m just chomping at the bit for that Pokemon game.

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