The Nintendo Switch is officially a year old and unlike most 1-year olds I’m not disgusted by Nintendo’s hybrid console: No I actively seek out the Switch whenever I have the time and I’ve very much enjoyed the time I’ve spent with it from its very first day. I don’t usually buy new consoles when they first launch you see but when it comes to Nintendo I do like to adopt sooner rather than later. I know Nintendo consoles are the only place in town where I can Smash some Super Brothers or Met some Troids. It should come as no surprise then that I spent a snowy March 3rd waiting in front of a Target to get my hands on the Nintendo Switch but it might (if we look at sales records) be something of a surprise to hear that I did the same thing on a not-at-all snowy November 18th, 2012.
I knew that the store I was working at was carrying Wii U consoles so that’s where I set up camp at around 4am the morning of November 18th in 2012. There were closer Targets to my home at the time but I knew for a fact that my store had units. By the time the store opened though, I was one of only about 6 people who were waiting for a Wii U and we all ended up getting the units we wanted (I left with a deluxe model). Strangely, my store didn’t have any copies of New Super Mario Bros U in stock at launch but since I was just cash strapped enough, I wound up leaving with the deluxe console and a copy of ZombiU to go along with it. Unfortunately, I don’t remember how long the set-up process took between unboxing the console, hooking it up and, downloading day 1 patches but I always liked how games on the Wii U could generally be relied upon to play straight out of the box without any lengthy installation process.
(Hello darkness, my old friend...)
Considering the Wii U launched during the holiday season, my money was tight so I couldn’t go completely wild when it came to the games I picked up right away. Even if I could though, the selection was a little lackluster; New Super Mario Bros U was definitely the game I was most excited to play after Nintendo Land. Aside from those two, I am one of the very few people who hadn’t previously played Mass Effect 3 or Arkham City. By the time Christmas had come and gone, my Wii U collection had swollen to include all of the games I’d mentioned so far and Sonic and All-Star Racing Transformed, or Sega Kart featuring Danica Patrick. Miiverse functionality was an unanticipated time sink as well. I spent nearly 8 hours using Miiverse alone in November and December of 2012. Claims of the Wii U library being incredibly lacking really felt substantial when I checked my play log and noticed that the games I played didn’t expand at all between December 2012 and February 2013, and even then only 2 new titles were added in March with one new title being added in April.
Let’s do the time-warp to March 3rd, 2017! I hadn’t pre-ordered a Switch, I didn’t get a Best Buy ticket thing and I didn’t want to get one from Target again but I knew for a fact Target would be carrying and distributing Nintendo Switches on a first-come-first-served basis. I woke up at around 4am and stepped out into an unexpectedly snowy morning. This time I went to a Target that was close to home instead of the one I work at where I waited in the numbing cold for the store to open. I recall the store’s management coming out at about 7:30 with coffee but I recall more clearly that this time around, there I was 8th in a line that would have about 2 dozen or more people in it. One thing I didn’t expect was that I would get a Neon Switch bundle and, another thing I didn’t expect was that I would find a collector’s edition of Breath of the Wild: Both of those expectations (or lack thereof) were mistaken. In addition to my blue and red console and, my big Zelda box, I walked out of Target that morning with a pro-controller, Super Bomberman R and a 32GB SD card (I know, I need to update this thing soon).Overall it was a great way to spend an otherwise cold and uneventful day. The best part was how quickly it was to set the Switch up. It was already more than half-way charged, all it really wanted was my wi-fi password, nothing really needed installation and the only hiccup I experienced was that I forgot my Facebook password and somehow stumbled onto a proto-web browser from which I could post Facebook statuses and do almost nothing else. Another gripe I have with Switch set-up is that it’s the only time you hear that satisfying ‘snap’ from Switch software commercials. Every other time you boot up the console, even when it’s been turned completely off, you’re not getting that sweet, sweet ‘snap’.
(No snark here, just love)
Maybe because the Wii U had so little to offer during its first year or maybe because the Switch didn’t have much else going for it other than its games but I was really afraid during March and April that I would end up having nothing to play but Breath of the Wild until summer or Fall of 2017. There was no Miiverse equivalent on the Switch, no backwards compatibility and, the closest thing it will get to Youtube or Netflix in its first year is the Japanese-exclusive Nico-Nico (which kinda feels like Youtube but I can’t understand Japanese well enough to fully utilize it). There’s also Hulu but I’m not subscribed so meh. If I’m not willing to play a game on my Switch then I can either window-shop on the eShop or I can stalk that adorable vocalist who performed Spinning World over on Nico-Nico. Golly if I wasn’t wrong about the Switch having nothing to play on it but Breath of the Wild! Now granted, the Switch’s catalog was greatly bolstered by a bunch of indie games (or ‘Nindies’ if you’re completely willing to embrace silliness), and some curmudgeons don’t like to consider indies as ‘real games’. I am no such curmudgeon so between amazing sessions of Breath of the Wild and lackluster sessions of Super Bomberman R, I spent a surprising amount of time playing Snipperclips, a game marketed as being best played with other people but which I still have a lot of fun with playing alone like the sad, lonesome person I am. It was better than Disgaea 5 at any rate.
I’ve already arrived at one of the huge differences between the Wii U and Switch at launch and it’s as obvious as can be: In the first few months of each consoles life, The Switch has a lot more new games on offer than the Wii U. Again, I was the odd man out when it came to the Wii U: that was my first Nintendo home console since the Gamecube I bought used about 4 years previous so I could have theoretically played an entire back catalog of Wii games. The problem with this theory is, I hate motion controls which made games like Metroid Prime 3 and Skyward Sword...not quite unplayable for me but those games were absolute chores for me to play (well Skyward Sword was, Metroid Prime 3 is an unplayable garbage fire, fight me).
(This needs to exist, if only because I want to play a truly great version of these games)
As I said before, my Wii U library really didn’t expand too much until the console was a couple of months old by which time Monster Hunter 3 was ported, Lego made their GTA knock-off, Sega beat Nintendo to the kart racing genre and, Nether Realms somehow launched one of their fighting games on the Wii U, possibly by mistake. Nothing was stopping me from getting Ninja Gaiden 3 except for middling reviews which I’d been aware of since the game originally launched months before or...geeze, I can’t even remember what other games were available at the time for the Wii U. For the Switch though, every week new games were being added to the eShop even if store shelves seemed to be a little bare when it comes to new game cartridges. Some games came out of nowhere like Troll and I and Has Been Heroes but since they also launched on the eShop and downloading games on the Switch is such a faster and much more enticing prospect than it was for the Wii U, it wasn’t as much of an issue.
One of my biggest disappointments with the Wii U in the first year (the first few months really) was the announcement that Ken’s Rage 2 would be launching on that platform. Now years later, I would spend many hours playing Hyrule Warriors and months before I spent over a hundred hours getting all of the achievements in the original Ken’s Rage so you can believe I was very excited to play the sequel. Fast-Forward to February 7th 2013 and there isn’t a single store that has this game in stock. It took very little sleuthing to find out that Ken’s Rage 2 on the Wii U was a digital exclusive outside of Japan. I could have bought this game on the 360 or PS3, but I wanted to buy new games for my new Nintendo console. Being unable to without taking up a big chunk of precious hard drive space was unacceptable to me: I don’t OWN digital games! Some may say I dodged a bullet by being unable to purchase Ken’s Rage 2 considering how reviewers bashed the Hell out of it for being a derivative, asset-flipping cash-grab but I still would have had fun with it! I’m that guy who had fun playing Devil’s Third on the Wii U in 2016.
(This is literally all I wanted)
When it comes to the Switch though, there hasn’t yet been a big disappointment like that. There have been a few games that launched a couple of weeks later than I was expecting them too but there hasn’t been a big game I was looking forward to that wound up being launched exclusively in one region that I couldn’t get my hands on. The closest example of this is the Secret of Mana collection (the Seiken Densetsu collection). This is a Japanese exclusive that features Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana and, Seiken Densetsu 3 which had never been released in the US. The Switch is region free and setting up eShop accounts for regions outside of the country you reside in is incredibly easy so collecting games from around the world is incredibly simple to do if you’re willing to drop the cash to do it. Can I read Japanese? No but that hasn’t stopped me from getting started on Secret of Mana for the Xth-time, Final Fantasy Adventure for the Xth-time and Seiken Densetsu 3 for the first time.
(This is basically me)
Summer of 2013 was when the Wii U found and hit a stride of sorts. If my play log is anything to go off of, it would seem like the Wii U Virtual Console launched in June of 2013 and with it came Super Metroid, a game that I had never played before and Earthbound which quite a few people (including me) haven’t played before the Wii U release. I also embraced some early Nindies on the Wii U during that summer, specifically Little Inferno, Mutant Mudds and, Mighty Switch Force HD. Another noteworthy release around this time was the Rayman Legends Challenge App which was totally different from the Rayman Legends demo released months before for the Wii U. Actual big releases did happen for the Wii U during that Summer and it wasn’t until August that I got my copies of Pikmin 3 and Game & Wario. I put less than 5 hours into the one and about 8 hours into the other. I did go on to play much more Pikmin but I only ever played Game & Wario on August of 2013 because it’s just not a good game. It was originally going to be a collection of mini-games that show off Gamepad features but they slapped Wario on the box and charged people what, $50 for it? The best part about this package was the bowling mini-game.
Now let me see, if I want to keep these timelines symmetrical than the Switch equivalents to summer of 2013 would be fall/winter of 2017, October through December. I hate how the Switch still doesn’t have a play log but I can use a similar feature though (greatly watered down) with the Parental Control App which launched in July. So luckily I can see play times and first plays from July 2017 onward! It looks like my July was mostly dominated by Breath of the Wild but the app seems to have launched in late July. ANYWAY August was dominated in a big way by Sonic Mania with Arms and Breath of the Wild taking the silver and bronze. I wanted to like Arms and I definitely like Arms as it is now versus what it was back in August but I still don’t like Arms as much as...well most other fighting games to be honest. As for Sonic Mania let me start by saying I didn’t like Sonic 1, 2, 3 or & Knuckles enough to play through them to completion. I did however like Lost World, Adventures 1 & 2, and 06 enough to play through them more than once. With that said though I can say that Sonic Mania is the best damn Sonic the Hedgehog game I have ever, ever played. September I was going through things and couldn’t play too much on my Switch but I did get time in with the incredible Octopath Traveller demo, more Sonic Mania and more Final Fantasy Adventure.
(Buy this game. This game is amazing)
Oh wait, I was going to talk about October through December of my Switch timeline. Before I start listing game titles and time stamps I want it to be known that yes, I am perfectly aware that I am beating a dead horse with its own gamepad. October 2017 was a huge month for the Nintendo Switch as we all remember; this was the month I got Binding of Isaac Afterbirth+ back and was able to really dedicate some time to it before Super Mario Odyssey came out and sold a few million Switches around the world. I put in a bit of time with I Am Setsuna but I think this is the month I put it to bed because I just can’t get through it. I also checked out that unplayably quick Sonic Forces demo which really wasn’t a terrible demo but I feel like I’m entitled to make jokes about things going to quickly for me to get any joy out of the thing.
November was another big month for the Switch; since the console and a bunch of games have been out since March I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of Switch games available for cheap during Black Friday. This was the month that I picked up Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 but other than that, this was the month the Switch got Doom...2016 Doom. Sure, I enjoyed some Half-Genie Hero this month but a majority of my time was spent either playing self-insert DBZ or playing Death Matches in freaking Doom! I haven’t picked up Doom in a while so I still have no idea how the motion controls work. I haven’t played Splatoon 2 either so I don’t have that point of reference either. I also haven’t picked up any of the substantial DBX2 DLC so there’s no Ultra Instinct Goku for me but I recall playing up until the point where I had unlocked Imperfect, Bug-like Cell. He’s really all I wanted out of the game along with Cooler. I plan on going back to DBX2 sooner or later it just hasn’t come up yet.
(Even without The Rock, this is a great entry to the Doom canon)
December for the Switch was marked by the release of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 but I didn’t get that until late February of 2018 so I’ll talk about that a little later. Most of what I picked up for Switch this month were indie games that I quickly deleted from my Steam wishlist soon after. Most of my time was spent on DBX2 but I also played a lot of Thimbleweed Park, Binding of Isaac again and, Minecraft. At some point during this month I had resolved to try and beat games before I started playing new games so even though I did pick up Steamworld Dig 2 and Battle Chef Brigade and Riptide GP but I wouldn’t touch those until January. There is going to be a wrinkle when it comes to my time with the Switch from December onward that the Wii U didn’t have to deal with and it’s the fact that I got my PS4 for X-Mas and started spending a lot more time playing with that. When I had my Wii U, I did have a PS3 hooked up and some classic consoles but those didn’t pull me away from my Wii U in the same way that my PS4 has been pulling me away from the Switch.
Despite my not having much in the way of distractions keeping me away from using my Wii U back in 2013, September of 2013 for me was dominated by 69 hours of Netflix and 4 hours of Art Academy: Sketchpad. October 2013 was another 34 hours worth of Netflix with about 6 minutes worth of classic Donkey Kong. During November 2013 I must have picked up Assassin’s Creed 3 for pennies during Black Friday because I put in about an hour with that dumpster fire before putting in another 12 hours of Netflix. There was a meme that made the rounds during that time when the Playstation 3 was a new console and it went something like, The Wii’s mascot is Mario, The Xbox mascot is Master Chief and the PS3’s mascot is Ricky Bobby. For me, the Wii U’s mascot during its first year on the market was Roseanne. I have problems with my memory so I’m guessing that what I would do back in 2013 was just set up my gamepad by my computer so I could enjoy some Netflix in off-TV mode while I sat on my PC and played some real games like FTL. In the first months of its second year, the Wii U started getting a couple of other games that I would pick up and enjoy like Wind Waker HD but that first year for me just seemed to epitomize wasted potential. Even if I fell in love with Pikmin 3 that’s only one game and it wasn’t enough to save the Wii U.
(The second best TV family, directly behind The Addam's Family)
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve focused more on the PS4 than the Switch during the last couple of months. There hasn’t been an instance of me not touching my Switch for longer than a couple of days at a time but I’ve never played Bloodborne before or Persona 5 and those games enraptured me for weeks in a way that Odyssey and Breath of the Wild did. When I wasn’t mowing down twisted demons and celestial monstrosities I was unwinding with Thimbleweed Park or Steamworld Dig 2. I wouldn’t pick up a new triple-A Switch game again until late February when I got my hands on Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I do remember playing some Xenoblade Chronicles when I first got my Wii U at least until I’d had enough of the boring gameplay. I did play Xenoblade Chronicles X years after the Wii U release despite its deteriorating storyline because giant robots are cool. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a game I’m having trouble putting down because I love garbage anime and I apparently love jumping off of cliffs for treasure.
So here we are in March of 2018, a full year since the Nintendo Switch launched. I could be watching Hulu on my Switch but there are just too many games I want to play on this console. There may not be a remastered version of an old Zelda on the horizon but even after beating Ganon and putting in 130+ hours, I’m nowhere near 50% done with Breath of the Wild...WITHOUT DLC. The Nintendo Switch doesn’t have a Virtual Console but my eShop wishlist looks a whole lot like what my Steam wishlist used to look like. I did really like my Wii U but with each new confirmed Wii U to Switch port/remaster, I see another reason to put my Wii U away without looking back. With the benefit of hindsight, the first year of the Wii U’s life should have been a much bigger red flag for me and the first year of the Switch’s lifespan gives the system a lot to live up to. No matter what the future may hold for the Nintendo Switch history will remember that it had a much better introduction than the Wii U did.