The Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo’s Recent Launch History

When the Switch was first announced, I was ecstatic. The proof-of-concept type trailer that they used to show the functionality of the Switch was a frequently watched video for the next few weeks, and the possibilities – mainly, portable Skyrim – were enticing. It’s the most excited I’ve ever been for a Nintendo home console, as somebody who only really paid attention to the company’s non-handhelds around the launch of the Wii. And for the most part, my excitement remains unchanged. But there’s one big reason (besides the price) that I’m not going to grab the console any time soon, and it’s the same reason why I’ve never been all that fussed about rushing for a brand new Nintendo console.

Launch titles. Nintendo has a history of launching their consoles with very little in the way of actual games, and the Switch is no exception. Typically, there will be one big, triple-A title, followed by a smattering of third party games that are swiftly forgotten in the following months, and a game or two which promotes the main gimmick of the console. For instance, with the launch of the DS, the US saw the release of Super Mario 64 DS – a remake of an older game – alongside Asphalt Urban GT, The Urbz: Sims in the City, Feel the Magic: XY/XX, Spider-Man 2 and Madden NFL 2005. The Wii’s launch was somewhat more respectable, with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wii Sports (their proof of concept style title), and a handful of larger titles found on other consoles. The 3DS launch was particularly barren, with not a single standout title and a smattering of potential interests depending on your niche franchise preferences. The ill-faring Wii U launched with a dramatic number of title ports that ultimately failed to pull audiences away from rival consoles which did a better job of running the games.

The Switch, then, follows this pattern to a tee. You have the large triple-A title that everyone wants to play, namely The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And you have their gimmicky demo, 1-2 Switch, which I’ve seen reported as being fun for a few hours but far from a full title. (Hello again, Wii Sports. I see they gave you a hefty price tag this time.) You have an attempt to revitalise a dead franchise (here’s to you, Bomberman) and a few niche or unique titles. In all fairness, I’ve not played them. They could be fantastic. But I’ve not heard much besides “meh”.

I was going to dedicate a portion of this blog post to what I thought was a less-than-wise decision to launch your new console with its main title being available on the previous platform. From what I’ve seen and heard, Breath of the Wild is only slightly less impressive on the Wii U – almost negligibly so. I’d just like to point out that on this front, though, I was dead wrong, as Breath of the Wild is apparently outselling Super Mario 64 as a launch title so far. I felt that was worth mentioning, considering how this blog post has criticised Nintendo’s console launches so far. I’m not a big Zelda fan myself, and even I want to get my hands on this one.

Despite all of this, I’m still pretty damn excited for the Switch. I’ve seen the list of games which are coming to the console, and I’m absolutely planning on buying titles such as Skyrim, Terraria, and Stardew Valley for a second (or third) time, as well as investing in some other indies that I’ve not gotten around to yet like Shovel Knight, The Binding of Isaac and Unbox. Plus, the 3DS gamer in me is eager to delve into the Virtual Console library again, and to own some of Nintendo’s older games that previously didn’t make it onto the 3DS shop. Plus, as somebody who skipped the Wii U as deftly as Neo from The Matrix dodges bullets, I’m looking forward to owning a Nintendo home console again and playing some larger titles.

But that’ll all come in a year or two. Because, once again, Nintendo has given us a console with hardly any decent games attached. I’m just hoping that Breath of the Wild’s success will carry the Switch past Nintendo’s recent early day console failings. The 3DS caught up, but the Wii U never did quite manage to recover from so many devs pulling their support.

I’ve also found Nintendo to focus somewhat too much on giving their consoles some crazy functionality, to the point where it can hinder gameplay. I can only assume that after the Gamecube’s failure to compete against the Xbox and the PS2, Nintendo decided to stop competing altogether and take things in a whole different direction. It worked for the DS. Theoretically speaking, it worked for the Wii, but in a manner that made it more of a family party console than the Nintendo gaming console that many people wanted. I can’t count the number of times I got sick of playing Animal Crossing because of the Wii’s motion controls. The 3DS had a dismissable gimmick, so much so that Nintendo capitalised on it and sold a non-3D variant of the console. The Wii U was a weird mess of motion control and dual screens combined into a home console with an identity crisis. The Switch, however, has functionality which actually makes it more convenient to play, like Nintendo’s handhelds, as opposed to being less convenient, such as its home-based predecessors.

So, that’s about the sum of my thoughts regarding the Switch. I’m sure they mirror many others. I’ll be excited to own it when it has a decent library a year or two from now, so that it can be the companion console to my gaming PC. As much as I frown upon Nintendo’s functionality-driven approach to consoles, it works out for them in the somewhat niche market of PC gamers looking for a console that isn’t simply a less-powerful version of what they can already accomplish. Making it semi-portable is what mostly solidified my interest in it.

Wait… This Isn’t Mario Kart (RC Revenge Pro)

Halloween is just round the corner, so without further ado, let’s fail to capitalise on this holiday in any way whatsoever and discuss a game from my childhood.

RC Revenge Pro has been something of a wonder for me. It is an arcade racing game made by Acclaim, originally without the “Pro” and as a Playstation One game. Its next generation sequel was essentially the same game, but with better graphics and a few new cars and courses. A HD remake before HD. A remake before remakes. Having spent many hours playing its predecessor, I soon abandoned it in favour of this new edition and spent countless hours driving around the thematically charged tracks.

Jungle Ranger was your main enemy all throughout the Bronze and Silver cups until you unlocked him at the end of the Silver cup.

Many years later, after having a bizarre dream in which I discovered that the series had been blessed with a sequel, I decided to scour the internet for any hints of this being the case. Instead, I found that RC Revenge was in itself a sort of spiritual successor to Re-Volt. More than that, I found precious little news of RC Revenge’s existence in the first place. A quick Youtube search yielded no playthroughs, and hardly any videos in the first place. I’d find out later that there were a few more games from my childhood that fell into this dramatically underrated category, a category born from curse of copious quantity.

I can’t quite explain my thirst for this game. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, and if it was made nowadays I’m sure it’d be a fairly successful indie title which you could sink a few hours into. But as a child, I was obsessed with fully completing the game and unlocking the last two cars; the Concept 3000, and, more importantly, the UFO. Being a child, however, I determined that I could do this by completing the Reverse Platinum Cup by finishing first in every single race. When this failed, I turned my attention to completing all the mirrored tracks, and the mirrored reverse tracks (Acclaim knew how to milk their content). Of course, they were unlocked by completing the Time Trials, a fact which should have been obvious to me had I not be so vehemently against racing through the track by myself.

Cars Attacks was one of my favourite levels of the game, providing interesting scenery and adopting a fun track layout.

I suppose this was my Mario Kart. I didn’t discover Mario Kart (or any Nintendo, really) until I got a Nintendo DS in 2005, at the ripe old age of 10. I loved Mario Kart DS, and my old original DS (none of this Lite or DSi business) is still going steady. I bring this up because it might be amusing to hear that my first impression of Mario Kart was that it was too cartoony; too bright; too dull in its weaponry. There was something boring about throwing koopa shells at people when I’d previously been sending rockets; something bland about throwing banana peels down when I’d been dropping mines. I felt that this was too obviously a pre-existing brand slapped onto a kart racer, whereas RC Revenge was its own beast. And yet, today I’m playing Mario Kart 7 and RC Revenge is but a nostalgic blog post.

I’d love for there to be a sequel, but we’re two console generations ahead and Acclaim is a distant memory. Judging by the lack of footage and the reviews, this wasn’t a game that found its way into mainstream popularity, and for that I am sad. It is worth mentioning, however, that if it were to be remade today, it would likely be condemned as another wannabe kart racer that brings nothing new to the table. If you ever get the chance, though, give it a try, and tell me what you thought of it. If you’re interested in seeing the game in action, here is some gameplay I managed to find of my favourite track in the game.

Thank you FUTUREGAMEZ.net and jeuxvideo.com for providing the images; I do not have the technology to capture my own when it comes to console games.