Introducing the Nintendo Switch
“It brings the full home gaming system experience with you to the park, on an airplane, in a car, or to a friend’s apartment.”
No, you see that is called portable gaming. It has kind of been its own thing since 1989. Portable gaming is that thing where home console technology [the home gaming experience] is miniturised down to a more diminutive form factor so that gamers can enjoy gaming on the go at the expense of sacrificing some processing power – so exactly like the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo’s Switch marketing is very eager to establish it here in the West as being a home console first and foremost, and the system’s marketing in Japan likely seeks to establish the precise opposite.
“Nintendo Switch is a home gaming system first and foremost. We have made no announcement regarding the future of Nintendo 3DS.
Obviously with sales of almost 60 million 3DS portables worldwide, there’s still a huge hunger for new games, such as Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. There are many more games in the pipeline.”
Nintendo are lying pieces of shit. The truth is that the Switch is a compromise, and looks to have significant drawbacks on either front.
Because the system was required to exceed the processing capabilities of the Wii U it is far larger than the 3DS, and looks to have roughly the same surface area as the Wii U tablet controller. Essentially it is a portable for using using around the house rather than being a portable for using on the go, as it will not fit in a person’s pocket, and looks too fragile to just casually toss into a backpack. To make matters worse people with access to Switch development hardware have confirmed that Nintendo have managed to do even worse than the 3 to 5 hour battery life of the original 3DS, as Switch dev kits are only able to run for a maximum of three hours off of the battery. That being said, there is still time for Nintendo to improve battery life before the system goes on sale in March. The machine does not fare much better as a home console, as its mobile Tegra chipset means that it cannot match the performance of Microsoft and Sony’s three year old consoles, while its jerry rigged Frankenstein’s monster of a ‘Joy-Con’ controller, formed by clipping together various pieces of the handheld unit, looks like it could not possibly be comfortable to use.
The Joy-Con controller also suffers because of the Nintendo Switch gimmick – yes this is another Nintendo system based around a gimmick. The portable device is book-ended by two identical controller sections, which can be removed from the device and each serve as a tiny controller for spontaneous two person multiplayer. There is a kickstand on the tablet portion of the device, and theoretically two people can huddle around the six inch screen and play some multiplayer using the world’s tiniest controllers. As a gimmick it is very nice in concept, but falls short in terms of practicality. That said, it is not at all a bad gimmick to have, or rather it would not be a bad gimmick to have if it did not undermine the Switch in a very important way. Because both controller sections are required to be identical it means that the Switch will be the first console that Nintendo ever releases which lacks a dpad, as Nintendo has instead provided four face buttons that are intended to perform the function of a dpad. This essentially destroys the system’s capacity to play any game with robust 2D gameplay – which encompasses everything from Mario World to Street Fighter. This basically means that anybody who prefers this kind of gameplay can just go ahead and add an extra $60 to the Switch’s RRP, as the only way to get access to a proper dpad is to purchase the system’s [rather nice looking] Pro Controller. That being said, it seems likely that far fewer 2d style action games will be produced now that Nintendo’s flagship handheld lacks a dpad as standard. For a long time the handheld consoles were the last bastion of oldschool 2d gameplay design, yet Nintendo’s hardware is no longer fit for purpose. It is as though Nintendo took a look at Microsoft’s 360 dpad and said to themselves that they could go one better and produce an even shittier dpad – and they did. The frustrating thing is that the system comes with a bunch of parts designed to clip together and recharge the controller segments while forming the Joy-Con controller, and one cannot help but think that for a comparable price Nintendo could have just included a Pro Controller with every system and eliminate this problem entirely.
“It gives game developers new abilities to bring their creative visions to life by opening up the concept of gaming without boundaries.”
While this Nintendo Switch summary has thus far been fairly negative due to the problems inherent in designing a piece of hardware to be a compromise between two different products, it must be said that much of this pessimism comes from the assumption that Nintendo will price the Switch at $300 or above. If Nintendo were to price it at $200 then it would represent great value for money, and even at $250 it could make for a fairly compelling purchase – but one is not at all confident that Nintendo learned any lessons from their 3DS pricing blunder when it struggled out of the gates at launch.
Michael Pachter has not had a terribly good run of things over the course of the last several weeks. He was not terribly diplomatic in likening PC gamers to racists, and looked particularly pathetic when his disavowals were exposed as blatant lies. Now the world’s most incorrect gaming analyst has courted controversy still further by talking shit about Nintendo’s deceased former president, Satoru Iwata, during an episode of Pachter Factor.
“I think the problem with Super Mario Run is, to quote the late and not so great Satoru Iwata, is it’s free to start … he was questioned about what he thought about free to play, and he said ‘we prefer free to start’.”
This is not the first time that Pachter has had unfavourable words for Nintendo’s dead president, as even in the immediate wake of his passing Pachter felt it important to alert his Twitter followers to the fact that he did not approve of his leadership.
“I have never been a fan of Mr. Iwata’s leadership, but am very saddened by his untimely passing. My condolences to his family.”
While Iwata’s contributions to the world of gaming during his time as a developer are undeniable, Pachter is not wrong in noting that Iwata’s time as Nintendo’s president was less than glowing. He oversaw massive successes like the Wii and DS, but he also presided over the dismal failure of the Wii U and the near failure of the 3DS. All that being said, it is one thing to acknowledge that Iwata’s legacy as Nintendo’s president was mixed, and quite another to inject it into a conversation that did not have anything to do with Iwata’s stewardship of the company so long after his passing on. It was odd.
SAG-AFTRA Votes to Strike
Several months ago Lusipurr.com brought you news that SAG-AFTRA, the union responsible for negotiating pay and conditions for voice actors working on vidya in America, were considering taking industrial action against the video game industry. This week the union voted to precede with the strike. The gaming industry had been willing to offer voice actors a nine percent rise in wages, along with up to $950 in additional payments if an actor is required to perform multiple roles. The sticking point was that SAG-AFTRA could not be dissuaded from demanding that actors be paid royalties based on how well a game sells. The studios that will be effected by this industrial action include:
Activision Publishing, Inc.
Corps of Discovery Films
Disney Character Voices, Inc.
Electronic Arts Productions, Inc.
Formosa Interactive, LLC
Insomniac Games, Inc.
Interactive Associates, Inc.
Take 2 Interactive Software
VoiceWorks Productions, Inc.
WB Games, Inc.
Voice acting is literally the least important aspect which goes into making a game. The actual game devs who have to endure extended crunch periods as they bring their creations to life do not get royalties or residuals for their work, yet these entitled cry babies view their involvement as so vital to a game’s success that they are willing to upend the industry’s current business models. At the end of the day though SAG-AFTRA is only hurting its own members, as SAG-AFTRA members voice less than 25% of video games on the market. This latest incident just means that fewer studios will be willing to use union talent going forward.