NINTENDO SWITCH: OUR VERDICT

It is Nintendo’s latest foray into the highly competitive video game console market and the Switch is being billed as “the home console you can take anywhere”.

Its USP – unique selling point – is that it has been designed to be used both as a home console on your television and as a handheld portable device thanks to its own LCD screen. It also comes with two ‘JoyCon’ controllers that clip on either side of it when it is used on the go.

So does it deliver? When it was launched at the start of March, there were some concerns – principally due to its price as the device sells for £279.99 in the UK or $299.99 in the United States. There were some initial software bugs, as well as the fact it didn’t come bundled with any games.  Despite these blemishes, sales were and have been strong – and stronger than anticipated.

Indeed in the United Kingdom, Nintendo sold 80,000 units in its first weekend, while worldwide more than 1.5 million units were shifted. The reception has been so positive that Nintendo is to double its production plans for the Switch for the financial year starting April 2017, increasing from 8 million units to 16 million.

As with a lot of new consoles, the number of games available at launch were rather limited – just eleven games in total, but thankfully there was a real gem in the shape of “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”. Many are already describing it as the game of the year, and there are a lot of other anticipated releases on the way too. “Mario Kart 8 Delux” has already joined the line-up and the likes of “Super Mario Odyssey”, “Splatoon 2”, “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim”, “Ultra Street Fighter II – The Final Challengers”, “NBA 2K18” and “FIFA” are all scheduled over the next ten to twelve months. As with any console, it’s only ever going to be as good as the games that support it, and the Switch is looking solid here.

The Switch also shows just how far technology has come from the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System of the 1980s, to the SNES (16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System) of the 1990s and so on. It is something that has been mirrored across various sectors from cars and planes to phones. Even slot machines have gone from using coins and tokens to TITO systems. Whether there is actually a market for this sort of hybrid game console is up for debate. Nintendo, however, has always tried to do something different and something slightly quirky at times. Sometimes this strategy of differentiation works – as with the Nintendo Wii – and other times it doesn’t, as with the Nintendo Wii U.

Critics will point out that it is no match for either the PS4 or the Xbox One spec wise (although neither of them can do gaming on the move), but comparisons with the PS4 or the Xbox One miss the point as it is not meant to rival them. Instead, the Switch is looking to create a new space and the early signs are that Nintendo is back.

Long term, we will have to wait and see.