Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months it should come as no surprise that the Nintendo Switch is one of the hottest consoles out there right now. Why is that? What about the Switch makes it so popular? This is not like other reviews laying out the specifications of the Switch, rather today we’ll explore the simple fact that the Switch is the console your family needs.
First, I must apologize in advanced because a lot of this comes from my own experience of playing my Switch with my kids. One day as I am playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild riding across the plains of Hyrule my five-year-old asked if she could play. Until this point except for some mobile games playing video games was something that Dad did but no one else. Of course, I jumped at the chance to play a game franchise I love with my kids. Like any true gamer I started a new game under a different profile so my kids wouldn’t mess up my game and then something I did not expect happened.
My five-year-old, because of the open world that Zelda: BOTW is, started doing things and going places that I hadn’t even been to in my own game. Fast forward to now and we have weekly game time set aside to play. Its slow going because she will see something and head in that direction. Over the last few weeks she’s gotten more comfortable to even try and fight the bad guys. For the bigger ones she still hands the controller over to me if she can’t do it the first couple of times. Never had I seen my kids looking forward to game time as much as me. It was a beautiful thing.
So what makes the Switch different than other consoles? The clearest difference would be that the Switch unlike XBOX and PlayStation seems to be made with families in mind. They are releasing games that appeal to adults and kids on a level rarely seen in today’s modern gaming world. The biggest games that have been, or are about to be, released are all games that don’t have an M rating. The entry level for Nintendo games also seems to be lower. They're not looking at trying to make a game like Dark Souls which makes you want to throw things just to vent your frustrations.
This isn’t to say that the other consoles don’t have family friendly games because they do. Games like Lego Marvel, Minecraft, and Skylanders just to name a few, but none of the titles seem to be consoles' launch titles. The Switch takes it one step farther though with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. There’s a feature called drivers assist to keep the younger or more unexperienced gamer on the roads. Now even my three-year-old can play. Kids don’t stay in the “here’s a controller that isn’t actually doing anything” phase for very long nowadays and with the Switch they can actually play at their level while the more advanced gamers play at theirs.
My own kids would play Lego games and Disney Infinity but those were some of the only games appropriate for kids to play that I owned. The other games on the market that were geared toward kids seemed so lackluster that spending money on them over bigger games just didn’t seem worth it.
This weekend there was a demo of the newest Switch game, Arms. This game is one that is a lot more fun than it should be and that kids can’t get enough of. The demo was broken up into one hour segments over the weekend and that hour went by extremely quickly. A perfect example of a game that just works on the Switch and that gamers of all ages can lose themselves in. There wasn’t any audio chat either so as a parent I didn’t have to worry about my children hearing the normal human waste that accompanies video game chats. Mature rated games have their place in the gaming world and of course there will be M rated games for the Switch but it isn’t their focus.
Family friendly consoles are nothing new for Nintendo, the Wii and Wii U were both extremely family focused but they just seemed to always fall short of the mark. Most of the games were to geared toward kids and the controls never seemed to work right. They were clumsy and if the titles were released on all the consoles the Wii games felt like an afterthought.
But if it wasn’t for the Wii and it’s success and failures we wouldn’t have the beauty that is the Switch. Nintendo didn’t suddenly start focusing on families with the Switch but they did figure out the secret formula to do it. Exactly what that formula is I don’t know but I can say that releasing games that focus on good clean entertainment goes a long way.
It seems that intentional or not the Switch is creating a new generation of gamers. What an exciting thought! Not unlike how the N64 was a pioneer in the way we play our games I have no doubt that the Switch has started down that path as well. This is their bread and butter, the Switch and the consoles that come after it, if they keep doing what Nintendo is doing, will remain the consoles families choose