As we embrace a new generation of consoles, discussion about “which console,” is better will undoubtedly occur. This is typically referred to as the “console wars” and the primary focus seems to be, at least for the last few generations, the comparative success of whatever Sony and Microsoft are offering at the time. Nintendo consoles, meanwhile, don’t seem to garner nearly as much attention anymore. This might be because the system occupies a different role in the gaming ecosystem and, in many ways, actually functions as the ideal second console for many gamers to own. Currently, that title belongs to the Nintendo Switch.
The reason for this, in part, is because it is a radical departure from the other two consoles. It’s not a powerhouse in terms of graphics and whatnot, and developers typically approach it differently. As such, it offers a lot of games and experiences that the other consoles do not. Even if console exclusives weren’t so common, Nintendo’s offering would still stand out due to being incomparable. Largely, though, many of the experiences across the PlayStation and Xbox platforms are the same. Nintendo exclusives are designed with this in mind and try to leverage their system as best they can.
Then there is the fact that the Nintendo Switch is portable. Admittedly, there are remote options for other consoles, but the Nintendo Switch doesn’t have to rely on a wireless connection for that. Instead, portability is a consideration through design and it absolutely shines in this regard. The “lite” versions of the Nintendo Switch are also extremely comfortable and, at the expense of a few features, very affordable.
The Nintendo Switch also offers a vast selection of familiar, family-friendly properties which makes it an easy sell to households. It assuredly doesn’t hurt that Nintendo games, and some third party contributions, seem to encourage local play more than the others. That has changed, slightly, with the Nintendo Switch because it can be a primarily portable experience, but many games still allow multiple people to play from a television. One Switch is also capable of directly connecting to another for low latency gaming via local connection.
Fun accessories and innovation further sweeten the deal. Amiibo are fun to collect in their own right and can sometimes bring interesting additional features to games. Devices like the Ring-Con offer experiences that are unique to the Nintendo Switch. Then there’s the general continuing support for motion control, which Nintendo helped popularize with the Wii, making the system more accessible to people.
Sure, the online capabilities of the Nintendo Switch aren’t quite where they should be; Nintendo seems to struggle with this important aspect of gaming. But the company is also offering cloud gaming options which will allow it to grow its library even further to include games mostly only available with Microsoft or Sony’s technology. It will be interesting to see how the console continues to evolve. Historically, Nintendo handhelds have gone through multiple iterations, and many of these have been good. Maybe the Nintendo Switch will even get Netflix one day.