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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lots of Games at Launch isn't Super Important

Well, we're here. At long last, the wait for the Big  N's next highly anticipated system, the Nintendo Switch, is very nearly over. It won't be long before we're nuking each other to the moon in Super Bomberman R, exploring the larger than life hand of Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and solving clever puzzles in Snipperclips. I'm not even buying a Switch on launch day and I'm still excited, largely because the Switch has the potential to enjoy the same success that the Wii did. The Switch is known far and wide by both casual and hardcore gamers and third parties seem very eager to make games for the system. And yet, the detractors are still trying their darndest to muddy the water.

One of the most common criticisms leveled at the Switch is that it has "No games!" Well either that or its "No games at launch!" I'll get to the launch line up in a minute. First, I'd like to tackle the aforementioned "The Switch has no games" argument that is rapidly running out of legs to stand on.

Did these people miss the indie game bombshell Nintendo dropped a few days ago? Some of those same games will be hitting the Switch before they land anywhere else and some are exclusive to the Switch. I've seen comments from some people that brush these indie titles off as unimportant because they use retro art styles or aren't super big budget, triple A titles. One comment even stated that it was "Sad" how Nintendo was reaching out to indies to get so much support from them on the Switch since indie games are made cheaper. As long as the games are good, I couldn't care less if the budget to make them is smaller than big budget developers. And the fact that Nintendo is so willing to work with indie developers with the Switch is a huge step up from the Wii U. Steam has benefited greatly from all the indie titles as well as Sony and Microsoft. The indie scene, despite not having pockets as deep as the triple A boys, is a thing and when you've got a line of them kicking down your front door to make games for you, that is a very big deal. Saying that the Switch has no games when a good chunk of those titles happen to be indie games is just willful ignorance.

The Switch launch line up only consists of a handful of games. That is actually a fair point, but it does make me roll my eyes when the same can be said for so many other system launches. Remember the SNES? Of course you do. The SNES is widely viewed by critics and fans as one of, if not the greatest video game console of all time and a golden age for Nintendo. SNES owners enjoyed rich first and third party support and in the end the console ultimately beat the Genesis, winning the 16-bit console generation. But the SNES launch lineup? I think a lot of people's CSMD (chronic selective memory disorder) is acting up because in terms of the number of games, it was abysmal. The SNES launched with only three titles, Super Mario World, F-ZERO and Pilotwings. But those three titles were pretty freaking good. F-ZERO wowed players with its dazzling speed and Mode-7 effects and Pilotwings was a great, very challenging flight sim that showed the visual and scaling prowess of the SNES and Super Mario World was the successor to Super Mario Bros. 3 and to this day, Super Mario World is universally seen as one of the greatest video games of all-time. Very few games released today can hold a candle to Mario's first 16-bit adventure.

So what does the Switch have? A handful of launch titles but one of those games is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game that many critics are singing the praises of. It also has Super Bomberman R, Bomberman's return to console gaming after having been MIA for seven years with eight player online and local multiplayer support. Snipperclips looks like some of the most fun local co-op you can have in a puzzle game. Not every launch title shows off the power of the Switch, but you could do a lot worse than what the Switch has on day one.

Conversely, the Wii U had a ton of games at launch and yet the system still had shade thrown at it from console war zealots and Nintendo haters. And in the end, that wealth of Wii U launch titles didn't really do the system much good. The Wii U was poorly advertised, Nintendo did not play nice with third parties and many people didn't even know the system was in fact a new, different system from the Wii. The Wii U, a system that had a ton of games at launch was a retail bomb, taking years to hit over 13 million units.

People love to look at the number of Switch launch titles and complain, rather than the quality of the games. Well, if the number of games at launch is more important then let's discuss the sub-par system launches of old. The N64 had two launch titles, Pilotwings 64 and Super Mario 64. The 3DS was nothing to write home about with it's diminutive launch lineup but went on to be a handheld juggernaut after a price drop and a more noteworthy games started rolling in the very same year it was released. The PS4 and XBO launches were pretty meh as well and for a good while, had more remasters of games from the previous console generation, some of those titles weren't even more than two years old. Despite all those remasters, Sony was still able to move over 6 million PS4 units in a very short amount of time. So, its cool when the PS4 gets games that other systems already had but it isn't cool if the Switch gets games that other systems already got? I'm really confused on just when the double standard is OK here.

If the number of launch titles is what makes a stupendous console launch, then we haven't had a truly good console launch in a very long time. "Not enough launch titles" may as well be the tag line of every single console that launches because if we're gonna throw that around with one launch, we should just do it with all of them. At the very least, it'll will make gamers a bit less hypocritical.

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