I happen to live in an absolutely beautiful mountain town in the middle of the world’s largest Ponderosa Pine forest. Less than 30 minutes away from my apartment are countless trails, hikes, forests, and camping grounds to visit. So over the last weekend, me and my girlfriend took a trip out into the woods for a nice relaxing camping trip. We packed up the tent, sleeping bags, chairs, grill, food, beer, and firewood. Oh… and we packed up the Nintendo Switch.
I’ve read countless articles about how amazing the portability of the Nintendo Switch is, but I’ve just never gotten around to really utilizing it to its full potential. I do bring my Switch to work on occasion and play on my lunch break, but I’ve yet to take it on any major trips for fear of losing it or damaging it. Now, I take great care of my technology, but with Nintendo’s refusal to offer cloud saves on the Switch, I feel the innate need to guard my 130 hour Breath of the Wild save file with my life. Despite this, I decided it was time to take the Switch out into the open air and see what it’s portability was all about. Doing so has completely validated the device’s position in my gaming lifestyle.
I have a very busy schedule that doesn’t grant a lot of free gaming time. When I do have free time, sometimes it’s just nice to quickly catch up on a TV show or watch a movie with my girlfriend instead of invest a mass of time in a video game. With the Switch, these things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. While my girlfriend enjoys playing co-operative video games together, she doesn’t get the same joy of watching someone else game that I do. So rather than take over the living room TV with my single-player games all the time, it’s just as easy to pull the Switch out of its dock and play some Breath of the Wild or Snake Pass sitting on the couch while we watch TV. It’s a remarkable household gaming solution to a problem I didn’t realize I had until the Switch made its way into my home.
Outside of the home, the Switch offers a unique solution to gaming that other companies simply don’t satisfy. With the competition continuing to compete on graphical fidelity and raw power, Nintendo chosen to place their focus elsewhere. Rather than compete on power, Nintendo has always marched to the beat of their own drum. With the Wii, Nintendo brought motion controls into the mainstream, with the Wii U, Nintendo tried to popularize multi-screen gaming in the home, and with the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo is looking to offer the convenience of home-console gaming on the go. And while the Wii U ultimately failed in its goal, Nintendo is so far looking set to bounce back with a successful endeavor in the Switch. The portable experience simply works flawlessly. Being able to play a full home-console game on the go on a beautiful 720p screen is wild. The first time you take the Switch out of it’s dock and play in handheld mode it’s a simple and joyous experience that has yet to get old.
Nintendo has shown so far with the Nintendo Switch how important multiplayer gaming is in today’s video game environment. It’s clear with the Switch’s releases this year that Nintendo wants to make a name for itself in the competitive gaming community. ARMS, Splatoon 2, Pokkén Tournament DX; they’re all prime contenders for the e-sports sphere. And while Nintendo may have some serious work to do with their online infrastructure, they are embracing multiplayer now more than they ever have before.
Beyond the competitive environment, the Switch’s joy-cons were perfectly designed for cooperative gameplay. Watch any Nintendo Switch advertisement and you’ll see tons of attractive millennials bringing their Switches to parties and picnics (remember Karen?) and getting all their friends in on the action. It all looks a bit fantastical, but the more time I spend with my Switch, the more I believe it. Games like Snipperclips, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the Jackbox Party Packs, and Overcooked feel like perfect matches for the Nintendo Switch. You take your console wherever you want, you split your controller in half, and you can immediately play with your friends. It’s simply the easiest co-op experience I’ve ever had on a console to date.
Taking my Nintendo Switch with me on my camping trip served as the perfect convergence of all of its successes. I could take my home video game console on the road with me, split its controller in half, and play full multiplayer games in a tent with my girlfriend while we waited for two hours for the rain to subside. It was a blast. That’s an experience that no console has ever offered me and is something that I will continue to appreciate as the Switch continues on through its generational life. I hope it continues to be a fruitful one.