The advertising in the lead up to the Switch’s release focused heavily on the idea of gaming together in the same space. Your friends invite you to a rooftop party? Take the Switch with you, Antisocial Karen, and show it o to everyone. Heading out to shoot hoops with some friends? Shoot virtual hoops afterwards, which maybe you secretly wanted to do the whole time anyway. The Switch wants to provide a living room gaming experience that you can take with you anywhere.
Even with the console now in our hands, it’s hard to say whether or not the Switch is a perfect realisation of Nintendo’s grand plans to bring people together or not, but the signs are there that it has a shot. The machine launched with five titles that work best as shared experiences: 1-2 Switch, Snipperclips, Super Bomberman R, Just Dance 2017, and Skylanders Imaginators – of which only Bomberman (which supports up to 8 players on one console) is playable online. Throw in Fast RMX, and the post-launch releases of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Puyo Puyo Tetris, and a huge selection of indie games, and you’ve got a console that seems to be fully embracing the spirit of same-room multiplayer even as it goes portable.
The Switch is the first Nintendo console – indeed, the only major console in memory – to launch with two controllers by default. The Joy Cons can be used together for complex games, or can be split apart and used as separate controllers for various titles, complete with extra shoulder buttons that slot into place on their sides.
These tiny controllers are much more comfortable than we had anticipated – not quite a replacement for the Pro Controller, but more than fine for a quick round of Bomberman.
The Switch’s narrative isn’t over yet, but what’s clear is that it represents the continuation of a long-term goal to get people playing together, in-person. Nintendo may release the most advanced consoles, or oer the most generous libraries, but the company never seems to lose track of how much fun it is to stay up as late as you can, with your friends, playing games.