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Sunday Times - - Up Front - Matthew Vice

Nin­tendo Switch On­line

Iwould never make it far in the field of ad­ver­tis­ing or mar­ket­ing. I’m too hon­est. Take Nin­tendo for in­stance. Of course, I’m re­fer­ring to the on­line play part of their new sub­scrip­tion ser­vice. “En­joy com­pet­i­tive and co-op­er­a­tive on­line gam­ing with friends ...” says the ar­ti­cle on the Switch news feed.

Oh, you mean that thing we’ve been able to do for free for the last year and a half? And now we have to pay for it? Thanks! What a great fea­ture! I can to­tally see why you put that at the top of your list. It mys­ti­fies me how who­ever wrote that could pre­tend that a pre­vi­ously free ser­vice (which was prob­a­bly a sell­ing point for the Switch) be­com­ing sub­scrip­tion based is a good thing. Per­haps it be­comes eas­ier af­ter you’ve com­pleted your mar­ket­ing de­gree and sold your soul to Satan.

But fear not! Nin­tendo is of­fer­ing fair com­pen­sa­tion in ex­change. Now you can up­load your game save data to the Nin­tendo cloud, so if you get a new Switch for some rea­son, your pre­cious saved data will still be on your ac­count. Nifty, I sup­pose. I don’t use cloud saves on any ma­chine my­self be­cause they’re just videogame saves, I don’t care that much — but if your saved games mat­ter enough to you to war­rant in­sur­ance, here you go. Ap­par­ently it doesn't work with some games, though, be­cause you can use the up­load­ing and down­load­ing of data to cheat. Nin­tendo is still de­fend­ing that de­ci­sion on­line.

Here’s an­other great fea­ture. While play­ing Switch games on­line — which, I re­mind you, you did for free un­til re­cently — you prob­a­bly lamented that you couldn’t speak to your team­mates or make rude com­ments about the moth­ers of your op­po­nents be­cause the Switch lacks not only the soft­ware but the hard­ware to do this. Nin­tendo’s so­lu­tion was to re­lease a smart­phone app, which you link to your Nin­tendo ac­count. Great! Ex­cept the app is trash. So far Spla­toon 2 is the only game sup­ported — a game I don’t own and don’t like — and you can only chat once you’re in the game. I mean, why would you want to chat to a friend who’s play­ing a dif­fer­ent game like you can on the PS4 of Xbox One? So I didn’t bother down­load­ing the app, but I watched some tu­to­rial videos. Ap­par­ently the app has to be ac­tive and on screen at all times, you can’t min­imise it or turn off the screen. I have an old iPhone 6 that some­one gave me. It had the bat­tery life of a mayfly when it was new, and age hasn’t helped. From a full charge I’d get about 25 min­utes with the screen and wi-fi chug­ging away, and 25 min­utes is not a gam­ing ses­sion. It’s like... a 10th.

One of the other listed fea­tures is the ex­clu­sive dis­counts NSO mem­bers will re­ceive on the Nin­tendo eShop. It should off­set what you paid for your sub­scrip­tion, hope­fully. I’m cu­ri­ous to see if Nin­tendo will shave more than a few pen­nies off their pre­cious first­party ti­tles for sub­scribers. Up to now, I’ve seen dis­counts of 50% and more on indie and third-party ti­tles, but if you want a Mario or Zelda game, you’ll get 10% off and like it! What do you think this is, a char­ity? Qual­ity costs.

The last fea­ture, which I’ll men­tion in its own re­view, is the Nin­tendo En­ter­tain­ment Sys­tem app for the Switch — a col­lec­tion of 20 an­cient games (with more com­ing) of lit­tle or no value. Would it be churl­ish of me to men­tion that for a PlayS­ta­tion Plus mem­ber­ship you fre­quently get big AAA games for free ev­ery month? It would? Good, we’ll go with that then. Now maybe Nin­tendo will give away free AAA games to sub­scribers in the fu­ture, I don’t know — but you’d think they’d want to open strong with more than a small col­lec­tion of 30-year-old NES ti­tles, right? LS

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