I’m a PC gamer who hasn’t owned a home video game console in five years. I don’t mention that to obnoxiously flex my PC Master Race muscles or look down upon filthy console peasants. Instead, it’s to highlight how thoroughly done I am with those generic black boxes that sit in entertainment centers and simply…exist.
I may not be the most hardcore PC gamer, but Windows is my platform of choice for its raw power, no-cost online play, and almighty Steam sales. So, when I considered the early months of 2017, Disc Jam, For Honor, Nier: Automata, and River City Ransom: Underground were the video game titles I expected would keep me entertained deep into the spring and summer. Then my Nintendo Switch arrived and skyhooked those plans into the trash.
When I preordered my Nintendo Switch many weeks ago, I figured it would be a gaming device I’d turn to for entertaining diversions while impatiently waiting for my clothes to dry in the laundromat. Little did I suspect that I’d play the Nintendo Switch almost exclusively from the moment I removed the system from its box.
The addiction came, surprisingly, courtesy of the Nintendo Switch’s most high-profile release thus far, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It was on everyone else’s radars, but not mine. Nintendo hasn’t always been my platform of choice. I haven’t owned a home console since the Nintendo 64, nor have I played a Zelda game since the 1986 original. But Breath of the Wild’s epic scope, incredible sense of discovery via navigation and weaponry, and elegant graphics made me fall in love with Nintendo again. Its creativity and open-world environments are the best I’ve ever experienced.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain comes to mind as another favorite open-world title, but its world lacks Breath of the Wild’s scale and cohesion. Plus, I can’t toss The Phantom Pain into my man bag and take it with me on the go.
This is how much I love Breathe of the Wild: I logged 25 hours before settling in and consciously deciding to stop experimenting with the game’s wonderfully flexible mechanics and start hunting Divine Beasts. In fact, I only play it in handheld mode. That way, when the battery runs of out juice, it places a much-needed cap on my Hyrule adventuring. I’ve got it bad. And it’s a magical Nintendo experience that cannot be found on PC. Legally.
Super Bomberman R, Konami’s resurrection of the beloved action-maze series, has seen a lot of action in my Nintendo Switch, too. As I mentioned in my review, Super Bomberman R isn’t the best series entry (where are the kangaroos!?), but its manic multiplayer mode is perfect for intense gaming sessions in five- to 10-minute bursts. I’ve hyena laughed several times at home and in parks after blowing someone half to hell in spectacular fashion, or even when getting smoked myself. Swagmeat, my bomb-detonating nemesis, I’m coming for you, bruh.
I’ve also spent quality hours with Hamster’s ports of classic SNK Neo Geo games. The King of Fighters ’98, a game that I own on PC in its Ultimate Match Final Edition form, and have purchased more times over the years than any other game except Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, offers satisfying portable fisticuffs. And Neo Turf Masters, an excellent Neo Geo sports game, lets me golf on a bus when heading out to play golf (of the mini variety, that is). Some may scoff at the fact that I’m playing old games on a new, $300 system, but classics are eternal and should be available on as many platforms as possible. After all, people who’ve purchased new Blu-ray players don’t limit themselves to You, Me, and Dupree and other movies that debuted in the HD era.
Another Switch element that’s kept me away from the PC, and one that’s drastically underappreciated, is the wonderful Joy-Con controller. My wired Xbox 360 controller lets me game on my PC in traditional couch potato fashion, but the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers transform me into a puddle of relaxed goo—and it’s a marvelous feeling. Standard controllers demand that you hold them in front of your body; the Joy-Con controllers, which are designed to be gripped in separate hands, let me stretch out across my bed in a way that makes a relatively passive pastime even more slothful.
The Nintendo Switch’s home-and-away capabilities are a huge personal draw. Gaming laptops can also pull double duty, but they aren’t nearly as portable as the Switch. Sure, it won’t fit into any pocket not sewn onto a pair of cargo pants, but the Switch doesn’t add much additional weight when it’s stashed in my Supreme backpack.
This freedom to play anywhere, and in my preferred fashion, is the Nintendo Switch’s true appeal. I’m a pretty social 40-something gamer, so finding games that fit into my current life circumstances is very much appreciated. The Switch doesn’t tie me to my desktop as my gaming PC does; I’m free to play in the park, at the beach, or sprawled across a living room floor.
There’s no doubt I’ll return to PC gaming in coming days, as Nier: Automata is calling my name in a major, major way. In fact, it’s the lone PC game I’ve played since buying a Nintendo Switch. I’ve only tackled Nier: Automata’s tutorial level, but I loved what I saw in terms of action-RPG gameplay that evokes Bayonetta 2, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and bullet hell shmups. It has that Japanese flavor I adore.
But I need to get to Nier: Automata quickly. The Nintendo Switch has Arms, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Splatoon 2 on deck.