Nintendo has a new video game console coming March 3 this year. It’s called Nintendo Switch, and people are very excited about it. Entire generations grew up when “Nintendo” was all but synonymous with video games, from the original Nintendo Entertainment System to the much more recent Wii. Nintendo makes fantastic video games, and hardcore and casual gamers alike can’t wait to see what’s next.
That includes things like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nintendo waited until the end of its much-hyped live presentation last night to debut this trailer for the new game:
Now this is worth getting worked up over. The original Legend of Zelda, released over two decades ago, amazed players with its (then) unimaginable capacity for adventure.
Some worry that Nintendo has lost touch with what its fans want, and not without reason. Nintendo hit it big with the Wii a decade ago, but it’s been in a bit of a rough patch ever since, particularly with the botched Wii U. That console was meant to be the successor to the popular Wii, but there was so much confusion over whether it was even a new console that it never stood a chance of reaching the Wii’s level of success.
Nintendo wants the Switch to correct that lapse. Admittedly, it has a catchier name.
Nintendo also took the opportunity last night to debut a brand new 3D Mario game for the Switch—a main-series Mario game, not a spin-off where the plumber is playing tennis or doing math—which also looks fantastic. Super Mario Odyssey, as it’s been christened, looks like it will send the iconic character to heretofore unheard of destinations, including something strangely resembling the real world:
It doesn’t even seem to matter that these reveals landed during an otherwise underwhelming event filled with awkward translator voice-overs (real time from Tokyo), endless cringeworthy “switch” puns and, besides Mario and Zelda, not enough of what Nintendo’s diehard fans have been aching to see.
The company that saved the video game industry back in the 1980s started its Switch presentation with a promise to all its fans: that the Switch combines features from every beloved Nintendo console over the years into one super-console that farts rainbows and comes with an actual cake baked by the real life Princess Peach.
But here’s what the biggest Nintendo fans were hoping for, besides the new Mario and Zelda footage: a new Metroid game, a rumored Nintendo Switch version of the Pokémon games that launched last year or new games in any of Nintendo’s many other beloved but underutilized franchises (Kirby, Beyond Good and Evil, Donkey Kong, Super Smash Bros., Pikmin and Mario Kart, to name a few). None of that happened.
Instead, viewers got news of a new No More Heroes game from niche cult game auteur Suda51, confirmation that the six-year-old Skyrim will be ported to Switch, the reveal of Splatoon 2 and a guy from publisher EA confessing that he loves his firstborn son so much he gave him the middle name “Luigi.“ Oh, and that there will be a FIFA soccer game for Switch, like there is for every other game console.
Nintendo also spent an inordinate amount of time describing various Switch features, like the way its “Joy-Con” controllers pull apart so you can play it on the go, or how it can simulate the feeling of a glass of ice cubes in your hand:
There’s also a new Switch game called Arms. It looks even worse than it sounds:
Yet even as Twitter erupted in snark, you could tell the world was eating it up. Vice journalist Patrick Klepek may have summed it up best:
That was a bad presentation, but Nintendo makes the best games, so who gives a shit.— Patrick Klepek (@patrickklepek) January 13, 2017
The Switch is going to try to do a lot of things, including motion controls, touchscreen gameplay, portable gaming, and living room centerpiece. Nintendo wants to appeal to its most dedicated fans, which it did with Zelda and Mario. The company also wants to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle that was the astronomically successful Wii by appealing to the casual gamers who loved Wii Sports.
Only time will tell on that point. But I fear Nintendo has forgotten that the Wii didn’t sell on the strength of motion-controlled bowling; it sold because it had a new Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and the promise of more new Nintendo classics to come.
So if anyone asks, you can tell them that’s why Nintendo fans are excited about the Switch.