I’ve been seeing a bit of chatter about whether or not the Switch is still worth the money after all this time. I wanted to know what our GWW President – Joe Barhoum thought and decided to interview him.
How do you believe the switch stacks up against the other major consoles?
Well, the biggest thing is accessibility - the fact that it’s portable but could also be docked if needed. I understand that right now we’re in early 2021, and I suppose this statement has been true for several months now, it’s difficult to get your hands on the $300 Switch console, but it’s not difficult to get your hands on the $200 Switch Lite.
In which case, I guess it’s not quite as extensible because you can’t dock it, but even the portability is helpful.
Now, I’ve had issues as an older guy. I’m in my late 30s; my eyes aren’t as strong as they used to be. It is harder for me to play some games on the Switch Lite because the screen is so small relative to the regular Switch or just relative to screens in general.
Regardless of all that for the average user, especially younger kids, the Switch’s biggest advantage is that Accessibility.
How do you think it stacks up against other portable consoles?
Oh well, it’s easily number one. So, I’m a huge fan of the PlayStation Vita, which of course, is no longer in production. It’s been discontinued. I did fire mine up around Christmas time just because you know, Christmas time - things slow down, and I tend to get a feel like “oh man I’m gonna go back and play Killzone” or a game I used to play. So I fired it up, and it still blew me away just how crisp the display is. How great the colors are. It’s an OLED screen whereas on the Switch’s LCD.
And the library is pretty good on the Vita, but it’s nowhere near as good as it is on the Switch. Now when it comes to any other handheld, you just can’t compare. The switch has the Nintendo online service.
You have access to a lot of (games), a ton of ’em. Actually, I just yesterday purchased the Castlevania collection for $5. It has a bunch of Castlevania games, and I love those games.
And believe me, I’ve gotten my hands very dirty with Arduino boards and with old emulator-based handhelds. I was really into trying to play retro games on the go on modern, at the time, handhelds. They just don’t stack up against the Switch. Especially even with the Switch Lite that has a bigger screen than a lot of those alternatives. So, I think that right now the biggest advantage for this, which is not only modern games but also… the old games.
Why do you think the Nintendo seems to be keeping its value?
Yeah, you know that’s a good question considering how many years it’s been since it rolled out. I think it was March 3rd of 17. I know we were chatting in the Geeks WorldWide Discord server about this a couple of weeks ago. Nintendo first party titles really don’t depreciate very much at, and the ones that don’t will appreciate. So, you might purchase a brand-new copy of a true first party game like Zelda breath of the Wild, and five years later it’ll be more than $60.00 brand new.
So, what I do is… buy and sell. I have a kind of little habit there. I also like to buy and keep. There are some I own. Like, I own almost every single Zelda game unopened as well as course open copies, because I love Zelda. That is such an interesting thing about Nintendo, just how they manage circulation.
They don’t overproduce, and it’s not only on their software but also their hardware. As far as just general aging goes, I’m seeing the age honestly. Even though I mentioned that it’s still a great console and I’m obviously very positive on it, I don’t play mine as much as I used to. I’m not the only data point that we should consider, but I have conversations with friends. I have one friend who’s a lot like me, and he played a ton of switch whereas the year before I played a ton of Switch. But last year I didn’t play hardly any switch this year so far.
Not to say that it’s aging only because of my interest. It’s aging for me. I suppose it’s aging in the sense that I don’t see a lot of games. I feel like Nintendo kind of released everything that’s super exciting, like Breath of the Wild and a litany of Mario game.
I didn’t see as much third party collaboration as I’d hoped. I know a lot of people are still playing Animal Crossing that came out last year. But you know, as far as like, where’s Metroid?
Also, the hardware itself is aging. I still have my day one Switch with the joysticks that are removable. It creaks and cracks, right? I’ve replaced the joy-cons. They still kind of creak and crack, and I think that Nintendo did a great job to build something no one else had ever done. But when you look at it, the bezels are enormous around the LCD display, the creaks and cracks, the kickstand doesn’t exactly work very well.
So, I think there’s room for improvement from a hardware standpoint. I’m not advocating for Nintendo to make a $2000 handheld, but you know, I think we’re due for a more mature handheld physically in terms of materials like maybe some magnesium alloy, would be very cool instead of all this plastic that creaks and cracks.
The cooling could be better. You know my Switch still kind of goes right? It ramps up with the fans, and of course, I dust it. Switch Lite feels like a more modern handheld, and the fact that it’s a unibody construction, it doesn’t quite creak and crack as much. It’s still not perfect - like my analog stick doesn’t sit perfectly straight. And my number four-way D Pad doesn’t align perfectly inside the cut outs on the plastic in the front. So, you can actually rotate it a bit, which is a little bit weird. I think it’s starting to show its age, not just in the software, but also in the hardware. We’re due for another one. Even just a Pro would be fantastic.
What would you say to people saying that games are simply recycled stories labeled over the same old mechanic?
I’d say OK. I don’t care; you know. I don’t want to get too deep philosophically, but every type of storytelling is rooted on the same old stories. We haven’t innovated very much there either.
We should talk about nostalgia. So for example, I started playing video games in the early 90s, and I was playing mostly PC games like Doom and… Diablo, as the years went on.
Everything is based on the same archetypes like we have it. What else is there to talk about now. I think the underlying archetypes that a lot of these stories that inform these games early game developers and designers I believe, were influenced by those same archetypes or influenced by the same books that you know are classic books.
Like in Moby Dick, for example, we see a lot of Moby Dick type stories, which is again another old archetype. And that’s just kind of a new type of way to tell that story. And then current game designers/developers are probably heavily motivated not only by those old archetypes, but also by the games they grew up playing. If someone gave me like the matrix where you can just download game development skills into my brain, the first game I would make would be basically Diablo right now. It would have some stories that are affectively the Christ story and heavily influenced by Zelda.
What are your top three switch games and why?
#1 is Breath of the Wild - the best Zelda game ever made.
It combines everything I love about Zelda games. Not only are there puzzles like there’s normally puzzles in Zelda games, but there’s puzzles inside the vaults that you have to access. Then there’s puzzles to find the vaults to even access. It’s just like the games this giant puzzle within a puzzle. It’s fantastic!
Then of course, it looks gorgeous. It’s a beautiful game. They’ve combined the art style that I like in Wind Waker, which is more cartoonish cell shaded with the modern, more mature style of Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. It kind of combines the two so you get the soft cell shading with still some of that mature grown up link type look throughout the entire world.
#2 - no surprise is the remake of Links Awakening, because I love Zelda. And I feel like Nintendo did such a great job. I have been screaming from the rafters “Why have we not gotten a 3D remake of the very first Nintendo, the very first Zelda game?” I don’t know why we haven’t done it, so we need that. I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen, but we got something similar. We got a remake of one of the best portable versions of Zelda - Links Awakening.
I love that not only did they make it look better, but they also modernized it and it felt a lot like the old game. They modernized the weapons system, which I thought was a really cool thing to do.
#3 Splatoon 2 was a ton of fun. I really enjoy Splatoon 2. I’m going to go with that because I don’t really get into multiplayer shooters or multiplayer competitive games. But that game drop drew me in. I’m going to go with that. Splatoon 2 is a ton of fun you could play with people of all ages and it deserves more support. Great job Splatoon 2.
OK, are you excited for the Switch Pro?
100%! I hope it’s real, and I hope it’s made out of magnesium alloy. I hope it has an OLED display. I hope it has a larger display. I hope it has thinner bezels and that Nintendo just speeds up. If they take the advantage to speed up the processor, increase the RAM in such a way that we can get through the Nintendo store easily, I’d read.
This is our last question; do you think the switch is still worth it?
Yeah 100%. I do believe the switch is still worth it. $200 is a very low entry point right now for a console. You can’t get your hands on the new PS Five or Xbox One series. They have very good libraries, but they’re still not more expensive than a Switch Lite in that they’re both not portable. The portability factor is very important to me.
So, I do think it’s still very much worth it. If I have to recommend a console to anybody, it’s usually (a Switch) because of the entry point.
A very good library games and to me the Zelda games are the best game. I like to recommend Zelda. If you’re more into PC gaming, you’re going to pay a lot more to get your hands onto something decent.