The Switch’s online support and execution was something I was very eager to see play out. Nintendo have always struggled with online integration, with digital purchases so famously being tied to hardware rather than accounts during their last generation of consoles. I was praying for things to change with the Switch and, whilst not entirely perfect, Nintendo have finally started taking the right steps.
Just before launch Nintendo allowed you to pick a username for your Switch account. Much like gamertags or PS IDs, this was to be a unique username for your account. But this is where things get slightly complicated – when logging on with this account on my switch, I never used that username. Instead I had to put in my Nintendo ID – which previously absorbed the Nintendo Network that the 3DS and Wii U had used as accounts. Now, after having played around with the system I can’t see that username anywhere, apart from on the settings page where its partially hidden, as if it were a password. Even when I hopped online, it used my Mii’s name in lobbys rather than my Switch ID/Nintendo Network ID. Maybe they were used for adding friends, I thought – but no. This is, unbelievably, back to a friends-code basis, something I never thought Nintendo would do but, here we are, in 2017, with number strings allowing you to add your mates instead of unique usernames.
Regardless, it all seems to work okay. Purchases are now tied to your account (hallelujah!) meaning you can redownload them should the worst happen -although you’ll still need to contact Nintendo to deactivate your account on your old system. It’s ridiculous, but I’ll take it over the alternative. As I said, this is steps towards the right direction, we’re certainly not quite there yet.
Luckily, online works fine. The e-Shop is clear and uncluttered, and downloaded my copy of Fast RMX very quickly. Hopping online with that game – a zippy futuristic racer akin to F-Zero (full review coming this week!) -lead to a lobby almost instantaneously, which I was pretty pleased with. However, the game experience itself seemed incredibly laggy at times. In one very memorable race, I was fighting someone for pole position for the final lap only to have him pip me to the post at the last second. ‘2nd place – gutted’ I thought, until the screen showed up as my having come 6th. Excuse me?This happened on a couple of occasions – one time where I was (supposedly) so far in front of the pack I hadn’t seen them in a while. My screen read 1st as I crossed the finish line, only to be informed I was in fact dead last. I don’t understand whether the fault lies with Nintendo’s online infastructure or dedicated RMX servers, so I can’t really cry foul at either of them yet, but its put me off the online mode for the time being,
The “Nintendo Switch” is a promising machine full of comprimises. Some of these comprimises have been made by Nintendo, and some of them will have to be made by you, the player. Whilst I’ve genuinely had a load of fun with the system since getting it, there are some genuine concerns about it going forwards. But I’m also excited about its prospects, and of course the fantastic first party games that are going to launch for it within the next year or two. A console-quality Fire Emblem for my cross-country commutes? Yes please. The pricing model is a bit outrageous, especially once you factor in the countless accessories you’ll most likely need. There’s no killer app that’s forcing you to buy it right now, as long as you have a Wii U for Zelda that is, but still I can’t help but recommend the Switch.
It’s a brilliantly fun piece of kit to play with, and its unique handheld/console quirk is so interesting and well executed that, should third party support take off, I would want to buy most games on this console now – which seems very weird to admit considering how low-res it is compared to the competition. The Switch will ultimately live and die, however, by Nintendo’s support, and that’s a journey I’m excited take with them.