But…there’s an issue. The Switch, unlike the Wii U and the Wii, has no pack-in game. Not Arms or 1, 2 Switch, which seems like it was at one point designed as such. Which means that it feels justified to add the price of Arms into my total at the top of the article here: without spending an extra $60 on your Switch, you just won’t be playing it, with the possible exception of Bomberman. So to play Arms you’ll need to pop the price up to $360. This is standard for launches, but it still makes the price proposition vs. a PS4 or Xbox One worse.
But that’s small, and to a certain degree expected. The controllers are where this thing really gets you: Arms takes two Joy-Cons to play, meaning that the basic Switch SKU won’t buy you that split-screen multiplayer we saw in the launch trailer. And the extras will not be cheap: $80 for the pair, far more than an Xbox One or PS4 controller. So if you, on March 4, decide you want to go out and spend the money to play this game, you’ll be forking over $440.
(I am assuming there will be some sort of single-player/AI mode in Arms, but this is clearly not how Nintendo is selling it. All launch demos focused exclusively on multiplayer)
This strikes me as an issue for what appears to be intended as a fun, approachable game. The Joy-Cons, for me, are right at the heart of what is going to be so difficult for Nintendo with the Switch. When we first heard of this console, I think most expected the controllers to be what we saw: little controllers that could attach to a Grip and be used as a standard dual analog controller or used individually for multiplayer games. Instead, they turned out be mini, multi functional Wiimotes, with motion control thrown in to expand functionality. Which is great! The fact that they are $40 a piece, however, is not so great. It limits the audience for what appears to be the most interesting game in the launch lineup to those willing to make a much bigger investment.
It begs the question: why? It appears that Nintendo was trying to entice the Wii crowd to come back home, but I have the distinct feeling that they are gone forever, happily exploring a wild world of mobile games. On top of that, the controls were only part of why casual gamers loved the Wii so much: the other part of the equation was the instantly communicable, recognizable and enjoyable games in Wii Sports which, again, came as a pack-in. The same cannot be said about the more quixotic 1,2 Switch, which doesn’t come as a pack in anyways. And the depth that I enjoyed with Arms is not so easy to wrap your head around as with bowling.
The Switch has some real, genuine selling points, notably local multiplayer. But turning it into a pseudo-Wii is a direct route to the convoluted marketing that crippled the Wii U, and we have to assume it’s making the thing more expensive to boot. Nintendo is at its best when it’s focused, but the Switch is looking a bit bloated right now.