Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know that Nintendo’s next console, now officially named the Switch, is a part-console part-handheld hybrid that’s due for release next March.
If you’ve been living under a rock you’ll also be unaware that the “unless you’ve been living under a rock…” intro is massively overused, so as far as you’re concerned I’m some sort of editorial genius. Everyone else thinks I’m a prick.
Here, then, is my list. Rather than specific game titles or franchises (that’s been done to death elsewhere and the usual candidates are obvious), here’s my wishlist of what I’m hoping will be included in the Switch hardware when the cheeky wee bastard launches next year.
Note: amiibo support isn’t in this article. That’s because Nintendo has already confirmed to both IGN and GameSpot (with exactly the same answer, suspiciously) that the Switch supports amiibo. Thank fuck, because I’ve got 74 of the pricks.
It’s been more than five years since the 3DS launched and I’m still convinced StreetPass is pure witchcraft.
Granted, there’s an argument that states it’s in fact merely a clever use of local wireless technology to locate other 3DS units and transfer small packets of data between them as their users pass. But witchcraft sounds more likely.
The Wii U didn’t have StreetPass because of course it didn’t. Being a home console, its GamePad didn’t have a range that went beyond most people’s houses so unless you had complete strangers queueing up to take a shite in your bathroom it would have been pointless.
The Switch, however, is a different beastie altogether. Because it can be taken beyond the boundaries of your front door, suddenly StreetPass is on the table again and the possibilities are even more exciting.
Imagine collecting Mario Kart Switch ghost data from some knob you walk past in the street then racing his ghost on your telly later that night? Or an Animal Crossing Switch game letting you collect users’ houses (as in the 3DS game) but exploring them in HD goodness when you get home?
I appreciate that so far this argument is little more than ‘just give me StreetPass exactly how it works just now’. But there are ways Nintendo can make it more useful by tweaking existing features.
You know the StreetPass puzzle thing on 3DS? When you walk past someone you get a puzzle piece from them and eventually you can complete the picture and get a cool wee 3D animation?
I want to see that return on Switch, but this time (since 3D almost certainly won’t be a feature) when you complete a picture it unlocks a theme for your Switch dashboard. HAVE SOME OF THAT.
If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s essentially a version of those crane games you get in arcades, except this time instead of feebly trying to use a rigged claw to pick up a knock-off Spongebob plush you’re using a substantially stronger one to grab badges of Nintendo characters.
These badges can then be used to decorate your 3DS home screen, and some of them can even be used to replace some of the standard icons (Settings, Activity Log, eShop etc).
At its heart, cold as it is, it’s nothing more than a free-to-play game which dishes out a couple of free goes each day and wants you to pay for more attempts. But for those who are patient it’s a nifty free way of personalising your home screen – I haven’t spent a penny on it and here’s how mine looks now:
Naturally, for those who are a little less patient and want to turn their home screen into the Switch equivalent of a Geocities page they can pony up for some extra plays. It’ll make Nintendo money and, if they’re good enough, it could still be cheaper than the paid themes on the 3DS and other non-Nintendo consoles like the PS4 and Xbox 360.
A media player
There’s no getting away from the fact that the Switch’s handheld form doesn’t look like a member of the DS or Game Boy family. Let’s face it, the thing’s a tablet.
In fact, with the controllers removed, it looks very much like the Nvidia Shield K1, a gaming Android tablet that just happens to use an Nvidia graphics chip which is similar to the one the Switch will have (albeit a less powerful one).
It’s clear by its design that Nintendo wants people to replace their tablet with a Switch while they’re on the move, so to achieve this they’re going to have to give people fewer excuses not to do so.
Top of the list are almost certainly going to be non-gaming arguments. Sure, the Switch looks likely to provide a level of gaming that no iOS or Android tablet can match, but many people use their tablets to watch movies and TV shows too.
That’s why it’s massively important that the Switch has a built-in media player. I’m not just talking the usual suite of Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and the like either, because you can’t always get a Wi-Fi connection on the move.
I’m talking something like VLC or a similar equivalent, something that will let people play their own video files regardless of format (there be pirates when it comes to film and TV and it would be ignorant to pretend otherwise).
At the very minimum give us .avi, .mp4 and .mkv support and my Shield K1 will only be coming with me on long journeys. The thing even has a kickstand, it’s perfect for viewing movies.
Hell, give us the ability to read PDFs and ebook formats too (my Shield is filled with massive comic anthologies from Humble Bundle deals) and my tablet will stay permanently at home.
Music shouldn’t be ignored either. It goes without saying that tablets aren’t exactly necessary for music when a phone can do the job perfectly well, but anyone who’s actually bothered to put MP3s on an SD card and try out the surprisingly versatile Nintendo 3DS Sound app will know messing around with your MP3s by adding drum beats and distortion effects is great fun.
A standard micro USB charging port
If you’re lucky enough to already own an NES Mini you’ll notice it’s powered by the same micro USB connector you get on non-Apple mobile phones, tablets and other devices.
If you only dabble with Nintendo this may not seem like a big deal but for long-time fans it’s a massive breakthrough as it marks the first major time Nintendo’s gone with a standard industry-accepted connection rather than one of its own designs.
For the Switch to be truly convenient when in the move, it should follow the NES Mini’s lead and have a standard micro USB port. That way you’ll be able to use any standard USB charger (like most phone chargers) when you’re away from the main charging dock.
Even better, if the rumours that the Switch’s battery life is only a few hours turn out to be true, I’m sure fewer people will be fussed if they could plug in a portable micro USB battery pack (like the ones Pokemon Go addicts were buying) to give it some extra juice.
It would also be useful in terms of data transfer too. One of the reasons I don’t put a lot of music in my New 3DS is I simply can’t be arsed taking it apart with a screwdriver to get the micro SD card out then using a card reader to transfer the files.
Make it easy to just connect a micro USB cable to the Switch and plug it directly into your computer, and transferring music and videos could be a breeze.
If you didn’t own a Wii U then the console’s secret weapon will have gone undiscovered.
Miiverse was, in my opinion, the single best idea to come to from the Wii U and one I desperately hope follows over to the Switch.
By giving every game – no matter how small – its own message board and allowing players to share screenshots, type messages or (best of all) create handwritten notes or drawings, Miiverse turned the entire console into a massive online forum.
Partly due to its strict moderation, it’s also a refreshingly family-friendly environment 99% of the time, creating a sort of Wii U-topia (ahem) where positivity is king and the usual abuse you get over voice chat on other systems is all but extinct. It’s lovely.
Miiverse eventually made the transition to 3DS too and while I’m not sure how much it costs Nintendo to maintain the service, I think it’s a price worth paying. Especially if it has…
If other rumours are to be believed, the Switch may have a capacitive touchscreen instead of a resistive one.
What this means in a non-wanky way is that the DS, 3DS and Wii U GamePad (which all had resistive screens) could only register a single touch, whereas the Switch might work more like a phone or tablet by offering multi-touch support.
If this ends up being the case though, it could mean an end for stylus support. As anyone who’s tried to use their 3DS stylus on their phone will know, it’s about as useful as a solar-powered miner’s helmet.
The answer is usually those weird cheapo styluses you can get from pound shops and the like, which have spongy ends designed to fool your phone or tablet into thinking they’re your finger. These feel horrible to use, though.
Thankfully, the Nvidia Shield may once again have the solution for us, in the shape of its DirectStylus pen.
Its harder nib feels more like you’re using a pen, and the tablet’s Tegra chip (a more powerful version of which will be in the Switch) is able to detect when you’re using it and ignore any other touches as a result – letting you lean your hand on the screen when drawing, for example.
While a stylus would obviously be useful for any potential DS or 3DS backwards compatibility that may emerge in the future, if the Switch was to have a stylus like this then drawing sketches in Miiverse would be a dream, as would the inevitable Art Academy game that follows.
A Virtual Console subscription service
The Virtual Console was a fantastic idea when Nintendo first launched it a decade ago.
Acting as a sort of backwards-backwards-backwards compatibility feature, it let gamers play titles from every generation of Nintendo’s console history (as well as those from other manufacturers like Sega, SNK and Commodore).
That was in 2006. We now live in 2016 and digital distribution has completely changed. While some are still happy to dabble in pay-per-rent and pay-per-own when it comes to digital content (think Google Play Video, Blinkbox and the iTunes Movie Store), many are over that.
For some of us, the idea of spending a few quid on an NES game, no matter how great that game is, is perhaps a little too much given many of them are more than three decades old.
It’s also tricky to justify £8.99 for a Nintendo 64 game on the Wii U eShop, even if that game’s a classic like F-Zero X, when you’ve got the likes of Rare Replay on Xbox one offering 30 retro games (including SEVEN Nintendo 64 ones) for less than £20.
The NES Mini may be the first sign that Nintendo is acknowledging this. £49.99 for 30 games is a decent deal when you consider buying 30 NES games on Wii U or 3DS costs £104.70 or £107.70 respectively, and that’s before you take the cost of the hardware into account too.
Maybe Nintendo is finally realising that while the entertainment value of its retro games can’t be questioned, by lowering the monetary value of them they can sell more and make more profit.
This is all well and good if it’s the case, but I want Nintendo to go one step further and do what I’ve been wanting for years now (trust me, I spoke about it on the old CVG podcasts back in the day) – a Virtual Console subscription service.
Simply put, I want Nintendo’s archives to be turned into a Netflix catalogue. I want to pay a flat monthly fee and get unlimited access to Nintendo’s history.
Tier it if you want. Make it £4.99 a month for NES, Game Boy and SNES or £9.99 a month to add Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Advance.
Or have an extra £2.99 bolt-on that adds Mega Drive, Neo-Geo and Turbografx games so that Sega, SNK and Konami (formerly Hudson Soft / NEC) are paid the royalties they deserve.
On paper, could Nintendo lose money this way? Sure. But ask yourself this: how many people do you think spend £10 a month on Virtual Console games? And how many do you think would spend £10 a month to access the entire history of 8-bit to 64-bit cartridge gaming?
Everyone knows about emulators. But everyone knows about film and MP3 torrents too, and I know plenty of people (myself included) who started torrenting a lot less after signing up to Netflix and Spotify.
If it’s convenient and optimised so it runs perfectly, plenty of folk will ditch their janky Android GBA emulators for the official service if the price is right.
Speaking of subscriptions…
A ‘Gold’ style subscription service
There are plenty of gamers – usually those who don’t own a Wii U – who continue to maintain that Nintendo has poor online servers.
Case in point, Xbox Live Gold. As of 2012 it had over 40 million members each paying $60 a year for Gold membership so they can access online multiplayer. That’s $2.4 BILLION a year to go towards various network workings, compared to the slightly less impressive $0 a year Nintendo gets.
You may not be a big fan of the idea of paying for another annual membership – especially if you’re already paying for Xbox Gold and/or PS Plus – but if Nintendo can maybe throw in some sweeteners like the now-standard ‘free monthly game’ offer Xbox One and PS4 owners enjoy it could still prove useful for gamers.
If there’s one thing the Switch desperately needs, it’s the original FMV horror blockbuster that rocked a nation to its feeble core.
I want to spend long train journeys literally filling my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles boxers with tepid excrement as I nervously try to stop a house full of innocent teenage girls from being overrun by evil vampires.
I want my flight to be forced to make an early landing at the nearest airport so staff can forcibly remove me from the plane because I refuse to stop screaming at the top of my lungs for upwards of seven breathless minutes at a time.
I want a new generation of gamers to say “hang on a fucking minute, Chris Scullion was right all along” and throw Patreon money at me like Skittles when they realise I’m actually the gaming equivalent of Roger Ebert.
I want Night Trap on the Switch, is what I’m saying.
3DS and Wii U games
Backwards compatibility is something Nintendo’s offered since the days of the Game Boy Color.
Every major handheld Nintendo has ever released (not counting hardware updates like the DSi) has offered the ability to play games from the previous generation.
The 3DS let you play DS games, the DS let you play GBA games, the GBA let you play Game Boy Color games, the Game Boy Color let you play Game Boy games and the Game Boy let you plug thin air into its cartridge slot and play nothing.
This is going to be trickier with the Switch. Well, sort of.
It’s already been confirmed that the Switch will play cartridges which look very similar to 3DS ones, so I’m putting my money on the Switch continuing the handheld backwards compatibility tradition by being able to play 3DS games too.
“But it’s only one screen Chris,” I hear you say. Mmm-hmm. Check it:
If the Wii U GamePad can show DS games and the Switch screen is seemingly going to have a better resolution, you’d better believe it should be able to show 3DS ones too (emulation power permitting, of course).
Wii U is where the tricky bit could lie. Many Wii U games, after all, require two screens – the TV and the controller. The problem is, when you’re playing the Switch at home your ‘second screen’ is sitting in the dock instead, meaning you’ve got a single-screen experience whether at home or on the move.
Combined with the lack of a disc drive, it seems that Wii U backwards compatibility is going to be near-impossible.
However, that’s not to say Nintendo can’t release a sort of ‘Best Of Wii U’ series on the system allowing people who never owned a Wii U (and there are plenty) to play some of its best games in new Switch-optimised versions.
While games like Nintendo Land and Star Fox Zero relied heavily on dual-screen play, the likes of Super Mario 3D World, Bayonetta 2, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, Pikmin 3, Lego City Undercover, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, New Super Mario Bros U, New Super Luigi U, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Twilight Princess HD and Wind Waker HD could arguably be ported to single-screen versions in a relatively straightforward manner.
But will existing Wii U owners want to re-buy them again? Well, that’s why I also want…
Purchases tied to NNID
Obviously, fans have been begging Nintendo for this for years and there’s no better time to implement it than with a new console generation.
Long story short, until now digital purchases of Nintendo games have been tied to the consoles themselves.
This means if you buy a game digitally for your 3DS and you decide you want to buy a 3DS XL (maybe one of the limited edition ones with a snazzy design) so you can enjoy the bigger screens when you’re at home, tough tits: you can’t play your game on both.
This has held back Nintendo’s progress somewhat when it comes to digital distribution of its games: some players are sticking with physical cartridges or discs, so they can play them on multiple systems, until this situation is sorted out.
In theory, it shouldn’t be difficult to implement and it looks like Nintendo may already have put the groundwork in place with the introduction of the Nintendo Network ID, which launched in 2012.
This lets you sign into your Wii U, 3DS and other Nintendo services (like Miiverse on a web browser, the new My Nintendo service or Miitomo on your phone) with a single login.
I’m hopeful that the Switch will let you sign in with your Nintendo Network ID and from that point on any purchases you make will be tied to that instead.
Even better, how great would it be if – assuming the Switch does have 3DS backwards compatibility – it could see which 3DS digital purchases you made and let you re-download them on your Switch for free?
It’s something the Xbox One has been doing with Xbox 360 backwards compatibility. As new games are regularly added to its backwards compatible list, any you bought on the 360 are immediately added to your ‘purchased’ library and are available to download again on your new system at no extra cost.
Region free games
Here’s another one that’s been a big talking point among Nintendo fans. Part of it is Nintendo’s fault, part of it isn’t.
The part that isn’t its fault is the home console side of things. Nintendo’s home systems have never been region free, and until recently that was the case across the board. The Xbox 360 wasn’t region free, the PS2 wasn’t region free, and so forth.
It was only when the PS3 became region-free that eyebrows began to raise, but then Nintendo (presumably assuming it was a one-off) region-locked the Wii U. Lo and behold, one year later, both the Xbox One and PS4 launch region-free, making the Wii U the only region-locked current gen console.
The part that was Nintendo’s fault was the handheld side of things, where the opposite was the case. The Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and DS were all region-free systems, you see.
When the DSi launched, the handful of DSi-only games released were region-locked and people began to worry. Sure enough, the 3DS became Nintendo’s first entirely region-locked handheld.
I’m hopeful this will be undone with the Switch. The very nature of a handheld system is that there’s every chance that on occasion you could find yourself in a different country with it. In that situation you have to be able to buy new games for it.
We’re living in a time when region coding is becoming outdated. The Xbox One is region free. The PS4 is region free. Even 4K UHD Blu-ray, the newest entertainment format, is entirely region-free.
And when the movie industry is dropping region-locking there’s no excuse not to follow suit.
Finally, the one I want more than anything. Except maybe Night Trap.
I’m a self-confessed achievement addict. My Xbox gamerscore is 199,028 and counting. Always counting.
If a multiformat game is released on both PS4 and Xbox One, I’m going to buy the Xbox One version (even if the PS4 one runs slightly better) because I want the achievements and I’m so far behind in terms of PlayStation trophies.
And, sad as it sounds, I’m going to be blunt here: if the Switch doesn’t have some sort of achievement or trophy system and multi-format games start appearing on it too, I’m sticking with Xbox One.
On the other hand, if the Switch DOES add a system-level achievement system, which is something everything else – Xbox, PlayStation, iOS, Google Play, Steam – does, I will most certainly be getting the Switch version.
That’s because I’m up for a new achievement challenge, one where I’m starting on a level playing field with everyone else.
Now, let’s face it. I’m an extreme case, and it’s not like everyone lets achievement or trophy support dictate the format they buy their games on. But some people do, and if Nintendo wants gamers to choose the Switch version of multi-format games over the Xbox or PlayStation ones, it’s going to need to offer every reason to do so.
I’ve got plenty more reasons why I want the Switch to have an achievement system but I don’t want to bore you with them. At least, not just yet. You see, I’ve got enough reasons for a whole new article, so I’ll save it for then.
That’s about it, then. I obviously don’t expect the Switch to feature all thirteen of my suggestions (except for Night Trap, which is pretty much a guarantee).
But if it can manage, say, five of them, that bodes well for the system in my opinion. Nintendo’s got an opportunity here to chuck itself back into the mix in spectacular fashion: all eyes now look to its presentation in January to see if it’s willing to take that opportunity.
If you’ve got any more wanted Switch features that I haven’t covered above, get them chucked into the comments below. Remember, there are no stupid suggestions.
Well, except for having it play Xbox and PlayStation games. That would be a stupid one. Other than that though, you should be fine.