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Has Nintendo Switched Gears?


 The Nintendo Switch is obviously something new and different. It's a concept that's never really been executed before, and it certainly seems like a new step for Nintendo hardware...but could it be something new for Nintendo software?
Bethesda's Skyrim running on the Switch
 In a recent article on WIRED, Chris Kohler made the bold statement that "Nintendo Switch ain't for Mom and Pop - It's for Die-Hard Fans". This has been met with a lot of feedback, positive and negative. Personally, I see where Kohler is coming from, but I don't know if it's as serious as he's making it out to be.

 Before we really dig into the "maturity" of the games, let's look at some of the games coming to the Switch:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • Xenoblade 2
  • Skyrim
  • NBA 2K18
  • Steep
  • Fifa
  • Fire Emblem Switch
  • Fire Emblem Warriors
  • The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+
  • Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers
  • Disgaea 5 Complete
  • Shin Megami Tensei
  • ...and many more
 While many of these are not bloody, violent, inappropriate games, none of them seem to really be "kids' games". Even Super Mario Odyssey seems to have big open environments and a more involved story, potentially making it more appealing to "hardcore" gamers. Games don't have to contain mature content to appeal to a mature audience, they have to have a lot of depth, and Nintendo seems to really be doubling down on this.

 For example, take a look at The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. While the series has always been one of Nintendo's most serious, this game really kicks it up a notch. Gone are the days of wacky villains and caricature-esque NPCs, and we're now presented with a Zelda game like no other. The art style has been made more realistic, we have voice acting, and the story seems incredibly emotional. The trailer shown at the Nintendo Switch event really pulled on all of our heartstrings, and that might mean something.

 There's also a lot of third-party support lined up for this machine. NBA 2K18 will be available on the Switch the exact same day it's going to become available on Xbox One and Playstation 4. That's huge. Nintendo fans no longer have to wait months to be able to play the latest and greatest third party titles. We're also getting a lot of indie support with games like The Binding of Isaac, Cave Story, and 1001 Spikes all planned for Switch release.
The cover of Nicalis' The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth+ on the Switch
 I know it was available on the 3DS and Wii U, but I'm still pretty shocked that The Binding of Isaac will be available on the Switch. It's even going to be a Day One physical release. The Binding of Isaac is an incredibly mature and controversial game that no children should ever play, and yet it's being featured on a Nintendo console.

 While I doubt Nintendo themselves will ever develop a game higher than a Teen ESRB rating (their publishing of Bayonetta 2 was pushing it enough), it is interesting to finally see Nintendo have what seems to be a much more open platform.

 So what does this all mean? Is the Switch not going to be accessible for children? Well, I don't think so. Just because they're making their games more complicated doesn't mean kids won't still play them. I also don't think that the content maturity will throw a lot of kids off, either. Hop on any Call of Duty lobby and you'll immediately learn that kids play mature games.

 Altogether, I don't see how this could be bad for Nintendo. In my eyes, it just seems like they're making themselves more accessible to other audiences, and I don't think their current audience has anything to worry about.

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