If you have read my previous work here at Nintendo Star then you probably know my stance on the Nintendo Switch. Basically, I think it’s going to be an awesome handheld device and mediocre home console (at least without any expansions). I believe the best market for the Switch is handheld gaming and the people who buy it, like myself, will buy it because they want to play console quality games in a portable package. So with that idea in mind I started wondering what games would fit better on the go? I don’t mean to say which games will be more fun, but which games will work better on the time frame that handheld games for the Switch requires. Let’s start analyzing this further!
Console Gaming Differs from Handheld Gaming
I’m not referring to the graphics or performance differences, but rather the amount of time you must dedicate. Sure, performance was an issue before, but (from what we can tell) it will not be a major limiting factor for the Switch as it’s show to run console grade games! We still see companies like Bethesda talking about the right kind of experience for the device when they clarified that the Skyrim Remastered was not an announced title for the Switch.
So, what could they possibly be referring to if performance is ok on the Switch? I believe it is time.
Ask yourself, “When will I be using the Switch?” If you think of the Switch as a handheld rather than a console, as I do, then you will answer stuff like “in line for a doctors appointment, on a long train/bus ride, on a plane, etc.” Basically, when you are not busy, mobile, and occasionally at home. Of course, this is not all people! For those that see it the way I do, if you dig a bit deeper you will realize that those moments are not long gaming sessions. One can clearly see why Bethesda is thinking about the “right game” for the “right console”.
Sure people are excited about having Skyrim anywhere and at any time they want, Skyrim fans are loyal!, but how much could you do in just 20 minutes? This especially applies if you are one of the “No Fast Travel” fans!
Worst Games For Handheld Gaming
Naturally some games will not be great on the Switch, but I still hope they get ported. Deep and immersive experiences not great for on the go playing; there is not enough time and playing complicated stories in short intervals just confuses players. Try keeping track of complex plots in a Guy Richie film by watching 10 minutes at a time and see how I feel. The best Handheld games for Switch will not have this level of complexity to the plots.
Here are the games I think won’t fit the handheld side of the Switch, but that I hope are around for good ol’ couch gaming fun.
Immersive Games like Elder Scrolls and Fallout
Like I said before, these stories are long and complex! When playing Fallout New Vegas, I would get confused and lost after not playing for a couple of days. Image all you get is around an hour of game play each day, split into different sessions. You would barely get anything done in any of these sessions and, honestly, you might just play on a 20 minute ride home feeling like you haven’t achieved a single thing. These long form games could take months or years to finish in short intervals.
Simulator Games like The Sims
The Sims has made a lot of different spin off games that have been alright, but the fact remains this it is the same time commitment as for deep story driven games. The Sims requires a large amount of time to get stuff done (especially the more advanced you are into the game). Spending the little time you have to game on going to work doesn’t seem like the best way to spend it. Maybe you will get a promotion and feel it was worth while, but in reality, chances are you just make your Sim go to work and come back with everything remaining the same. Making almost zero progress on one of your limited game sessions is no fun.
Sandbox Games like Minecraft
I have mixed feelings about Sandbox games and handheld gaming. On the one hand, I think that it is likely you spend some time playing and feel like you achieved little; however, I think it is unlikely that you feel like you managed nothing at all. What I mean to say is that you won’t build your shelter in 30 minutes, but you might be able to achieve a good amount of progress. If you are gathering resources then you should be happy that you spent those 30 minutes on the ride home gathering resources. Now you can enjoy building with all of those materials in the comfort of your home.
However, I still think that Sandbox games are a bit niche and that there are better and more rewarding things you can do with the limited amount of “on the go” gaming time.
Best Potential Handheld Games for the Switch
This will be our bread and butter, the kind of games that happen in small intervals of time. Now we can do plenty and feel like we have achieved something during those short sessions.
Racing Games like Mario Kart
Racing is perfectly fit for mobile gaming, and I’m certain lots of us will play Mario Kart at least once a day. It just fits perfectly. You can run a race or two in the time you have in your hand, and get a win from it! Racing is a great genre to quench your thirst for gaming and a lot of fun when playing with friends or travel partners. I expect to see loads of racing games for the Switch, and maybe, just maybe we get a new F-Zero… Wouldn’t that be something?
Fighting Games like Smash Bros
Same concept as racing. A match on Super Smash Bros can be set for just a couple of minutes or lives so it won’t take more than 5 minutes to finish an entire match! That means you get four to ten matches in your limited “on the go” gaming time. You would give you an instant feeling of fulfillment (specially if you win) and it is plenty time to train an awesome combo to train your friends over the weekend. A Super Smash Bros Melee port for the Switch would change my life.
Turn Based Strategy Games like FF: Tactics
Maybe you have picked up on this maybe you haven’t: I really like Turn-Based Strategy games like Final Fantasy Tactics. Yes you might think that this goes against all that I have been talking about and you would be right! A match on any Turn Based Strategy Game takes time and plenty of it! One could easily spend 20 minutes on a single stage which just barely enters my hypothetical max time frame of for portable game of thirty minutes.
However, turn based games have one huge advantage, you can look away! You don’t actually need to be looking at the game at all times and I think that’s the reason they still are so popular on handheld devices. I just choose what my characters will do and then I just look away and do something else while the computer or local opponent is going through her turn. Eventually, I look back at the game, see what has happened and choose my next moves. It’s almost like a mini puzzle every time I look back at the game.
Let’s hope that Nintendo kills it with the handheld games for the switch! With demos of great AAA titles, I’m a very excited!