It’s finally upon us, chums; four years and a few delays after its original reveal, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is out this Friday! The game's being touted as a system-seller for the latest Nintendo home console/handheld hybrid, the Switch, and it almost certainly will be. The Switch version has been confirmed to run at increased resolution with more realistic sound, so with this in mind, why have I decided to play it on the geriatric Wii U?
With many glimmers of hope along the way since that first sight, I pre-ordered Zelda and waited first for a 2015 release, which ultimately wasn't to be. Surely 2016 would be the year, especially since the Wii U was experiencing another console-defining games drought? Nope. Again, my pre-order was cancelled, and rumours of a move to the NX (Switch's codename at that point) were confirmed. Eventually we were given a release date of 3 March, a day that can’t come soon enough for me, along with a few million others.
So, why am I choosing to play the inferior version on washed-up hardware? They’ve taken out all of the gamepad-exclusive features, I hear you cry! Well, two main reasons: this is the game I bought the Wii U for, and perhaps not so good for Nintendo, I’ve lost trust in them as a hardware developer.
£279.99 might seem like a good deal for the Switch, and I’d be inclined to agree if I haven’t already been stung with the sad story of the Wii U. Everyone knows it well by now; Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros. were going to massively increase sales and the third-parties that had abandoned ship were going to come crawling back. Neither ever happened, and we got a painfully slow release of Virtual Console content to keep us going.
Why am I choosing to play the inferior version on washed-up hardware? Two reasons, really: this is THE game I bought the Wii U for, and perhaps not so good for Nintendo, I’ve lost my trust in them as a hardware developer.
The fact that Switch won't even have this Virtual Console support at launch is worrying, as are the rumours of rental-style versions of classic games to offset the cost of their new premium online service. Throw in reports of connectivity issues with the left Joy-Con (God, I hate that name), as well as instances of hand cramp, and there isn't a rosy picture heading into launch day.
I really want the Switch to be a success, I honestly do, but I can’t see that happening until Nintendo address the third-party issue, the speed they get their first-party offerings out at, and, of course, the quality of the games on offer. The Joy-Con issue can be sorted with a patch, but the current price of accessories and games is a massive concern; £49.99 for Bomberman R and £64.99 for a Pro controller are both absurd figures that are likely to anger and dissuade many.
Can Nintendo sort out their relationship with the third-parties? They certainly tried at the Switch event, with a seemly-pleased-to-be-there EA discussing Fifa (whatever anyone says, getting huge games like this on the console every year will definitely help to sell units), but what will the strategy be if EA, Ubisoft, Bethesda et al disregard them again? I truly hope that Nintendo puts their trust in indie partners like Shin’en - maker of the excellent FAST Racing NEO and upcoming Switch title FAST RMX - giving them classic IP to recreate (F Zero in this case).
Regardless of whether that happens, yesterday's 'Nindies' showcase was a step in the right direction, serving up a buffet of tasty-looking games from a range of independent developers.
The quality of Nintendo’s first-party games has rarely been in doubt, and I don’t expect Breath of the Wild to let us down on that front. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that they can continue to produce enough high-quality content to get people buying the Switch, otherwise we’re going to have another Wii U on our hands. Until that time, I’ll be cutting and cooking my way through Hyrule on my trusty, dusty 'ol Wii U - the way I'd originally intended.
Are you getting the Switch at launch? Or will you be joining me in playing Breath of the Wild on the Wii U? Let us know here or on the forums.