An important segment of the games-purchasing population is inhabited by the parental units whose children desperately want the latest in vid’ya games tech-naw-lawgee. This was the segment that common wisdom likes to tell us Nintendo reached with the Wii (“Oooo! Tennis!”) and whiffed on with the Wii U (“Didn’t I already buy this?”).
In the interest of enlightening those parents out there who may not be as hopelessly dopey as myself, I present, in the form of a dramatic dialogue, A Parent’s Guide to the Nintendo Switch.
Please hold all applause until the end.
PARENT: So I was on Facebook and my friend Dolores shared a video from Jimmy Fallon. I don’t usually click on Dolores’ Facebook posts because she is just so political and I just can’t, you know? But I think this one was about a new Nintendo, and my kids are going to want this for at least a few weeks until they get distracted by something else, so I figured I’d better find out what it is I may be tricked into buying this time.
ME: Yes, well, the video Dolores posted was about the new video game system being made by Nintendo, called the Switch.
PARENT: The Switch?
ME: The Nintendo Switch.
PARENT: And what is a Nintendo Switch?
ME: The Nintendo Switch is a multi-form video game console.
PARENT: … um…
ME: Don’t worry, I’ll explain. The Nintendo Switch system, itself, is a tablet, not unlike an iPad or Kindle Fire.
PARENT: Oh. I already have three of those.
ME: There’s more. The Switch tablet comes with two controllers attached to either side, so it can be played on-the-go like a handheld system.
PARENT: Like an iPhone?
ME: Like a GameBoy.
ME: But the two controllers, which are called JoyCons —
ME: It’s a portmanteau of “joystick” and “controller”.
PARENT: Oh. Clever.
ME: Right? Anyway, the JoyCons can be detached from the side of the Switch and now TWO people can play a game, together, anywhere.
PARENT: Wait. One tablet, two controllers, two players?
ME: That’s right.
PARENT: I have two kids.
ME: How convenient. The Switch can also be placed into a box that you attach to your television, and suddenly the portable system becomes an at-home system.
PARENT: So is it a portable game or a TV game?
ME: It’s both.
PARENT: Huh. Well, what games are there for it? Mario and Zelda?
ME: Like, the originals?
PARENT: Right. From when we were kids.
ME: … yes, probably.
PARENT: For free?
ME: … I very much doubt that.
PARENT: Seems like they should be free.
ME: I get that, but —
PARENT: They’re so OLD.
ME: You and I are old! Should we be free? Are you and I worth nothing?!
PARENT: That’s a little different.
ME: IS IT?!
PARENT: Are you okay? You’re getting all red and blotchy.
ME: Yes. Yes, I’m sorry. I… I have ‘episodes’.
PARENT: Uh… sure. Does this Switch thing have Minecraft? My kids are gonna want Minecraft. I don’t get it, but they love it.
ME: Minecraft is coming for the Switch later this year.
PARENT: Okay. How about Skylanders?
ME: Skylanders will be there on day one.
PARENT: And Disney Infinity?
ME: Disney actually stopped making Infinity.
PARENT: Are you kidding me? You know how much money I spent on all those stupid little toys? Now I’ve got Queen Elsa underfoot all day and nobody ever plays the damn game anymore!
ME: Just FYI, Nintendo has its own brand of interactive toys called amiibo.
PARENT: And what do they do?
ME: Let’s move on. So the Switch is an all-in-one video game console, at-home and portable, that allows for one player, two players, and up to eight players in any configuration.
PARENT: Eight players? Wow. But I thought there were only two of those Joy-thingees?
ME: Yes, but you can buy extras.
PARENT: For how much?
ME: For some amount of money. The Switch itself comes out on March 3rd, for $299.99.
PARENT: Oof. Three hundred.
ME: It’ll be a great Christmas present.
PARENT: Oh, so you just assume I’m Christian? That I celebrate the Christian holidays? You don’t know me.
ME: I made you up.
PARENT: How about sports games?
ME: Two of the big ones are coming this year for the Switch. NBA2K and FIFA.
PARENT: Oh, good, FIFA. My kid is crazy about soccer. Soccer and Minecraft. I don’t know what happened.
ME: What’s his favorite soccer team?
PARENT: Her. HER favorite soccer team. You know, I’d think you’d be better informed about the made-up backstory of your own fictional creation.
ME: Sorry. What’s HER favorite soccer team?
PARENT: She doesn’t have one. Nobody actually WATCHES soccer. They just play it as a kid and forget it exists once they hit puberty.
ME: I should warn you: FIFA for the Switch is rumored to be based more on the XBox 360 version than it is on the forthcoming XBox One or PlayStation 4 versions.
PARENT: What does that mean?
ME: It might not be quite as powerful as those two versions.
PARENT: My kid plays FIFA on my Kindle and on an old BlackBerry I found on the sidewalk. I’m sure your Switch FIFA will be fine.
ME: So what have you learned so far?
PARENT: Well… the Nintendo Switch is an at-home and on-the-go video game that both my kids can play together in the car.
ME: Yes! Yes!
PARENT: It’ll cost me three-hundred… does that come with a game?
ME: … uh…
PARENT: No game. So with a game it’ll cost closer to four-hundred. Not great, but not awful. What are the biggest games? Grand Theft Auto and Call of Battle?
ME: Actually, to be honest, a lot of those big games don’t come to many Nintendo consoles. We’ll see, but I’m not going to bet on it. The biggest games will be a new Zelda, a new Mario, and a new Splatoon.
PARENT: What’s Splatoon?
ME: It’s a game. It’s not important. I’m partial to it, but… no, it’s not important. A new Mario and a new Zelda.
PARENT: So the big violent games my thirty-four year old brother loves might not be on the Switch.
PARENT: Is he going to snort derisively when I mention the Switch to him?
ME: And then he’ll come over to play Mario Kart, yes.
PARENT: I do like Mario Kart… but I don’t know…
ME: Look: the Switch is a TV system you can take in the car. Both of your kids can play it together, even in portable mode, and you won’t have to buy them separate DS machines or new tablets, and you won’t have to give them your phone to play on, and there’s no way they can make ‘accidental’ in-app purchases because there won’t be any, and the big games on it are Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda and Sonic the Hedgehog instead of Grand Theft Auto and Gears of War, and it still has Minecraft and FIFA and NBA2K. It’s a family-friendly at-home console, portable console, and mobile gaming device, all in one.
PARENT: Mobile? Does it make — ?
ME: No it does not make phone calls! But at some point it’ll probably play Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja.
PARENT: I love Fruit Ninja! Sold!
ME: I can’t believe Fruit Ninja is what tipped this.
PARENT: I likes what I likes.
Aaaaaand… scene! I hope you, gentle parent, now have a better idea as to what, exactly, the Nintendo Switch is. And if you still don’t? Just watch this. Oh, just watch it. It’s only, like, three minutes long. And you’ll get to see what Splatoon is!
P.S. – Once you’ve watched that, watch this adorable video about Switch’s parental control options. It’ll warm your soul.