We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.
Last week, the gaming community learned more about the Nintendo Switch, which is scheduled for release worldwide on March 3rd, 2017. Of particular interest to those of us in the basketball gaming community, we learned that Visual Concepts will be releasing NBA 2K18 for the console in September this year. The announcement reflects the general increase in third party support that has been pledged for the Switch, after several developers abandoned the Wii U very quickly. As you may recall, NBA 2K13 was the first and only basketball game Visual Concepts released for the Wii U, and the last NBA 2K title released on the original Wii.
With the Nintendo Switch being a hybrid portable and home console, and gaining the support of third party developers, it’s certainly generating a lot of interest and discussion ahead of its launch. With the confirmation that NBA 2K18 will be released for the Switch, it might be a viable option for basketball gamers who haven’t yet invested in a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, and don’t have a suitable gaming PC. With that in mind, is the Nintendo Switch something that I’m personally interested in, either instead of or in addition to the gaming platforms that I currently own?
I believe I’ve mentioned it before in a couple of articles, and certainly a few times in the Forum and on the NLSC Podcast, but growing up in the 90s, I was a big Nintendo fan. In fact, fanboy would probably be a fair term to use here. I owned (and in fact, still own) a Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo, and Nintendo 64. I also bought Nintendo Magazine System (Australia’s version of Nintendo Power) every month, and smirked unashamedly at the reader-submitted fan art of Sonic the Hedgehog being humiliated by Mario. In the Console Wars of the 1990s, I was definitely Team Nintendo (though I was, and still am, a PC gamer as well).
At the turn of the century however, when the sixth generation of video game consoles was getting underway, I found my gaming tastes and needs changing. The games I was most interested in playing were generally on PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. As a result, I went with the PlayStation 2 during the sixth generation and subsequently an Xbox 360 during the seventh generation, before switching back to Sony and the PlayStation 4 this generation. Nintendo was my childhood and definitely my preferred console growing up, but I haven’t owned a Nintendo system since the N64.
Incidentally, I don’t believe that I “outgrew” Nintendo. In fact, I dislike the tendency we have to write things off as “kid’s stuff” or “immature” when our tastes change. While it’s true that certain things are aimed at younger audiences, and those we do outgrow, “I used to like it but then I grew up” declarations tend to strike me as smug attempts to prove intelligence and maturity; ironically, they generally leave the opposite impression. The same goes for dismissing consoles as “kiddie”, the PC vs. Consoles debate, and console fanboyism. I believe that true gamers simply enjoy gaming, and great titles have come out on many different platforms through the years.
With that being said, am I interested in the Nintendo Switch, and will I be getting one? Well, I can’t pretend that I have absolutely zero interest. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to play a new Mario or Zelda game, and it seems like they’ve had some great releases over the past fifteen years or so. However, those are the only Nintendo exclusive titles I’m interested in, being franchises that I grew up with. Everything else I’m interested in is made by third party developers, available on other platforms, and in some cases, not available at all for Nintendo consoles. A couple of exclusive games every few years aren’t enough for me to justify the investment.
With my gaming PC and PlayStation 4, I’m already set for the games I play the most these days – basketball or otherwise – and picking up a Nintendo Switch isn’t in my budget at this time. As it stands, I’ve only ever gone with one console per generation, in addition to a PC. Like I said though, I’m not completely uninterested in what Nintendo has to offer. When I saw that EB Games Australia was running a contest to win a Nintendo Switch, I naturally entered it. Hey, there are plenty of things I don’t really need, but wouldn’t mind having if I won them in a competition. I may not be looking to buy a Nintendo Switch, but I won’t say no to a free one!
As far as the Nintendo Switch’s suitability for basketball gamers, I do have some concerns. It seems that it won’t be on par with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in terms of its specs, so if nothing else, I imagine the Switch version of NBA 2K18 won’t look quite as good as it will on PC, PS4, and X1. The userbase might also be considerably smaller, since basketball gaming is already a niche demographic to begin with. Finally, it remains to be seen whether Visual Concepts will continue to release NBA 2K on the Nintendo Switch throughout its lifetime, especially if the lower specs are an issue. As I noted before, 2K abandoned the Wii U after just one game.
To that end, if basketball gaming is the deciding factor, the Nintendo Switch probably shouldn’t be your first choice. Right now, I’d suggest that there are too many question marks as far as basketball gaming on the Switch is concerned, and I believe that the superior virtual hoops experience will remain on the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. However, if other titles have already sold you on the Nintendo Switch and you also happen to like basketball games, then Visual Concepts’ announcement certainly comes as good news. At the very least, the Nintendo Switch’s portability could provide one of the best on-the-go basketball gaming experiences, via NBA 2K18.
As for me, given my current budget and the fact that I’m already set for platforms on which to hit the virtual hardwood, I’ll personally pass on the Nintendo Switch. As enticing as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild may be, it’s not quite enough to justify the console’s $469 AUD price tag. That being said, if I do win the aforementioned giveaway, you can bet that I’ll be keeping my prize. However, to avoid disappointment when the winner is announced next month, you’ll understand if I refrain from clearing some space near the TV…at least for the moment.