The internet has changed a lot of things in modern life. We now consume more music, videos and news online than ever before, and as a result those industries have had to change dramatically in order to compensate and survive. Music and video retailers are closing down while paid-for print media is feeling the pinch due to the fact that people can read much of the same quality content online for nothing.
Despite this inexorable change, there are some out there who pine for the good old days of physical media. We've already covered the excellent HyperPlay RPG fanzine in the past, and projects like Nintendo Force have gone some way to reviving the glory days of specialist magazines. Now we have a new kid on the block which is focused entirely on Nintendo's latest home system, the Switch.
Funded by Patreon donations, the magazine's first issue is now being sent out to those who have pledged support, and we were lucky enough to receive a copy. At 48 pages it's rather slim, but this is understandable as the Switch isn't actually out yet - and besides, the team has stated that future issues will be larger as there will be more to write about.
Unlike your typical magazine, Switch Player is smaller in size - it's A5 format rather than A4. This makes it more portable (like the console it covers, you could say) and easier to cram in your bag before leaving for work. Despite the low page count, there's plenty of written content inside, including contributions from Laura Kate Dale, Chris Scullion, Tom Phillips and Tim Gettys, as well as an interview with Shovel Knight developer Yacht Club Games. However, the majority of the mag is devoted to covering the many games which are due for release on the system, with titles like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe getting a fair amount of coverage.
Given that Switch Player isn't a project backed by a major publisher, it shouldn't come as a massive shock to learn that there are some production teething troubles, at least with this first issue. On some pages the text is awfully close to the edge, and in some cases has actually been chopped off when the magazine has been cut and bound.
The print quality is also a little disappointing in places, although this could be down to the assets used. Those of you who recall the days of games media in the '80s and '90s will forgive such niggles as it was often the case that magazines from that era (especially in the UK) would be riddled with numerous errors, but even so, it's not like these issues really ruin your enjoyment of the magazine. On the whole, it's well-written and thoughtfully designed, with a good balance of imagery and text on each page.
Switch Player isn't totally about print media - it's possible to purchase a PDF version of the magazine as well - but it's clear that the physical copy is the main focus here. The project deserves to succeed as it's providing something that is currently missing from the shelves of your local newsagent: a dedicated Switch magazine. No major publisher has stepped up to produce such a mag, so Switch Player could end up filling this void rather neatly. Issue two is expected in April and should be packed with content as the team get to grips with the console and its games, but in the meantime it's well worth supporting this project by investing in issue one. Who knows, it could be a collector's item some day.