Back in the summer I wrote a slightly feisty article addressing some remarks I'd read of people not grasping the 'point' of the Switch. Yet it's a legitimate issue - as it's a hybrid everyone will have their own viewpoint of it, and even game publishers all seem to approach the system in different ways. Nintendo naturally plays up its flexibility and diversity, but major third-parties like EA, Bethesda and Rockstar are flat-out focusing on the system as a powerful portable, at least when it comes to marketing.
It's different things to each individual, but that is actually what the concept is supposed to do. I also found myself, oddly, going through pretty much every playstyle with my own Switch over the past week. It was like the adverts, but obviously I'm far less photogenic.
The first few days of the week were relatively normal; I mostly play the Switch docked in the evenings, for example, but that's not to say I don't appreciate its charms as a portable. In fact I often have it next to me on my desk, sometimes to check the eShop for any more random newcomers in the 'Coming Soon' section, and other times just to chill out and play something for 15 minutes when I'm supposed to be working. My relationship with it has undoubtedly evolved over the months, as I've grown past initial scepticism about its role as a handheld.
It was later in the week, though, that it began to shape up and I was playing out the adverts. On Friday I was hosting family, and when relaxing with my brother I spontaneously bought Overcooked: Special Edition, as I was curious to see its improvements via the recent patch. Oddly, despite having a grip and Pro Controller right there in front of us, we instinctively took a Joy-Con each, with the cute little controller suiting the game and its simple control scheme. We played on the TV and, as expected, it was a fun time.
Later that evening my brother and mum were comparing progress in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on their own systems, just popping them on the dock (seriously, ripping off marketing) and showing where they were, how many star fragments they'd found etc. Later that same evening my brother and I tried out Lichtspeer: Double Speer Edition which actually defaults to co-op, again with one Joy-Con each. It was a weird game but undoubtedly a good laugh - you just hurl spears at waves of foes, but it's better than that... somehow. What makes Lichtspeer and Overcooked interesting examples is that I had a PC in the next room, and a PS4 hooked into the TV, but I instinctively bought them on Switch. The 'multiplayer out of the box' pitch does genuinely play out that way in cases like these, especially as I only have one DualShock 4 and my brother doesn't always carry his PC pad around. Therefore, Switch wins for multiplayer.
Moving on, at the weekend I then hopped onto a plane to go to a friends' wedding party. I arrived early and met another chum for coffee, and sure enough we saw a dude sitting nearby playing Sonic Mania on his Switch; I resisted the urge to walk up to him, point at the screen when smiling, before insisting he let me play as Tails. It was tempting though...
Later that day, killing time, my friend and I were scrunched over the system in its tabletop form playing Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers, because nostalgia is powerful. We then had a go at a couple of Grand Prix cups in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe but, to be honest, the splitscreen on a 6-inch screen is a killer for two guys the wrong side of 30. Anyway, again we were playing with the Joy-Con, and it was a hoot. I know fighting game fans will be appalled at the idea of us fumbling around in Street Fighter with a Joy-Con held sideways, but as a fun diversion to pass time in a hotel it was perfect.
I also heard that at one point that multiple Switch consoles were out at the wedding party for some impromptu multiplayer; I was probably distracted nearer the bar. The instigator of this gathering is the biggest Switch fan I know but still, in this particular social circle that was normal. He filled me in on their setup - there was four player Mario Kart 8 Deluxe using two systems (his brother also brought one along), and they also played a bit of The Jackbox Party Pack 3. And why not? This was a pretty unconventional wedding party anyway (a Japanese N64 and an Escape Room were entertainment instead of a DJ), so this was a normal thing. Sadly 'Karen' wasn't there with a copy of Super Mario Odyssey though, darn...
Then, the next day when travelling home I finally did what I've told friends I'd do since day one - I played my Switch in an airport terminal. No, I didn't get joined by a photogenic woman who also had a Switch, but after a slightly grim four hours in a packed airport it gave me a little light relief. Well, until the battery died. Yep, the battery is still a bit pants if you want to play a demanding game, and I'd forgotten to give it a charge in the hotel; that's the way it goes.
In a way it was a bit of a betrayal of the 3DS, which has accompanied me on trips for years. Yet I remember playing multiplayer 3DS on the move was often a bit of a trial, despite Nintendo's best efforts. Often others would need a copy of the same game, or Download Play would offer a slow (and sometimes laggy) alternative. For me a 3DS was actually quite a solitary device when travelling - headphones in, off in my own world.
While living the Switch life this week it reminded me of its strengths, and part of why it's proven popular so far. It taps into the social aspect of modern life that is driven by the internet but connects us with each other on a human level. Pick up a Joy-Con and play - it's simple.
That's not my typical gaming week with a Switch, but when it does turn out that way I come to appreciate the system that little bit more.