We all remember seeing Mario in 3D for the first time and being blown away. We remember stepping into Liberty City for the first time and being amazed at the freedom on offer. For the a console as unconventional as Nintendo Switch, first impressions will be hugely important in getting the device across to consumers. That moment of “Wow, this is real” will be make or break moment for many. So it’s somewhat disappointing to hear that the consoles most anticipated offering, Breath of the Wild, is rumored to be skipping the consoles launch window in some regions.
It’s all a touch awkward as up to now Nintendo’s been very careful in how it’s showcased the Nintendo Switch console. We know next to nothing about the device, other than what it looks like and the fact that Breath of the Wild will be there (at some stage). The first time we got to see one for reals was on the Jimmy Fallon show, before this it was promotional images and highly polished adverts. Yet despite this one thing was constant throughout; Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was there to give gamers (and the wider world) a real impression of how it will all work.
It’s no secret that gamers love The Legend of Zelda series. It’s already topped numerous “most anticipated” lists across the web and rightly so; we’ve been waiting to get our hands on the newest title for the best part of five years now. Wisely Nintendo has decided to showcase its new hardware with Breath of the Wild front and center – driving home its mantra that the home console experience can go truly mobile if the chance is given. Why not use that Legend of Zelda hype to help sell your new hardware?
Yet by taking this away, Nintendo would be removing the single biggest draw that the console has. Even if it’s just in Europe (as Eurogamer reported earlier today), it would be a massive blow to the early momentum of the console at such an early stage. It’s the equivalent to removing Mario 64 from the Nintend0 64 launch lineup – it would be an unthinkable compromise for gamers. That initial “Wow” moment where you saw Mario in full 3D would be removed from the Switch, and it’s that very wow moment that Nintendo is banking on gamers buying into. It’s the biggest selling point of the Switch.
Yes there are unannounced games and there will very likely be third-party titles waiting in the wings to have their moment; but nothing will come close to the hype that sits around Breath of the Wild. It’s THE game people will want to put in their console on launch day. It’s the game people will want to show off to their friends and win over skeptics. Word of mouth is what helped the Nintendo DS in its early days. When people were unsure of how two screens could work, it was the likes of Mario 64 3DS that helped to showcase just how the idea translates into reality.
That game may not have been perfect, but seeing Mario 64 running on a portable device and perfectly playable was enough to convince skeptics that the device had the potential to invest in. Breath of the Wild will be that “wow” moment for Switch – when those who are used to playing on PlayStation and Xbox are given food for thought over the potential for the device. If Nintendo wants to avoid a Nintendo Wii U repeat, it needs to frontload its console with the best games out the gate.
Of course there’s the argument that Nintendo should take as long as it needs. That no game is bigger than console and Nintendo should take all the time it needs to ensure that European gamers get the experience they desire. There’s also every chance that Nintendo has other games ready to go which can equally showcase the devices killer feature.
But ultimately it’s hard to not feel disappointed by the mere existence of these rumors. It’s hard to not feel that missing Breath of the Wild from any launch lineup would be a woefully poor decision on the part of Nintendo and would only serve to undermine the Nintendo Switch at a time when it really doesn’t need it. I personally hope Nintendo works hard to ensure its new console gets its killer app out the door.