With a huge new Super Mario game on the verge of launching, there’s never been a better time to own a Nintendo Switch.
Between “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” back in March, and the upcoming “Super Mario Odyssey,” 2017 is a pretty incredible year for Nintendo’s newest system.
At the same time, for a console that launched in 2017, there are some glaring holes in what the Switch offers. No Netflix? No online voice chat or cloud saves? Some stuff that’s become standardised in gaming, whether you’re playing on a PlayStation 4 or an iPhone, simply doesn’t exist on Nintendo’s console.
Here are the biggest missing features on Nintendo’s otherwise excellent little console.
The main point of the Switch is its ability to bring your games anywhere. You can literally pick up the console and bring it with you, or plop it into the Nintendo Switch Dock and play on your TV (seen above).
That's why it's especially baffling that the same concept isn't applied to your Nintendo Switch profile data. Yes, you can sign in with your Nintendo Account on another Switch and it will allow you to download your purchased games. Unfortunately, all the saved data on your profile for anything you've played is locked -- physically -- to your Switch.
There's a new method for transferring that data in the latest Switch firmware update, but it's limited in use. You have connect both of the Switch consoles to the same WiFi network, for instance. On the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, you can simply upload your game saved data to their respective cloud services and re-download them whenever you want. It's a great fail-safe back-up if, say, your console breaks.
It's a little thing, no doubt, but one that makes a huge difference.
The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 -- consoles that have been outright replaced by subsequent generations in the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, respectively -- had system-level voice chat functionality.
What that means in English is that you could group up with friends, online, and chat in a private room while playing whatever game together. Maybe you weren't even playing games together! Think of it like group Skype on game consoles.
The same goes for general voice chat: If you're so inclined, you can put on a chat headset and speak with random strangers in online games on the Xbox and PlayStation platforms.
Not so with the Switch: The only solution is the convoluted madness you see above, which involves plugging the Switch and your phone into a dongle. This also doesn't work on a system level -- you can't jump from game-to-game with friends while chatting. It's the kind of thing that's now expected as standard on all other gaming platforms, and it's bizarrely missing from the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo just added video recording to the Switch in a recent update ('Version 4.0'). You can record gameplay by holding down the capture button. But there are some huge caveats:
-The maximum recording is the last 30 seconds of gameplay.
-You can't record video at any time.
-You can only record video of supported games, and the list of games thus far is short ('Breath of the Wild,' 'Splatoon 2,' 'Arms,' and 'Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.' The upcoming 'Super Mario Odyssey will also allow it.)
On both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, you can record gameplay of any game -- and your maximum length is far longer. The PS4 automatically records the last 15 minutes of gameplay at any given time, for instance. The built-in editing software on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is also far more substantial; on the Switch, you can edit length, but nothing else.
You already have Netflix, and YouTube, and Amazon, and Hulu, and whatever else on every other device you own. It's true. Even your phone can access all that stuff. In that respect, it's especially weird that the Nintendo Switch doesn't support any major video streaming services in the US.
Nintendo has hinted at these services eventually showing up on Switch, but there's no official word or planned release date for any of them.
Considering that the Switch has expandable storage (using microSD cards), just imagine how nice it might be to save some of your favourite Netflix shows locally and take them on-the-go. Unfortunately, that's not yet possible on the Switch.
Between Microsoft's Xbox One X launching on November 7, and the already-available PlayStation 4 Pro, 4K and HDR gaming is the new standard. Heck, PC gaming has had 4K for a while now.
To be fair: Nintendo has proven, repeatedly, that game design is more important than graphical fidelity. And games like 'Super Mario Odyssey' and 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' are outrageously pretty, even if they're not in 4K resolution.
That said, with more and more consumers buying 4K/HDR televisions this year, Switch owners are going to feel left out sooner than later. And just imagine how much better 'Super Mario Odyssey' would look in even higher fidelity!
This one's a biggie: Nintendo offers no backwards compatibility on the Switch. Perhaps even bigger of a deal, there's no Virtual Console on the Switch -- Nintendo's long-running digital storefront that sells gaming classics.
On the Nintendo Wii, Wii U, and 3DS, Nintendo sold a variety of different games from its massive catalogue of classics. On the Switch, Nintendo offers no such service. When asked about such a service, Nintendo reps deflect.
Instead, Nintendo says it will give away two free games each month to Nintendo Switch Online paid subscribers. For $US20 per year, you'll get a growing library of classic games. 'Users can play as many of the games as they want, as often as they like, as long as they have an active subscription,' Nintendo said of the service back in June.
There's no launch date for the service just yet (other than '2018'), and it's not clear if a Virtual Console equivalent will come to the Switch in addition to this subscription-based service.
On the Switch gamepads you see above -- the so-called 'Joy-Cons' -- there's a button called the 'Capture Button.' It's in the lower left.
If you tap the Capture Button, it grabs a screenshot. If you hold it down, it records the last 30 seconds of game footage in select games.
Notably, it's not called the 'Share' button. That's the name of the equivalent button on the PlayStation 4 gamepad.
That difference is telling: The PlayStation 4 has game streaming directly to services like Twitch and YouTube baked in. The Xbox One does as well. Keep in mind both of those consoles came out in 2013.
The Nintendo Switch cannot stream to game-streaming services without the use of a capture card and attached computer. You can capture footage, but you can't stream it directly to the internet -- a pretty major omission in a modern game console.