Commentary: Never before has a console fit so seamlessly into the world as we now know it. That's why I'm pretty much exclusively playing my video games on the Nintendo Switch.
Upon its initial PC release, Hollow Knight was a game I was aware of, but only in the vaguest sense.
Hollow Knight is a gorgeously made indie game that takes cues from such classics as Dark Souls and Super Metroid. It takes those cues and updates them, adds its own unique aesthetic, its own quirks, and voila: Instant classic.
But yeah… I sorta ignored it.
You can't blame me. There are a lot of 2D indie games inspired by Dark Souls (Titan Souls, Salt and Sanctuary). There are even more 2D indie games inspired by Super Metroid (pretty much every game ever made). Also, there are a lot of video games in general.
(Also also: There's another 2D platformer called Shovel Knight. This is confusing. To this day, when Hollow Knight is mentioned, video game types ask, "Oh you mean Shovel Knight?" The clarification is necessary.)
Despite these obstacles, Hollow Knight was released in February 2017 and was quietly successful. To date it's sold 500,000 copies (which is very good) and received a number of positive reviews. It did so because it's an incredible video game. But I am only discovering this now.
I am only discovering this now because, as of June 2018, Hollow Knight was made available on the Nintendo Switch . And uh… I pretty much exclusively play video games on my Nintendo Switch now.
It's hard for me to talk about the Switch without frothing at the mouth, without devolving into a stream of consciousness hyperbole. Needless to say I love it and, in some ways, the Switch gave me back my video games.
Some context: I am 37. I am old. I am married with two children who take pleasure in making every second of my existence a living hellscape. I have a busy job. Most of my limited free time is spent washing dishes and vacantly staring at a growing (nay, evolving) pile of laundry that I'm convinced has gone sentient. Occasionally, if I have a spare second, I like to rock myself to sleep in the fetal position while praying for a painless death.
An inconvenient state of affairs if you enjoy playing video games.
Because in 2018, most consoles require a dedicated investment of your time. They say, "if you want to play with me, you must sit down, turn on your television, and dedicate this section of your day to me and me alone."
Regular consoles are high maintenance.
The Nintendo Switch is low-maintenance. It's constantly trying to accommodate the shitty circumstances of your garbage life. "Oh, you have a doctor's appointment? Bring me along." "You have a 45-minute commute each morning? Awesome. I'll sit next to you." "Your wife is watching Love Island reruns on the main TV? No worries, crack open some tinnies and let's play video games."
The Nintendo Switch is a console that finds smart ways to improve the quality of your meaningless existence. It's a console designed specifically to cushion the banal realities of a working life in the year 2018.
Handheld consoles have existed for decades, but the Switch is different. Unlike, say, the PlayStation Vita , the Switch isn't a curiosity designed to distract you. No, the Switch is Nintendo 's main console. It's the big boy.
Super Mario Odyssey isn't a spin-off, it's the latest proper Mario. Breath of the Wild isn't a stripped-back version of Zelda, it's the Zelda. And probably the best video game I've ever played.
I have 200 hours logged in Breath of the Wild. 200 hours. Sometimes I wake up bolt upright in my bed, in the middle of the night, sweating furiously: "How in the hell did I find the time to spend 200 hours playing one single video game?"
The answer is simple: The Nintendo Switch is a console that pours itself into the tiny gaps of your busy life.
200 hours: On the train, on the bus, on the couch after the kids fall asleep, in my bed before I fall asleep. On the plane en route to a family holiday, in the car during the school pick up. The minutes add up to hours and the hours add up to hundreds of hours.
The Nintendo Switch gave me back my video games.
Which brings me back to Hollow Knight.
It took roughly nine months for Hollow Knight to sell 500,000 copies.
It took Hollow Knight just two weeks to sell 250,000 copies on the Nintendo Switch. This does not surprise me. People are talking about Hollow Knight, people are re-reviewing it, they are tweeting about it, writing about it. People are excited about Hollow Knight despite the fact it has been available on other platforms for well over a year.
The reason is simple: People are desperate to play video games on the Nintendo Switch. I'm desperate to play games on the Nintendo Switch. When a new game is announced, particularly an interesting indie game, I find myself asking, "is it coming out on the Switch and if so when and how can I deliver my moneys?"
It's an interesting and unique situation. Usually people ask for games on specific platforms because the hardware is powerful. That is not the case with the Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch is not a powerful console. Games like Hollow Knight will run and look better on most PCs, and would certainly run better on the PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One X .
No, people want to play games on the Nintendo Switch because of the convenience, because it provides you with more opportunities to play. If you're anything like me you have a video game backlog a mile long: a pile of shame that stretches long past the vanishing point. You might buy Hollow Knight on PC, but chances are you'd never play it. With the Nintendo Switch you won't just play Hollow Knight, Hollow Knight will become a part of the fabric of your everyday life. Hollow Knight on the bus, Hollow Knight before you fall asleep, Hollow Knight when you're at the dentist waiting for your root canal.
And that's the magic of the Switch. It doesn't exist, like regular consoles, as a machine for video games. It exists on its own spectrum, to ease the pain of existing on this mortal coil.
In short: Get a Nintendo Switch. And get Hollow Knight while you're at it. They're both pretty good.
Fight the Power: Take a look at who's transforming the way we think about energy.
'Hello, humans': Google's Duplex could make Assistant the most lifelike AI yet.