It’s hard to imagine that time has flown this quickly during the Switch’s life cycle. Given just how successful and impactful to the industry it’s been in such a short time, I’m sure I’d be hard-pressed to find any person who doesn’t remember exactly where they were when they opened the reveal stream that fateful October day. Personally, I was sitting in class, and I can remember going so far as tearing up when I realized just how big this was going to be — and how important Nintendo still was to the games industry, despite the arguments from naysayers that the company was “dying.”
The months leading up to that release, despite not even having to wait a year, felt torturously long and hopelessly fruitless, so it’s honestly amazing to me that the years following have felt so short. In fact, just recently, I had an experience with my dad where he was looking at my collection of Switch games, and said to me, “I didn’t even realize that many games had been released for the Switch,” to which I had to respond, “I mean, it’s been almost four years at this point.” And until I said it, it hadn’t really hit me — and based on what I’ve seen on social media, most Switch owners have come to the same sort of realization.
Of all those games, though, there’s still one that stands out to me — and naturally, it would only be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, launch title for Nintendo to date: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. There’s honestly not much to say about this game that hasn’t been said already. One quick YouTube search of the game’s title will reveal an endless stream of content, from Let’s Plays and walkthroughs to video essays and think-pieces — all tackling aspects of the game in one way or another. It’s the stunning visuals and graphics that had us all captivated from the moment we took our first look across the Great Plateau, and the stupidly simple and endlessly engaging gameplay that had every single player glued to their Switch screens for dozens and dozens of hours. It’s the critiques of the weapon durability system and suggestions on how to improve the combat, and the incredible writing that went into each side quest and character encountered in the game.
The wait for Breath of the Wild might have been a painful, years-long one, but with the amount of content that they included in the game, it’s hard to be angry about it in retrospect. For a lot of players — myself included — it’s the perfect game, their favorite game, and one we’ve been going back to over and over for the past four years and will continue to for the next four, and the four after that, and the four after that.
Ultimately, reflecting on the fourth anniversary of the Switch, and subsequently Breath of the Wild, is hard. Because both the console and the game feel timeless. It doesn’t feel like it’s been four years, but we’ve gotten what feels like way more than four years’ worth of content and enjoyment and excitement from both. It’s hard to reflect on a birthday for a console or for a game whose impact and importance feel impossibly big, and whose longevity will undoubtedly extend beyond the life cycle of each.
But it is fun to think about just how huge the Switch has been, and ultimately, how much it means to all of us. For so many, it reinvigorated a passion for gaming and a love for Nintendo. For others, it ignited a love that they hadn’t found yet. Its accessibility and innovation is, arguably, unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the industry before, and its existence proves to us that Nintendo is still the best at doing what is so uniquely Nintendo.
In 2015, we published a miniseries called The N Factor, which dove into the impossible to define allure, charm, and individuality that Nintendo games, above all else in the industry, had. Six years later, following the success of the Switch, I think it’s easy to see that Nintendo has perfected this concept, and has applied it to everything they do — from their games, all the way down to their consoles. The Switch, in all its glory, embodies “the N factor” in a way that nothing else from Nintendo ever has. And more importantly, it gives me confidence that Nintendo knows just how to take that N factor, and apply it to everything that they touch. Kind of like Midas.
So, here’s to your 4th birthday, Nintendo Switch — and more importantly, here’s to another four.
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