Cartridges seem to be a thing of the past, and yet for a few reasons, I’m enarmoured with how the Switch is trying to bring them back.
From a technical standpoint, it’s the only way. Can’t really cram a fullsized blu-ray disc into a handheld. And going full digital with no physical media is too Apple, even for Nintendo.
The good reasons, for us as gamers though, builds on my the switch isnt just nintendos new handheld, it’s the first real gaming tablet-theory.
This probably sounds either obvious or completely pretentious, but I think it’s really hard to truly appreciate something that you don’t physically own. There are only a select few apps on the app store that I truly appreciate. Some because of my very specific likens that brought me to them, some because they are just so damned good, and a single one because it’s no longer available legally, so it’s just mine.
Yet there are also quite a collection that I should appreciate far more than I do, and one of the reasons is that they are just ephemeral programs on my little computer, conceptually no different than the calculator or clock programs. And this is sad. Good games should have some way of standing out and buy into them with my time and money, I want to feel like the game is worthy of investing in, with my real free time, not just toilet breaks or waiting in line at the grocery store.
Mobile games are now mostly designed like that, and it isn’t good for games and it isn’t good for people who truly enjoy investing themselves in games that require time and skill.
So here comes the Nintendo Switch, a gaming tablet with a very (tablet-wise) unique and profoundly retro solution to giving each game a respectful spotlight: What if the apps came in little physical cartridges that you insert into the tablet to play, and if the cartridges were bought in rather pretty boxes you could line up on your bookself?
It sounds idiotic to describe it, but the important part is that the individual applications mean nothing to the other tablet makers. They provided good software to make them, and a super functional and easily accessible distribution platform. But for console makers, every game is prize. That mentallity gives better games, and could give much better apps.