There are few moments more exciting than a console launch, especially for a whole new generation. Objectively speaking it’s not the best time for a system – the pricing of everything is at its peak, there won’t be many games, and early titles may also struggle to fully show off the technology. Yet the buzz is captivating, and nabbing a launch date console, handheld or Switch-like hybrid on launch day is a special time for plenty of us passionate gamers.
All of the excitement can impair judgement, though, or sometimes the hype falls flat once you’ve settled down to actually play games. You might spend hundreds of pounds / dollars / euros / whatever and think “oh no, I’ve made a mistake”.
It’s happened to a lot of us, so below a few of our team share those launch day regrets, times when early buzz gave way to disappointment.
Tom Whitehead, deputy editor
Back in the distant past when the Switch was being pitched to the public, I was fortunate enough to go to a slightly peculiar press event in London. It meant getting up pre-dawn for a flight and wondering if I’d lost my sanity when I saw they’d put a boxing ring in the space (to promote ARMS, of course), but it was all very exciting. Then I played a bit of 1-2-Switch, ignored the bizarre video segments and the fact they set up actual milking stools for that minigame, and had my mind blown. I’m admittedly a sucker for ‘clever’ technology, still to this day talking up the 3D effect on the 3DS, and I was wowed by HD Rumble.
It’s relatively rarely used, sadly, or is so subtle at times that it can be missed (I love the subtle rumble when you grab a coin in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, for example), but 1-2-Switch was the showcase for Joy-Cons, thought there was no minigame to highlight wonky analogue sticks. Some games showcased the very solid motion tracking, but it was those with rumble that I particularly enjoyed; when a controller convinces you there are a few individual objects moving around inside its casing, that’s smart technology at its best.
When the Switch arrived we somehow managed to have three members of the family that had all secured a day one unit. We all had copies of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, of course, but that game didn’t showcase the controllers enough. I was already resistant to the pricing of 1-2-Switch (it was full retail price) but I ignored my better instincts and had a copy ready for launch day.
We played it as a family for an hour, maybe, all went “ooooh” at a few of the good minigames, and that was it. Game over, and unlike Wii Sports it lacked the magic to get us back. Some of the minigames weren’t good enough, it lacked a ‘hook’, and the video segments were a bit embarrassing, to be perfectly honest. It was not a good retail video game. It should have been a scaled back free pre-install designed to show off the controllers.
Its fall from grace in my home is best summarised by where it’s stored. All of my Switch games (and those for other systems I have plugged in) are easily accessible in various draws or shelves. I have a cupboard out of the way that’s full of my older games, packed with DS, Wii, 3DS and Wii U games in particular. Only one Switch game somehow found its way into that ‘last-gen’ out of the way storage. You get one guess on which one it is.
Ollie Reynolds, staff writer
So my biggest launch regret would simply be purchasing the Nintendo 3DS on day one. Holy moly, what a rough start that was! Of course, as many of you know, early adopters to the 3DS were given a whole bunch of GBA titles as part of the Ambassador Program, but I simply couldn’t have known that at the time. All I had was a handheld that attracted a whole load of fingerprints and next to no games to go with it.
With only Pilotwings Resort (look, I ain’t interested in Nintendogs, I’m sorry) and Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition at my disposal, I quickly zipped through those titles and wound up just playing Face Raiders during my free time. I’d show it to my family, friends, and colleagues and exclaim that this is “the future of video games”, all the while doubting my own bold statement in the back of my mind.
So yes, while I certainly regretted buying the 3DS on day one at the time, I no longer resent my decision. The Ambassador Program did more than enough to set things right, and the 3DS went on to be one of the best handheld consoles of all time, full of richly diverse game experiences that I’ll never forget.
Those first few weeks and months, though? Yikes.
Gavin Lane, editor
Perhaps it was just my cautious nature as a child — or that my low disposable income back in the day meant missing launch days and waiting for Christmas or my birthday to arrive — but I don’t really have any launch day ‘horror stories’. While I was still a 3DS ‘Ambassador’, I picked up my 3DS a few months after launch with Ocarina of Time 3D, which was an absolute winner. I was lucky enough to get a Wii more-or-less at launch in time for Xmas ’06, and a very good time was had by all that year. And when I walked out of my local department store on Switch launch day with a shiny new console, I had only Breath of the Wild in the bag with it. I spent the entire month of March 2017 taking blissful 8-hour return coach trips every weekend, too. Regrets? Not a one!
I do remember one significant mistake, though it’s not the fault of an underwhelming launch-day line up. I waited a full year before I jumped on the GameCube train, and that day I took home the console, Rogue Squadron II and The Wind Waker — a pretty sweet set, you’ll agree. Unfortunately I’d maxed out my budget on that little lot (honestly, I’d overstretched myself) and simply could not justify adding a memory card too.
I forget how long it was before I supplemented my set-up with some blocks to save my progress, but those opening weeks I saw a lot of Rogue Squadron’s opening missions. A lot. It’s to the game’s credit that repetition didn’t sour me on the experience.
So yeah, in the scheme of Big Life RegretsTM, not picking up a memory card with your disc-based console isn’t too bad. Ask me about games I’ve sold for some ungodly reason, though, and I’ve got more than a few.
Alana Hagues, staff writer
I’ve only really got one big launch regret, but it’s a pretty big one for me because it totally changed the way I bought and pre-ordered video games and consoles. And, I’m sorry, it’s the Wii U.
I pre-ordered the Wii U because one of my most-anticipated games was going to release within the console’s launch window, and it was going to be an exclusive — Rayman Legends. Then, about a month before the Wii U hit shelves, Ubisoft delayed the game. I was happy to wait a few more months, but we know that wait turned into an almost year-long delay and the end of the exclusivity deal.
Still, I kept my pre-order, opened it up on launch day, and… well, I struggled. Epic Mickey 2 didn’t have the charm of the first game for me. Nintendo Land didn’t hold my or my friends’ attention for more than about 15-minutes a pop. ZombiU was okay and pretty terrifying, but my brother soon co-opted that. And New Super Mario Bros. U was just more of the same and lacked the Mario magic. It was pretty deflating, and after about a month, I didn’t pick it up again, except to play Wii and Virtual Console games. My biggest mistake is that I didn’t pick up Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed until much later. That game has a Skies of Arcadia stage, for goodness sake — why would I deprive myself of that?
In retrospect, I like the Wii U just enough, and it brought us Xenoblade Chronicles X, Pikmin 3, and Super Mario 3D World, but I think I would’ve liked it a lot more had I picked it up a year or two later. Maybe I was expecting too much? As a result, I’m much more selective about pre-orders. I almost didn’t get a Switch because I was so disappointed with the Wii U. But that launch day hype got me, and, well, the rest is history.
Those are some of our Nintendo launch regrets, be sure to share yours in the comments!