The Nintendo Switch Still Has Its Most Glaring Feature Omission

Saying the Nintendo Switch is a success is an understatement. But it isn't flawless, and there is one omission that is worse than others.

By Scott White

August 17, 2020

I love Nintendo Switch, you love Nintendo Switch, and judging from the massive shortages and scalper prices online for Nintendo’s console/handheld hybrid, a lot of other people do too. It’s a nifty device with a pretty damn good library of games that cover most if not all game genres that players could want (still waiting for something to scratch that Mecha Cooking Historical genre itch, though). However, that isn’t to say that the little money machine is without faults. First, we will start with a couple of special mentions before getting to the real travesty of the Nintendo Switch and the features that it’s lacking three years after release.

Many fans would quickly point to Nintendo’s lackluster and inconsistent releases of NES and SNES games as part of their virtual service. An easy target to be sure, but the reality we need to accept is that there is a higher chance that COVID-20 will turn us all into shark people before the retro services live up to their potential. It’s definitely a shame; we should pour one out for all the greats like Final Fantasy VI that won’t make it, and in its place are random games no one asks for, like Rise of the Robots.

Three years later, I still find myself pondering, late at night, why did Nintendo include a “theme” option if they were only going to include a “light” and “dark” option? Wouldn’t it have been easier to have a “dark mode” toggle checkbox? It’s yet another tease that the Big N left Switch owners with that has now been forgotten. With this one, I almost feel worse for them then I do for fans. They are missing out on so much money that they could have nickel-and-dimed from people for sweet The Legend of Zelda, Xenoblade, or Octopath themes. In this area though, the modding community has at least picked up the flag and rallied behind the cause, but seriously: why have a theme option if you only have two choices?!

The second runner-up is a lesser gripe in my opinion, but still one that owners have nonetheless clamored for: Netflix and Twitch apps. I get the desire to be able to watch your favorite shows or streamers while lying in bed, and, strangely, two of the largest media streaming services on the planet aren’t on the Switch yet. But with the battery life being what it is, I can only imagine that running a Switch off a wireless connection in handheld mode, you would be lucky to get through a full movie on Netflix before the system dies. Twitch users would find themselves in a similar situation, and having your system die while watching an extraordinary match of (*insert hip new game name here*) would suck too! Hopefully with an eventual Switch Pro or Switch 2 these omissions will be rectified, but in the meantime, at least you didn’t get used to Mixer on your Switch.

And now we get to the creme de la creme of missing features on the Nintendo Switch. What could be more significant than lackluster retro offerings, forgotten themes, and its lost revenue, or the inability to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender or Summer Games Done Quick on your Switch?

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Folders, that’s what. Those gosh darn folders! Sweet little organizational manilla goodies that help you sort and store your files, your Dungeons & Dragons character sheets, and in this case, all of your installed digital and physical content on the Switch. 

This simple organizational tool is nothing new or novel, including for Nintendo. Folders are 14-year-old tech for them, showing up on the Wii back in 2006. Nintendo continued this trend with the 3DS, and then with the Wii U too! So why then, with all the money that they have, with the heavier focus and emphasis on a digital marketplace full of both retail and digital-only titles, have they not brought the feature to Switch!?

Nintendo has often repeated that they want their products to help better their customer’s lives. Products like Nintendo Labo are helping to teach children engineering and building principles with nifty little gadgets and gizmos, and the pandemically-popular Ring Fit Adventure has somehow melded my love of RPGs with my not-so-loved cardio to create an exciting and fun experience. Hell, I can catch Pokemon when I brush my teeth now, but I still can’t organize my games on my Switch. What sort of bizarro-world is this? Doesn’t Nintendo know that keeping things organized and teaching folks organizational skills are essential too?

All joking aside, the lack of any real way that Switch owners can organize their libraries of content–especially their digital library–is aggravating. The lack of a folder structure is just a symptom of a more significant, arching problem around the UI design of the Switch itself. When compared to the other consoles on the market, and even the Switch’s predecessors, there is a stark contrast between the options available to users to alter their home screens. Out of Nintendo’s more recent platforms, arguably the best was the 3DS. I would love to see the return of features like adjusting how many tiles are viewable at a time or the system’s theme. Getting additional color options for the interface would be a start.  

Nintendo has proven time and time again that they will do as they wish, which has shown to be both to the company’s benefit and detriment. These grievances with missing features from the Switch are just more examples in a long list. If I ever get the chance, I would love to sit down and ask why such elements were altogether removed from the Switch with no sight from them, patching them in with an update. Until that time, though, I will continue preaching from the rooftops that we deserve, no, need folders!

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